"China will emerge from the arrows of 2018 even more empowered."
Last Monday, Oct. 1, the People’s Republic of China celebrated its 69th founding anniversary in grand fashion. Despite its increasingly testy relationship with the United States, the Chinese people put up a grand show of unity and achievement befitting the world’s most populous nation and second-biggest economy.
There’s a lot of things the PROC can be proud of 69 years after the birth of a New China. After its founding under the revered Chairman Mao Zhe Dong, political consolidation and, later, economic emancipation took off with the emergence of a more pragmatic leadership class under then Chairman Deng Xiao Ping.
In a strategic tweaking of its development strategy in 1978, this Deng-led generation of leaders, many of whom were with Mao in the struggle for a New China, combined revolutionary convictions with economic liberalization in what was dubbed the “reform and opening up” state policy. Within that four-decade window from 1978 to the present, China proceeded to break out and establish itself as a country to reckon with, a model for the rest of the developing world. Consider the following benchmarks:
• a 21-time growth of its gross domestic product from US$ 364 billion to US$ 52.7 trillion;
• an annual average growth rate of 6.5 percent;
• GDP per capita spiked from a low of 365 renminbi(RMB) to 60000RMB;
• drastically decreased poverty index from 87 percent to 3 percent; and
• the lifting of 700 million of its 1.3- billion population out of poverty
These figures are truly outstanding by any measure and decidedly a source of pride for the Chinese people.
But more than any of these economic indicators, what is remarkable is the fact that China has remained one, big and united country despite all the pressures and struggles it had to endure through the years.
There were the internal purges and upheavals from its founding in 1949 to its active support of “revolutionary struggles worldwide” during the Cold War. It is believed that the Chinese Communist Party was heavily involved in the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1969 which continued quite significantly up to the uprising in EDSA in 1986. In the ‘60s up to the ‘80s, almost in tandem with the Soviet Union, China exported revolution worldwide—within ASEAN all the way to Africa—under a number of guises. In the
Korean War in the 1950s, China sent troops and equipment to fight alongside the Koreans in the south. The same was done in Vietnam where the Chinese decided to assist the North and the guerrillas in the South in the run up to unification.
With political stability came economic undertakings which the Chinese, with just a little prodding, decided to take a lot. Within the four decades after opening up, China has one of the world’s longest and best-maintained railway system part of which goes all the way to the tallest mountain ranges in the Himalayas. It has also outdistanced the United States in the development of Artificial Intelligence and is slowly but surely getting organized for a technology-driven economy in the 21st century.
Lately, with the introduction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BR Initiative) in 2013, China is now busy building bridges to all countries and continents in the entire world. Together with its twin, Maritime Silk Road, it is expanding its reach to parts unknown, areas not usually visited by the US and its European allies. As of July this year, China has signed BR I cooperation agreements with 100 countries and international organizations.
Thousands of projects have been proposed for funding and related support by various countries including the Philippines. To ensure that these connectivity and development projects take off from the planning stage to actual completion and utilization, China set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which triggered a rush of participation of countries and NGOs including the Philippines.
Given these developments over the years and the know resiliency and work ethic of the Chinese there is doubt in my mind that in this century China will be able to hurdle the pressures and the tests being thrown its way by the critics, here and abroad. It will emerge from the arrows of 2018 even more empowered and, hopefully, more sensitive to the issues and concerns not only of its “neighbors”in Asia and the Pacific but all others who have started warming up to its initiatives for global security and development.