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Though the “China model” is specific and mainly applicable to China, it still has many universal and global aspects that other nations can learn something from.




By Col. (Ret’d) Siamelie Latu

Col. (Ret’d.) Siamelie Latu is Secretary General of the Tonga China Friendship Association, a former Tongan Ambassador to China, and former Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

The continuity of the CPC’s governing position guarantees national stability, which in turn has enabled unprecedented development and prosperity for the country.

Though the “China model” is specific and mainly applicable to China, it still has many universal and global aspects that other nations can learn something from.

China has a large population and is the only nation world-wide to have not only lifted its people out of poverty but also improved living standards within such a short period.

91.9 million Communist Party members of China (CPC) are truly representative. So is the Communist Party of China. Other nations have no reason to level criticism against the CPC.

Vitality of spirit in the face of the financial crisis saved not only China but also the whole world from a long recession. World markets could otherwise have plummeted into chaos and perhaps been overwhelmed by another great depression or recession.


My Experience

Being a Tongan Ambassador to China in 2010 was not my first time in China. I first studied at the Chinese National Defence University in Beijing in 2001 and in 2007, I visited again China as part of a study tour from the Australian College of Strategic Studies. I had deep affection for China even before I was posted to China as Tongan Ambassador. The friendship between our two nations has been moving from strength to strength.   Together with their Tongan counterparts, prestigious Chinese leaders, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Chinese President Hu Jintao had laid solid foundations for the sound development of our relationship. China has offered substantial aid to many less developed and developing countries, which has had its impact on world development.  This has been a very positive note in world history. I have thus had sincere affection for China since my days as a soldier and a diplomat. The establishment of the New China made the CPC the ruling party of this great nation. The continuity of the CPC’s governing position guarantees national stability, which in turn has enabled unprecedented development and prosperity for the country.

Caption: King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV meets President Jiang Zemin. Photo by Pesi Fonua / Matangi Tonga 7 October 1999

China’s 91.9 million party members are truly representative. So is the Communist Party of China. Other nations have no reason to level criticism against the CPC. It should be noted that the CPC has hardly ever criticized parties in other nations.

China’s tremendous success is due to having the right policies, made and implemented by the CPC. No nation has the right to criticize this. Even in the most developed nations, bipartisan political systems are not effective enough. Good strategy proposed by governing parties are often harshly criticized by the opposition party. The Chinese government follows a different form of democracy. It has proved more than adequate in practice. Other nations have no right to interfere in China’s domestic affairs. On the contrary, we should give China due respect.

Since 1978 with the Reform and Opening-up policy, Chin has tremendous changes. During my study tour of China in 2007, it gave me the chance to see China’s marvelous achievements. Individual incomes, both urban and rural, have been buttressed. In cities such as Shanghai, I have been strongly impressed by the remarkable changes resulting from the Reform and Opening-up policy.

I was in Dongying city, Shandong province, though small by Chinese standards, it is actually a relatively big city in global terms. There it is clear that amazing changes have happened across the nation, including in some rural areas, one seed sowed in 1978 has given the nation a bumper harvest.

The China Model

I have heard of the idea of the China Model many times. Obviously, the China Model is a uniquely Chinese development model. The model has enabled China to shake off poverty. Improve people’s well-being and evolve from an underdeveloped country to a booming economy.

In the last thirty years, a unique “China model” has taken shape and drawn the world’s attention. The reason for this attention is that no other nation has ever achieved such profound development within such a short period and with such rapidity.  More significantly, China has a large population and is the only nation worldwide to have not only lifted its people out of poverty but also improved living standards with in such a short period.

For the first half of 2020 China GDP has reached $45.6614 trillion RMB (about 15.22 trillion pa’anga) and its growth rate was minus 6.8 % due to COVID-19 in the first quarter, the second quarter was plus 3.2%.  Thirty years of development have made it the world’s second largest economy.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese people have escaped from abject poverty in the past thirty years. Experts estimate that 300 million Chinese belong to the middle class at present; in the next five to ten years, this number will rise to 600 million.  We can see one common feature from the smallest village to biggest city: China is leaping forward at a quickening pace, while keeping a strong balance and level of stability. China is still a developing country. Leaders of the CPC make this statement out of modesty and objectivity.

China needs to further expand its knowledge base and raise per capita income. Meanwhile, development has to be balanced between urban and rural areas, and between eastern and western region. If all strategies are successful, China’s overall development levels will match those of the most developed nations, and will do so earlier than most people’s forecasts.

The CPC puts people first, as does its economic model. Balanced development patterns are also emphasized. The China model is called “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, which can be understood as follows: A socialist model that meets the needs of the whole people, not of a privileged minority, unleashes human capability and intelligence through a functioning market, and guarantees sustainable   prosperity through a strong Chinese culture.

Success is everything. China’s unprecedented growth and steadily rising economy cause world leaders to wonder, especially those from developing nations. Can the “China model” be imitated or applied in other economies to unleash development and meet people’s needs? They often ask after the secret of China’s success. In my view, the “China model” derives from traditional Chinese value system embodied by Confucius, Laozi and Sun Tzu. By combining this with modern economic system, a new model is created that stimulates development and progress. Though the “China model” is specific and mainly applicable to China, it still has many universal and global aspects that other nations can learn something from.

First and foremost are Chinese values, nurtured by an age-old civilization and persistent driver of economic development. From business managers to ordinary people, people in China always earnestly look for the middle way the two or more parties concerned can accept.

In China, people care about sustainable relationships. They treat good business partners like family members or old friends. It is commonplace prior to business negotiations for the negotiator to be looked at first and foremost as an individual, rather than a representative of a company or nations. If he or she is considered a decent and reliable person, their Chinese counterparts are willing to establish a durable partnership. Almost all problems are open to discussion. Interests are still important, but take a lesser position. However, if first impressions are negative, it is difficult to turn the situation around.

Chinese business people take a comprehensive, overall view. They build up social networks and personal relationship, and maintain them with patience, modesty, diligence and tolerance. They pay due respect to other’s social status. Arrogance or similar traits are likely to hinder communication and commercial dealings. That is something that we all should learn from.

Chinese people notably value harmony. Entrepreneurs typically keep a low profile, whether in public or in private. They bring themselves and their companies into a zone where cooperation is possible, avoiding head-on confrontation. All these features have brought unprecedented prosperity and development for China’s manufacturing and exports.

The last thirty years have given birth to a hybrid corporate culture in China. At state-owned enterprises, despite adequate support from the government, values have been brought in from the private sector to ensure self-reliance and growth. Private entities, while maintaining the competitive market and productivity advantages, at the same time operate under the guidance of the CPC. This can be seen as one reason why Chinese from enterprise were shielded from severe damage during the financial crisis, China has also successfully diversified in a unique and creative manner via a joint-stock system and mixed ownership.

The Chinese society, economy and political structure are imbued with balance and harmony, thanks to the influence of traditional value of the “golden mean”. Energy released in pursuit of the golden mean serves a unifying, not divisive function. It helps create a positive, inclusive environment for individuals, enterprises, communities, and ultimately the nation. Balanced or balance-oriented sustainable development will ultimately be achieved.

Of course, individuals are not ignored in this pattern. It is precisely individuals who are endowed with as plentiful resources as possible for their self-fulfillment. A community made up of this kind of individuals achieves an integration of private, professional and social interests. These values encourage the formation of social networks, overall group relationships and communities, the interests of the marginalized and vulnerable are also looked after. China’s quest for harmony among individuals and communities is the ideal environment for globalization.

Where there is crisis, there is opportunity. The idea of a blessing in disguise is not a hollow saying but a philosophy deeply engraved in Chinese people’s minds. History has proven this idea right time and again. This vitality of spirit in the face of the financial crisis saved not only China but also the whole world from a long recession. The confidence, prudence and flexibility shown by the Chinese government and people reversed the tide, turning the crisis into an opportunity for the people of China and the world. World markets could otherwise have plummeted into chaos and perhaps been overwhelmed by another great depression or recession.

We have noted that amidst the financial crisis in 2007-2008, China saw that an economic recession in the developed world would drag down world growth, ultimately harming China’s development. Fortunately, China turned the crisis into a good opportunity, injecting stimulus investment into industry, agriculture, and rural infrastructure. On the one hand, this strategy helped head off the impact of the financial crisis; on the other hand, it narrowed China’s rural urban and east-west regional disparities. From this we can see the indispensable stabilizing role China is playing in the world economy. China has now been invited to the G20 Summit and requested to play a bigger role. China’s proactive role has been widely recognized by the international community.

As the world second largest economy, China has its far-reaching influences. However, there are still some challenges in China, such as its regional east-west and rural -urban disparities, China is now putting a stronger focus on domestic demand as a bulwark of social stability and economic sustainability. Furthermore, the Chinese government’s concept of harmonious society is of great significance to China and the whole world. The government’s 12 Five Year Plan (2011-2015) had not only spur development domestically but had also have a profound impact globally. The world needs   no war, and its priority is to eliminate poverty. China 12th five -Year plan is of positive significance for this goal.

Under the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese people have made intense efforts to narrow regional disparities. Shanghai and Guangdong province have leveraged their own resources to improve the development of Xinjiang and its two newly-designated economic development zones. Kashgar and Horgos in the west and the south of Xinjiang. The people of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan and India all stand to benefit directly from the Kashgar economic zone. In response to the financial crisis in 2007, the Chinese government also announced a stimulus of $500 billion, much of which aims to meet the needs of citizens in outer suburban districts and underdeveloped regions.  Central and local authorities are making targeted investments in new and improved infrastructure, job creation and stimulating consumption.

For the world’s nascent economies, China has showed the necessity of social stability and political continuity for achieving growth and sustainable development. Social discontent and political disruption can disturb economic growth and the fair redistribution of social wealth.

China has realized that friendly relations with neighboring countries is a must for moving to a higher level of development. Since 1978, China has been conscientiously establishing friendship with all neighboring countries. It has ramped up investment to spur development in these neighbors. In the case of those with whom it has more strained relationship, China has initiated reconciliation and moved to forge reciprocal economic partnerships. This is the best embodiment of the Biblical maxim “Thou shalt love thy neighbor”. China’s increasing global endeavors are increasingly welcomed by the world. Generally speaking, neighboring countries are a help, not a hindrance to China’s development, because they all stand to benefit from China’s growth and prosperity.

Sustainable Development

The China Model also teaches us that the ultimate goal of development is the overall human realization and sustainable development. China has passed measures to protect limited and scarce global resources. I have witnessed the serious attitude of the Chinese people to environmental problems. China has realized the damage to the atmosphere, water and soil caused by unrestrained development and the potential consequences for the economy and social stability. The Chinese government has announced a slowly down in the pace of economic development, with target GDP growth rate reduced from 7.55% to 7%. China has also promised to re-evaluate the importance of economic development. It can be seen that unsustainable development patterns, such as industrial production surpluses and intensive resource consumption, have been rejected in China. Such a spontaneous sense of responsibility is a rare thing to witness.  China will adopt even more forceful policies and measures and strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, thus making greater efforts and contributions toward meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement. United States pulled out from its   participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation.

There is no need for the China today to import Western economic models’ wholesale.  The best path for China is one that has its own uniqueness. The last three decades have proved that this to be a crucial advantage for China. In the last few years China has been making more direct investment in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The China model will probably be carefully looked at in its region and elsewhere and appropriately adapted to local circumstances. They will achieve economic growth in a stable and harmonious environment.

I believe such strategies are positive for third world countries. I still wonder why some countries have different opinions of China’s polices. In some less developed nations, China has helped build railways, provided energy support and investment and cooperated with banking institution. All of this is good for local development.

Now in my opinion, it is unforgivable for certain hostile countries to misinterpret and distort China’s intentions in aiding other developing nations. The Chinese government assists other developing nations in good faith to achieve better success. Facts speak louder than words. China’s prosperity will benefit the world. China has generously allowed companies from Western developed nations such as United States to set up in China. In return, these countries should be more accommodating towards China. Latin American countries, Japan, Australia, and South Korea have benefitted from China’s development. The win-win strategy of the Chinese government should be embraced by the whole world.


Chinese people need not care about other people’s opinions of the China Model because they have the right of choice, no matter what decision they make. Every country has legitimate rights to choose its own development model because a single set of policies does not apply to all countries. What we can do is to respect a people’s choice, whatever system or road that involves.

People are more interested in real-life applications these days. Though we can still talk about our views and prove them in theoretical terms, we care more about how theory can be applied to our daily life in practice. We are witnessing huge progress made by China. Therefore, the idea of China having no future is entirely groundless,

Finally, I want to stress the point that China is a positive force for the development of Asia and the whole world. A stable China is thus essential for the world.