TODAY, the People’s Republic of China turns 70.
Seventy years ago, Chairman Mao Zedong solemnly declared to the world the founding of the People’s Republic of China, putting an end to the 100-year-long suffering of the Chinese nation. The Chinese nation rose from the ashes, and embarked on a journey of national rejuvenation and prosperity.
I still remember that the people born in the late 1940s and early 1950s were commonly named “Jianguo (founding of the country)” and “Guoqing (celebrating for the country)”. It is not an overstatement to say that the new China was founded with the faith and hope of the Chinese people.
In the past 70 years, China has moved from being an underdeveloped and destitute agrarian country to become the world’s second largest economy. It now has the largest industrial output, trade volume and foreign reserve in the world. China’s GDP has seen a dramatic 450-fold growth, from merely US$30bil in 1949 to US$13.6tril (RM57tril) in 2018.
China is now the largest trading partner for more than 130 countries and a major driving force for world economic growth, contributing 30% to global growth annually for more than 10 years.
In the past 70 years, China has made significant advancements in science and technology. In its early days, the People’s Republic had absolutely no expertise in manufacturing and technology. Now China is the largest manufacturer of automobiles, and there are China-made large passenger aircraft.
With the active promotion of innovation-driven development, breakthroughs have been made in manned spaceflight, lunar and deep-sea exploration, quantum science, supercomputers, and satellite navigation. China has been leading the world in patent filings for eight consecutive years, and is also prominent in cutting-edge arenas such as 5G technologies, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Moreover, China currently has more than 1.3 billion mobile broadband users, covering more than 90% of its total population.
An individual will not remain strong if his own country is not. In the past 70 years, the livelihood of the Chinese people has been remarkably improved. Income per capita has increased from less than US$70 to US$9,470 (RM39,600) and average life span has increased from 35 years to 77 years.
During the last 40 years of the reform and opening-up policy, China has alleviated 700 million people out of poverty. Next year the Chinese people will lift China into becoming a well-off society, which means the total elimination of poverty in China, setting an example of how a developing country can shake off poverty. It will be the first time ever in the 5,000-year-long history of China, and nothing less than a miracle in the history of mankind.
In the past 70 years, the interdependence and cooperation between China and the world have deepened. Since the restoration of its legitimate seat in the United Nations in 1971, China has been participating in world affairs passionately. Today, China has risen to become the second largest contributor to the UN budget and is by far the largest personnel contributor to UN peacekeeping operations among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. China is a member of almost all intergovernmental international organisations and more than 500 international conventions. The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013 has rallied support from more than 160 countries, regions and international organisations, making it now the biggest global public good and the most dynamic platform for international cooperation.
These brilliant achievements are owed to the strong leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. During its 70 years in power, the party has grown to have more than 90 million members, starting with only a dozen when it was founded 98 years ago. It has been leading the Chinese people on a path suitable to China’s national conditions, and representing the interests of the Chinese people through its policies and strategies. This is the fundamental reason why the Chinese Communist Party is able to win public support, stay in power and make great accomplishments.
Under the party’s leadership, the exertion and tenacity of the Chinese people have been harnessed productively. The labour force participation rate in China is at an amazing 76%, ranking first in the world. That means that, except for seniors, juniors and students in schools, almost every Chinese is diligently working in his or her domain.
The 1.4 billion Chinese people work tirelessly, no matter at home or abroad. Our achievements are not charities from anyone. They are the fair results of the toil and moil of the Chinese people.
These brilliant achievements of China are also owed to the development principles of peace, openness and inclusiveness. We have maintained peaceful and harmonious relations with nearly all countries around the world, creating a favourable external environment for our development. We have stayed true to the reform and opening-up policy, strengthening our cooperation with all countries.
We learn from others, and we share our opportunity and prosperity with others. China has been upholding the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations, fulfilling its international responsibilities and obligations.
China has also been an active participant and pioneer in global affairs. We have lived up to our responsibilities as a major power by proposing Chinese approaches and sharing Chinese wisdom towards the reform of global governance systems.
Our world is now undergoing grand changes unseen in a century: The world economy is going through a transition from traditional drivers to new ones, we are seeing faster changes in the international landscape and the international alignment of forces, and the system of global governance is being profoundly reshaped. Emerging economies and developing countries, including China and Malaysia, are embracing historical opportunities – but also facing grave challenges.
Recently, the intricacies of the relationship between China and the United States have been drawing global attention. People wonder whether the two biggest economies in the world can avoid the Thucydides trap (the idea that the rivalry between an established power and a rising one often ends in war), and whether the Chinese economy can withstand the pressure and maintain robust growth.
Our answers are clear: that China is willing to resolve disputes through dialogue and consultation and work with the US side to infuse the confidence of stability in the world economy. We will endure, and we will overcome.
The Chinese government and people will remain committed to the Chinese path, that is, creating opportunities and making contributions to the world through our development. China will also continue to be a constructor of world peace, a contributor to global cooperation and a protector of international order, injecting positive energies of common development into the world.
Malaysia is a longtime friend of China, and was the first Asean country to establish diplomatic ties with China. It was also among the first countries to support and participate in the Belt and Road Initiative. For the last 45 years, featuring equality, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, China-Malaysia relations have brought tangible benefits to our two peoples.
Currently, China-Malaysia relations are in a new historical era. The Pakatan Harapan government led by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is keen on developing ties with China and willing to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative. Our bilateral relations are gaining a more steadfast momentum.
Political exchanges are warming up, with more than half of Malaysian Cabinet ministers visiting China in the past year. Our pragmatic cooperation is bringing us more benefits, as palm oil, durians and other Malaysian specialties are being exported to China in large quantities, and the number of Chinese companies investing in Malaysia is steadily increasing. The people-to-people exchanges are more diversified, with cooperation in education, sports, arts and other fields blooming.
It is fair to say that China-Malaysia relations have a solid foundation, a huge potential and a bright prospect. A rising China promoting peace, openness and cooperation will bring Malaysia more opportunities in the future.
If one wants to go fast, walk alone; if one wants to go far, walk together. China will do well only when the world does well, and vice versa. China is ready to make bigger contributions to the world, and is willing to share opportunities in development through wider opening-up, to promote common development through broader consultation, and to advance win-win cooperation through better cooperation.
I hope China, Malaysia and all countries could join hands and see through difficulties together. By promoting openness, cooperation and consultation, we will build a brighter future for the world.
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia