China on course to a promis­ing future

Global Times US Edition - - FORUM -

Ed­i­tor’s Note:

2019 marks the 70th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China (PRC). How far is China away from re­al­iz­ing its re­ju­ve­na­tion? How hard will the process be? How will China’s devel­op­ment in­flu­ence the world in the future? Global Times (GT) re­porter Li Qingqing in­ter­viewed Pro­fes­sor Danilo Türk (Türk), for­mer pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Slove­nia from 2007 to 2012 and a se­nior vis­it­ing fel­low at the Chongyang In­sti­tute for Fi­nan­cial Stud­ies, Ren­min Univer­sity of China, on these is­sues. GT: How far is China away from its na­tional re­ju­ve­na­tion? Türk: The con­cept of re­ju­ve­na­tion is very de­mand­ing. Only Chi­nese peo­ple know what re­ju­ve­na­tion requires. I be­lieve re­ju­ve­na­tion means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple, and noth­ing is en­tirely defined. Every­body needs to find his or her place in the long process of re­ju­ve­na­tion. So, one has to see re­ju­ve­na­tion as a long march. China has 5,000 years of his­tory and re­ju­ve­na­tion may take a few decades. The needs of the peo­ple should be taken into ac­count. It is not clear what peo­ple re­ally need once a stan­dard is achieved, so it requires con­stant reeval­u­a­tion. In a coun­try that has been de­vel­op­ing quickly, what was needed yesterday may not be suf­fi­cient to­mor­row. China has to see it­self as part of the world, and re­ju­ve­na­tion also re­lates to how China de­vel­ops its re­la­tion­ship with the rest of the world. The China-pro­posed Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive (BRI) is a good be­gin­ning. But it would take many decades and would change the world as a whole. Thus, chang­ing the world is part of China’s re­ju­ve­na­tion. GT: What dif­fi­cul­ties will China en­counter dur­ing the process of its ris­ing? Türk: There might be dif­fi­cul­ties both do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. Do­mes­ti­cally, coun­tries that have devel­oped quickly like China face a pe­riod called the mid­dle-income trap. When peo­ple are brought out of poverty, their en­tire life changes. Then the question is how to avoid stag­na­tion, because devel­op­ment should not stay at the level of mid­dle income or lower-mid­dle income. Ex­pec­ta­tions are high. China has devel­oped it­self into a lead­ing tech­no­log­i­cal power, and I be­lieve many of these an­swers de­pend on new tech­nolo­gies and re­or­ga­nized pro­duc­tion. How to move from pro­duc­tion to brands? There are only a few Chi­nese brands known glob­ally and there have to be many more to in­te­grate China with the rest of the world.

In­ter­na­tion­ally, we live in a world of power pol­i­tics. This leads to a sit­u­a­tion where there would be ten­sions among ma­jor pow­ers. We have al­ready seen this with the trade war which the US started against China. I guess this type of challenge can be man­aged and overcome, but this is not go­ing to be easy. One has to remember China’s role in the global world: a leader in devel­op­ment and tech­nol­ogy, but also a big power which is ca­pa­ble of peace­fully manag­ing re­la­tions with other big pow­ers. GT: The Us-launched trade war against China is still on­go­ing. How will cur­rent Chin­aus re­la­tions in­flu­ence the world or­der? Türk: Every­body is watch­ing the devel­op­ment of the trade war with great con­cern. Eco­nomic growth has slowed down glob­ally. China is very resilient, and the trade war has not in­flu­enced China in any fun­da­men­tal way. I guess this can also be ben­e­fi­cial for China to overcome some of the prob­lems that need to be overcome.

For ex­am­ple, in the area of high tech­nol­ogy, Huawei’s Harmony op­er­at­ing sys­tem is be­ing in­tro­duced these days, which means China will be less de­pen­dent on Google’s Android. This shows that prob­lems brought by trade ten­sions can be overcome. I be­lieve this is a good sign, and China should be en­cour­aged to fig­ure out ways that could un­der­mine the neg­a­tive ef­fects of US pol­icy. The US ad­min­is­tra­tion’s trade war pol­icy is se­ri­ously ir­ra­tional, and it will not ben­e­fit the US ei­ther. GT: Some Western coun­tries have al­ways hoped to change China as they want. Why can’t China re­form in the di­rec­tion of Western ex­pec­ta­tions? Türk: China is sim­ply too big and too spe­cial to follow any ex­ist­ing model of devel­op­ment. China is a very di­verse coun­try with its 5,000 years of his­tory and 1.4 bil­lion peo­ple. China has a rich cul­ture which helped it de­velop quickly in the past few decades. China has a huge po­ten­tial and has nur­tured many en­gi­neers and top specialist­s. So, China’s model of devel­op­ment is unique.

In my opin­ion, it is re­ally up to China to fig­ure out which el­e­ments of the ex­ist­ing models are help­ful. The West should try not to im­pose their ideas on China’s poli­cies. China does not nec­es­sar­ily need to follow the con­sti­tu­tional models of some Western coun­tries, and China’s gov­er­nance does not have to be a replica of the Euro­pean model or any other model. For ex­am­ple, we have seen this ca­pac­ity to de­velop one’s own gov­er­nance model in Sin­ga­pore. Sin­ga­pore’s seem­ingly Western model is in fact pro­foundly Asian. I be­lieve China is go­ing to be more like that. China is go­ing to be its own coun­try and will have its own gov­er­nance and own model of devel­op­ment. But also, China will be ca­pa­ble of ab­sorb­ing the use­ful el­e­ments of devel­op­ment from other parts of the world. In the global world, this is nec­es­sary. GT: The year 2019 marks the 70th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of the PRC. China has made im­pres­sive achieve­ments. What’s your ex­pec­ta­tion of China’s future over the next 70 years? Türk: China reestab­lished it­self as an al­most uni­fied coun­try un­der a strong lead­er­ship 70 years ago. Chi­nese so­ci­ety has been mov­ing for­ward, and the coun­try launched re­form and open­ing-up about 40 years ago. This has been one of the most im­pres­sive developmen­ts in the world. When I was work­ing in the United Na­tions, we were as­ton­ished to see how much China had con­trib­uted to global im­prove­ment. Now, peo­ple ex­pect China to keep con­tribut­ing.

The next 70 years of China’s devel­op­ment are go­ing to be quite dra­matic for the global world. China is now con­nected with ev­ery corner of the world. In Europe, China’s pres­ence is grow­ing. I see the next 70 years as a time when China will con­tinue to de­velop and change, but that change will have an ever-stronger im­pact on the world as a whole. The world will have to watch China, see what’s hap­pen­ing, and think about how to ad­just our devel­op­ment for a peace­ful and har­mo­nious future. GT: In your TED Talks in 2017, you men­tioned that “China has been a ma­jor fac­tor in global im­prove­ment.” How will China’s devel­op­ment fur­ther in­flu­ence the world in the future? Türk: I think the most im­me­di­ate task for China is work­ing hard on the BRI. At present, the BRI is the most im­por­tant devel­op­ment ini­tia­tive in the world. All coun­tries world­wide have to fig­ure out how to con­nect to the BRI. I be­lieve this is an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity for the world.

Cur­rently, the BRI is mainly seen as a plat­form for in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ment in­clud­ing roads, air­ways, ports and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. But in fact, it is much larger. For ex­am­ple, the BRI in­cludes con­nec­tiv­ity, which is the main idea of the ini­tia­tive. I am also re­ally in­ter­ested to see how pri­vate com­pa­nies’ co­op­er­a­tion is go­ing to de­velop. In China, the num­ber of pri­vate en­ter­prises is grow­ing. The im­por­tance of small and medium-sized en­ter­prises is grow­ing as well. How do these emerg­ing com­pa­nies in­ter­act with other coun­tries’ pri­vate com­pa­nies?

Cur­rently, China does not have too many well-known brands in the world. Indeed, every­body knows Huawei, Alibaba and Len­ovo but there are many other emerg­ing Chi­nese brands and they have to in­ter­act with the world. For ex­am­ple, how do you present Chi­nese cos­met­ics in Western mar­kets and make Western women will­ing to try them? Nowa­days, we al­ways talk about tech­nolo­gies, but a future world will re­quire con­nec­tiv­ity and in­ter­ac­tion in ev­ery as­pect. I be­lieve the day will come when Chi­nese prod­ucts will be equally well known.

Danilo Türk

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