China’s development changes the world by using key performance indicators, KPIs, to measure officials’ progress towards popular, consensual goals. At home and abroad, it builds trust and confidence by keeping every promise and reaching every goal.
Uniquely, almost all Chinese people share two common goals for their country:
- A prosperous, educated xiaokang society. Confucius: “First enrich the people, then educate them”. China plans to be a moderately prosperous society by 2050 and, since 90% of people own homes and their wages are reaching European levels, reaching this goal seems a certainty.
- Confucius’ second goal, dàtóng, is more ambitious: a society so civilized that no-one needs to lock their front door at night. Abroad, the goal is “Making China a great, modern socialist country, prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful, and building a world without conflicts, with equal development opportunities for everyone and all peoples be blessed with happiness.” Judging by current events, this, too, seems a safe bet.
Every five years, planners ask hundreds of millions of people about where they want the country to go next. Teams tour the country, appear on TV, hold meetings, listen to local opinions and formulate proposals. Says one planner, “Computers have made huge improvements in collecting and analyzing the information. Still, thousands of statisticians, actuaries, database experts and technicians with degrees in urban, rural, agricultural, environmental and economic planning invest thousands of hours interpreting and analyzing this vast trove of data, statistics and information. Needless to say, for a continent-sized country with over a billion citizens, it takes hundreds of thousands of people to develop a Five-Year Plan”. After Congress approves it, planners create sub-plans and distribute them to senior officials, who break them down further into tangible, local goals. China’s Development Changes the World.
Here’s where Chinese development plans differ from ours: whereas our leaders rarely keep their promises, Chinese leaders are fired if they don’t keep theirs: no development, no promotion. They reach the top by exceeding all their goals, every year, for twenty-five years.
Keeping its promise, by the centenary of the Party’s founding last year, almost all low-income people owned a home and had a guaranteed income, plenty of food and clothes, safe streets, health insurance, a pension and old age care–and a bonus: their kids graduated high school three years ahead of ours and will live longer healthier lives.
The government’s ability to inspire public confidence in policy innovation has created a virtuous circle, closed the gap between the ideal and the feasible, created better policies, and further improved public support, which explains this:
Changing the World
China’s approach to development has impacted the world in two major ways:
- Coming at a time when the West is regressingChina’s development has shaken confidence in Western ‘democracy’, forcing governments to reconsider their own nations’ progress. By now, most countries have joined mutual development clubs like the BRI and RCEP.
- While loudly proclaiming its world leadership, our elitist Roman political tradition lets governments act lawlessly abroad while remaining indifferent to poor people domestically. China takes the opposite approach: “Let people see that you only want their good and the people will be good. The relationship between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass. The grass must bend when the wind blows across it. If good men were to govern a country continually for a hundred years they would transform the violently bad and dispense with capital punishment altogether.
Under Western rule, lesser countries were either servants or enemies–but never equals. Today, most countries belong to a development club that looks to China for example, technical advice, and financial assistance. The magnitude of this diplomatic achievement is unparalleled in world history, and is only just beginning to bear fruit.