Building a Prosperous Society of People Free from Toil And Want: Lessons From China.

By Joseph Nyero.

The government of the People’s Republic of China began to work for a moderately prosperous society, one they called xiaokang in 1980. This was a fight against poverty with aim of achieving decent life and improvement of human rights in the country. The major aim wasn’t necessarily being rich but so that the people are free from want and toil. The Chinese Communist Party of China (CPC) and the government basically wanted the people to have peace, stability and happiness.  They pushed for growth in all aspects of economic development whilst leaving no individual element like social, economic, cultural etc lacking.

It didn’t come with their hands folded, they had to input a lot which can be as well be emulated by developing countries like Uganda. Interestingly, 770 million people below China’s poverty line have been raised from poverty. Indeed, in February this year, Chinese president, Xi Jinping announced that the country had eradicated extreme poverty one of its main objectives in the last twenty years and stressed that “complete victory” that would “go down in history” had been realized. “According to the current criteria, all 98.99 million poor rural population have been taken out of poverty, and 832 poverty-stricken counties as well as 128,000 villages have been removed from the poverty list,” noted president Xi.

All the above happened 10 years ahead of the projected time of 2030 by the UN. For anyone interested in learning, the first lesson would be the possibility of this seemingly impossible venture with China as the evidence to its feasibility. Most of the problems China had then are the ones many developing countries like Uganda face now. Its therefore more logical for us to implement solutions that have been tested and trusted to work elsewhere other than going about experimenting as this would waste resources and time without guaranteeing outcome.

Foremost, the government has put advancing its people’s rights above everything else. All the people enjoy their human rights, with equal opportunities and the rules affect all the people equally. The people are not favoured nor marginalised on grounds of ethnicity, gender, race, color etc. Also, Beijing fronted rewarding merit (meritocracy) other than kakistocracy. As a result of this, government’s programs are realised as set and the people are unified, patriotic and are willing to work together for the better of the whole country. This is a step several developing African countries can look at and incorporate it into their systems.

According to this month’s official document issued by China’s State Council Information Office entitled; “Moderate Prosperity in All Respects: Another Milestone Achieved in China’s Human Rights,” the government of China offered free compulsory education for its citizens. All primary and secondary schools can access the internet, financial aid has been offered to over 150 million students. There is also a system where those who drop out of school are identified and helped back into school. in developing countries like Uganda, very few and lucky people can afford to pay higher institutions tuition with easiness which has increased on number of those dropping out of higher institutions before completion. Such challenges can be addressed by government waiving tuition or and or textbook fees to reduce burden parents and students face.

China also put-up special teaching posts in villages to ensure that university graduates got to teach in the rural areas. Though such arrangements are in place her – hard to reach areas, strengthening them will see developing countries like Uganda ensuring  that the students in rural areas also acquire a good quality education. Remarkably, China has over 3,000 public libraries where scholars can access reading materials that may not be in their school libraries. Uganda has only of which very few are well stocked.

China has put up places where people can go and do exercises, encouraged the people to do them and has also educated the mases on good nutrition. They have also promoted preventive services like cardiovascular screening and cancer screening. China’s rural areas have access to basic medical insurance. This ensures that the people don’t sell their belongings or die as a result of failing to access medical care. China has also made rehabilitation services generally available for the disabled and mentally ill. During this pandemic, they have pulled numerous resources to build 1000 and 14000 bed health facilities in 10 and 12 days respectively. They have made efforts to vaccinate all the people and on top of offering free treatment for COVID-19 patients. China’s commitment to the health of their citizens has had their life expectancy increasing while most of the world especially in developing countries is decreasing. If Uganda could borrow the whole tree (apparently a leaf might not be enough), we would have reduced mortalities and the unending challenges like strikes of health workers would be history.

China built an agrotechnology system that has greatly improved their productivity. Uganda being an agriculture-based country could benefit umpteen times from such a system. In China, the right to be free from hunger is guaranteed by the nutrition improvement program for children in poor areas and people having access to food through poverty alleviation. China has also ensured safe housing for the poor and put-up programs such as renovation of rural homes. If replicated here, Uganda would as well greatly benefit.

To address the problem of un employment, China has put up 45,800 employment agencies. Though Uganda is trying with programs like skilling youth, extra efforts will help make a big difference.

China has also strengthened the legal protection of human rights and increased the public awareness of the constitution and the law. Consequently, many people understand laws governing them and as they enjoy their much-protected human rights, they also understand what is required of them and hence, many are patriotic and always work to defend interests of their country which is key for development to take place.  Most Ugandans don’t even know their rights or even the constitution. China has as well put-up internet-based government services, the public supreme court has publicized judicial protection of private enterprises. All these have in a way led to the achievement of the desired goals and arguably, all Chinese have peace, stability and happiness which is key for a holistic prosperous society. Perhaps, developing countries like Uganda should embrace such, we shall be on wheels swiftly moving towards a xiaokang too.

Joseph Nyero is a research fellow at Development Watch Centre, a Foreign Policy Think Tank and a fourth-year medical student at Makerere University.



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