INSIDE CHINA: INSIGHTS FROM THE RED BARON
“Jean Christophe Iseux, Baron von Pfetten, in
an interview with Li Hui Wei of Contemporary
World, the official monthly publication of the
International Department of the Communist
Party of China’s Central Committee (CPCCC),
reveals unique insights gained over a decade of
working inside China. This interview was published
in Chinese in the November 2010 edition of the
publication and translated into English for Asean
Q: As a French scholar with a noble family background, you
are regarded as an “overseas Lei Feng” in China. What attracts
you to China?
A: The two most attractive elements of China for me are:
a. The Chinese people – particularly the good-natured
Chinese farmers. I am fond of Chinese cleverness (street wisdom),
humor, hospitality, friendliness and sense of honor (face). Since
1997 I have stayed a few days each month in the countryside living
with Chinese farmers.
b. The Chinese culture. I am particularly fond of Tang
Dynasty porcelain, Ming Dynasty furniture, Qing Dynasty architecture,
Beijing Opera and Chinese modern paintings (like the one
next to my home). I have visited every Chinese province at least
once. On every visit I try to better understand the local culture.
Q: You’ve stayed in China for more than 10 years. How do
you perceive China’s achievements in reform and opening
|Baron JC hunting at his estate in Burgundy, France, Nov 2010
A: The last 30 years of Chinese achievement since the start of the
open door policy is straight-forward:
Major macroeconomic developments in terms of gross
domestic product growth, making China the engine of growth for
Major microeconomic achievements with 20 state-operated
enterprises listed in the Fortune 500, with Petrochina topping
China’s rapid response when faced with major catastrophic
events such as the 1998 flood and the 2009 earthquake.
I would like to particularly praise the People’s Liberation Army
when more than 1 million soldiers were dispatched for humanitarian
relief in both cases.
Major achievements in terms of giving a better standard
of life to the Chinese farmers after successful ongoing land reform
China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.
Chinese government’s intelligent use of the LU Xun “Yang
Qi” model to take the best from the West and leave the rest.
China’s international status as a “responsible” member of
the international community with well recognized China involvement
in United Nations peace forces and the exceptional marketing
of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Shanghai Expo.
Q: What problems do you think China is still faced with in
her economic development?
BARON VON PFETTEN,
President of RIESS
|Jean Christophe Iseux, Baron von Pfetten, is President of the Royal Institute of East-West Strategic Studies (since 2009) and Visiting Professor/Director of Research at the People’s University of China. He is well known to have been the first and only Caucasian specially invited member of a Chinese parliamentary institution (Changchun CPPCC 2001).
He is honorary adviser to several central and local government agencies in China (NDRC, MOFCOM, MOE, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqin). He is also non-executive director of six companies in Hong Kong/PRC and involved in China business/investment advisory to a dozen Fortune 500 multinationals. Outside China he is Honorary Representative of the Vancouver Board of Trade, Honorary Professor at Assumption University of Thailand, and Adviser to the US Coalition of Service Industries. He was named a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2003.
He received bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in engineering from the University of Strasbourg and a master’s degree in management from Oxford University in 1991.
Professor von Pfetten is the author of several research papers on the subjects
of China foreign direct investment strategies, the Chinese model of corporate governance, and Asian leadership changes, presented at United Nations and APEC summits.
A: The most important problem facing the Chinese economy is the
increasing gap between the countryside and the city. China is still
a developing country with a rather low gross domestic product per
I would like to add the following:
Continue to expand domestic demand and stimulate the
consumer market away from foreign direct investment and the
export oriented economic growth model. Efforts are needed to
increase the income of residents in raising the minimum wage
standard. It would be helpful to raise the minimum purchase price
of grain and boost the income of farmers.
Manage the growth of urbanization carefully. Implementation
of land reform raises the possibility that farmers will trade
their land use rights, thus depriving them of an important security.
Support the service sector, which is environmentally
friendly and instrumental in job creation. The government can provide
incentives for starting one’s own business, effectively giving
more support to the rising private economy.
Bolster the international influence of the renminbi and
encourage Chinese companies to establish international footholds
and acquire valuable resources and assets overseas.
I would also suggest that China’s current development transformation
be accompanied by a profound reform of people’s ideas:
The phrase “economic growth” should be replaced with
Local government officials should switch from “rich nation
first” mentality to “rich people first”.
The economic cake should be made “better” instead of “bigger”.
- State-owned capital should change from “profit-oriented”
to “public interest oriented”.
Such change of the people’s mindset is a prerequisite for a
sound implementation of new rules and regulations enacted from
the central government .
|>>THE MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEM
FACING THE CHINESE ECONOMY
IS THE INCREASING GAP
BETWEEN THE COUNTRYSIDE
AND THE CITY. CHINA IS STILL A
DEVELOPING COUNTRY WITH A
RATHER LOW GROSS DOMESTIC
PRODUCT PER CAPITA.<<
Q: We hear that your biggest wish is to join the Communist
Party of China (CPC). May we know the reason why you
want to join the CPC and what you think about the development
of the CPC?
A: Beyond my 1999 party report I would like to add:
- CPC has an historical meaning for the Chinese people: the
party assures the stability of the country and is giving the Chinese
people back their pride after so many centuries of foreign humiliation.
- CPC has an historical meaning for the world: the CPCstrengthened
China is the only country giving alternative ideals
since the fall of Soviet Union and insures stable economic development
for the country to enable the country to become the engine
of growth for the world at large
- CPC current ideals are very close to those of my greatgrand-
uncle, Joseph Faisant, that were embodied in the Radical-
Socialist Party of France in the1920s. He was MP and helped to
organize young Chinese to work and study in France, including
Deng Xiaoping in 1921, who worked at the steel mill of my family
in Burgundy. These ideals can be simplified into a vegetable called
“The Radish”: Red outside (socialist), White inside (traditional
values) and always very close to the butter plate (attention to the
economy and well-off society). I personally particularly subscribe
to the making of an “Harmonious Society” which still remains to
be achieved in China and the rest of the world.
Q: Recently, China’s position in the international community
has been rising. However, there are some unfriendly
comments about China. In your opinion, how should China
improve her image in the international community?
A: I am very surprised by the last three years of increased misunderstanding
of China by the rest of the world, particularly Europe,
probably due to the financial crisis which is still very damaging
in terms of its decreasing wealth and increasingly protectionist
mindset. I now feel that the Chinese government should better use
China’s rich culture to win the hearts and minds of Western people
by promoting Chinese cultural
centers abroad, for instance; and
also use foreign voices to represent
China outside. Given its rapid economic
growth, some commentators
have argued China has become a
global power and is no longer a developing
country. Others say China
should redefine itself a “responsible
stakeholder” helping maintain the
present international order. These
arguments are inconsistent with
China’s reality. For all the hype
about China’s rise, its per capita
GDP ranks 104 worldwide in a World
Bank report, lower than many other
developing countries. China should
and will continue to align itself with
other developing countries.
|JC Iseux, left, with General Fidel Ramos, former president of the
||In 2005, Professor von Pfetten, left, is greeted by General Cao
Ganggquan, then Chinese Minister of Defense, right.
||Professor von Pfetten in 2006 , left,with Zohong Nan Hai, center,and Zeng Peiyan, then Chinese deputy prime minister, right.
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