By RONNIE LINS
Well-structured planning with consistent policies and achievable objectives is a necessary condition for the success of any nation. China is now a country with a governance system whose planning, goals, and actions are considered a worldwide success benchmark.
Chinese President Xi Jinping made an important contribution to the world in sharing his knowledge and ideas through three books collecting his thoughts on China’s governance. Speeches, lectures, written instructions, and letters presented by the president over the period from November 2012 to January 2020 are included in the three volumes.
It is worth mentioning that due to their importance, some themes are present in all three of Xi’s books on governance, and are updated according to changes in context.
This review touches on poverty elimination, high-quality development, and a global community of shared future, some of the main themes in the third volume. These topics are of great value to those who are not aware of the reasons behind China’s success.
China’s Poverty Elimination, an Incredible Feat
In the third volume of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, the section about poverty elimination and a moderately prosperous society occupies a very prominent position.
In a speech delivered at the Seminar on Targeted Poverty Elimination on February 12, 2018, which has been included in the third volume, Xi said, “We have produced a raft of major strategies for the fight against poverty on all fronts. This is a fight of unprecedented intensity, scale, and influence. But we have made decisive progress, significantly improving the working and living conditions of poor areas and poor people, and in so doing we have written a new chapter in the history of the fight against poverty.”
Indeed, China’s struggle to eliminate poverty was a historic deed that improved the lives of hundreds of millions of Chinese people.
According to the white paper China and the World in the New Era published in September 2019 by the State Council Information Office, China’s rural population living under the current poverty line decreased from 770 million in 1978 to 16.6 million in 2018, and China’s rural poverty incidence dropped from 97.5 percent to 1.7 percent, down by 95.8 percentage points. This is an outstanding achievement in the history of poverty reduction in the world.
In the following two years from 2018 to 2020, China’s remaining rural poor had been lifted out of poverty. In doing so, China has managed to fulfill a promise that, for the whole world, would be unimaginable to fulfill. Many wonder how this was possible? Well, the answer could be found in the above-mentioned speech made by Xi in February 2018, summarized as follows: The process started with the promotion of rapid development in poor areas, benefited from the formation of a strong synergy of all social forces, and was further facilitated by the establishment of an institutional structure with Chinese characteristics to fight against poverty.
This initial process served as a basis for new strategies that consolidated efforts already made and acted in a specific way in other areas.
The valuable experience can be found in the following aspects: The country has uphold CPC leadership to give a strong organizational guarantee in the fight against poverty; target measures have been taken to mitigate specific local conditions; related investments have been increased and financial support strengthened; people from all over the country have been mobilized; the country has set guidelines to encourage hard work and concrete results; and more importantly, the principal role of the people in poverty elimination has been ensured with their enthusiasm in fighting poverty aroused.
Xi knows that this process cannot stop. It will be essential to take advantage of this historic victory to carry out new reforms and support a new type of economic development so that China can ultimately realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
High-Quality Development, a Vital Shift
Another important theme demands much attention is high-quality development.
In the speech delivered at the Central Conference on Economic Work on December 18, 2017, Xi noted, “As Socialism with Chinese Characteristics entered a new era, China’s economic development has also embarked on new phase, the basic feature of which is that our economy is now transitioning from rapid growth to high-quality development.”
In this transition, new technologies generated by the Fourth Industrial Revolution play a fundamental role because new products, services, and processes will emerge through them. The advent of COVID-19 has further accelerated the development of these technologies, such as biotechnology, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence, among others.
Another important aspect of the current trend is the need to improve products and services, since Chinese consumers now demand excellence with added value and competitive prices —clear signs of increased purchasing power.
Xi caught a glimpse of these trends and included some essential measures in the country’s development planning, to boost high-quality development. In addition, from the third volume, we can also detect the country’s determination to empower its science and technology sector, as it tries to set a benchmark in science and innovation.
High-quality development also impacts the country’s production chain. For example, it implies greater labor efficiency with increased economic growth and total factor productivity in terms of inputs and products.
From the perspective of revenue distribution, high-quality development implies better opportunities for investors, companies, and employees. In terms of the macroeconomic cycle, it provides a guarantee for the regular cycle of production, circulation, and distribution.
In short, China entering the stage of high-quality development means its shift towards optimizing economic performance.
A Global Community of Shared Future
In his speech delivered at the closing ceremony of the Seminar on Global Governance co-hosted by China and France in Paris on March 26, 2019, Xi said, “As a French proverb goes, every man is the architect of his own fate. All countries need to demonstrate a strong commitment to their global responsibilities in the face of daunting global challenges. Indeed, they need to determine a decisive direction for humanity at this juncture. We must take action instead of simply watching as bystanders, and endeavor to shape the future of humanity.”
It is a fundamental issue for the world to rethink its way of facing significant global challenges and to strengthen the bonds of solidarity among all nations.
The emergence of COVID-19 exposed weaknesses of the current global governance system in links between nations. Decision-making through multilateralism, if it were well consolidated, would help alleviate the damage caused by the pandemic.
Global governance should be made through consensus between people from different nations, of different beliefs and cultures. Also, mutual trust, dialogue, and shared planning can apply to country-specific issues or problems that affect the whole international community.
There are different priority issues for developed and developing countries. However, there are global issues such as the fight against COVID-19 and preserving the environment that involve all countries and demand global concerted efforts. Cooperation and extensive consultation are the only correct path for the common good.
Xi Jinping: The Governance of China III is a must-read for those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the secrets of China’s success, whether they be government officials, managers, scholars, students, or any other people who believe in building a better world. However, as this book shows, building a better world can only be possible through coherent planning, better economic development, and sharing ideas and actions by all countries.
RONNIE LINS is director of the China-Brazil Center for Research and Business.