The curious case of China
The interesting thing about China’s economic prosperity in connection with its social sector is that one is not compromised for the other.
China has displayed some antics that, for the world at large, make it hard to ignore. From an economic wonder to a geopolitical giant, China is a story that must be interpreted for its crucial lessons. Marked by troubling trends of weaponising commerce and extracting geostrategic submission of its humble neighbours, China has come a long way over the past decades. The global economic slowdown of 2008 was but a flashpoint in recent Chinese history.
China's phenomenal rise has been inspirational to many middle-income group states. Its rapid economic growth in terms of GDP together with a controlled growth of population is paving the way for greater economic upswing. But the beginning of China's economic and political ascent is attributed to the coming together of the bifurcated leaderships of Mao Zedong's Communist Party and Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang (Nationalist Party of China) over five decades ago. Adding to that, stepping out of Soviet influence opened up China to the opportunities of the developed western nations.
Deng Xiaoping was instrumental in shaping the market economy in 1978. The early 80's and the Deng era saw invigourated economic step-up that loosened the government's control over the economy and materialised it as market-oriented private ownership with increased exports and greater Foreign Direct Investment. Coupled with its one-child policy as a successful control of fertility rate (number of children per woman), this strictly maintained balance of productivity and output, despite its immediate favourable results, is certain to pose significant anomalies of various kinds in the years to come.
The social sector in China is better-organised and though debatably optimal, the citizenry, in general, is reasonably provided for. As a booming manufacturing hub, China's physical environment has taken a massive hit and resulted in securing itself the top place in the most unfavourable category: pollution. Chinese methods to curb pollution with the involvement of its huge population also serve as examples for other pollution-stricken nations to emulate. Organising and commercialising the use of bicycles in major cities is a method that has yielded effective results. With a focus on innovation, the shift to more sophisticated (and cleaner) technology beyond manufacturing will considerably address the pollution problem.
The interesting thing about China's economic prosperity in connection with its social sector is that one is not compromised for the other. Things may not be up to the most desirable mark but allowing the involvement common people as drivers of growth at the basic levels has favourable political implications. Despite the single-party (and apparently despotic) system, the centralised polity provides ample non-restrictive space for its own private players (meaning any potential investor and/or entrepreneur). The global prominence of Alibaba group speaks for itself.
The strategy to expand economic influence has China making inroads in Europe with infrastructure projects like high-speed rail. Building investment links beyond its borders and reaching out to an odd group of European countries has China setting up its own international multilateral network. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS, One Belt One Road, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, even the Australia-initiated Asia Pacific Economic Conference have all come to internationally come to give the impression that China is about synonymous with great expectations.
In the wake of China's aggressively growing expansionist tendencies, it is tremendous how with calculative deceit, it has consolidated its position in Southeast Asia by means of economic tactics. Its colonialist propensities have its meek neighbours shackled down with commercial ties. In spite of having good relations with Myanmar, and despite having plenty of ghost towns, China does not take in Rohingyas for strategic and economic reasons.
Developing and strengthening the social sector is a necessity for any growing economy that is mindful of sustaining itself in the long run. While China is yet to acquire a dependable reputation in terms of technology and infrastructure, it is going steady in that direction. China's state right now is comparable to Japan's after the War when it barely had a standing in the field of technological innovation. Steadily and dedicatedly, Japan surged forward and brought itself to a position that is in absolute contrast with what it used to be a few decades ago. With the formidable concoction of economy and polity, and despite the image of being a geostrategic bully, China's future looks bright.
(The author is Editorial Consultant and Senior Copy Editor with Millennium Post. The views expressed are strictly personal.)