China taking on leadership role in difficult times

By Toumert Al Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/18 20:33:39

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

Can we imagine a world in which China is the leading economic power? Can we think about a new global governance concept inspired by China's successful political system? Is it possible to reflect on China taking the leadership in defense of globalization? Well, this is already happening.

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation has concluded in Beijing, to pave the way for the new constructive role that China is taking upon itself, a role destined to bring prosperity to all the countries involved in the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, making history in leading a new global drive for better economic integration and governance for the people.

Some reports are predicting that the Chinese economy will overtake that of the US by 2050. This is 30 years from now. Not only will China overtake the US as the prime economy in the world, but its share of the world's GDP will rise to 20 percent, a 5 percentage point increase from its 2017 performance.

It should not be forgotten that in 1850 China was the largest economy in the world, offering peace and stability, while Europe under capitalism was marred by social revolts and expansionism ideals.

China is not only shaping a new economic era, but also making a giant leap toward the future, and specifically the fourth industrial revolution. China today is modernizing its industries, beyond the manufacturing strategies that helped to prop up its economy starting from the mainland's reform and opening-up in 1979.

Today under President Xi Jinping, China is upgrading its past policies to meet the demands of a more sustainable, robust economy. This is seen by the shift in focus to investment in technology, the aerospace industry, quantum communications, service oriented industries, transport and infrastructure, and a diversified portfolio of energy industries.

Embracing economic reform to take a leap toward the future is not the only advancement China is aiming for; the nation is offering the world an alternative to governance ideologies in a very challenging, disruptive socio-political environment. China bases its political governing ideology on elevating people's economic standards, making economic decisions based on scientific research, improving people's opportunities in a market economy where the gap between the haves and the have nots is reduced, and purging corruption and ill-gained wealth from the governing bodies.

The result of this governing principle is stunning: China is the only developing country after World War II to have almost eliminated poverty, and on a scale never seen before. In 1978, China's GDP per capita was similar to that of Zambia. Since 1949, China has managed to lift about 800 million people out of poverty. In other words, the UN would not have achieved its Millennium goal for reducing poverty if it were not for China's wise governance.

This leads to our third reflection: Can China take a leadership role in protecting globalization?

Well, the answer was very clear during the visit of President Xi to Davos in January this year. At a time of uncertainties following the stunning Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US, the world economic powers found themselves in need of a guarantor of free trade and a protector of the global economic order, a role that China now fulfills.

China is protecting the global economic order, defending globalization, and securing free trade and investment flows in a world marred with challenges.

China stands firmly by free trade, free flow of investment, exchange of know-how, opening financial institutions to all, and building and integrating infrastructure, all with one focus: the people's interests.

The author is director of Education, International Bachelor Program at the International School under China Foreign Affairs University.

Posted in: INSIDER'S EYE

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