At the just-concluded Group of 20 (G20) Osaka summit in Japan, Chinese President Xi Jinping led a chorus for safeguarding multilateralism and free trade when the world economy is at a crossroads in the face of unilateralism and protectionism.
Such an appeal is derived from China’s own development experience. After stunning achievements over the past 70 years, China has already learned that global partnerships and multilateralism are the optimal solution for mankind.
Once a backward country, China is now moving closer to the world’s centre stage. Through deep integration into the world, China has also left a profound impact on the world and is providing its own solution to those pressing global challenges.
Path to Development
In 1949 when the People’s Republic of China was founded, the Chinese people faced a devastated country that needed to be rebuilt from scratch after decades of warfare and chaos.
At that time, the Chinese people’s average life expectancy was 35 years, and the average per-capita income was 16 U.S. dollars. The most pressing challenge to the newly founded country was to get the half a billion Chinese, about 20 percent of the world’s population, enough food.
Also, as an agricultural country which had been lagging far behind other countries after the previous two industrial revolutions, China’s initial development had long been constrained by its practically negligible industrial capacity.
With all these difficulties and hardships ahead, the fledgling country has never wavered a bit over the path it has taken as a socialist nation.
After decades of unremitting endeavours and dedication by the Chinese people, and having experienced some twists and turns, China had eventually grown into “an initially industrialised and modernised country” in the 1970s.
In 1978, China started the reform and opening-up process. By constantly stepping up its engagement with the outside world in the following 40 years, China has recorded an average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of around 9.5 percent and doubled its economy almost every eight years.
In 2015, five years after China overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy, China launched another nationwide campaign to improve the livelihood of its people, setting itself the goal of eradicating poverty within the country by 2020.
Up to now, China has lifted 800 million people out of poverty, contributing more than 70 percent of the global poverty reduction endeavour.
Speaking of the achievements China has made, Xi said at the G20 summit in Argentina in 2018 that “China owes its progress to reform and opening-up, and will continue to advance on this path.”
Contributor to The World
China is confident about pursuing its own path, handling its own affairs well, and achieving peaceful co-existence and win-win cooperation with all other countries, Xi said at the G20 Osaka summit.
For years, China has contributed to nearly 30 percent of the world’s economic growth and remained the world’s largest trading nation, the largest exporter and the second largest importer.
Last year, China’s foreign trade rose 9.7 percent year-on-year to a historic high of 30.51 trillion yuan (about 4.5 trillion U.S. dollars), with exports rising 7.1 percent year-on-year to 16.42 trillion yuan (2.4 trillion dollars), and imports growing 12.9 percent to 14.09 trillion yuan (about 2.1 trillion dollars), even though China’s economy has entered a new normal of more moderate growth.
China will further open up its market, proactively expand imports, continuously improve its business environment for foreign enterprises, and press ahead with negotiations on economic and trade deals, Xi said while addressing the G20 summit in Japan.
Meanwhile, as one of the five permanent member states of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, China has been playing a constructive role in leading efforts to cope with common challenges facing the world.
According to statistics, China has dispatched 40,000 peacekeepers to around 30 UN peacekeeping operations since 1990, the most among all the five permanent UN Security Council members. It is also the second largest donor country for UN peacekeeping missions.
To help address climate change, China has been stepping up its efforts in pushing forward green development, making the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change a part of its own development guidelines, and calling for concerted actions to help build a cleaner world.
China has become the most important pillar of multilateralism and an indispensable, trustworthy force for world peace and development, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said at a meeting with Xi during a visit to Beijing last year.
Solution For Mankind
Being a beneficiary of a world characterised by global partnerships and multilateralism, China knows well that only by cooperating with others and opening up to the world can a country obtain inexhaustible power to go forward.
In 2012, as the global economy slowly recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, China, after help bring world growth back on track, has committed itself to thinking about the future and drawing up a resolution for mankind to tackle challenges like the economic crisis.
The concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind was for the first time put forward by China, setting the course for the future development of mankind.
To transform the vision into reality, China has been promoting the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to improve connectivity and cooperation on a transcontinental scale. By April 2019, 125 countries and 29 international organisations have signed BRI cooperation documents with China.
As a way to further open up China’s domestic market and help the world tap new potentials of growth and cooperation, China initiated the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), providing a platform for all countries, big or small, rich or poor, to share the benefits of global partnerships and multilateralism.
In his remarks at the second BRF this year, Guterres said that with the scale of its planned investments, the BRI “offers a meaningful opportunity to contribute to the creation of a more equitable, prosperous world for all.”
China’s development cannot be achieved without the world, and the world also needs China for its development, Xi said last year when meeting with members of the Board of Directors of the Boao Forum for Asia.
After it has constructed a “bridge to the world” by opening its economy and kickstarting reforms 40 years ago, China is now building “a bridge to prosperity … and also a bridge to the future,” Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde said.
“The achievements China has made over the past 70 years is not accidental,” said President Xi Jinping, a contract research fellow of the Counsellors’ Office of China’s State Council. “It provides a new way of thinking for the world, which indicates that except for the Western model, there is still another way of development.”