China's Ambassador in South Africa Lin Songtian [center] sharing a light moment with Prof Cheryl Hendricks, executive director of the African Institute of South Africa [right] and Xie Fuzhan president of the think-tank, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) during a symposium in Pretoria. PHOTO: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

PRETORIA - Shrewd political leadership and consistent people-centred policies are at the heart of the People's Republic of China meteoric economic growth and the acclaimed alleviation of poverty for almost all of its more than one billion population, Ambassador of China to South Africa Lin Songtian said on Tuesday.

"The Communist Party of China has more than 90 million people. Whoever wants to join this party, you have no choice but to swear that from now on I have to forget who I am but get ready to sacrifice for who we are. You should forget the "I am". The CPC is all about the people first," Lin addressed a symposium hosted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the China-Africa Institute (CAI) on Governance and Socioeconomic Development in China and Africa in Pretoria.

"The only, and never changing purpose of the CPC is to serve the people wholeheartedly. Everybody likes to serve the people as president, premier, minister or as an ambassador - but when it is wholeheartedly you have to forget yourself and be ready to sacrifice for the nation, for the people. All the nation's achievements must be shared by the people. That is the path of socialism."

The conference in Pretoria was aimed at discussing issues including building governance capacity, urbanisation, industrial development, innovation and social policies deemed necessary to address scourges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. 

Lin questioned why Africa has not been able to realise swift economic development and emancipation despite the decades of independence and close cooperation with other continents.

"I have travelled around this continent. You have a lot of resources - natural resources and human resources. Why are you still lagging behind? Why have you not got all the people out of poverty? I think the capacity of governance is very important," said Lin.

He emphasized that stability is a key precondition for economic prosperity. 

China has an ambitious extreme poverty eradication goal for 2020, with an impressive 85 percent drop recorded in 2018 - over a period of six years - on the number of Chinese people grappling with extreme poverty.

"In 1978 when we opened up to the outside world, less than three percent of the people in mainland China were not poor. Right now, less than three percent of our people were in poverty last year. By the end of next year, 1.4 billion Chinese people will be out of people and we are leaving no one behind," said Lin.

China has become the world's second-largest economy, the largest manufacturer, the largest trader in goods, the largest holder of foreign currency reserves but in 2000 the Chinese FDI [foreign direct investment] in the world was less than USD 10 billion ... now we have more than USD 1.9 trillion out of China. Each year we have more than USD 130 billion out of China," said Lin.

- African News Agency (ANA)