Involution – a serious topic that every Chinese is concerning about.
Involution is an academic term which firstly introduced by Alexandar Goldenweiser, describing a repeated and intricate Maori art. It was an art with many repeating complex patterns without much creativity and diversity. Later this word was introduced into Sociology, as a term representing excessive competition in an area that leads to ineffective competition. People in an involution society will increase their input but cannot gain more. The educational system in China, as well as in other Asian countries, is the best example. Compared to students in the US, students from China spend much more time in the study but cannot get a better education in general. They even do not study a broader knowledge; instead, schools focus on hard questions in narrowed subjects. Involution almost influences every Chinese due to the skyrocketing price of the house and the harsh working conditions.
Even worse, there is a popular voice in Chinese called ‘Ruguanism.’ The historical quotation of ‘Ruguan’ was the Jurchen people overthrew the Ming Dynasty and built up the Qing Dynasty so that they received respect from other regimes. Therefore ‘Ruguanism’ is a dangerous populism theory that indicates China has to overcome the existing international order so that other countries can finally respect China.
Involution is even worse in Southern Asian countries, as their slow rate of industrialization and high rapid increasing population. If a country exceeds its population red line before fully industrialized, this country will fall into serious involution. The Indonesian government predicted the population will achieve 280 million population in 2050 but it has achieved it this year. Nearly 10 million unemployed population emerged which caused a serious food crisis even if Indonesia is the sixth-largest agricultural producing country. Similar questions are happening in Vietnam and Thailand as well.
The only way to solve involution is to create more resources or values by making connections. In particular, they should embed into international trade and industrial system, leading exceed population into factories. Signing international trade agreements such as RECP will be a solution, so Southern Asian countries can improve their trade volume by signing the Free Trade Agreement with other countries. It is also crucial for China to sign RECP as well. Although China has signed FTA with individual Southern Asian countries, RECP will lead to economies of scale that will further reduce the cost of international trade.