China: Celebrating 40 Years Of Robust Engagement With The World

This year marks the 40th of China’s reform and opening anniversary to the world. Dotingly called in Chinese ‘gaige Kaifang,’ this process, which commenced from 1978 to 2017, has seen China on a track of rapid development comparable to none. How the country has kept it all together economically, culturally and politically is a litmus test for other countries. China has continued to remain united through its ‘One China’ policy, embracing its autonomous regions, an example is Tibet, nicknamed ‘the roof of the world,’ an ancient part of China enjoying development alongside other regions. History has it that the Chinese Leader, Deng Xiaoping, established this movement during the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee in 1978. His economic reforms starting in the late 1970s has seen Chinese GDP growth on the rise traversing 40 years. China has since then advanced economically, and according to reports, the country owns the world’s largest foreign reserves at $3.12 trillion, second largest GDP at $11 trillion and third highest levels of foreign direct investment at $170 billion. China’s share of the world economy grew from 1.8 per cent in 1978 to 18.2 per cent in 2017, making it a major world economic power accounting for almost 30 per cent of the world economy. The Chinese President, Xi Jinping, is further committed to carrying on Deng Xiaoping’s dream, discussing the topic both at the G20 Summit in 2016, the Davos forum in 2017 and the Boao Forum in 2018. The economic changes were so effectual that some pundits pointed out that Deng described them as part of China’s ‘second revolution.’ A renowned professor of International Relations at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, Wang Yiwei, agreed that one of China’s major achievements was in its market economy.

A popular newspaper in China, China Daily, had an event in London titled, ‘Vision China,’ where Martin Jacques, a journalist and academic, pointed out in a media interview that “China’s reform and opening- up initiated in 1978 was one of the most important events in the 20th century.” He also added that the process not only led to the transformation of China, but the beginning of the transformation of the world. “No one could have imagined where China would be 40 years later,” he said. A senior correspondent with China Daily, Andrew Moody, had narrated in a book he wrote on China’s reform and opening up regarding China’s progress, “In this time, China has advanced to being the world’s second-largest economy, almost five times bigger than that of the UK, which now vies for fifth place with France.” According to a recent report by HSBC, by the year 2030, China is likely to take over from the US as the world’s largest economy, a position it last held in 1820. “In the process, some 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty, the biggest number in the shortest period of time in human history.

“China’s rise has also transformed the global economy in so many ways. At first, it was the “Made in China” revolution, which saw China become the manufacturing workshop of the world. This transformed global supply chains with many major Western companies switching production to China.

“China becoming the new hub of the global economy created a huge amount of wealth in China itself. And what we are seeing now is China moving from being the workshop to being the biggest retail market in the world. According to Moody, people’s incomes have considerably risen in China; meanwhile those of a large part of the populations in the West have fallen.
“This brings us to another aspect of reform and opening- up and that is whether it is a blueprint for development for other developing economies,” Moody said.
In the magazine, ‘China’s Presence: Forty years of reform and opening to the outside world, chronicles the achievements of China’s reform and opening up as it affects other provinces such as Henan’s Red Flag Canal and Taihang Mountains. According to a book titled, ‘The Ethnic Groups Of China authored by Wu Shimin, China’s five autonomous regions are namely; Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, Ningxia and Guangxi. The Tibetans largely live in Tibet Autonomous Region and are also found in other parts of China such as Qinghai, Yunnan, Sichuan and Gansu provinces where their prefectures and counties are built. Tibet makes up an estimate of 95 per cent of the population of the Tibet autonomous region with others being members of the Han, Monba, Lhoba, Hui and Naxi ethnic groups.

The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has an average elevation of over 4,000m. Its highest peak, Mount Qomolangma is located on the plateau. “Regions like this are high, cold and poor in oxygen, being particularly unsuitable for farming. Therefore, people principally engage in animal husbandry.” Its unique terrain adds to its mystery, the author noted.
In a media report, all delegates from Tibet showed consensus on General Secretary Xi’s report delivered at the congress at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which took place last year in Beijing from 18 to 24 October. The Party chief of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Wu Yingjie, said that over the past five years, great progress has been made in Tibet, thanks to General Secretary Xi. “The great changes taking place in Tibet are an example of the progress made in China, which is on its way towards a great rejuvenation,” Mr Wu had said in a media report, all in line with the reform and opening up.The chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Qizhala, also noted that through the guidance of Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, the government of Tibet should give equal emphasis to development, stability and ecology for a new normal growth. “During the past five years, Tibet has made great socioeconomic progress, allowing people in the autonomous region, as well as the people in the rest of China, to enter a new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” Mr Qizhala said.

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