Honourable Ma Jiantang,
Hourable Mr. Wang Anshun,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
As China enters the final quarter of this milestone year, the year in which it will achieve its long-standing goal of comprehensively realizing the “Xiaokang Society” vision first laid out by Deng Xiaoping 40 years ago, this is a highly appropriate time to think deeply and creatively about the purposes and approaches of international exchanges on China’s remarkable development achievements. On behalf of the UN, thank you for honoring me with an invitation to share some thoughts on this topic and along with others, let me extend hearty congratulations to CIKD on this 5th anniversary and for it’s important work.
This new era that China is entering is also a new era for global development, one shaped by the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (and in the throes of deep reflection as we commemorate the UN@75). The severe impact of COVID-19 has led to monumental setbacks, but it is our shared responsibility through global solidarity, to ensure that we not only build back, but that we “build back better”. After all, China’s success story has confirmed that no ambitious long-term development agenda can succeed, if it cannot overcome the inevitable ups and downs of the global economy. As China (like the rest of the world) focuses on realizing the core SDG concept of “leaving no one behind”, and ensuring that recovery from the pandemic is inclusive, exchanges of China’s experience can make an important contribution to the global effort to return to the path of SDG achievement. And here are few specific aspects of China’s experience that I believe are relevant particularly to other developing countries:
The first of China’s most important messages is that each country must find its own development path, shaped by its own national conditions and with full national ownership.
Second, China’s progress over the last 40 years, as well as its tremendous recent efforts in overcoming COVID-19 this year, have demonstrated clearly the important role that strong local governments can play when they are well integrated into the national strategic vision. This is one area in which many developing countries could learn a great deal from China, as in too many cases national policies are difficult if not impossible to implement once one moves away from the capital. In China’s fight against COVID-19, coordination, consistency and sustained efforts across the full network of government administrations have played an essential role.
Third, China’s 40 years of reform have been a continuous experiment in adjusting the balance between plan and market, one in which the country has demonstrated a remarkable degree of pragmatism in policy-making. many countries to stifle initiative and creativity, and lead to failure and suffering as well. Perhaps China’s lesson to developing countries could be seen as the recognition that the balance between plan and market is one of the variables of economic and social management.
Fourth, even as we sit in this extremely impressive new modern district let us not forget that China’s greatest successes resulted from a focus on inclusive rural development and agricultural modernization, including major investments in rural infrastructure undertaken in conjunction with investments in human development - in health, education and other basic services. China’ development story is on one hand about a multi-dimensional approachand on the other about one size not fitting all with differentiated approaches AND investments at the local levels that are in line with the distinct comparative advantages of those localities, thereby securing strong local buy in and ownership.
Now allow me conclude with this (and it has already been highlighted) that no concept is more important in China’s current policy vision than innovation, which cuts across all other goals and which is also an essential element of the 2030 Agenda. The old approaches will not produce the outcomes we are striving for in a fast changing world. The COVID-19 pandemic has already led to a wave of innovations in China and around the globe in how we communicate and cooperate, and, dear friends and colleagues, let us discuss today how these innovations can be incorporated into global sharing of development experience.
Thank you again for this opportunity, and my best wishes for a very successful conference.