China’s development not about ‘contesting’ against the US: Global Times editorial

By Global Times (12 October 2022) – Bloomberg on Monday sketched out four scenarios for China’s economy in the next decade and came to a basic conclusion that China likely wouldn’t overtake the US within the time period previously expected by the outside world. Speculating when China’s GDP will surpass that of the US has been one of the most interesting topics for US and Western public opinion in recent years. But most of the time they are talking to themselves: asking a question and then answering it themselves, reversing themselves, arguing within themselves, etc.

The exclamation that “China could overtake the US in GDP” first came from the US, which triggered and stimulated widespread anxiety in US society. Now the forecast that “the overtaking time” will be delayed or even that “China’s GDP will not overtake that of the US” have also spread from the US. Curiously, this has not eased the nervousness of Washington elites in the face of China’s rapid development. They are the ones who say China “can,” and they are the ones who say China “cannot” as well. To a certain extent, the topic itself is an embodiment of some Americans’ inner struggle.

Today, China’s development strategy focuses on continuous self-transcendence, and does not aim to surpass the US or any other country. A country’s GDP growth rate is ultimately its own internal affair. Many Chinese do not understand why Washington takes China’s GDP so seriously. The rise of China’s GDP ranking, including whether it will surpass the US to become the No.1, is fundamentally a natural outcome, and the Chinese are not worried about gains or losses.

Compared with GDP figures, the pragmatic Chinese people care more about whether their living standards are rising, environment is improving, and their development opportunities are increasing. They work hard day after day for achieving these goals. Under the guarantee of state policies, such common, real and modest aspirations, combined with the hard work and ability of the Chinese people, become the huge engine driving China’s economic growth. China’s development philosophy is people-centered, and emphasizes high-quality development, which means that quality, not quantity, is the focus. Quantity is, of course, important, but we cannot take “GDP growth as the sole criterion for success.” Over the years, China’s economic development has become more balanced, coordinated, and sustainable. This is an upgrade in terms of “quality” and a result of Chinese people’s concerted efforts and active pursuit.

In other words, China’s development is never about surpassing or replacing anyone or competing with anyone to become the world leader. It is instead a race with itself. For today’s China, how to focus on solving the problem of unbalanced and insufficient development is far more critical than “comparing” with a great power. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) outlined a strategic plan to build China into a great modern socialist country in all respects, and the upcoming 20th CPC National Congress will envision the “two-step” strategic plan for building China into a great modern socialist country, and “focus the efforts on addressing inadequacies, strengthening areas of weakness, consolidating fundamentals and giving full play to strengths.” From this, we can see that China has a consistent and firm attitude of focusing on its own development.

There is no denying that GDP is a crucial economic indicator that can allow us to see where we are in general and make development plans accordingly. But it is more important to translate GDP into a sense of gain, happiness, and security for the people. As for being second or first in the world in terms of data, it cannot replace people’s feelings about their livelihoods, nor is it the ultimate goal of development. At the end of the day, Chinese people have always been trying to live their lives as well as possible and earn the respect they deserve in the international community. We do not bully others, and others should not try to do that to us. In the era of globalization, such countries are the best partners for mutually beneficial cooperation.

The fear of being overtaken by China in terms of GDP has become a sore point for Washington, or its demon. To slow down China’s development, Washington even risks damaging itself, such as pursuing “decoupling” from China. In fact, there is no need to do so, because China is committed to making a big cake that benefits its own people and, at the same time, provides more development opportunities for the world, including the US. As long as the US lets go of its obsessions and overcomes its sore point, it will apparently see the massive potential for win-win cooperation with China.

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