Foresight and guidance have enabled and will enable China to successfully achieve a series of long-term objectives
The policy that has guided Chinese leaders to turn economic growth into development has revealed many twists and bumps in the path and China has traveled it with great effort. The results are in sight, a series of objectives that had been planned for years have been successfully achieved. For example, as set forth in the Medium-and Long-Term Program for Science and Technology Development (2006-20), China's leaders were committed to the project to initiate and stimulate "indigenous innovation", since they saw it as a means to first reducing poverty, and then eradicating it, accelerating the process of China's convergence with the most developed economies in terms of income.
The elimination of extreme poverty in China is conclusive proof of the country's successful planning. From my point of view, this is very important, not only because China has defeated extreme poverty - an achievement that very few countries in the world can claim - but it has achieved it as a developing economy. And that, for me, is its main virtue: even with many problems to solve, China has achieved a success that almost no other economy in the world has been able to achieve, and it is an important incentive for those countries which still face the serious problems of underdevelopment and its socioeconomic consequences. Precisely, the Chinese people are living a very interesting moment because not only they have reasons to feel proud of the success of their policies, but some of those coincide with the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, which is commemorated in 2021.
One of the aspects of China that has most caught my attention is how, despite it being a developing economy, which still had a lot of poverty and which was exporting labor-intensive products with a low technological composition since the 1980s, does it aim to become a technological vanguard in various high-tech sectors. Looking at that process led me to study China's policies to integrate its companies within the global value chains, and to understand that, in turn, I had to study in depth the science and technology policies that China adopted since about 1978 onwards.
Knowing all this took me several years, a lot of academic work and trips to China, in which I verified that there is no policy proposed by China that does not have a plan behind it. That is why, given the characteristics that have always distinguished China (a huge population and a large territory), and taking into account the terrible economic and human development conditions that the CPC faced on taking power in 1949, I understand that goal-driven planning has been one of the best tools used by the State. The success achieved in eliminating poverty in a few decades is thanks to the strict carrying out of pre-established plans. The centenary of the CPC is an excellent time to assess the outcome of the five-year plans that the Party designed in good time to carry out tremendous and successful transformations.
As President Xi Jinping said at a gathering marking the nation's poverty alleviation accomplishments in late February, great historical achievements have been made in the integral construction of a moderately well-off society. "We launched the latest attack on the fortress of extreme poverty and we overcame the 'toughest bone to crack'." In eight years, nearly 100 million rural residents living in difficult conditions have been lifted out of abject poverty according to current national standards, while 832 poor counties have risen above the poverty line.
It may be difficult for Latin America to apply the same policies given that the political regimes are different. However, countries in the region have excellent experiences of past plans, which from the middle of the 20th century were able to show important improvements in living conditions.
The planning programs were dismantled by later policies and the obvious attempts to prevent Latin America from progressing. I believe that the example of China and the success achieved with its planning in the field of living conditions are a stimulus to countries in the region to redouble our efforts, in which cooperation can be a fundamental tool.
At this year's "two sessions", conferences of China's national legislature and top political advisory body, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi reaffirmed the path that the People's Republic of China will follow to consolidate a series of international relations policies that it had already anticipated and, in several cases, been developing for some time. The cooperative benefits of these policies are already being demonstrated. He spoke of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and its consequences, along with the type of relationship that China intends to establish with those economies that it considers to be close because it shares a vision of a community with a shared future.
Also at the "two sessions", President Xi offered his vision of the next three decades starting with the next five-year plan, which will be the guide to identify the vectors of economic growth in the country, essential to know how to deal with financial risks, the aging of the population, among other important challenges.
Hence, the Chinese experience can be very useful for developing economies to the extent that they work together in enriching the spirit of interregional relations, which China has been upholding in face of the neglect, almost contempt, of other important economies. China has raised the flag in defense of multilateralism and the global governance system, reaffirming a position in which it finds Latin America and the Caribbean, in general, by its side.
Moreover, as Wang said about the World Trade Organization, the last 20 years have provided four inspirations for China: persist in the fundamental policy of opening up to the outside; adhere to the concept of cooperation for mutual benefit and shared gain; uphold economic globalization and the central role of the World Trade Organization, because in face of the new problems and challenges brought about by globalization, China understands that it cannot return to protectionism, enclosure or disengagement; and work together with other countries to promote this process toward greater openness, inclusion, universal benefits, balance and shared gain.
That is auspicious for the Latin American and the Caribbean countries. One way in which that cooperative approach has been applied is within the framework of health cooperation, thanks to the help that China has provided and is providing to the poorest economies, recognizing that its capabilities allow it to help and not view it from a "trade perspective". That is why the words of the Chinese Foreign Minister are auspicious and very welcome in the framework of the Silk Road of Health, since these policies reaffirm China's commitment to effective cooperation, and that this is not simply words on paper.
The author is a professor at the National University of Lanús (UNLa) in Argentina and the author of How did the Chinese do it? Some of the causes of the great development of the Asian giant.