By BRIAN SOKUTU
Xi Jinping Thought – Through South African Eyes, the latest thought-provoking analytical book by University of South Africa senior lecturer and researcher, Dr Paul Tembe, on lessons Africa could learn from China’s political economy success story – so well captured and constructed by Tembe – has stimulated a lively debate in the South African intellectual community.
Launched this week at the Chinese embassy in SA, Dr Tembe’s new book explains his understanding of Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era – from political, economic, social and cultural perspectives.
This could help South African and other African countries to appreciate the historical background, profound connotation, theoretical depth and brilliant practice of this thought.
The book has been hailed as the first in comparative studies between China, South Africa and the African continent, sharing successes in the Chinese governance model – without being prescriptive to other countries.
In commending Tembe on his latest book, Bongani Mayimele, of the National School of Government, said: “For years, President Xi Jinping has shared his thoughts and wisdom with us through a series of publications on the governance of China – to inspire in the pursuit and creation of shared future for mankind.
“The book is a departure from a long-held premise that underpins China–Africa exchanges – that China seeks to describe, impose or encourage countries to copy its governance model or systems.
“China encourages countries to improve on governance – on particular national conditions and aspirations, because China’s governance is shaped by its history and culture.
“Dr Tembe asserts in his book what President Xi has said on numerous occasions – cautioning against adapting the Peoples Republic of China’s governance to other countries.
“The book is written in an accessible comparative fashion that encourages dialogue in search of our own development strategies.”
In his keynote address, Chinese Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Ad Interim Li Zhigang lauded Tembe on the book.
Said Li Zhigang: “In his new work, Dr Tembe’s shares his knowledge and understanding of Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era from political, economic, social and cultural aspects.
“It is helpful for our South African friends to better learn and understand the background, profound connotations, theoretical achievement and glorious practice of this thought.
“Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), general secretary Xi Jinping has been leading the CPC and the Chinese people to respond to major changes and usher in new chapters.
“He has been committed to the idea of freeing minds and innovation, based on what has worked in the past and he put forward many major ideas – perspectives that reflected our times and offered strong guidance to our work.
“That is how the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, formed.
“This important thought provides fundamental guidelines for realising the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.
“It is also an important window that informs and inspires friends worldwide about China.
“At present, socialism with Chinese Characteristics has entered a new era. “China is now going through the most extensive and profound social changes in its history.
“China is also witnessing the most ambitious and unique development that’s based on sound innovation and good practice in human history.
“At the same time, today’s world is experiencing major changes unseen in a century.
“World multipolarity, economic globalisation, IT application and cultural diversity are all moving forward quickly.
“A new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial changes are flourishing. The global governance system and international order are changing at an accelerated pace.
“The trend of the times for peace, development, cooperation and win-win results, is unstoppable.”
Zhigang warned of “the spread of extremism, terrorism and global challenges such as cyber security, major infectious diseases and climate change” – continuing to take a toll on the world.
“What is happening to our world? And what needs to be done? This is a question that the whole world is thinking about.
“It is also a question of world significance that all Chinese communists must answer,” he said.
Said Tembe: ““In this book, I take each and every success story from China and juxtapose it with South African conditions.
And guess what, same conditions with China, same opportunities with China – or even better, we have more arable land, more mineral resources and we are higher on demographics.
“In the coming decades, we have the so-called African demographic gain. “But if we don’t harness that African demographic dividend, we will be looking at the African demographic curse.
“That is where education comes in handy – becoming important.
“I did not only take China’s governance as an alternative system, but took its success as a muse for rationalising, in order to implement policies that we have in place.
“SA has one of the best constitutions in the world.
“Let us go back to the drawing board to find out what is wrong with its implementation.”
Also addressing the gathering were Dr David Monyae of the University of Johannesburg’s Africa-China Centre; and Febe Potgieter, ANC general manager.