Seventy Years of Growth Celebrated

Experts share their views on China’s development over the decades and its evolving role on the world stage

China will stay on the path of peaceful development and pursue a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up, said President Xi Jinping in his speech during a ceremony in Beijing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In interviews with Beijing Review, experts shared their views on China’s development over the decades and its evolving role on the world stage. Edited excerpts of their views follow:

Josef Gregory Mahoney
Director of the International Graduate Program in Politics, East China Normal University, Shanghai

Xi emphasized in his speech two values: peace and prosperity. Then he reviewed a large and impressive military parade. As China now is the second largest economy with still incredible capacity for growth, the message ought to be quite clear to everyone: peaceful development, mutual prosperity and a powerful military.

Jon Taylor

Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at the University of Texas at San Antonio

The 70th National Day parade was an impressive celebration of China’s past, present and future. It showed off both the capacities of the nation’s armed forces and the modern capabilities of China.

President Xi Jinping’s speech demonstrated his strong leadership of the nation, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the military. His speech paid tribute to the nation’s revolutionary martyrs and offered thanks to those who have supported China’s development. I particularly liked his use of Chairman Mao Zedong’s famous words–the Chinese people have stood up.

His speech underscored the primacy of the CPC’s leadership in the rejuvenation of the nation. His calls for China to be more firmly united, remain true to its original mission and continue the struggle to achieve national goals reiterated his and the Party’s pursuit of modernization and the peaceful reunification of the nation.

Hu Biliang

Professor of economics and Director of the Belt and Road Research Institute at the Beijing Normal University

China has undergone dramatic changes over the past 70 years, transforming from a country mired in poverty to the world’s second largest economy and largest holder of foreign exchange reserves. In this process, it has made remarkable contributions to the world. For instance, the number of Chinese people that have moved out of poverty accounts for more than 70 percent of the world’s total. Also the growing number of outbound Chinese travelers in recent years has boosted incomes in destination countries.

President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 as a new platform through which to forge closer bonds with other countries and confront global challenges together.

Peter Walker

Former senior partner at McKinsey & Company

China, as the largest exporting country for many years, has really facilitated global free trade. That’s been an enormous benefit for everybody because the underlying theory of free trade is that every country does what it does best.

China has gone through an amazing journey, basically going from an agricultural country to the world’s leading export manufacturer, taking advantage of its cheap labor costs and the expertise of the rest of the world. The country is now ready to drive its economy with technology.

We’ve already seen from the performance of Chinese scientists and mathematicians in U.S. universities that they’re as good as any in the world. So I think that whole next-generation wave going toward technology is likely to be very successful.

Michael Zakkour

U.S. author, consultant and op-ed contributor to Beijing Review

China has continued to make progress in developing trade, political and cultural relations with virtually every country in the world. Having the world’s second largest economy comes with power and responsibility. China’s future will, in part, rest on how it manages its trade relations and geopolitical responsibilities, and making economic growth sustainable over the long term.

What China has achieved in making its economy as large and important as it is in only 40 years is truly remarkable. This economic strength is the foundation on which the 1949 goals of ensuring the well-being and safety of its citizens and its geographic integrity, and developing a modern economy were built.

There are not many people inside or outside of China who could have imagined this economic miracle and it will be interesting to see what will come in the next 30 years when the PRC celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Hugo de Burgh

Director of the China Media Center at the University of Westminster in the UK

The 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC is a very solemn and monumental milestone to which the whole world should pay attention.

Because the basic domestic economic problems have been solved, China has also started on a cultural renaissance; its people can demonstrate their innovativeness and creativity in science and technology, the arts and literature, and in the resolution of world problems.

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the PRC is to recall an important stage in China’s transformation and express admiration at the revival of the Chinese civilization.