The book points out that China has not chosen to remain isolated from the rest of the world diplomatically, economically and politically
Understanding China for future cooperation
By Shakeel Ahmad Ramay
Price not mentioned
As the title suggests, this book is an attempt not just to answer the critics of China’s model for economic growth but also to explain how China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not a debt trap for Pakistan. The author holds that China’s offer of “shared prosperity” through “cooperation not competition” is a good news for the rest of the world. He stresses that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can be a win-win development model for the whole world, especially developing countries like Pakistan that have the potential but not the resources and the capital to utilise the economic prospects.
The book points out that China has not chosen to remain isolated from the rest of the world diplomatically, economically and politically. It has instead shown a willingness to expand its cultural and social ties with other nations. On the environmental front too, China has set its growth goals with due regard to environmental considerations. Yet, it has often been criticised for turning a blind eye to environmental issues.
The book traces the origins of China’s economic development in the backdrop of World War II and how the Western world ignored. In the end, the country bounced back with a miracle of economic development. The journey of China’s economic success, according to the book, started in the 1970s with important structural reforms. There was no looking back.
It began with China’s eagerness to learn the best practices from the rest of the world, including the capitalist West. The opening up began bearing fruit in the 1980s. China first focused on its agriculture sector and reformed it according to its domestic needs to ensure both food security and poverty alleviation.
The author also mentions the effective role of local governments in implementing economic and social reforms. With the right set of reforms and policies, China gradually achieved the economy of scale in the 1990s by expanding its firms. Its Go Global policy helped it connect with the world to explore new economic opportunities, eventually joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Joining the WTO brought countless opportunities for the country to expand trade and integrate economically with the various hubs of global economy in the 2000s.
The book will also be read in the context of announcement of B3W (Build Back Better World) by the G7 countries, which is seen as countering China’s strategic influence, and questions about transparency of CPEC projects.
The reform process and its robust implementation have not stopped. President Xi Jinping’s New Era reforms, according to the author, aim to “turn China into a modern socialist country with Chinese characteristics” and are focused on the well-being of its people. The focus in the latest set of reforms is on eradicating poverty and responding to the environmental challenges.
The author believes that China’s economic success has been the result of gradual but resolute reforms as opposed to the Washington Consensus that involved the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The book has been divided into two parts. Its main focus is on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Chapter 2 of Part I, Roadmap for the Second Phase of CPEC, outlines the potential benefits as well as the challenges Pakistan might face in the second phase. The author explains that China will focus its attention on learning from the mistakes and experience of Phase I. Implemented in letter and spirit, the second phase, the author suggests, can help Pakistan revive its economy, increase its GDP and alleviate poverty. The establishment of Special Economic Zones offers an opportunity for rapid industrial development.
The author argues that the CPEC is a ray of hope for Pakistan. It can enable sustainable development, which include investments and reforms in the energy and agriculture sectors.
The author believes that the cost of abandoning the CPEC will be far higher than the cost Pakistan may bear in terms of paying back the loans. The CPEC is not a debt trap, he argues, as it has generated huge economic activity that will have a snowball effect on the overall economic situation of the country.
The last chapter of the book, CPEC in the Regional Context, provides a keen perspective on how the entire region, including Afghanistan and India, can benefit greatly from the economic corridor. The book will also be read in the context of announcement of B3W (Build Back Better World) by the G7 countries, which is seen as countering China’s strategic influence and questions about transparency of CPEC projects.
The writer is a staff member