Understanding the Chinese Model
China is altering the course of history. The year 2020 has drawn stark differences between the Western developed nations and the Chinese model of progress. Dominance is on the wind for the people of China. Scholars and researchers have focused only on the communist policies of China and the size of its population but the perspectives on China’s past and its philosophy for the world have been largely ignored. The old ideas of a far and distant land, divided by warring states and political upheavals are a matter of the past. China has emerged as a nation that offers an alternate narrative to the Western Liberal Democracy model and there are not many disadvantages in sight. It is imperative for the world to comprehend and cooperate with China as it is meant to be understood, if there is to be any chance, of a win-win global equation for nations. China is set to become the leading nation of humanity and it is doing so while raising considerable opportunities for everyone.
Chinese civilization is over 4000 years old. Initially, called the civilization of the Yangtse and Yellow river, the history of China is rich with development and progress. Many ground-breaking inventions that have immensely benefitted mankind are originally from China. Paper, silk and gun powder are one of the major inventions of Chinese origin that have changed the face of human history. Other than just scientific contributions, China has always been an advanced civilization that has fell in and out of power. Its history is marked by five periods. Majority of this era is divided into the time of the five famous dynasties. The Qing dynasty was by far the most prominent. Currently, China is under the sixth era of development, one that is void of a dynasty, not a dominant political party run by technocrats. As it is evident from financial and economic reports, China is going to surpass the United States in real GDP, development and trade. The World Bank has declared the Chinese currency to be a dominant currency for World Trade by 2025. From 1979, China has set an example for raising millions of its citizens out of absolute poverty. With the largest population of the world, it is the fourth largest country by size. It borders fourteen nations. The language of the Chinese is one of the oldest languages of human history that is still in use. But these are only a few of the peculiarities that set China apart from any other nation. While looking at these differences, mistakenly and out of distraction it is forgotten how China came to be this way and its philosophy is misunderstood. The answer lies not only in the numbers of being the largest population or the massive army or the Trade volume but the mindset behind it. Those principles that govern the Chinese model are worthy of due consideration.
The Western world, the USA, in particular, have failed to come to terms with the thought process behind Chinese progress. White House under Donald Trump took policies towards China comparing it to something with the likes of the Soviet Union. On the contrary, China is nothing like the Soviet Union. The communist Russia was instigated men like Stalin and Marx alone, who propagated violent political movements against the capitalists of the world. China, on the flip side of the coin, is inspired by philosophers like Confucius, who was deeply moved by the pain and agony of the masses. The central idea of Confucian doctrine revolves around Collectivism, humility and reform. He taught discipline and merit as the sole determinants of power. A civil servant himself for a long period of his life. He finally took up teaching after his due role in the reformation of the Royal Court of Tang and Song dynasties. The object of virtue in the teachings of Confucius was the collective goodwill, a centrepiece of the Chinese model.
Comparing the model of the Confucian thought is a contrast from the Western philosophers that were inspired by individualism. The idea of the electoral process does not consider merit as it considers the will of the majority; voting. The Western idea of human rights and freedom of the individual holds States accountable for transgressing limits. Participation is based on the popular will. The Chinese mindset puts forth the “good” of the majority instead of the will of the majority. Merit holds more weight than votes. This is the very idea that is the foundation of the Chinese thought. In the Confucian concept, the legitimacy of power rests with the one person who can act as a father for the people. In a capitalist democracy, a person who is supported by the masses through the legal vote is the sovereign(even if the popular will is contrary to the good of the people). Holding office is not subject to the wrong or right number of votes being cast but skill, integrity and commitment in action. The current premier of the Chinese Government, Xi Jinping has been ruling since 2012, not for the reason that he holds power through an army or votes, but because he is capable and holds merit to be where he is. The Western nations will have to follow this insight, that their model of growth, progress and well-being is not the only available strategy of success.
China has become a hallmark of operational excellence. It was the Chinese who came up with the idea of strict examination and evaluation for the selection of civil and military officers. A model which was copied by the British. While focusing on numbers and volumes, it must be kept in view that China possesses a remarkable system of merit. Each and every official, from the lowest to the highest is selected on the basis of clearly defined merits. This merit is the key ingredient that is making China great. This ability to pick and choose the right person for the right job has transformed the Chinese nation and the world as a whole. This system of merit is proving to be a success story compared to the Western system of selection based on popular will.
Finally, contrary to the Western apprehension that China is an expansionist nation. China has been contained in the present condition/boundaries for over a thousand years. It does not believe in expansionist policies, rather, it believes in the achievement of excellence and innovation. From 1979 to the present, China has managed to transform, regulate and improve the lives of over 1 Billion people through sheer innovation, commitment and discipline. Another vivid illustration of this Chinese mindset is the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The United States, Europe and the UK have failed to devise a strategy to tackle the spread of coronavirus, for China, thanks to their elaborate public management systems, they were able to effectively deal with it in a matter of months. Only Germany falls somewhere close. China as a superpower is being engined by its meritocratic system and its ability to adapt.
Believing in the collective growth model, China is connecting the world. CPEC, OBOR and BRICS are hallmarks of progress and interconnectivity, not of violent takeovers and military interventions. The world, especially the Western nations must make the effort to understand the thought process that exists behind the Chinese psyche. It is one of the oldest nations of the world which has always been at the helm of affairs. A compassionate, non-judgmental and compromising acceptance of ideals has a lot to offer for the world of tomorrow and future generations on all corners of the globe.
(The writer is Chairman of Jinnah Rafi Foundation)