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Why China should seek after Inclusive Rise?

14:21, June 08, 2011

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By Li Hongmei

President Hu Jintao has called at various occasions for Asia's inclusive development and made it one of the themes of the country's 12th five-year development plan, underscoring how China will reorient its growth model to make economic benefits more widely shared.

The idea was initiated by the Asian Development Bank in 2007 and enshrined by the United Nations as one of its millenium goals.

The questions popping up here are how China could translate this into more tangible policy actions, and why China is supposed to pursue the route of inclusive development and rise.

First, inclusive growth calls for not merely high, but sustainable and efficient economic growth so that enough jobs will be created and economic opportunity expanded for all. If growth fails to provide decent jobs for a wide population, it cannot be considered inclusive.

Second, it requires social inclusion to ensure that every citizen has equal access to opportunity, by actively and effectively eliminating market and institutional failures and removing social exclusion to level the social playing field.

Third, inclusive growth also requires effective social security network to mitigate the risks and vulnerabilities associated with livelihood shocks at the transitional stage, often caused by ill health, economic crises, industrial structuring, or natural disasters, and to cater to the special needs of the disadvantaged and chronically poor.

Over the past three decades, China has seen a supersonic economic growth, and as a result, has benefited certain groups while leaving many others far behind.

For example, the rural areas with the majority of the population have reaped much less favors from the country’s economic miracle. A shortage of education and healthcare resources means that rural residents are lagged behind in savoring the sweet fruit that is already within the reach of their urban cousins.

Hence, solving fundamental problems of the kind will require enormous wisdom and political will, without which any measures could only be something of a cosmetic surgery.

Hard as it may be, it would be a historic achievement if China can narrow the income gap in the coming years or decades, as the widening wealth gap would dim the nation's future.

The grave environmental challenge also requires farsightedness and courage. Protecting the environment might mean a slowdown in the galloping growth model. But “more haste means less speed”, as an old saying goes, a cleaner environment, even at the cost of slower development, will avoid leaving an otherwise devastating legacy to the younger generation.

On top of that, China has increasingly attracted world attention since it became the second largest economy. The West has, therefore, switched from supporting China's reform and opening-up policy to griping about it, and more often than not, taken China’s rise as a threat and its speedy growth a potential game changer threatening the deep-seated world structure predominated by developed countries.

For instance, the U.S. would view China and other emerging nations more like competitors than cooperators in various respects, including the reform of the UN Security Council, the yuan exchange rate, resources and the competition for discourse power.

The US has long made use of the anxiety implanted in China’s neighbors to stoke up estrangement between the two sides via territorial disputes and similar international conflicts. China's neighboring countries have never ceased to be alarmed and sponsored by the U.S. to contain China's “expansion” in the Asia-Pacific region.

On this basis, China is also pressured to recalibrate its development model to globalization, and needs to take a strategy of "inclusive rise," which not only embraces the sustained peaceful growth but also the development routes adopted by other emerging nations.

Only by this, can China act on the theory of "development for the world, development that relies on the world and shared by the world," so as to realize an all-around, coordinated and sustainable development.

And only by seeking inclusive development, can China convince others its rise is peaceful and will be benefiting all.

The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

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About this column

Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online.


Li HongLi Hong

After 19 years working for China Daily and its website, Li Hong moved to english.people.com.cn in March 2009.

Li has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics.

He was graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida.

Dai MinJohn
Dai Min

John Milligan-Whyte and Dai Min, the executive producers and co-hosts of the Collaboration of Civilizations television series adapted by the eight books they wrote in the America-China Partnership Book Series published in English and Mandarin in 2009-2010 that created the "New School of America-China Relations." They founded the America-China Partnership Foundation and Forum in 2008 and the Center for American-China Partnership in 2005, which was recognized in 2009 as "the first American think tank to combine and integrate American and Chinese perspectives providing a complete answer for America and China's success in the 21st century."