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China, the unstoppable locomotive of growth

By Seddiq Hussainy (People's Daily Online)    17:53, August 07, 2019

China has been a positive example for the world, particularly for developing Asian countries, in orchestrating unprecedented economic growth and accomplishing the excruciating task of dealing with extreme poverty.

China's profound transformation due to flexible and vigorous economic policies has helped uplift lives of more than half a billion Chinese since the mid-1980s. In fact, China has helped lift more people out of extreme poverty than anywhere else in the world.

The world's most populous country has reduced this menace by 10 million people a year, and it intends to uproot extreme poverty entirely by 2020.

Decades of economic development have had a significant role in boosting the living standards of Chinese and ultimately alleviating poverty, which has been an essential part of China's leap ahead. An economic boom fueled a tenfold increase in China's per capita income, from $200 in 1990 to over $8,000 in 2018, moving China into the ranks of middle-income countries.

China's per-capita income witnessed a remarkable increase as the economy began to flourish after the outset of far-reaching economic reforms in the late 1970s.

Economic revolution can be attributed to a mélange of factors including a protracted period of economic growth, which drove a rapidly expanding labour market, and the introduction of urban subsidies and rural pension.

Urbanization also drives economic development. China's extraordinary economic boom has gone hand-in-hand with urbanization, which increased in speed following the initiation of reform and opening-up policies. In 1950, 13 percent of the Chinese population lived in cities. By the end of 2017, almost 60 percent of its total population lived in urban areas. Figures reveal that there are currently 15 megacities in China, while twenty-five of the world's largest 100 cities are there.

Two and half decades ago, China had many characteristics in common with the rest of developing Asia: large population, low per capita income, and resource scarcity on a per capita basis.

Sustainable economic growth has, for the most part, been driven by rapid industrial development. China has catapulted itself to take the position of a manufacturing country with an ever-galloping capacity to produce almost anything the world markets need. Although the country had relied for decades on heavy industry such as coal and metal, over recent decades it has moved into light industries such as consumer goods and technology.

China has seen remarkable growth in other sectors too. Construction, finance, and energy sectors boomed.

China's industrial growth has been driven by the much-touted open-door policy, which refers to trade liberalization and opening up to direct foreign investment. China improved its human capital, opened up to international trade and investment, and created a better investment climate for the private sector.

China has made the jump from an agrarian economy over to manufacturing. The country can serve as an indispensable example for most of developing Asia. Afghanistan would also do well to learn lessons from the rising China.

Afghanistan faces poverty and a staggeringly low per-capita income – the very same challenges that haunted China four decades ago. The country's population is less than 30 million, most of whom are young and dynamic. There is a growing number of educated young people with no employment options in sight. China can help Afghans master the nuts-and-bolts of economic growth and poverty alleviation by investing in agriculture and light industries. That is also a solution to the sluggish job market and would vastly help in reducing poverty.

Trade and business with other countries is another remedy for the ailing economy. China has inadvertently provoked Afghanistan to follow in its footsteps in broadening trade with the rest of the world. Over the last few years, the country has emulated China's module of 'opening up' by launching air trade corridors with many countries including China itself, Russia, United Arab Emirates, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Italy, Finland and other European nations.

Afghanistan is now pinning high hopes on these air corridors to expand its trade. These routes have the potential to offer the landlocked country emancipation from the shackles of economic stagnation, helping it to retain a grip on its vast possibilities.

However, the country is burdened with internal conflict, political rivalries and outside pressure, which calls for a more concerted contribution from China to tackle these evils.

As China propagates its win-win cooperation doctrine across the globe, Afghanistan can play an extraordinary role in its ambitious Belt and Road project. Taking the country's geographical location into consideration, Afghanistan can offer China the most accessible route of transport to Central Asia and Europe. 

The author is a journalist working for Afghanistan Times in Afghanistan and is currently participating in the China Asia Pacific Press Center 2019 program in Beijing.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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