Frank-Jurgen Richter says they learned from best practices to build
the rail and road network
Chinese officials reacted with caution to the country's lower growth
rate. Its gross domestic product growth of "only" 7.8 per cent last
year compares well of course to those of advanced economies (Germany,
for example, grew 0.7 per cent last year), but Chinese officials worry
about the impact on productive capacity across the nation.
But there is little reason for gloom. The latest Chinese quarterly
growth figure rose faster than expected after seven quarters of
slowdown. Low-income groups have seen their wages rise while inflation
slowed to 2.6 per cent last year. Higher up the scale, millions of
Chinese travelled abroad in 2012.
Chinese, long masters in that strategy game of Go, have noted the
lessons drummed into masses of MBA students - learn from best
practices. For example, as China "opened up", it emphasised
entrepreneurship in its special economic zones. It kept control over
money supply yet offered loans in hard currencies, provided the
currency and profits were returned to state coffers. Those changes
were in keeping with the development of financial instruments
supporting international trade in Europe from the late 1500s, and with
London's industrial and financial aid to its early industrialists who
stoked its industrial revolution.
I am sure Chinese strategists noted the redevelopment of the British
road network that supported its industrial revolution, so raw
materials and finished goods could be transported quickly and
securely. I am also sure the developers of new highways noted that
early British road development was from trade town to trade town,
unlike the French who preferred to link military towns to one another,
effectively hampering their township trade development.
The Chinese understand the importance of logistics.
High-speed rail has also developed rapidly to allow faster inter-city
travel: China is expected to import more train sets this year from
Germany, Japan and France. Its high-speed rail network is expanding,
allowing older lines to be used exclusively for freight.
Although China has a massive pollution problem, as it transfers to
newer electricity generation plants and retires older industrial
processes, it is boosting integrated urban mass-transit development.
These well-designed systems will move workers swiftly and cheaply.
All this shows China means business. What it needs from other
countries is freer global trade with a better integration of
intellectual property rights.
Of course, this is a two-way process. Negative excesses of the past
need to be avoided in the new future, but it will be a future with
China as an equal partner - discussing and planning sustainable growth
Frank-Jurgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global
Horasis is a global visions community committed to enact visions for a sustainable future. (http://www.horasis.org)
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