By Liu Zhiqin Source: Global Times Published: 2015-10-15
World searches for new growth engine as 2nd-largest economy slows
The conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations has touched a global nerve. Does the formation of the TPP foreshadow the end of China`s era?
Yes. Perhaps we should admit the fact that the world is now facing a new, post-China era initiated by the establishment of the TPP. China is now waiting at a traffic light to make a left turn, saving its strength for the road to the next goal.
The whole world is closely watching for what new and miraculous surprise China will come up with, but the world cannot wait, which is why the TPP is now appearing on the global stage. Everyone is looking for a new engine of growth that can replace China and meet the challenges of the post-China era.
Over the past 35 years, the world grew used to reaping the benefits of China`s rapid development. Under-developed nations and developed countries alike have enjoyed the best 30 years of China`s golden era amid their own troubled times.
Like a mother, China has been nursing the whole world, but now the world is growing up, and its mother cannot provide enough food to feed it. It is therefore understandable that the world must find a new source of sustenance to support its needs.
China has contributed more than 30 percent of world economic development, importing $750 billion in goods from the global market every year since China joined the WTO in 2001. These imports have created 14 million jobs in other countries.
China has been the breath and lifeblood of the world for the past three decades, but the situation seems to have changed now that China has slowed the speed of its development as this new era begins. Can the world get used to such an adjustment? Can the TPP really play as positive a role as China has? People all over the world are watching and waiting for the answer.
But China will not and cannot watch and wait. China`s development philosophy is to work while it waits, so it never wastes time doing nothing while it waits for something to happen. Maybe this is the secret to China`s successful, record-breaking development, during which it has overcome innumerable challenges and unexpected difficulties to become the world`s second-largest economic power in just 35 years.
Though some may question whether the TPP has set tougher conditions that China will not meet, history has proven that China will be more flexible than any country could expect. Only when it became essential to the core interests of the country did China become a top player in the world economy. When a few Western countries set very tough conditions for China`s entry to the WTO, China demonstrated the adaptive ability of its economy by tackling all obstacles impeding its path to WTO membership.
We should therefore be confident enough to assert that, if needed, China will meet the TPP conditions when doing so truly benefits China.
But we should not overlook the possible hidden motives of TPP conditions that could damage the fundamentals of China`s political and economic system. More caution and patience is needed to protect China`s core interests. China`s top priority now is to stabilize domestic social and economic order to ensure the realization of China Dream.
Possible obstacles presented by TPP conditions could include the initiation of extensive political reforms and the restructuring of State-owned enterprises to comply with Western conditions. These issues could be long-lasting sources of contention between China and TPP countries. The TPP could also become a tool for some countries to enhance their trade and market protectionism or, even worse, could be used as a weapon to force China to give up something in order to derive some other benefit. At the moment, it is still too early to discuss joining the TPP, and China must do its best to undertake further rational reform by adopting active and positive policies to boost its economy.
While stuck in this waiting zone, China will have enough time to consider how to lower its labor and production costs to become more competitive by manufacturing higher-quality products. When the time is right, the TPP will come knocking on China`s door. China is strong and big enough to cope with the TPP. Besides, everyone knows that without the cooperation of China, the TPP and any other economic tools cannot possibly prove very useful.
The author is a senior fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.