All Chinese have good reasons to love their country

I have called myself a citizen of the world for a long time, but that does not stop me from loving my country. I believe that it is natural to love one’s own country. Loving one’s country has nothing to do with ideology. 

It is natural for Americans to love the United States; Germans to love Germany; and Japanese to love Japan, even though they may all have complaints about their governments. Loving the country means simply that people want their countries to prosper, and that all their countrymen can enjoy peace and happiness. Confucius had long taught that anyone bent on personal development (junzi) should develop his character, bring up his family dutifully, contribute to the development of his country, and work for world peace. One who subscribes to this belief is not only a citizen of one’s country, but a citizen of the world.

I feel sorry for those who have no love for their own country because obviously they are sick. When China was in much poorer shape, during the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s in the last century, when it was beset by many problems, including having to face sanctions from the West and was effectively cut off from the developed world, many people returned to their motherland to build their country. They were true patriots.

Today, China has risen from being one of the world’s poorest countries to the world’s No 2 economy. The livelihood of the masses has improved immensely. Life expectancy now exceeds that of the US. We have every reason to be proud of our country. According to the 2022 US News Best Country Ranking, China ranks No 17, ahead of Belgium and Singapore, which are at the 18th and 19th places respectively. Per capita income in purchasing power parity is $19,338, compared with the US’ $69,288. China’s economic rise is unprecedented in human history. Since the country formally opened up in 1979, the year that the US formed diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China, China has not had a single year of negative growth. More importantly, in the past decade, China has devoted a lot of resources and effort to cut pollution and to improve air quality and water quality throughout the country. China leads the world in green energy and in reforestation. Apart from vastly improving its infrastructure, particularly road and speed rail networks, it has achieved world firsts in so many areas that it is truly mind-blowing. We Chinese have every reason to be proud of China, and not just love it.

Apart from vastly improving its infrastructure…it has achieved world firsts in so many areas that it is truly mind-blowing. We Chinese have every reason to be proud of China, and not just love it

Since President Xi Jinping took office in 2013, he has rebalanced the country in many ways. Today, many formerly poor provinces and regions, especially those in the western part of the country, are growing faster than the coastal provinces. In the first half of this year, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and Shanxi province topped the 31 mainland provincial-level areas with a year-on-year growth rate in excess of 5 percent; the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Jiangxi province recorded a growth rate of 4.9 percent, followed by the Tibet autonomous region at 4.8 percent. Other provinces and regions well above the average growth rate among all provinces include Fujian, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Of the six just mentioned, only Fujian is a coastal province. The government has set a target for extreme poverty eradication, and went about its policy of poverty alleviation with precision. Moreover, China’s extreme poverty eradication is not just a matter of bringing people’s incomes above the level that defines extreme poverty, which potentially could still leave people undernourished and without healthcare. When Hu Jintao was the president, he put forth two bold goals in its poverty relief fight, called “two assurances and three guarantees”. This means that by 2020, the rural poor would be assured of adequate food and clothing, and guaranteed access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing. In February 2021, the Chinese government under the presidency of Xi Jinping announced that these had finally been achieved.

Oct 1, 2022, marked the 73rd year since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Although the country has many challenges to face, there is little doubt that China can and will tackle them with flying colors. Why are we so confident? That is because we have strong, unified leadership that will bring the hearts and minds of the Chinese people together. The fact that China is led by a single “party”, the Communist Party of China, has led those who somehow assumed that only Western-styled multiparty competition is democracy to criticize China’s political system. A one-party system that does not allow competition from another party is assumed to be “authoritarian” or even “dictatorial”. But this thinking ignores the fact that there is vigorous competition within the Party, as cadres compete for a higher rank within the government. China has had a peaceful transition of leadership for decades. The leadership is actually open to all aspiring Chinese citizens who want to serve the country.

I know of people who refuse to love China because they subscribe to the “liberal democracy” ideology. But a true liberal should have an open mind to accommodate those who believe that a one-party meritocracy works better for China. A true liberal would open his eyes to the accomplishments of the country that its people have achieved through thick and thin. The CPC, like other ruling parties in the world, has made mistakes before, but the CPC is capable of self-correction. Through continually reinventing itself, China is what it is today: open to the world, pragmatic, peace-loving.

The author is director of Pan Sutong Shanghai-Hong Kong Economic Policy Research Institute, Lingnan University.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.