Q:China has achieved many economic milestones over the past decade, but the Western politicians' saying "China is a threat to the world" has followed all the way. What is your opinion on this?
A:I think we need to analyze this statement very carefully. When you say "Western", I think it’s too heavy, it's not Western, maybe mainly it's America and some allied European countries. Because if you go to South America, nobody's talking about China being a threat. If you go to Africa, nobody is talking about it as a trap. People who tell you that or people who are vocal about that are from some countries in the Europe, not all of them, and then there's the United States. So the question is, a threat to whom?
Another question is, why is China a threat? Maybe because the United States doesn't want to compete with anybody else? And China represents, not because China wants to, but represents competition to the US in terms of technology, competition to the US in terms of production. So those are the main elements. I don't see China being a threat to anyone. China's foreign policy, respects sovereignty of every single country. China never invades, never declares war. We are talking about competition in a very narrow field, that is economics.
And that's natural because China wants to achieve development. And when to achieve development, you need to have, as President Xi Jinping says, dual circulation, internal market, external market. And if competition is not good, I don't understand, because the United States loves to say that they want to have free competition. So let China compete in the international market, so I don't see a threat in any way. I can see competition, I can see China trying to gain the market.
Q:The Diplomat compared China's BRI to the US's Marshall Plan in a 2016 article. What is your estimation of BRI?
A: It's completely different. Marshall Plan is a plan for reconstruction and for economic fostering. BRI is not that.
Many people would say that the Belt and Road Initiative is a Chinese initiative. Many people say that it’s a way for China to increase trade or increase investment outside. The way I see it is a little different. I see it as a cooperation platform.
So when we have Latin American countries and there's a discussion, how would Latin America take part in it? How could Latin America engage better? And again, the point that I'd like to stress is that Latin America can engage with many other countries other than China. Because China had the idea to create a platform, but China doesn't want to monopolize it and keep the Belt and Road Initiative to itself. No, it wants to spread around the world as a cooperation platform. You want to be part of BRI. That's fine. If you're not, it's okay. It's your option.
What I am saying is that if you're part of BRI, you would have enjoyed a club that can invest together, can do trade together, can share different cultural elements together, can participate in discussion of the digital economy, digital transformation, societal transformations. So that's the important point.
I've heard people say many times, if you're part of the BRI, China will invest in you, will buy from you. No, that's not the case. China never said that. What China always said is that we are creating, we are sharing a vision of the world of humankind where we want development and prosperity. BRI is a tool that can help us to achieve that. China never said that the only tool is our tool. There is no need for these adjectives in the discussion. What we have in the discussion is something that could help the world.
Q:In the context of globalization, what is your opinion about the so-called China-US decoupling?
A:In my opinion, it's very, very hard to have a decoupling. When you are the first and second economies, there is no possibility of decoupling. Why? Because you are integrated, not fully, in some value chains, in some supply chains, you are completely integrated.
But of course, if you are two largest economies in the world, there is no possibility of decoupling. So I think what the US Trade Representative says in Singapore is the right thing. You cannot divorce. You can realign, you can restrategize, but you cannot divorce. There is no such thing in decoupling. There is no such thing in decoupling in terms of macro economics. There is no such thing of decoupling in terms of technology. Because they are already integrated.
It took a long time, almost two decades, three decades for this integration between the American economy and the Chinese economy. You can not just do it by a presidential order, say "now disappear", it's impossible. People that work with real economics know that. So one thing is the ideological or political use of this term, "decoupling". Another thing is the real economic meaning of decoupling. In the political arena, you can talk about that. But in practical terms, you can reduce but never decouple.
Q: As former special advisor to the president of Brazil, what do you think of China's development?
A:I think the root of China's objective, is to achieve development for its people. It's very important. It's not a dream, it's a reality. And I think China can do that because it has its unique system.
How can China get to that? I always say that there are some important elements. The first element that’s very critical is leadership. When the leadership takes a decision, that's taken seriously by everybody, by private sector, by media, by government. So you know the direction where you need to go.
The second important element is education. I am doing a research, and I see that at least thirty percent of the income of families go to education. Not only formal education but after school, K12, everything. So that's very important. If you have money, you put money in education and that's different in Western society. Sometimes we take education for granted. We don't think that you need it. Many people say, because the competition in China is huge. But it doesn’t matter if he's in China or outside. You want to prepare. So the second element is education.
The third element is the faith that the population has in the government and in the system. The government plays an important role in terms of leadership, but plays a much more important role in terms of governance. So people understand where you want to go.
The fourth element I think, it's an important element, is the culture of Chinese people, is how they perceive the world. Not in the short run, but it's a long run.
I think those four elements are the elements that make China different than any other place around the world.
Unique systems, solid education, firm faith in the government, and long-term vision are the four characteristics of China's path, in Professor Teixeira's observation. With its roots in Chinese soil, the country's path has proved suitable for China's culture and conditions. It has brought the Chinese people peaceful and fulfilled lives, and the Chinese nation lasting prosperity.
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