When the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949, almost 40 years had passed since China’s territory had last been administered by a functional central government, the Qing Dynasty. This period of chaos and war affected hundreds of millions of lives. In 1949, life expectancy at birth in China was only somewhere between 35 and 40 years. Today, it has reached 77 years, almost equal to that of the United States. But the real miracle happened over the past four decades. Since 1978, more than 800 million Chinese people have lifted themselves out of poverty, through hard work, intelligence, creativity and effervescence, as the government adopted a policy of opening up to the outside world and encouraging private initiative.
Today, as the world’s first or second largest economy measured by Purchasing Power Parity or nominal GDP, China has not only returned to a position it occupied for almost two millennia, but has surpassed it: for the first time in its history, China has transcended the limits of a regional power in Asia, becoming a global power, a status which it isn’t accustomed to. The stock market value of US companies like Apple, Boeing or Caterpillar, real estate prices in Sydney, soybean production in Brazil, infrastructure in Africa, or the European luxury industry have come to depend on China.
But China and its government haven’t yet adapted to this new reality. This is why it’s time for China to start seeing itself through a global perspective.
This article has been published by Andrei Lungu, President of RISAP, in the South China Morning Post. You can read the full article on the SCMP website.