CPC creates peace and stability for growth

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/19 15:58:40

Editor's Note:

Addressing a grand gathering Tuesday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up, Chinese President Xi Jinping described it as "a great revolution in the history of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation" and vowed to carry it through to the end. What role has the reform and opening-up played in China's development? How did it influence the China-US relationship over the past 40 years? Global Times (GT) reporter Yu Jincui talked to Kishore Mahbubani (Mahbubani), Singapore's permanent representative to the UN, on these issues on the sidelines of the third Understanding China Conference.

Kishore Mahbubani Photo: mahbubani.net

GT: In your opinion, how has reform and opening-up contributed to the changes China made over the past 40 years?

Mahbubani: The decision to launch the reform and opening-up in 1978 has had a spectacular effect. Never before in human history has there been such massive improvement in living conditions of any people as quickly and comprehensively as China has done in the last 40 years on such a large scale. Smaller countries have grown fast. But for a big country to grow so fast is spectacular and unusual, so the results have been amazing and positive.

GT: How do you comment on the Communist Party of China's leadership in the process?

Mahbubani: I think that for economic reform to succeed, you need political stability. Because as you know, in the hundred years, even before the Communist Party of China (CPC) took over in 1949, when China was invaded, when China was occupied by Japan and so on, under those conditions of civil wars, foreign wars, you cannot succeed and prosper. So peace is an essential requirement. Peace and political stability - the CPC has provided both in the last 40 years.

GT: The reform and opening-up and the development of China-US relations took place simultaneously. How does the former influence the latter?

Mahbubani: If you want to know why Chinese economic reforms achieved so much, it's because when China decided to join the open global trading system, the US welcomed it into the open global trading system. When historians look back, they would be puzzled. How did the US generously welcome a potential competitor into the system? Partly because the Cold War was on and the US sought China as a partner against the Soviet Union. So, it was in a way a geopolitical accident that led to the US ushering in China into the open global trading system. But it came with benefits for China.

GT: Some in the US call it a blunder to have let China enter the WTO.

Mahbubani: I argue that Americans and Europeans should not blame China for the loss of jobs, they should blame their own leaders for not preparing the people for the new competition.

Unfortunately, the elites in America and Europe didn't pay attention to the fact that their workers would not benefit from the globalization, though they themselves became very wealthy. In fact, the median income of American workers has not gone up in 40 years, during the period of China's reforms. That's shocking. That's the result of failure of American leaders and elites. They are the ones to be blamed.

GT: You said China will replace the US in 20 years. With China's rise, are the two countries destined for conflict?

Mahbubani: My goal in 2019 is to write a book on China-US relations. I have absolutely no doubt that strategic competition between the US and China will increase. But it doesn't have to lead to a war. Also, I think after some initial difficult periods, it is possible for the countries to live together. But there needs to be a lot of political wisdom.

GT: While China is vowing to expand opening-up, the US is withdrawing from a series of international organizations, how do you view this?

Mahbubani: It's extremely unwise of the US to withdraw from international organizations. They were essentially created by US leadership with American leaders and with ideas from American thinkers. This is the time especially for the US to support these institutions because they will provide bridges for cooperation and understanding between the US and China. Right now under President Trump, you have unilateralism instead of multilateralism, but I believe the US will eventually decide multilateralism is a better course to take.

GT: What's your take on the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou?

Mahbubani: We have to wait and see. It's a bit unfortunate. I liked the column that was written by Jeffery Sachs, saying the Western tradition is used to punishing companies, not individuals. It's very unusual that the US is going to prosecute an individual because after the great financial crisis, none of the bankers of America went to jail.

GT: Can you offer some suggestions to China to deepen reform and opening-up?

Mahbubani: China should acknowledge that now it has become the second biggest economy, and is soon to become the largest economy in the world. China will now have to play a bigger leadership role in protecting many of the international organizations that facilitated its rise.

I'll give you two examples, first the United Nations, which is a very important organization. Of all the countries and members of the UN, China should become its No.1 defender.

Similarly, China is the world's No.1 trading power, so it has to become the No.1 defender of the WTO. But to defend the WTO effectively, China has to work with other supporters like ASEAN, Japan, South Korea and Europe.



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