Hailing China’s Progress At 70: Any Lessons, Liberia?

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China’s independence parade was by all accounts a very impressive display of might and power and a strong testimonial to the astounding progress in human development achieved under a non-capitalist development paradigm. Only seventy (70) years ago, China was poor with most of its citizens living in abject poverty. At one time it was even pejoratively referred to as the “sick man of Asia”, for its human development problems were monumental.

Although China has a very long history and is credited with many firsts, such as the invention of gun powder and advancements in paper, printing technology, the compass, the abacus, acupuncture, etc, China, for many years, remained backward and dominated by stronger nations including Great Britain but, particularly its neighbor to the east, Japan.

At least that was until the Communists, led by Mao Tse Tung, triumphed in the civil war between the Kuomintang Nationalist party led by Chiang Kai Shek. The Kuomingtang Nationalist party was founded in 1911 by Sun Yat Sen when China was declared a republic, although large parts of its territory were under Japanese occupation.

The end of World War II in 1945 virtually ended Japanese occupation but the fighting continued between the Nationalists and the Communists until the Communists defeated the Nationalists and proclaimed a People’s Republic in 1949. The remnants of the defeated Nationalists forces fled to Taiwan, then a province of China, and set up a rival republic on the island.

For years, the Communist government struggled with development issues. Initial attempts at rapid industrialization under the policy, known as the “Great Leap Forward”, proved disastrous but there were valuable lessons learned, from which China was able to pick up the pieces and place herself firmly on the path to development along the lines of a social development paradigm that placed the state firmly in the position as a driver of economic growth.

While western development models emphasized the private sector as the lead driver of economic growth, China’s model, although allowing private capital participation in its economy, state enterprises remained the main drivers of economic growth generating huge surpluses that were ploughed into social development projects that succeeded in lifting millions of people out of poverty.

Pursuit of such a development strategy yielded fruits and has today placed China not only as a highly industrialized nation, but also as a major economic player globally and with a military prowess comparable to any of the global super powers.

What is worth remembering is that China did not achieve such progress out of the blue. It did so by placing faith in its people and investing and developing their human capital. Thus, human capital formation was the fulcrum on which China’s future progress was to be achieved.

In the case of Liberia, our leaders will have to mobilize the creative energies and capacities of the people and harness same to overcome the curse of underdevelopment, backwardness, unemployment and mass illiteracy if Liberia is ever to achieve progress as a nation.

For too long the leaders of this nation have been nothing but successive copycats of the failed “trickle-down” development paradigm as the path to achieve national development. The results of the pursuit of such polices are reflected in the very highly skewed distribution of national income plus an ever widening gap of social inequality.

To put it simply, Liberians must be empowered. More and more it appears Liberians are being reduced to the margins as spectators in their own economy and needlessly too. This anomaly cannot be allowed to continue. All over the world, nations are taking steps to ensure the participation of their people in their own economy and there is no reason why Liberia cannot do the same for its people.

The Americans call it “Affirmative Action” meaning, certain contracts and strategic areas are reserved only for Americans. The Chinese refer to it as Guoijin Mintui, while the Nigerians call it “Local Content”, while we call it here, “Liberianization”.

Over the past few years, Liberianization has been retreating as foreign business interests advance largely because successive national leaderships have been nothing more than “Yes Men and Women”, compromising the interests of the nation at every opportunity for their personal interests.

Consider, for example, how the country was concessioned out in bogus and illegal lopsided concession agreements fashioned under the watch of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. More to that, she did all she could to ensure the dismantling of state-owned enterprises and replaced by bogus parasitic arrangements. The APM Terminals Concession agreement under which this outfit feeds on the life blood of the National Port Authority (NPA) is but one example.

Liberia has long since stood in need of direct foreign investment to help enhance the achievement of national development objectives, but it certainly did not need such bogus and illegal concession agreements that bore no promise or benefits for the Liberian people.

Had successive Chinese leaderships, for example, indulged in such corrupt behavior and practices, it is unlikely that China would have achieved the progress it has today. In the final analysis, solutions to our problems can only come from us.

And it can be done only if our national leadership can mobilize the people by setting the right examples and channeling  their creative energies into a collective effort to achieve desired national development objectives.

In this regard, zero tolerance to corruption should be the guide. People will not be inspired to rally behind a leadership that is corrupt and cannot be trusted.

This newspaper is not unaware that corruption does exist in China, particularly in state-owned enterprises; however official zero tolerance to corruption has served to keep the menace in check. Several of its officials have, in the past, been reportedly executed for corruption as deterrent.

The Daily Observer warmly congratulates the Chinese Government and people for their monumental achievements over the last 70 years. Indeed, there is much to be learned from China’s experience, only if our leaders are willing and prepared to make the sacrifice.

4 COMMENTS

  1. China has shown the importance of getting assistance, yet relying on yourself for sustainable economic growth. But successive Liberian governments believe that waiting for American handouts is “Waiting for Godot”. Perhaps, had we not been unimaginative for-nothing troublemakers and found time to review the relationship, we w’ld have realized that from inception it was transactional and nothing else – period.

    Transaction One:

    A Grain Coast landmass not under European Colonial suzerainty selected as a place to fix the vexing American problem of Black presence; well, as they say, “Man proposes, but God disposes”. Therefore, in spite of the 1842 intimidation of restive southeastern Coastal Tribes by devastating shelling from a naval ship under command of Captain Matthews Perry, Black Americans didn’t leave their country en masse for migration to the now Independent State of Liberia.

    Transaction Two:

    From 1847, the US never made any major economic or developmental commitment to various broke and hapless Liberian governments. Even the Firestone deal came through the intervention of NAACP Founder WEB Dubois who sympathized with the lot of his people. The next time a US government turned bigly to Liberia was during WW11. They wanted the Germans out and needed a port for warships to bring in troops should in case the fighting reached the MRU basin; thus, the Freeport.

    Transaction Three:

    The Freeport served them well and the war ended with defeat of Germany. President Roosevelt provider of a loan of USD $25 million to build the port for their own war efforts died. Truman came to power, and Uncle Sam wanted payment for the first big amount they ever spent in a strategic terrain for Allied war planning. It was to find out whether Liberia had capacity to eventually pay that loan (99 years after the 1847 Declaration of Independence) America sent a fifteen-man economic team in 1946 to do a nationwide resource search that included soil surveys, etc.

    (The source of the above are declassified US State Department documents. Additionally, 1946 rose to telling significance when the US legation in Monrovia got upgraded into an Embassy, and the first Ambassador became a former Black Executive of the NAACP called Dudley)

    Troubled by endless crises since the 2017 elections, I went looking for serious answers. Of course, because of foreknowledge that the over-exaggerated bond is so weak that American covert aggression agents have had no compunctions involving in the assassinations of our political leaders and stoking instability. Frankly, rather than a “Step Down” protest, paid militants masquerading as activists should be demonstrating for reparations for Civil War dead and property damage.

    I respect and support the US-Liberia partnership, but none should expect me to clap for Jekyll and Hyde partners who pose an existential threat to our already suffering nation. Do they hate Blacks that much, and do we Liberians hate ourselves so badly to always help in our own destruction? What future, then, do our grandchildren have; that’s the bloody question?

  2. A friend read my comment and said, “You abided by the motto of your CIA buddies taken from from John 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the shall make you free”.

    Well, not so fast, friend, they don’t intend the knowledge for others; how would they be in business if other nations’ security apparatuses have effective counter-intelligence capabilities

  3. Mentality Vs. Goal
    When Liberians go in the street and demonstrate, some of them hold up American Flag as if Liberia is a state in the US. We are always out there looking for an easy answer to our problem, by soliciting the US. Let not anyone get me wrong, Liberia is part of the world community, her problem(s) need to receive some attention from the world. If we are looking for answer to our problems, let do what other nations have done. Find a solution by lacking in long term goal and a do-it-yourself approached.

    At the formation of Modern China, in 1949, Liberia was already 102 years-old. At the end of the bombing campaign in Vietnam in 1975, we (Liberians ) had already enjoy 128 years of “independent”. It is question if our independence exempted us from foreign reliance; something many Liberians bragged of today. When demonstrators holding foreign flags and soliciting foreign missions accredited to our nation capital. With such a mentality, are we prepare to reach the heights other countries have reach and maintained? The Chinese were invaded and occupied twice by Japan, and were not allow a UN membership from independent day 1949 up to 1971.

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