I have wonderful experience when I was selected as a participant of young seminar for Chinese economic development issues that was conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2016 in Beijing, China. I was pleased to join the program because I am one of the pioneers of Chinese studies in my office. Since then, I always attract to seeing the legacy of communist political system and thought in China societies. In 2005 and 2007, I and one of my colleagues have opportunity to visit China for fieldwork in Beijing, for studies with entitled “The development of Chinese economic and political system (2005) and The development of middle classes in China (2007).
The seminar’s programme consisted of several events that were lectures, academic visit, weekend visit, fieldwork, and group presentation. Lectures were conducted from 09.00-12.00 and discussions were between 14.00 and 17.00. Lectures’ topic covered 12 theme, which are economic development in China, understanding China, agricultural development and land reform, development of industrial economy in China, micro-economic China, post-doctoral system in China, China and world politics, Chinese commercial bank reform and financial system development, Financial policy in China, socialism in China, social sciences and research institution in China, Chinese public service and social security system. Academic visits are organized in publishing house and Institute of World affairs. In the weekend, the seminar’s participants visited Tiananmen field, Forbidden City, Wang Fujing, summer palace, temple of heaven, great wall, silk market, and Beijing Zoo. In addition, there was fieldwork in Yunnan province for 5 days.
The first lecture was about transformative development in China by Prof Pan Jiahua of CASS. He discussed about three stages economic development in China: economic growth oriented development, transforming economic development into environmental development, and sustainable development. Industrialization’s stage is characterized by environmental degradations, pollutions, using of chemical pesticides, and less ecology conservation. The advanced development countries transform economic development into conserving nature and environment. The sustainable development is the most advanced stage of economic development by keeping balance between economic development and ecology. The using of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) changes into Social Development Goals (SDGs) that environmental value is included in that measure. The teachers also taught about five P as principles in Chinese economic development, namely People, Planet, Peace, Prosperity, and Partnership. People means development should focus on the people, prosperity means development should aimed for all and inclusive, planet is about how we conserve ecology, while partnership is on the need of cooperation among all sides to achieve other four principles. He also described the movement from one economic condition to another condition: changes, reformation, transition, revolution, and transformation. Social changes are not always better and those might be worse without clear directions. The best choice is transformation of economic and social system. Here it means transformation toward modernity. In regards to those philosophical lessons, I raised some questions as follows, to what extent Confucianism values are affected by modernization in China, how it keeps integration within society that refers to traditional societies.
The second topic was about Understanding China by Mingwei Zhu. He taught about how statistically People Republic of China now become the state with second largest economy in the world. He said that China wants to be understood by the world that the country is a most populous country, have uneven economic level among provinces, and have drawbacks for a long time. Chinese foreign policy approach consists of some principles such as peace, development, cooperation, and win-win solution
The third topic was about rural development and land reform by Prof GAO Liang-Liang. In China, there are several stages of land ownership system. At first, land was owned by clan, family, and public ownership before People Republic of China period. During the period of Qin, Han and Ming dynasty, there was a combination between state and private ownership of land. After new China, in 1950, land was distributed to the people equally. Nevertheless, in 1953-1956, land was owned by collective that consisted of farmers. In 1958, land also was owned by cooperatives and commune. Since 1978, all land was owned by the state, but in urban areas, lands were owned by the collectives. So, families in rural areas could not sell and inherited their land to their descendants due to collective ownership. Since 1990s, urbanization has encouraged many farmers looking for jobs and lives in urban areas so their lands were exploited by the remaining farmers or rented into agricultural companies.
I come up with several conclusions. First, let me clarify about my impression from the seminar. This program was very useful for us, particularly young scholars from 23 countries to comprehend realities of social and economic development in China. Before attending this program, I found many biased information about China from journals and books written by scholars of Western countries as well as Western mass media. However, they often do not provide accurate facts about Chinese social and economic development. From the lectures and daily life observations, we have learned and understood what is really happen in China,. Now, I understand that the Chinese economic development can be used as lesson learned for Indonesia. I was witnessing that the present day of China is different from China during the early and mid of 20th century. I do believe that in less than 10 years from now, China would be the country with largest economy in the world.
Besides, I also learn a lot about the managerial of the Chinese Academic of Social Sciences, which has 4000 staf, 3000 researchers, and 3000 graduate students. The academy is not only produce thousands academic publications annually but also serve the country interest by providing asistance for policy makers to support the social and economic development. This is in line with one of Marxian thought that philosophy and social sciences should manifest in social changes, sciences are not for the sciences itself but sciences are for the people. Here, social sciences’ scholars have moral obligation to contribute to transforming their society into enlightment, justice, and prosperous. Another lessons is, based on my observation, CASS researchers are confident in expressing their knowledge and write it in Chinese languages. It is quite different from others scholars who often refer to Western social sciences and less confidence to express their knowledge in their own language.
Moreover, in the period of less than 40 years, China has built thousand kilometres of road and railways connecting cities and regions from the Western borders to Eastern Coastal provinces, from the Northern to the southern borders. All the infrastructure developments are aimed to support the international agenda of One Belt One Road scheme. If the scheme has succed to be implemented, I do believe that it would create the borderless world that characterised by trans-national movement of products, people, and ideas on development and peace. In support, the field trip to Yunan province, taught us on how Chinese government keep harmonious life among etnic groups and let them to preserve their cultural identities. My observations in Kungming city and ethnic autonomus prefecture of Hong He demonstrates that China is a heteregonous country based on etnicity and religions. For example, in Yunan province, there are 26 ethnic groups that 25 ethnic are minorities. All of them live in harmony and the government pay attention on their concerns. Such peaceful relations between ethnicities in Yunan province could become a good example for other countries in Asia. The significance of peace has been taught by Confusianism that by following Confucius teaching, society could function properly, avoiding volence and negativity at all costs without sacrificing well beings.
In conclusion, I hope that the seminar would be followed by several concrete cooperations between People Republic of China and our country both in economic and socio-cultural cooperations. The cooperation between CASS and LIPI also become new hope, where joint research and education can be implemented in the near future. Also, it is important if alumni of the seminar could establish an association of Chinese development studies as pioneers for social and economic cooperation (By Dr. Cahyo Pamungkas, a Researcher at P2SDR-LIPI)