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OP-ED: There is Good Reason to be Confident about China’s System

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    11:27, September 01, 2016

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China has reemerged on the world stage as the power most likely to overtake the United States in the foreseeable future. The second largest economy in the world has undergone massive transformation. The upcoming China-led G-20 summit in Hangzhou bolsters the claim that China is set to play a leading role in the new world order. As a relative source of stability among worldwide economic and political turmoil, there is good reason to be highly confident about China’s system.

As a recent Bloomberg article points out, Western governments are grappling with a growing list of challenges. Surging nationalism, terrorism, and social unrest are shaking the foundations of the West. The Bloomberg piece raises Europe’s huge migration crisis, for example, which the E.U. has tried and failed to resolve multiple times. In the U.S. and the U.K., there is strong populist backlash against globalization, which has so far given rise to Trump and led to Brexit. All this turmoil suggests a loss of confidence in the Western system, and the playing up of historic and cultural divides suggest that the West is either unwilling or unable to adapt to the changing environment.

By Comparison, China has good reason to be confident. While the country faces mounting risks too, it has largely avoided the current upheaval. Instead, China is busy bolstering its economy, growing the nation’s military power, and securing influence abroad with major infrastructure projects, as the piece also points out. For example, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is increasing its role in global finance, particularly in the developing world. The ambitious “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which seeks to connect Asian, European and African countries, is set to transform the world, perhaps even more so than the U.S. Marshall Plan did in the postwar world.

What sets the China system apart from the Western system?

First, China’s political power is centralized. The advantage of a centralized system is that leaders can act quickly and decisively to resolve issues, even if those decisions are unpopular but nevertheless in the national interest. Another advantage, discussed in more detail below, is that leaders can design and execute a long-term national plan. In comparison, Western political power moves away from the center, and voters punish elected leaders for unpopular decisions. The advantage of this type of system is that it is very difficult for a single party or leader to gain total control but, as recent events show, voters can act irrationally and the system is inefficient and unstable.

Second, China has a national plan. One of the more interesting aspects of Chinese politics is the national plan. Every five years, Chinese leaders develop a plan to guide the nation and to inform domestic and international audiences of the nation’s goals. China’s political uniformity ensures that the plans remain more or less consistent within and across administrations. This national roadmap builds on the successes and failures of past plans and actions, and fully consider the present and future needs of the nation. Compared to America’s “Four-Year Plan,” the main objective of which is to gain as much popular support as possible before the next election, the five-year plan is a rational, forward-looking national strategy.

The relative calm we see in China may be uneasy, but it is not fleeting. China’s economy has stabilized, and is still growing at a decent pace. A recent Pew Research Center survey on national economies supports such optimism. The survey finds that close to 90 percent of Chinese view the current economic situation in their country as good, the highest of all countries surveyed. In comparison, the same survey finds that more than half of all Americans view the U.S. economy as weak.

Time will tell, but China has good reason to be confident about its system. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor: Wu Chengliang,Bianji)

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