Special Report China’s message to the world is to take a holistic view

A WEEK after the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party drew to a close, China Media Group Europe assembled experts from different fields to discuss key messages about the direction the world’s most populous country is heading.

The meeting heard how China has managed to lift around 100 million rural residents out of poverty in just eight years through to 2020 and some 800 million over the past four decades.

The middle class in the country has swollen to 400 million people and many millions have gained access to education, clean water, internet and transport connections.

China’s ambassador to Britain, His Excellency Zheng Zeguang, told Juliet Mann in an exclusive conversation: “China will respond to external uncertainties with its own certainty, and inject positive energy into world development with its high-quality development and high standard opening up.”

Yin Zhiguang, a professor of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University, said: “There are several key messages that are essential for the future global order: that China vision of a fairer and more inclusive global order; a more co-operative global order; and more importantly about a global order that has a safety net for the left-behind so that everybody can benefit.”

David Ferguson, senior translation editor at China International Publishing Group, said: “A huge amount of emphasis has been placed on shared development, which means that everybody shares the fruits. That was one of the fundamental bases of the whole poverty alleviation programme. 

“Targeting poverty alleviation was designed to make sure that nobody was left behind. And I think that that fundamental concept of shared development, people-centred development, is something that President Xi places increasing emphasis on.”

On a panel focusing on China’s economic development, guests discussed how China has ensured that its growth — powering the global economy for the past two decades — has also been sustainable. 

With a “trilateral, hybrid” structure built around a 60 per cent contribution from domestic private businesses, a 20 per cent participation from the state and a further 20 per cent from multinational companies, China has been able to create a modern economy, according to Wang Huiyao, founder and president of Centre for China and Globalisation.

The challenge for China is how to adapt governance structures designed for an economy of around $2 trillion for an economy that has now grown to closer to $20tn, noted Mark Ostwald, chief economist at AGM Investor Services.

As it makes those changes, other economies will have the opportunity to learn from them, according to Stephen Perry, chairman of the 48 Club. 

“We may find ourselves where we could have been several hundred years ago when we used many of the innovations from China to make our industrial revolution happen,” Mr Perry said.

“It’s important, I think, for every country around the world to participate in China in order to learn all these great innovations which are going to be, in many cases, led from China.” 

One advantage China has in the course of its development is the long-term perspectives that its political system affords. 

The stability offered by the Communist Party means that rather than changing tack every few years, policies can be targeted decades ahead. 

“It’s astonishing to see a governance system, a governing party that’s able to look forward 27 years and be able to make specific plans for what the country is going to be looking like then,” said China International Publishing’s David Ferguson.

That philosophy is exemplified in the commitments made to education at the Congress. 

China’s science and education strategy has been in place since 1995 and has evolved to focus on new areas of growth such as artificial intelligence and space technologies.

Director of the Green Finance and Development Centre at Fanhai International School of Finance, Christopher Nedopil, told the meeting that it was in actions, not words, that China’s impact on the global economy is being felt.

Nowhere is that more obvious, or important, than the battle against climate change.

He said: “Over the past years, based on its huge size and strategic capabilities in manufacturing and research, China has seized the opportunity to innovate and to develop globally leading bases for green transport and energy, and [become the] largest supplier of solar and wind in the world. 

“I think this is just the beginning of a great opportunity for China to scale up infrastructure domestically and internationally,” he said.

China’s message to the world is to take a holistic view — thinking about people first, the panellists agreed, summed up in a message to the corporate world from Professor Yin: “Business needs to include much more concerns of the society in general, the social responsibility not only in China, but also globally … engaging with stakeholders instead of shareholders.”