The Sunday Mail
With China’s economic growth tale now an overwhelming allure for the entire world, the lingering question for developing countries such as Zimbabwe is what lessons to take from the Asian giant success story to implement for national development trajectories.
China has made it clear that it wants to share its success with other developing countries — in line with its entrenched tradition of altruism.
Over 30 or so years ago, the Oriental State was a developing country like Zimbabwe but it has turned the corner to become the second largest economy in the world with a GDP of about US$11 trillion compared to the United States’ US$18 trillion.
China’s message to other developing countries is that economic turnaround is not a distant fairy tale, but a reality within clutching distance — if only the right steps are followed.
Delivering a lecture here during the ongoing Seminar for Renowned Journalists from Africa here last week, Mr Zhou Mingwei of the China International Publishing Group pointed out that China does not want to experience its growth alone.
China wants to share its development with the rest of the world and it wants other countries to copy the correct lessons from its successes.
In his lecture, Mr Zhou, said developing countries need to start by having the right attitude as well as the motivation to aspire for a better life for the generality of the population and not just a minority.
Mr Zhou said China’s economic success has been anchored on a discipline and consistency and managing the accomplishments because any mistakes could lead to disastrous consequences for the populous country.
“One of the challenges we have is to maintain our success and also to manage it,” he said.
“There is no single formula for success but there are some fundamentals that you have to abide by.
“Economic and social development is the key to anything so you have to have the welfare of your people in mind all the time.
“You also have to keep the capital open and have an open door policy to make sure that the capital comes in.
“You also have to strike out a balance between reform, stability and development.
“You cannot have development without reform.”
The Chinese mentality has been that you cannot wait for the perfect moment to begin the development trajectory because the perfect moment is always “the now”.
One important lesson to learn from China is that not everything is perfect in the country but, whenever there is common interest to pull in the right direction, the good always overrides the bad.
While the cities in China such as Beijing and Shanghai are highly developed, the western part of country is still developing.
Poverty is common in Western China and a significant number of the population in these parts live beyond the standard poverty datum line.
However, this factor has not deterred China from assuming its place as a global economic giant.
Presenting another lecture, Mr Huang Youyi of the China International Publishing Group said there is strong sense of collectivism among Chinese which directs that the poor West of China benefits from the riches of other parts of the country.
“There is a huge gulf in class between the highest paid and the lowest paid workers,” he said
“In 2015, the lowest paid worker earned US$ 3, 1923 per year but the highest paid chief executive took home US$19, 44 million a year.
“We acknowledge that when we grew our economy, we overlooked certain aspects and this is one of the issues we are addressing.
“What we are now doing is to take corrective measures to reduce the gap and make sure that the gulf between the rich and the poor is reduced. China plans to lift its entire people out of poverty by 2020.”
Under the concept of the “New Normal”, China has come up with the Pairing System where companies from the rich east are obliged to assist the West.
Mr Huang also noted that fighting corruption has been one of the foundations for China’s economic growth.
The Government of President Xi Xinping has zero tolerance on corruption and anyone found on the wrong side of the law, no matter how influential, faces the consequences.
This is why hundreds of army generals and other senior Government have been sent to jail for corruption and this has served as a deterrent for any would be offenders.
The anti-corruption drive in China is so effective in that any person in the country can alert authorities of any suspected corruption and every alleged case is investigated by the Central Inspection Department of China.
China has come up with the 8-Point Regulation against corruption where all top officials, starting from the highest decision making organ, the Politburo to the lowest official in Government are under scrutiny.
The Oriental State is able to swallow bitter pills to ensure that it maintains its development. For example, while most people in Zimbabwe now consider buying a car a necessity, in China a car is a luxury as it is difficult to buy one because authorities have a stringent policy to control the number of vehicles so as to manage pollution and the volumes of traffic.
For an ordinary person in China, the bicycle is the most common form of transport.
One significant aspect about China is that it is continuing to increase its investment abroad.
In 2016 alone, China invested more than US$1,7 trillion internationally.
The question for Zimbabwe is how much of this came into the country and what more needs to be done to continue attracting Chinese investment.
In another lecturer veteran Chinese diplomat Ren Xiaoping said China’s relations with Africa are based on the five principles of co-existence which were respect for sovereignty, respect for each other’s territorial integrity, non aggression, non-interference of internal affairs and equality and mutual cooperation.
She said China’s conscience is clear in the face of western driven propaganda which suggests that China could be colonising Africa, as the Asian Giant has always had a history of assisting Africa from the days of the liberation struggle of many Africa States.
Such assistance, she said, was unconditional and was anchored on China’s well known selflessness, which the Asian Giant is now implementing on the economic front.
With Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa having projected economic growth at 3,6 percent this year, there is need to put China in the mirror and see what we can copy from the Asian Giant.
In 2007, China’s economic growth was pegged at 3,7 percent but from then on, the growth rates have been rising like a crescendo.
As a starting point, if Zimbabwe can achieve the economic growth target of 3,6 percent, which is a striking similarity to China’s growth rate in 2007.