As a champion of free trade, multilateralism and South-South cooperation, China has significantly helped strengthen international trust and promote global growth with its own development, said Juan Carlos Capunay, a former Peruvian Envoy to China.
Capunay, who served as an adviser to Peru’s embassy in Beijing in 1994 and later as Peruvian ambassador to China in 2014, recalled China’s economic and societal transformation he has witnessed over the years in a recent interview.
In his first trip to China in 1976 as a tourist, Capunay saw a “very poor” country inhabited by “very simply and modestly dressed people,” but no “misery” or the kind of “huge social gap” common in the West.
“All of those people, all of them, had work, all of them had food, all of them had a place to sleep, (and) all of them had an activity to fulfil,” said Capunay.
By the time he was designated as the ambassador five years ago, Capunay found “a very different China, a 21st-century China,” he said.
Capunay credited China’s reform and opening-up over the past four decades to the transformation, saying it helped improve China’s economic structure and social landscape.
To continue to drive this transformation, China is drawing strength from innovation, said Capunay, noting that “Innovation is the central pillar of China’s proposed economic opening-up based on the Chinese model for a new-normal economy.”
Capunay believes that the key to China’s successful development has been to invest the wealth generated in alleviating poverty and growing the middle class.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and the country today has identified several “fundamental pillars” for continued growth and development, including combating poverty, promoting social inclusion, and supporting small- and medium-sized businesses, he said.
Technology and innovation serve as the foundation for the economy China aims to build through continued opening-up, regional integration and free trade, he added.
On the Chinese Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), Capunay said the initiative which helps promote global growth through trade and investment is a much more “comprehensive” way than traditional development schemes, adding that the BRI is broad because it is sustained by such two factors as economic cooperation and cultural understanding.
The initiative is designed to spur a “comprehensive development of participating countries, since it facilitates a balanced and equitable development based on win-win formulas,” he added.
“It is not a model it wants to impose or that must be followed, as it lets countries set their own development goals and outline the procedures they want to use. That’s why it has been so well accepted by the developing world, including Peru and other countries in the region,” said Capunay.
China and Peru have agreed to strengthen cooperation based on the initiative, signing a memorandum of understanding during the second Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in April.
Since 2014, China has been Peru’s leading trade partner, with bilateral trade amounting to 23.11 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.
More than 170 Chinese companies have investments in Peru, a sevenfold increase since the Free Trade Agreement between Peru and China went into effect in March 2010.