A few days ago, the House of Representatives of the United States Congress unanimously approved a bill that no longer classifies China as a developing country.
This is an interesting but irrational bill.
It’s interesting because this bill tries to define the national attributes of other countries in the form of domestic law. The representatives are openly placing the US above the United Nations with supranational powers. Indeed, they never hide their typical way of hegemonism to teach others about domestic affairs. This is being even more dangerous when the world is crying out for global governance.
It’s irrational because this bill takes no notice of basic facts. The rationale for this bill to classify China as a developed country goes by the logic that China, the world’s second largest economy only after the US, should be considered as a developed country like the US. This is simplistic and irresponsible.
One popular international standard to evaluate a country’s socio-economic development level is the Human Development Index (HDI). According to a report released by the United Nations Development Programme in 2022, China ranks 79th in the HDI, lagging far behind “fellow” developed countries.
Other criteria can be GDP per capita, China stands at US$ 12,800 and ranks around the 70th in the world. The GDP per capita of developed countries such as the US, Germany and Japan, is over US$ 30,000. In addition, there is a huge gap of development level between the coastal areas and the inland areas of China, thus enormously weakening the indicative significance of GDP per capita in China’s case.
Another important indicator is the industrial structure. For most developed countries, the first industry makes up 1-2% of the economy, while for China it is around 8%. The tertiary industry of developed countries takes 60% or even 80% of the economy, in contrast with 40% of China.
Last but not the least, we can look at the rate of urbanization, which is usually above 80% in developed countries. That of China stands at just around 65%. And in terms of sub-indexes of HDI such as the life expectancy index, the education index and the income index, China ranks only around the 80th.
Therefore, it’s reasonable to say, China will remain the largest developing country in the world in many years to come.
The irrational bill carries an ulterior motive.
By defining China as a developed country, the US attempts to deprive China of its developing country status, and force China to assume international obligations not commensurate with its strength. The US also attempts to “decouple” China from other developing countries, isolate China politically, and make China the “only one” that belongs to neither developed world nor developing countries. It is an all-out effort to curb China’s development and cut off China’s flesh-and-blood ties with the developing world.
China is a developing country, not only economically, but also politically, which is clearly defined by its essential characteristics and foreign policy.
Most importantly, achieving common prosperity is the immutable goal of China’s development.
China pursues a people-centered development philosophy. The mission of the CPC is serving the people wholeheartedly and satisfying people’s needs for a better life. It is with 73 years of effort that the CPC lifted 800 million people out of poverty, developed the whole-process people’s democracy and made the people true masters of the country.
Nowadays, vast majority of Chinese people still earn their living by labor and face many challenges and difficulties. Achieving their prosperity and happiness is still an enduring task and primary goal for China, making development China’s top priority for a longer period to go.
In contrast, most developed countries pursue capital and serve the wealthy. They are developed, yet most of their wealth is in the hands of a small group of people. In the United States, 1% of the population controls 70% of the country’s wealth, and currently 37 million people still live below the poverty line. The rich has stronger political say, and in turn the policies mainly aim at serving these upper classes. This tells the fundamental difference between them and developing countries.
Moreover, China’s diplomatic endeavors focus on promoting progress of mankind.
Due to similar historical experiences and current situations, China and many developing countries identify with each other. China closely links its future and destiny to the rest of the developing world. China firmly believes that without the common prosperity of developing countries, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the world to achieve real, sustainable prosperity and peace.
In line with this belief of a community with a shared future for mankind, China put forward four major initiatives, i.e. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Global Development Initiative (GDI), Global Security Initiative (GSI), and Global Civilization Initiative (GCI), aiming to promote the development, prosperity, security, and harmony of developing countries. These initiatives seek coexistence, security, and prosperity by means of mutual respect, peaceful consultation and win-win cooperation. This represents a rational and reasonable choice for developing countries in the world family.
As the largest developing country, China has never shirked its responsibilities and obligations, but always stands with our developing brothers, actively helps them within our capacity. For many years, Chinese economy is also one of the key drivers of the world economy. With its own development, China makes contributions to the world in terms of development, prosperity, peace and security.
On the other hand, developed countries appear to follow the law of the jungle and are used to bullying the small and the weak. With fortune earned through colonial plunder and wars, they stand aloof, direct and interfere in the internal affairs of developing countries at their will. They feel perfectly justified for western-style democracies to transform others, and for “sophisticated” civilizations to remodel others. As a result, even their economic assistance may have some strings attached. This is more like trying to preserve their supremacy and hegemony than truly generating common development.
After all, China’s status as a developing country should not be decided by one bill of certain country, nor it be decided by the clamor of someone. China is a developing country, and will be a developing country which committed to its own development, also strives for the common good of developing countries, for fairness and justice in the international community.
WANG Xuekun Chinese Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda