Saturday 15 Jun 2024

China must modernize before boosting global role: Official

AFP | FEBRUARY 09, 2013, 06:46 AM IST

China’s new leadership will focus on modernizing the countrybefore it increases Beijing’s role in international affairs, a top officialtold the Davos forum.

Senior Chinese planning official Zhang Xiaoqiang toldeconomic and business leaders gathered in the Swiss ski resort that the wholeworld would benefit if China completed its development programme.

“I think the new leader of the Chinese government and the CommunistParty has emphasized the strategic agenda for China in the future is to realizethe modernisation of China,” Zhang told the World Economic Forum.

“And of course for the largest developing country itself,modernisation must be a great contribution for the human beings’ progress anddevelopment,” said Zhang, a deputy director of China’s National Development andReform Commission.

Zhang was taking part in a panel at the annual WorldEconomic Forum that discussed China's future global agenda, with other membersincluding former British prime minister Gordon Brown and ex-Australian premierKevin Rudd.

China's once-in-a-decade leadership transition is due totake place at a key congress in March, after the Communist Party in Novemberchose current Vice President Xi Jinping to take over the reins from currentPresident Hu Jintao.

Brown, British premier from 2007-2010 and now a UN specialeducation envoy, argued that China should take a more prominent role in globalaffairs given that it would soon become the largest economy in the world.

“China should now want to play its rightful role in what isnot a unipolar world any more but a multipolar world,” he said. He added thatthe world economy was growing “far slower” than it should because of a lack ofcooperation.

But Zhang said China was already playing a global role, andurged patience.

“In fact China already takes a lot of efforts in many globalchallenges, such as dealing with the international financial crisis, thegovernment changes, food security,” he told the forum.

Zhang said his nation would “continue to play an importantrole as a responsible developing country” and wanted to “build up more globaldevelopment partnership.”

“Particularly we first want to promote the commondevelopment within the developing countries, but this also will contribute alot to the whole world’s peace, progress and prosperity,” he said.

International analysts widely expect China's fast-growingeconomy to overtake the United States in terms of gross domestic product, ortotal size, some time in the first half of this century.

But they also see the United States as likely to remainwealthier on a per capita basis given China’s huge population of 1.3 billion,while that of the US currently stands at about 315 million.

Rudd, a Mandarin speaker who was Australi’s prime ministerfrom 2007 to 2010, warned however of an arms race in Asia fuelled byincreasingly nationalistic territorial disputes in China's backyard.

“Economic globalisation does not, as a matter of inevitablemathematical logic, extinguish political nationalism,” said Rudd.

“In our part of the world where you've got the biggest armsrace unfolding in recent global history, that's the Asian hemisphere, there areimportant other factors which we need to respect.”

Meanwhile Brown -- who was introduced to the Davos audienceas having led a G20 summit in 2008 that “saved the world from the brink offinancial meltdown” -- warned that lessons had not been learned from the globaldebt crisis.

“I think we will have financial crises on a regular basisover the next 30 or 40 years,” he said.

Share this