Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Different kind of exceptionalism

By Le Yucheng (China Daily) Updated: 2011-06-24 07:52

No existing model to emulate

Here are two interesting statistics: One is that 400 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty over the past 30 years. The other is that 400 million Chinese have learned English over the past 30 years.

At the first, it might seem that the two figures are unrelated. But I believe there are close links between the two. Without learning from the West, we could not have raised so many people out of poverty, at least not so fast.

China has been learning development experiences and lessons from the US and European countries for a long time, and applying them to its own realities. But China, as I said, is a unique country and we cannot blindly emulate the models of others.

Over the past decades, we have been trying to explore our own path of development, and fortunately we have succeeded in many ways. The return of Hong Kong and Macao to the motherland has enriched the concept of "one country, two systems" in both theory and practice. We succeeded in solving the employment problem in the countryside on the basis of establishing township enterprises and we succeeded in solving banking problems at the beginning of this century, so we survived the international financial crisis in 2008. We also constantly update our concept of development in order to keep pace with the changing times.

No strategic intention to challenge

China has no strategic intention to challenge the current international system. It has no intention to forge military alliances or to fight for a greater sphere of influence.

The current international system is built on the basis of lessons and experiences of two world wars. It reflects, to some extent, the reality of the world and the balance of power. It has played a very important role in maintaining the peace and security of our world. China too has benefited from this.

China is becoming increasingly integrated into the international system. In 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization. Now China is an important member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. China continues to play an increasingly important role in the activities of the United Nations, G20, the World Bank, the IMF and other international organizations, and has proven that it is willing and able to work within, rather than outside this system.

The international community should accommodate China's peaceful development rather than fear it, help rather than hinder it, and support rather than constrain its efforts.

We can clearly see from the 2008 financial crisis that the current international system is not entirely functional. The international system should be reformed and improved to keep pace with the changing times, so as to be fairer and more rational.

A chief economist from the IMF believes that the GDP of developing countries will soon outstrip the developed countries in the near future. So it is reasonable that developing countries want a bigger voice in the IMF and World Bank.

The author is director-general of the Policy Planning Department of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

(China Daily 06/24/2011 page8)

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