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The leadership and the stellar growth

14:39, February 23, 2011

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By Li Hong

Though lots of Westerners remain fretting about China's growth model, unconvinced by the longest streak of the breathless expansion in history, they'd better keep patience – or curiosity – to see what miracles would happen in the eastern "Middle Kingdom". And, China itself needs to continue, progressively and strenuously, an initiative, launched by Mr. Deng Xiaoping 30 years ago, to remain unique.

Some developed Western governments' paranoia that China needs to go their way, politically, should come to a rest. A monolithic world that discriminates other development routes, like China's, is boring and the least the world wants.

Chinese people esteem a motto by Mr. Deng, who famously said that: "White cat or black cat, so long it catches rats, it's a good cat". It's the plainest summon to tap to one's worthiness and reach for one's destiny. Now, tens of millions of people have therefore escaped poverty and become affluent. And more are aspiring to catch up.

The spillover effect is to be seen by the world, too, as many Third-World impoverished people in Asia, Africa and elsewhere, are facing new opportunities and a viable future because of growing Chinese investments there.

The country, now just surpassing Japan as the second largest economy, has been catapulted to a new position, confident it will deliver more to its own residents and people far beyond its borders. These days, we have heard voices getting louder from one continent to another that China can be a new pace-setter, championing a new order of global economic and security structure.

It would be a great pity if the streak is to be cut short, or seriously throttled, by human-made errors. The result will taste even more bitterly, if the plunder is done by us, albeit encouraged – or instigated -- by others. No time will be left for us to lick the wounds if chaos rules.

The story of the mammoth success, based on a market-oriented economy with China's distinctive characters, owes to incremental emancipation of our mind, while not tumultuous revolution. What we loathe most is domestic chaos, as evidenced by clan fights during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.

Chinese people should have the collective resolve to prolong the streak as long as possible. Barring any mishaps, it could be extended by at least 15-20 years, carrying on a momentum generated by the enterprise, intelligence and preservation of 1.3 billion people.

The country needs to stick to its uniqueness. The collective policy-making mechanism in Beijing has been proved to serve China's interests and help the country's rapid rise on the world stage. The system runs better as compared with the rowdy and obstruction-prone parliamentary decision-making process.

Collective decisions can only be made on the basis that the persons in top positions, with the interests of 1.3 billion at heart, work collegially as partners, who respect each other's abilities and contributions to a common cause. Recognizing each partner's strengths and expertise lays the ground work for a genuinely shared leadership.

China's current political structure belongs to such a shared leadership. It has delivered to the people. Beijing was among the first nations to announce a stimulus plan after the 2008-09 global financial crisis erupted, and the first major economy to come out of a global recession. China's economy grew 9.1 percent in 2009 and 10.3 percent in 2010, the envy of many others.

One word is the best footage of an ever-changing China, all along since late 1978 till today, which is reform. It is reform that has brought about sea change in the huge piece of land, and, only reform is able to propel the country to new heights.

The reform should be multi-faceted, including perfection of the political apparatus that is to be made more transparent and accountable. People's oversight over governance, particularly in the cyberspace, and media's scrutiny of government work should play a bigger role in politics. A clean, responsive and efficient government is what the country needs.

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 Hong 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."

Li HongmeiLi Hongmei

Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online.