China offers greater Opportunities for Developing Countries
After three months of stay and extensive travels in China, as a witness to its rapid and tremendous rise as the second global power l returned home a much humbled person. I had fifty three field visits across China even under the COVID-19 pandemic including to the military museum in Nanxhang Jianxi province where the Long March began. And yet even by that measure and having five visits so far to China, my understanding is truly very limited, many analysts agree that the last forty years after the Reform and Opening Up declared by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 have been so far the best in China since the opium war of 1839-42 when Britain forced Chinese to import, grow and consume opium. And because the Chinese tried to resist Britain and France then global imperial powers waged war which they won and forced China to sign the treaty of humiliation in which it surrendered Hong Kong which Britain now a diminished power had to surrender back to China in 1997.
Since the Opium war until 1949 when chairman Mao Tse Tung (Zedong) led the Communist Party of China (CPC) founded the new China, it remained a weak and impoverished vassal of France, Britain and Japan. Contrary to widely held view of the West, China is succeeding despite being under the firm control of one party leadership by the CPC. The conventional economic wisdom from western scholars is that countries need a liberal democracy in order to develop. China's miracle of the last forty years during which frog-lept Japan, former USSR and Japan to become second to the US deserve serious attention especially by Africa. In the last three months China has celebrated the centenary of the founding of Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1921, the of modern China in 1949, and fifty years since regaining seat in the UN and one permanent member of the Security Council with support mostly from Africa and other developing countries against opposition from US.
This week it held and established strategic patternership with ten ASEAN nations some overlapping European countries and next week in Dakar Senegal it will meet 53 African countries for FOCAC to strengthen the Belt and Road Initiative.
The unhidden wish of many in the US and Europe since 1949 has been that China should change to a liberal multiparty democracy and the so-called free market economy. Western scholars and policy makers whose own countries have collapsed continue to drive a narrative that there's something fundamentally wrong with the Chinese model.
But having learnt the sad lessons how countries that made sudden switch to liberal democracy and market economy like former USSR and how they are struggling on the margins, it's unlikely that China will change its political system anytime soon.
Forty years of economic reform and opening up has and continues to deliver the best for everyone in China and in fact throughout the world today. For the first time China is having the largest number of the middle class whose productivity and consumption is catalysing its socio-economic transformation. China has delivered all its 1.4 billion population out of absolute poverty.
China is having of its 300,000 students studying abroad in world league institutions and return home after completion instead of staying in Europe and US. Before COVID-19 struck, 120 million Chinese tourists were traveling abroad annually and returning home because it's a much better place.
And yet contrary to the Western conventional economic growth theory is that without civil liberties of the media, free speech, assembly, association and multiparty democracy, China is delivering some of the best scientific and technology innovations. In short what's not supposed to happen in liberal economic theory is happening in China. As l found it, no one, not even the few evening roadside vendors carry cash anymore because WeChat on smartphone has everything from buying ticket for the metro, order boiled eggs and rice noodles to be delivered to your doorstep to booking flights. To control the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone has a smartphone to scan QR health code which permits one to enter public facilities like buses, underground subways, restaurants or shopping Malls. Without a smartphone you can only stay in your room or house.
The popular but misplaced idea of insisting that China should follow America, Europe, Canada, Australia or the failed trials in Africa with liberal democracy needs to be vigorously intarogated.
While modern China has never waged war on another country, to avoid collision it's imperative for the US and its allies to device a great convergence instead of trying to be the top dogs forever, try to create a world where they're comfortably accommodated in a more functional, effective and rule-based multilateral order. Otherwise they could just pass on the handcuffs to another power.
The old order in which the US creates and undermines operational effectiness of institutions like UN, World Bank, IMF, WHO or WTO should be rectified. In particular, the US which has never made any adjustments to another power ought to learn doing so.