China contributes to building a better world

By CHEN MIRONG and LIAN ZHIXIAN / 10-27-2022 / Chinese Social Sciences Today

Photo: COURTESY OF Arkebe Oqubay Metiku

On Oct. 16, the 20th CPC National Congress opened in Beijing. General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping delivered a report to the Congress. Foreign scholars who paid attention to the key event said the Congress has not only mapped out a blueprint for China’s future development, but also injected energy into world development. In a recent interview with CSST, Arkebe Oqubay Metiku, a special adviser to the prime minister of Ethiopia, shared his views on China’s contributions to the world’s sustainable development. 

Global relevance of China’s development 

According to the congress report, China has seen a historic rise in its economic strength in the past decade. China’s GDP has grown from 54 trillion yuan to 114 trillion yuan (about $16 trillion) in the past decade and come to account for 18.5% of the world economy, up 7.2 percentage points. The country has remained the world’s second largest economy, and its per capita GDP has risen from 39,800 yuan to 81,000 yuan. 

Metiku told CSST that China is an engine of the world’s economic growth, contributing over a quarter of the world’s growth. China’s high economic growth is essential for the recovery of the world economy and has a spillover effect across the globe, contributing to building a better world. China’s rise has contributed to the emergence of a multi-polar world economy and the strengthening of multilateralism. China’s positive role in building multilateralism and global collaboration will be useful for developing and emerging economies, as well as advanced economies. 

Since the 2010s, China has focused on rebalancing its economy, building a sustainable economy, and transitioning to a high-income economy, Metiku continued. The economic structural transformation will involve shifting from an investment-driven economy towards an innovation-led economy, from resource-intensive and fossil-fuel dependent to a net zero or carbon neutral economy, and building an inclusive economy by narrowing gaps between urban and rural areas and income inequalities. 

The report emphasized the importance of promoting green development and a harmonious, symbiotic relationship between humans and nature. “China will work actively and prudently toward the goals of reaching peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality,” Xi said in the report. 

Statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Oct. 8 show that power generated by new energy grew 6.8 times in 2021, with an annual average increase of 25.7%, and accounted for 11.5% of total electricity, up 9.0 percentage points from 2012. Currently, China’s installed capacity of renewable energy has exceeded 1.1 billion kilowatts. The installed capacity of hydropower, wind power, solar power, and biomass power generation ranks first in the world. 

Metiku also pointed out that China has made significant progress towards a green economy in the last decade, emerging as the largest producer and investor in green energy, especially renewable energy. Since 2000, China has emerged to be a frontrunner in green transition and technological innovation. However, achieving net zero emissions would require technological breakthroughs and green finance within China and globally to achieve a global green transformation. “China’s leadership in building a net zero-emission economy is vital to building a sustainable world,” he said. 

Deepening China-Africa cooperation 

Stressing that human society faces unprecedented challenges, Xi said in the report that China remains firm in pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace. China adheres to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in pursuing friendship and cooperation with other countries. China is committed to its fundamental national policy of opening to the outside world and pursuing a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up. “The Chinese people are ready to work hand in hand with people across the world to create an even brighter future for humanity,” Xi said. 

China-Africa cooperation has a profound historic foundation. Going hand in hand amid mutual help, the Chinese and African people have opened up a distinctive path of mutually beneficial cooperation. Metiku noted that China-Africa cooperation showed a breakthrough after establishing the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2000 and has evolved into the largest South-South cooperation based on principles of non-interference in internal affairs, mutual respect, and cooperation. 

Regarding economic cooperation as the bedrock of this partnership, Metiku said the cooperation has contributed mutual benefits to both sides and has unequivocally played an essential role in the economic transformation of many African countries through infrastructure development and productive investment. 

For a long time, China has been supporting Africa in making infrastructure development a priority for economic revitalization. It encourages and supports Chinese enterprises to adopt various models to participate in the construction, investment, operation, and management of infrastructure projects in Africa. According to “China and Africa in the New Era: A Partnership of Equals” released by the State Council in November 2021, total investment in infrastructure projects in Africa reached almost $200 billion from 2016 to 2020. Projects implemented by Chinese companies accounted for 31.4% of all infrastructure projects on the African continent in 2020. 

Metiku called for more efforts in increasing China-Africa trade and boosting Africa’s exports to China. The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in 2021 offers a significant opportunity to boost trade and integrate with infrastructure development. 

Lessons from China’s development, such as industrialization, exports, development of productive capacity, and economic governance, can be relevant, although lessons should be adapted to the peculiarities of each country, Metiku said, adding that it is time to take new initiatives to develop China-Africa cooperation. “The prospect for China-Africa cooperation is immense, but the focus and scope have to be based on research and networks to further the perspectives.”