The economic miracle of China is not a miracle, but signal of the diligence and discipline of very large numbers of the Chinese people. There should be no surprise to anybody living in Europe or in the United States where similar characteristics were the powers behind the great economic and social progress made over the last hundred years. That progress in Europe and in United States has slowed down as one would expect with these great achievements. China still has a long way to go but the sheer determination of the great majority to improve their lot is a very powerful incentive.
One of the important ingredients for economic and social development is strong leadership. In Europe and in the United States that leadership back in the early days did not always take place in a truly democratic system. The many decades before the Second World War started to show the first characteristics of democracy, but they were really quite far from what we understand it to be today. Only after the Second World War ended did we see democracy develop into something that we recognise today as being honest and reasonably fair for the general populations. Yes, there are abuses of democracy today but they are generally short-lived and certainly “narrow” events in Europe and in the United States.
However democracy has not been developing in China these last years in the way that we have it in Europe and in the United States. Under the present leadership in China there has been a clear trend towards a more autocratic system of politics where more power is being concentrated towards the centre rather than towards the people.
This has happened when Europe is weaker as a united economic and social entity and when the United States has become a much weaker player in the world affairs. This has allowed China and its current leadership to become more centralised – more authoritarian.
China is an important trading partner for Europe and for the United States, and we must be concerned about the present developments because our mutual interests are bound together to maintain peaceful relationships at the global level. European and American leaders should not hesitate to express concern about these new strong-arm policies of China.
The recent events in Hong Kong in the Chinese northern territories and their more aggressive foreign policy stance are all matters of concern for Europeans and Americans alike.
The “pragmatic silence” of European leaders about the above may be seen as a sign of weakness by the Chinese, and Trump’s chaotic performance on matters concerning China are clearly a sign of weakness in American leadership on this topic.
We need peaceful and mutual beneficial relationships with China, but these relationships cannot thrive if China wants to pursue internal and foreign policies that are truly unacceptable to European and American democracies.
But let’s go back to the beginning of this article. There was no economic miracle in China, but there is a miracle of diligence and discipline of very large numbers of the Chinese people – that is a strong tradition passed down from many generations to today’s huge population because of their long and very special history of respect for family, knowledge and culture. That miracle can save our important relationship with China because it is so powerful, More powerful than the present leadership.
Photo: “A Great Leap Forward” in Mandarin Characters from Wikipedia Commons