If we take a look at the extraordinary advancements of the mankind’s civilization in this 21st century, we should notice that God/Allah as The Unlimited Intelligence of The Universe has been showing His Most Awesome Mightiness every second, every hour, every day, every month and every year. Do we realize it?
How could it be not? Several centuries ago, the United States as a Super Power country¾together with its allies such as United Kingdom, Germany, France, and other countries, which in fact have long dominated the world economy¾at this present has started declining in strength. Slowly but surely, the power has started shifting to several Asian countries, such as China, Japan, Korea, India, and some others.
China’s spectacular economic and technological advancements at this time are really beyond the expectations of all the world’s population. How has China been able to compensate for the hegemony of America’s glory only in less than 45 years although America has led the world more than a century?
One time, I landed exactly at night in the capital of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing City. It was my first visit to Beijing. I saw the city of Beijing was dark, which was far different from what I saw when landing at the bright Soekarno-Hatta Airport.
Ironically, 25 years later when I returned to Beijing, the situation was in inverse proportion. Beijing Airport looked bright. On the contrary, the Soekarno-Hatta Airport looked dimly lit. People say that this was so as for the past 25 years, the capacity of electricity in our country had not increased.
This is not to mention in other sectors. I had the experiences that every time I planned to visit Beijing, the China regional officials whom I knew would surely ask me to buy them 20-inch (or wider) color television sets or video players. At that time, these items were regarded as luxurious. People had only black and white Television Sets with a relatively small size, and not the color ones as well.
In around 1989, I exported Honda Win-100 motorcycles that were fabricated by Federal Motor from the Astra Group, as many as 100 containers and each container was of 40 feet. As these 100 containers had been delivered, many more containers loaded with motorbikes were exported. Unfortunately, I did not know how many were being delivered since I did not follow the next processes anymore. The buyer then made the next transactions directly with the manufacturer.
When I recalled the event, I really felt sad. Why? Let me explain. Since I did not follow the transactions anymore, I did not know what the total units of the motorcycles were exported by the Federal Motor to China. But, one thing is clear: 10 years later, the situation had changed totally by 180 degrees. It was the turn for China to export goods on a large scale to Indonesia. China exported not only motorbikes but other commodities such as Television Sets, refrigerators, washing machines, video players, air conditioners and so on. The economic journey of China is so amazingly rapid and it is beyond what the world had expected before.
One time, The Universe gave me a very rare opportunity. I had to accompany the late Mr. William Suryajaya (whose nickname was “Om” William Suryajaya) to Beijing. He was a top businessman, a conglomerate and also the founder of the Astra group. At that time, it was his first visit to Beijing. On one occasion, I asked Om William about the business opportunities in China that had the largest population in the world, “As a potential market share, what commodities are most suitable for the Chinese market?”
To answer my question, Om William said that if only motorbikes replaced the bicycles as main transportation for the Beijing residents on daily basis, then there would be a huge market for selling motorbikes. Indeed at that time, the bicycles as the vehicles used by the Beijing population had reached millions. It was a very tempting opportunity, of course, and at that time no one could predict or imagine that China’s economic progress would going forward as fast as what we have witnessed today.
In the past time, People’s Republic of China whose nickname was “Bamboo Curtain Country” really closed itself from the foreign investors. Yet, thanks to Deng Xiaoping’s leadership, it has begun reforming its economic and foreign policy since 1979. It has given various facilities and high incentives to the business doers. China invited investors from all over the world to put their capital for the sake of the economic progress of the country that, at that one moment, was truly lagged behind from the developed countries.
I was one of those business doers at that time. Therefore, more or less I have the knowledge of how the giant China initially awaked from its long sleep to become one of those new nations that now has the economic power that is of worldly class as its fellow developed countries.
The economic policy that was initiated by Deng Xiaoping in 1979 really made a huge impact on China’s economic progress. Nowadays, almost every country in the world has made some investments in China, as they are aware of the Chinese population that is so dense. This creates an appeal to the investors as they see a very potential market share.
The fact that China has been successful in reforming its economic and foreign policy has, of course, something to do with its domestic economic and political policies. As Deng Xiaoping led China, there was a very drastic change. China was previously chaotic, and the chaos had paralyzed the entire life of its people. Such a chaotic condition in China was caused by the Cultural Revolution period that had been lasting for 10 years (1966-1976).
Deng Xiaoping’s policy had been successfully making the China’s economic moved incredibly forward. At that time, he directed China using the “iron hands” strategy.
Formerly in China, the bureaucracy was so complicated. It was full of corruption, collusion and nepotism. The children of the government officials or the relatives of the communist party officers surely would become the government officials too, regardless of whether the persons had the skills or not.
Because of that above-mentioned phenomenon, the members of the civil services were nicknamed the “Iron Rice Bowls”. The iron rice bowl is a bowl made of iron that will not break even if it falls. It implies that every member of the civil services would blindly get a salary with all the benefits, whether he performed his tasks or not. So, the corruption, the collusion and the nepotism practices happened ferociously in all lines of activities in the country.
Deng Xiaoping also made major changes on the bureaucracy. He made the system, which was full of corruption, collusion and nepotism, to become selective in its decisions. The selections of prospective members of civil services were no longer referred to whom, whose children or whose relatives. On the contrary, the candidates were preferred if they had skills.
Deng Xiaoping directed his policy using his famous slogan “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” He was also indiscriminating in eradicating the corruptions. The program that he was running has been continued until today. When the administrations change, it even gets more and more applied strongly. China has never hesitated in imposing the death penalty for the corruptors.
Under the administration of President Jiang Zemin and his Prime Minister, Zhu Rongji, China had also another most popular policy. The Prime Minister’s firmness in eradicating the corruption was well-known by the following statement “…prepared 100 coffins, 99 loaded with corrupt officials, and one more for myself if I also do that.”
China indeed is well known for its ancient civilization that carries high values. It has given birth to many famous philosophers such as Lao Tzu, Confucius, and others deep thinkers since ages ago. Their people have had a good moral foundation for a long time and have had a great respect to their ancestors. This is indeed already a part of the Chinese culture. These values are also a capital for their people that enable them to advance rapidly for the sake of their nation and country. (To Be Continued)