Lovemore Chikova China-Africa Focus
This week we publish a chapter from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s book titled “Up and Out of Poverty”.
The chapter titled “Economic Chorus” is based on a speech President Xi made in 1988 when he was working in Ningde Perfecture, then one of Fujian Province’s impoverished regions.
Other chapters in the famous book include “How Can a Weak Hatchling Bird be First to Fly?”, “The Basic Proficiency of Officials”, “Clean Government is the Historical Mission of Communists” and “A Chat About Entering Public Service”.
There are also other interesting chapters in the book like “Always Keep the People in Mind”, “Water Droplets Drilling Through Rock”, “Seize New Opportunities”, “Journalism: Mastering the Fundamentals” and “How Should We Run Education”.
African countries can draw lessons on economic development from the incisive chapter in the book, which exalts the need for unity as a prerequisite for development.
President Xi’s book laid the development base for Ningde Perfecture and his theories were replicated in other impoverished parts of China. Throughout the book, President Xi sticks to the theme of how a country or region can take itself out of poverty and attain modern economy status.
The book is a must read for development enthusiasts, who aspire to understand how China attained the global giant status within a short period, rising to become the second biggest economy in the world.
Below is what President Xi wrote in the chapter on “Economic Chorus”: Each song, each tune, has a theme. When people hear the familiar theme, they know which song or tune it is. The theme is the subject of the song, as well as its soul.
There is a theme, too, in the various aspects of work in a place: socialist economic development. Once on an inspection of a township in Ningde, I saw that the local government office’s walls were hung with numerous award banners for achieving ‘Excellence’ and being ‘Number One’ in many areas of work.
Unfortunately, however, none of them had anything to do with economic development. Here it is worth asking: Can we say that there was a theme? I think not! Hanging up so many award banners without one for economic development was not very impressive.
To put it more politely, it reflected working hard without performing a true service. Working without setting priorities and sticking to the fundamentals is simply tinkering.
To sing in unison, a choir must focus on the theme and the rhythm. The same is true of economic work. If every entry only stresses the importance of its own work, each following its own score and singing a different tune, the performance will inevitably fail.
So, we must advocate an economic chorus. Such a chorus must have a conductor. The conductor at the local level is the Party (Communist Party of China) committee and government.
Modern society has entered an era of large economies and mass production. Attention must be paid to all aspects of planning, research, production, transportation, sales and service. The failure of any aspect will result in the interruption of economic activity, a weak link will become a bottleneck in development, affecting normal activity.
The work of the various departments and units participating in the “chorus” is quite complex, with different instruments and voices.
“The big strings plang-plang like swift-falling rain; the little strings went buzz-buzz like gentle whispers”, nevertheless, they must follow the conducting of the Party and the government.
We must all sing together, focusing on the theme of economic work. No matter whether the chorus is “classical” or “pop”, as long as there is a theme and a rhythm, it has an artistic appeal. Otherwise with the party committee singing one tune, the people’s congress choosing another, the people’s political consultative conference singing a different tune and the government singing yet another, there can be nothing but cacophony and this place will certainly not sing its song well.
An “economic chorus” requires coordination and cooperation. It will not have a theme only, but not work together or even worse, engage in internal friction and discord.
We must mobilise enthusiasm in each department and every aspect. Since it is a chorus, all departments must consciously cooperate and take the initiative to coordinate. This is not a simple “1+1=2” formula; what we want is “1+1>2”, which is often called the benefit of integration.
Let’s compare it to a soccer match. In high-level world soccer competition today, focusing only on personal skills and individual footwork is no longer the prevailing trend.
Scoring relies mainly on the organic cooperation of the players and coordination is now an important aspect of tactical awareness on the soccer field.
A famous soccer commentator said with regards to Argentina’s painful loss in the 12th World Cup final: “As a star player, Maradona focused only on the individual and not the collective. “The individualistic style of the Argentine star ultimately resulted in their loss of this World Cup championship.”
Soccer fans often criticise some players for dribbling too much” because they dislike it when players show off their own skills, which damages organic cooperation and misses opportunities to score.
In local economic work, all departments at different levels — upper and lower, related and unrelated — must form an integrated whole. Each department has a relative independence, but is part of the whole and cannot be separated from the whole or cut off relations with other departments.
“To see (only) one hair of a thoroughbred horse is not to know its shape; to see (only) one colour of a painting is not to know its beauty”. Any department acting as a “lone wolf” is working against the integrated strategy. Every official should be aware that if you have a place in the chorus, you have a duty to cooperate.
For the economic chorus to have strong artistic value, it must adhere to choral discipline, as well as to technique. Each department and every individual must therefore be conscious of the overall strategy.
With the same goal, concerted efforts, and a unified voice, we will produce a melodious, resonant and beautiful song.