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China: the standout of global development

Wikimedia Commons- Ozonefrance

In this historic week, as the world celebrates the significant progress of Millennium Development Goals and welcomes the successor Global Goals, we pay tribute to the indisputable standout of global development, the People’s Republic of China.

If there was an Oscar ceremony to celebrate the Millennium Development Goals, China would just about clean sweep all the awards, surpassing the records set by Ben Hur, Titanic and TheLord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

China’s development is the real life manifestation of the epic tales told in these great classics: it has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and ushered in rapid improvements to health and education for its citizens.  There is much truth to the statement that “without China, there would have been no MDG success”  - China met the global targets on poverty reduction, clean drinking water access, gender equality, and improving the lives of the urban poor, well before 2015.

A unique country in many ways, China as a success story in global development has been led by its national leadership, which plays a very active role in national life. This has enabled the creation of direct action programs with the capacity to make rapid progress in areas such as public health and education.

China’s tremendous development progress has had a profound positive effect on the lives of hundreds of millions of people, bringing them quality healthcare, education, and infrastructure for the first time - China’s recent leadership has achieved, in the shortest amount of time, the largest social and economic transformation of any nation in human history.

China will similarly feature prominently in the Global Goals, where its ongoing development is expected to involve a transition towards a services economy, and greater emphasis on domestic consumption.

Playing an increasingly larger role on the world stage, China’s continued economic clout coincides with an increasingly prominent position in global finance.  Most recently, it has played a leading role in establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank (also known as the BRICS bank) - elevating China’s position in global finance, bringing with it a solemn responsibility to enable other countries to meet their own development goals.

While there is a much stronger focus on environmental sustainability in the next set of Global Goals, these principles are not new to the Chinese leadership. Since 2007, China has adopted the concept of “ecological civilisation” to refer to its ideals of frugality, environmental protection, and sustainability.

And it’s not rhetoric. China is spending as much as Europe and the United States combined on clean power, and has made bold commitments to decarbonisation - including a commitment from President Xi Jinping to enact a national cap and trade mechanism by 2017.

With the development success of China so deeply tied in with the success of the national leadership, we wish for the continued success of President Xi’s leadership in driving forward the Global Goals, and - working with Chinese citizens  -  realizing the “Chinese Dream” of national rejuvenation, improvement of people’s livelihoods, prosperity and the construction of a better society.  

Further, President Xi’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a development vision to create deeper connections and prosperity in China’s broader neighbourhood, is emblematic of China’s exciting  potential to create positive change both within China, and on the world stage.

As with the Millennium Development Goals, the success of the Global Goals will depend heavily on China’s contribution.  And In this ever increasingly interconnected world, China’s success - with the national leadership working alongside Chinese citizens - will be  intrinsically tied into the collective success of the world in realizing the Global Goals.


Wei Soo, the Global Citizen Managing Director of Operations, also contributed to this article.