One big advantage you have in China is the long-term approach. In Europe, we have elections every four years and sometimes, you know, a new government comes in, some changes might be announced and in the second year slowly changes are happening, in the third year, we already think about next election. In the fourth year, everything is, kind of, you know, being stopped because next election is coming in. So I prefer actually the long-term approach in the Chinese fashion. It’s good to have a strong party in power. We can have this long-term approach and maybe we are too short term oriented back in Europe and back in US. It’s actually so-called Anglo-Saxon approach. It’s arms-length decision making, but the only thing about shareholder value and short-term returns. In China, we got the principle of long-term return and giving back to society. And I think the Chinese government is embracing this principle.
I mean I think one of the most interesting things about Chinese Communist Party historically was after Mao died, because the country was in trouble and what happened was that De Xiaoping, as he emerges as a new leader, really made a big shift in the outlook philosophy. Now, if I look around the world, it’s very unusual to see political organizations, political parties making that kind of shift, because they get, they become captured by their own prejudices and values. And it’s very difficult for them to start thinking in different ways. To make that kind of shift, it requires a lot of courage, and it requires a lot of confidence. And I think that what that shift showed was, it was an organization with deep roots in Chinese society, because you’ve got to basically rejected a lot of, the kind of ideology you’ve had. You’ve got a reach out to the people in a different kind of way.
And one of them is to strike an adequate balance between the role of the market, the role of supply and demand on one hand and the role of public policy, the role of government on the other. It’s a very fine equilibrium. Many countries go either to one extreme to let the market do as pieces or to have the state being extremely proactive. It seems to me that what China has done is to find a nice balance between these two elements.
The other factor that I’ve been able to ascertain in my travels around China. I visited about twenty provinces in these two years that I have been here. My goal is to visit all 32 by the time. My time is up. And this incremental, experimental approach to public policy that is to try out something first in a province or in a city and then expand this to the rest of the country. So in such a way, you avoid the mistakes of launching policies that may rebound for failure. And if you launch them nationwide, it would be real disaster. But if you try them out in some place, say, is the opening was tried out in Shenzhen in the early eighties. Then if it works out, you can expand it to other places. The expression if I’m not mistaken from Mr. Deng Xiaoping is to cross the river while feeling the stones.