Former Peru president talks about China's reform

By Xu Lin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 23, 2012
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Former Peru President Alan Garcia Perez interviewed by staff reporter Michael Zárate from China Today magazine in Beijing on July 8, 2012.

The following is the second one of a series of articles on 'Scientific development and brilliant achievements' in foreigners' eyes.

Alan Garcia Perez regards himself as a follower of China's great reformer Deng Xiaoping. Perez served two terms as Peru's president from 1985 to 1990 and 2006 to 2011. During his second term, trade volume between China and Peru tripled, and China surpassed the U.S. to become the Peru's largest trading partner. Perez attended the World Peace Forum held by Tsinghua University in Beijing on July 7, 2012. The next day, Michael Zárate from China Today magazine had an opportunity to sit down with him for an exclusive interview.

This was Perez's eighth visit to China, the former president told China Today. He said he was very impressed by China's great changes over the years, including the country's social reforms. When talking about China's diplomatic policies, Perez said that China treats all countries equally, whether they are major world powers or smaller countries like some in Latin America. In Perez's view, China's current political system is a system which embraces high wisdom. He highly admires China's Confucianism, inherited from a 2,500-years history, which, in his words, is the driving force for China's rapid progress in the world today.

China Today: Mr. President, in the past two dozen years, the world has undergone a number of major events, like the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and the financial crisis in 2008. How do you evaluate this era?

Perez: In my opinion, this is an era which started the new productive force, and the information industry replaced fossil fuels as the main creator of wealth in society. Basically speaking, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the appearance of single-polar world pattern reinforced the capitalist market; however only when the world removes the misunderstanding to Islamic countries and the system of the Arabic world is reformed can the market be established. This is what today's world is like. It also features high speed, high creativity and power manipulation. For these, we are not yet ready, and neither is the young generation. This could be seen from the mortgage loan crisis in 2008 and 2009.

China Today: During your second term as president, trade volume between Peru and China almost tripled, and your country had a favorable balance of trade with China. This was good for Peru. China also became the biggest trade partner of Peru. What do you put these accomplishments down to?

Perez: Firstly, we understand clearly that Peru should open its door to the world. During that period, Peru was in the course of opening its trade to the world, but was very worried about import duties and trade barriers. Then the Peruvian government adjusted import tariffs from 13 percent down to 3 percent on average, and levied zero taxes on 86 percent of imported goods. In addition, the government signed a series of international trade agreements, such as the free trade agreement with China. Of course, we saw the guidance of China's central policies in trade, to which we should also pay attention.

China, with the guidance of its central policies, is more efficient in creating a good environment for free trade, as compared with disordered capitalism. Today, there is ordered capitalism, planned capitalism and so-called "democratic" but disordered capitalism in the world. To deal with disordered capitalism, it is not possible to absorb the investment, even from a small enterprise, through talks with the country's president, but it is possible to do so with China. China's long-term development plan is not [according to] the wishes of the leaders, but is in accordance with the reality.

China Today: The free-trade agreement signed between Peru and China took effect on March 1, 2010. Could you please tell us what achievements have been made since then?

Perez: Bilateral trade between Peru and China is getting better and better. Before the agreement was signed, the two countries had reached a strategic partnership which was expected by Chinese enterprises investing in Peru. The strategic partnership was the blueprint of the free-trade agreement discussed since 2008. The agreement, which was signed to guide the economic development and the bilateral economic relations between the two countries, has since been very fruitful. The US$4 billion investment in early 2005 has now increased to the current US$12 billion. This is the growth speed, I believe. In the next few years, bilateral trade volume is expected to be further doubled.

China Today: What do you think is the main reason for China's fast development in the past decade?

Perez: We must know that China is a country different from others, with a collective system. This is a country which does not lack technological inventions. I would say that the most fundamental reason for China's fast development is the excellent leadership of Deng Xiaoping and other leaders, and also individual and collective devotions. I have always regarded Deng as the most outstanding leader in the world. China has undergone the most profound social reforms in the 20th century and even in the whole history of mankind. This was distinct from the social changes of the former Soviet Union in the 20th century which dragged that country into poverty.

Providing adequate food and clothes for its people in a large scope can be called a reform in the country. In 1970, when people started the era of new information communications, Deng had foreseen everything. Deng is one of the greatest leaders in human history, and even today we can still feel his influence.

China Today: You have visited China eight times. Which changes in China impressed you the most?

Perez: When I paid official visits to China, what I was focusing on was not the buildings and highways, but the Chinese people, their feelings shown in their eyes, their clothing, their food and the vehicles they used. China's tremendous changes in the past 30 years have all been reflected in the Chinese people.

From my knowledge about today's China and other information, I am definitely positive that the improvements of people's livelihood and satisfaction with their lives have fully reflected the great changes in China. As a guest, I am very pleased that we can talk and communicate with the young people here, without any [barriers]. People in fashion clothes are no longer as shy as they were 30 years ago. These changes in China are like a revolution in human progress.

China Today: What can Peru benefit from China's economic growth?

Perez: I can say in all sincerity that my 2004 trip to China enlightened me so much. I clearly saw changes of the places where I visited years ago. In an evening in 1983, I was honored to meet then-Chinese leaders Deng Xiaoping and Li Xiannian at Li's home. That was the first time for me to hear about the construction of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and Beijing suburb areas, which we visited later. At that time, thoses projects were in the planning stage of infrastructure construction.

At that time, I couldn't see clearly, like Deng did, that cross-boundary and brand-new information technology would bring in investment in so many ways. Some countries don't know how to make use of this because they are still living in the 20th century. For me, talking about the 20th century, the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and wars is like talking about the 10th century and the plagues at that time. We need to have a farsighted view when thinking about this. If the governments do not make a good use of investment, it would be a sad thing for them, also for their people.

China Today: There are often conflicts between national sovereignty and world peace like the issues in Libya and Syria. This is a serious issue for present-day geopolitics. In your opinion, what role should China play in safeguarding world peace?

Perez: In the beginning of my political career, I thought that dealing with other countries equally was just empty talk. However, the Chinese government and people, deeply influenced by Confucianism, have practically implemented it. China equally treats its relations with major world powers, Latin American countries and even small countries like Fiji. China respects them, because this is the essence of the great Confucianism. Other countries are unable to do so because they treat their relations with others in regard with their size, wealth and military power. When I was 33, I was lucky to have dinner with the then-Chinese president. I didn't realize that I was just a political leader of a small country. After that, I started to believe that respect and harmony are not just empty talks.

I had a brief talk with the then-Chinese Foreign Minister, from which I found that our so-called economic barriers and security issues didn't exist. Do not interfere in others' internal affairs: If domestic disputes develop into contests of atomic bombs, the final victims will only be the country and its people. I fully agree on limiting nuclear weapons.

China Today: Why do you think that answers to everything happening in the world can be found in the traditional Chinese ideology?

Perez: This new world, featuring high speed, high creativity and multiple ways of payment, requires competition. In the past, Peru and other Latin American countries mainly relied on their natural resources and their domestic market to compete with other countries. Today, however, this competition has broken territorial boundaries. Only the more diligent and self-disciplined nations can use the least amount of resources to create the greatest wealth. Only these nations can set the world pace. Now China is setting that pace. Europe is recklessly wasting its rich social resources - only pleasure-seeking, and no production. Without countries like China which have strong competitiveness, the present situation will go on.

Why is China setting the world pace? The Chinese people now have more freedom, more ways of communication, and more abilities to create wealth. According to Abraham Gardner, this is due to the "basic characteristics" of Chinese people. The basic characteristics of the Chinese people were formed a few thousand years ago. Self-examination, collective labor, respecting history and one's elders, the concept of harmony and the bearing of suffering are characteristics that Westerners don't have. It is these characteristics, which originated from Confucian ideology formed 2,500 years ago, that enables China to set the world pace.

China Today: Today we talked about Deng Xiaoping and Confucius. Are there any other Chinese leaders in history that you also admire?

Perez: [Former Chinese president] Jiang Zemin - he is also an outstanding writer. Deng Xiaoping was a man with great personalities, but Jiang showed all the virtues of the nation. There is another man that I admire very much, President Hu Jintao. Wen Jiabao is also a very intelligent political leader, who impressed me very much. So do the other Chinese leaders. China's political system is not a dynastic, family or clan system. It is a system of high wisdom, the choice of the Chinese people.

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