History shows that the road to prosperity is not easy. Intellectuals have outlined a series of “traps,” which often hold back developing countries as they try to become so-called first world countries.
As China moves toward becoming a “great modern socialist country,” will it be able to sidestep these traps and prove the naysayers wrong? And just what answers does the Chinese leadership have to offer?
Xi Jinping’s “socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era,” as unveiled at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, offers a few answers to some of these traps:
The poverty trap is where structural poverty becomes reinforced over several generations.
Xi: “Decisive progress has been made in the fight against poverty.”
“We must ensure that by the year 2020, all rural residents living below the current poverty line will have been out of poverty.”
Named after Greek historian Thucydides, it suggests that war is inevitable when a new power rises up to challenge an existing one.
Xi: “No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion.”
“China pursues a national defense policy that is in nature defensive.”
“We call on the people of all countries to work together to build a community with a shared future for mankind.”
The term is indicative of that an economy reaches a certain level of income, but is unable to further develop its competitive edge and fails to sustain the growth needed to become rich.
Xi: “We have adopted the right approach to development.”
“The economy has maintained a medium-high growth rate.”
“We should pursue supply-side structural reform as our main task, and work hard for better quality, higher efficiency and more robust drivers of economic growth through reform.”
This warns that when a government loses credibility, whether it tells the truth or a lie, or does good or bad, it will inevitably be considered a lie.
Xi: “We must focus on maintaining the Party’s close bond with the people, keep them firmly in mind, develop a closer affinity with them, and keep working to foster stronger public support for the Party’s governance.”
“‘The rise of something may be fast, but its downfall is equally swift.’ Has any person, family, community, place, or even nation ever managed to break free of this cycle?” Educator Huang Yanpei reportedly once asked Chairman Mao.
Xi: “The people resent corruption most; and corruption is the greatest threat our Party faces.”
“Only by intensifying efforts to address both the symptoms and root causes of corruption … can we avoid history’s cycle of rise and fall and ensure the long-term stability of the Party and the country.”
American political scientist Francis Fukuyama presumed in his book — “End of History” an inevitable triumph of Western liberal democracy and the “collapse of China.” The end of the Cold War meant a world order combining liberal democracy and the free market had permanently prevailed, he said.
Xi: “As history has shown and will continue to bear witness to, without the leadership of the Communist Party of China, national rejuvenation would be just wishful thinking.”
Delegates and experts stand behind Xi.
Sun Zhaoxia, a professor at Guizhou Minzu University, said she had confidence in the CPC steering China clear of these pitfalls due to the country’s unique political and economic system.
“In Western democracy, political parties spend much of their energy focusing on campaigns to win and stay in power,” she said. “The immediate concern is the election or the tenure, so long-term strategies such as poverty relief are poorly implemented.”
In contrast, the CPC has been very consistent on major policies like poverty alleviation, helping create strong public faith in the endeavors.
Liu Yuanchun, vice president of Renmin University of China, said Xi had laid out a package of reforms to address all major problems facing the Chinese economy, including risk control, macro-regulation, supply-side reform and innovation.
An economist, Liu said the economy has built a solid foundation, and China is likely to become a high-income economy by 2030.
Peking University professor and former World Bank chief economist Justin Lin Yifu made a similar prediction, though from a different perspective.
He said the main reason developing economies became trapped in middle-income or low-income status was that they followed western mainstream economic theories — either structuralism or neoliberalism.
“The secret of China’s success is its use of both the ‘invisible hand’ and ‘visible hand,'” Lin said. “Only when the market and the government play their respective roles can technological innovation and industrial upgrading proceed smoothly.”
Cai Songtao, a congress delegate from Henan Province, said Xi warned against the Tacitus trap on an inspection tour to the province.
Cai said grassroots Party officials work very hard to maintain close contact with the people.
Zhang Xixian, professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said the Party has always upheld the “mass line”.
“The CPC comes from the people, relies on the people and works for the people,” he said.
The Party builds the system of socialist democracy to safeguard the fundamental interests of the people and ensure all power of the state belongs to the people.
Sun Zhaoxia said historically dynasties could not escape the cycle of rise and fall because the interests of the ruling class were against the public, but as the CPC serves no one other than the masses, it has the people’s backing and will stay in power.
Zhang said another reason the CPC thrives is its insistence on strict discipline of its members.
“Errors made by past leaders, including Chairman Mao in his later life, were pointed out and corrected,” Zhang said. “Any member who violates Party discipline will be punished. Zhou Yongkang served as a perfect example. No interest groups within the Party are allowed. This resolve and tenacity are what make the Party strong.”
The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily