Q&A | LEELA MANI PAUDYAL
What three words best describe the past 40 years of reform and opening-up in China?
Unprecedented, commendable and innovative.
How did the influences and contributions of China’s 40 years of reform and opening-up impact the country’s development?
It has brought in very big changes in the Chinese economy and Chinese life. Bringing 700 million people out of poverty and substantially improving the living conditions of 1.3 billion (almost one-fifth of the global population) is not an easy task.
How has China influenced and contributed to the world’s development during this time?
China is now a global player, whether it is in the economy or in regional peace and development. It is the largest tourist-generating country, the largest manufacturing powerhouse, a major country for outbound foreign direct investment, and a lead innovator in key technologies like railway transportation, the sharing economy and online platforms.
China is a major partner for providing assistance to the developing world, a key stabilizer of the global economy during the economic crisis of the late 1990s and the 2007-08 economic recession, as well as an important campaigner for global environmental protection.
The country is also a key player and advocate of the peaceful resolution of global conflicts, a 30 percent contributor to global economic growth, and more than that, a key proponent of making global growth more balanced, just, harmonious and sustainable.
How have China’s achievements over the last four decades influenced and contributed to the common man around the world?
First, countries like Nepal benefit from goods of convenience becoming more affordable. Of course, concerns are that inefficient production units at home are being displaced, but the poor can now have essential items once considered a luxury — like jackets in winter, for example.
Second, the increased amount of China’s development assistance and foreign direct investment has a tremendous contribution on the socioeconomic development of Nepal. Chinese development assistance has helped improve public health, education and transportation, (Chinese) investment has created jobs, and (Chinese) tourism has created economic activities.
Its great contribution countered the global economic distress by stimulating and creating opportunities in depression-hit economies.
Also worth commending are China’s achievements in poverty reduction. These help uplift the global poverty-reduction initiative by providing a glaring example for other countries in how to eradicate poverty — a menace to civilized society.
Who and what have you paid the most attention to during China’s 40 years of reform and opening-up?
Basically, the Chinese Communist Party leaders are always in the limelight for how they drive such a huge population toward stability, which always draws my attention.
Nepal, being a geographically connected, true and age-old friend of China, can’t afford any disturbances to the stability and development of China.
Therefore, we always seek strong leadership in China — which is sensitive to the concerns of smaller friends around it — who can drive and engage the world’s largest population in a constructive way and help ease global conflicts.
We pay attention to how China’s development can benefit countries like us, and how Chinese policies help fix global problems of inequality and civilizational clashes. What I mean to say is that leaders in the position and policies that have global ramifications are always of my concern.
What do you want to know most about China’s achievements over the last 40 years?
How a socialist economy maintained a competitive environment without major upheavals. The poverty-reduction initiative is a major area of interest to me, and how to replicate it in our own context. How the private sector and public sector both compete, not only internally but also globally, is a mystery for me to know from Chinese experience.
In what ways have China’s reform and opening-up promoted China-Asia relations?
China has greatly contributed to the socioeconomic advancement of Asia. Whether we talk of the late 1990s economic recession in Southeast Asia or the economic distress of 2007-08 in Northeast Asia, China remained the key stabilizer.
Its outbound tourists are these days the major economic backbone of many Asian economies. China is a market for many Asian countries, particularly in Southeast and East Asia, and China is a major player in terms of foreign direct investment in many Asian economies.
Countries like Nepal benefit from increased development assistance, increased foreign direct investment, increased tourists and an enhanced level of cooperation in human resource development, which applies to many developing countries in Asia.
The Belt and Road Initiative has also provided a platform for mutually beneficial cooperation, and it can help make the 21st century a truly Asian century.