Constructing the Knowledge Society: China's Experience

Constructing the Knowledge Society: China's Experience

Li Wengang (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China), Chen Yulai (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China) and Guo Jia (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5844-8.ch014
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Abstract

Since the Reform and Opening up in the late 1970s, China has been seeking an innovation-driven knowledge society. In the past decade, the central government and local governments took effective measures to quicken China's steps towards a knowledge society. In the recent 18th National Congress of the CPC, reform and innovation was highly emphasized to give fresh impetus to knowledge society building. Within the context of increasing globalization and Africa-China long-lasting friendship and cooperation, China and African countries can learn from each other in knowledge society construction. As the second largest economy in the world, China is playing an increasing role in knowledge society construction in Africa. Can Africa learn from China's experiences? This chapter provides some answers to this query.
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Origin And Development Of Knowledge Society In China

The concept of “Knowledge society” was born in the 1960s or 1970s(Drucker, 1969). American economist, political scientist, sociologist and management expert Peter Drucker(1969) pointed out that the knowledge society is one in which knowledge is the key resource. That is to say, the essence of knowledge society is that knowledge elements dominate economic and social development. Compared with industrial society, the principal feature of the knowledge society is that knowledge and talent, which replace natural resources, mechanical equipments and other tangible capital, become the decisive factors for economic and social development, and the most critical resource for wealth creation. In the knowledge society, the knowledge economy dominates the economic sphere ; innovation turns into the major driving force for development and is the core element of competitiveness.

China has gone through a tortuous process in engaging knowledge, intellectuals, and building its knowledge society. Since the founding of New China, the leaders of CPC (Chinese Communist Party), such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, have attached importance to the role of intellectuals in the economic construction, and spoken about it many times in their speeches. Mao stressed: “Our country is an underdeveloped country in the field of culture, so we cannot construct our country without intellectuals”(Mao, 1999, p.270). Deng Xiaoping argued that China should strengthen educational undertakings in ethnic minority regions, unite intellectuals outside the CPC, and improve wages and living conditions of teachers, engineers, doctors and other professionals(Deng,1994).

However, from the beginning of Anti-Rightist Struggle in 1957 until the end of the “Cultural Revolution”, Chinese intellectuals were considered the representatives of the bourgeoisie, not an important force in nation-building. Even worse, during the “Cultural Revolution” from 1966 to 1976, intellectuals and educational undertakings suffered severe devastation and destruction.

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