Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif
Happy Birthday to President Xi Jinping
I have always found wisdom in teachings of Confucius, but it wasn’t till I met President Xi Jinping that I truly understood the scholar’s concepts of Ren and Junzi. Traits, which clearly separate great men from the ordinary.
During my decades-long public service career, I have had the privilege of meeting many world leaders who were instrumental in changing the destinies of their countries. Some brought great economic progress, others peace and prosperity. And I observed and learnt from each. Culling knowledge from their vision, learning from their unique qualities. But while each one of them was unquestionably intelligent, successful, and a proven leader, yet not everyone was also as great in terms of wisdom, Ren and Junzi.
And this brings me to the person of Pakistan’s greatest friend, President Xi Jinping. His love for Pakistan knows no bounds, and every audience with him has actually been a free lesson in wisdom and futuristic vision. The warmth of his friendship touches one’s soul. He may be a Chinese by birth but he is truly a global citizen, or should I say a global-statesman in essence.
What I see through his eyes is not just prosperity and peace for China but for Pakistan, the region, and the entire world. For me, this all-inclusive, sincere, intellectual generosity makes him great. Some see China as an emerging super power of tomorrow, I see China as a country being led by a super leader of today.
Since assuming presidency in March 2013, President Xi has unassumingly emerged as a statesman on the global stage. Under his guiding vision, China has vigorously pleaded for an equitable world order, devoid of a global political oligarchy. An order, which holds the UN at its core and the principles of the UN charter as its foundation. President Xi has effectively raised his voice for reforms in the global governance system to enable it to respond to challenges of changing times and realities. He advocates a collective approach duly owned by the world community to rearrange the global governance architecture.
The Chinese foreign policy under President Xi is characterized by a renewed push for peace and participatory development in the world. The present leadership of China is convinced that it is impossible for China or any other country for that matter to develop on its own. Only when the world collectively progresses can individual countries truly reap the benefits.
This vision of participatory and shared economic development is reflected in President Xi “Belt and Road” initiative. Launched during his visit to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in 2013, Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives are cornerstone of China’s foreign and domestic economic policies. Financial integration, trade liberalization, greater people-to-people connectivity and enhanced policy coordination among the Asian countries are at the heart of “Belt and Road” initiative.
The “Belt and Road” projects are in sync with President Xi’s foreign policy priorities of improving diplomacy with the countries of the region and a greater employment of its economic prowess as part of its overall diplomatic outreach.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) of $46 billion is a flagship project of President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” vision, which was announced during his trip to Pakistan in April 2015. In his historic address to the joint session of Pakistan’s Parliament, President Xi described Pakistan as “Iron Brother” and the inauguration of this unrivalled development package showed that his words were cast in the iron of deeds.
The CPEC, which aims to connect Gwadar port in Southwestern Pakistan to China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang has rightly been billed as a potential game-changer for the entire region and not merely Pakistan. Its benefits may extend beyond our borders to include other countries of the region. The Corridor, which will run about 3,000 km from Gwadar to Kashgar, will put Pakistan on the path of economic and energy security.
This brief comment on President Xi’s personality and political philosophy would be incomplete without reference to his concept of “Chinese Dream” that lays out his vision of a strong nation. This “Dream,” as he explained in his interview with The Wall Street Journal in September 2015, is fundamentally about improving living conditions of the people of China.
Talking of dreams I must first however share one of the most remarkable waking moments of my interaction with President Xi. It was that memorable meeting in which President Xi smiled and said to me that the Lahore Orange Line Train Project was his gift to the Pakistani nation. And what a grand gift it is indeed. Such gestures speak volumes about the inexhaustible reservoir of goodwill and affection the Chinese leadership has for the people of Pakistan.
Rooted in history, reality and hearts of the people, Chinese Dream has inspired millions to strive to make their life better. The term, which has become a signature political slogan of President Xi, refers to the revival and rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the effects of which are visible globally as China takes on more dominant position on various international issues.
“Four Comprehensives,” namely comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively strengthening and deepening reform, comprehensively reforming rule of law and ensuring party discipline, define political philosophy of President Xi Jinping.
Building a moderately prosperous society is a fundamental aspect of the Chinese Dream. It aims to make life better and more prosperous for common Chinese people by doubling average income over the next decade. It seeks to reduce inequality between urban and rural areas besides moving 250 million more people into the cities and increasing their productivity levels.
Strengthening reforms has to do with giving market forces more decisive role in resource allocation while continuing with the social market model of economy. It further means that bloated state-owned enterprises will be restructured and more foreign and private sectors players will be encouraged to compete.
The third element of comprehensively reforming rule of law relates to development of China’s legal system in many areas.
The fourth “Comprehensive” is best defined in “Tigers and Flies” campaign to root out corruption at all levels.
In his inaugural speech after being appointed as Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012, President Xi articulated the concerns of the common man when he said, “Our people expect better education, more stable jobs, better income, more reliable social security, medical care of a higher standard, more comfortable living conditions, and a more beautiful environment.”
The political philosophy of President Xi Jinping embodies the aspirations of not only the Chinese people but also those of all people from around the world. The world needs a leader of his vision, caliber and statesmanship to steer it out of unchartered waters. His dream of a peaceful and developed world is the dream of every man, woman and child of this world. And I dream the same dream.
Pakistan is proud of its friendship with China and I am personally honored to have the privilege of being able to claim President Xi Jinping as a friend. He along with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also taken Pak-China all-weather friendship to a new level of bilateral engagement through their personal efforts. Long live Pak-China friendship!
— (The writer is Chief Minister of Punjab)