China’s success in building a modern industrialized society and eradicating absolute poverty is a shining example for all countries and activists, like me, fighting for a just and fairer world economic order.
In his July 1 speech to mark the 100th anniversary of founding of the Communist Party of China, General Secretary of the CPC central committee Xi Jinping said: “We will work to build a new type of international relations and a human community with a shared future, promote high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative through joint efforts, and use China’s new achievements in development to provide the world with new opportunities.”
In 2013, President Xi showed decisive leadership by proposing the Belt and Road Initiative to improve infrastructure and connectivity across the world, in order to reduce global poverty.
After the novel coronavirus pandemic broke out, China’s call to build a community of common health for mankind along the Belt and Road prompted the initiative to help improve the healthcare infrastructure in other parts of the world, as the most urgent common goal of humankind is to contain the pandemic. But to improve healthcare, countries have to first build a modern, supporting basic infrastructure of electricity, water, transport systems as well as education. In fact, China could largely contain the spread of the virus within its territory because it had such a complete infrastructure in place.
Visiting China in 2019, I got to see in person the great achievements it has made, including lifting about 800 million people out of poverty in the past 40-odd years.
Invited to the Dongjingdi village in Xingtang county of Hebei province, I understood the central role of the Communist Party of China in mobilizing its cadres to reach out to every person registered as poor in the village and bring about the needed change. China achieved the goal of eradicating absolute poverty by the end of last year by employing what the Western world would characterize as innovative political, social, educational and entrepreneurial means.
My visit to Dongjingdi village and the many stories I heard about the poverty alleviation program made me realize that the massive national mobilization campaign also involved urban residents, who among other things encouraged the poor villagers to employ high-quality and high-tech means to produce products such as walnut oil and eggs.
The successful eradication of poverty has made China a champion of the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals, whose No 1 goal is “No Poverty” by 2030. China has also achieved the second and third goals of “Zero Hunger” and “Good Health”.
China’s reform is one of the greatest human rights achievements in the world, as it has freed its people from poverty, ignorance, and the limitations of want.
Under the Party’s leadership, China has also taken giant steps toward fulfilling the other goals of the UN’s Agenda 2030 such as providing its whole population with water, sanitation, general education, gender equality, electricity, communication and transportation. The realization of these goals can be seen as a country’s real economic power, which cannot be measured with the typical monetarist GDP figures.
To be sure, China’s real economic success is in its potential. China, thanks to its rapid development, has built more economic power than what the SDGs define. It has built a self-subsisting track of boosting its economy.
The development of productive powers and the focus on the welfare of workers have the potential to further increase China’s productive powers, and facilitate the freedom of investment to increase the productive power. More advanced productive powers lead to the creation of a more advanced labor force, which is more educated, connected and enjoys better welfare, and in turn further increases the productive potential.
The crucial factor that helped China achieve this is the systematic incorporation and fostering of innovation in every aspect of the production process, underscored by the leadership of the CPC.
While the Western world has concentrated its investment in banking and finance, China has built the most modern infrastructure in the world. It is also pursuing major scientific and technology crash programs to promote breakthrough developments in key strategic sectors such as space and biopharma.
Such initiatives increase economic potential which go way beyond the SDGs. The late economist and statesman Lyndon LaRouche, who inspired the founding of the Schiller Institute, developed a new measurement of economic progress based on the potential to boost the rate of increase of a country’s productive power. LaRouche measured economic performance in terms of the “rate of increase in the relative potential population density”.
From this standpoint, China has been remarkably successful. For example, by lifting about 800 million out of poverty, China has more than doubled the number of Chinese people active in the modern innovative economy.
China has unleashed a volcano of human potential on top of its already developed modern labor power. Its huge innovative power is propelling the great scientific, industrial and development projects that will increase the economic potential of not only China but also the rest of the world.
In the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, the culture industry accounts for a stunning 10 percent of the national GDP. Innovations in science and culture are interrelated, as both sectors have unrealized and unformulated potential.
China has intensified research in outer space and other advanced sciences, which will need both highly qualified and experienced talents to achieve breakthroughs. The arts and sciences, where minds meet at the profoundest of creative levels to explore unknown domains, are the fields where most of the advancements are made and the deepest of bonds among countries are established. Such advancements create an even greater potential for common human progress.
Thus, the dialogue of ancient cultures, science and art pursued by China will potentially prompt the rest of the world to choose the harmonious road of peace, cooperation and development. The CPC’s leadership has shown the path to future development for China and the rest of the world.
The writer is chairman of the Schiller Institute in Sweden.