Top-notch leadership drives high-quality development forward


Too often China, its leadership and plans for the future have, not been properly understood in the West. And of course, those in certain quarters who see a patent advantage in choosing to deliberately misrepresent China frame it as a global aggressor. Those who seek to promote discord and adversity seemingly choose to ignore the necessity of working to maintain peace between nations.

So, it is refreshing to be able to look at real, not imagined, developments in China that show how it sees the future – a future of economic progress and stability. As an example, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area shows what can be achieved with careful planning. In the five years since signing a Framework Agreement for the Greater Bay Area, there is substantial evidence of the move to high-quality and innovative activity. The drive for modernisation, of course, brings with it improvement in living standards and greater stability. And this modernisation is taking place despite dealing with consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I hear that some aspects of the frosty international relations have been a result of the world being denied the value of meeting up in person with friends and colleagues. As a lawyer, I’m sometimes asked how can a Western company do business securely in an area such as the Greater Bay Area, if the legal system is subject to political interference. I usually reply, firstly, that many international companies have found it both possible and rewarding to do business there.

Secondly, I point to the dramatic modernisation of the Chinese legal system in recent years. The steps taken to improve legal oversight and reforms aimed at an improved, impartial judiciary have been as Xi Jinping observed in his report to the 20th National Congress, I quote: “The comprehensive advancement of law-based governance has been a profound revolution in China’s governance”.

The newly built part of Xiamen North Railway Station on the Fuzhou-Xiamen high-speed railway in Xiamen, Fujian Province, June 19,

Again, I quote: “An impartial judiciary is the last line of defence for social fairness and justice” – in case it might be thought that foreign companies are excluded from this advancement. Foreign-related fields and foreign-related affairs are expressly included in the report via the objective that I quoted, “good laws are made to promote development and ensure good governance”.

Now, it must be said right away that this is not an importation of Western legal systems. Overseas companies cannot assume the law in China is a replica of what they find at home. What is revealed, however, is a powerful statement of how the rule of law is developing in China. It is, as it must be, a development that fits with the historical progress of the law in China – and shows Chinese characteristics.

As for development of the Greater Bay Area, one sees the very significant steps forward being made in new technologies which will determine how the future is shaped. The Greater Bay Area hosts sixteen quantum-computing startups, has an Area Centre for Brain Science and Brain-Inspired Intelligence, and a promising ecosystem for life science and the medical industry at large. All these point to a cluster that will focus on emerging technologies.

The transformation from general manufacturing to high-quality innovation is underway. There are two observations I offer in this regard, one with regard to leadership and one with regard to international institutions.

The great modernisations that are taking place in China did not come about by accident. They’ve been planned and carried out under guidance of the country’s leadership. The long period of reform has led to transformation of Chinese people’s lives, and has proceeded through careful strategic thinking at the leadership level.

Of course, this path is specific to the Chinese context and is not directly transferable to, for example, the UK. There must be lessons of a general nature for other nations. What’s clear is that quality of leadership can be a critical determinant of a country’s progress. This may not be a quantifiable quality by the rules of economics, but it is assuredly very significant. It perhaps also exposes the perils of populism, hierarchic rules and neglectful strategic thinking.

This article was first published by CGTN

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