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China: Comprehensive Textbook for Third World

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China: Comprehensive Textbook for Third World

Jun 28 , 2022

'A system of socialist market economy has taken shape in China. The market is taking an increasingly important role in the allocation of resources while the macro-control system is being refined; the public and non-public sectors of the economy including individual businesses compose a complementary economic structure. The state owned economy dominates such fields as railways, civil aviation, urban water, power and gas supplies, science and technology, education, national defense and finance…’

- A book on China today published by China’s Foreign Languages Press.

In my previous piece on my impressions in China, I had touched upon the Chinese capacity at organization, mastering of science and technology at all levels, hard work and discipline.

The quotation above is a reflection to what extent they responded to western pressure to the developing world to effect economic structural reforms. In response, the Chinese asserted to embark on reforms "in accordance with Chinese characteristics” and would not swallow hook, bait and sinker the western prescription as some of us did in the developing world - effecting massive privatization to disastrous end as evident today.

We will come back to this point in later in the course of this perspective. Let me now take you with me around some places in China I saw in the course of my tour, which has just ended.

Apart from Beijing, which is the capital of the People’s Republic of China, we were taken to Hefei, capital city of Anhui province with a population of 60 million people in the hinterland of China’s Yangtze Delta before concluding our tour with a visit to Xiamen, another province with equally a huge population.

What was instructive to me is the ingenuity of the Chinese people in most visible areas to any visitor such as roads, and buildings, including those meant as residence of ordinary people.

As I narrated in my preceding piece, a visitor who has been to New York, in the United States will immediately conclude that the skyscrapers one sees in New York are not unique to America. China has them and in plenty, not only in the capital, Beijing but also in the rest of the major provincial cities of the country.

It was a pleasant surprise to me as I was driven around Hefei and Xiamen cities. Skyscrapers on every major avenue, left, right and centre!

Sometimes as we drove along some of the roads, the impression I got was as if I was being driven into some hand-made underground tunnels. 'No! This section of the road was once a hill or mountain. It was drilled to make a road…” someone enjoined as he heard me exclaim.

As I looked around the cities, how much I wished I had divine powers to airlift my 45-million fellow Tanzanians to come to China and see the country for themselves! This experience would dissuade them of the stereotype impressions they have been subjected, judging from the poor quality products imported by our easy-money traders who go to China to shop for cheap products, which ends up distorting the image of China as a place of "poor quality” products.

I was yet in for another pleasant surprise when I visited a passenger-bus manufacturing and assembly plant known as 'King Long’ in downtown Xiamen. Eh! Bwana!

Here is a world-class vehicle manufacturing plant-producing hundreds of luxurious buses suitable for any public transportation anywhere, including the United States and Europe!

On reflection, how much I wished these buses would grace the roads of Dar es Salaam, preferably owned by the public owned 'Usafiri wa Dar Es Salaam’ [UDA] company to compete with the privately owned ones, which run anyhow!

At this point, my piece of advise to the powers that be running this publicly owned bus service here in Dar es Salaam is to move to urgently to recapitalize UDA so that it can be able to purchase these impressive Chinese-made 'King Long’ buses.

This will go a long way to alleviate the plight of school children; especially those from our poor majority who depend on the rough privately owned buses, known as the 'daladala’. Just as an anecdote along the way, I was amused the other day to hear the former Governor [Regional Commissioner] of Dar es Salaam ordering privately owned 'daladalas’ to pick stranded school children. Apparently, the RC had forgotten that capitalism is never humane!

This brings to the quotation at the launch of this perspective. One of the angles to this quote on how the Chinese embarked on economic reforms was that the Chinese socialist state had ensured that among the basic needs of a whole people was transport and of course, education which should primarily be the concern of the state.

On the home front here, instead of propping up UDA for instance, the state has let it die, or if it is there, it is on very weak footing. This situation has been the result of the International Monetary Fund’s inspired economic reforms. Now, instead, private transport is predominant! We also nearly privatized our railway system at a time not even the capitalist countries prefer it into private hands!

Our failure to prop up public firms, such as the railway system has been at great cost. One does not know when there will be an improved railway system in this country. The reason is easy to see: private hands are in charge of the other sector; the road sector, which is predominant with privately owned short and long haul buses.

And since we have dispensed with the leadership code when we no longer have a break on confusing private roles to public ones, some of our officials in public office actually own privately owned buses plying long-haul roads. Would it be unreasonable to suspect sabotage of the railway sector by people wearing public faces in public office while, actually, espousing private interests?

The remarkable lesson from China is when they chose to reform their erstwhile public firms to assume a private-public stance with overall state supervision.

This stance was real when I took a hard look at the 'King Long’ bus assembling plant in Xiamen, China. Public hands or the eye of the state (if you like!) is there to ensure its success in business both at home and abroad. That, to me, is the essence of reform with 'Chinese characteristics’.

Don’t we have Tanzanian characteristics? Who said reforms have a special time and limit? No, let us all the time look around and try again and again to reform with Tanzanian characteristics!

- Writer’s email:,


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