APP下载

从阿文说起的浙江故事

2022-04-27胡宏伟

文化交流 2022年4期
关键词:阿文义乌浙江

胡宏伟

1986 年,温州苍南县金乡镇的阿文,有一家夫妻俩自己打理的生产铝质徽章的小作坊。被问到“为什么要开作坊”,阿文答道:“家里太穷。”从那以后,阿文的消息仿佛断了线的风筝,人海茫茫,而当有人再次提起阿文时,只听说他的厂子已经有了100 多名员工。

对于浙江的发展,印象最深刻的是什么?什么才是浙江最骄傲的?很多人或许会马上提到一个关键词:“人民富裕。”

共富基础:根植于百姓经济

阿文的老家苍南县金乡镇当年其实根本不是“金子之乡”,从邻县远嫁而来的妻子为此总是埋怨阿文,说自己是“被骗过来”的。1978年时,这个地处浙江最南端、距离福建20多公里路的濒海小镇人均耕地不足0.2亩,人均年收入仅20元,金乡以“讨饭之乡”远近闻名。我曾经追问阿文,他家里当年到底有多穷?他淡淡地说了一句 :“老婆差点跑掉了。”

贫穷,绝不仅仅是阿文难言的心头之痛。改革开放之初,温州百姓的穷苦可以用“令人震惊”来形容。国家级贫困县温州文成县民政局曾做了个调查,称全县缺半年以上口粮的人口占全县的35%。

正因为穷,因为痛,当改革刚刚透出第一线松动的光亮,温州人就蜂拥而上。改革往往需要付出难以预料的代价,但温州人已经穷得没有什么值得自己犹豫的代价了。他们,成为一群最先感知春江水暖的鸭子。而且,那真正是浩浩荡荡的一大群鸭子。

很快,阿文发现一切都变了。古镇的街头巷尾神速冒出3000多个家庭小作坊,清一色生产铝质徽章和塑料饭菜票,产品几乎占据了中国50%的市场。那可真称得上是“商业争夺战”的汪洋大海:家家户户的厅堂、灶间架起了破旧的机床,哐当哐当的金属切割声、后院母猪哼哼叽叽的拱槽声此起彼伏。一个人口不过数万的小镇竟有1.2万人先后模仿、跟进,卷入雷同的小商品生产领域,还有约7000名金乡人游走全国,接订单、忙推销。金乡,真的开始变成了“金子之乡”。

在温州,无数个金乡同样是炉火正旺热翻了天:家家户户不知从何处拼装而成的机器疯了似地旋转;大街小巷的店铺一家紧挨着一家,密得连苍蝇都叮不出一道缝;河埠头、乡间路上,肩挑车载的商贩永远如集市般嘈杂。据统计,到1986年底,当时人口约600余万的温州共有120万人从传统农业转入工商业,从事家庭工业的已飞涨为14.65万户,470多个专业市场初具规模,10万农民购销员驰骋全国。

阿文富起来了,太多的温州人富起来了,“贫穷不是社会主义”在这里首先成为历史明证。

如果说温州的富起来靠家庭工业来带动乡亲们走向富裕,那么,义乌的富裕则是一个市场带动一批乡亲奔向富裕。

纵观44年的浙江改革开放史,可以用一句话形象概括 :20世纪80年代的“温州模式”,20世纪90年代的“义乌经验”,二十一世纪的“杭州现象”。由南至北,渐次推进。

作为全球最大的小商品市场,义乌在1991年国家工商局第一次统计开列的中国“十大专业市场”龙虎榜中高居榜首,方始名扬天下。

但其摆脱贫困的雄心早在改革开放最初期就已开始萌动。

和100多公里外温州的共同之处在于,义乌也是可怜的人多地少。更糟糕的是,处于金(华)衢(州)盆地的义乌土质属黄红壤,黏性大而肥性极差。土地不养人,经商便成了农民糊口活命的生存之道。

1980年12月1日,40岁的冯爱倩领到了义乌县工商局发放的小百货个体经营营业许可证,编号是001号。她的经商之路是在卖掉10担谷子获得80元“本钱”,又从信用社贷款300元之后开始的。冯爱倩记得,有一次她曾经拿着篮子去借2斤米烧饭,居然借了7户人家才借到。

从贫困出发绝地反击的冯爱倩们,打开的是一个遍地是老板、群体普遍富裕的新世界。40年后,义乌小商品城年销售额已逼近两千亿元,覆盖233个国家和地区;拥有商位7.5万个,从业者20多万人;全市市场主体总数高达73万,这意味着每10个义乌人里至少有3个老板。

从温州到义乌曾经发生的一切,恰是对今日浙江的最好注脚。

2021年4月,浙江提供的数据显示,浙江共有市场主体816万户,依目前全省常住人口6450多万计算,每8个浙江人中就有一个老板,人均市场主体居中国各省区之首。如果累加走出浙江、游走全国的800万以上的浙商,浙江籍创业者逾1000万。依目前全省户籍人口5000万计算,每5个浙江人中至少就有一个老板。

滴水成河、聚沙成塔、蚂蚁雄兵,人数与人口占比极为庞大的奋斗者群体,勾勒出中国改革开放史上颇为独特的浙江“老百姓经济”画卷。作为“老百姓经济”的主体,浙江第一代民营经济创业者、实践者大多崛起于经济相对落后的浙江中南部山区,他们最原始的改革驱动力仅仅是为了让家人不再挨饿,让自己的后代有可能远离贫困。怀揣着这一炙热的冲动,他们义无反顾地行动起来。

人数众多及普遍出身草根且贫寒,决定了浙江的“老百姓经济”从本质上来说就是共富经济。根植于“老百姓经济”的丰厚土壤,2021年,在农村居民人均可支配收入连续37年居中国各省区第一的基础上,浙江城乡居民收入比值降至1.94,成为城乡差距、地区差距最小的省份,中国第一个共同富裕示范区花落浙江成为必然。

无疑,正是与改革开放44年相伴而生的社会主义市场经济,催生了“大众创业、万众创新”活力勃发的“老百姓经济”。

逆向迁徙:推动异乡创富

在距离浙江4000多公里的乌鲁木齐,新华饭店当年很出名,甚至在相邻的中亚和独联体国家都知道。但新华饭店的出名并非因为它是一家饭店,而因为它变成了一家市场。

1986年,20多位义乌人扛着大包小包的服装、小百货来到乌鲁木齐,他们坚信,新疆很大,市场一定也会很大。但因为是无证摊贩,等待他们的,却是一次次的查罚。

办法总是会有的。他们住的正是新华饭店,这是乌鲁木齐城西河滩地上的一座三层楼房,位置偏,房价也就便宜,1大间20來平方米每晚只要8块钱。于是,包下4个大间,1间大家挤着住,3间权当摊位,鞋袜、玩具、服装,一字排开。

“新华饭店有浙江人在卖服装了,款式蛮新潮,比百货商场还便宜几十块呢!”好消息总是像插了翅膀,没过多久,3间客房每天都人潮汹涌。生意一火,尾随而来的义乌同乡也越来越多,到年底,摊位增加至90多个,占下了整整一层。到1990年,新华饭店已经完全没法接待纯粹住店的客人了。摊位增加到720个,连楼道拐角和饭店办公室都挤满了百货摊。4年中,原本半死不活的新华饭店居然摇身一变,累计利税高达787万元。

新华饭店客满为患了,于是乌鲁木齐那些冷僻闲置的饭店、旅馆又被相中了。形势大好,问题也蛮大。商贩们分驻在乌鲁木齐城区四面八方的大小饭店,人气散了不说,秩序也散乱不堪。怎么办?1991年初,几个头脑灵光的义乌商贩联名致信老家义乌市政府,建议在乌鲁木齐开办一家像样的集中交易的小商品市场,并亮出义乌分市场的金字招牌。

義乌工商局立即派员飞赴乌鲁木齐,与急欲让本地民众搭上致富快车的当地政府一拍即合。比邻市郊火车站的一家濒临倒闭的国营木材厂被相中,1991年底,浙江义乌小商品市场乌鲁木齐分市场开业。自此一发不可收,北京通县、内蒙古呼和浩特、广西凭祥、四川广元……据统计,截至2021年,全中国各地开设的义乌分市场或关联市场已多达150多家,义乌小商品城采购商品产业链直接联动了包括偏远贫困山区在内天南海北的220万家中小微民营企业。

从家乡到异乡,在义乌人身后,是更多的浙江人。

钉秤的永康人、修鞋的萧山人、补袜子的诸暨人、做棕床的嘉兴人、修眼镜的台州人……浙江素称“七山一水二分田”,人均耕地0.5亩,南部温州等地人均三分地,远低于全国1.5亩的人均值;浙江煤炭、金属矿产等自然资源人均拥有量综合指数只相当于全国的11.5%,居各省区末位。人多地少、资源匮乏的基本省情,推动了浙江许多地方区域性传统手工业的兴盛,赢得了“百工之乡”的美誉。为了生计,为了活下去,窘迫憋屈却不认穷命的浙江人必须走出去,走出家乡、走出浙江。

我在研究包括浙江在内近当代中国经济移民族群时,观察到了一个非常显著而独特的现象。按一般规律,经济移民总是从边缘地带向中心地带、从贫困地带向繁荣地带、从战乱地带向和平地带流动。但是,自上世纪80年代始,浙江商人族群却逆向而行。他们的出发地是经济相对发达的浙江沿海,目的地主要是更为穷苦的中国西北、东北和中南、西南地区。这种候鸟型的行商现象,在改革开放后经济同样发达的珠江三角洲、江苏南部、山东胶东半岛地区均未大规模出现过。

浙江商人逆向迁徙推动异乡富裕,成为浙江商人广受欢迎的亮点。千百万浙江人尤其是浙江中南部贫困山区的农民创业者,心怀致富的渴望,循着改革开放的滚滚时代洪流,从家乡出发,毅然决然去往天南海北更贫困的异乡。他们如同四处飞扬的蒲公英,在每一个田野山村肆意播撒市场经济的理念与实践的星星之火。他们中间的许多人早已扎根异乡数十年,把异乡当作家乡,通过就业安置、劳动力技能培训、税收贡献,成为当地大众创业、万众创新、拉动群体致富最有说服力的榜样和示范者。

来自浙江的星星之火起初是那么的卑微与渺小,逐渐地聚合、壮大成为颇具体量的燎原之势。近些年,随着浙江互联网产业迅猛发展,尤其是杭州崛起为中国“数字经济第一城”,电商、网络直播等全新业态再度发力,推动浙商从家乡到异乡的共富之路走得更远,让打破贫富鸿沟的互联互通更加紧密。

2020年4月30日20时30分,仅用时1分27秒,杭州推出的全中国首个跨地域爱心扶贫消费券计66万份就被一抢而空。消费券线上平台之一、杭州贝佳电子商务有限公司负责人介绍,短短的活动期间,浏览总人数超过370万人次,销售额近1000万元,黔东南三穗咸鸭蛋、施秉大米和湖北恩施土豆等向来深锁大山的农产品被卖断了货。

从家乡到异乡,把异乡当家乡,穿行于两个故乡的浙商候鸟们,在更宽阔的舞台上扩张了、完善了公平竞争、创富机会均等的社会主义市场经济。

公平分配:政府发挥力量

如果说从经济地理维度看,浙江改革开放40多年呈现了20世纪80年代的温州模式、20世纪90年代的义乌经验及21世纪的杭州现象的清晰画卷,那么与此映照的政府行为,便是1.0版的“无为而治”、2.0版的“适度有为”与3.0版的“有限有为有效”政府定位的渐进式演变。由远及近,从混沌进而清晰,以共同富裕为目标,浙江各级政府在摸索中坚定前行。

在全国各省市区纵向比较研究中,浙江呈现出了“小政府、大市场”的清晰特征。按照学术界普遍认同的观点,财政支出占GDP的比重是衡量政府相对规模的一个基本指标。以此衡量,改革开放始至21世纪初期,浙江的政府相对规模大约缩小了三分之一。

但“小政府、大市场”的浙江景象,并不意味着浙江的官好当,只要垂手而立即可。历经改革初期的风云激荡、摇摆彷徨,走过20世纪90年代的角色归位、成熟定型,进入21世纪的浙江各级政府显现出了更多的自信。

2016年12月,浙江首次倡导要以“最多跑一次”的理念和目标深化政府自身改革,即企业和民众到政府办事“最多跑一次是原则,跑多次是例外”。

“最多跑一次”首先围绕省市县行政服务中心这个企业和民众找政府办事的主要场所来展开。具体操作上一是“一窗受理”,只需将材料提交给一个综合窗口,由行政服务中心进行全流程协调,按责转办;二是“集成服务”,即各部门协同作战,开展并联审批、模拟审批、容缺预审、全程代办等。“一窗”的背后是“一网”。浙江基于政务服务网推进流程再造,积极扩大政务电子化、互联网化应用,站上大数据风口,让数据“多跑路”,让企业和民众“少跑腿”,“最多跑一次”从激动人心的口号落到踏实而温暖的行动细节。

2018年3月5日, “最多跑一次”改革首次写入政府工作报告。

在长达36年奔走于这片大地的持久观察、研究中,我最为着迷的悬念是:究竟什么才真正是浙江“最骄傲”的?民营企业、浙商群体,或者义乌小商品市场与市场经济,它们都是浙江的“骄傲”,但它们同样只是发展的载体和手段。

浙江“最骄傲”的,应该是也只能是其改革开放的终极目标与结果——人民尤其是千百万个普通个体,成为了改革的主体和作为改革成果的财富的主人:自1985年始,浙江农民人均收入已连续36年居全国各省区第一位;1997年,浙江在全国第一个消灭贫困县;2002年,浙江在全国第一个消灭贫困乡镇;2005年,浙江在全国第一批取消农业税,延续了2000年的“皇粮国税”画上句号;2015年,浙江在全国第一个实现绝对贫困人口全面脱贫;浙江农村社会保障覆盖率同样高居全国之首。在浙江,作为社会人群最大多数的农民不再是一个经济上弱势的称谓。在浙江,扑面而来的,不仅仅是富裕,更是令人倍感欣慰的渐进的共同富裕。

这样的精彩画卷从理想变为活生生的现实,其强劲的推动力既是以浙商为主体的市场经济的自发,更是政府力量的自觉。

2002年4月,浙江开始大规模实施全省区域协调发展的“山海协作工程”,“山”即为以浙西南山区和舟山海岛为主的欠发达地区,“海”意指沿海发达地区和经济发达的县市区。以“政府推动,企业主体、市场运作,互利双赢”为原则,山海协作结对覆盖产业“飞地”合作、职业技能培训、优质医院托管等全领域。

2015年2月,浙江再次推出“山海协作工程”升级版——为全省26个欠发达县“摘帽”,转而确立为以均衡发展、共同富裕为目标的加快发展县。这26个县绝大部分地处山区,土地面积约占全省45%,一度是浙江的“失衡之痛”。随之出台的扩大税源行动、富民收入倍增计划、干部人才倾斜工程等系统性举措,让山区26县跨越式急起直追。

政府的天命是维护社会公平。从公平竞争的契约、法治的制度建设,到公平分配的理念、治理结构的制度安排,浙江各级政府一直在路上。

浙商力量:共富责任和使命

2017 年10 月25 日,74 岁的万向集团董事局主席鲁冠球因病辞世。鲁冠球是浙商典范,更是浙商共同富裕引领者。

出生于杭州萧山钱塘江畔的农家子弟鲁冠球很可能是连续创业周期最长的中国企业家之一。1969年,他带着包括结发妻子章金妹在内的6位农民,以4000元家当创办了宁围人民公社农机修理厂。事实上,1962年始,鲁冠球就办过粮食加工厂、开过铁匠铺。纵观鲁冠球半个世纪的创业史,我一直孜孜探寻:什么是鲁冠球的世界观?什么才是他一生奋斗最恒久的驱动力?

无疑,鲁冠球创业的原始冲动就是不当农民:“自己今后想干什么我很清楚——不种地。我觉得农民吃不饱,穿不暖。”

对家人、对乡亲、对农民兄弟穷极潦倒的耳闻目睹,推动着鲁冠球义无反顾地投身于创业。被驱赶、被呵斥、被清算,甚至不得不卖了祖屋还债,鲁冠球的早期创业之路异常崎岖,但也让他看到了个人摆脱贫困的一线光亮——到1969年正式创建宁围人民公社农机修理厂时,“我已经骑上了158块钱的永久牌自行车,戴着120块的上海牌手表,家里听的是48块一台的红灯牌收音机,在宁围信用社有110块钱的存款,当时也算是大户了”。

转折点是1983年。这一年,因为在浙江乃至全国第一个个人风险承包乡镇集体企业的成功,依据承包合同,鲁冠球应得奖金8.7万元。但他没有拿,而是将奖金“全部献给企业,献给集体,发展生产和进行智力开发,使企业办得更好”,他的共富行为得到了中央领导的高度赞扬。在“万元户”即为富豪的年代,截至1993年,鲁冠球累計放弃并捐献给企业或办学的承包奖金达300余万元。

万向集团员工人手一册的《万向文化》中,对“企业哲学”作了这样的注解:财散则人聚,财聚则人散;取之而有道,用之而同乐。鲁冠球对此则有自己更明晰的解释:“赚钱只是我们实现目标过程中的一种手段。财聚人散,财散人聚。回报社会是企业家终极的思想。”

半个世纪前,鲁冠球创业无疑是从为自己摆脱贫困而出发的。一路走来,他对金钱和财富有了新的认知:公司产品已经更新了无数代,但创始人鲁冠球依然住在1983年修建的第一代农家小楼;公司年销售额早就超千亿元,但大老板鲁冠球依然在1986年修建的第一代办公楼里上班。这是一栋6层的白色楼房,《华尔街日报》记者来到这家跨国公司采访时留下的强烈印象是“出人意料的朴素”。

“今天我们节约钱的目的,也是为了更好地支配钱,更有意义地使用钱。”鲁冠球在题为《为共同富裕做力所能及的事》的讲话中说,“作为先富起来的人,我们不能也不会忘记‘共同富裕’的责任和使命”。

2001年2月,浙江省首个“企业留本冠名基金”,由鲁冠球倡议建立的“浙江省慈善总会‘万向慈善基金’——四个一百工程”项目启动。该基金1000万元本金的运营增值收益全部用于“四个一百工程”,即资助100名孤儿健康成长、100名孤寡老人安享晚年、100名残疾儿童自食其力、100名特困学生完成学业。2006年,“四个一百工程”扩展为“四个一千工程”,全面覆盖浙江省11个设区市。2008年5月,“四个一千工程”再次扩展为“四个一万工程”,覆盖全国。截至2017年10月鲁冠球辞世,万向集团累计用于各类公益慈善的支出已超过12亿元,慈善项目遍及全国逾20个省区、200多个县,先后3次荣获中华慈善奖。

2018年6月,为纪念父亲鲁冠球并且遵循鲁冠球的情怀境意,鲁冠球之子、万向集团董事长鲁伟鼎设立了目前国内规模最大的慈善信托——“鲁冠球三农扶志基金”,并将其持有的万向三农集团6亿元出资额对应的全部股权无偿授予此基金。“鲁冠球三农扶志基金”宪章清晰阐明,设立基金的宗旨是“让农村发展、让农业现代化、让农民富裕”。

社会是企业家施展才华的舞台,一个企业家要得到社会的认可,一定是一位切实履行社会责任的企业家。浙江所以能成为建设共同富裕示范区,就是有这样一大群勇于担起社会责任的企业家。从改革开放44年的维度看,浙商群体的进化有三重境界:一是个体脱贫致富;二是努力实现“有钱人”和“有文化的人”的统一;三是最终进化为能超越财富,有崇高价值观与人格力量,以建设更美好的社会为人生坐标的“社会企业家”。鲁冠球只有初二文化,却凭借孜孜不倦的终身学习以及自省、自律、自我修炼,进而超越需要几代人才能蜕变的宿命,成为走到第三重境界的卓越者。

魯冠球式的自觉的共同富裕信仰与践行并不是规则、契约、法治、制度约束下的强制,但一定是值得我们仰望和追寻的时代方向。

在浙江,鲁冠球寓言正抽枝发芽、生根开花。

2021年11月,宁波市慈善总会又一次收到了隐名人“顺其自然”的捐款105万元。自1999年的第一笔5万元后,每年的年末,“顺其自然”的捐款都会如期而至,23年累计金额达1363万元。在“顺其自然”的带动下,1999年至今,宁波市慈善总会已收到其他隐名捐赠超过5000人次,总额逾5000万元。2015年,民政部授予“顺其自然”第九届中华慈善奖。浙江省档案馆从2018年开始的常设展“大写浙江人”共展示百余位浙江古今杰出人物,“顺其自然”是其中唯一的隐名者。

没有人知道“顺其自然”是谁,每一个人都可以成为“顺其自然”。

35年前,我从阿文身上触摸到了不屈于贫困的温州故事;35年后,我们从鲁冠球跨越半个世纪执着信念生生不息中开启了共同富裕的浙江故事。这是关于奋斗、创造、分享的春天的故事。

In November 1986, A Wen and his wife ran a small workshop producing aluminum badges in Jinxiang township, Cangnan county, Wenzhou city. Asked why he opened the workshop in the first place, he simply replied, "we are simply too poor." For a long time, little had been heard of A Wen and his workshop until someone causally mentioned that his factory had over 100 employees.

What impresses people most when it comes to Zhejiang's development? What should be Zhejiang proud of? "Common prosperity" may well the the first phrase that springs to mind.

Back in the 1980s, A Wen’s hometown was far from what it is today, known as the “Town of Gold”. Hailing from a neighboring county, his wife often complained that she was “duped” by A Wen into coming to the place. In 1978, this coastal town, located in the southernmost part of Zhejiang and 20 kilometers away from Fujian province, had less than 0.2 mu (0.01 hectare) of cultivated land per capita, with a per capita income of only 20 yuan ($3.14). It was in fact jokingly referred to as a “beggars’ town”. How poor was A Wen’s family at the time? “My wife almost ran away,” he said slyly.

It was exactly because of poverty and pain that when China released signals of reform, people from Wenzhou rushed to it. Reform may well come at an unpredictable cost, but the Wenzhou people were too poor to care about it.

Soon, A Wen found that everything had changed. Over 3,000 family workshops sprang up from the streets of its hometown, producing aluminum badges and plastic food tickets. Indeed, almost half of China’s aluminum badges and plastic food tickets came from here. In a small town with a population of only tens of thousands, 12,000 had been involved in producing similar products, and about 7,000 townspeople traveled around the country, receiving orders and doing marketing. Jinxiang, which literally means “gold town”, began to become a veritable “Town of Gold”.

In Wenzhou city, numerous places were witnessing the burning of furnaces like Jinxiang. Statistics show that 1.2 million out of a total of 6 million people in Wenzhou chose to turn away from agriculture to industry and commerce. Cottage industry saw the inflow of 146,500 households. More than 470 specialized markets begun to take shape, and over 100,000 thousand farmer “buyers and sellers” roam the country.

A Wen started to get rich and so many Wenzhou people were getting rich that they were the living proof that “poverty is not socialism”.

Looking at the history of Zhejiang’s reform and opening up in the past 44 years, we can summarize it in a few phrases: the “Wenzhou Model” in the 1980s, the “Yiwu Experience” in the 1990s, and the “Hangzhou Phenomenon” in the 21st century. From the south to the north, they have been gradually advancing and unfolding.

As the world’s largest small commodity market, the Yiwu market made its name in 1991 when it topped China’s “Top Ten Specialized Markets”, which was first published by the then State Administration for Industry and Commerce. But its ambition to escape poverty began to manifest itself much earlier, almost at the same time as the Reform and Opening Up policy was instituted.

Similar to Wenzhou, which sits some 100 kilometers away, Yiwu is also characterized by a large population and a lack of land. Worse still, most of its land is nonarable. Commerce seems to be the only viable way for Yiwu farmers to make a living.

On December 1, 1980, the then 40-year-old Feng Aiqian, received a business license to run a self-employed small department store. Her license number happened to be “001”, issued by the then Yiwu County Bureau for Industry and Commerce. She was only able to start her business after selling 10 bushels of grain for 80 yuan as the startup “capital”, and then loaning 300 yuan from a credit union. Feng remembered that once she had taken a basket to borrow two kilos of rice, only to secure it after visiting seven households.

Fighting against destitute, hundreds of thousands of Yiwu people like Feng have opened up a new world in which “Yiwu bosses” can be found everywhere and Yiwu people are largely well-off. Forty years on, the annual sales volume of the Yiwu Small Commodity Market has reached nearly 200 billion yuan and is trading with 233 countries and regions, with 75,000 stores and more than 200,000 businessmen. The total number of market entities in the city has grown to as high as 730,000, which means at least three out of every 10 Yiwu people are “bosses” (business owners).

What happened from Wenzhou to Yiwu is the best testament to Zhejiang’s development today. Figures show that by April 2021, Zhejiang had 8.16 million market entities. With a permanent population of 64 million at the time, it means about one out of every eight Zhejiang residents owned a business, the highest among China’s municipalities, provinces and autonomous regions. That doesn’t even include the eight million Zhejiang businessmen currently not living in the province but in other parts of the country.

In 2021, per capita disposable income of Zhejiang’s rural residents topped the country’s list again — it had done so for 37consecutive years. On top of that achievement, the income ratio of its urban and rural residents dropped to 1.94, the lowest in China. It is only natural that Zhejiang has been chosen for the country’s first demonstration zone for common prosperity.

Over 4,000 kilometers away from Zhejiang province, in Urumqi, capital city of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the Xinhua Hotel was famous back then — it was even known in neighboring Central Asian countries. That in itself might not be special; what was special was that the hotel was famous not because of its services, but because it served as a market.

In 1986, more than 20 Yiwu people carried bags of apparels and small commodities to Urumqi. They were sure that the massive size of Xinjiang entails a massive market. However, because they were unlicensed vendors, what waited for them were fines and punishment initially.

Where there is a will, there’s always a way. The Xinhua Hotel they were staying in offered cheap rooms since it was located a bit far from the urban center. These Yiwu people rented four rooms and turned three of them into “stalls”, selling shoes, socks, toys, clothes, among others.

“Some Zhejiang merchants are selling apparels at Xinhua Hotel, stylish and cheaper than department stores!” As word spread, the three rooms were soon thronged with customers. Before long, other businessmen from Yiwu followed suit. By the end of the year, the number of stalls increased to more than 90, occupying a full floor of the hotel. By 1990, 720 stalls had been set up and the Xinhua Hotel was simply packed, even the hallways and hotel offices were occupied. In four years, the hotel, which was on the verge of closure, paid 7.87 million yuan in taxes alone.

Rooms of other desolate and idle hotels in Urumqi were promptly taken after Xinhua Hotel could accommodate no more stalls. But with profits also came problems, in particular a messy and unruly order in these makeshift “markets”. In early 1991, a few Yiwu businessmen proposed that a small commodity market like the one in Yiwu be established in Urumqi. With the help of Yiwu authorities, the Urumqi government accepted the proposal with alacrity. At the end of the year, the Urumqi branch of the Yiwu Small Commodity Market formally opened to business. Since then, more branches have been put in place. Statistics show that some 150 branches of or submarkets related to the Yiwu Small Commodity Market have been set up across China, their supply chain directly connecting with 2.2 million micro, small and medium-sized private businesses in all corners of the country, including some of the most remote areas.

It’s not just those entrepreneurial Yiwu merchants; people from other regions of Zhejiang are equally enterprising. The Yongkang people who started out making steelyards, the Xianshan cobblers, the Zhuji people who mended socks, the Taizhou people who repaired glasses, and many more.

Fei Xiaotong (1910-2005), one of China’s foremost sociologists, argued that “social change begins with the movement of people. Population mobility not only enables people to see different forms of life, but also makes individuals encounter new circumstances and demand new responses”. Millions of Zhejiang people, especially farmer entrepreneurs in the poor mountainous areas in the province’s central and southern regions, were eager to pursue wealth, and following the tide of the Reform and Opening Up set out from their hometown and resolutely went to wherever there were opportunities. Many of them have settled outside of Zhejiang for decades. Through employment, labor skills training and paying taxes, they have become the most persuasive role models for the locals to start up their own businesses and grow rich.

More recently, with the rapid development of the internet industry in Zhejiang, especially as Hangzhou has emerged as the “first city of digital economy” in China, e-commerce, livestreaming and other new forms of business have given another boost to the province, helping Zhejiang businessmen to go a step further along the road of sharing wealth from their hometown with other places. It is making significant contributions to shrinking the gap between the rich and the poor.

At 20:30 on April 30, 2020, in just 1 minute and 27 seconds, a total of 660,000 poverty alleviation consumer coupons issued by Hangzhou authorities, the first of its kind in China, were claimed. Beidian, one of the online platforms that handled the coupons, saw over 3.7 million customers flocked to its app during the short time, with sales revenue hitting nearly 10 million yuan. Agricultural products such as salted duck eggs and rice from southeast Guizhou province and potatoes from Enshi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture in Hubei, which had long been “locked” into these less developed mountainous areas, were instantly sold out.

It is generally agreed that helping the poor to get out of poverty and achieving common prosperity should fall under the purview of the government. Zhejiang’s practice since the Reform and Opening Up has proved that coupled with a good market economy environment, broad and sufficient motivation for individuals to get rich during first round of wealth distribution can also have the same effect.

Indeed, over the past four decades, the Zhejiang government at all levels have been playing an increasingly clearer role. Limited yet proactive and effective, they are determined in the pursuit of the common prosperity.

Compared with other provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, Zhejiang is distinctively featured by “a small government and a big market”. A widely accepted theory is that the proportion of fiscal expenditure to GDP is a major indicator that measures the size of a government. According to this indicator, the size of Zhejiang’s government shrunk by a third between 1978 and early 2000s.

Apart from historical factors, the key lies in the fact that the government gradually retreated from the micromanaging the economy since the Reform and Opening Up, and the market force has played the main part in allocating production factors. As the government needs to do little, it is inevitable that its size is contracting. But it does not mean that being a government official in Zhejiang is an easy job, just as World Bank in its 1997 Global Development Report stated: a good government is not a luxury, but a necessity, and without an effective government, sustained economic and social development is all but impossible.

The “run at most once” campaign is perhaps the best illustration in this respect. In December 2016, Zhejiang advocated for the first time to deepen the government’s own reform with the idea and goal of “run at most once”. In essence, it is a series of reforms that aim to streamline administrative processes and provide one-stop government services for the public and enterprises. Relying on advanced digital technologies such as big data, governmental organs now can promptly process all sorts of applications, tax filings and documents — unlike in the past when the public and enterprises had to visit these organs time and again to get things done, they need only to “run at most once”.

An even longer campaign is Zhejiang’s successful attempt in achieving a more balanced development between urban and rural areas, especially for some of its poorest parts. Since 1985, per capita income of Zhejiang farmers has been top of the country for 37 years. In 1997, Zhejiang became the first province without a “poverty-stricken county” in China. In 2002, Zhejiang became the first province without a “poverty-stricken township” in China. In 2015, Zhejiang became the first province to eradicate poverty. Zhejiang's rural social security coverage rate is the highest in the country as well.

Maintaining social equality is what a government is born to do. Whether fair competition, rule of law, equal distribution or institutional arrangement, governments at all levels in Zhejiang have been working hard to fulfill their duty. It is also due in small part to such prominent entrepreneurs as Lu Guanqiu (1945-2017), one of the pioneers of common prosperity.

Born in Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan district, Lu’s original impulse to start a business came from “not wanting to be a farmer anymore”, for “farmers can’t provide for themselves, both in food and clothing”. As Lu grew rich, he donated a large proportion of his money to establish schools or to establish new enterprises. For him, “making money is just a means to realize one’s goals, and giving back to the society is the ultimate ideal of an entrepreneur.” As someone who “got rich first”, Lu stated once in a speech that “we should not forget the responsibility and mission of achieving common prosperity.”

Lu's spirit is perhaps best captured by an anonymous donor who calls himself or herself only as “Shun Qi Zi Ran” (which means “let it be”). In November 2021, the Ningbo Charity Federation received donation from the donor again  -- this time 1.05 million yuan. Since “Shun Qi Zi Ran” first began to make donation in 1999  -- 50,000 yuan at the time, donations made under the pseudonym have never stopped, arriving in late November and early December always as expected. Over the past 23 years, “Shun Qi Zi Ran” has donated a total of 13.63 million yuan to the federation. Influenced probably by this donor, the federation has received more than 50 million from over 5,000 anonymous donations since 1999.

Nobody knows who “Shun Qi Zi Ran” is. In fact, everybody could be “Shun Qi Zi Ran”.

Today, many entrepreneurs like Lu and ordinary Zhejiang people are sharing their wealth. From A Wen to Lu Guanqiu, the Zhejiang story of common prosperity is a story of hard work, perseverance, innovation, creation and sharing.

猜你喜欢

阿文义乌浙江
Snooker
Task 2
留面子
2020年浙江经信定下了这些目标
中国航空公司新开义乌直飞符拉迪沃斯托克航线
数字经济 浙江这么干
阿文的诗
印度鼓动本国商人远离义乌