It is a great achievement for China to maintain overall stability in a vast country while booking a fast economic growth in the past three decades, a senior Dutch researcher on China told Xinhua in a recent interview.
With its growing economic strength, China is making considerable contributions to world prosperity and peace, said Willem van Kemenade, senior visiting fellow at the Netherlands Clingendael Institute for International Relations.
China, with its GDP ranking fourth now in the world, is destined to be a major player in the world. It has to adjust its policy of "lying low and biding its time" and assume bigger responsibility, said the Dutch consultant, who authored three books on China and published numerous articles about China's relations with the rest of the world.
Van Kemenade worked as a journalist between 1977 and 1997 based in Hong Kong, Taipei and Beijing. When he first set foot on China in 1975, he was struck by the sight of millions of "blue ants" -- people dressed in dull, blue coats -- who were busy chanting hollow slogans, paying scant attention to the economy.
"I thought this cannot go on. So did many Western people like me, " he said.
When China set in motion the process of reform and opening-up in 1978, van Kemenade sensed this was going to be the start of a brand new chapter of China and the world's most populous country was on its way to becoming a major player in the world.
The process of economic reform was what the Chinese call "a tortuous path", punctuated by setbacks here and there, but China has managed to stay on the course and pulled off economic miracles, said van Kemenade.
Even an inland city like Chengdu, where you hardly spot any high- rise buildings 20 years ago, is now "a big, ultra-modern metropolis " with office towers everywhere, he said.
"If you see the pictures of Chongqing (a city not far from Chengdu), it looks like New York, but in a much more modern version," he added.
"Compared with other big developing countries, such as India, China has been doing extremely well," the Dutch expert concluded.
An important reason for that is that the Chinese government has succeeded in energizing the population, he said, noting that the majority of the Chinese people are convinced that economic advancement is key to realizing the national goal of becoming a great nation again.
An equally important factor is China's ability to keep the country stable. "It has been a big achievement for China to maintain national unity and keep the general situation stable nationwide," van Kemenade said.
"A Chinese slogan says: 'Wending yadao yiqie (Stability is of paramount importance).' I absolutely agree with that," he said.