By Eiichi Shindo
As the information revolution sweeps around the world in the 21st Century, China is riding the third wave of globalization to accelerate the building of an “Asian Century.”
By leveraging the First Industrial Revolution, the United Kingdom dominated the 19th Century, making the first wave of globalization part of the “British Century.” Then, during the Second Industrial Revolution, the United States caught the second wave of globalization and made the 20th Century the “American Century” as it consolidated power around the world. Now, against the backdrop of fostering peace in Asia, China has shifted from “factory of the world” to “market of the world” and is even becoming “bank of the world.” Perhaps China will stand at the center of the global stage sooner than anyone predicted.
What has made the People’s Republic of China (PRC) a world leader in the 21st Century after only a few decades of development? The key has been the country’s success in changing unfavorable factors into advantages. In the process of its governance, China has successfully leveraged the superiority of its political system, its advanced economic operation and its foreign policy featuring peaceful development to achieve profound development through constant calibration to meet the actual conditions of the information revolution of the 21st Century.
Seven decades ago when it was founded, the PRC embarked onto a road of development carrying a heavy load.
China has a population of 1.4 billion, more than 10 times the people in Japan and three times that of the United States. Clearly, it is a tough task to govern such a populous country.
Just like the United States, China is vast, with land area 26 times the size of Japan. This also adds difficulty to governance.
As a multi-ethnic nation, China features religious and cultural diversity, which increases the difficulty of national governance.
After the First Opium War, China was consumed by anti-imperialism wars for nearly a century. Curing public distress and realizing development in the war-ridden country became an arduous task.
To overcome such difficulties and rise to stand among the great powers of the world, China made remarkable innovations in terms of governance, economic operation and diplomacy, enabling its successful development.
First, democratic centralism based on closely listening to public opinions is the foundation of China’s governance system. Representatives of all ethnic groups and 34 provincial-level administrative regions of China participate in administration and discussion of state affairs and voice the opinions of 1.4 billion people via the people’s congress system. Over the past 70 years, the system has constantly developed and improved. The National People’s Congress (NPC) is the highest organ of state power in China. Delegates from all ethnic groups hear about, deliberate on and vote for the government work report and important decisions at the annual sessions of the NPC and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Statistics show that 438 deputies to the 13th NPC were from ethnic minorities and that each of China’s 55 ethnic minorities had representation. Moreover, China has eliminated the risk of vested interest groups forming cliques in the massive bureaucratic system by skillfully introducing a competition system that aims to select officials from the most qualified elites.
Second, China’s reform and opening up has been key to its economic miracle. Inspired by the “Southern Tour Speeches” by Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of the country’s reform and opening up, China reformed its economic structure and joined the World Trade Organization. Its economic development has since merged into the fast lane of the international economic and trade system. China has seized the opportunity to lead the tide of the information revolution.
Last but not least, China upholds an independent foreign policy of peace and has never sought expansion by force. China has developed peaceful and cooperative relations with neighboring countries as well as developed countries and regions like the United States, Europe and Japan while offering a helping hand to former Soviet republics and developing countries in Asia and Africa to ensure co-existence and win-win cooperation.
These three aspects conform to the “road of prosperity” concept of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which also provides the master plan to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation and create a community with a shared future for humanity.