Con­fi­dence shows rapid pace of eco­nomic re­form De­vel­op­ment is cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO XINYING zhaoxiny­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The Com­mu­nist Party of China is hold­ing its 19th Na­tional Congress in Bei­jing. asked two prom­i­nent ex­perts for their views on de­vel­op­ments in China and the coun­try’s global lead­er­ship.

Hav­ing stayed in close con­tact with China and its peo­ple for four decades, John Holden, as­so­ciate dean of Pek­ing Univer­sity’s Yench­ing Academy, is amazed by how Chi­nese peo­ple have changed dur­ing the past 40 years.

Now re­spon­si­ble for re­cruit­ment of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents and univer­sity part­ner­ships at the academy — es­tab­lished in 2014 to of­fer fel­low­ships in China stud­ies to elite in­ter­na­tional and Chi­nese master’s stu­dents — Holden said later gen­er­a­tions could not imag­ine what China was like when he first came in 1974.

It was dur­ing the later stages of the “cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion” (1966-76) when Holden paid his first visit to the Chi­nese main­land.

He was an un­der­grad­u­ate study­ing Chi­nese lan­guage and lit­er­a­ture at the Univer­sity of Min­nesota in the United States at the time.

He said it was a tough and ter­ri­ble time for China, and peo­ple were not happy.

“They were afraid to talk to their fam­i­lies about things they cared about,” he said.

Things had changed greatly by the time he re­turned in 1980, not long af­ter the re­form and open­ing-up pol­icy was im­ple­mented. By then, Holden had fin­ished all his PhD re­quire­ments at Stan­ford Univer­sity ex­cept for his dis­ser­ta­tion.

“There was a fresh wind of open­ness and peo­ple were reach­ing out,” he re­called of his re­turn to China. “Peo­ple were talk­ing to each other, talk­ing to for­eign­ers, strik­ing up friend­ships and find­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

As the coun­try opened up, so too did the minds of the Chi­nese peo­ple. Every­thing was de­vel­op­ing, young peo­ple had so many op­por­tu­ni­ties, and peo­ple were hav­ing fun and smil­ing, he said.

What now im­presses Holden, who also serves as a pro­fes­sor of man­age­ment prac­tice at Pek­ing Univer­sity’s Guanghua School of Man­age­ment, is the high level of con­fi­dence about the next five years.

In his eyes, China has ex­pe­ri­enced a tran­si­tion pe­riod — both po­lit­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally — since the 18th Na­tional Congress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China in Novem­ber 2012.

In the past five years, the Chi­nese econ­omy has main­tained strong growth, as planned, and has been mov­ing to a dif­fer­ent growth model. The CPC has been work­ing to com­bat cor­rup­tion through an anti-graft cam­paign.

“So peo­ple are ex­pect­ing that the next five years will be suc­cess­ful and that, for ex­am­ple, the eco­nomic re­forms will progress quickly,” he said.

Hav­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of do­ing busi­ness with China and as a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee on US-China Re­la­tions, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to fa­cil­i­tat­ing un­der­stand­ing and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries, Holden sees China as be­ing wo­ven deeply into the fab­ric of al­most ev­ery is­sue across the globe.

“There is nowhere China is not present, and that’s good be­cause China has a lot to of­fer, whether it’s peace­keep­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, trade and in­vest­ment, dis­ease con­trol or cli­mate change,” he said.

He said there are so many ways that China can make a con­tri­bu­tion to global progress and that the world wants China to play a big­ger and more im­por­tant role.

For the next five years, Holden an­tic­i­pates there will be con­tin­ued evo­lu­tion in China’s econ­omy and that the coun­try will con­tinue its ef­forts to clean up the en­vi­ron­ment.

He also said he be­lieves China will gain more ex­pe­ri­ence in­ter­na­tion­ally and in deal­ing with cor­po­ra­tions over­seas, such as in Africa, where China has a big role.

“Some of the in­vest­ments there have not been suf­fi­ciently sen­si­tive to lo­cal con­di­tions, but peo­ple are aware of that and they are try­ing to im­prove things and to get feed­back,” he said, adding that the coun­try is learn­ing how to run com­pan ies abroad, how to go into other coun­tries and make in­tel­li­gent in­vest­ments.

“So I ex­pect the (over­seas Chi­narun) com­pa­nies will con­tinue to get bet­ter and learn to hire lo­cal peo­ple and work with them as team mem­bers,” he said.

Holden ad­mit­ted that it had been a sharp learn­ing curve.

“When I first started do­ing busi­ness here, how many peo­ple knew what a let­ter of credit was? What an in­ter­na­tional trade con­tract was or force ma­jeure? No­body knew these things. So I think there is much more ca­pac­ity in China,” he said.

as­so­ciate dean of Pek­ing Univer­sity’s Yench­ing Academy

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