Whining is Not a Strategy or a Plan

Dec 21, 2018 by

By Tom Watkins –

China, like America, has human rights problems. I have touched on both our countries less-than-stellar human rights record in past columns so I’ll not dwell on them again here.

One area where China is excelling and we are failing is in the area of poverty reduction or eradication. Poverty has devastating impact on the growth and development of individuals (especially children), families and society as a whole.

Clearly the Chinese Communist Party has taken many steps to address poverty since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. What the Chinese Communist Party has done in this vein—to lift hundreds of millions of their own citizens from abject poverty to the equivalent of the middle class over the past 40 years—is remarkable and universally acknowledged.

Pres Xi Jinping talks eloquently about “a community of shared future for human beings.”  President Xi has vowed a “great rejuvenation” to restore China to its ancient prominence and glory. He is equally as clear that the Chinese, “Communist Party is the solution to all China’s problems and will drive change that will lead to continued progress for the Party and the Chinese people.

President Deng Xiaoping

President Xi, in speaking to the Chinese Congress, emphasized that while past leader Mao made China independent and leader Deng made it prosperous, he would make it strong again — propelling the country into its “new era.” This new era is the Chinese equivalent of the policy to “lift all boats.” The goal of eradicating poverty is certainly a lofty one.

What Would Confucius Say?  

There is a renewed embrace of Confucian thinking in China: Where everyone fulfills their responsibilities and creates a harmonious situation for the whole country to prosper and reach for the “Chinese Dream”.

Confucian ideas of agreed upon hierarchies and obedience to authority go back centuries. This philosophy clearly fits nicely with the Communist Party’s ideas. Confucius believed that people should do what is right because it was the right thing to do.  And, that the sheer act of people attempting to do the right thing would have a cascading, positive effect throughout society.

Chinese leadership—from Confucius to President Xi—are to be commended for seeking paths to eradicate poverty.

The Chinese, both its government and its people, are investing in education, infrastructure, and technology; fully embracing the future. They understand that knowledge, innovation, and creativity are the 21st century currency that will propel them forward as individuals, families and a nation, and are investing heavily in education as a poverty alleviation tool.

40 Years of Opening Up

2018: 40th anniversary of China opening up

As the 1980’s unfolded and China changed course, Premiere Deng Xiaoping—the preeminent leader following Mao—and now Chinese President Xi Jinping continue to change the course of the world.

Deng began the process and President Xi has placed it on steroids. They have established policies and practices that have lifted more people out of poverty than any other nation in the world.   The number of Chinese that have escaped poverty is double that of America’s entire population:  OVER 750 MILLION PEOPLE.

Today, some argue the 20th century belonged to America and the 21st century will ultimately be led by China.  I do not know if their arguments will withstand the test of time.  However, I do know that our destinies are linked and we must find ways to live, work and solve problems together or we will surely fall together.

I have traveled throughout China numerous times since 1989, to cities many have heard of such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Lasha, Tibet.  Others less familiar include Lanzhou, Changsha, Beichuan, Bengbu, Changchun, Mianyang, Nanjing, Huizhou, Jurong, Shenzhen, Turpan, Urumqi, and Wuhan. During my travels I have seen the ultramodern as well as scenes that would take you back centuries.

China, with all its progress, remains—in many parts of the country—a developing nation.

China Has Stood Up

However, there’s no doubt that China has soared. Consider:

  • 700 million people have moved from abject poverty to a Chinese middle class.
  • China has become the world’s fastest growing large economy.
  • Many Chinese students significantly outperform U.S. students on international tests.
  • China is the world’s largest auto producer.
  • China has become a banker to the U.S., owning more than 20 percent of our total foreign reserves (more than 3 trillion dollars).

4President Mao Tse Tung 

President Mao Tse Tung 

There are three underlying facts that make China so vital in world affairs historically and, even more importantly, going forward:

  1. One out every five people on the planet are Chinese;
  2. China is the oldest surviving civilization;
  3. China was shaken from its historical pedestal as the “middle kingdom” and has spent decades attempting to regain its equilibrium, has clearly arrived or, as Mao said, “China has stood up.”

I love the Chinese culture and people and have read and traveled in China enough to know more than the average westerner. Yet, I am careful to ensure that my comments are respectful and do not in any way interfere with the internal affairs of China.  I see the country’s strengths and weaknesses and have written about both.

China Dream

China will continue to build on its plan to lift the remaining citizens from abject poverty and propel China forward as they reestablish their “fuqiang” (i.e. “wealth and power”).

I love America and want our nation and its values to prevail as the 21st century unfolds. Yet, I do not believe we are preordained to be number one— it is something we must earn.  China is investing in improving its infrastructure, education (from the cradle to the grave), technology (especially “AI”: Artificial Intelligence) and research and development.  We, on the other hand, are disinvesting in these areas.

We need a National strategy to assure we remain number one.  Whining about China’s rise will not prevent our demise.  Let me assure you, China is not sitting back waiting for us to get our act together.  The individual, family, city, region, state/Provence or nation that chooses to invest in the future will rule it.

We need to stop whining and start investing in our collective future, before it is too late.

Source: Whining is Not a Strategy or a Plan | Dome Magazine

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