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People’s Daily Special Report on ISSCAD: “In China, our confidence in development builds up.”

APR . 20 2017

Peking University, April 17, 2017: Commissioned by President Xi Jinping at the UN headquarters in September 2015 and founded by Peking University, the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development (ISSCAD) pools 48 government officials and community leaders from 27 developing countries in Africa, South and Middle Asia, Middle East and Latin America. They  have gathered here as students at Langrun Garden, home to the National School of Development (NSD), in the hope that they would first learn from the world’s largest developing country its governance and then find their own way out in the future.

On 26 September 2015, a High-Level Roundtable on South-South Cooperation was co-hosted by President Xi at the UN headquarters, during which he announced that the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development (ISSCAD) would be established in China. Professor Yao Yang, executive dean of the ISSCAD and dean of the NSD, remarked, “More and more government officials from developing countries now realize that China is the go-to model when it comes to the economic development and governance of developing countries because China as the largest developing country has the most rewarding experience.” Peking University saw the foundation of the ISSCAD in the April of 2016 and its first entrance  ceremony five months later.

ProfessorJustin Yifu Lin, honorary dean of the NSD, dean of the ISSCAD and former Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank, held that the more similar the premises, the more applicable the experience and theories of China as a leading developing country. Hence, the developing countries should know better than to copy from their developed counterparts. They should learn from their own experiences, build a system of their own and work accordingly. “The experience of China and other developing countries when theorized is of universal value for all developing countries in their practice and policy-making.” added professor Lin.

"We are curious about the secret of China’s success as the world’s second largest economy”

"Over the past 15 years, China’s average lifespan has increased thanks to the government’s unremitting efforts in reforming the public health system, especially in advancing the medical techniques for building more balanced infrastructures. Those are the fields where African countries might want to pay more attention to.” said Mr. E. Allan Gabor, CEO of Merck Serono China. In a lecture held at the ISSCAD in early March, two senior officials from Merck KGaA showed the students various possibilities for future healthcare development in Africa with a special reference to  China’s experience. It was a heated discussion covering issues from policy-making to practice, from healthcare development to international aid.

One African student rose saying, “I thought these diseases could hardly be eradicated in developing countries. But China’s healthcare development is truly astonishing ! I’m particularly interested in how China controls and prevents infectious diseases like malaria.” Days ago, in the course of “Comparative Political Systems”, the students were learning themselves of game theory and the tragedy of the commons, with an animated discussion as well. 

Speaking of his original intention to study at the ISSCAD, one student from Tajikistan said with fluent Mandarin, “Recent years have witnessed much more communications between the senior officials and the people of our two nations. China seems near and dear to my heart and that is why I am here now.” Olena Balbekova, a senior officer from the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade in Ukraine, told us that as a fast-developing giant, China is now gaining more say on global affairs and that they want to learn more about how China constructs its political and economic systems and how these systems work to reinforce reform. For ISSCAD students, it seems unequivocal that China is indeed not only an inspiration but, more importantly, a model for all developing countries who are feeling their way through the quagmire of underachievement.

"We are curious about the secret of China’s success as the world’s second largest economy”, said another student Chipande Doroteia Alberto from the Ministry of Finance, Mozambique, “I want to learn China’s mode of development and find a path suitable for Mozambique .”

Zhang Junjie, ISSCAD program coordinator, introduced about the admission procedure. Before full scholarships were offered to these students by the Ministry of Commerce, they had been recommended to the Chinese Embassy by their home countries, selected first by the Embassy Commercial Section and then the Ministry of Commerce, and finally interviewed by Peking University. Among them, 27 are pursuing a master’s degree (1-year program) and 21 a doctorate (3-year program). It is only three months to go before the first class of master candidates complete their degrees.

"First time to study with classmates from Asia, Africa and Latin America and we learn from each other”

ISSCAD divides its courses into three modules: State and Development, Economic Development—Theory and Practice, and Leadership and Methodology. Professor Lin said, “Leadership offers institution guarantee for national development and Economic Development provides theoretical basis for a state to choose its path of development”. ISSCAD faculties include prestigious professors including Justin Yifu Lin, Lu Feng, Zha Daojiong, Huang Yiping, etc., authorities on economics and international politics, and professors with rich teaching experiences. ISSCAD provides six courses this semester including New Structural Economics and Policy Designs, Contending Ideas of Political Philosophy and Contemporary China: A Political Economy Analysis.

"I plan to run for councilor back to Nepal and the course Leadership in Global Perspective is highly beneficial”, Damodar Bhusal, a visiting teacher from Tribhuvan University said, “Nepal needs the courage of taking risks and strong execution capacity”.

Gift Mupunga, an official from Zimbabwe’s Office of the President and Cabinet, feels that these courses are well-designed for intermediate and senior officers of developing countries and aim at providing them with advanced governance experience of China so that they can less depend on governance experience of developed countries.

"It is a must to solve problems from different aspects for any breakthrough in global issues”, Olena said, "these courses help us form a way of thinking to solve new problems, which is far more important than to tell us the specific solution”.

Professors of ISSCAD are most from NSD and all of them can deliver lectures in fluent English. It eases some students’ concern about language problems, Zhang said. Also, most professors received education from first-rank universities in the world or were once teachers of famous universities in Europe and America. They not only teach theories in books but also enlighten students to apply knowledge to analysis of social issues. Gift especially appreciates teachers’ unbiased attitude: they respect diversity of civilization and show no tendency towards a particular mode of development, providing multiple perspectives of analysis for students.

Fu Jun, dean of ISSCAD and NSD professor, said that they plan to invite retired government officers to deliver lectures for more exchanges of policy making. Willie Ganda from Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development has another wish. He looks forward to more interaction with Chinese students.

Alfa from Senegal said, “It is my first time to study with classmates from 27 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. We learn from each other and get to know each other”. Gift added that policy makers could design more comprehensive and objective development policies in the diverse and energetic learning environment provided by ISSCAD.

"Regard China as a mirror to see the situations of their own countries and enhance confidence”

Yao Yang emphasized in the first class that students should not copy China’s way of development but instead they should regard China as a mirror through which they could see the situations of their own countries and enhance their confidence in development.

Many students are interested in China’s fiscal decentralization system. Chinese government can arouse the enthusiasm of local governments, which contributes a lot to economy since the reform and opening-up.

Yao Yang highlighted the practical spirit of China. He said, “It is unnecessary to argue about process and methods most of the time. We can experiment in particular areas first and expand to other areas if it is feasible”.

On a trip organized by ISSCAD to Shenzhen on 4 January this year, students visited Tencent, Huawei, China Vanke and BGI, etc. “The purpose of field study is to help students combine their own situations with Chinese experience”, said Lin.

Omole remembered that the guide said, “Time means money; efficiency is life” and “Shenzhen speed is to build a floor of building within three days” as soon as they arrived at the Exhibition Center of Shenzhen Museum.

Shenzhen as a pioneer leads the development of China. Students were surprised by vice-mayor of Huizhou Hu Jianbin and head of Huidong county Guo Wupiao for their fluent English, open-mined ideas and pragmatic opinions about local development. They also visited many plantations and factories, including shoe product lines, a potato plantation and Yuedong Shoe Material Market.

It is the first time for Joanico Da Silva, director of a foundation in Timor-Leste,to visit China. He found that the China he sees is different from the one he read in the books. “Timor-Leste wants to establish economic development zones and experiences of Shenzhen are worthy to be studied”, he said. He would write a report about China’s experience of attracting oversea investment and submit it to his supervisors.

Fu Jun as the leader of this field trip said that there are great differences between developing countries. Their economic situations scatter in different development periods of China. Students are touched greatly after in-class discussion and field study, tracing China’s development process.

In the future, Fu Jun hoped to increase the proportion of students from South America, Middle East and South Asia. Yao Yang said that ISSCAD was about to establish an alumni database. ISSCAD would also hold south-south forums and invite those that have already graduated to attend.

Written by: Xuan Benang, Chen Guanlan
Edited by: Yan Shengnan
Source: People’s Daily