By Wang Yiwei Source: Global Times Published: 2019-9-24
"Seek knowledge even if you have to go as far as China" is a popular adage in the Muslim world. It has its origin in the hadith - traditions related to Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Now the West has begun to take the same road.
Why should the West seek knowledge from China? The answer lies in the clear comparison between the two: The West is in relative decline compared to its previous glory, while China enjoys stability and development.
With comprehensive reforms, China has been the pillar of world economic growth after the 2008 global financial crisis. Besides, China has proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the concept of community of shared future for mankind.
The West's demand for better understanding China's intention has pushed Western countries to learn from the East Asian nation, a way to get the key to China's success so that they can use it to contain China's rise.
What the West can learn from China includes governance and innovation. China's experience in poverty alleviation, unemployment, wealth gap, and fighting against corruption can set an example for the West, which is confronted with all such problems.
Reform is no longer aimed at catching up with the world. It is now an important move to improve China's competitiveness. China is the second-largest spender on research and development after the US. German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Wuhan, a hub for innovation in Central China's Hubei Province, during her China trip in early September, to seek knowledge from the country's digital revolution.
On the one hand, Western countries want to learn from China; but on the other, they often point an accusing finger at China. What they criticize is precisely China's competitiveness and the things they want to learn. Western countries want China to change so that it can become less competitive.
For example, the EU said China is "a systemic rival" and proposed a strategy on connecting Europe and Asia, trying to compete with the China-proposed BRI. The US and Australia have helped develop infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region with an attempt to counter BRI's influence.
By learning from China, the West is actually learning things that it gave birth to. China has learned industrial policies and subsidies from the West. Christian culture, market economy and Western model of governance are becoming less relevant, and are even reaching the end of the rope. Thus, Western countries have to learn from China to reform, whether they want to or not. Learning is innovation, not imitation. Learning is not only a virtue, but also a source of competitiveness.
When Western countries learn from us, China is still learning from the world, drawing lessons from all the outstanding achievements of human civilization, reforming our system and implementing modern governance practices.
Reform has become China's best choice to integrate with the international community, seize the opportunity of globalization and unleash systematic vitality and creativity. The competitiveness of China's system comes from reform.
As President Xi Jinping once said, "The reform and opening-up is a game-changing move not only in making China what it is today, but also for the Chinese people to achieve the country's two centenary goals and its great national rejuvenation."
In the context of profound changes unseen in a century, development models and international rules are changing. No country can boast that its model is absolutely right. Globalization has its uncertainties. Reform not only reshapes, but also has become, China's international comparative advantage.
The mission of comprehensively deepening reform is to resolve China's current challenges, reshape international comparative advantages and lay the foundation for it to become a world leader. The reason why Western countries learn from China's reform is that they face internal problems and are afraid of being surpassed by China.
We sincerely hope all countries can learn from each other's civilization, overcome ideological differences, and work together to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
Wang Yiwei is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.