In a meeting with Mr. Zakaria, CNN host, about three years ago, he asked me a very sharp question: Professor Zhang, you said repeatedly, the Western model is not working for China. Yet look at Asia, virtually all other Asian countries have adopted the Western political model. Why?
I said, actually, the answer isn't that complicated. My answer is very simple.
Simply because China has performed better than all other Asian countries combined over the past two decades, three decades or even four decades.
And what's more important is China has lifted 815 million people out of poverty.
China has created the world's largest middle class, 400 million people.
And again, you look at overall opinion, most people think in China, their country is on the right track.
If we look at the opinion survey conducted by Ipsos, for instance, last year it was 90 percent; this year, I checked this morning, it's 91 percent.
As a comparison, if you look at the opinion survey for the UK, 21 percent think their country is on the right track. Mainly because of Brexit, maybe. In France, 20 percent.
So sometimes I ridiculed my European friends. I said, my goodness, you talk about human rights, come on. Which country has a better human rights situation? Of course China.
At the level of 2G, China did not have its own standard. We use European standard, American standard. At the level of 3G, China began to have its own standard. At the level of 4G, we use our own standard. Now China is a leader in 5G standard.
So it's a typical example for how from away behind to gradually moving up and then catching up and even surpassing.
Now China and the United States are in the premier league of the fourth industrial revolution. They are the only two countries there. Whether in terms of AI, big data, quantum technology... the list goes on.
And behind this is what I call the nature of the Chinese state. I don't think many people really understand this.
I think China is different type of state. I call China a Civilizational State. What does it mean? It means it's an amalgamation of hundreds of states into one over its long history.
Super large population. In Europe, a country on average has 14 million people. China is size of 100 average European states together.
Super vast territory, it's a continent. Super long traditions, everything goes back thousands of years. Good or bad, it's fact.
So that makes the Chinese case and the rise of China very different and very unique.
In the political domain, it's called selection plus election, if the Western model is about election. Which model is better? The China model is better.
在经济领域，我称之为混合经济。国家和市场都发挥作用，互为补充。有时两者之间会产生矛盾，但在中央政府层面，会努力让它们互为补充。And in the economic domain, I call it a mixed economy. The rule of the state and the rule of the market - they complement each other. Sometimes they do have problems within each other yet at the level of central government, they try very hard to make them complement each other.
Whatever problems the China model has, the Chinese economic model is the only one that saved China from financial crisis. We haven't experienced any financial crisis or whatever economic crisis.
And then in the social domain, the state and society are engaged in positive interactions.
You have to understand the Chinese Communist Party. In the West, the media would portray China as Communist C capital letter, state, and that's very negative, but you have to understand China. The Chinese Communist Party is the overwhelmingly positive force for China.
This is common sense in China. If you don't understand that, you cannot understand China's rise and China itself.
So this is what I call, in the case of Western model, I would call the political system as a partial interest political party or parties, as they compete with each other.
In the Chinese case, it's a holistic interest Party. It represents the overwhelming majority of Chinese people and shapes consensus and works on that. So this is China's unique advantage.
We can make bold reforms and long-term plans, not only plans for the next year, but plans for the next generation and the next century.
我两个月前在英国。我说，何必举行公投呢？进行公投，脱欧和留欧双方只有3.6%的差距，然后社会变得更加分裂。这不是最佳方式。I was in the UK just two months ago. I said, why do you bother with this referendum? There is only 3.6 percent difference about Brexit, you have a referendum and then society becomes more and more divided. It's not the best way.
We’ve got what we call “from the people, to the people”, one round, “to the people, from the people”, another round, “from the people, to the people” again another round. And then reaching consensus, the whole nation has built up consensus and moves this nation forward.
We look at the whole proposal for this Greater Bay Area; you'll find a very clear reference to how to improve people's living standards and quality of life. And this is crucial.
And in the West, we often hear what’s called divide and rule. The Chinese approach is just the opposite. Our approaches are called unite and prosper.
So that's my advice to Hong Kong, unite and prosper. Don't follow this Western advice, divide and rule. Hong Kong will be declined sharply if you follow that approach.
So this Greater Bay Area is a good example of unite and prosper. Most people would benefit through this win-win cooperation.
If you look at the whole process of drafting this Greater Bay Area Initiative, it's all kind of consultations.
So I always counsel my Western friends, if you want to understand China, look at the decision-making process.
The internal, the external, with think tanks within the Party, outside the Party. And then you come to a kind of decision-making.
And you need forward-looking strategies, otherwise it will not work.
And then local competition and cooperation. Actually, some people did a serious study; I tend to agree with their conclusion that China's success to a great extent is a success of local competition and cooperation at the county level.
One major reason is local initiatives have been brought into full play through local competition, competition at the county level, at the city level, at the provincial level. Yet the central government tried to make sure that it will not become a vicious competition. They will be competitions that produce win-win.
This is also part of Chinese philosophy, which is called yin andyang, as it can be combined. We're good at that. You encourage a certain degree of competition, yet you ensure overall cooperation.
And then experimentation. In the Chinese approach we always start with pilot projects and try to see whether they work or not. They work. We extend experience elsewhere. Within this Greater Bay Area Initiative, we have all kinds of pilot projects.
Within this Greater Bay Area Initiative, we have all kinds of pilot projects.
For instance, Shenzhen is officially given the plan. It's called the pioneering zone for a socialist new city. And then, regional integration, this idea of multiple city clusters and the Greater Bay Area is a great example.
These clusters really play a role of what we call one plus one is larger than two and the Greater Bay Area will be a new example of this.
And then in the Chinese model we emphasize a lot whether we can create new points of growth.
The Greater Bay Area focuses on our new points of growth. For instance, for Macao SAR, the central government said in this plan, Macao will become a center of tourism and leisure, as well as a center for Portuguese-speaking exchanges.
The forward-looking Chinese economy has been forced and compelled to make a readjustment to embrace the new technologies.
People talk a lot about China's growth rate. In fact, if we do not embrace the new economy, we stay with the old economy. You just build real estate. China’s economy can easily achieve 8 percent or 9 percent growth rate.
But we don't do that. Economic restructuring and moving up in the technological chain and value chain. This is the future.
I think the Greater Bay Area will become a mega power of success.
Thank you very much.