A Journey to Prosperity: China’s Story
Ambassador Zhao Zhiyuan Publishes Signed Article on Ethiopian Mainstream Media
19 April 2021
In the past year, Chinese economy has bucked the trend and expanded by 2.3 percent, becoming the first major economy worldwide to register positive growth. In 2021, China sets its growth target at 6 percent. People are thus keenly intrigued by the development of China under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). As the CPC will celebrate its centenary in July this year, I would like to take this opportunity to share with Ethiopian friends my views on China’s development experience.
First, China’s prosperity boils down to the strong leadership of the CPC.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “the leadership of the CPC is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Without the CPC, there would not be the People’s Republic of China, nor would there be China’s prosperity.” When the CPC established the government of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the country was a devastated mess following a century of war and chaos. Its people lived in dire poverty with per capita disposable income only 49.7 yuan, lower than that of Ethiopia at the time; its industrial and agricultural foundations were extremely weak and its national economy on the verge of collapse. Over the past 71 years, under the leadership of the CPC, China has completed a course that had taken developed countries several hundred years. China has upgraded its infrastructure and transformed its rural and urban areas, taken care of the material needs of its nearly 1.4 billion people, increased nominal per capita disposable income by over 640 folds, and become an upper middle income country and the world’s second largest economy. More than 800 million Chinese people have shaken off extreme poverty, accounting for over 70% of all global poverty reduction population during the same period, making China the country that saw the fastest progress in people’s livelihoods and well-being in the world in the past 10 years. These are not only tremendous changes of China, but also huge progress of the human society, and more importantly major contributions to the peace and development of the world.
Sam Mashinini, Chairperson of South Africa’s ruling party ANC in Free State, holds that China has a set of theories and philosophies derived from practice, which is the result of the strong leadership of the CPC. The CPC leadership has ensured the execution and continuity of policies, maintained a stable development environment, and brought about the long-term stability of the country. This was proved by China’s achievements in Covid-19 prevention and control and economic recovery last year. Facing shocks of a severity rarely seen before, the CPC laid equal stress on fighting Covid-19 and restoring economy. To ease the difficulties of businesses and stimulate their vitality in this very tough time, a series of policies were rolled out to help micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and self-employed individuals, which are large in number, extensive in scope and took the most direct hit from Covid-19. Time-limited large-scale tax and fee cuts were adopted, reducing the burden on market entities by more than 2.6 trillion yuan for the year. In the meantime, China’s economic growth has also contributed to the global economic recovery.
Indian scholar Hanumantha Rao maintains that “democratic centralism” has been embodied in the political system of the People’s Republic of China since its founding. This political system makes for efficient governance, for unified decisions can be made quickly on the basis of extensively absorbing the opinions of all parties. Once decisions are made by the CPC Central Committee, leadership at all levels act immediately and decisively on the implementation. Strict discipline of the CPC serves as a powerful guarantee for effective execution and good working style of the leadership team. The CPC leadership is ardently supported by the Chinese people. According to a survey conducted by the Harvard’s Kennedy School that spanned over 10 years, Chinese citizens’ satisfaction with and support for the CPC and the Chinese government is as high as 93 percent. “Only the CPC can lead China”. This historical conclusion and great truth stands incontestable.
Second, China’s prosperity is attributed to the exploration and innovation of its development philosophies.
Innovation is the soul of a nation’s progress and the inexhaustible driving force for a country’s prosperity. Insisting on emancipating the mind and seeking truth from facts, the CPC is an innovative party that adapts to changing times. From Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory to the Theory of Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development, the CPC creatively combined the basic principles of Marxism with China’s specific reality at different stages, continuously promoted theoretical innovation based on practice, constantly studied new situations, solved new problems, kept making progress in reform and development, and greatly liberated and developed China’s productive forces. In particular, more than 40 years of reform and opening-up which have paved China’s journey to prosperity, have become a decisive move on the fate of contemporary China. In the view of the CPC, there is no end to striving for development in practice, nor can there be end to our efforts to emancipate the mind and carry out reform and opening-up.
President Xi once pointed out, “development philosophy is the determining factor for the outcome of development or even its success.” Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the party came up with a series of innovative theories that have enriched and developed the Marxism of modern China and the Marxism in the 21st century, created Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and put forward the concepts of innovative, coordinated, green, open, and inclusive development. Mr. Kuhn, Chairperson of the Kuhn Foundation of the US said that the five new development concepts are changing the Chinese society and promoting balanced economic development. Likewise, the Belt and Road Initiative could push for a more balanced global economy by improving the infrastructure of developing countries. Philosophical and practical innovation, institutional and systematic innovation, and scientific and technological innovation reinforce each other, driving China’s reform and opening-up to new heights from one to another.
As a vast country with a nearly 1.4 billion population, China has no experience of modernization to borrow from in human history. Copying or imitating other countries makes no way forward. China has constantly resolved difficulties and challenges through reform and innovation in its course of development. The greatest inspiration from China’s development is that, a country should learn from the experience of other countries when choosing the path of development, but more importantly the choice should be based on its own reality and decided by its own people in accordance with its own history, cultural traditions, and level of economic and social development. Countries can learn from each other in terms of development experience. But modernization is not equal to Westernization, and cannot be mechanically carried out or achieved through the same model. In this wise, the Chinese people have chosen the path of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, and the Ethiopian people are moving forward the reform agenda under the guidance of Medemer philosophy.
Last but not least, China’s prosperity is the outcome of long-term guidance of development planning.
President Xi stressed that to formulate and implement five-year plans for national economic and social development is an important means of the CPC’s governance. The CPC has set two centenary goals: to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the centenary of the CPC in 2021; to build a strong modern socialist country by the centenary of the People’s Republic of China in 2049. To achieve the long-term goals, China has compiled 14 five-year plans since 1953, which have vigorously promoted social and economic development, increased comprehensive national strength, improved people’s lives, and created a miracle of unprecedented rapid economic growth and long-term social stability. In formulating development plans, China has, with both current and long-term priorities in mind, upheld a philosophy of people-centered development, directing all its undertakings towards fulfilling the people’s aspiration for a better life and protecting their democratic rights. China seeks driving forces among the people, promoting development relying on the people, and benefiting the people through development. In this process, the Chinese people have an increasingly strong sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. In the implementation of the plans, under the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese people achieved various development goals step by step. Sticking to the blueprint that has been drawn, we forge ahead and continuously make progress. This has become a distinctive feature of the governance of the CPC.
For instance, during the just concluded “13th Five-Year Plan” period, China’s GDP increased from less than 70 trillion yuan to over 100 trillion yuan, contributing more than 30 percent to world economic growth. Remarkable progress has been achieved in poverty alleviation. 55.75 million poor people in rural areas have been lifted out of poverty, completing the arduous task of eradicating absolute poverty. The goal of granting urban residency to 100 million people from rural areas and other permanent residents without local household registration has been met. More than 21 million housing units in run-down urban areas were rebuilt. Over 60 million urban jobs were added, and the world’s largest social security system was established.
In October 2020, the 5th Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee adopted the outline of the “14th Five-Year Plan” and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, proposing to have an accurate understanding of this new stage of development, fully apply the new development philosophy, and accelerate the efforts to create a new development pattern to promote high-quality development. This is similar to Ethiopia’s 10-Year Perspective Plan. China and Ethiopia shall seize the opportunity to strengthen policy communication, and identify more common goals and convergence of interests.
“I am much aware that China has a great future and that China’s struggle is the struggle of the mankind, and China’s experience is very important to the mankind”. The words of Mr. Coase, a world-famous economist and Nobel laureate in economics, made clear the significance of China’s development for the world. Today’s China is the among the first to complete the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. China’s success has boosted the confidence of other developing countries in their ability to achieve prosperity, expanded their routes towards modernization, and provided experience and reference to countries that want to speed up their development and maintain their independence, enabling them to choose a path in line with their own national conditions. When saying that China’s development provides reference for other developing countries, we do not mean for other countries to copy China’s experience. China does not “import” foreign models, nor “export” the Chinese model, and will never require other countries to replicate its practices. The Communist Party of China and the Chinese Government stand ready to actively exchange experience in governance with Ethiopia and other friendly countries to learn from each other, pursue mutual interest, advance high-quality development of the “Belt and Road”, promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and create a bright future of common prosperity!