China Asserts “Inalienable Right to Development”

China has issued a major white paper, The Right to Development: China’s Philosophy, Practice and Contribution. In it China asserts that there is an “an inalienable right” for countries and people to develop.

“The right to development must be enjoyed and shared by all peoples. Realizing the right to development is the responsibility of all countries and also the obligation of the international community,” the paper says. “It requires governments of all countries to formulate development strategies and policies suited to their own realities, and it requires concerted efforts of the international community as a whole. China calls on all countries to pursue equal, open, all-round and innovative common development, promotes inclusive development, and creates conditions for all peoples to share the right to development.”

But the white paper does so much more. It clearly shows that China’s model for development and China’s political and social structure has achieved unqualified success. And while the model continues to develop, it is at a pace and in a form that is determined by the Chinese people themselves. The paper notes how China has already raised 700 million people out of poverty, now with only 5.7% of the population living under the poverty line — the first nation, the report notes, to reach the UN’s Millenium Goals.  But it is not going to stop there. China is determined to eliminate poverty altogether. In March 2016, the “Outline of the 13th Five-Year Program for the National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China” was published, in which the Chinese government outlined a strategy of eliminating poverty among the rural population by 2020.

The paper also presents other stunning accomplishments in terms of the development of its labor force. In 1949, average longevity was only 35 years; in 2015, it was 76.34 years. Enrollment of school age children was about 20% in 1949; in 2015, it was 99.88%. These parameters were also reflected in the growth of GDP and the raising of the standard of living since 1978, at the beginning of the reform and opening up. From 1978 to 2015, the annual GDP increased from RMB367.9 billion to RMB68,550.6 billion, and per capita GDP grew from more than US$200 to above US$8,000. In 1978, per capita disposable income of urban households was only RMB343.4, and per capita net income of rural households was only RMB133.6. In 2015, per capita disposable income of all residents reached RMB21,966; the figures were RMB31,195 for urban residents and RMB11,422 for rural residents.

In addition the document goes on to detail the reforms that have been made in other areas, reforms in judicial system, voting reforms at the local and village level, instituting compulsory education and improving the educational and medical facilities in the countryside and for the numerous minority groups in China. A social welfare system has been set up throughout the country and a system of medical insurance is steadily expanding. The white paper also underlines the developments in the area of culture, the cultivation of the arts and music even in the more distant parts of the country, the opening up of libraries and the establishment of public museums and cultural centers. The promotion of digital museums and the expansion of the internet in rural areas, and a national campaign to encourage people to read.

The document also points out how the country is also contributing to the development of its neighbors and countries in the developing sector through the Belt and Road Initiative and through the “100 Programs” targeting developing countries, through the establishment of 100 poverty reduction programs, 100 agricultural agricultural cooperation programs, 100 hospitals and clinics, and 100 schools and vocational training centers in developing countries. In addition, 120,000 training opportunities and 150,000 scholarships will be made available to developing countries in China, and 500,000 vocational technical personnel will be trained. China will also set up a South-South Cooperation and Development Academy.

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