China is playing an increasingly important leadership role, creating certainty at a time when Western countries are faced with unpredictability, according to Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London in the United Kingdom.
He said this leadership role is reflected in international programs like the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), both of which are examples of “unique new ways China is now giving to the world”.
The Belt and Road aims to boost trade and investment across the ancient Silk Road routes, while the AIIB provides financial support.
The 19th National Congress is where that leadership role and China’s priorities will be discussed and refined. Brown said he would be interested to learn more about the policy directions that will be set by the congress, as they will play a key role in determining the path of China’s growth.
Brown, a respected professor of Chinese studies who has held many important posts, including head of the Asia program at the Chatham House think tank and director of the Europe China Research and Advice Network, has witnessed China’s growth over the past few decades.
He described China as “dynamic, complex and aspirational”, but also pointed out that the country still needs to resolve issues, such as equality and efficiency, to move forward.
Brown said the country’s development over the next five years is crucial for China and the world because the size of the Chinese economy means it has ramifications internationally. “China has a new role. Domestic issues are global because of their size and scale,” he said.
If development progresses smoothly, he expects China’s middle class to grow and the service sector to play a greater role in the economy, while pension and healthcare provisions improve.
Meanwhile, China’s international engagement will benefit the world, particularly as it shares its development experience with other economies.
One example is its leadership role in infrastructure investment along the Belt and Road, utilizing its extensive domestic experience.
“Over the past 40 years, China has been developing, and dealing with poverty,” Brown said. “No country in the past 50 years has built more infrastructure. The Belt and Road is creating opportunities in the region.”
Meanwhile, the modernization of China’s economy is prompting the country to change its mode of global engagement from a low-profile approach to a new model that is characterized by equality and better-quality relations.
“To achieve its development ambitions and become a modernized economy, and have a modernized service sector, China needs to upgrade relations with the world with regard to intellectual partnerships, technology transfers and research collaboration.”
Within this new landscape, it is also important for the world to understand China, Brown said.
“I think we are learning with each other in a deeper way that will continue. China is now contributing more, and becoming more equal. The outside world needs to understand the complexity and richness of China’s cultural and intellectual traditions.”