Nationalism, Obstacle to Globalization; Examination of Nationalism in China, Russia, and the UK

Eunwoo Jang

Holton-Arms School

High School Student

Nationalism, Obstacle to Globalization;

Examination of Nationalism in China, Russia, and the UK

      Emergence of supranational organizations, free trade agreements, and improved communicating technologies eradicated the significance of boundaries and weakened national sovereignty. Supranational organizations (including United Nations, European Union, International Court of Justice, International Monetary Fund, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, etc.) limit nations’ abilities to execute policies without external interference (Wood). While the fastening trend of integration of social, economic, and cultural activities of nations hastens globalization, three super power countries - China, Russia, and the United Kingdom - counteract globalization with a strong sense of nationalism. 

* * *

China, the “Middle Kingdom”

      Chinese nationalism roots from its political and cultural unity. Its long history of authoritarian government — from dynastic rules legitimized by Mandate from Heaven to Mao Zedong’s communist government — deters Chinese citizens from speaking against the communist rule. Schools teach the ancient belief of the “Middle Kingdom” in order to instill a sense of patriotism and superiority in the youths’ minds (Wood). Continued practice of Confucianism and its stress on the loyalty of people to their rulers only strengthens the power of the government. 

      After realizing deficiencies of a communist nation, China opened up to trade in 1978 under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping (Wood). In order to prevent decrease in nationalism caused by globalization, the Chinese government has since broadened its effort in promoting Chinese nationalism. Although China welcomes foreign investments and and joined the World Trade Organization, the Chinese government still remains cautious on political cooperations, refuses to improve civil rights and liberties or convert to multi-party system, and rejects the international demand to loosen its grip on its citizens.

      China is easily irritated by any possibility of disintegration of the “kingdom”. Because of the enormous ethnic cleavage between the Hans (92% of the population) and other racial minorities, the Chinese government displays constant military effort to suppress rebellions from autonomous states, such as Tibet, Mongol, and Uyghurs (Wood). The Chinese government uses its global status as the largest trading partner to discourage other countries and supranational organizations from recognizing Hong Kong and Taiwan’s sovereignty (Wood). Because of the Han majority and the consequent cultural unity, the Chinese government does not experience a severe objection to its rule and maintains tight control of all policies. The Chinese government utilizes China’s extreme nationalism as a tool to protect its own power in both national and global setting. 

Lasting Impacts of Authoritarianism on Russia

      Although the Russian Federation supports the majority of supranational organizations and is politically involved with many countries, the long tradition of absolute rules of Tsars, Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism, and Central Planning resulted in its distinct nationalism, which remains at the basis of Russian political culture. Because Russian citizens are historically adapted to authoritarian rules, they do not display severe objection to their government’s diversion from an ideal democratic government. Even when Vladimir Putin served two terms as President and one term as Prime Minister under Dmitri Medvedev (his selected political heir), Russians brought him back to Presidency in 2012 (History). With 83% of Russians approving of Putin’s rule, he amended several laws to bring both the military and the Duma under his control. Russians, tightly bound under nationalism, support Putin’s powerful presidency and his controversial actions that protect Russian sovereignty against the West (Birnbaum). 

      Russian nationalism roots from a solid belief in Russia being the only legitimate heir to the Soviet Union’s super power. Putin’s government remained rigid throughout conflicts with bordering countries. Russian nationalism encourages the government to make bold movements on border claims. Russians supported their government’s inflexibility throughout a conflict with Ukraine on the Crimean Peninsula. Also, when Chechnya tried to separate from Russia, the government declared it an “inseparable part of Russia” and used all forms of violence to keep Russia intact (Wood). United Russia (Putin’s party)’s political slogan includes “Russia for Russians”. The slogan reassures Russians’ general desire for racial and cultural homogeneity (Wood). 

      Russia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, willingly turned to democracy and supported multiple supranational organizations for decades. However, since the beginning of Putin’s “reign” (legitimized Russian citizens’ desires for a powerful, centralized government, and - in turn - a stronger nation) that led to increase in Russian nationalism, Russia has slowly turned away from rapid globalization. 

Multinational United Kingdom’s Growing Nationalism

      The unity of the United Kingdom has been continuously interrupted by multinationalism. Because of divides created by religion, wars, and dialects between four countries (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), the United kingdom has significantly lacked national identity, which often deterred its rapid development of power against other culturally uniformed nations. England still maintains a disproportionate share of power generated by its most solid economic and political status. Wales displays its regional pride through Plaid Cymru party’s participation in Parliament and continual use of its language. Scottish parliament revived after centuries of protests. Deep religious conflict between Anglican England and Catholic Northern Ireland has persisted for years and has resulted in violence, such as Bloody Sunday of 1972 (Wood). 

      The United Kingdom’s multinationalism has historically allowed ‘politics of protests’ and strengthened regional governments, diverting power from Parliament (Wood). However, the general population’s growing discontent concerning supranational organizations’ threat of the United Kingdom’s sovereignty handed over a significant power to the national government. From Parliament’s objection to integration of Euro under Prime Minister Thatcher to recent financial rescue crisis of Greece and European refugee crises, the UK citizens grew increasingly dissatisfied of the imbalance between the EU’s demands on the UK and benefits the UK is receiving in return. The European Union’s apparent threat on the United Kingdom’s sovereignty eventually led to outburst of extreme nationalism movement of Brexit. 

      The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union provides the most accurate proof of an evident relationship between nationalism and globalization. As nationalism within the United Kingdom increased, its interest in globalization decreased. 

* * *

      Nationalism is an obstacle to globalization. Patriotism and cultural/political unity precisely lead to a nation’s egotistic policies in international settings. Nations who are only concerned for their own well-being deters global cooperation in combatting international crises, including poverty, starvation, terrorism, environment, and limited education. Some argue nationalism’s capability to encourage competition between nations that advance international economy through increased trade. However, nationalism simultaneously blindfolds states to stop valuing the world’s needs, while solely devoting their effort to what would only enrich their citizens’ wallets. 

Works Cited

  1. Wood, Ethel. AP Comparative Government and Politics: An Essential Coursebook, 6th Edition. New York: WoodYard Publications, 2013. Print.
  2. Staff. "Vladimir Putin." A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 31 Dec. 2016. a href="">>;.
  3. Birnbaum, Michael. "How to Understand Putin's Jaw-droppingly High Approval Ratings." The Washington Post. WP Company, 6 Mar. 2016. Web. 31 Dec. 2016. a href="">;.

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