Laying it bare through China's white papers
Updated 22:01, 29-Jun-2021
Stephen Ndegwa


Editor's note: Stephen Ndegwa is a Nairobi-based communication expert, lecturer-scholar at the United States International University-Africa, author and international affairs columnist. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

For a long time, the West has strived to deceive the world that China runs an opaque system. The socialist-communist system has been demonized and portrayed as a secretive type of administration, if not a sinister mode of government, whose officials lurk in the shadows waiting to pounce on their citizens.

But in recent years, the truth has been gradually emerging after the realization that a country does not become the second-largest economy in the world by operating surreptitiously. Neither does a country become the first to eradicate extreme poverty in a population of an estimated 1.4 billion people through the oppression of any kind.

Last week, China released two white papers, bringing the total number of these documents to at least 74 in a tradition that dates back to 2011. The papers are true to form and substance, informing readers concisely about the handling of complex governance issues and the philosophy behind the government's decisions.

Major white paper topics over these years include human rights protection, poverty alleviation, employment and labor rights in Xinjiang, fighting COVID-19, development of China's transport, medical and health services, energy policy and judicial reform.

In a white paper released on June 24, the country showcased its anti-epidemic assistance to 151 countries and 14 international organizations in both cash and kind up to April 2021. The white paper says this is clear evidence of not only China's humanitarian support, but respect and protection of human rights as well.

On June 25, the country released yet another white paper titled, "China's Political Party System: Cooperation and Consultation." The paper spells out the distinctive characteristics and strengths of the country's political party system. It shows the road to the success of a home-grown system that has contributed to China's development, national rejuvenation and social progress.

Fireworks light up Bird's Nest during a gala performance celebrating the centennial of CPC, Beijing, June 28, 2021. /VCG

Fireworks light up Bird's Nest during a gala performance celebrating the centennial of CPC, Beijing, June 28, 2021. /VCG

While companies and organizations usually develop and release white papers to advocate a certain position towards solving or overcoming particular challenges, it is not common for countries to do the same. Therefore, China's indulgence in these initiatives is unique, as obviously is its way of governance.

In addition to the white papers, Chinese President Xi Jinping has published three series titled, "The Governance of China," which are collections of his speeches and writings since taking office. The books articulated in detail Xi's thoughts and political philosophy.

The benchmarking acts as best practice for those who feel that the socialist system with Chinese characteristics suits their national aspirations through replication of some actions. Together with the white papers, it is a kind of infrastructural plan that provides the operational framework of a system that is responsive to the needs of the people.

The white papers also act as a defense against spurious and malicious accusations on major issues directed at China, particularly by the West. Those who cast aspersions on China's governance on various issues both internally and externally conveniently fail to refer to the systematic and rich narratives contained in the white papers.

Even with all the evidence laid bare, there are those who are determined to portray the country as an outlier in the international community. For instance, the U.S. has peddled the Wuhan lab conspiracy theory on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic against all facts that have already been researched on, established and published in various reports.

It is a characteristic of the post-truth society which seems to have overtaken the West. In this era, truth and facts count for nothing in the face of selfish interests. In an opinion piece published by the Global Times on September 2, 2020, titled "Post-truth addicted Western world distorts HK facts of natl security law," writer Mario Cavolo notes that, "While clearly the West has moved into a 'post-truth' period adorned by a neo-liberal facade of freedom, this has proven itself again and again to only introduce increasingly pointless chaos into the lives of people who want nothing more than to live as good citizens within a civil, stable society."

Clearly, the guilt trip the West has tried to impose on China has failed miserably, actually boomeranged. As China celebrates 100 years of the Communist Party of China, the white papers have taken even greater significance. They show the gamut of policies and programs that have shaped the holistic social, economic and political development in the country. It has been a long road with no shortcuts; simply hard work and visionary leadership.

For developing countries that form the core of the country's allies, they act as building blocks that can help to transform them into modern, stable and authentic entities. The non-prescriptive nature of the white papers builds on China's commitment not to engage in undue influence of other countries, but to engage them through mutual respect and understanding.

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