My knowledge about China was limited until I happened to be a part of Journalist delegation visiting China earlier this month. As the only participant from Pakistan, I got to see the Weifang city in Shandong province of China. My first hand experiences of China compelled me to believe that there is so much Pakistan can learn from the Chinese experience and way of doing things.
China is the largest country in the world in terms of population and third largest in terms of area. This naturally means that China is extremely hard to govern. However, the way cities of China are managed proves that governance is really good in China despite the size disadvantage. Cities of China are built with proper town planning. Future needs are taken care of before starting a new project in any area of China. That’s why even after massive increase in population of cities like Beijing and Shanghai there are not much governance related problems. If we compare that with Pakistan, we only have one planned city in form of Islamabad. Well planned cities are the basic most requirements for providing a quality life to citizens and Pakistan can learn a great deal on How Chinese excel in this field.
Another thing in China that baffles a common Pakistani is the cleanliness in the cities and towns of China. All the roads and streets are well maintained and there is no sign of heaps of garbage and open drains. This has been made possible due to effective government machinery and educating the common public. An average Chinese citizen is much more conscious about cleaning his environment as compared to a common Pakistani. The reason for this difference can be traced to education systems of both countries. Pakistan’s education system has failed to educate the citizens about their civic duties, something that Chinese school system is doing really well.
Moreover, China is the second largest economy in the world and all set to surpass USA as the largest economy in next few decades. The reason for this success of China is the industrial model of China which focuses on clustered industrial zones. In China, there are industrial zones and areas that only produce one type of product. Meicun village in Weifang city comprises of 87 factories that only produce Kites. As a result Weifang is known as the Kite capital of the world. High-tech zone of Weifang comprising of 110 square kilometer area only produces goods and services related to information technology. In Pakistan, an industrial zone comprises of factories of different range of products which is counter-productive according to Chinese industrial philosophy. Pakistan can alter its industrial zone strategy in line with Chinese way to make industrialization successful.
China is controlled by Communist Party of China (CPC) and everyone believes that country is run by a totalitarian dictatorship. It’s also believed that Chinese people are considered to be suppressed people who face all sorts of restrictions from their government. Only a visit to China can dispel this notion and prove it to be wildly untrue. People of China seem to be as free as in any western democratic country. Chinese government doesn’t interfere in the personal lives of people through moral policing. Law enouncement agencies in China also don’t unnecessarily harass citizens like in Pakistan. In fact, Police and other law enforcement agencies can only be seen at airport and railway stations. Chinese government spends a fortune on protecting its borders and that’s how it manages to ensure order in its cities. Pakistan government should learn from their Chinese counterparts and focus on eliminating the root cause of security related problems rather than flooding roads and streets with Police and Paramilitary personnel.
Furthermore, China is very conscious about its cultural heritage and therefore taking laudable steps to preserve it. Cultural Revolution in China from 1966 to 1976 destroyed substantial portion of cultural heritage and that’s why current regime wants to preserve what’s left of it. Government spends a great deal of resources on preserving all sorts of cultural sites such as Art galleries, Ancient temples, Residences of painters and art collectors and so on. Even the folk artists who perform traditional Chinese square dances are paid by government so that their art remains alive. Chinese government perfectly understands the importance of culture and how it can help in nation building. They way China is preserving its culture and supporting people associated with cultural activities is a lesson to be learnt not only for Pakistan but almost all countries of the world.
Fortunately, China has agreed to invest over $46 billion in different projects in Pakistan under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Chinese capital and labor would be used to develop those projects and it would help in economic development of Pakistan. This also presents a golden opporuntiy for Pakistan where it can seek assistance of China in all matters related to governance. Pakistan can formally request China to provide help in town planning, Industrial zone planning, maintaining cities and cultural protection and so on.
It’s not necessary for Pakistan to replicate the Chinese model in entirety because the dynamics of Pakistan are somewhat different from China. However it would be unfortunate if Pakistan didn’t utilize Chinese experience, in any way, despite having cordial relations with China. Taking advantage of expertise of People’s Republic of China is something that Pakistan can’t afford to miss at this juncture.