[BRICS-Xiamen]Chinese Wisdom in BRICS Governance
“Xiamen’s success provides a good example of what can be possible with the perseverance of the 1.3 billion-plus Chinese people,” remarked Chinese President Xi Jinping in his keynote address. “In close to 40 years of reform and opening up under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), we Chinese people have forged ahead fearlessly and with great determination, and we have successfully embarked on a path of socialism with distinctive Chinese features. We have encountered difficulties and challenges along the way forward, but we have persevered and kept pace with the times. With dedication, courage and ingenuity, we are making great progress in pursuing development in today’s China.” The speech, titled Working Together to Usher in the Second “Golden Decade” of BRICS Cooperation, was presented at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum. His words evidenced President Xi’s pride in the Chinese nation’s tireless spirit and wisdom.
In the late 1970s, China remained a populous country with lagging economic development and low living standards. With wisdom and resolution, the CPC took bold action to introduce and implement the reform and opening-up policy to meet the nascent trend of globalization and lead China onto a road to prosperity. An old Chinese proverb goes “When the lead rope of a fishing net is pulled, all its meshes open.” It describes how a key link can cause everything else to fall into proper place. Improving living standards conforms with the CPC’s fundamental goal of serving the people wholeheartedly, which is the “lead rope” of China’s economic reform.
The ultimate goal of improving living standards is enabling people to lead more affluent lives. But achieving such a goal is never easy. Different regions in China’s vast territory vary in natural conditions. But, as another Chinese saying goes, “if you want to get rich, start by building roads.” One rural area after another are getting connected to urban areas, the east and west meet, and developed areas have been connected to underdeveloped areas to facilitate the circulation of production materials, industrial products, commodities and people. Promoting connectivity through building roads has become vital to the prosperity of China, a country with a huge population and vast territory. This is a key facet of the Chinese wisdom that President Xi has alluded to so many times in his speeches.
Road construction is an integral part of infrastructure development. The strategy of “getting started by building roads” has resulted in a giant leap forward for China’s infrastructure construction. Over the past four decades, the country has made considerable achievements in transport infrastructure including highways, railways and civil aviation. Currently, China’s high-speed railways have become one of the country’s shiniest global calling cards.
After nearly 40 years of reform and opening up, China has embraced great progress. However, as the country’s reform enters a deep-water zone in which tough challenges must be addressed, some underlying problems have surfaced. The “medicine” that the Chinese government has prescribed for itself is all-out reform. So far, breakthroughs have been made in multiple areas, and reform is being pursued with greater intensity. In particular, the pace of economic structural adjustment and industrial upgrade has accelerated. This embodies the Chinese wisdom to pull the lead rope. China’s economy has maintained steady and solid performance, and new drivers sustaining development have strengthened. Against the backdrop of the lingering impact of the global financial crisis, the sound development of the Chinese economy has become a highlight of world economic recovery.
It was meaningful that President Xi started his speech at the BRICS Business Forum with comments on Xiamen’s reform and development. Those with insight on the Belt and Road Initiative and the BRICS cooperation mechanism—both of which involve emerging market and developing countries—understand that operation of the Initiative and the mechanism is immersed with China’s experiences in reform and opening up and economic development as well as the wisdom of traditional Chinese culture. For example, facility connectivity, a key component of the Belt and Road Initiative, is simply an upgraded and expanded version of the Chinese proverb and experience of “getting rich by building roads first.” Facing the global economic recession caused by the 2008 worldwide financial crisis, BRICS countries need to focus on boosting economic growth and improving living standards. This also aligns with the popularly held philosophy of traditional Chinese culture and the CPC’s fundamental goal of serving the people wholeheartedly.
President Xi presented three important practices for BRICS countries in his speech at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum: First, treating each other as equals and seeking common ground while shelving differences. In terms of BRICS cooperation, decisions are made through consultation among all BRICS members, never unilaterally. Second is taking a results-oriented, innovative approach to make cooperation benefit all. BRICS is not a talk shop, but a task force that gets things done. Third, developing to help others with the well-being of the world in mind. We are committed to observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, international law and basic norms governing international relations when conducting state-to-state relations. While in the process of development, we are ready to share development opportunities with other countries.
These three practices not only embody the BRICS spirit and the common pursuit of BRICS countries throughout the past decade of cooperation, but also showcase the essence of traditional Chinese culture and China’s experience of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The past decade has not only seen solid progress in the BRICS cooperation mechanism, but also witnessed the unfolding of all-out reform and opening up in China and rapid economic and social development. Over these 10 years, China’s economic aggregate has grown by 239 percent to become the world’s second largest economy, the lives of 1.3 billion-plus people have been significantly improved, and China has made an increasingly greater contribution to both regional and global economic development. Meanwhile, by implementing the Belt and Road Initiative, promoting effective BRICS cooperation and participating in international organizations and mechanisms such as the G20, China has contributed its unique wisdom and experience to global governance and the peaceful development of mankind.
The author is executive editor-in-chief of China Pictorial.