China: 70 years since the Revolution | Daily News

China: 70 years since the Revolution

The world did not give China much of a chance when the Communist Party of China took over the reins exactly 70 years ago. Today, China has the second strongest economy in the world and is an unstoppable force on the global stage.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said as much in his 10-minute speech at a ceremony and military parade held in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule: “There is no force that can shake the foundation of this great nation. No force can stop the Chinese people and the Chinese nation forging ahead”.

The numbers speak for themselves: A one billion plus population; a US$ 12 trillion economy; nearly 7 per cent annual growth rate; more than 160 super cities with over 1 million people and a manufacturing base that acts as the “world’s factory”. With booming companies such as Huawei and ZTE operating worldwide, it is a technological powerhouse second to none and has taken the lead in funding development and infrastructure projects worldwide. China, a recognized nuclear power, is also home to one of the world’s biggest militaries. It is indeed a far cry from 1949.

But a factor that helped China’s rise to the top is economic liberalization and market reform, pioneered by Deng Xiaoping nearly 40 years ago. Coincidentally, this was the same time that other Asian countries such as Sri Lanka too began the process of economic liberalization. The only difference was that China was a strictly communist nation and hence, economic liberalization was a completely alien concept to Marxist-Leninist principles.

Since then, however, the same model has been successfully emulated by other Communist States such as Vietnam and Russia. Economic liberalization helped Chinese products to take the world by storm and also resulted in global companies setting up shop in China to exploit the huge domestic market.

China’s regional as well as global reach and ambitions has ruffled more than a few feathers in other world capitals, especially given the vast reach of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which will link much of Asia and even Europe with a network of strategically located ports and transport nodes (String of Pearls). China has lavishly funded infrastructure projects in many Asian and African countries. It has also become a global crusader for Climate Change action, with a pledge to halt registrations of fossil fuel vehicles by 2040 and ramp up renewable energy supplies. China has become a key force in world diplomacy, as witnessed in instances such as negotiations with North Korea.

Links between China and Sri Lanka go back centuries, ever since the famed Chinese traveller Fa Hsien travelled to Sri Lanka on a pilgrimage in the fifth century AD, traversing the Silk Road. Buddhism is a common thread that binds the two nations together. China and Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations on February 7, 1957, during the tenure of Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, when Chou En Lai was the Chinese leader. In fact, Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic. Significantly, Sri Lanka and China signed the Rubber-Rice Pact five years before the inception of diplomatic relations. Since then, this relationship has gone from strength to strength, with China being recognized as a true and steadfast friend by all Sri Lankan Governments to date.

China’s greatest gift to Sri Lanka remains the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), which hosted the fifth Non-Aligned Summit in 1976. The Supreme Court Complex in Hulftsdorp was another landmark gift. Among the other projects and structures built with Chinese assistance are several expressways, the Hambantota Airport and Port, Lotus Tower, Colombo International Financial City (Port City) and a slew of commercial and residential projects by Chinese private sector companies.

China has become a major source market for Sri Lanka tourism, with over 260,000 Chinese visiting the country in 2018 alone. While there was an initial drop in numbers following the Easter Sunday attacks, arrivals from China have picked up since all the Chinese airlines restarted flying to Colombo, in addition to SriLankan Airlines. Furthermore, Chinese tourists now enjoy visa free status on arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, which would be a further inducement.

There is no doubt that China has become a colossus on the world stage under President Jinping’s astute leadership. He has made no secret of the fact that the Chinese people harbour a desire to see the complete reunification of all Chinese regions. “Unity is iron and steel; unity is a source of strength - the complete reunification of the motherland is an inevitable trend,” he told the 70th anniversary event. China is likely to play an even bigger role in the international community in the next 70 years.


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