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China’s rapid rise after four decades of reform

By Saurabh Sharma | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-08-09 08:36
On a visit to Yellow Crane Tower at Wuhan. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The People’s Republic of China is a country that has attracted global attention in past four decades and left critics awestruck. Its development has amazed world leaders, academicians, scholars, social scientists and economists alike. After the reforms initiated in 1978, the country has been able to bring about 700 million people out of poverty and witnessed a rapid growth averaging 10 percent. It also successfully transformed a centrally planned economy into a market-based economy and is now on the way to usher in a new wave of reforms.

As a close observer of developments in the region, I am intrigued by China’s model of development and keen to acquire deeper understanding of it. China’s success invigorated me to learn and understand how Chinese policy makers design their programs and put them into practice.

What amazes me is how China has been able to develop its infrastructure policies in wake of rapid urbanization that has helped the country grow, both economically and socially. It has demonstrated to the world how mega projects are conceived and implemented efficiently. The Three Gorges Dam and high-speed railways are a testimony to it. I had the fortune to experience and see them personally.

One remarkable development that has transpired in China and gained worldwide attention is its journey to becoming a technology powerhouse. A focus on emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, has put the country alongside the world’s most powerful nations. With the development of indigenous AI technology, China is likely to play the role of leader in the global technology sector.

I am able to watch this transformation closely, as I have lived in China for the past year as a student. I arrived in China last September, a time when India and China were having a turbulent period for their relations. I too was asked by my friends and relatives to reconsider the decision.

Believing in the strength of leadership from both countries, I was sure it was a temporary phase and relations would warm up again. However, I still had some apprehensiveness when I started my journey from New Delhi to Wuhan. Despite my optimism, worries over how Chinese people would react to my presence rushed through my mind.

Fortunately, it took little time to realize all my doubt was just that. I interacted with many Chinese shopkeepers during my first few days. They were all welcoming and after learning I was from India, they were even more excited. Language was a barrier, but the smiles on their faces were genuine. Surprisingly, prices in stores were clearly marked, and there was no need to haggle. I never met a seller who irritated me, or a stranger at a neighboring table who bothered me.

As the days passed by, I discovered Chinese people were unfailingly polite, though they may look rude because of their shyness in communicating with foreigners. Many have gone out of their way to help me whenever I needed it.

I must admit before arriving in China, I vastly underestimated the size of China’s economic growth. Contrary to my perception, subways were world-class, buses were spacious and air conditioned. Mobile 4G worked most everywhere, and 5G is being rolled out where I presently live. Along with it, as a foreigner I found taxis easy to find, grocery stores everywhere and Baidu maps far more accurate than Google.

Overall my assessment of China is of a country forging ahead and claiming its due position in the world. In the process it provides a lot of lessons for countries are aspiring to grow in a similar fashion.

The author is an Indian student pursuing a PhD at Wuhan University of Technology.

  
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