There is no doubt about it: China is rising. Whether it sparks hope and interest or fear and worry, it is impossible to ignore the country’s rapid economic and social transformation. Just a few decades ago, the words “made in China” were a synonym for bad quality junk. But today, China leads the world in all manner of high-tech industries, including photovoltaic cells, semiconductors, 5G communications technologies, and electric vehicles.
Along with rapid economic growth has come a huge increase in living standards. By 2018, China overtook the United States in average healthy life expectancy, and wages are soaring. According to the International Labor Organization, the country has seen by far the highest annual wage increases in the world.
It is, therefore, essential for all thinking, politically-minded citizens of the world to pay attention to the giant Asian nation.
Joining “MintCast” host today is someone who knows China extremely well. John Ross is an economist and a senior fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of the Renmin University of China. As far back as 1992, he accurately predicted the failure of economic reform in Russia and Eastern Europe and its success in China. He is the author of the book, “China’s Great Road: Lessons for Marxist Theory and Socialist Practices.” He writes on Chinese politics and economics on his website, “Learning From China.”
While many in the West take a very dim view of China, Ross is far more positive, telling MacLeod that China has seen the highest sustained economic growth of any country in world history. “People don’t understand the scale of China’s success, and they still don’t understand what it means, therefore, in the transformation of the lives of ordinary Chinese people,” he said.
Ross tried to explain why there is so much public confidence in the government in China, something that many in the West struggle to comprehend:
In 1949, when the People’s Republic of China was created, China was almost the poorest country in the world. Only ten countries in the world had a lower per capita GDP than China. China had a lower per capita GDP than England at the time of Shakespeare. It’s almost like going back to the Middle Ages. Life expectancy at that time was between 35-42. But now in just over 70 years – that is a single lifetime – China is on the brink of becoming a high income country by World Bank standards.”
The World Bank has noted that the modern period has seen more than 800 million Chinese people lifted out of poverty, meaning that three-quarters of those escaping destitution around the world are Chinese.
Ross did not mince his words as he described the transformation as “the greatest contribution to the improvement of human rights ever made by any country in human history.” For him, the secret has been socialist economic policies implemented over decades, helping direct the country toward success.
Few in the Western media landscape would agree with Ross’ position. Some might acknowledge China’s rapid and remarkable transformation, but many are predicting that it is now entering a permanent slump or even an economic meltdown due to a property crash.
Ross brushed off these concerns. “These articles are a farce,” he said, suggesting that a good course of action for understanding the truth about China is to “Read ‘The Economist’ and assume that the opposite is going to take place.” He also noted that the current trade war with China has nothing to do with human rights, the rules-based international order, or any other buzzword the United States wishes to use. In fact, he argued, the United States is attempting to throttle China’s economy because it cannot effectively boost or speed up its economy.
From there, MacLeod and Ross also talked about Chinese rivalry with the United States, the high-tech trade war going on, the situation in Taiwan and the threat of a potential nuclear conflict between the superpowers.
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Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.