What Has China's Development Brought To The World?

Red flags flutter in front of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
Red flags flutter in front of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China September 30, 2018. Picture taken September 30, 2018.
(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee)

What has China's development brought to the world? It is not difficult to answer, but some absurd opinions have become a "standard answer" in the United States recently. For example, some Americans think that China's rise is an implementation of "economic invasion" and "geopolitical expansion," which is "destroying international rules". Such non-mainstream views have been existing for a long time in America, but now they have been even adopted by the US government. On September 17, US President accused China of "a serious threat to the long-term health and prosperity of the US economy." What's worse, US Vice President, Mike Pence, said in his speech that China's "success is largely driven by US investment in China" on 4th October. He also added that "in the past 25 years, we have rebuilt China". This is a fallacy! In this case, we have to carefully evaluate and assess these false accusations in front of the world. First of all, we can see how much contribution China has made from the perspective of promoting world development. Secondly, we can look at what China has done from the perspective of promoting world peace. Thirdly, we can see if China has undermined international rules from the perspective of maintaining international order.

China is a promoter of global development, not an "economic aggressor"

The United States accused China of engaging in "economic aggression". It also believes that China has adopted a series of policies that are contrary the rules of free and fair trade, which laid the foundation for China's manufacturing industry at the expense of its competitors, especially America. "These actions of China have caused a trade deficit with the United States", so America has repeatedly "urged China to change these unfair practices." Then it started a trade war regardless of the interest of the world economy.

The United States believes that there is a huge goods trade deficit with China, which makes it a victim of China's "economic invasion" with a "loss" of 200 billion US dollars. It must be noted that trade is a mutual and voluntary practice, and China has never forced America to buy its products with an intention for trade surplus. The United States needs China as a trade partner involved with both buying and selling. According to UN statistics, US exported $129.89 billion goods to China in 2017, an increase of 577% from US$19.18 billion in 2001, which is much higher than the average US export growth of 112% during the same period. If America does not impose export restrictions of high-tech products on China, will there be such a big deficit? For example, each US Ford-class aircraft carrier costs $15 billion, so only 4 ships are able to fill a $60 billion trade deficit. Even if the United States slightly relaxes its export restrictions on China, the trade deficit will not be at the current state. According to the report of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released on April 2017, if the United States relaxes its export restriction on China to the same level of Brazil, the US trade deficit with China can be reduced by 24%; if it relates to the level of France, the trade deficit can be reduced by 35%. Therefore, it could be seen that the problem is not that "China does not buy", but that "the US does not sell."

Moreover, service trade has not been counted yet. According to statistics from the United States, US service exports to China increased from $13.14 billion to $57.63 billion from 2007 to 2017, that is an increase of 3.4 times. The annual US surplus with China in services trade expanded 30 times to $40.2 billion. In the same period, US service exports to other countries and regions only increased 1.8 times.

In fact, it is one-sided to look at the trade deficit issue only based on trade between China and America as the current trade and labor division is part of economic globalization in the past few decades, and it can not be separated from the global perspective. For decades, the processing and assembling of manufacturing industry in the United States have been shifted to other parts of the world, and the US has retained service links such as design and marketing. Meanwhile, China has become the largest country receiving global industrial transfer. Thus, many goods exported are manufactured by companies from America and other developed countries. In the product value chain, multinational companies get the largest portion of benefits, and Chinese manufacturers only get a little processing fee through hard working. It is obviously unfair to say that China benefits disproportionately.

China's development is not an "economic invasion", but an important engine for world economic growth. Since 2013, China's contribution to world economic growth has remained at around 30%, being ranked as the first in the world, and it even reached 34.6% in 2017, about twice of the United States. China's development has also brought a bigger market to the world. From 2001 to 2017, the average growth rate of China's goods imports reached 13.5%, which is twice of the world average. In the same period, China's service trade imports grew at an annual rate of 16.7%, 2.7 times the world average. From 2011 to 2017, China's imports of goods and services increased from 8.4% to 10.1% of the world's total amount, an increase of 1.7 percentage, while the United States decreased by 0.5 percentage in the same period.

Besides, China is also an important creator of employment opportunities. Up to now, China and the countries along the "Belt and Road" have jointly built more than 80 economic and trade cooperation zones out of China, creating 244,000 jobs to the local people. Ernst & Young, one of the four largest accounting firms in the world, pointed out that from 2005 to 2016, China created over 130,000 jobs in Africa, three times more than the United States did. In addition, according to the International Labor Organization's Report on Economic and Trade Relations between China, Latin America and the Caribbean, China created 1.8 million jobs for Latin America and the Caribbean from 1990 to 2016.

There is a saying that China has "stolen" jobs from American people because some US factories have moved to China, which is biased and indefensible. According to a report released by the US-China Trade National Committee in 2017, Sino-US economic and trade relations have supported about 2.6 million jobs in the US. In addition, a study conducted by Ball State University in the United States, pointed out that the United States has indeed lost about 7 million manufacturing jobs compared with the peak of manufacturing jobs in 1979, but 88% of them are due to industrial automation rather than China. Where to establish a factory for American companies, which is fundamentally determined by capital's profit-seeking nature, and no one can decide it freely.

China's development did not "invade" others, but expanded the world market, created employment, contributed wisdom, and promoted world development. It is a strong support for the UN Millennium Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China's development has expanded the way to modernization for the developing countries, which account for more than 80% of the world's total population. At the same time, it has provided new choices to accelerate development for countries and nations who want to maintain their independence. Tuju, general secretary of the Kenyan ruling party, said with emotion, "China's achievements are unprecedented in human history. It brings hope to the African people and makes them feel that bright future is at the end of the tunnel."

China's development is by no means as what some US politicians said, "driven by US investment" but being promoted by hardworking of more than a billion Chinese people. Even when it comes to investment in China, the United States is not the biggest investor with regard of either its investment flow or stock, so "rebuilding China" is baseless. According to relevant statistics, US investment only accounts for about 7%-10% of total foreign investment in China since the 1980s. On the contrary, the United States has made a lot of money from investing in China.

China is promoting world peace, not "geopolitical-expansion"

The United States also accuses China of engaging in "geopolitical expansion," and using the so-called "debt trap diplomacy" to expand its influence, which is really ridiculous.

The US Vice President said, "Sri Lanka has taken on huge debts and let Chinese state-owned enterprises establish a port with doubtful business value... It may soon become China's frontier military base for its growing blue water navy". However, the Sri Lankan Ambassador to China, Karunasena Koditwaku, refuted such statement, "if anyone says that the Chinese government has dragged Sri Lanka into 'debt trap,' I disagree, this is definitely wrong." He also added that the security of the Hambantota port is entirely under the responsibility of the Sri Lankan military. "China has never made any demands to us, and we have never provided anything to China." In fact, after the Second World War, the United States has been using geopolitics as a guiding ideology for diplomacy and regarded the world as a "big game". Under this thought, the United States has only allies or opponents in its eyes; the basic means are forming alliances, contacts, repressions, interventions and even wars. From NATO's eastward expansion to the Indo-Pacific strategy, they are all the product of the geopolitical expansion of the United States.

At present, instability and uncertainty are becoming major threats to world peace. To tell what poses a threat or promote world peace depends on whether it is creating conflicts or maintaining stability. The "One Belt, One Road" initiative has been smeared by the United States as "geopolitical expansion", but 103 countries and international organizations have signed 118 cooperation agreements with China under the "Belt and Road" initiative in the past five years; and the core concept has been incorporated into the outcome documents of major international mechanisms such as the United Nations, the G20, APEC and the SCO. "One Belt and One Road" is actually a "big chorus" that transcends zero-sum thinking to "peaceful cooperation, openness and tolerance, mutual learning, and mutual benefits". Thus, it aims for international cooperation rather than geopolitical expansion.

In today's world, China has firmly played the role of world peace and security defender on the ground of maintaining its own development and prosperity. China has advocated and consistently adhered to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. For example, China has the largest number of peacekeeping forces among the five permanent members of the UN. As of the first half year of 2017, it had dispatched more than 35,000 peacekeeping personnel and participated in 24 UN peacekeeping operations, which has been praised by the international community as "a key factor and key force in peacekeeping operations." China has never waged any wars for oil or other resources, and has never used words like "evil state," "failed state," and "dung state" to attack other countries.

Domestically speaking, China is one of the world's safest countries in terms of social security. The Global Law and Order survey 2018 conducted by Gallup Company shows that China ranks among the top ten safest travel destinations in the world, and the only major economy among the top ten. On the contrary, social security situation in America is very bad. According to the statistics of authoritative organizations, the number of gun-related deaths and injuries in the United States increased by about 5% every year from 2014 to 2017. In 2017, the number of casualties reached 61,813, and 15,637 of them died, which means that 170 people were killed or injured by gun every day.

As the "world police", the United States should have taken the responsibility of maintaining peace, but what the U.S. always does is waging war in the name of "maintaining peace." After the second World War, the United States has launched or participated in more than 30 wars in the world, that it is almost one war in every two years. The militancy of the United States has brought enormous disasters to the world and even to its own people. The US launched the Iraq War for no legitimate reason, which had caused direct or indirect death of 655,000 Iraqis, and 2,765 American soldiers were killed and more than 20,000 American soldiers become disabled during the period of 2003 to 2012. In addition, the Syrian war intervened by America forced many people to flee away from their homes. As of August 2018, the number of Syrian refugees registered with the UNHCR already reached 5.6 million, and the refugee crisis has profoundly affected the world. Don't forget that the United States also launched the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and caused more than 300,000 casualties, which is still a "bleeding wound" for Afghanistan.

Some new elements, including economic security, have become an important part of world peace. Lowering trade barriers can increase the level of cooperation so as to maintain economic stability. China, continuously expanding its openness, has fully fulfilled its WTO commitments. China has also increased its assistance to other developing country members, especially the least developed ones, aiming to narrow down the North-South development gap. As of March 2018, zero tariffs have been imposed on 97% of the taxpaying products from 36 least developed countries that have established diplomatic relations with China and completed the exchange of documents. Since the beginning of this year, China has once again announced its expansion of opening up measures to the world, and has greatly relaxed market access. In the service industry, especially in the financial industry, the opening process of the whole field has accelerated.

On the other hand, the United States who always advocates opening on reciprocal basis, under the name of "national security", has established the "Foreign Investment Committee" (CFIUS), including multi-sector members such as the intelligence department. Meanwhile, it has expanded the scope of "national security" and make "national security" as a tool to arbitrarily block foreign companies from entering the United States. In 2017 alone, the "Foreign Investment Committee" restricted foreign companies from entering the US market in the name of "national security" over twenty times, and more than half of them were related to Chinese companies. Both China and the United States are WTO members, and economic and trade problems should be resolved within the framework of the WTO. However, the US has abandoned the WTO dispute settlement mechanism and handled foreign trade frictions arbitrarily according to its own domestic laws. It is completely against the WTO principles and violated the US commitments for lower tariff and MFN obligations. The US President actually intimidated China in his statement, "If China takes revenge against our farmers or other industries, we will immediately start Phase III, which will impose tariffs on imported goods from China worth additional $267 billion." It is like America may steal a horse while China may not look over the hedge.

China is the defender of the international order, not the destroyer.

The United States often accuses China of "not complying with the international order" and defaming China's role on the world stage. Many of China's actions have been labeled as "breach of international rules".

As a matter of fact, China directly participated in the establishment of the international order after the Second World War, as a founding member of the United Nations. Chinese representative Dong Biwu was the first one signed the Charter of the United Nations. Since China resumed its legal seat in the United Nations and all its affiliated institutions since 1971, China has joined more than 400 multilateral treaties, and has participated in all UN specialized agencies and about 90% of intergovernmental international organizations. According to the data of International Organization Yearbook 2017-2018, China's participation rate in international organizations is rapidly approaching the level of France, Germany and other countries with the highest participation rate, and the growth rate is also the fastest among major economies. More importantly, a number of studies suggest that China is a staunch supporter and active builder of the international order, now China has been highly integrated into the international organization system.

In global governance, more and more countries want China to play a bigger role. In recent years, China has proposed the "Belt and Road Initiative", and created Asian infrastructure investment bank, which is a useful supplement and improvement to the existing international order. China has also held informal meetings of major APEC leaders', the G20 Hangzhou Summit, the first "Belt and Road" international cooperation summit forum, and the ninth meeting of BRICS leaders. China has reiterated that it will be deepening reformat at these occasions, and the concept of sharing China's rapid development with rest of the world, which is widely welcomed by the international community.

In contrast, the United States, the dominant player in the international order after the Second World War, is constantly breaching the international order, constantly threatening to leave international organizations. For example, the United States has withdrawn from the Global Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the UN Human Rights Council, UNESCO, the Global Immigration Agreement, and the Iran Nuclear Agreement. The US-led G7 used to play an important role in global governance, but now its importance is decreasing due to its internal disputes. In addition, the United States is restructuring the already formed internal order of the West on cars and steel, which has shocked the EU and Japan. Facts have proved that China is the defender of the international order, and the United States is the destroyer of the international order.

In today's world, all countries are interrelated. Unilateralism and stubborn zero-sum thinking have no future, and they will not be accepted by the international community. No matter how the world changes, China will unswervingly work with the international community to build a new type of international relations, a community of human destiny, so as to make greater contributions to the progress of human society.


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