Sustainability China’s next economic goal

Sustainability driving China’s next economic transformation

Writing in the South China Morning Post, analyst Lub Bun Chong reflects on the fact that many Western narratives “red-flag” China’s economic situation but in doing so do not grasp that these are the side-effects of the transformations China initiated in 2014 by ushering in a “new normal” and ditching high GDP targets.

Resources that are not wasted on blindly chasing GDP growth are either conserved or judiciously utilised. China’s lower targeted GDP growth of around 5 per cent is still the envy of most Western economies, but more important to understand it the result of conscious policies designed to maintain equilibrium in the efficient use of resources.

The reality is that China is still growing. Unless the US stops framing China as a threat or challenge, it risks misreading China’s development path and impeding global efforts on sustainability.

China plays the long game, and an appreciation of its history and sociopolitical dynamics is essential for a proper assessment of its economy.

Beijing’s approach is uniquely “socialist with Chinese characteristics”, but this does not mean it is going back in time. In fact, the opposite is true as China forges a sustainable future while engaging with an increasingly multi-polar world.

China remains an ardent advocate of globalisation despite US and European Union “de-risking” manoeuvres. Its “dual circulation” strategy seeks to find a balance between internal “reform and opening up” and insulation against external risks. China’s new model is not an end but, rather, the means to achieve “common prosperity”, the wide-ranging, long-term pursuit of a fairer and greener society. Engagement, not confrontation, is in China’s interest.

Lub Bun Chong concludes:

It falls to China to work with the G20 and Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and collectively allay legitimate US concerns by exploring common ground – starting with sustainable development. Clearly, this is easier said than done, but sustainability is an ideal way to bridge security and economic divides. As Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

It seems to us at China Environment News that China has indeed sought to find common ground with those interested in genuine dialogue. However, the recent use by the USA and the European Union of undisguised, blunt protectionist measures is clearly aimed at undermining China’s development in key areas such as renewable energy, the BRI and green economy, micro-processors, and telecommunications technology.

It is high time for the collective West to recognise the world is changing rapidly. Clinging to its long history of cultural arrogance and economic bullying of China and the Global South is increasingly of little relevance in the emerging multi-polar world, and is bound to back fire.

[This post is based on extracts from an article in the South China Morning Post, by Lub Bun Chong. He is author of “Managing a Chinese Partner: Insights From Four Global Companies”]

Source: South China Morning Post, 18 Apr 2024.