China, a New Date with History
On June the 14th, INCIPE organized a working breakfast under the title China, A New Date with History, presented by Manuel Valencia, former Ambassador of Spain to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 2013 to 2017.
True civilization-state; China is unlike any country. Twenty percent of mankind resides on Chinese soil. And, with a strong national identity resulting from more than 5.000 years of uninterrupted Chinese civilization, China sees itself as an independent and important culture and player in the world. Today, China is under the rule of a new ‘dynasty’, headed by the ‘Emperor’ Xi Jinping. The Chinese leader initiated an ongoing campaign against corruption aiming at riding the Chinese State of corrupt officials. President Xi is also implementing a set of economic and social reforms based on the “Chinese Dream”, which mixes capitalist economic dynamism, social equality, and authoritarian features. Moreover, Xi Jinping has eliminated the traditional constitutional limit of two presidential terms, which allows him to rule indefinitely. Xi is also the Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party: An omnipresent political entity of 90 million people that controls every aspect of Chinese economy and society, and which draws extensive legitimacy from China’s economic success (lifting 600 million people out of poverty) and the country’s prospects of becoming again a new world power.
Unlike in the past, China is no longer an isolationist country. China has opened itself to the world. The country imports raw materials from other countries and exports its products to foreign markets to sustain its own population. This forces China to have a greater international presence, sustained in part by its economic growth. Despite Western analysts’ catastrophic forecasts regarding China’s slowdown in economic growth from 14% to 6% a year, the country continues to grow sustainably. This moderation in growth should rather be seen as a shift towards controlled growth resulting from China’s significant effort to fight climate change and the Chinese government’s reforms of ‘zombie’-like public companies that overproduced at high costs and overwhelming the market demand. And the thing is that the Chinese government has an unparalleled grip on the country’s economy, which has allowed the country to dodge the economic crisis that so much have troubled other countries. From the productive perspective, the Asian Giant has moved from copying the West and being the world’s factory to becoming the world’s laboratory and the world’s grand market.
China has also taken a more active political role abroad. One of the new great initiatives of China is the “One Belt One Road”, which aims at increasing connectivity between China and the rest of Eurasian countries to build a China-centered trading network that would develop the eastern provinces of China, consolidate its presence in Central Asia, and give China a larger role in international affairs in the context of the emergence of a post-Anglo-Saxon world. China, which is expected to economically surpass the US by 2027, does not want to control the world, but it does not want a world controlled by the West only. China seeks to achieve a stronger international presence and defend its national interests. The country is building a belt of naval military and trading bases from China to Djibouti under the String of Pearls Strategy, and it is increasing its military presence in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and strengthening its navy. China also makes use of its economic influence and the influence of its diaspora abroad over its Asia-Pacific neighbors such as the Philippines, Thailand, or Indonesia. China faces limitations and challenges as well. The country does not have a strong ties of friendship with its neighbors, and the US is ready try to slow down China’s growth. Finally, China has to exert caution under the pressure of its own large population. The country’s successes must be divided by its population, but its failure multiplied.
Luis Enrique Moya Cánovas