A Cursory Glance at a Global Giant’s Glorious Rise
A practicing Liberian female journalist, Ms. Deanna Seakor, is among a group of young and enterprising African journalists currently touring The People’s Republic of China and witnessed the historic 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. They are also experiencing at first-hand the unique culture and civilization of a resilient nation and its people who, over the span of three decades, have transformed a once-struggling nation into the second-biggest economy of the world. In appreciation of Deanna’s Asian tour, and for the opportunity availed to The Analyst by the Government of China through its Embassy near Monrovia, we are publishing on Page 2 of this edition the first of Miss Seakor’s serial titled, “Myth Versus Reality – My perspective on China & its Relationship With the Rest of the World”.
By Deanna Seakor in Beijing
Beijing, China – The weight and value which this article carries solely rests on the outcome of my ongoing exciting visit to this great country; a nation built by a people dedicated to hard work, patriotism and diligence—a people whose firm belief rests in the communist doctrine of creating wealth and prosperity for the equal benefits of its people. It is a story of a country propelled from the dungeon of poverty and mass illiteracy to a global economic and military powerhouse, just within the span of a paltry three decades.
My experience in China, as it would do for any patriotic citizen visiting from elsewhere, has added great zest and enthusiasm to my quest of knowing how great nations rose from obscurity to the enviable status they have secured for themselves, serving as inspiration to a people determined to change their own history.
This journey has also compelled me to be critically studious about virtually everything concerning China, from bottom to top; the singular reason being, there was a time when we learned how China’s development and growth cycle lagged far behind many other nations around the globe. But today, as a citizen from Liberia opportune to visit this wonderfully industrialized nation, I cannot help but marvel at the level of industry, the spirit of resilience of this country and its people working day and night to keep the wheels of growth and development churning.
Of course, it would be quite dumbfounding to any keen observer how this “Asia Tiger nation” rose swiftly from zero to hero, from obscurity to global fame and limelight, from being derisively described as a “pariah nationhood” to the top echelon of world power.
What is their magic? One of my colleagues usually asks “Are we all serving the same God, and walking under the same sun? Because it is extremely commendable what China and the Chinese people have achieved.” From a formerly giant backward country crippled with reproaches and liabilities to such an indispensable nation that is politically, financially and economically stable and vibrant; ranked the second world largest economy?
As a beneficiary of the initiative of the China International Press Center Program, which afforded me the opportunity to travel to China recently along with my fellow African journalists, I remain eternally grateful for this golden opportunity to observe another culture upfront; to see how the people on the other side live; how they have managed to change their story, not by any extraterrestrial intervention, but by their own bootstraps; and how China, despite its current global status as an economic giant, has not lost touch with its traditions and values.
I am also grateful to the Embassy of China near Monrovia for providing me this opportunity.
The program under which I am currently visiting China is meant to enhance mutual learning between Chinese and African civilizations, to see and report the real China to the world.
I have been enjoying the opportunity to come close to knowing China as a country, its amazing population bonded by patriotism and the culture of humility, friendship and hard work. I have and am still travelling to places far and near in China but what I have come to really appreciate is the phenomenal progress they have made against the background of struggles they went through to get to where they are today, a story that is not very unfamiliar to many African nations who fought to break off oppression from foreign aggression and influence, but still struggling to solve some common problems that affect their people.
My visit to China also afforded me the unique opportunity to witness the historic 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China which was indeed a reaffirmation of commitment to responsible global governance as well as knowing about and appreciating another level of democracy reflected in the regional representation of delegates and prominent stakeholders who had come to discuss and decide for the country as a party for the next five years. A party that is retentively focused on turning the Chinese people’s aspiration for a better life to reality.
What I have Witnessed and Researched
Heralded by intense global media reportage, China’s week-long 20th National Congress concluded its Session at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Amidst the intense coverage, and a positive reflection on the Congress showed some salient issues that have kept the country consistently on the path of stable growth and development for over seven decades.
The country has maintained an unbroken focus and dedication to its founding principles of peaceful development and responsible governance which have remained relevant as it is fine-tuned through self-review and reforms in preparation for and in response to the dynamics of development requirements locally and internationally as the nation and the global community evolves.
The Chinese “turnaround” has clearly demonstrated a proven sustainable governance since 1949, a period of 73 years, when the new China was established. There have been consistent actions of nation building that have led more than half a billion people out of poverty into wealth within four decades.
According to the World Bank, over the past 40 years, the number of people in China with incomes below the International Poverty Line ($1.90 per day) has fallen by close to 800 million. China single-handedly contributed close to three-quarters of the global reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty.
Apart from this, the citizenry was transformed from a dependency mentality to self-sustaining mentality. Overall, it is not just the system of government that experienced transformation through internally built self-reviewing and self-reforming mechanisms, but the people did too.
There has been a sustained pace of staggering figures associated with the amazing data on the performance of the economy, which I have had the privilege to verify from Chinese scholars, journalists, independent researchers, personal interaction with Chinese, especially the ordinary people whose means of sustenance are linked to the government’s policies and actions. There has been a quantum rise of China’s external resources from $4.45 billion dollars in 1978, when it launched the revered “reform and opening up policy” to more than combining the external reserves of the G7 countries put at some $3.19 trillion dollars) in 2021.
There has also been the world’s largest high speed rail network (over 40,000 kilometers), already completed and more than 20,000 kilometers under construction. China also hosts the world manufacturing base with the largest technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system in the world–(over 11,000 TVET schools and 30 million students) supporting its high-tech manufacturing and global competitiveness.
Also, six out of the top ten biggest banks in the world in 2022 are Chinese banks. China has achieved these, including solely securing its own space and successfully manufacturing a 100% made-in-China commercial aircraft, among other accomplishments.
China’s prosperity did not remain at home, it was also exported abroad, and Africa has become one of the biggest beneficiaries through trade which hit some $208.7 billion with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), totaling some $49.1billion, according to official statistics.
Besides trade and other economic relations, China recently announced the waiver of debt owed by 17 African countries for 23 interest free loans that were due in 2021.The context of the latest relief reinforces China’s intention for Africa to consider the Asian Power its preferred long-term development partner, especially in the wake of the adverse impacts of COVID -19 pandemic.
This upward swing in economic relations with Africa has also fallen at the door steps of Liberia where the country has become one of China’s major investment destinations. Chinese intervention in Liberia has been marvelous, touching in almost every facet of national development including infrastructural development which saw China constructing the Ministerial complex, two annexes at the Capitol Building, the new terminal at the Roberts International Airport (RIA), the provision of the Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment Lab of the 14th Military Hospital.
China has also provided the means for human capital development where each year, the Chinese government provides about 50 full scholarships, hundreds of short-term training opportunities and more than 100 Chinese Ambassador’s scholarships to Liberian citizens.
According to official sources, by 2021, China’s support to Liberia’s human capital development has reached 570 scholarships and more than a thousand short term training as well as China bringing in technical experts to train Liberians in various disciplines. China’s assistance to Liberia cannot easily be quantified since 2003 when Liberia resumed full diplomatic relations with the country in 2003.
The Chinese experience has demonstrated a proven sustainable governance from 1949 when the new China was founded till now, a period spanning 73 years. According to the World Bank, over the past 40 years, the number of people in China with incomes below the International Poverty Line ($1.90 per day) has fallen by close to 800 million. Overall, it is not just the system of government that experienced transformation through internally built self-reviewing and self-reforming mechanisms, but the people too.
The consistency of government’s focus on putting the people first in all policy formulation and implementation has made the country to rise from 4.45 billion dollars foreign reserves in 1978 when the “reform and opening up policy was launched” to become the number one country in the world with the largest foreign reserves (3.43 trillion dollars), more than the combined foreign reserves of the G7 countries (3.19 trillion dollars) in 2021, the world’s largest high speed rail network (over 40,000 kilometers already completed and more than 20,000 kilometers under construction), the world manufacturing base with the largest technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system in the world (over 11,000 TVET schools and 30 million students) supporting its high tech manufacturing and global competitiveness.
Human rights issues may be considered universal but my understanding from the Chinese perspective is that China has over the years addressed some of the most fundamental issues of human rights for its citizens which have to do with the fight to end hunger and alleviate poverty. In those years it can be seen that the government has, among many other initiatives, taken massive agricultural development with land reforms which contributed significantly to the successful alleviation of hunger in China. Several key policy reforms and investments have helped stimulate the productivity of farmers, such as the abolition of agricultural taxes, subsidies for farmers, or lifting the sale and purchase of grains. Over the last decade, milk production more than tripled, meat production rose by 30 percent and vegetables and fruits production increased by nearly 60 percent.
Rapid and substantial economic transformations over the past 35 years in China have translated into remarkable progress in poverty reduction and social development. By lifting millions out of hunger, the country met its millennium development goal of having the number of hungry people by 2015 reduce the global hunger rate by two thirds.
Though often heavily criticized by the Western media for being a major human rights violator, my sojourn in China has been an eye opener to the extent that I now come to understand that China has been championing the cause of global human rights governance, in earnest fulfilment of its quota to international human rights obligations as exhibited by the spirit of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For example, China has ratified or joined 26 international human rights instruments, including six core UN human rights treaties, and successfully participated in three rounds of Universal Periodic Review of the HRC, making it a role model for compliance. China has also served as a member of the Human Rights Commission five times, one of the most elected countries to the Council, which obviously is a strong indication of China’s belief in the practice of human rights issues.
Moreover, China has demonstrated to the world how a nation may be recovered from the damning consequences of bad leadership, crippled with dictatorial practices and at the precipice of pariahdom, to attain to a greater status using the blend of specified forms of government where institutions are strengthened and the application of dialectical and historical materialism to revolutionize a nation is simplified and made statutory.
The main thrust of this article cannot be exhausted in one write up, meaning there has to be more to be done to objectively deal with a subject on how China has emerged on the world stage as a leader. It is therefore a task I set that upon my return to Liberia, I will do more articles to showcase my experience in China, lessons learned and what other countries, like Liberia, need to learn from China to strive and attain an appreciable level of self-independence.
In the meantime, I wish to extend my many thanks and appreciation to the Government of China especially the Chinese Embassy near Monrovia for giving me this eye opening, adventurous and rewarding opportunity through my institution, The Analyst Newspaper, to explore the knowledge of this part of the world, meeting a wonderful people, experiencing a whole new environment that will go a long way as a mark of remembrance for a lifetime.