(Sunday 07 September 2008)
IN 1936, Communist liberation leader Mao Tse Tung spoke of his dreams of a free China to Edgar Snow, the US author of the magnificent volume Red Star Over China.
With remarkable foresight, Mao said: “When China really wins her independence, then legitimate foreign trading interests will enjoy more opportunities than ever before.
“The power and consumption of 450 million people is not a matter that can remain the exclusive interest of the Chinese, but one that must engage the many nations.
“Our millions, once really emancipated with their great latent productive possibilities freed for creative activity in every field, can help improve the economy as well as raise the cultural level of the whole world.”
Mao said this during the darkest periods, when the heroic Red Army was engaged on two fronts, fighting Japanese fascism and the brutal Kuomintang militarists.
In 1952, three years after the liberation, the World Bank estimated that China’s GDP was one-fifth of that of the Soviet Union in 1928.
The difficulties of building a socialist society from such a weak starting base must have seemed an immense task.
But the Chinese nation, assisted along the way by the former Soviet Union and led by its Communist Party, workers, peasants and trade unions, has overtaken many great Western economies and taken hundreds of millions out of poverty, a feat unequalled in human history.
Such rapid changes in China’s growth must bring new contradictions and stumbling blocks along the way and are not without risks. Judging by the accomplishments of the Chinese people and their Communist Party, they are well prepared to take on the challenges for the new millennium.