Long-term vision underpins global certainty
Published: Oct 17, 2022 09:17 PM
Illustration: Liu Xidan/GT

Illustration: Liu Xidan/GT

Editor's Note:
China had an epic decade since 2012. Particularly in the last five years, which are truly momentous, extraordinary, the country has successfully dealt with major challenges including turbulent developments in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the COVID-19 epidemic. The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will lay out plans for the strategic missions and major measures in the next five years, getting the efforts to build a modern socialist country in all respects off to a good start. 

"The stability that is an outcome from China's long-term governance structure provides confidence in what China can provide to the world. This is significantly of value to the majority of the world nations who are on the path to development," Dave Bromwich (Bromwich), former president of the New Zealand China Friendship Society (NZCFS), shared with Global Times (GT) reporter Yu Jincui his views on the ongoing 20th National Congress of the CPC.

GT: You paid around 50 visits to China. Regarding China's development, what has impressed you the most over the past 10 years? 
Bromwich: 50 times. It sounds a lot, but I'm very pleased to have been there many times. In total, it amounts to about 10 years, because each time was 6 weeks up to around 12. 

The most obvious changes in China have been the infrastructural developments -- the bullet train, the amazing railway stations, the motorways, the new airports, etc., but I think the most important change that I've noticed has been the rural community development. The area I've worked mainly in has been rural community development, mainly in the northwest provinces. I can see the change in the life of the people there. They've gone from having very little income, struggling to get their children to school and to universities, to having a much better lifestyle. I think that is the most worthwhile, important and significant achievement I have noticed in the last 10 years. 
The Communist Party of China has been instrumental. It's a relationship between the people and the party. The party serves the people, the people respond to what the party has to offer. So it's a partnership. 

GT: Over the five years since the 19th National Congress of the CPC, China has managed to achieve world leading results in fighting the COVID-19 epidemic and developing economy, it has also defeated attempts at subversion by external forces in Hong Kong. What do these five years mean for the CPC?

Bromwich: Internally, the CPC has shown leadership that attracts strong support from the people, over 90 percent according to international surveys. Poverty reduction and protection from COVID are two key achievements.

Externally, the CPC has undergone attack from some Western countries that use false information to brand China as autocratic and oppressive. This has put the CPC under pressure in the eyes of some, but evidence tells the truth. 

In its management of COVID, the CPC has shown a strong desire to protect the people, and the people have responded very well to those difficult lockdown situations. The result has been quite unique in the world, even better than in New Zealand where we do quite a good job, in terms of protecting the lives of the people and the efficiency of preventing the spread of the disease. 
As for Hong Kong, I think it is an example of interference from the outside. What we saw is some young people actually committing acts of vandalism, violence, and destruction. We've also seen the extent to which external interference has occurred. But China has managed it very well. It is facing criticism from the outside, but it is quite unjustified if you look at the actual reality of those events. Now that we see order has been restored in Hong Kong, it is retaining its international reputation as a financial center, and so on. The re-establishment of order in Hong Kong is an important success for China, and can be seen in contrast to how the US managed January 6 Capitol riots in 2021 in Washington. For the impartial observer, the CPC has been shown in a great light.

Dave Bromwich Photo: Courtesy of Bromwich

Dave Bromwich Photo: Courtesy of Bromwich

GT: The CPC has gained great support from the Chinese people while in contrast, partisan struggle in the West often leads the approval ratings of many ruling parties to record low. How do you see the differences in governance philosophy between China and the West?

Bromwich: I see both governance systems as being different expressions of democracy. 

China can be seen as having a socialist consultative democracy. Opinion is passed up through the governance structure to the upper levels in Beijing, where consideration is given and decisions made, and passed back done for implementation at each lower level. Of equal importance is the long-term approach taken to decision-making - grand meetings are held every five years and annually to evaluate and fine tune the implementation of policy. The decisions made in Beijing can be interpreted and implemented in a flexible process at each lower level, reflecting the different needs.

Western democracy is a representative democracy where representatives are elected and governments formed according to the results of the elections. Invariably, governments are formed with less than 50 percent support on a 3-5 year cycle, and are unstable. The system is adversarial, with little opportunity to establish long-term stability or policy direction.

In some expressions of this form of democracy, for instance in the US, very high levels of funding are allowed to assist the election of preferred candidates that support the very wealthy at the expense of the majority and minority groups. As such it is not representative and is better referred to as a plutocracy.

An important evaluation of the effectiveness of a governance system is the extent to which it serves the people. In this respect, then, the governance system in China, whether you wish to refer to it as democratic or otherwise, provides a better governance philosophy than Western democracy delivers.  

GT: The 20th National Congress of the CPC will focus on the deployment of strategic tasks and major initiatives for the next five years. What advantages does transcending the Western styled election cycle give the CPC in governing? What does China's stability and certainty as a major power mean for the world?
Bromwich: It's a very important meeting. It's an opportunity to review the achievements and to consider and examine challenges. So they are doing it collectively, not in an adversarial way. There's a real advantage in that they can actually build on what they've got to improve. The advantage also lies in the stability that the system can provide and the consistency in the planning process. Because of the governance system where we see consistency and progress, a long vision, a five-year plan, it does provide the world with the opportunity to predict what China will do and what China has to offer. They're not going to waver because another party has been elected. 

The stability that is an outcome from this long term governance structure provides confidence in what China can provide to the world. This is significantly of value to the majority of the world nations who are on the path to development, and can see the achievements made by China, and the assistance offered to them by China. 

While the majority of Western nations are still aligning with the US unipolar world, they make up less than 25 percent of the world. NATO, Australia, and concerningly to me, NZ, are participating in this alignment. We are beginning to see the serious impact this alignment is having on those societies and its people, facing economic downturns, and energy shortages as an outcome of the war in Ukraine. Extending hostilities to the Taiwan of China arena would be devastating for the entire world. 

So, the stability and certainty that China provides is of importance to the whole world. If an uneasy peace can be maintained, then the Global South will benefit from the emergence of China as a major power, and part of a multipolar world. 

GT: How do you see the significance of the 20th CPC National Congress?

Bromwich: Not only is the meeting that is the first five-year meeting after the 100th anniversary of the CPC last year, but also it is a congress that faces a number of serious issues. Ongoing management of COVID is a very serious issue that is facing the CPC, and how to minimize the impact on the economy and society while continuing to protect lives and thus maintain the support of the people.

It is also the congress that has to address the aggressive attacks from the US. China's integrity is challenged by the misinformation and disinformation about issues like Xinjiang and allegations of so-called genocide and human rights abuses. And of course, the increase in provocations that are coming from the West toward the Taiwan island and cross-Straits issue are a heightened challenge. 

All these issues are being promoted in the West to challenge China by various agencies of the US, of which the Western media in all its iterations is the most public, and China needs a consistent stance on all these issues. So there are two areas of significance I see as important: First, to maintain the confidence of the people of China and make progress in developing the prosperity of its people, and second, to maintain a consistent and clear statement to the world that transcends the lies, and draws more and more countries to be part of a multipolar world. 

GT: You once called on the public to learn more and better about China from "reputable sources" instead of groundless allegations based on manufactured information in Western media. Can you elaborate it? Is this the reason why there are many misunderstanding among Western public about China? How to enhance mutual understanding?
Bromwich: In New Zealand China Friendship Society (NZCFS) our mission statement is to "promote goodwill, understanding and friendship with the peoples of China." This is an objective that Rewi Alley requested when he encouraged the establishment of NZCFS in 1952. It remains important today.
People need goodwill to be open to a culture and society different to their own. Then they can seek understanding and appreciation of similarities and differences, and with this openness sincere friendship can develop.
Sadly, there has been an increase in recent years of ill feeling toward China and racism toward Chinese people in Western society. This is largely due to the increase in misinformation and lies being reported in Western papers, and on news articles. It is not easy to turn this around. Journalists today are either lazy or deliberately manipulated by pressure from anti-China groups in the West. 
I believe the media is the main protagonist in creating this false impression. It is not easy to counter this, as letters get very little attention from news media. However, there are a lot of independent journalists and people with actual experience in China whose voice is being heard by a slowly increasing public, and we are hearing rebuttal now from more people with public profiles.
Truth will out in the end. The only way is to keep at informing people of the truth. Those that misinform rarely acknowledge that they have been wrong, they just stop repeating the lies!

GT: This year marks the 50th anniversary of China-New Zealand diplomatic relations. How do you see the prospects for the future development of the bilateral relations? What role do you think relations with China will play in New Zealand's foreign policy in the future?
Bromwich: The relationship has a very solid foundation, and I am confident that it can continue to develop. China has a very important place in New Zealand's foreign affairs. Trade with China is very important to New Zealand's economy, and China wants our exports. This will continue to be a strong driver in maintaining a friendly relationship. 
I believe the geopolitical pressures we face at the moment are a temporary aberration in what has until recently been a very friendly and mutually respectful relationship. 
The people-to-people relationship is led by some dedicated people, who will always seek ways to further promote engagement between the two peoples. The political connection is undergoing some difficult times, with the pressure for New Zealand to play its part in supporting the unipolar world and accept the concept of China as a threat. However this does not bear any weight on analysis.