China

Xi Jin Ping, the president of China elaborated his vision for China over the next thirty years. His vision for national rejuvenation builds on other Chinese leaders before him including Mao Tse Tung, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zamin and Hu Jintao. Each of these leaders had bold program with a vision such as the great leap forward (1954-64), Cultural Revolution, open door policy, and go abroad policy. Mao Tse Tung sought to make China a great power economically through land reforms, industrialization through the state largely focusing on steel production. It took fifty years to realize his vision. Deng laid down a program of economic transformation targeting high economic growth through state led development. He attracted direct foreign investment and reforming state owned enterprises to make them more productive and efficient. The latter became drivers of social economic growth. He modernized China. It was Jiang Zamin in 1993 initiated social market economy or a government regulated market economic system and in the process negotiated Chinese entry into World Trade Organization in 2001. Hu Jintao developed a consumer driven economy and spends resources on infrastructure.  Furthermore, he removed restrictions on loans and mortgages.

Xi Jinping laid down his vision over the next thirty years emphasizing national rejuvenation and innovation. While addressing the 19th Congress of the communist party in China, he argued that China will not emulate the west or pursue policies that are against its interests. Socialism with Chinese characters, he argued would be the guiding principles of development in coming years in what is seen as Xis political thought already incorporated into the party’s constitution. His vision is to make China a nation with leading global influence by 2050 through innovation and use of soft power. He argued that China would be a top innovative nation by 2035. By 2035 through 2050, China would be a nation with pioneering global influence. The People’s Liberation Army would be a world class force while corruption would be zero tolerated.

Xi Jinping listed his economic achievements over the last five years including lifting over 60 million people out of poverty. Other notable achievements are improved living standards, anti-corruption strategies that have seen what he referred to as action taken against the tigers, scattered flies and hunted down foxes, a metaphor for action against big and small fish in war against corruption. The war against corruption has brought down over one million officials. He equally noted the reclamation of the South China Sea. The turning point at the conference was anointing of new generation of senior leaders to take care of the future.

From the history of China and ranging from Yuan dynasty to Quing dynasty, colonialism and war of liberation, one cannot fail to note or see the power of vision and focused leadership. China was colonized the same way Africa was but rose to become a global power, in fact stronger than its colonizer, Japan. China has created its own political and economic system that serves its national interests but above all has created political stability. In fact the power of the state in economic development is felt throughout China as it developed through state owned enterprises and not private sector. SINOPEC group, state grid and China national petroleum and national banks are central in economic transformation. The Chinese nationalism is based on their ability to exploit their competitive advantage to be globally competitive. This is supported by the historical reminder of external aggression and   imperialism and what it does.

As an African, one feels ashamed of the national and low level visits leaders undertake to China but short of lessons learnt. In Kenya for example, vision 2030 should have been laid down in 1960s by Kenyatta and other leaders of the time. Kenya was expected to be the African tiger. It got wounded and died a natural death. In the 19th communist party convention, future leadership was anointed yet in Kenya, the focus is not on vision, but who will kill the bull and share it among ethnic barons. The future leadership is not known except through deception. Power is fought for until logical conclusion. In fact parts of the cows have been distributed until the tail.

The strength of Africa and Kenya lies in agriculture, water, favorable climate, flora and fauna, and mining. These are the drivers of the economy includes a youthful population even though it can be curse. Furthermore, natural resources only serve individual interests and not public good. Chinese leaders have been quick to note that for example, houses are for the people to live in and not for speculation. Thus, housing is a basic human right in China. In Africa, many people live in informal settlements with only a few elites living in modern houses.

It is in the fight against corruption that should be take home for Kenyans and Africans in general. They have truly fought the tigers, flies and the foxes. Whereas Africa has all the necessary ingredients for economic take off and modernization, poor leadership and corruption is its worst undoing. For those who visit China, you get embarrassed after landing at Jomo Kenyatta airport to be treated to a third world infrastructure, 55 years of independence. This confirms my worst fears and in comparative terms that Kenya is a shit-hole country and Africa is a concluding concept in international relations.

– Kisemei Mutisya

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