The other side of prejudice
ZENG YI/FOR CHINA DAILY
Thanks to its competent handling of the pandemic, China registered a growth rate of over 2 percent in 2020, while many other economies suffered significant economic declines. In addition, China was not only able to quickly provide its own population with effective vaccines, but also to make them available to dozens of developing countries, thus contributing to the well-being of other nations.
Seen objectively, the Communist Party of China addressed the common good of its people in the face of the pandemic. But rather than examining the reasons for the poorer performance of their privatized healthcare system, or the overemphasis on individual freedoms over the common good, some Western think tanks, media and politicians prefer to make a scapegoat of China, and have escalated their hostile propaganda campaign, branding China as an adversary and rival.
The consistent focus on innovation, intensified by President Xi Jinping, has promoted China to the position of global leader in several areas. Under the CPC's leadership, China became the first nation to land on the far side of the Moon. It was this same Chang'e 4 mission that succeeded for the first time in growing a small cotton plant there for 14 days, which has enormous symbolic significance for growing food for astronauts in space in the future.
China may have started its space program relatively late, but it has caught up incredibly quickly. One of its latest feats was the Mars mission, Tianwen 1, which launched a lander and a rover into an orbit around Mars in February to land on Utopia Planitia, a vast plain on the red planet's northern hemisphere, in May, proving that China has its place among space pioneers. In terms of high-speed railways, China has become the undisputed world leader with circa 40,000 kilometers of a system that connects many major cities.
The realization of all these cutting-edge technologies is, of course, no accident, but rather the result of a policy that has increasingly emphasized scientific questions. In a speech at the 17th General Assembly of the Members of Chinese Academy of Sciences on July 9, 2014, President Xi emphasized the importance of scientific and technological innovation for improving social productivity and the nation's overall strength. He stressed the fundamental significance of breakthroughs in the areas such as "structure of matter, the evolution of the universe, the origin of life and the nature of consciousness". It demonstrates that China's focus on science not only allows considerable progress in application-related areas of research, such as digitization, artificial intelligence or quantum computing, but also aims at acquiring knowledge of qualitatively new physical principles of the universe.
A widespread prejudice against China in the United States and Europe is the idea that creativity necessarily requires the introduction of Western democracy and liberal values. Obviously, those who profess such an opinion have not bothered to study the most essential elements that went into the rise of China.
The one aspect of China's success is the targeted manner in which extreme poverty throughout the country was eradicated by the end of 2020. Under the CPC's leadership, a hands-on method was used to ensure that no one was left behind, to understand the specific reasons for their poverty and to offer possible solutions. It is the most conclusive proof that the Confucian ideal of putting the common good first is at the center of politics in China today. An important indicator of the determination to ensure the program's success is the fact that economic performance was not only measured in terms of GDP, but also by using the progress in overcoming poverty as a benchmark.
Unlike the proponents of Western geopolitics, who view the rise of China and the Belt and Road Initiative as a threat to their neoliberal system, many people regard cooperation with China as the opportunity to create a decent and worthy future.
For the historic achievement of having freed millions from extreme poverty, and of giving many developing countries the perspective of development, China and its political leadership deserve the greatest respect. President Xi's concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind is a significant vision for the sustainable existence of human beings. We can applaud this by quoting German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's famous saying: "I therefore believe that if a wise man were selected not to judge about the beauty of goddesses, but about the excellence of people, he would give the golden apple to the Chinese."
The author is founder and president of the Schiller Institute in Germany. This article is supported by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.