February 05th, 2009 | China Daily China has proved ability for crisis management
All countries are struggling with the global financial crisis as it worsens. Hoping to reduce to the minimum the impacts of the crisis on its own economy, China has worked out a string of forceful measures over the past months.
The country has loosened its previous prudent monetary policy and increased fiscal spending on infrastructure construction. At the same time, some stimulus packages aimed at reactivating slackened domestic demand have been launched to ensure the country achieves an 8 percent economic growth this year.
Although lower than in previous years, such an encouraging growth target is particularly outstanding in the context of widespread low expectations by other major countries.
Confidence-building remains pivotal to overcoming the ongoing financial crisis. The central government’s strong determination and a raft of measures it has adopted to grapple with the crisis have not only enhanced Chinese people’s confidence in fighting hardships ahead and recovering economic momentum but have also transmitted a very positive signal to the market.
However, at a time when the Chinese government mobilizes available resources to tackle the ongoing crisis, international opinions on China’s economic future show a sudden shift from the previous optimism to pessimism.
In a report in this year’s global economic outlook published by the World Economic Forum, the prospect of a steep decline of China’s economic growth was considered to pose one of the largest risks to the global economy.
Similar conclusions were echoed by quite a few Western economists. Some Western media outlets have even gone further in their China coverage, throwing deep doubts over the country’s determination to meet the 8 percent growth target.
The Western world bases its pessimism on China’s economic prospect on the premise that the country’s rapid growth in the past decades is closely related to its large-scale exports.
However, as the world’s economy plunges into recession, which, in the pessimists’ eyes, will inevitably result in a declining demand for the “made in China” products in the US and European markets, China’s economy will certainly slow down from its past fast-growing pace.
Such a conclusion reflects to certain degrees the economic predicament some of China’s provinces have encountered. But this view also seriously underestimates the Chinese government’s determination and ability for crisis management.
The government’s ability for such tasks was fully demonstrated in its handling of a series of natural disasters from a paralyzing snowstorm early last year to a destructive earthquake rocked the country’s southwestern Sichuan province in May. In the face of these ruthless natural catastrophes, China did not scale down its hosting of a high-profile Olympic Games which the country has long promised to the whole international community.
As in dealing with a natural disaster, tackling the ongoing financial crisis better needs a strong organizing ability of the government and active public participation. China’s advantage in this regard allows no room for skepticism. However, due to their deep-rooted ideological and political prejudices, Western media usually sidesteps China’s system superiority in their coverage of the country. On the contrary, all derogative words are often used to defame it.
The country’s rapid development was projected as its ambition to compete with the Western world to prove that “China-style autocracy” is superior to “Western democracy”. Such an ineradicable bias leads the skeptics to amplify some problems in China’s development.
Compared with their Western counterparts, Chinese media, however, have mainly focused on positive coverage of other countries in the hope of gaining valuable experiences or lessons for China.
Since the reform and opening up, Chinese leaders have reaffirmed on many occasions that the country is committed to absorbing and learning any useful experiences from other countries, including those from capitalists.
Such a stance best demonstrates Chinese people’s consciousness that our country is still in the initial stage of modernization and desperately needs to learn from other civilizations. Part of China’s great progress in the past decades was also made in the process of its endless learning from others and correcting mistakes. Learning and self-correction are also the essence of the country’s reform and opening up policy. China’s long-reiterated adherence to this policy also indicates its sober realization that its established systems need further improvements.
Westerners have not always been so cocksure and critical of China’s development as now. As early as in the 18th century, a cultural renaissance was launched in the European Continent. A number of forerunners of the Enlightenment shifted their attention to the far-flung, ancient land of China for learning and absorbing some useful ideas. The introduction of some viable Chinese ideas did help Europe extricate itself from the long-established feudal bondage and set up a modern state system.
Certainly, with its unique cultural backgrounds, some of Chinese systems and experiences cannot be transplanted in other countries. However, intentional denials or vilification of the great achievements China has made will prove unhelpful for their own development.
The author is a researcher with the Development Research Center under the State Council