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Luo Jianbo:How to Best Share China’s Governance Experience with African Countries?


By
Luo Jianbo, Professor, Director of Center for African Studies, Party
School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China;
Translated by Xu Qinduo




Starting from Ethiopia

The Advantages of the China Model

The Principle for China-Africa Exchanges ofGovernance Experience


Note:
One of the highlights in China-Africa cooperation is the exchange of
experience in governance, which serves as a newarea where the bilateral
relationship may see strong growth potential. If we say China-Africa
relationship has been undergoing a comprehensive upgrade in the 21st
century, then the exchange of experience in governance  must be a
significant demonstration of such at ransformation.

More
than 1,000 overseas reporters flocked to Beijing to cover the National
Congress of the Communist Party of China on October 18th, 2017, among
whom many were from Africa. These reporters expected to gain a better
understanding of the “secrete code” of China’s development and pass on
the precious governance experience, in addition to sharing the growth
opportunities of China. In their eyes, the 19th Party Congress report
amountsto a summary of experience in CPC’s national governance as well
as a super MOOC(Massive Online Open Course). 

 

Starting from Ethiopia

That
reminds me of my recent trip to Ethiopia.  I was on a research tour of
the CPC Central Party School delegation which went to Ethiopia in
September and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal
Meles Zenawi Leadership Academy. The Academy was established in 2014,
under the proposal by the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary
Democratic Front. The academy is designated to train officials,with a
task of reinforcing the sense of responsibility and leadership of the
ruling party and government officials, so as to contribute to the
national rejuvenation and a sustainable development. In our exchange
with the EPRDF and the Academy, they spoke highly of the friendship and
the cooperation between China and Ethiopia and were sincerely grateful
to the support and assistance from the Communist Party of China and the
Chinese government. They appreciate the tremendous achievement of China
in it srevolution and national development, noting that they are
actively learning and borrowing from the China’ experience of
development and governance. 

Every time I
visit Ethiopia, I can’t help but notice its changes and development.
The country is full of vitality asdemonstrated in the expansion project
of the airport, new high-rises in Addis Ababa, the rapid progress in
infrastructural construction such as roads and railways, as well as the
industrial parks under construction in different parts of the country.
In the past 10 years, Ethiopia has recorded an economic growth of more
than 10% on average, becoming the star of the African continent.Ethiopia
surpassed Kenya in 2016 to become the largest economy in East Africa.No
wonder Ethiopians firmly believe that today’s China means tomorrow’s
Ethiopia.

In today’s Africa, more and
more Africanslearn to appreciate the Chinese development model. A survey
by the well-known Afrobarometer in October 2016 found out that, an
absolute majority of respondents were positive on China’s role in
Africa’s pursuit of development.Those surveyed in Zimbabwe, Mozambique,
Sudan, Zambia, South Africa and Tanzania spoke highly of China’s
development model. Funke Egbemode, President of the Nigerian Guild of
Editors and former managing director of the New Telegraph, wrote, in
August 2017 in the wake of a China tour, an article by the title of
Beautiful China, Whither Nigeria. She praises China for its
hugeachievement in national development, noting that the China’s strong
leadership and its experience in pragmatic development should be studied
assiduously and learned from.

The
recent years have witnessed more and more government officials,
technology experts, think tankers and NGO workers from Africa visit
China to learn and conduct exchanges. The Chinese government,in return,
has paid more attention to the development of human resources in Africa
and taken active measures to help African countries to upgrade their
governance and technical expertise. There’s a Chinese saying which goes
like this: it’s better to teach a man how to fish than give him a fish.
Through personnel training, China hopes African countries can streng
then their ability to develop on their own as which is the key for long
term sustainable development. Currently, there’re about 10, 000 Africans
come to China every year under a variety of training programs in the
framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. My own observation
is that, the China trip helps them with not only acquiring related
knowledge and skills, but also enhance their confidence, courage and
enthusiasm by experiencing first hand China’s impressive progress and
the entrepreneurship of the Chinese in their endeavor to businesses
development. They understand that, before reform and opening up,China
was as poor as Africa, but it has become a major world power with
globalin fluence. 

 

The Advantages of the China Model

The
development of China in the past fourde cades has been largely a course
of pursuing modernization by a developing country. In the past,
developing countries either copied the Western model or that of the
former Soviet Union, but few were successful. Worse still, some
countries sank into a vicious cycle of economic stagnation and political
upheavals. China’s success gives African countries the hope of
developing their own countries independently, and provide an alternative
to modernization with the Chinese experience and wisdom, which differ
greatly from that of Wester ncountries. If China’s development could
provide some new aspirations and references for Africans in their
exploration of development, so as to enhance their ability to govern and
accelerate their process of national development and revival,that would
be a significant contribution by China to Africa and the world.   

Then,
what’re the advantages of the Chinese development and governance model?
How can we better share its experience ingovernance with African
countries?

The fundamentals of the China
Model lie in China’s deep understanding of and persistence in national
independence and the practice of self-reliance. Since the time of
Chairman Mao, the founding father of the People’s Republic, China has
always attached importance to independence and self-reliance. For
Chinese,being independent is not only about being physically free but
more importantly means freedom of thoughts and spirit. In essence,the
fate of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation should be in the hands
of the Chinese. There fore,China, in its exploration of development
road, also stresses learning from successful overseas experiences. But
it always sticked to the principle of making choices and borrowing from
others experiences based on its own nationalconditions. In China’s
development, it did make use of overseas assistance, but it always laid
emphasis on the point that foreign assistance must be helpful to
strengthening its ability to independent development. The request of for
eignassistance is made for the goal of being able to develop without
externalassistance.

An outstanding
feature of the China Modelis that China has a government which is
willing and able to devote to development. The experience of China,
South Korea, Singapore and other countries shows that, for
late-developing countries, a government that is able to mobilize and
integrate all kinds of resources to promote the nationaleconomic growth
is especially important and indispensable in early developmentstage.
Some scholars, there fore, call these East Asian countries as
“developmentstate”. Some African countries have obviously noticed the
point. For example,Ethiopia has called for building the nation into a
“democratic developmentalstate”, the key of which is to borrow the
experience from those “developmentstates” in east Asia.

Related
to economic growth, China has takena “development-oriented” path to
handle the challenges it faces, which is alsoa key component of Chinese
success. For developing countries, it’s easy to give rise to a state of
unbalanced interests or incur problems and conflicts due tolate
development and a weak base. China holds firm the belief that
“Developing is an unyielding principle” and problems can only be
resolved in the process of development. Reality shows that the
prevention or the ultimate solution of social contradictions and
problems comes from economic growth and wellbeing improvement,constantly
enhancing the state’s macro-adjustment ability,there distribution of
wealth in particular, constantly strengthening the publicawareness of
the fruits of reforms  and their support of government. If a country
only follows a democracy-orientedpath and tries to resolve all kinds of
contradiction of interests and social problems by adopting a package of
political reforms, it could  lead to clans, parties and interests
groupsbeing deeply mired in political disputes, while leaving aside
national development. The out come is the opposite of
“development-oriented” path.

Compared to
other developing countries,China also enjoys efficiency and
effectiveness in national governance. China not only boasts of a mature
set of state organs and administrative system, but has also successfully
handled the relationship between the state and the market, the state
and society with continuous reforms and innovation. So China,while
giving full play of the vitality in social development, has
wellmaintained stability and consistency of national policies and
ensured the effectiveness and efficiency of state behaviors. China is
currently actively promoting the modernization of national governance
and exploring how to further deepen reforms, better social governance,
enforce an all-out and strict Party discipline. The purpose of that is,
based on national conditions and publicopinions, to innovate the
governance system and improve the governance ability of the Party and
the government to better serve the people. In the pastde cades, Why does
China has developed better and faster than most other developing
countries? The key reason doesn’t lie in the difference of ideology and
Party system, but in a more complete set of fundamental institutions
systemas well as the relatively stronger ability of administration.  

The
shaping of and emphasis on “social consensus” constitutes another
important component of the Chinese successstory. One of the prominent
features of the China Model is there’s often a high-degree of nationwide
“consensus”. Such a practice indicates the nation is united inconcerted
efforts to conduct reforms and develop economy, while agreeing
tomaintain stability to achieve national reunification and prosperity.
Such apowerful cohesion and rallying force exercises beyond the
differences among parties, ethnicities, different industries and social
classes. It’s the majorfactor behind the Chinese continuous marching for
ward while overcoming the hardships under the leadership of the Party
as well as the government. We need democracy. We also need consensus.


The Principle for China-Africa Exchanges of Governance Experience

Mutual
equality and mutual respect have always been the fundamental basis for
friendly China-Africa exchanges. In the process of conducting exchanges
on the experiences in governance, we need to observe the principle of
equality and respect the choice of African countries.It used to the case
that, when the former Soviet Union and Western countries approached
Africa, they often acted as the “Lord Mentors” and tried to reform
Africa following their own models. There might be no lack of good
intentions with their designs and programs, but they were based on the
West or the Soviet’s own knowledge and experience and were hard to
satisfy the actual need of Africa. As an outsider, we should not try to
replace Africans in discovering Africa, neither should us attempt to
govern Africa on behalf of Africans.The future of Africa depends on
Africans’ independent exploration and pursuit for asuitable “local
design”.The role of external experience is to help Africans think over
their development road and make it easier for Africans to discoveran
“African solution”. Africa doesn’t need a “savior”. It needs partners. 

We
should keep in mind that history and culture in Africa are very
different from those of China. The political party system also differs
from that of China. There fore, the exchanges of experiencein governance
should avoid focusing too much on whose political system and ideology
is the better. On the contrary, we should seek common grounds
whileputting aside our differences, and share our experiences on the
basis of mutual respect.

We should
realize that there’re experience and lessons from Africa, which we need
to study and take into consideration,such as the cultivation of a civil
society, the to lerance of diversity, there spect for nature, and so on.
Even the lessons of African countries in their pursuit of democracy
deserve our studies. That will be conducive to deepening our
understanding of Africa, preventing us from running risks and avoiding
detours, and providing new thinking and aspirations in perfecting the
China Model. Therefore, while promoting China-Africa exchanges with
confidence, we should  remain humble and follow the principle of
learning from each other instead of copying or introducing the China
Model in a unilateral manner.

Lastly, I
want to point out that, there are 54 countries in Africa which differ
vastly from one another in their histories,cultures and social
development. The China-Africa exchanges of experience ingovernance may
need to adapt to local conditions and conduct in different manners with
different countries. Chinese scholars may need to study even more
earnestly the overall situations in the African continent, the regional
conditions, national conditions and public opinions, and better sum up
the Chinese experience and wisdom, so as to contribute more to the on
going exchanges between China and Africa in their governance
experiences.