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Chinese Ambassador to Sweden talks about China's evolution
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11:11, December 01, 2008

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Chen Mingming, Chinese Ambassador to Sweden gave a one hour talk about China's evolution over the past 30 years to about 100 Swedish professors and scholars in Stockholm last Monday.

"It is a good time to review China's changes over the past 30 years because it was also in late November in 1978 that a very important meeting was held and it was that meeting that changed China forever." said the ambassador at the seminar organized by the Nordic Confucius School at the Stockholm University.

Ambassador Chen gave a very clear picture about China's development over different periods which are characterized by three important figures in China, Deng Xiaoping, whose era was from 1978 to 1989, Jiang Zemin, from 1989 to 2003 and Hu Jintao, from 2003 to now.

Deng Xiaoping's era

"In 1978 Chinese late leader Deng Xiaoping won overwhelming support from the people. Deng was remembered as the architect of China's reform and opening up. He was a man of great common sense," Ambassador Chen told the audience of the three sayings from Deng Xiaoping.

"A cat will be a good one, no matter it is yellow or black as long as it catches mice." "To get rich is glorious" and "Reform is a process of crossing the river by groping the stones."

"This is very important because it means that China's reform is a process by trial and error, there is a goal, but there is no road," Ambassador Chen explained. He also cited four major steps Deng's era had taken, which set a good foundation for further development in China.

First was the rural reform as 80 percent of the Chinese population was farmers and the famous and well accepted household contract system was to give farmers a say about what to grow in their field. This policy greatly boosted farmers' enthusiasm. Farmers living standards improved quickly. Then the commune system which was established in 1956 was abolished. This led to the emerge of township enterprises which also marked the revival of private enterprises.

Second was the reform of state-owned enterprises management in the cities in 1980s. This was the first step to move away from the rigid central planned economy to market economy. The third step was to open up to the outside world first by sending students to overseas to study. Ambassador Chen was among the first group of students who were sent by the government to study in America. And the fourth step was to pursue the export-driven strategy by establishing special economic development zones such as Shenzhen.

With the successful experiment in Shenzhen and Zhuhai which belong to the Pearl River Delta, Shanghai in the Yangtze River Delta and all the other coastal areas also opened to the outside world one after another and they have become the engine to drive China's economic development.

Ambassador Chen said Deng's era could be called ice-breaking period too. Deng charted China's development map.

Jiang Zemin's era

It was in former President Jiang Zemin's era that China opened up further and developed in a full scale at a full speed. As the first president in Chinese history who can speak several foreign languages, Jiang was very open-minded and had a great sense of pragmatism. He presided over the transformation of Chinese economy from planned one to the market economy, said the ambassador.

During Jiang's era, another four major steps shaped China's development pace. One of the measures was to liberalize all the prices except gasoline and electricity. In 1992, China's stock markets opened in Shanghai and Shenzhen. It was also during this period that China privatized small and medium sized enterprises which absorbed large number of laborers and created a lot of jobs for the people. In 2001 China's entry into the World Trade Organization paved the way for more export and trade with the outside world.

Meanwhile, China's reform in housing system made real estate sector and automobile sector the driving force for economic development. China has become the third largest trading power. This year it is expected that China may take over Germany to become the second largest trading power in the world. During this period, China built 56000 kilometers long road which facilitates the whole nations transport and infrastructure. Urbanization process made 150 million rural people move to the urban areas and get rid of poverty. However China is still facing a lot of challenges.

Since China's growth was based on huge consumption of energy, aluminum and cement. It has also brought about huge environmental challenge.

Hu Jintao's era

Ambassador Chen said that President Hu Jintao took office in 2003 with a bumpy beginning as SARS became rampant in China suddenly. The epidemic disease revealed serious problem in the Public Health sector.

Meanwhile, President Hu Jintao has to deal with the environmental and other problems accumulated over the years. "If China continued to seek fast growth at the expense of environment, it would not be sustainable," said Ambassador Chen.

"It was against this background, president Hu Jintao put up forward the idea of scientific development which acquires balanced and sustainable development. In other words, scientific development is all about sustainable development. We can see a distinguished shift. Fast development was not the absolute No1 priority any more," said Ambassador Chen. Although China failed to make a green GDP index or standard, other factors are also taken into account when evaluating a local official's achievement.

He said that there has been large input in social security and low income groups. As a result half of the rural people have access to medical care.

China's emission of greenhouse gas reduced by four percent last year.

China has recently issued new policy proposals to allow farmers to transfer the title of their land. This will be very beneficial for farmers.

"If you go to China now and walk in the streets, you can feel the big shifts in China."

On the question of how China will help in dealing with the world financial crisis, Ambassador Chen said China is actively participating in solving financial crisis. China has injected 2 % of its GDP which is about 600 billion US dollars to stimulate the economy in China and stimulate import. China also supports Doha round of trade talks.

About his impression on the Swedish media coverage of China, the ambassador said that the media should report both positive and negative aspect of China. It should give a more balanced report about China.

About China's rise and its relations with the US, the ambassador said that globalization has brought countries closer. And the world is moving towards a multi-polar situation. The multi-player world will benefit most people. China and the US are so interconnected with each other. Therefore any conflict will harm either side.

In order to guarantee the smooth implementation of land reform, Chinese media are becoming more and more open and courts are more and more independent, said the ambassador.

The Nordic Confucius School has been organizing a series of lectures and talks about China this year. The contents are involved in China's political, economic, social, religious and cultural aspects.

Professor Loden who is head of the Nordic Confucius School in Stockholm hailed Ambassador Chen's talk as historic in Swedish-China relations since it was at such a historical moment when China celebrates the 30th anniversary of reform and opening up.

By Xuefei Chen People's Daily Online correspondent in Stockholm.

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