China's magic to break doom spell

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, September 28, 2009
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If new coinage such as "Chinamerica" and "G2" has any meaning, their constant appearance in mainstream western media must naturally lead people to consider China a rising power that will soon be the equal of the United States.

China may not be that powerful yet, but 30 years' of rapid economic growth and its strong performance during the current global economic downturn may enable the world to rethink its secret of staying vital.

Yet the road to the country's present position has witnessed more than a few rocks strewn in the way. It has been a bumpy zigzag taking time to travel. In the past 60 years, many people had constantly feared the most populous Communist country in the world would some time come to an end.

Following the founding of the People's Republic of China on Oct. 1, 1949, there were doubts the ruling Communist Party, which described itself as a party of the proletariat and whose membership consisted mainly of a large number of peasants from rural areas, could rule a continent-sized country.

Red China would soon collapse as its leaders knew little about how to fed its 500 million people, so the reasoning went. And the officials had little knowledge of managing cities and creating a modern industrial power, experts of the Kuomintang, the then rival of the Communists, believed.

Bumpy zigzags and doomsaying

The Korean War (1950-1953), three years of natural disasters (1959-1961), coupled with the aftermath of the Great Leap Forward plus the 10-year turmoil of the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976) have been among the major obstacles circumvented.

During the cold war, the country's survival was threatened by nuclear bombs of the world's super powers.

But it did survive and miracles took place.

Wang Yukai, a political scientist at the China National School of Administration, explained the reason China defied and survived the doomsaying was that during times of difficulty and when the rest of the world was casting doubt on its vitality, China was a relatively insular country, focusing on resolving its inner problems.

Others said that it was because China built up its own strength developing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, in addition to its basic industrial system in the 1950s and 1960s.

The year 1978 reshaped China's fate and path, and perhaps even presaged a shift in the world's power balance. China's reformers, led by Deng Xiaoping, decided to open the country to the rest of the world and formulated a new economic model that attracted universal attention, once again, to the Middle Kingdom.

However, pressures continue as its economy is skyrocketing.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, following the political turmoil in China in the summer of 1989, led Westerners to doubt the sustainability of China's persisting on "a socialist road with Chinese characteristics".

In 1994, Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute of the USA, painted in his report "Who will feed China" a gloomy picture, saying that the country with the largest population in the world would be inevitably become famine-stricken which would cause international chaos and bring havoc to the human race.

Again, China's entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 prompted Western scholars to question the sustainability of its economic development. Many believed that China's "stiff and fragile" state-run enterprises would break down and trigger nationwide panic.

Moreover, Gordon Chang, a lawyer who worked for two decades in China and later became a naturalized U.S. citizen, predicted in 2003 the extreme difficulties the country faced would lead to the "coming collapse of China" .

According to his scenario, China could not sustain itself for five years and a total collapse was going to occur before the torch of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was lit.

Years have passed since Chang made his prediction but the strong performance of China' s economy, most of all during the global economic downturn, runs contrary to the lawyer's judgment.

These sorts of assumptions usually fall over by themselves as the perspectives they take are mostly one-sided and prejudiced, which bars them from any balanced probe into the mechanism of China's development, said Wang Yukai.

The Western world may also have taken it for granted that China's reform and opening-up policy, which enabled the country to embrace a market economy, would lead to a radical change in its political system and eventually bring China closer to the Western model, but in fact quite the opposite has happened, Wang said.

China mode

From solitude to a rising economic power, China's model of development has won recognition.

In 1971, the People' s Republic of China recovered its seat in the United Nations.

In 2001, China formally became the 143rd member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In 2008, Beijing successfully hosted the 29th Olympic Games, one of the most spectacular in the games' history.

And at the same time, China's huge currency reserves and stimulus packages produced a strong economic performance against the backdrop of global recession.

In his book titled "When China Rules the World: the Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World", Martin Jacques says, that continental in size and mentality, China's long history, huge population, racial homogeneity and confidence in the centrality of its own civilization make for a country that will remain highly distinct and capable of redefining what it is to be modern.

Pan Wei, director of the Center for Chinese and Global Affairs of Peking University, says it is time to summarize "China's mode of development".

Its development should consist of its social, political and economic development modes, he said.

For Wang Yukai, China's development can be interpreted through three aspects: economically, the adoption of a market economy; politically, a system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China; and the country's system of political power -- the people' s congresses; and the capacity for self-correction China has while pursuing unswervingly its own road of development.

Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore, in a published article says the outside world has pinned great expectations on China to emerge as a great power and has identified the Chinese mode of development.

However, Wang Yukai contends, the biggest challenges for China come from within and need to be settled through reform.

"If China wants to formulate a globally-competitive system and become a highly-competitive state, its political system needs to be perfected steadily in practice," he said.

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