On 1 July, the Communist Party of China (CPC) celebrated its centenary anniversary. Alongside and parallel to the CPC’s growth from a small party with over 50 members to a ruling party with more than 95 million members, was the growth of China from a backward agrarian economy in the early days of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), to not only one of the most modern, affluent, and prosperous countries, but an economic and technological dynamo.
Under the leadership of the CPC, China has made impressive headway; transporting the country through three significant and crucial stages: (a) from economic exhaustion to unprecedented economic growth; (b) from political fragmentation to political consolidation, strength, and unity; and (c) from military rule to civilian rule.
It is indeed incredible and noteworthy to nod to the fact that in the past century, China has experienced remarkable economic, social and political breakthroughs, development, and national rejuvenation under the leadership of the CPC.
Achievements Under The CPC
China is not only a politically strong and cohesive country but the second-largest economy in the world. According to some projections by Chinese economists, China will achieve “high-income country status” by 2025 and will be the first ever-1-billion-population high-income country in the world.
This can be attributed to China’s complete industry chains, rich industrial range, and advanced new technologies including 5G and artificial intelligence. A high-income economy as defined by the World Bank is a country with a gross national income per capita of US$12,536 or more, and in 2020, China's gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded 100 trillion yuan (US$15.37 trillion), with per capita GDP exceeding US$10,000 for a second consecutive year.
China is also the largest trader of goods. It is the world’s largest exporter and second-largest importer. From 1948 to 2020, China’s total foreign trade volume grew from US$907 billion to US$4.65 trillion with an average annual growth rate of nearly 14 percent.
China has also become Asia’s largest stock market since 2015 and has more Fortune Global 500 companies than the US for the first time in 2020 with 133 companies on the list. It is likewise a country with a relatively complete academic system with universities and educational institutions among the top-ranked in the world and Asia.
In 1949, the country had only around 205 institutions of higher learning with less than 120,000 students and the gross enrolment rate was only 0.26 percent. But by the end of 2020, the number of institutions of higher education reached 2,738 with 32.85 million students.
China has also achieved breakthroughs in infrastructure. Its transportation system is one of the best in the world. For instance, China’s total train mileage in operation was 146,000 kilometres (km) at the end of 2020, and highways were registered at 5.20 million kilometres. From 2016 to 2020, the length of China’s high-speed lines nearly doubled to 37,900 km and its bullet trains have around a nine billion passenger trips capacity.
Furthermore, as reported by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, China has also overtaken the US in terms of citizens in the global top 10 percent for wealth. To note, in 2019, there were 658 Chinese billionaires and 3.5 million millionaires. Likewise, China has the world’s largest banking sector, with assets amounting to around US$40.1 trillion.
Some of the world’s largest banks are in China. The big four state-owned commercial banks are (1) Bank of China; (2) the China Construction Bank; (3) the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China; and (4) the Agricultural Bank of China. These are among the largest banks in the world as of 2018. Other big banks include the Bank of Communications, the China Merchants Bank, and Ping An Bank.
Another achievement of China under the auspices of the CPC is the fact that China has conquered the pandemic within its borders. While the whole world including major powers like the US and European nations are still grappling with the pandemic and its adverse impacts, China has already bounced back economically. Among G20 member states, China is the only country that has fully resumed its growth trajectory amid the pandemic, while the rest of the world’s major powers, including the US, are still trying to curb the surge of the coronavirus pandemic and its adverse impacts in their respective countries.
Also, under the reign of the CPC, China has experienced greater internationalisation. For instance, aside from being a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the recent election of some Chinese personalities to United Nations (UN) bodies is also a demonstration of China’s immense internationalisation.
China has also won a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The UNHRC is the world premiere human rights body. The designation of Chinese Ambassador to Hungary Duan Jielong, a Chinese diplomat who was elected as a member of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is another manifestation of China’s increasingly felt presence in the UN.
Triumph Over Poverty
One of the most noteworthy success stories of China in the 21st century is its poverty alleviation program.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, China has achieved great success in poverty alleviation.
While many poorer countries are still languishing in poverty amid the coronavirus pandemic, China has defeated extreme poverty within its borders with a precise and targeted poverty alleviation program and strategy.
On 25 February 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that China had scored a complete victory in its fight against poverty. To note, in 2012, there were around 832 poor counties, 128,000 poor villages, and nearly 100 million people living in absolute poverty in China. In just eight years, this number has been reduced to zero.
Thus, in terms of reducing poverty, since the 1970s, China is responsible for over 70 percent of global poverty reduction and has met the poverty eradication target set by the 2030 United Nations (UN) Agenda for Sustainable Development, 10 years ahead of schedule.
In retrospect, under the strong leadership of the CPC, China has consolidated and strengthened its position to become one of the most powerful countries in the world.
Indeed, China’s unprecedented successes under the leadership of the CPC should serve as inspiration and motivation for developing countries as they aspire and pursue national prosperity, economic development, and political stability.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of The ASEAN Post.