OPINION: China has made the historic shift from a centrally planned economy to a dynamic socialist market economy and from a closed or semi-closed society to an open one. With an annual growth rate of more than 10 percent for 30 years running, China has become the second-largest economy in the world.
By Fei Mingxing
China is such a thick book with a history of more than 5000 years. It may take decades, even one’s lifetime, to read. Is there any shortcut? My South African friends keep asking. Regrettably, I don’t think so. Nevertheless, the following keywords serve the purpose to some extent:
In July 1921, the Communist Party of China (CPC) was founded by a group of young Marxists. The CPC has taken the happiness of the people and rejuvenation of the nation as its aspiration since its founding. It has profoundly changed the course of Chinese history in modern times, transformed the future of the Chinese people and the nation, and altered the landscape of world development.
At the time of its founding, the CPC had just over 50 members. Today, with more than 95 million members in a country of more than 1.4 billion people, it is the largest governing party in the world and enjoys tremendous international influence. By its Constitution and practice, the CPC is the vanguard of the Chinese working class, the Chinese people, and the Chinese nation.
Through arduous struggle, the CPC led the Chinese people to found the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, 1949. The Chinese people realised a great leap from thousands of years of feudal autocracy to a people's democracy, and from being the "sick man of East Asia" to a people that had stood up.
Land reform was rolled out across the country, abolishing the feudal land system that had endured for over 2,000 years. Socialist transformation was carried out in agriculture, individual craft industries, and capitalist industry and commerce. The socialist system was established to provide a basic institutional guarantee for addressing the root causes of poverty.
From the founding of the CPC in 1921 to the founding of the PRC in 1949, more than 3.7 million party members gave their lives to the national liberation.
Reform and Opening up
In December 1978, the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee ushered China in a new chapter of reform and opening up and socialist modernisation. Aimed at dismantling the economic straitjacket and unlocking the growth potential, the reform programme put China on the path to modernisation and prosperity.
China has made the historic shift from a centrally planned economy to a dynamic socialist market economy and from a closed or semi-closed society to an open one. With an annual growth rate of more than 10 percent for 30 years running, China has become the second-largest economy in the world.
China has brought about economic and social transformation without getting involved in wars on foreign lands, pursuing overseas colonisation, or causing widespread social unrest. The public’s trust in government has been above 90 percent for years. China is determined to open wider and share development opportunities with the rest of the world.
In the initial period of reform and opening up, late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping issued a declaration that "Poverty is not socialism; socialism means eliminating poverty". The CPC set the goal of ensuring the people a moderately prosperous life by the end of the 20th century.
In 1994, China launched its first-ever national poverty alleviation programme. The 18th CPC National Congress in 2012 saw China pulling together with greater determination against poverty. In February 2021, President Xi Jinping declared that China had brought about a historical resolution to the problem of absolute poverty of the country.
Since the 1970s, China has lifted 770 million rural poor out of poverty, contributing to more than 70 percent of global poverty reduction. China’s complete eradication of extreme poverty – the first target of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – 10 years ahead of schedule is a milestone in the history of the Chinese nation and the history of mankind.
"One of the features distinguishing socialism from capitalism is that socialism means common prosperity, not polarization of income," Deng Xiaoping said. And Xi Jinping reiterated that "Common prosperity is the fundamental principle of Chinese socialism."
China has envisioned a future where prosperity is shared by everyone in the country. It vowed to establish a scientific public policy system and a reasonable distribution system that benefits everyone, guaranteeing basic needs, expanding the size of the middle-income group and adjusting excessive incomes to promote social fairness and justice. Actions are already underway.
Zhejiang Province, an economic powerhouse in China, has been designated as a demonstration zone for promoting common prosperity. The province will strive to grow its per capita gross domestic product (GDP) to the level of moderately developed economies by 2025 and basically achieve common prosperity by 2035, with its per capita GDP and the income of urban and rural residents reaching the standard for developed countries.
A Community with a Shared Future for Mankind
China stands up for sharing the fruits of development among all countries and peoples. Building a global community with a shared future is a profound vision advocated by President Xi Jinping, with the core idea as "to build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity."
At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, President Xi Jinping made announcements, including establishing an assistance fund for South-South cooperation and continuing to increase investment in the least-developed countries to reach $12 billion (R178.87) by 2030.
To combat the Covid-19, China has provided over 1.6 billion doses of vaccines to more than 100 countries and international organisations and launched an Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on Covid-19 Vaccines Cooperation with 30 other countries. It is now conducting joint vaccine production with 16 countries.
Guided by the vision of a community of life for man and Nature, China prioritises ecological conservation and pursues a green and low-carbon path to development, striving to peak its CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060. Though the journey ahead may be long and arduous, with sustained actions, China believes that the destination will be reached.
As Mr. Nelson Mandela said, it is impossible until it is done.
* Fei Mingxing is the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Durban
** The views expressed here may not be that of IOL.