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Understanding China Means Much for Global Peaceful Development

2019-05-17 14:45:00 Source:China Today Author:
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CHINA defies easy categorization. With a population of more than 1.3 billion, it stretches from the barren Taklamakan Desert in the west to the booming metropolis of Shanghai in the east. It is ultramodern and deeply traditional at the same time. The most basic knowledge about China is that the politics, economy and culture vary by regions.

As the world’s second largest economy, largest manufacturer, largest trading nation and second largest consumer of goods for many years in a row, China has continued to attract more and more attention worldwide. However, due to geographical, linguistic and cultural barriers, as well as the complexity of China’s national conditions, it is often misunderstood by some Westerners.

With the success of the first two annual sessions, The 3rd Understanding China Conference was held in December 2018 in Beijing, where foreign economists and regional leaders sat together with their Chinese counterparts to enhance mutual understanding. During the conference, China Today interviewed several renowned experts and found out that China’s rapid development has a profound influence on the world.

Setting aside Stereotypes

Stephen Roach, a renowned American economist, is currently a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and a senior lecturer at the Yale School of Management. Roach has devoted much of his career to studying the future development of the Asia-Pacific region. “I think there’s a lot about China that the world does not understand,” he noted. In his eyes, it’s extremely important for the rest of the world to work on deepening its understanding of China.

I think to engage with other communities in the world, it would be good to have conferences like this ‘Understanding China’ in the United States, in Europe and in Japan. A broad consensus among people is important. The challenge is to convince those outside of China,” Roach said. The key areas about China that should be discussed include such subjects as China’s innovation and manufacturing industries.

Gordon Bajnai is a Hungarian entrepreneur and economist who was also prime minister of Hungary from 2009 to 2010. Being a politician and economist who has in-depth knowledge of both China’s past and present, he said that China is now gradually regaining the global role that it had hundreds of years ago. That means the world needs to embrace it, to understand the meaning of this change, and adapt with each other.

Nathan Gardels, co-founder of and senior advisor to the Berggruen Institute, said when commenting on China’s growth and opening-up, “It is important to the whole world because if China slows down, America slows down, and the whole world slows down. So continuing reform and opening-up into the future is important for the goals of our world.”

China’s Reform and Opening-up: Study More, Learn More

The reform and opening-up is a topic foreign scholars cannot steer by when they study and seek to understand China. The past 40 years have seen much achieved:

At the national level, China’s GDP grew from RMB 367.9 billion in 1978 to RMB 82.7 trillion in 2017, with an annual growth of 9.5 percent on average. It is much higher than the world’s average level of 2.9 percent during the same period. Remarkable achievements have been made in infrastructure construction, forming complicated networks of highways, railways, and high-speed railways. In terms of human rights, China has lifted 740 million people above the poverty line; 93.8 percent of school-age students are guaranteed nine-year compulsory education; 900 million people have access to a basic pension; over 1.3 billion people are covered by the medical insurance system; and life expectancy rose from 67.8 years in 1981 to 76.7 years in 2017.

These hard facts are the foundation for the study of China. During the interview, Roach told China Today that China’s reform and opening-up beginning 40 years ago is very important. “It matters to me personally because I am an economist, and it’s fascinating for me to study how China has risen to the occasion over the last 40 years, what it has done, and how it has articulated a vision for the future. It’s a unique case study for me as an economist.”

Besides being a case study for a leading economist, China’s reform and opening-up has attracted those who want to learn from it. It has a different meaning to Güven Sak, a Turkish economist, academic, founder and managing director of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, as Turkey adopted a similar opening-up policy at the same time.

I’m from Turkey. So the Chinese opening-up matters much to us because Turkey also started opening-up in the early 1980s, together with China. But we have different routes. And yours seems to be successful, so I’m going to do some comparison to try to understand the differences.”

 Dawn Nakagawa, former executive vice president of the Pacific Council on International Policy, is now executive vice president of the Berggruen Institute. “Amazing” is the first word that popped up as Nakagawa passionately described China’s 40 years of reform and opening-up. She views the 40 years from a humanitarian perspective, looking at how life changed for the better in a lot of ways for Chinese people, and the government’s decisiveness 40 years ago deserves credit for everything that we see today.

I think it’s a good example to the world. I also think the way that China was 40 years ago and what it’s growing into is really important for the people of China. So that’s great.”

More Cooperation

The ongoing international trade protectionism, geopolitical tensions and other issues make the global economy face downward pressures. China has been embracing globalization, actively joining multilateral organizations, participating in and promoting dialogue and cooperation among major economies, and promoting the reform of the global financial governance mechanism to avoid a prolonged worldwide economic recession. China’s positive and open attitude towards cooperation has also attracted like-minded people.

Bajnai favors the huge consumer market of China. In his eyes, China is a strategic direction in terms of economic and people-to-people exchange, and Hungarians need to improve their understanding of China. “We also need to be more able to export to the Chinese market as China is opening up and reforming its economy, thus allowing more and more Hungarian products to be imported. We hope to sell more goods as well as technologies here.”

With regard to cooperation, Nakagawa said that of all the areas for cooperation, she really looks forward to seeing cooperation in AI and genetic engineering is as these are very powerful technological fields. “There is a lot of caution in the way AI and genetic engineering are developed, and I hope there’s more international cooperation around how to do that effectively and humanely.”

She also expressed her concerns over an increase in competition instead of cooperation across the whole world, including China and the U.S., and called for global responsibility to cooperate more and compete less.

China defies easy categorization, but the pursuit of peace and harmony is the essence of Chinese culture. China will continue to open up to the outside world and take an active part in global governance to fulfill its responsibilities as a major country. At the same time, China will further transform its development model, and the new drivers of China’s development will bring more opportunities for peaceful cooperation in the world.

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