I found the presentation of Professor Li Xiguang very thought provoking. China’s transformation in the recent decades, made possible by economic miracle, has been a matter of great debate, and intellectuals around the world have tried to interpret and analyze this miracle from various angles.
Forty years ago, it was Japan that drew the attention of the whole world through such economic miracle. People said how a country literally reduced to ashes during the second world war could rebound within such a very short period to become one of the richest countries in the world.
Now, all such discussions on economic miracles ultimately lead to China, a country which has in the last 30-40 years shed its status as an underdeveloped country to become one of the largest economies, and now is destined to overtake even the US economy to become a global economic powerhouse.
China’s success story has been subjected to various interpretation and analyses, but Professor Li, in his presentation, tried to give a more precise reading of the China model, which he said was different from the wisdom of intervention, and the western model of development and political economy. The Chinese growth that is taking place currently was brought about relying on values intrinsically Chinese. But now, as its growth story unfolds and expands, it would be interesting to see how it countervails the western model of governance and economic development.
Countries that have adopted western-style democracy face periodic elections and therefore are compelled to balance both short-term demands of the people and the long-term necessities of development. So they have to make many compromises in order to respond to the popular demand. That is why Professor Li cited absence of periodic election as one of the markers of China’s progress. Because then the government is free to make decisions focusing on the long-term interests of the country.
The other reason for China’s economic progress is reforms introduced 40 years ago, which opened up its economy to private entrepreneurship, private capital, and emerging technologies and provided the right atmosphere for the type of growth we are seeing in China today. It was the economic reforms that lifted China from its status as a country with low per capita income of a few hundred dollars about 40 years to a country with a per capita income of US$ 7000 now. It is very important to learn a lesson from this growth story.
To develop Nepal, we also need to invite capital from all over the world. In this regard, we would like to welcome capital from our neighboring countries, including China. Not just capital, Nepal must also seek to utilize China’s entrepreneurship knowledge. Gradually, our goal should be to strengthen both social and economic ties between the two countries.
Extracted from a speech made by Finance Minister of Nepal, Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat, after listening to the presentation of Li Xiguang, a professor from Tsinghua University, China, in August.
(Source: Seventh Page of APD 12th issue, published in September 2014)