Sustainable development doesn’t suit all

By Liu Zhiqin Source:Global Times Published: 2014-11-9 17:08:01

The annual APEC Economic Leader's Meeting kicks off on Monday in Beijing, and this event will surely focus on global economic recovery.

Many people all over the world have expected new approaches that would be worked out by top world leaders to strengthen the global economic growth.

That's why the term "sustainable development" has so frequently appeared in most global media outlets and speeches by thousands of experts across the world.

But is sustainable development really a panacea for the stagnant global economy? The answer is a definite no. The global economy faces many different problems to which there is no single solution.

China will face the heavy pressure of economic slowdown. The central government has been trying to encourage local governments to stabilize the growth and ease the slowdown pressure, but the facts show that the obstacles to a quick recovery of economic growth are becoming harder than expected.

There are three forms of development in the global economic recovery process, besides sustainable development, more countries first need to have "substantial" and "survival" development.

For most countries, sustainable development is actually a higher level of development. These countries need to adopt other principles of development to meet their real challenges.

Sustainable development is more suitable for developed nations, whereas others have different priorities.

Developed nations have realized their targets of urbanization, industrialization and social wealth distribution systems, and have a mature ability to deal with sensitive issues.

So they have the space to look for sustainable development. But China, as a developing country, still has a lot to do in realizing urbanization, industrial restructuring and social reform, awaiting for more effective investment and new type of governance ability.

In order for sustainable development in China, we must simultaneously persist in a "substantial development" policy that can bring more real benefits to ordinary people.

There is still a long way to go for China. We have to acknowledge the fact that during the past three decades of reform, China has been suffering in the process of development, which has caused an environmental and social division to open up between rich and poor.

Only when China is advancing with substantial development, will it meet its goal of a "sustainable rise" in global economy. A civilized urbanization, environment-driven industrial evolution, and a new social order will carry China to the goal of the Chinese dream.

There are still many countries with very poor conditions, and where poverty is the chief daily issue. The priority for these nations is looking for ways to survive and eventually escape the worsening conditions.

It is too naïve and too early to talk about the sustainable or substantial development for these nations. So the global leaders have to take the chance of the APEC meeting to discuss how to help these nations just get by.

In the most urgent case, the African nations facing the Ebola epidemic are looking for a lifeline to survive.

The whole world is looking closely to see what concrete and practical measures can be used to give a chance to these nations.

These three forms of development are not fixed with no interchanges.

Actually if any nation, even it has been an advanced country, could degenerate into lower development level. Some formerly rich European countries have already fallen to the survival development level from the sustainable development level.

China must always be vigilant to the importance of achieving substantial development first, and then to sustainable progress.

By then China will be secure enough to release the present economic slowdown pressure for a new norm of economic growth and a more stable and constant growth rate.

We have high expectations that the APEC leaders have enough acumen and wisdom to take the necessary steps for healthy global economic rejuvenation.

The author is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.

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