[FOUNTAIN]Flying out of povertyThe American magazine Newsweek reported that Karl Marx’s theory of labor is correct at least in Shenzhen and Zhouhai, after seeing the two special economic zones in China. Ten years ago, the regions had over 100,000 young women in the degrading position of the local wives of rich capitalists in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Daily wages as low as $2 could easily be found. They also had the world’s highest crime rates. Shenzhen was a symbolic city that represented corruption and a place where capitalists were the scourge of the proletariat.
On Jan. 1, 1992, a secret telegram arrived at the Guangdong Provincial Party Committee. “Our comrade Deng Xiaoping plans to take a rest in the south. Please be prepared.” This two-sentence telegram sent by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party changed the fate of China. At nine in the morning on January 19, a train carrying Mr. Deng arrived at Shenzhen. This is how the famous “Southern Tour” started. Mr. Deng’s tour included Zhouhai and ended in Shanghai. At the age of 89, Mr. Deng toured in search of hope for the future in the midst of confusion.
That same year October, during the Communist Party’s 14th National Congress, Deng Xiaoping made a brave suggestion. “Liberalizing the people’s productivity is true revolution,” he said. “Reform will liberalize the productivity.” He proposed a policy of “one center” (building the economy) and “two basic points” (reform and opening). It marked the end of the 10 years of planned market economics and began a new era of social market economics.
After Mr. Deng’s visit to the south, the number of private companies in China jumped by 33 times, exceeding 300,000. China started to record an unprecedented 9 percent annual growth rate. During this period, 300 million people escaped from poverty and personal income increased four-fold. Through monumental growth, China became known as the “factory of the world.” Now China is the world’s largest coal, steel and cement producer and second-largest energy consumer. Newsweek has even carried an article that evaluated China’s economy as overheated, prompting foreign investors to look elsewhere.
Recently, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited Shenzhen with a hundred attendants. It drew attention because his tour covered some of the ground Mr. Deng’s tour did. Shenzhen, a quiet fishing village, became a world-famous high-technology city with 7.5 million people in just 20 years. The roc is the symbol of Shenzhen. It is a mythological bird that sits still for a long time but can fly over 20,000 miles a day. I wonder if Mr. Kim will dream of it the way Mr. Deng did.
by Lee Chul-ho
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.