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China's Development and Its Significance for Africa and the World
—Lecture at Tanzania National defence College
2019/04/06
  by H.E. Wang Ke, Ambassador of China to Tanzania

( April 4th of  2019)

 

I. Development Achievements Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China 70 Years Ago

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The past 70 years can be divided into two periods, the first 30 years prior to the adoption of the Reform and Opening-up policy and the following 40 years. In essence, these closely connected but significantly different two periods can be regarded as practice and exploration made by the Communist Party of China in guiding the people on how to build and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The keyword of the first 30 years is "Construction". During that period, China accomplished socialist transformation, conducted socialist construction and established the basic socialist system. While the world was in the cold-war era and the external environment was extremely severe with fierce international struggles, China focused on its major task of consolidating its state political power and guarding against external aggression. In spite of relatively slow economic development and severe setbacks during that period, we still managed to yield important achievements. The most important one was to establish from scratch a comparatively complete and independent industrial system and national economic system, which contributed to the "standing up" of China from poverty and weakness with a brand-new outlook to stand in the eastern part of the world.

The keyword of the following 40 years is "Reform". Thanks to the decision made by Mr. Deng Xiaoping, the then national leader of China and chief architect of the Reform and Opening-up policy, and the continuous endeavor made by following national leaders, China started and carried out the great new revolution of reform and opening-up, launched, carried forward and developed socialism with Chinese characteristics, pushed the construction and development of all fields in China onto the fast lane and helped realize the big step from standing-up to better-off. All these tremendous achievements have drawn the attention of the whole world.

1. A clear-cut development path. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has led the Chinese people to combine the basic theories of Marxism with China's actual conditions and found the socialist development path with Chinese characteristics through exploration. The main characteristics of the socialist development path with Chinese characteristics include: the leadership of the CPC; taking economic construction as the central task; strengthening self-improvement of the ruling party so as to consolidate the ruling-party position of the CPC. Although the 1980s have witnessed the downfall of numerous socialist governments around the world, China has weathered the storm and gained new life from it. Currently, the socialism with Chinese characteristics is displaying its increasingly strong vitality, and it has become the subject for research and study of many countries.

2. Rapidly developing national economy. China's GDP has grown from 367.9 billion RMB yuan in 1978 to 90 trillion RMB yuan in 2018 (approximately 12 trillion US dollar), which makes China the second largest economy in the world for 8 consecutive years. China's annual GDP growth rate from 1978 to 2018 is 9.5%, which is much higher than the world average growth rate during the same period, which is 2.9%. The yields of China's major farm produce have leaped to the front rank in the world. The country has built up the most complete industrial system around the globe, and its infrastructure construction has advanced by leaps and bounds. Currently, China is the largest manufacturer, the largest commodity trader, the second largest consumer of goods, and No.2 recipient of foreign capital in the world. China's foreign currency reserve has been the world largest for several consecutive years.

3. Remarkable improvement in people's livelihood. As China's economy develops rapidly, the Chinese people's life has been continuously improving. Over the past 40 years, the per-capita disposable income of the Chinese people has increased from 171 RMB yuan to 26,000 RMB yuan (equivalent to over 4,000 US dollar). More than 300 million Chinese people have joined the middle-income groups, and 740 million people have been lifted out of poverty. China has built up the world largest social security system covering education, pension, health care, the minimum living allowance and housing. The county has implemented the nine-year compulsory education system in an all-round way, the basic old-age pension has covered over 900 million people and more than 1.3 billion Chinese people are enjoying basic medical insurance. The Chinese people's life expectancy had increased from 67.8 years old in 1981 to 76.7 years old in 2017.

4. Comprehensive advancement of major-country diplomacy. China has achieved the historic transformation from a closed or semi-closed country to a fully opened country. At present, China has established different types of partnership with 102 countries and 4 regions. The country's circle of friends is continuously expanding. China has been actively safeguarding an open world economic system, promoting the development of a human community of a shared future, and contributing its own wisdom and strength to the reforms of global governance system. I will talk more about China's diplomacy later.

5. Outstanding achievements in building a strong national defense force. The Chinese army, we called it "the People's Liberation Army", or PLA, has developed into a medium-sized army with various arms of services, rational layout and a fairly high level of mechanization. The weaponry of the PLA, in particular, has developed by leaps and bounds. China has achieved breakthroughs in manufacturing such "pillars of a great power" as large destroyer, the fourth-generation fighter planes and large transport airplanes. Recent years have witnessed the PLA being equipped with various backbone weaponry in quantity, such as the new-type main battle tanks, armed helicopters, large warships and high-performance fighters. In April 2017, the first aircraft carrier designed and constructed by China independently began sea trials. This indicates that in the foreseeable future, China will have its own blue water navy of a certain scale.

 

II. Major Experiences of China's Development

During the past 70 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China, particularly over the recent 40 years after the adoption of  reform and opening-up policy, China has accumulated lots of experiences, among which I think the most important ones can be summarized as four P's.

The first P stands for "Party". We have upheld and continuously improved the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), making the Party the backbone of the nation. As a Chinese saying goes, "The high speed of a train owes to the strong driving force of the locomotive." The CPC is the world's largest political party, with nearly 90 million members. It has been the ruling party of the world's most populous country for seven decades. The history of CPC is the history of the Chinese nation strives for great rejuvenation. The leadership position of CPC is an inevitable result of the historical development as well as the choice of the Chinese people. The process of China's reform and opening-up has not always been plain sailing. We have encountered some unimaginable violent storms. At the crucial time when the fate of China's reform and opening-up was at stake, it was the CPC that led the Chinese people to overcome great difficulties and make the nation prosperous and strong.

The second P stands for "people". We have persisted in the people-oriented approach. To seek happiness for the Chinese people and pursue rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is the original aspiration and mission of the CPC. It is also the original purpose of China's reform and opening-up. The CPC has always taken the fundamental interests of the Chinese people as the starting point and the purpose of all its work, and taken the people's aspiration for a better life as its primary objective. The CPC respects public opinions, pays close attention to people's livelihood, and makes great efforts to improve it.

In the early years of China's reform and opening-up, to "make the cake bigger", the Chinese Government put forward such slogans as "we should allow part of the population to become rich first", which had greatly stimulated the vigor of the economy. However, such policies inevitably generated the problems of widening gap between the rich and the poor and the imbalance of development among different regions. Forty years later, when "the cake" has become quite big, the Chinese Government lays greater emphasis on "sharing the cake in an equitable way" so that every Chinese citizen can benefit from the fruits of the reform and opening-up. Currently we are concentrating on fighting an uphill battle to lift the remaining 16.6 million poverty-stricken people in rural areas out of poverty by 2020. (The Chinese poverty standard is 2,300 RMB yuan per capita per year, which is a little bit lower than the international standard, 1.25 USD per day.) We have been continuously improving the public service system, prioritizing the development of education sector, strengthening the social security system and vigorously implementing the "Healthy China" strategy. While delivering basic public services to all the people, we have adopted special polices to favor vulnerable groups, such as women, children and the disabled, so as to promote social fairness and justice.

The third P stands for "path". We has followed the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. President Xi Jinping said on many occasions, "Only one who wears the shoes knows whether they fit." This simple sentence tells us a truth, that is, we should let the people who live in a country to choose the development path for themselves because it is them who know best whether a certain development path fit their own county or not. For a country with nearly 1.4 billion people, there is no precedent or textbook to follow for reform and development. Proceeding from China's actual conditions, the CPC has led the Chinese people to address various challenges and achieve one success after another.

While following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, China has unremittingly conducted institutional innovations, yielding many systems suited to the country's actual conditions. For instance, we have established a basic economic system with public ownership as the mainstay and multiple forms of ownership developing side by side. This system can not only enable the government to better play its due role and pool resources to solve major problems, but stimulate the vigor of various players in the market and ensure the decisive role of the market in resource allocation. Another example is the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC. This system can not only incorporate various social forces into the national political system and realize the broadest political participation, but help reach the maximum consensus in decision-making so that the frictions among political parties and interest groups could be reduced greatly.

Now let me come to the fourth P, which stands for "plan". We have been attaching great importance to advance planning and vigorous implementation. We often say that, "A blueprint should be used until it becomes full reality", which means that once a development goal is set up, we should do long-term strategic planning and implement the plans unswervingly. For instance, since 1953, the Chinese Government has been formulating "Five-Year Plan" every five years, to set up objectives and directions for realizing the national vision in economic and social development. In November 2012, China put forward the concept of "Chinese Dream", which is actually the two centennial goals. The first centennial goal is by 2021, when the CPC celebrates its centenary, we should have built a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and the second centennial goal is by 2049, when the PRC celebrate its centenary, we should have built a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious. Once the plan is released, every related department and unit will do everything possible to implement it and achieve the goals on time. President Xi Jinping often says, "Clutch a piece of iron and leave your handprint on it; step onto the stone and leave your footprint on it." That is a vivid description of his requirement on the implementation of various work plans.

 

III. Contributions of China's Development to the World

There is an ancient saying in China, which goes "Improve yourself when you are poor and commit to the welfare of the world when you are rich". We are convinced that if China becomes more developed, we hope to see a better world while at the same time, when the world becomes better off, China will also benefit from it. As a result, China calls on all countries in the world to join hands in building a new type of international relations featured by mutual respect, fairness, justice and mutually beneficial cooperation and a community of shared future for mankind, and taking it as our own mission to make new and more contributions to human beings. The contributions of China's development to the world are mainly reflected in the following three aspects:

Firstly, China is a promoter of global development. Since the reform and opening-up, China took the initiative in integrating itself into the world's economic system by involving its own development in the development of the world and contributed to the steady and energetic development of the world economy by accelerating its own economic development. According the statistics of the World Bank, recent years have witnessed over 30% of contribution from China's economic growth to the world's, surpassing the combined number of the United States, European Union and Japan.

At present, China is the largest trading partner of Tanzania and other 120 more countries and regions. China provides not only quality goods with competitive price to all countries in the world, but also a broad sales market and a good investment environment to foreign goods, services and capitals and at the same time positively expands its direct investment in Africa and other continents. Since 2018, China is going to hold the China International Import Expo annually, in order to share its market opportunities with the rest of the world. In 2017, the volume of China's foreign direct investment (FDI) reached 136 billion US dollars. By the end of 2017, China's FDI stock surpassed 1.8 trillion US dollars, ranking second in the world. According to the recently enacted Foreign Investment Bill, China will commit itself to creating a more stable, transparent and expectable market environment for foreign enterprises operating in China so that they can compete in a level playing field. Moreover, China maintains for years its position as the world's largest source country of outbound travelers. In 2018, nearly 150 million Chinese citizens traveled abroad, up by 14.7% compared to the previous year.

In 2013, Mr. Xi Jinping, China's president put forward the Belt and Road initiative. During the past 6 years, the Belt and Road has become a platform of cooperation with the largest scale even existed in the world and the most welcomed public product. So far, close to 130 countries, including Tanzania and 30 international organizations have signed the Belt and Road cooperation documents with China. The Belt and Road initiative always adheres to the golden principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, which will bring about a large number of cooperation opportunities to each and every participant. Thanks to cooperation under the Belt and Road, eastern Africa now has its first highway between Nairobi to Thika in Kenya, Maldives its first cross-sea bridge, Kazakhstan its first corridor of access to the sea which is from the dry port of Khorgas to Lianyungang, a Chinese city located in the middle along China's coast, and China Railway Express, the longest bond of cooperation in Eurasia. The Kigamboni Bridge in Tanzania, the largest one in eastern Africa, was contracted and built by a Chinese company. Meanwhile, our companies are working on the renovation and expansion of Dar es Salaam port and other projects. All these examples prove that the Belt and Road is a road towards peace, prosperity, openness, innovation and common development.

Secondly, China is a builder of global peace. As a big country with a population of nearly 1.4 billion, China maintains long-term safety and stability, which in itself is a major contribution to the cause of world peace. China unswervingly follows the path of peaceful development and pursues a defensive national defense policy, the only country among five countries with nuclear weapons in the world who has promised that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons and would refrain from using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear- weapon countries.

China always seeks to resolve all international and regional hot-spot issues through negotiations, spares no effort in playing a constructive role in bridging divides and promoting peace talks and actively participates in UN peacekeeping operations by dispatching nearly 40 thousand peacekeeping officers by far, the largest number among five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Thirdly, China is a pioneer in the reform of global governance system. As a member of the UN Security Council, China firmly upholds the basic norms of international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, stands by the side of developing countries in international affairs for a long term, supports greater representation and voice of developing countries as well as improvement of the weakness of global governance in the south, thus pushing the international system towards fairer and more reasonable development. With regard to the current nosing-up tendency of unilateralism and trade protectionism, China advocates the principle of multilateralism on the basis of international laws, calls on the international community to stay alert on unilateralism and protectionism and jointly safeguard the international system with the United Nations standing in the core.

In the face of sluggish and complex situation of the world economy and the simmering trend of de-globalization, President Xi Jinping further elaborated on China's plan to solve current issues at the global governance forum held in Paris recently. The plan is to uphold fairness and reasonableness to address the governance deficit, consultation and understanding to address the trust deficit, joint efforts and mutual assistance to address the peace deficit, and mutual benefit and win-win results to address the development deficit. President Xi's comment stood as a powerful response to the earnest anticipation of the international community on how to step up the global governance capacity and step out of the struggle as soon as possible, and at the same time strengthened the confidence of all countries in the prospects of globalization.

 

IV. China's development and its implication for Africa and Tanzania

Despite the great distance, China and Africa have been interconnected through the ancient maritime silk road since five hundred years ago. More recently, in their fight for political independence and economic prosperity, China and Africa have established a solid friendship and forged a community with shared interests and common future.

1. China's Africa policy and cooperation results

Africa is a continent made up of emerging economies, many of which share with China a woeful memory of colonial times. In the 1960s and 70s, China provided every possible support for African fight for independence, when Tanzania was an important base for training freedom fighters from Southern Africa. Later, China sent hundreds of experts to newly independent African countries, in support of the development of industry, culture, medicine, and construction of railways, power plants, and factories. China also gave much needed political support for African brothers in the international arena. At the same time, African countries have made significant contributions to the restore China's lawful seat in the United Nations, and have always supported China's just cause of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In the 21st century, the "Forum on China-Africa Cooperation", also known as FOCAC, was established to promote comprehensive cooperation and common development. In 2013, during President Xi Jinping's first visit abroad, he chose Tanzania as the first stop in Africa. It was in Tanzania that he put forward the principles of China's Africa policy, which is sincerity; practical results; affinity and good faith, as well as the values China upholds when dealing with African affairs, which is the value of friendship, justice and shared interests. It is an improvement over Africa policies of other parties for four reasons:

First, sincerity and equality remain at the core of China's cooperation with Africa. China treats Africa with respect, love and support. It has never meddled in the explore by the African people for a development path that is in line with their national conditions, never interfered in Africa's internal affairs, never imposed its will on others, never attached any political condition to aid, and never had any political agenda in its investment or funding in Africa.

Second, China takes the right approach to justice and interests by putting justice before interests. For China, friendship is more valuable than gold. It is willing to give more, to give first, and even to give without take, so that African brothers will benefit more in the cooperation.

Third, China believes that development is the absolute principle, and it is the key to solving all problems. Development is the most important human rights and the greatest democracy for the African people. Therefore, we welcome African countries to take the express train of China's development. China is willing to continue to support Africa with funds, technology and experience so that Africa will benefit from China's development.

Fourth, in the cooperation with Africa, China always adheres to the principle of wide consultation; joint contribution and shared benefits. We will make the cooperation cake bigger, bring more benefits to the people of both countries, and achieve win-win.

Since its establishment 19 years ago, FOCAC has achieved greatly.

Politically, we now have more frequent high-level visits with more African countries, signalling a deepening political trust. China has established partnerships with 53 African countries, among which 24 have been upgraded to strategic partnerships or comprehensive cooperative partnerships.

Economically, China has maintained its position as Africa's largest trading partner for 10 consecutive years. China's total investment in Africa has exceeded US$110 billion, with more than 3,700 Chinese companies now investing in the continent. China has helped to build more than 10,000 kilometres of highways, more than 6,000 kilometres of railways, and more than 20 airports and terminals, as well as 150 stadiums, conference centres and parliament buildings. China also financed numerous infrastructure projects which have become a valuable foundation for the interconnection and industrialization of African countries.

Culturally, China has established 59 Confucius Institutes and 41 Confucius Classrooms in Africa. There are now more than 130 pairs of sister cities. China has trained more than 160,000 technicians for Africa and provided more than 20,000 government scholarships so far. More than one million Chinese tourists visit Africa every year.

In terms of security, China supports African countries to solve African problems in their own manners. In September 2015, President Xi Jinping announced that China would provide $1 billion military assistance to the AU within five years. At the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, China pledged to increase its support for the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis.

2. China-Tanzania cooperation: where we are now and what we have achieved

Created by our founding fathers, the China-Tanzania friendship has weathered a tumultuous five decades, and become a beacon and exemplar in the China-Africa relation.

Into the new era, this bilateral relation further evolved. There is greater political trust, with ever closer exchange and cooperation between governments, ruling parties and legislators. We keep on coordinating and support with each other in international and regional affairs of common interest, and in international organization elections. The Nyerere Leadership Institute, which is being built by China, will be completed next year, and become an important platform for contacts and exchanges of experience on governance between China, Tanzania and whole Africa.

The economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has yielded fruitful results and is reflected in the three "largest".

First, China is now the largest source of investment for Tanzania. Up to now, China's investment in Tanzania has exceeded US$7 billion, with more than 200 companies operating in this country.

Second, China is the largest trade partner of Tanzania. In 2018, the bilateral trade reached US$ 3.976 billion. This year, the export of dried cassava to China is expected to increase substantially, and other exports to China will continue to grow.

Third, China is the largest construction contractor in Tanzania. In 2018, the total value of the newly signed contracts exceeded US$1.3 billion. China has built a number of keystone projects through donation, funding or contracting, including the Nyerere Convention Center, DSM University Library, natural gas transmission pipeline, National ICT Broadband Backbone and the Nyerere Bridge. All in all, Chinese companies have created 150,000 direct jobs for Tanzania.

The cultural exchanges continue to deepen. In recent years, China has provided about 200 scholarships every year. From 2016 to 2018, 1,000 Tanzanians went to China for skill training, most of them were public servants. This year, we are about to see the completion or start of a number of China-aid projects, such as Moshi police school expansion project, the Kagera vocational and technical training school project, and the transportation university project. Since 1968, China has continuously sent medical teams to both the continent and Zanzibar to support the health service of Tanzania. I am also pleased to see that more and more Chinese tourists are visiting Tanzania. With new direct flights between the two countries, tourism will become a new highlight in our relations.

The security cooperation between the two countries has been continuously consolidated, and the mil-to-mil relation has always played a stabilizing role in bilateral relations. In-depth cooperation has been conducted across all areas, such as personnel training, military technology, joint training and exercises. Chinese military experts have been working in Tanzania, and many Tanzanian officers have studied or trained in China. In the past few years, China has built the new runway in the Ngerengere Air Base and the Comprehensive Training Center in Mapinga. President Magufuli attended both handover ceremonies and spoke highly of the two projects. Soon, China will start construction of the second phase of the National defence College, and the TPDF Headquarters in Dodoma. Such diversified military cooperation will play a leading role in China-Africa security cooperation.

3. China-Tanzania cooperation: what we will do next

In September last year, President Xi Jinping announced at the FOCAC Beijing Summit "eight major initiatives" for promoting China-Africa cooperation in the areas including industrial promotion, facility connectivity, trade facilitation and capacity building. At the beginning of this year, the Chinese government announced that it will further expand opening-up, and promote cooperation under the BRI framework. In Tanzania, President Magufuli has made infrastructure development and industrialization the two strategic priorities in the national development. He announced that this year is the "investment year" of Tanzania. China-Tanzania's foreign cooperation strategy is highly compatible, and we have a broad space for cooperation. We will work hard to push China-Tanzania cooperation to a new level:

First, strengthen policy communication. It is a foundation for pragmatic cooperation. Both China and Tanzania should step up such communication and strengthen exchanges in governance, in order to learn from each other and to improve development efficiency.

The importance of policy communication is two-fold. One, it facilitates coordination of national development strategies and formulation of plans or measures that can promote complementarity and win-win. Two, it eliminates uncertainties and doubts, which is vital for mutual understanding and creating a cooperative context.

Speaking of policy communication, I am happy to tell you that on the 17th of this month, the Chinese Embassy will co-host a "Dialogue on China-Tanzania Investment and Business Policy" with the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. It will be a new initiative to strengthen such policy communication.

Second, promote pragmatic cooperation. China and Tanzania should work together to implement the results of the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit. Both countries should work to incorporate the Chinese BRI with Tanzania's "Second Five Development Plan" and "2025 National Development Vision". Among all cooperation fields, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, mining, information, and electricity should be priorities. We should speed up the negotiation and implementation of cooperation projects, and strive to achieve real results as soon as possible.

Third, enhance bilateral trade. Despite its current fair size, the China-Tanzania bilateral trade is still beset with a deficit problem. China will reverse the imbalance by facilitating bilateral trade and increasing the import from Tanzania.

This year, China will invite Tanzania to participate in three major trade fairs, namely the China Beijing World Horticultural Exposition in April, the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in June and the Second China International Import Expo in November. Among them, during the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in June, Tanzania will be one of the six African guest countries. Through these expos, we hope to give more publicity to Tanzanian products, hence enlarge its export to China and other countries.

Fourth, uphold the principle of development for the people. We will encourage and assist capable contractors of China to participate in Tanzanian infrastructure projects, encourage Chinese companies to invest here, and create more jobs and revenue for Tanzania. We will continue to help young people, students, women, and civil servants of Tanzania to study in China, by providing more training opportunities and government scholarships.

This year, our embassy will continue to give the "ambassador awards", in order to support outstanding Tanzanian students who study Chinese, entrepreneurs who start businesses after studying in China, and poor students with excellent academic performance. The Chinese Embassy will also organize Chinese companies to hold job fairs in local universities and recruit graduates directly from campus. We hope that through these initiatives, we can support the capacity building in Tanzania, especially among the young, improve their skills and increase their employ ability.

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