In a speech to mark China’s 40th anniversary of economic liberalization, the Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the ‘opening up of the economy’ was “a great revolution in the history of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation”. He further said a quantum leap has been made in the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. “In 40 years, China lifted 740 million people out of poverty. China has built the world’s largest social security system, with the basic old-age pension covering more than 900 million people and medical insurance covering over 1.3 billion people”. “China’s share of global gross domestic product rose from 1.8 percent to 15.2 percent, generating more than 30 percent of global growth for years. However, sadly, no reference was made to the contributions to Deng Xiaoping, the actual architect of reforms. who was responsible for abandoning economic Mao’s policies, by opening China to international trade and investment.
In a veiled reference to the United States trade war with China, Xi Jinping said that China will not allow any country to dictate to the Chinese people what should or should not be done. In an attempt to assure the world, he said that China would not grow at the expense of other countries’ interests. This comes on the back of the apprehension of many South East Asian countries over China’s assertiveness in the region, especially its refusal to abide by the International Court’s ruling that China’s nine-dash line claim and accompanying claims to historic rights have no validity under international law; that “no feature in the Spratly Islands, including Taiwan-occupied Itu Aba (or Taiping Island), is an island under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); and that the behaviour of Chinese ships physically obstructing Philippine vessels is unlawful.
In an article published in The Economist, it was mentioned that “today Xi Jinping has become a dominant engine of global growth, and he presents himself as an apostle of peace and friendship, a voice of reason in a confused and troubled world”.
Another report published by HSBC, China is slated to become the world’s largest economy with USD of 26 trillion by 2030, whereas the US economy will be USD $ 25.2 trillion. India, currently the world’s seventh biggest economy, will emerge as the third largest economy with USD 5.9 trillion.
Today, the Chinese president is the tallest leader of the world, under whose leadership China has emerged as a superpower. The Chinese President’s claim that his country would not grow at the cost of other countries appears to assert his leadership. In fact, China’s has been bullying the smaller countries over the South China Sea dispute is contrary to the claims made by him. He even stopped imports from South Korea over the deployment of THAAD missiles. It is because of the Chinese assertiveness that has forced countries like Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea to look towards China to settle the disputes. Moreover, the change in their geopolitical strategy has been mainly because of the waning US leadership in both the South and Southeast Asia and its inability to act as a counterweight to both Russia and China.
Another aspect of the Chinese leadership is that it has reached out to many smaller countries to assist them to boost the economic growth, through one of the largest and gigantic infrastructural projects like ‘One Belt, One Road,’ to ever have been conceived, that straddles through both economics and geopolitics. It is estimated that China would be pumping in $ 150 billion in the project in improving the connectivity through the old silk route.