China's rapid rise has set an example for the rest of the world, according to Jeffrey Sachs, professor of economics at Columbia University in the United States.
"China demonstrated by the way that in 40 years, an economy of 1.4 billion people could go from basically extreme poverty to a remarkable dynamism and technological excellence. If we can infuse that approach, widely, globally, this is what can happen all over the world," Sachs said in a speech broadcast at Vision China, a virtual event held by China Daily on Wednesday.
Sachs was the mastermind behind the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, defining sustainable development as achieving three broad objectives: maintaining growth; helping to rescue the poor; and helping to save the planet from destruction.
He said China's ideas and commitment to sustainable development－or "common prosperity", in the words of President Xi Jinping－are crucial.
"I think we should do what China is very good at doing, which is setting clear goals and timelines, and then use a planning process to determine how to achieve those outcomes," said Sachs, who is also a senior adviser to the UN and has visited China many times over the past 40 years.
"I remember a long time ago when China said, 'By 2020, we will end poverty', and I have watched the process over 20 years of Chinese planning, public investment and strategies. President Xi announced at the UN a year ago that China is committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2060. I think it's going to happen faster than that," he said.
He added that he is a big fan of the Belt and Road Initiative. "The BRI is really about building a 21st-century infrastructure. And now China is emphasizing that it will be a green belt and road. That is, emphasizing renewable energy, digital technologies and all of the clean and environmentally sustainable approaches," he said.
Sachs noted that when China tackles common prosperity, the challenges it is addressing right now are also problems that the US and rest of the world are feeling and facing.
He said China's commitment to a peaceful approach to the world and to multilateralism is a very smart strategy because, even theoretically, no one country can solve problems such as a pandemic, climate change, global pollution or the destruction of fisheries.
"China has been saying 'cooperate'. I've had the great honor and pleasure to cooperate with so many colleagues, so many students, so many professional colleagues (who) have (made) so many efforts together. And this approach of multilateralism, peaceful cooperation that China promotes is absolutely the way that we need to move forward," Sachs said.
"That's good for China, good for the world. I want the US to do the same, because we spent trillions and trillions of dollars wasted in wars that were bloody, that created terrible damage and didn't result in any good."
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China regaining its seat at the UN.
"I think we should take these 50 years as really a guidepost that we need another 50 years of strong cooperation and strong multilateralism," Sachs said.