The Slovenia Times

China's path to a green economy



How does China's future development strategy achieve a green economy?

China's future development strategy is closely linked with green thinking and green development design. The Chinese government elevated the Green Economy to a national strategy and the Chinese government has also started to implement their concept of the "ecological civilization". There is a famous motto by Chairman Xi Jinping who said that: "The Green Mountains and Green Rivers (healthy rivers are commonly described as a shade of green in China) are as valuable as Mountains of Gold and Rivers of Silk". This is the so-called two mountains theory which shows how China has changed its way of thinking. In the past, China only focused on material goods and GDP. But now, China is focused on green GDP, on efficiency and also on green development. This is a big change. For example, the local governments will now receive punishments if they do not perform well in terms of environmental protection, even if the official in question is already retired.

Some interesting statistics - the population of Beijing is 25 million and of Shanghai is 34 million. The urban population in China represents 57% of the 1.38 billion total population and the expectation is that, by 2020, it will be about 60%. Around 250 million Chinese peasants have abandoned their land to become seasonal workers in cities. How does this change the Chinese economy on the one hand and its soul on the other?

China is now in a period of transition, many townships and cities are being constructed, the cities are getting bigger and bigger. These cities have many issues, the first being that they need more workers for construction. There is a lot of demand for the so-called migrant workers from the countryside. At the same time, because of the technological advancement in agriculture, not as much manpower is required in the hometowns of migrant workers anymore. Due to this unbalanced demand, many people of working age move from their hometown to the city which has led to two significant developments. Of course, when the farmers leave their hometown it is not very good for their families, but it is very advantageous for their work qualifications because they are still young, they can gain know-how from the cities. The second significant development from this is that from this "learning by doing", they gain invaluable working skills and for those people who go back to their hometown, they may set up their own businesses and thereby help their hometown.

But this, of course, also has some downsides. Most young parents from the countryside will leave their hometown, they will leave their children in the countryside with their grandparents. This is a big issue for the young generation. They cannot get adequate support from their parents because their parents work in the city although now, some children will also move with their parents despite life in the city being very expensive. It is also now more common that, after a few years, the families will consider the city their home, but there is the issue of the Hukou, the government's household registration system. They cannot get access to most social welfare systems which leads to a social transition and conflicts although, at least now, the government has initiated a new policy which allows the children in these families free access to education and gives them more opportunities. This is an important transition time and with time, the Chinese government and Chinese people will be able to solve this problem.

International media reports Xiong'an, a new special economic area near Beijing, as a new starting point for the humanisation of eco-friendly urban life. Is this perhaps a part of the solution?

Xiongan is very close to Beijing and it should be ground zero to start the new green development in China. It would be comparable to the four original special economic zones in China - Shenzhen, Zhuhai and so on. Xiongan represents a fundamental change in China's national strategy, it will share some functions with the capital, Peking and it can also take over some tasks from Peking. For example, Peking University now wants to invest some resources for research functions in Xiongan. I think Xiongan will take a very important symbolic role in the future due to its connection to Peking. Furthermore, the national government called the strategy regarding Xiongan the "1000" strategy, meaning that this is a long-term strategy, not a short-sighted development.
The implementation of this project will include green development. For example, the government forbids some industries from entering this area and some real estate development projects have stopped until the planning is finalised. This shows the future development direction of Xiongan. Overall, I expect that Xiongan will become the second most important part of Beijing. Finally, Xiongan will develop with original Chinese development concepts in mind, in a distinctive Chinese style, not European or American style. Of course, Xiongan will also involve modern technologies - highway, subways, green buildings and green transportation.

How do you see the future of China in the context of the Belt and Road initiative and its connection with CEE countries, and specifically Slovenia?

I am very optimistic about the future of China. Firstly, I think that China is right now the motor of the global economy. At the same time, many Chinese are going abroad, with open minds, and taking in outside influences, understanding the world. They gain great knowledge about what is going on in the world. With regard to Central and Eastern Europe, of course China will become a strategic partner of the countries in this region, not only because of the history, but also because of the Belt and Road strategy. CEE countries offer many advanced technologies as well as a large market and they also need China's cooperation.
Specifically, for Slovenia, I would say that we should focus on cooperation, and use the Belt and Road initiative as a basis for this. The initiative could definitively benefit cooperation between our two countries. The natural environment in Slovenia is very beautiful and Slovenia is also a high-tech country. Therefore, China and Slovenia could improve their mutual understanding and set up many bilateral projects which should also include the education sector, we should have a more intensive exchange. We can share knowledge, education, and build good relationships. Belt and Road is initiated by China, but it has the potential to become very important for the countries of the CEE region. Without any doubt, if we can cooperate, we can create win-win situations.

On the invitation of Professor Purg, Founding President of the IEDC-Bled School of Management, you visited Slovenia. How important is management education and student exchange?

I really want to thank the IEDC-Bled School of Management for inviting me. I learned about the school and discovered that it is a great leadership training centre in Europe. I heard about the history of the school and it really touched my heart. The founder of this school made the effort to establish a globally recognised school, a great training platform for many business people who learn to do a better job in terms of leadership. The education is very professional and suitable to improving the skills of its students.
I gave a short speech on business ethics and social responsibility during my visit to the school. I think those are the most important topics for the future of business. In China, some people may be very rich but not have any sense of their social responsibility. We really do not need those people. It is most important for management science that people can exchange ideas between different countries. Therefore, I want to express my hope that we can set up more joint research projects between Slovenia and China, and also more exchange programs, especially summer schools. Chinese people should also learn during their education how they can protect the environment and how they can improve their leadership skills.


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