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Interview: Ethiopian PM lauds China's reform policy
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Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Sunday praised China's reform and opening-up policy, launched by late leader Deng Xiaoping three decades ago, describing it as "very timely," "very correct" and being of the world "historic significance."

"The ultimate proof of a successful policy is practice and the practice over the last 30 years has showed that China's reform and opening-up policy has been very timely and very correct," said Meles in an interview with China's official Xinhua News Agency.

"I think it is of the world historic significance," Meles added.

China held a meeting on Thursday to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its reform and opening-up drive, a watershed in China's development.

The decision to open up the once sealed off country and reform its struggling economy was made at the 3rd plenary session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which started on Dec. 18, 1978.

A fast pace of eliminating poverty has been seen in China with the largest population in the world, he said.

"This is the fastest reduction of poverty in history," he added.

Positive impacts on Africa

Meles, who visited China for several times, said he made a visit to China every a few years and that every time he visited China he felt as if he visited a new and different country.

"The changes are so dramatic and so quick, and the statistical figures are of course very impressive."

Meles said the tremendous changes in China have affected Africa "very fundamentally and very positively."

"There are a number of areas where the results are quite visible," he said, adding that China has become a very crucial partner for Africa in terms of trade, investment, infrastructure construction, natural resource development.

Meles stressed that the process of reform and development in China has provided an alternative paradigm for Africa's development.

According to the Ethiopian prime minister, in the 1990s, in Africa there was a strong sense of dogmatism with a paradigm, namely, the so called "Washington Consensus."

The term Washington Consensus was initially coined in 1989 by John Williamson to describe a set of 10 specific economic policy prescriptions that he considered to constitute a "standard" reform package, promoted for crisis-wrecked developing countries by Washington D.C-based institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and the U.S. Treasury Department.

The term has come to be used in a different and broader sense, as a synonym for market fundamentalism. It has become associated with neoliberal policies in general and drawn into the broader debate over the expanding role of the free market and constraints upon the state.

Meles said a number of African countries in the 1990s endeavored to implement the reform packages as the sole alternative for their development.

"That was proved to be incorrect," he said.

"It has now been proved that the development paradigm in China has its own specific advantages. Africa needs to learn this development paradigm."

Meles said the economic transformation of China has disproved the pessimistic attitude, that was "If you are poor once, you are likely to be poor forever."

The rise of China has a "tremendous moral impact on Africa, and it is a lesson that many African countries can and should learn from China," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 22, 2008)

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