The people have gained confidence in their institutions and this has greatly improved the quality of delivery of public goods
By Richard Todwong Awany
When I was nominated on July 29, 2019 by the Peking University to go and attend the Donfang (oriental) scholarship programme at the prestigious Chinese University, I didn't know whether to accept or decline the offer. This was because of the duration of the programme (three months) and also the fact that I had been to China many times on invitation by the CPC as a political leader in my Party.
I consulted a few friends who encouraged me to go and attend the programme since it is the first time that such a programme being introduced and hosted by the most prestigious University in China. I accepted and sought permission from my Chairman of the organisation and President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who cleared me on August 23, 2019 to go and attend the programme.
My earlier knowledge of China was mostly formed out of the many visits I made there and more so the limited area of the Party and cardreship activities not the wider range of economic, social and political issues that I came to learn about.
Initially, just like many other people in Africa, I thought China is a one Party state, very dictatorial and with very limited space for freedom and rights of its citizens and foreigners in China, a place where everything is eaten including human beings, a place where all sorts of fake products are produced including plastic rice, poisoners soft drinks, etc.
Even when I visited China many times, such impressions remained in my mind, I think because during my many visits, I didn't have an in-depth knowledge of China due to the limited times within which I stayed there and also the constant negative Western media campaigns against China.
Registration at Peking University
On arrival, we were received at the airport by a graduate student, Deng who took us to the hotel (Zhongguanyuan Global Village).
We were later invited to the office of the International students department where we got registered in the university, given our living allowances for a month, SIM cards, taken to the Bank of China to open accounts as requirements to enable use the ATM cards and the weChat payment systems since China is slowly transitioning into a cashless economy (limited use of physical cash).
That was when I started realising how the programme and system is automated that everyone had to be registered. You cannot access the university without the official university card, which also acts as a meal card at campus. You can't get further student allowance unless you have a bank account and the phone SIM card was important because the phone numbers became the official communication channels between us and the school. The wechat platform that was open for the scholars became our notice board for programmes. Leave alone the experience of the food with Chinese names and the cafeteria system at the campus many restaurants that I will write about next time.
We were received at the university in a cocktail function hosted by the Vice President of the university and days after we started classes.
Class programme/time table.
We were given a detailed programme that kept us busy for three months. The programme a mixture of class lectures, field tours and visits to the various offices and regions/provinces/cities and municipalities of China were all exiting.
Key on the programme were the detailed lectures on;
- - China a civilization of close to 5000 years
- - China's Journey through the ages (1949-2019.
- - Understanding Diplomacy with Chinese characteristics.
- - China's journey to elimination of poverty
- - The role of CCP in the Development of China
- - China through the modern times.
The above were the crucial topics that brought my misunderstanding of China to the reality of China. Through these lectures and field visits, I came to realise that China is building a stronger community of the world with a shared future and promoting people to people exchanges to have a shared understanding of each other. I observed and learned the following in particular.
Observations and what I learnt.
a) China built its strong resilience spirits through the many struggles and pain it under went. From the Dynasty periods where the Confucius philosophy of relations among husband and wife, son and father, brother and sister, etc were built. This foundation built the virtues that later became central in the Chinese social and economic transformations.
b) I realised that just like Africa which was colonised by the Europeans, there were a lot of attempts to colonised China, but since China had strong dynastic rules from; Han, Tang, Liang,Jin, Zhou,Song Ming and Qinq Dynesties) and having gone through close to 700 years of imperial examinations under the King's, it became hard for the Europeans to colonised China. When they tried through trade, they found the Chinese had more developed capacities of civilisations that could not easily be penetrated. For example, the Europeans wanted to bring spoons for eating as a way of changing the Chinese culture, but found the Chinese were already using chopsticks.
They later started smuggling marijuana/opium into China to cause confusion and pain on the people and that was what lead to the 1840 marijuana/opium war because the Chinese were developed enough to resist these imperialists.
Unlike some African chiefs and kings who acted as agents of colonisation and worked with the imperialist to popularise Western religion, food, clothing and other merchants which were later used as tools of effective colonisation of Africa. This was not the case in China because the language (Madrin/potonghua), the writings and culture of the Chinese people had advanced that the imperialist could not distort. Therefore, one can say religion was used to polarise the African population to subdue them into eventual colonisation as opium was used on the Chinese people, but they failed to colonise the Chinese because the people resisted.
C) Have also learnt that there are close to 56 ethnic groups in China with Han as the largest ethnic group and about eight registered political parties. All these diversities are not effectively known to the outside world. I did not know that there were many ethnic minorities in China and that there are eight other political parties other than CPC that agrees with CPC as a vanguard party. This has helped in developing consensus among the divergent political parties. It is a special form of democracy that the world should learn from. A situation where leaders are selected not elected and the population is satisfied with their performances which has caused rapid transformation in China is worth learning more. To keep leaders in check, promotions are given according to performance. There are both horizontal and vertical promotions of leaders depending on circumstances.
D) Even if there are still economic challenges in some parts of China, especially western China due to the mountainous nature of the area, infrastructures such as roads, electricity, telephones for communication and other social services such as schools, healthcare, agricultural inputs are widely spread.
In a way of fighting structural poverty, we learned of how villages are relocated to better areas where they can easily be supported through training, provision of better houses, better conditions of living for them to uplift their standards of living. This detailed village resettlement programmes are very important in fighting cultural, structural and institutional poverty as we were told. The developed tourist sites in all cities and the high-speed train plus road and air transport systems that connects cities are worth noting and appreciating. It takes less than two hours for any one from any corner of China to reach a city. This is because of the 143,000km of express way and 30,000km of high speed-rail around China.
E) China is highly mobilised that all categories of leaders i.e (political leaders, civil servants, academicians/intellectuals, businesses) all speak in a chorus voice towards the future of China and they all seems to be in agreement of the task before them and are united to work together towards a common good for the people. The level of trust and confidence that the people have on their party leaders is unprecedented. This moral support from the public is encouraging the leaders to deliver public goods with confidence and honesty.
F) China has the biggest population in the world and one wonders why there is very low rate of crimes and no protest or uprising against leaders. The people are very satisfied. This is because of the following;
I) The history and culture of the
People that were formed under a Commune system helped to build their unity base on their traditional Ways of Confucius thoughts.
II)The data collection centers with Statistical facts on every citizen is very commendable.
II)The public monitoring tool ( public Cameras) which are found everywhere, are a good sign of Public management.
III) The hardworking police and local leaders. It is reported that every year close to 300 police officers die out of hard work.
G) Due to the current trade war between China and the USA, China has developed a global initiative through the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) which has made China more of a genuine friend to most third world countries than the west. Many countries are turning to China for better trade and infrastructural developments. For a long time, these countries were forcefully dealing with the West through unfair conditions. China through BRI has offered a better development path to most countries of the world.
H) China is helping in knowledge/technological transfer to most of the third world countries. In addition to opening up China to foreign investment. I witnessed quite a number of International exchange programmes being conducted concurrently with the Dongfang scholars programme at the Peking University.
I) China's move towards E-commerce and economic globalisation through digitalisation of the middle man is a move that is changing China rapidly. The direct linkage with the final consumer of products has enable China penetrate national and international markets with ease making China the world second largest economy within a short time. This has equally modified china's economic model into a market driven/oriented economy.
J) We learnt of how China lifted 1/5 of world's population out of poverty, how China is feeding 20% of the world's population on only 9% of the world's arable land. This was done through the rural reforms and the intense agricultural support that up to now the people are still getting.
K) All the above was possible because of the able leadership that transcended through generations.
From the 1949-1976/78 Mao's era a lot of internal soul searching happened in China. From cooperatives, commune system, village reforms to the leap forward. The period Mao excluded China from the rest of the world were periods of "cleaning the house before you invite guest". It was received with mixed feelings due to the pain and suffering that the people went through, but in all, it is a period that helped to build the much-needed spirit of socialism.
Deng Xiaoping period came with opening up to the world, creating institutional reforms for a stable and prosperous China that is now being deepened under Xi-Xiaoping period. The three leaders shaped greatly the China we see today. Much as there were other leaders in between these periods examples, ( Jiang Zemin 1992-2003; Hu jintao 2003-2013) , The three great leaders and sons of China gave their whole to the Chinese people and have made China shine nationally and internationally.
L) However, much as we appreciate China for all the reforms; China should seriously address the negative propaganda in regards to its perceived colonial approach to the many third world countries that are becoming financially crippled due to heavy loans from China. A lot of fear is being spread around the globe about the money trap that China is encouraging most underdeveloped counties into. Already the western media claims that all the Belt and Road projects are connecting these countries to China through the sea as a way of China establishing a neo-colonial extortion root through the sea.
Secondly, that some countries such as Sirilanka, Malawi, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, Maldives, Pakistan, Papanewguinue, Malaysia, Laos, Kazahkistan, Mongolia, Madagascar, among others, are already surrendering their national assets to China over loans. Whether this is true or not, it's scaring many countries from dealing openly with China.
M) Removal of agents of confusion from sharing governance platforms-with the state is another additional credit we saw in China. Churches, NGOs, foreign embassies, the media, intellectuals, professional bodies etc are not in any way against the transformation in China, but positive allies/agents to the same. This is though seen as interference with freedom of the various organisations. In Most of our countries, we struggle to share Governance platforms-with negative forces who preach against the efforts governments are making towards changing the economic situations of the people.
N) It is worth noting that out of the 1.4 billion people in China, the CPC party has only about 90 million registered members and yet they have managed to keep the population satisfied and developed. This is because China managed to choose its own development path and deeply understanding the people's anxieties and effectively addressing them in the areas of anti-poverty fights and anti-corruption fights. The unbalanced development challenges are effectively being solved by leaders and the issues of corruption is being handled with fear of favour.
Every month one or two senior public officials are arrayed and charged in the people's courts. The people have gained confidence in their institutions and this has greatly improved the quality of delivery of public goods. This to some people are viewed as autocratic means of control by CPC where six percent population control the 94%.
In conclusion, the programme brought leaders from more than 30 countries from around the world. These leaders are of various experiences and age and for sure each will be an added voice in their countries and region to the China's positive, impressive economic development.
The mixture in age, professional backgrounds and various levels of leadership of the scholars made the programme more interactive.
The writer is the Deputy Secretary General of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Party