No. 06 | 01.08.2021
The US is trying to impede China’s rise. How will China achieve its second centenary goal?
Justin Lin Yifu is Dean of the Institute of New Structural Economics, Dean of the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development, and a Professor and Honorary Dean of the National School of Development at Peking University. He was Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the World Bank
Amid what President Xi calls “profound changes unseen in a century” (百年未有之大变局 bǎinián wèi yǒu zhī dà biànjú) brought about by the rise of China, the decline of the West, and the subsequent tension between China and the US, how will China achieve its second centenary goal of becoming a “strong, democratic, civilized, harmonious, and modern socialist country”? From the perspective of economics, Professor Lin argues that once China’s GDP per capita reaches half of that of the United States, which will meanwhile lose the technological edge it uses to keep China in a stranglehold, China-US relations will transition to a new phase of mutual acceptance and peaceful coexistence. For over four decades, China has used its “latecomer’s advantage” – imitating, importing, or integrating existing technologies and industries – to achieve its rapid growth. Now, in the context of the US’s crackdown on Chinese tech firms, Lin contends that China can continue to enhance its innovation capabilities through cooperation with countries in Europe and Asia, and it can boost domestic innovation in key areas through China’s nationwide system (举国体制 jǔguó tǐzhì). In spite of major challenges like the aging population, carbon neutrality, and rural revitalization, China will still achieve an annual growth rate of at least 6 percent until 2035, followed by a growth rate of 4 percent until 2049, at which point it will reach a GDP per capita half the size of the US’s and fulfill its second centenary goal.
Economic growth that benefits the poor: The global significance of China’s poverty alleviation experience
Li Xiaoyun is Chief Senior Advisor at the International Poverty Reduction Centre in China and a Professor at the College of Humanities and Development Studies at China Agricultural University.
The strong leadership of the CPC, combined with China’s unique political system and approach to development, has been a key driver behind the country’s successful poverty eradication strategy. Even though these conditions are unique to China’s development, Professor Li demonstrates how some of China’s methodologies have been and can be adopted by other countries where people still suffer from extreme poverty. Li asserts that political and social stability and pro-poor growth are fundamental to ensuring economic growth, and more importantly, to ensuring that economic growth benefits the poor. In the first phase of China’s reform era, millions of peasants were lifted out of extreme poverty through agricultural development. During the second phase, urbanization drove economic growth, as hundreds of millions of peasants migrated to cities to find jobs and improve their livelihoods. Finally, as Li points out, in order to implement the rural revitalization plan – the second phase of poverty reduction after eradicating extreme poverty – China must focus on narrowing the rural-urban divide by improving rural infrastructure, offering peasants the same access to public goods as urban dwellers, and enhancing agricultural productivity.
What is Chinese socialism? Perspectives from China’s top thinkers
How should Chinese socialism be understood? How should it face new challenges? The Beijing Cultural Review (文化纵横Wénhuà Zònghéng) recently invited top experts to discuss these questions. First, Wang Hui argues that, in addition to the importance of the CPC’s leadership, public ownership of land, and state ownership of assets, the demands of the Chinese people and the government’s response to these demands are also characteristics of socialism. For instance, workers who were laid off during the state-owned enterprise reform made many demands of the government, with the understanding that the government’s duty is to serve the people, who are the rulers of the nation. Next, Pan Shiwei points out that China has never abandoned socialism, but is instead still reconceptualizing it, and that today’s China should use its socialist approach to address urgent global ecological and geopolitical issues. Lastly, to counter critics of Chinese socialism who focus on the rise of capital, Wei Nanzhi says the fundamental contradiction of capitalism cannot be solved if China’s rise is characterized by an accumulation of wealth. She urges the CPC to control capital under today’s new socioeconomic conditions to continue serving the people.
The tyranny of time: China’s young people struggle against the clock
Dr. Lian Si is a Professor at the University of International Business and Economics and Deputy Director of the China Youth and Children Research Association.
Dr. Lian’s study of the “tyranny of time” shows how the dictatorship of time alienates and dehumanizes Chinese youth of the mobile internet era. Powered by the ideology that efficiency reigns supreme, delivery platforms with countdown timers and deadlines transform workers into galloping machines as they race against the clock to make deliveries. In the IT sector, the ubiquitousness of mobile technology blurs the boundary between work and life, inflicting invisible work hours on young internet engineers. For these workers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones have become a moving labor camp. In the field of academia, the “promote or dismiss” system (非升即走 fēi shēng jí zǒu) at research institutions accelerates the intellectual output of young scholars while weakening the potential to deepen their studies. To make matters worse, a growing number of young people worry about what will happen after they turn 35 – the maximum age for many job positions – out of fear they will be outcasts if they fail to make progress in their careers. As Dr. Lian puts it, nobody wins in a world dictated by time. He suggests that China’s system design should focus on the future development of youth, stimulating innovation, and devising a mechanism to recognize the value and efforts of each young person.
Western stereotypes about how China’s athletes are trained can be applied to their own countries
Beijing Cultural Review (Wénhuà Zònghéng)
The Beijing Cultural Review ( Wénhuà Zònghéng) is a Chinese bimonthly magazine offering high-quality commentary. The magazine is devoted to recasting China’s history and culture, re-evaluating mainstream Western values, and explaining China’s views on global issues.
Since China’s return to the Olympics in the 1980s, the Western media has been recycling the same negative stereotypes about how the “nationwide system” produces “sports machines,” supports “child abuse,” and “organizes athletes to take illicit drugs.” This article demonstrates how these stereotypes can also be applied to other countries by citing the American anthropologist Susan Brownell, a former heptathlete who studies sports in China and the Olympic Games. For example, critics of China’s highly centralized sports system argue that the Chinese government has spent more money on developing elite athletes than capitalist countries have spent, when in fact competitive sports in the United States have received far more funding than in China, albeit from more diverse sources. Further, due to a lack of resources, limited sources of sports funds, and a centralized economic system, the article states that China’s centralized sports system is the only pragmatic way to develop talented children into world-class athletes. The article also recounts how China became integrated into the Olympic movement. For a long time, competitive sports were dominated by Western discourse and considered incompatible with Eastern culture and society. In Mao’s era, China banned competitive sports while promoting mass participation in sports, leading to the creation of “broadcast gymnastics”(广播体操 guǎngbò tǐcāo) – exercise instructions delivered to the public over radio. It was not until after the government developed a market-oriented economy in the late 1970s that China began to promote competitive sports.
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