On 6 September 2023, we– a Nepalese team led by the General Secretary of Communist Party of Nepal (UML) Shankar Pokhrel– were visiting the Yunyang County, situated to the North-East of Chongqing City. Our travel coordinator Comrade Yang Yun, 24, had recently joined the international department of the local committee of the Chinese Communist Party after completing her education in England.
As we were enjoying the journey, I and the chairperson of the All Nepal National Free Students Union (ANNFSU) Samik Badal had an informal conversation with Comrade Yang.
With great enthusiasm, I asked her what her religion was.
“My religion?” she smiled broadly, “The Chinese Communist Party.”
“Sorry, I just don’t get you.” I was confused.
“I understand what you mean,” Yang tried to clarify, “Our religion, our temple or our monastery, whatever you say, is the Chinese Communist Party.
Comrade Samik was still eager to know her religion. “Don’t you believe in God ? Don’t you worship ?”
There was the same smile on Yang’s face, a face resembling to women of Limbu ethnic community of our eastern region’s Taplejung-Panchthar.
“General Secretary Xi Jinping is our God of our time,” she said in such a tone that was completely confident and vibrant.
Astounded, Samik and I looked simultaneously at her face. She wasn’t being frivolous or tricky at all. She was in her most earnestness and seriousness. It seemed she was not speaking from her mouth but from the depth of her heart. Faith and devotion were running through her Limbu-like face. Not only Yang, but every Chinese citizen we met during the two-week journey of ours spoke with profound respect of the Chinese Communist Party and General Secretary Xi Jinping.
Whether it be a farmer telling his success story or a student explaining his new essay, or members of a rural community describing the saga of their progress, everyone never missed to quote the General Secretary. The language and the tone of theirs were the same. They all said, “Our General Secretary Xi Jinping has said so on this subject at the 19th National Congress.” Every Chinese citizen we talked to would link their success tale with the declaration of Xi and thus would theorize it. A floriculturist in Yunyang, for instance, elucidating his success story said, “General Secretary Xi has emphasized the modernization of agriculture to establish the socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. We are running this flower farm in accordance with his policies.”
At times western media makes the hullabaloo and spreads the propaganda– “Chinese people are not happy. They are living in suffocation.” But the reality is completely different and opposite. The Chinese are, on the contrary to what western media says, enjoying a life of freedom, pride and prosperity. And, of course a happy life. Every Chinese citizen’s mind and heart are reverberated with the aspiration that “We are the best people headed en route to win the world in the leadership of our leader Xi Jinping.” They don’t have time to blabber about the democracy practiced by others. They are too busy to talk and comment. Headed to win the world, they have theorized their ambition and goal, which is called ‘the socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.’
With the strength of this very psychology and unity, the Chinese leadership and people have miraculously and unprecedentedly built a prosperous China. Comrade Yuli, a member of the international department of Qinghai Local Committee expressed the following words so brilliantly and determinedly that we were awed : “We don’t care what other countries and people are practicing in the name of democracy. We are proud that in General Secretary Xi’s leadership we want to establish ‘the socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.’ We want to build a prosperous world liberating the earth from the poverty.”
That Dream of Xi and This Reality of China
Xi, after being elected the General Secretary from the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, intensely expressed his commitment and dream to completely eliminate poverty from China. On that occasion he had said, “Every country has its dream and China too has its own.” Before Xi came into leadership, till 2011, the purchasing power of Chinese people was less than 1.91 USD. According to the then standards of the World Bank, the people with that much purchasing power were assumed to be under the absolute poverty line. The Chinese alone made 46.4 percent of the poor people of the world.
In 2015 September 15, addressing a program held in Seattle, Washington DC, Xi had said, “By our standards seventy million Chinese are still under the poverty line, but by the standards of the World Bank 200 million Chinese people are living under the poverty line.” Statistics show that since 2012 to date, every two second a Chinese citizen has been lifted out of poverty. China has liberated 800 million people from the poverty in last four decades.
China had declared ‘battle’ against poverty in 2017. After three years, Guizhou provincial government told the world that the last nine extremely poor counties have eliminated absolute poverty. Along with Guizhou, China got freedom from poverty. This country has astonished, even shocked the world by the changes it brought. It’s not that all the powers of the world like the path taken by the Chinese, or the light shown by them. But no power has the luxury to ignore China. Today’s Superpower China– the magnificent one– was not built easily, as they say Rome wasn’t built in a single day. And China too wasn’t built in a single day. Present day China stands on the rock-solid foundation of the past; those difficult and bleak and terrible days.
Xi had recalled those hard days in aforementioned Seattle program. He passionately shared these words with his audience, “Toward the end of the 1960s, when I was in my teens, I was sent from Beijing to work as a peasant in a small village (named Liangjiahe), where I spent seven years. At that time, the villagers and I lived in earth caves and slept on earth beds. Life was very hard. There was no meat in our diet for months.”
Later, Xi became Liangjiahe’s party secretary. He led the villagers for their economic progress. Xi remembered at Seattle, “One thing I wished most at the time was to make it possible for the villagers to eat meat to their heart’s content. But it was very difficult for such a wish to come true in those years.” He was delivering a speech during a welcome banquet jointly hosted by Washington State government and friendly communities in Seattle.
After 55 years, as Xi told his story at Seattle, he returned to Liangjiahe, the same village situated in Shaanxi province, from where Xi had started his political journey. He celebrated the spring festival of 2015 in that village, “At the spring festival earlier this year, I returned to the village,” Xi said, “It was a different place now. I saw black top roads. Now living in houses with bricks and tiles, the villagers had internet access. Elderly folks had basic old-age care, and all villagers had medical care coverage. Children were in school. Of course, meat was readily available. This made me kindly aware that the Chinese dream is, after all, a dream of the people.”
Like Xi, every influential comrade of his generation has experiences of living in earth caves, sleeping on earth beds. Xi and his comrades-in-arms have worked extraordinarily hard. They had a passionate dream : “We will bring that day when there will be enough meat, to their heart’s content, on the dining table of the Chinese people.” By great sacrifices and dedications, they lifted 800 million people out of poverty within 40 years in the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. They metamorphosed an impoverished China into a state with nuclear power and the second economic superpower of the world.
Since Xi came to power in 2012, China has lifted 98.99 million people out of poverty. Furthermore, the 128 thousand impoverished villages and 832 poor counties managed to eradicate poverty. Journalist Chetnath Acharya, who works in China International Radio (CRC) writes in his book ‘China in New Era’ : “China has invested 19.6 billion Chinese Yuan in five years for poverty alleviation. The country has distributed 28.33 billion Chinese Yuan to its people as petty loan. The central committee of the CPC strictly monitors the poverty eradication program.”
During two-week journey of ours we participated in many programs held by different organizations of Chongqing, Wanzhou, Qinghai, Golmud and Beijing. Everywhere the Chinese people spoke in the same tone and attitude. Before giving presentation on any subjects or expressing their success stories, they quoted the General Secretary Xi almost compulsorily and passionately. Moreover, they were all dressed in like Xi– white shirt, blue coat and blue pants.
The Representative Story of China
China has made each and every of its city magnificent and well-managed at which the world is amazed. But every Chinese city has come along through a dismal and painful past. And Chinese people are conscious of the fact that the grandeur and the modernization of today’s China have stood on the hill of blood, sweat and tears of their ancestors.
Chongqing, a southwestern city symbolizes China’s magnificent modern day achievement. With 76 percent of hilly region, geographically this city is similar to Nepal. Four decades ago, she was stricken by famine. Now she has developed herself in such a way, New York of America would envy her. Chongqing, like phoenix– the mythical bird, has risen from the ashes. During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), this city was bombed 268 times by Japan. The bombardment killed more than 10 thousand people and caused more than 30 thousand civilian casualties. More than 30 thousand buildings were destroyed. The people of Chongqing are still haunted by that nightmare. They remember the dreadful past and say, “We had nothing at that time but the ashes.”
Destroyed by the war and wretched by the famine, Chongqing rose from the ashes. Now it is a strategic city of China. By population, it is the largest municipality of the world. It is one of the four municipalities under the direct administration of the Central People’s Government. The other three are Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin.
With an area of 82 thousand square kilometers and a population of 30.2 million, Chongqing is situated at confluence of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers. It is connected to the world by railways, roadways, airways and waterways. One of the nearest city to Nepal, Chongqing has been kept in strategic priority by China. It is also the center of implementation of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a well known global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government. According to Chinese media, China is advancing a project to connect South Asia, placing Chongqing at the center. This city is already established as a financial hub of Asia. It exports cargoes via railroads to 231 cities of Europe. It consists of 12 consulates-general, including of United Kingdom, Canada, Netherlands and Japan.
Now a BRI’s center and a financial hub, Chongqing is also a city of historical significance. During the Chinese revolution, the ‘united front’ doctrine– a political strategy propounded by Mao Tse-Tung– was practiced here. The doctrine says, “To bring together all the allies of revolution against the main opposition is the qualification of the leadership.” Living in this city, Mao Tse-Tung formed a front to fight against Japanese imperialism. He aligned with Chang Kai-shek to battle against the principal enemy, i.e., Japanese imperialism.
Yuan Jiajun, the Secretary of the Chongqing Municipal Party Committee and a politburo member of the CPC, is leading the city. He has served his country as an aerospace engineer for a long time. Before joining politics, he was best known for his role as chief designer of the Shenzhou spacecraft, which carries Chinese taikonauts into space.
In a meeting with CPN (UML) General Secretary Pokhrel, Comrade Jiajun narrated Chongqing’s saga of a prolonged struggle and a battle against poverty. He told that three decades ago there was a deep gorge between urban and rural areas, between rich and poor in this city. The practice applied by the city to alleviate poverty through the modernization of agriculture is exemplary to the world.
The final destination of our journey was Qinghai. Almost 80 percent of the area of this province is 3000 meters above sea level. It is the source of water of China and South Asia. From here, originate the rivers Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang. China is working with a strategy to develop Xining, the capital of Qinghai, as a model eco-city. In Golmud, there is the famous Qarhan Salt Lake– “King of the Salt Lake”. According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the salt reserves of this lake are sufficient for people’s food consumption of the whole China for a period of more than one thousand years.
While in Golmud trip, I talked to a comrade of the CPC in a rather stupid and insolent manner. I asked him, as the western hemisphere says, about the democracy in China. I said, “It is said that there’s no freedom in China. There are no democratic exercises. Is it true ?”
But, he wasn’t uncomfortable at all at my question. “We actually don’t have time to debate on what the world says or thinks of us ?” he said, “We are focused on which path we want to head the world. As far as freedom is concerned, I don’t think freedom means running after others and depending upon others. If you ask me, we, the Chinese are the most independent and free people of the world because we are self-dependent and self-sufficient and self-sustained. Others search the world through Google search engine, we do so through Baidu. Others watch the world through Youtube, we watch through our own Youku. Others may communicate and converse by means of Facebook or Whatsapp, we talk by WeChat.”
Wrapping our conversation up, like many Chinese citizens we met and talked to, he too quoted Xi and proudly expressed that the Chinese are not aloof and detached from the world, but they are trying to walk the world on their road. He said, “On the 20th National Congress of the CPC, General Secretary Xi Jinping has expressed the Chinese dream– “Building a human community with a shared future”. What he means is the dream of the Chinese people is closely interconnected with the dream of the people of the rest of the world. Xi has emphasized that only under the peaceful international environment and international management the Chinese dream can come true.”
A trip to China was a tremendous and a splendid experience for me. A unique experience in itself !
We, the Nepali people, from the history to till date, are doomed to stand for and against others at others’ instructions, commands and preachings.
The Chinese are saying, “We don’t care what the world says. We are only focused on where we take the world towards.”
The basic difference between the Chinese and us is that they don’t care what the world says and we do a lot.