CHICAGO, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- China's achievement in poverty reduction is unprecedented in world history and is truly remarkable, Tom Watkins, former Michigan state superintendent of schools, has said.
"China moved upward of 700 million people from abject poverty to the equivalent of the middle class. This is double the number of people in America and is unprecedented in world history," Watkins told Xinhua in an interview.
"This is a truly remarkable and universally acknowledged feat. China deserves credit for what it has accomplished," he said.
With a lifelong interest in China, Watkins has traveled around the country in the past 30 years.
"What has transpired over China's 5,000-year history is nothing short of amazing, but the last 40 years have been truly remarkable and universally acknowledged as a stunning reversal of fortune for China." he added.
Watkins said he was deeply impressed by three things when traveling in China: the genuineness, compassion and friendliness of the Chinese people; the passion from the individual, family and the government to invest in quality education and the unwavering drive to eradicate poverty.
"The desire to invest in quality education begins at birth and continues to high school, university and lifelong learning across China," Watkins said. "This desire and focus on educating more Chinese youth to world class standards bode well for China's collective future."
Investing in education, in Watkins' eyes, is also a way to reduce poverty.
Watkins said China has massively invested in infrastructure, research and education, which will make it stronger as a nation.
While China's reform and opening up over the past 40 years have yielded fruitful results, Watkins also perceived in China's "lifting all boats" policies in the new era a continuation of its poverty eradication efforts.
Speaking of China-U.S. relations, Watkins holds that China's rise needs not come at America's demise.
"I hope China continues to open up and provides two-way bridges where Americans can build the relationships necessary for business, collaboration and educational exchanges."
It is to the world's benefit that China and the United States seek a sensible win-win solution in a way that allows both countries to hold their heads high.
"An 'I win, you lose' strategy is simply unacceptable in today's world," Watkins said.
Watkins stressed the importance of people-to-people cultural and educational ties between the two countries.
"The subnational relationships between governors, university presidents and faculties, colleges, high schools, primary schools and art and sport institutions have connected two countries in powerful and meaningful ways and must continue," he said.
"What bound us is the human, people-to-people connections that began with China's 'opening up' 40 years ago. Our collective humanity can make us stronger," he said.