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Mission impossible becomes possible

By CAO DESHENG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-09-17 09:01
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Kishore Mahbubani. [Photo/]

Kishore Mahbubani, Singapore's former ambassador to the United Nations, was born poor. When he went to school at age 6, he was put in a special feeding program for undernourished children.

Speaking on Wednesday at the online Vision China event, Mahbubani, who is a distinguished fellow at the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore, said there's no more noble global mission than poverty reduction, and China has set a good example for the world. "If the whole world can replicate China's experience in poverty reduction, we would then have achieved the greatest improvement in the human condition since human history began," Mahbubani said.

By the end of this year, China aims to eliminate absolute poverty in rural areas. Over the past 40 years, China has lifted more than 850 million people out of poverty, accounting for about 70 percent of the total reduction in global poverty.

Mahbubani said the reason this accomplishment was so remarkable was that in the past Chinese people had their lives threatened by foreign invasions, civil war, famine and starvation, lack of medical care, no access to modern education and massive unemployment.

He said that until recently, many economists thought that eliminating poverty was a "mission impossible". "But the story of China tells us that in poverty reduction, a mission impossible can become a mission possible," he said, "and this is why we need to spread the story about China to every corner."

Mahbubani attributed China's success to its correct policies, both domestically and internationally, to achieve the poverty reduction goals.

On the domestic front, Mahbubani said, China has followed the "magic M-P-H formula" with "M" standing for "meritocracy", "P" for "pragmatism" and "H" for "honesty".

He explained that meritocracy means the Chinese government was able to select the best people to work and serve in many agencies of government and to improve the quality of governance. "When you have good governance, you can have the right policies to improve people's lives," he added.

In terms of pragmatism, China has the unique ability to select the best policies from around the world, learn the best practices and implement them in a pragmatic fashion. "So pragmatism is another thing we need to learn from China if you want to understand how we can use it to solve many of the problems in the world," he said.

Regarding honesty, Mahbubani said, the countries that succeed are the ones that are able to fight corruption and ensure that the resources of the state can be used to help the people rather than be put in private pockets, and China has done well in combating corruption.

On the international front, China has carried out the right policies by integrating itself into the liberal rules-based international order, Mahbubani said.

"The data will show clearly China's poverty came down very sharply after China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001," he said, highlighting the importance of international trade.

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