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WHEN Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the country was suffering from a major living and economic crisis. He worked on the communist principle of “Each according to his ability, each according to his needs” which means “Work as much as you can and take everything you need”. However, this did not serve the Chinese population of 541 million people at that time.
The Chinese economy at that time was less than one percent of global production, which constituted a major obstacle to its development. The country started facing major crises, either through famine, or the so-called “Cultural Revolution” that strengthened the grip of the Communist Party. That policy led to the death of about 40 million people due to famine, poverty and oppression.
When Mao Zedong died in 1976, he was succeeded by Deng Xiaoping, who believed that the solution was to change economic policy. For this purpose, he first began sending student delegations abroad, and seeking the help of Western expertise. He wrote to the renowned British University of Oxford requesting for an economic expert, and they sent him the British economist of Iraqi origin Elias Korkis, who gave him broad powers to modernize the country.
The first thing the government did, under the direction of Korkis, was to open the country to investors, and not place any restrictions on them. It also strengthened the private sector, which had been choked by vast restrictions. At that time, the Chinese share in the global market did not exceed USD 25 billion.
Xiaoping then said, “The Chinese economy needs 40 years to become an effective factor in the world. We today abandon the isolation imposed on us by the previous regime. We will work on the Confucian principle – Seek truth from facts.”
Today, after nearly three decades, the value of Chinese exports has risen to USD 4.3 trillion, and it contributes to 35 percent of global economic growth. Its importance to global growth is three times more than the importance of the United States. The gross domestic product is equal to USD 13.1 trillion, and the per capita income, which was USD 54 per month, has now become about USD 13,000. It has eradicated the poverty and famines that it used to suffer from time to time.
This Chinese miracle did not come about from a vacuum or from short-sightedness towards others.
It did not place restrictions on the movement of individuals. No official issued statements to insist that anyone who reaches the age of sixty must leave the country, or that only those with a university degree can enter the country, even for a visit.
Today it is leading the global economy, and has built a network of roads and bridges in a number of cities and countries, with the highest standards and quality in their “Belt and Road” initiative. This is due to the fact that there was a conviction that self-closure would lead to the erosion of the state, and would only lead to complete isolation, while openness and market theory would revive the economy and achieve prosperity.
The reason for this renaissance is the decision of one man – Deng Xiaoping – who did not listen to the views of the partisan communist theorists, and did not take into account the sects, tribes, or clans, even though Chinese society is no different from many Arab countries.
Instead, there was a mind that was seeking the renaissance of China.
Perhaps Kuwait and some Arab countries need to follow the example of the Chinese experience in order to get rid of the bickering and absurdity.
This is because what we are enduring cannot be overcome without updating and modernizing everything, starting from the administrative mentality and ending with the laws.
All of this requires the firm decision of one man, as is the case in some countries, especially the Gulf ones, which followed the Chinese experience and achieved great prosperity.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times
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