Thursday, September 29, 2011

China: What Peaceful Development Means to China

china flag economy and grothBy Rajeshwar Dayal
Courtesy IDN-InDepth NewsReport

SHANGHAI (IDN) - The Chinese government has in a 'white paper' affirmed its unswerving commitment to the path of peaceful development at home and abroad, and vowed never to engage in aggression or expansion, never seek hegemony, and remain "a staunch force for upholding regional and world peace and stability," thus contributing to "the progress of human civilization." The document, released by the State Council Information Office on September 6, 2011, spells out the policy of "peaceful development" in five chapters, the first of which sums up the Chinese government's thinking "in the broader, global and historical context".

"China should develop itself through upholding world peace and contribute to world peace through its own development. It should achieve development with its own efforts and by carrying out reform and innovation; at the same time, it should open itself to the outside and learn from other countries," says the white paper.

"It should seek mutual benefit and common development with other countries in keeping with the trend of economic globalization, and it should work together with other countries to build a harmonious world of durable peace and common prosperity. This is a path of scientific, independent, open, peaceful, cooperative and common development," the document adds.

The white paper proudly underlines that "over the past 5,000 years, people of all ethnic groups in China, with diligence and wisdom, have created a splendid civilization and built a unified multi-ethnic country," overcoming "a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society" created by Western powers, which "forced open China's door with gunboats".

In the past six decades and more since the founding of New China, and particularly since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policies in 1978, adds the white paper, the Chinese people have "through arduous struggle . . . succeeded in finding a path of development conforming to China's reality, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics."

The document notes with satisfaction: "Thanks to its pursuit of peaceful development, China has undergone profound changes. It has made remarkable achievements in development, made major contribution to world prosperity and stability, and is more closely linked with the rest of the world."

China's overall strength has grown considerably, says the white paper, and underlines in particular that its total economic output reached US$5.88 trillion in 2010 – over 16 times that of 1978, rising to 9.3% of the world's total from 1.8% in 1978.

Economic achievements

Here some highlights of the white paper, emphasizing China's diverse achievements by following an "open-door" policy, while pursuing an independent path commensurate with Chinese brand of "socialism".

- The material basis for China's modernization drive has become more solid; steady progress has been made in turning China into an industrialized, information-based, urbanized, market-oriented and internationalized country, and the cause of socialist development is being advanced in all respects. The Chinese people, once inadequately fed and clad, are leading a decent life on the whole, a historic breakthrough.

- The share of China's per capita income comparable to the world average grew from 24.9% in 2005 to 46.8% in 2010. A historic transformation from a highly centralized planned economy to a dynamic socialist market economy has been achieved in China. A basic economic system in which public ownership takes the lead and different economic ownerships grow side by side has come into being.

- The market plays an increasingly important role in allocating resources, and the system of macroeconomic regulation is improving. A social security system covering both urban and rural residents is taking shape, and culture, education, science and technology, health care, sports and other social programs are flourishing.

- A historic transformation turning China from a closed or semi-closed state to one featuring all-round opening up has been realized. With the setting up of special economic zones, opening of coastal areas, regions along the major rivers and the borders and inland areas to the outside world, absorbing foreign investment and making Chinese investment overseas, and entry into the World Trade Organization, China has taken an active part in economic globalization and regional economic cooperation, and its opening-up has steadily deepened.

- The country's total import and export volume grew from US$20.6 billion-worth in 1978 to US$2.974 trillion-worth in 2010. Utilized foreign direct investment from 1979 to 2010 totaled US$1.04838 trillion. China maintains business and trade ties with 163 countries and regions. It has signed ten free-trade-zone agreements, bilateral investment treaties with 129 countries, and double taxation avoidance agreements with 96 countries.

- All this shows that China is actively promoting liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment. To honor its commitments to the WTO, China has reduced its total tariff rate from 15.3% before its entry into the WTO to the present 9.8%, and abolished most non-tariff measures. China has been working to build a framework in which its relations with other major countries are generally stable and mutually beneficial and develop in a balanced way, and which ensures that China and its neighbors share opportunities and develop together.

- China has strengthened traditional friendship, solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries. China is becoming increasingly interdependent with other countries, it is more closely linked with them in terms of interests, and its exchanges and cooperation with other countries are becoming more extensive than ever before.

- China has made important contribution to the stable development of the world economy. Since its entry into the WTO in 2001, China has imported goods worth nearly US$750 billion every year, and created over 14 million jobs for those exporting countries and regions.

- Over the past decade, foreign-funded companies in China have remitted a total of US$261.7 billion of profits, with an annual increase of 30%. From 2000 to 2010, China's annual non-financial direct overseas investment grew from less than US$1 billion to US$59 billion, thus boosting the economic development in the recipient countries. In 2009, overseas China-invested companies paid taxes worth US$10.6 billion, and employed 439,000 local people.

- China has contributed over 10% to world economic growth every year in recent years. In 1997 when the Asian financial crisis caused a dramatic devaluation of currencies in countries and regions close to it, China succeeded in keeping the RMB exchange rate basically stable, contributing to regional economic stability and development.

- Since the international financial crisis erupted in 2008, China has taken an active part in the G20's efforts to build a global economic governance mechanism, promoted the reform of the international financial system, got involved in multi-country macroeconomic policy coordination, and participated in international trade financing schemes and financial cooperation.

- It has sent large overseas purchasing missions and helped countries in difficulties. China conscientiously meets the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, and is the only country in the world that has halved the number of people living in poverty ahead of schedule.

- In addition, China provides assistance to other countries and regions as its capacity permits. By the end of 2009, China had given assistance worth RMB 256.3 billion to 161 countries and over 30 international and regional organizations, reduced and canceled 380 debts incurred by 50 heavily indebted poor countries and least-developed countries, trained 120,000 people for other developing countries, and sent 21,000 medical personnel and nearly 10,000 teachers abroad to help other countries.

- China encourages the least-developed countries to expand exports to China and has pledged zero tariff treatment to over 95% of the exports to China by all the least-developed countries which have diplomatic relations with China.

Global challenges

Stressing China's role in safeguarding world peace and meeting global challenges, the white paper says:

- China is the only nuclear-weapon country that has publicly stated that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, or use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones.

- China has dispatched about 21,000 personnel on 30 UN peacekeeping missions, which is the highest number among the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

- China takes an active part in international cooperation in anti-terrorism and nonproliferation. It provides humanitarian aid and dispatches rescue teams to countries hit by severe natural disasters and deploys naval escort fleets to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.

- China is a member of over 100 intergovernmental international organizations, a party to over 300 international conventions, and an active participant in building the international system.

- China is the first developing country to formulate and implement the National Climate Change Program. It is also one of the countries which have made the greatest efforts in energy saving and emission reduction and which have made the fastest progress in developing new and renewable energy sources in recent years.

- China has played a constructive role in addressing international and regional hotspot problems. For instance, it calls for resolving the Korean nuclear issue, the Iranian nuclear issue and other hotspot issues through peaceful talks, and has helped to establish the Six-Party Talks mechanism on the Korean nuclear issue.

- China has settled historical boundary issues with 12 land neighbors. It calls for settling disputes over territory and maritime rights and interests with neighboring countries through dialogue and negotiation. For instance, China has made a constructive proposal to "shelve disputes and seek joint development" and done its utmost to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea, East China Sea and the surrounding areas.

- China seeks to promote common development and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region by pursuing bilateral cooperation and participating in regional and sub-regional cooperation.

Neither the Chinese perspective of significant economic strides the country has made in the last six decades nor its crucial importance in global affairs can be seriously called into question. However, immensely lot is waiting to be done in Beijing's bilateral relations with neighbours. [IDN-InDepthNews - September 28, 2011]