Editor's note: 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's 'reform and opening up' that opened the doors for a more prosperous China that helped hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens escape poverty as the nation had enjoyed rapid economic growth and development. CCTV.com takes a closer look at Beijing's comprehensive reforms with a series of special reports focusing on various fields where tremendous changes have taken place ever since the introduction of the policy.
In the past four decades, since the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping had introduced the reform and opening up policy with a formal declaration at the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in December 1978, the nation has enjoyed remarkable economic growth. The rewards of Beijing’s reform and opening up policy have not only benefited the Chinese people, but the world-at-large as well.
In particular, the African community has witnessed China’s economic miracle and hopes to emulate a similar reform and opening up model for the continent. But that in itself may seem unrealistic, because Africa is composed of 54 countries with separate sovereign governments, which means that Zambia is ruled by a different government than Tanzania.
Although, the African Union (AU) intends to deepen diplomatic and economic cooperation among member states on the continent, each African nation must confront its own unique challenges.
Nevertheless, Beijing has learned sharp lessons from its reform and opening up while Chinese diplomats working closely with African nations recognize that there’s never a ‘one size fits all’ solution for African countries. Experts attending the 7th China-Africa Think Tanks Forum in Beijing on July 4-5, 2018 had addressed this very topic.
Charles Onunaiju, director of the Center for China Studies, based in Nigeria, delivered a speech and highlighted Chinese President Xi Jinping’s suggestions for boosting China-Africa relations.
By "seeking truth from facts," said Onunaiju, to pursue reforms it’s best to "understand one's national conditions to guarantee steady development."
Onunaiju described China's successful efforts on reform and opening by touting the concept of experimentation, "crossing the river by feeling the stones,” he said. In other words, the government should not rush into dramatic changes, but to take a slow and cautious approach.
Beijing believed in a bottoms-up grassroots movement to focus mainly on boosting the standards of living for ordinary Chinese citizens and this can be achieved in Africa as well. When Chinese leader Deng launched reform and opening up, the country was mired in widespread poverty, but the Chinese were willing to work hard to develop a more prosperous land.
Africa is in a similar stage of development as Africans are eager to escape the poverty trap and hence China does know how to deliver outstanding results for them, since the Chinese had experienced similar circumstances a few decades ago and much of the world did not believe Beijing would succeed.
But the Chinese had proven the doubters wrong and now it’s time for Africans to seize the moment and with China’s willing assistance they can join hands to march ahead on the path to prosperity.
China’s reform and opening up had succeeded by by targeting industrialization, modernization and urbanization, while starting with industrialization first before moving on to modernization and urbanization.
The Africa continent has just entered the initial stages of its industrialization and China is playing a crucial role with the Belt & Road Initiative that supports the development of joint infrastructure projects, such as building more railroads, highways, airports, power plants, shipping ports and digging telecommunications lines in Africa.
The strategy would be to connect Chinese companies that are moving factories and businesses to Africa so they can lower logistics costs, while such actions also benefit Africans, who can gain employment, receive job skills training and can travel on better roads and railroads.
When Chinese companies succeed in Africa, so do Africans and African companies as well. The strong ties between China and Africa serve as a direct result on the success of Beijing’s reform and opening up policy during the last four decades.
In all likelihood, the next forty years ahead will shine brightly for both China and Africa as they continue on with a sincere friendship and promote economic cooperation that can endure through the good times and bad.