China, from Mao to now | By Dr Abdul Wahid


China, from Mao to now

CHINA has achieved remarkable economic growth in the last four decades, following the implementation of economic reforms, free trade and investment policies. Its real annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate has averaged 9.5%, making it one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The World Bank has lauded this growth as the fastest sustainable expansion by a major economy in world history. China’s remarkable economic growth has led to a doubling of its GDP every eight years on average, resulting in the uplifting of approximately 800 million people from poverty. As a result, China has emerged as the leading economy in the world with the highest purchasing power, level of industrialization, merchandise trade and foreign exchange reserves.

China is not only focused on its own growth but also committed to global peace and development. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global project led by China aimed at boosting economic development and interregional connectivity across the world. It is the biggest foreign infrastructure investment in human history, involving billions of dollars in transportation, energy and telecommunications infrastructure, as well as industrial and technological capacity building. Chinese foreign policy is guided by the five principles of peaceful coexistence which emphasize mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit. The Chinese leadership developed these principles in the early days of establishing diplomatic and economic relations with non-communist Asian countries. They wanted to assure these countries that China would not interfere in their internal affairs despite being a communist government. A recent instance is the Saudi-Iran peace efforts which have been facilitated by China’s patronage.

Poverty alleviation has been a key national policy for China and under Xi’s leadership since 2012, over 100 million rural citizens have been lifted out of poverty. Xi hailed the campaign as a remarkable achievement and a contribution to the world. The Chinese Communist Party’s leadership is credited for this outstanding achievement. The government spent over 80 billion dollars since 2015 to eliminate poverty, relocating millions of rural households to more economically viable new villages, building new roads, housing and other infrastructure. The government also provided direct cash transfers to support the campaign. Opponents of the socialist system argue that China’s rapid growth is attributed to a capitalist-friendly economy. This includes factors such as low-cost labour and coastal cities’ suitability for exports which are crucial for development. However, it is insufficient to conclude that these factors alone can create an economic miracle. It is comparable to believing in magical steps that make development and poverty eradication feasible. The party and the communist system are being overlooked, leading to an injustice. In the context of communism, how the state mobilizes and facilitates essential services is critical to creating a market conducive to investment.

China has united all institutions under one banner, known as the governance ecosystem, allowing for centralized and unified leadership of the Communist Party to mobilize resources for large-scale efforts. The party has also taken a practical and scientific approach to poverty alleviation with targeted measures based on innovative strategies such as the “Six Reforms”. These reforms include defining and identifying the poor, setting up targeted programs, using capital effectively, taking household-based measures and sending officials to each village. This approach has helped accelerate efforts to eradicate poverty and effectively communicate its impact to the public. Last but not least, the political and administrative structure of a state plays a vital role in poverty eradication, social equality and collective development.

In order to highlight this miracle in Urdu, the author of article and Prof. Tahir Naeem Malik co-authored a book titled “Cheen: Iz Chairman Mao ta Ghurbat Mukao” under the supervision of Confucius Institute Islamabad published by Sanjh Publications Lahore to provide a comprehensive understanding of China’s development and its success in achieving growth and poverty eradication goals. The book aims to help the common man comprehend China’s remarkable achievements which are often cited by Pakistani leaders as an example. The authors developed a thesis on how China accomplished this miracle. The first part of this book focuses on China’s political and administrative environment and infrastructure, exploring how it has contributed to the country’s prosperity and development and benefited its citizens. In contrast, despite the rapid development of major economies such as the United States and India, the benefits are often limited to a few individuals and fail to reach the common people. The concern is that individual development may overshadow collective development. However, China has successfully ensured that the benefits of development reach the common man. The political and administrative structure of the state and the Chinese Communist Party played a significant role in achieving this collective development. The strong political structure of the party facilitated the transfer of development benefits to the people.

The book comprises five chapters, focusing on different aspects of China’s development. The first chapter delves into China’s political system, political leadership i.e. Mao to now and their roles in poverty eradication and sustainable growth. The second chapter explores the strategy and philosophy of the Chinese Communist Party i.e. People centric philosophy. The third chapter highlights people centric policy and its effects on common man. The fourth chapter specifically addresses the impact of different leader’s policies on poverty reduction process. Lastly, the fifth chapter provides an overview of Xi Jinping’s global initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative and its potential to improve world peace, poverty alleviation and the lives of common people. China’s experience demonstrates that poverty is not an insurmountable obstacle and international cooperation is necessary to eradicate it. The path towards eradicating poverty is arduous, but perseverance and dedication are crucial to making progress. In this regard, China can be the best case study for countries that are suffering from extreme poverty especially for Pakistan.

—The writer is Assistant Professor (PhD Financial Economics) National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad.

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