Guyana and China: 50 years of diplomatic ties and future prospects

On June 27th, China and Guyana celebrated the 50th anniversary of their establishment of diplomatic relations. Guyana’s bold move, becoming the first country in the English-speaking Caribbean to establish official relations with the People’s Republic, was followed by Jamaica on November 27th that year. Together this marked a milestone in the development of friendship and cooperation between the peoples of China and the Caribbean and in the developing countries’ common struggle against imperialism.

Marking this anniversary, Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged messages with his Guyanese counterpart Irfaan Ali. Writing in the local media, China’s Ambassador to Guyana Guo Haiyan noted that trade between the two countries grew by 123% in 2021.

Friendship with China constitutes a bipartisan policy in Guyanese politics. A statement from the Office of the Leader of the Opposition noted that:

“We in Guyana will and must always appreciate that during the 1980s, when the country faced steep economic challenges, China without hesitation provided much needed assistance to Guyana. With modest beginnings in the seventies, the economic exchanges have grown to impressive dimensions. Guyana and China now cooperate over a wide range of economic areas and are involved in major projects which can transform Guyana and benefit China as well. The emergence of Guyana as a petro-state will further catalyse and intensify this trend.”

An example of this was the conclusion last month of a US$260 million agreement with a Chinese joint venture company for the construction of a new bridge across the Demerara River. Speaking at the ceremony, Guyana’s Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh said: “Make no mistake that you are witnessing history today. The making of modern Guyana is well underway, and today’s generation of Guyanese are incredibly privileged not only to witness it, but to be part of it.”

Writing in China Daily on June 15th, Donald Rabindranauth Ramotar, who was President of Guyana from 2011-2015, and General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) from 1997-2013, said that:

“When China established diplomatic relations with Guyana in 1972, it was still very underdeveloped. Guyana’s per capita GDP was higher than that of China. Yet China helped the country try to lessen its dependence on a few big capitalist countries and the unequal trade relations inherent in capitalist relations.”

Ramotar goes on to explain how this relationship has only deepened as China has grown from a poor developing country to become the world’s second-largest economy. China, he notes, “has become a great example. It is one of the most studied countries as mankind looks to build a better future.”

We are pleased to reprint his article below.

On June 27, Guyana and the People’s Republic of China will celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations. These have been 50 very fruitful years, and our relations have been mutually enriching for both countries.

When China established diplomatic relations with Guyana in 1972, it was still very underdeveloped. Guyana’s per capita GDP was higher than that of China. Yet China helped the country try to lessen its dependence on a few big capitalist countries and the unequal trade relations inherent in capitalist relations.

We recall the assistance China provided for the establishment of the Sanata Textile Mill in Georgetown and the clay brick factory in Canal’s Polder. At that time, these were significant investments in the country. Many houses, built with materials produced by the clay brick factory, are still standing and are testament to the friendship between China and Guyana.

China has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. From being a poor developing country, it has developed into the world’s second-largest economy, and its prestige has soared, with its achievements known around the globe. It leads the world in many spheres of the scientific and technological revolution and has had an impact on almost every country. It is widely recognized for its innovation and progress.

China has become the greatest builder in the world, in terms of both physical structures that it has constructed at home and abroad and in its advocating of fair international relations. It promotes true equality and the independence of countries. China correctly describes its partnerships as “win-win”. This gives dignity to every country. For the first time, many small and middle-income developing countries have the belief that they are on an equal footing with other higher-income countries.

We in Guyana, like so many other countries, have benefited greatly from cooperation with China over the years. Some of our most important structures have been built by Chinese contractors. The convention center and the Marriott Hotel stand out in Georgetown and evoke pride among our people.

Our airport is being modernized by another contractor from China. Moreover, we have agreements with Chinese companies to build a modern bridge across the Demerara River.

In 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative. This has the great potential to really unite the world and create new wealth and prosperity for all participants.

Guyana has signed up with China to be part of this historic project, which is uniting millions of people around the world.

This initiative has also prompted the West to react. Not so long ago, the United States and the European Union, still unable to shed their old habits in pursuit of self-interest, announced their own initiative to help build up world infrastructure. They have talked of millions of dollars to begin this work. At this time, its performance cannot be evaluated, since it is only at the embryo stage.

What is very significant about this Western project, though, is that it has come about primarily not as a means to assist the less wealthy Third World countries but to counter the constructive move of China and to try to limit China’s great influence in the world. That, of course, is not a good premise to start from.

China is now the largest trading partner for the majority of countries. Its contribution to global economic growth is now the largest in the world.

These are remarkable feats.

China has become a great example. It is one of the most studied countries as mankind looks to build a better future.

Fifty years of diplomatic relations between China and Guyana have seen very beneficial cooperation and a demonstration of support without strings attached. This is not unique, because this is how China relates with all countries it has ties with, and the win-win approach promotes friendship, solidarity and peace.

In evaluating this period, we must give it the highest marks and further deepen our ties with the People’s Republic of China. Most important, the past 50 years of good diplomatic relations between the two countries have strengthened the close friendship between our peoples.

The author is former president of Guyana.

Big Power Competition in the post-pandemic world order and the Belt and Road Initiative

As part of its Friends of the Silk Road Series, the Pakistan China Institute organised a webinar on the theme, ‘Big Power Competition in the Post-Pandemic World Order and the Belt and Road Initiative’ on June 20th. Co-Editor of Friends of Socialist China Keith Bennett made a presentation on ‘What to Expect in big power competition – how the Global South Should Respond’. We print his remarks below.

The event was chaired by Tehmina Janjua, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan. The other speakers were Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Pakistan Senate and of the Pakistan China Institute; Mustafa Hyder Sayed, Executive Director of the Pakistan China Institute; Jayanath Colombage, former Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka and former Commander of the Sri Lankan Navy; Suos Yara, Member of the Central Committee of the Cambodia People’s Party, Spokesperson and Vice-Chair of its Commission for External Relations, as well as member of the National Assembly of Cambodia and Chairman of its Commission of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Media and Information; Wang Wen, Executive Dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University; and William Jones, Senior Non-Resident Fellow of the Chongyang Institute.

The full event stream is also embedded below.

Dear Friends

Thank you to the Pakistan China Institute for your invitation to speak at this important and timely webinar. And thank you for your consistent and sincere support to Friends of Socialist China which we greatly value.

It is nearly 33 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. And nearly 31 years since the red flag was lowered from the Kremlin and the USSR ceased to exist. Such was the air of triumphalism that one political philosopher was even moved to declare the end of history.

In return, we were promised a peace dividend. But for the peoples of the Global South, in particular, there was no dividend. And there was no peace. For the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan and a number of other countries there was only starvation sanctions and devastating war.

Continue reading Big Power Competition in the post-pandemic world order and the Belt and Road Initiative

China, Ukraine and the Belt and Road Initiative

On Saturday May 21st, Friends of Socialist China joined the Belt and Road Initiative Quarterly (BRIQ) journal, the Russian Cultural House in Ankara, the Turkish Students Union in China and the Istanbul Kent University as a co-organizer of a conference themed on ‘The Challenges and Opportunities for BRI Under the Background of the Ukraine Crisis’. It was a hybrid event, held both online and physically at Kent University.

Our co-editors Danny Haiphong and Keith Bennett both presented papers and we reproduce them, slightly edited for publication, below. The other speakers were Adnan Akfirat, Chair of the BRIQ journal; Professor Hasret Comak of Istanbul Kent University; Professor Ma Xiaolin of Zhejiang University; Daria Platonova of Moscow State University; Rajiv Ranjan, Associate Professor at Shanghai University; Pakistani Senator Mushahid Hussain; Dr Vali Kaleji of Tehran University; and Dr. Ahmet Shahidov, Chair of the Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights.

The full event can be viewed on Facebook Live.

Danny Haiphong: Why the Belt and Road Initiative won’t be derailed by the Ukraine crisis

Thank you to all the organizers of this event, including the Belt and Road Initiative Quarterly Journal, the Russian Cultural House in Ankara, the Friends of Socialist China platform which I co-edit, the Turkish Student’s Union, and Kent University. My discussion centers on the politics of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and how they ensure that the development plan won’t be derailed by the monumental crisis underway in Ukraine.

The Ukraine crisis has revealed quite starkly that there is a huge divergence between the path that’s being taken by the United States, NATO, the EU, and that of China. The former, perhaps more aptly called the Western imperialist sphere, has poured gasoline onto the fire that is the Ukraine crisis. The consequences have been enormous. Sanctions on Russia have sent shockwaves throughout the global economy. Economic growth has declined and inflation skyrocketed. The IMF’s economic forecast is dimmer now than it was prior to the Ukraine crisis and much of this is due to Western imperialist policy.

On the other hand, for China and the BRI, the situation is quite different. A commitment to peace and neutrality, cooperation, and robust and quality growth characterizes the partnerships within the BRI. It is clear that the massive trade and infrastructure project is not a prisoner of the moment. The BRI is not just about a single region or a particular country but rather an overall vision for global development that seeks to harness the present to brighten the future. The BRI does what Western-led economies such as the United States and its allies cannot and will not do, which is to offer opportunities for economic progress and true investment in all areas social and economic development.

The BRI, as Xi Jinping remarked, began in China but its achievements belong to the world. There are 140 countries and 30 international organizations that have already signed on to the BRI since 2013. Thus far, 8 trillion USD in trade and investment has been directed toward the BRI to cover the cost of more than 2,500 projects worldwide. The size and scope of the BRI demonstrates that it is not dependent upon the whims and the interests of the U.S. and the West. The BRI operates almost entirely independent of from Western imperialism, with the exception of the European countries which have accepted China’s invitation to join the project.

It is also worth noting that China is no stranger to operating in conflict zones. The world has been engaged in a war against the COVID-19 pandemic over the past several years and yet China has not only been able to extend solidarity and cooperation over this period but also advance the aims of the BRI. China has adjusted its own economic and political development in a way that takes into account the challenges of the global pandemic. That’s why China has achieved so much success in containing the pandemic and led the way in providing critical solidarity in the form of vaccines and protective equipment to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The pandemic has been a flashpoint for a people’s war to protect human life and this war is inextricably linked to the BRI’s overall vision.

China has also prioritized Belt and Road Initiative relationships with countries such as Pakistan that have been embattled with external and internal conflict. Pakistan has been subject to numerous conflicts over the past decade alone, whether in the form of the U.S.’s drone strikes killing thousands of civilians or the ongoing struggle in Kashmir. While these sensitive issues have inevitably caused economic difficulty, Pakistan and China’s cooperation in the BRI through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has only grown. The BRI has already brought about significant achievements in Pakistan such as the launch of the first transit system in Lahore in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

No matter what is happening internally in Pakistan, the BRI’s vision of development which emphasizes win-win cooperation rather than political interference or influencing the politics internally of any one country has been a major reason as to why these two nations have been able to build such a strong friendship despite internal and external threats to Pakistan’s stability. This includes a recent change in political administration just in the last few months.

The Biden administration recently completed his first trip to Asia, visiting South Korea and Japan in an attempt to organize the Southeast Asia into a conflict with China. The region has quickly become the most important flashpoint in the U.S.’s New Cold War and has been flooded with hundreds of U.S. military bases and hundreds of thousands of U.S. military personnel. Still, China has been able to build even stronger relations with the region that have led to remarkable achievements in the last few years alone. In 2021, the Sino-Laos high-speed railway was launched and is projected to increase economic growth for Laos by several percentage points. Laos is a country that was bombed by the U.S. more times than the entire number dropped in World War II during the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s.

In January 2022, Syria joined the BRI as a major step in its own rebuilding process from the U.S.-led war on the country. The U.S. currently occupies 30 percent of Syria’s territory. Despite being engaged in a deadly conflict that has displaced millions and killed more than 300,000 people, the Syrian government is committed to rebuild the country through the BRI.

Of course, the Ukraine crisis has indeed inflicted damage on the global economy. Mainstream media reports have emphasized disruptions in rail traffic that have slowed global trade to Europe. While these short-term challenges will delay certain aspects of the BRI, particularly the Eurasia rail link, the vision of the BRI is more than a century long and remains an incredibly attractive project for development. The Ukraine crisis does not take away from the BRI’s global advantages. In fact, the Ukraine crisis is likely to make the BRI even more attractive to countries around the world, including Ukraine.

For one, the United States and its allies offer few alternatives in the form of financial and economic arrangements to help rebuild from conflict and war. Furthermore, the United States and the West is pursuing a policy that will make the Ukraine’s economy “scream,” to paraphrase Henry Kissinger’s description of Chile in 1970s during the U.S.-backed coup there. The U.S. has provided predatory loans to Ukraine since the war began. In addition, the U.S.-sponsored lend-lease program has provided Ukraine billions in military aid, $40 billion of which was just passed in the U.S. Congress. Ukraine will be expected to pay back what it has received in conditional aid, making these arrangements detrimental to Ukraine’s long-term economic stability and growth.

The neoliberal policies of the U.S. and the West are laying the foundations for the BRI to become an even more important feature of Ukraine’s economic future. Ukraine is one of the earliest member of the BRI. China’s capacity to maintain a stable relationship with Ukraine and strengthen the Russia-China partnership at the same time has demonstrated what it means to place narrow and selfish interests to the background and the interests of humanity in the foreground. Whatever short term difficulties arise from the Ukraine crisis will not derail Latin America, Africa, and Central Asia’s desire to adhere to the BRI’s principles of creating a win-win model of infrastructure and economic development that addresses the need for real South-South cooperation, decreases extreme poverty, and reduces dependency on external lenders.

The BRI is already doing just that. The World Bank has acknowledged that the BRI offers a path forward out of extreme poverty. Monumental achievements have already come out of the BRI in countries such as Pakistan and Laos. Though the Ukraine crisis is a warning shot about the dangers of war and the neoliberal path led by Western imperialism, China’s approach to global development as manifested in the BRI will not just remain consistent but is also likely to strengthen its influence within the international order in the coming period.


Keith Bennett: China, Ukraine and the Belt and Road Initiative

Thank you for your invitation.

I would like to offer some brief comments on four of the topics you raise, namely:

  • The effect of the Ukraine crisis on the use of national currencies in foreign trade
  • The consequences of US and EU sanctions on the BRI
  • The impact of the crisis on the international pro-USA terrorist network
  • The impact of the crisis on the energy security of the EU and China

With regard to the first issue, namely the effect of the Ukraine crisis on the use of national currencies in foreign trade, I believe it is likely to have a profound impact. Developing countries, especially Russia and China, but also others, such as the other members of the Eurasian Economic Union, some African countries, the ALBA grouping led by Venezuela and Cuba, and so on, have been exploring this for some time. But this will now intensify. As will the development of digital currencies by countries like China.

The major sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus will undoubtedly cause considerable difficulties in the short to medium term.

However, strategically they are an example of what the Chinese leader Mao Zedong called, lifting a rock only to drop it on your own feet.

In fact, they really announce the end of dollar hegemony. Measures like excluding Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system were prefigured, for example, in the sanctions imposed on Iran. But this is the first time that such measures have been taken against a G20 economy, a member of the Permanent Five on the United Nations Security Council and a major nuclear power.

We know that China is looking very closely at the implications of this for its own economic and financial security.

We’ve also seen the imperialist powers freezing the assets of so-called Russian oligarchs. Literally stealing them. Incidentally, one should note that the likes of Roman Abramovich, Alisher Usmanov and Oleg Deripaska are always described with the pejorative term oligarch, whereas the likes of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Bill Gates are described as entrepreneurs. However, the combined wealth of the last named three equals the combined wealth of all of Russia’s top 20 ‘oligarchs’ – that is before the recent assault on their wealth.

Such actions are again in a sense nothing new. We’ve seen them in numerous cases recently, like Afghanistan, Venezuela, Iran and so on. Even as far back as the Albanian gold illegally held by the Bank of England from 1948-1996, a full half century.

But again, this is unprecedented in its scope – being against a major power and not just against its national institutions, but also against numerous individuals, some of them apparently designated solely as a result of citizenship or even just ethnicity.

The implications of this are huge.

If you are a citizen of any country of the Global South – be it Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, or wherever – how secure should you now feel about investing, depositing funds, or acquiring assets in the United States or the United Kingdom? When, should your government do anything to displease Washington or London, they can be frozen or confiscated overnight, apparently on a whim and with little or no regard for the so-called ‘rule of law’.

Yet it is partnerships such as these that financial centres like the City of London, on which the UK economy is disproportionately dependent, are increasingly reliant upon. It will therefore lead to the relative decline of long-established financial centres in the UK and elsewhere and impel the growth and development of new ones, along the Belt and Road, including in countries like Turkiye and Kazakhstan, as well as in the Far East, including in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Regarding the consequences of US and EU sanctions on the BRI, I think it will have a contradictory impact. On the one hand, part of the dynamic of the BRI was to draw to draw together the whole of the Eurasian space through increased trade, enhanced connectivity, developed infrastructure and so on. Clearly the EU is to a large measure and for now excluding itself from a number of these aspects, which is absolutely not a situation that China wishes to see. However, the unity of the EU in this aggressive policy is not so solid as is being suggested. Countries with energy supplies that have pivoted on Russia, those with traditionally strong economic or cultural ties, or who preserve some measure of independence and neutrality in their politics and diplomacy are already restive. This can only increase as the economic pain that Europe has brought on itself increases. There are already signs that Berlin, Paris and Rome do not share London and Washington’s apparent appetite for endless war.

However, there are other challenges, too. In general terms, conflict is simply not conducive to investment and development. Trade, transport, logistics, communications and connectivity are disrupted, not only by the fighting itself, but also by ruptured political relations, sanctions, such as on overflights, and so on. And the threat or use of secondary sanctions is also a very serious one.

But, whilst serious, many of these issues are essentially transient in nature. The potential of this conflict to reconfigure the international balance of forces lends greater urgency to BRI and to enhancing the unity of the Global South, something that is reflected, for example, in their almost unanimous rejection of sanctions on Russia.

Regarding the impact of the crisis on the international pro-USA terrorist network, again I think the impact will be contradictory. Terrorist networks instigated or manipulated by the imperialist powers may ultimately serve one goal, but they take different forms.

If Russia is successful in attaining its military objectives, then the anti-hegemonic front will be strengthened and it will be in a more advantageous position to confront and defeat terrorist forces.

However, the resilience of such forces should not be underestimated. For example, the leadership of the Taliban has repeatedly expressed a wish to have good neighbourly relations with China and other countries. But it seems hard for them to fully enforce this, including on some of their rank and file and regional commanders. Hence, there have been border incidents with Pakistan and Iran, the Pakistan Taliban has increased its activities and the central Taliban authorities are not yet in a position to completely suppress groups like the East Turkistan Independence Movement (ETIM) or  Islamic State – Khorasan Province (IS-K), the local franchise of Daesh, which has emerged as the Taliban’s rival.

In the case of Ukraine, we know that neo-nazi and far right elements are flocking there from throughout Europe and North America. In the future, some of them will definitely pose a threat to their own societies. This is exactly what we saw with Afghanistan from the 1980s onwards and with Syria and Libya more recently. This is precisely what the American political scientist Chalmers Johnson termed blowback.

Finally, regarding the impact of the crisis on the energy security of the EU and China. In a word the impact is likely to be negative for the EU and positive for China. That the results are not what the EU intended can already be seen from the spiraling costs of energy, Russia’s increased earnings from energy exports and the strengthening of the ruble. At present, Germany has wasted billions on the now mothballed Gazprom 2 project. Meanwhile, countries like Hungary, are already indicating their willingness to pay their energy bills in rubles.

Further, in seeking to find alternative energy sources, it is not all plain sailing for the EU. Most of Qatar’s natural gas production is tied up in existing, long-term contracts, principally with the Far East. Saudi Arabia, at least for now, is sticking to its OPEC+ agreements and refusing to increase production. And it is indicating a willingness to price its oil exports to China in RMB, the so-called petroyuan. Both France and Spain have issues with Algeria – France due to the colonial legacy and Spain due to its acquiescence to Moroccan demands concerning the liberation struggle of the Saharawi people led by the Polisario Front.

In the case of China, close energy ties with Russia have been developing for some time now, for example through Gazprom’s Power of Siberia natural gas pipeline, part of a deal generally valued at $400 billion.

Whilst there are obvious, and not insignificant, obstacles to be overcome, China is essentially well positioned to absorb whatever Russian energy that the EU elects not to purchase.

China can also be expected to increase its interaction with other regional energy suppliers that are not impacted by potential maritime chokeholds. Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Myanmar and, with enhanced BRI connectivity, Iran and Iraq, are all important in this regard.

Xi Jinping’s speech at 2022 Boao Forum for Asia

We are very pleased to publish the full text of President Xi Jinping’s important speech delivered via video to the opening session of this year’s Boao Forum for Asia on the morning of April 21. Often referred to as the ‘Asian Davos’, this year’s forum was joined virtually by several regional leaders, including the presidents of the Philippines, Mongolia and Nepal and the Prime Ministers of Laos and Kazakhstan.

In his comprehensive speech, President Xi made a number of important calls to the Asian and wider international community, stressing the need to unite together to win final victory over the Covid-19 pandemic; to promote economic recovery and to overcome uneven and inadequate development through the Global Development Initiative; and to work together to promote peace and stability in the world.

The Cold War mentality, President Xi explained, would only wreck the global peace framework, hegemonism and power politics would only endanger world peace, and bloc confrontation would only exacerbate security challenges in the 21st century.

China would therefore like to propose a Global Security Initiative – to stay committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and work together to maintain world peace and security; stay committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, uphold non-interference in internal affairs, and respect the independent choices of development paths and social systems made by people in different countries; stay committed to abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, reject the Cold War mentality, oppose unilateralism, and say no to group politics and bloc confrontation; stay committed to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously, uphold the principle of indivisible security, build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, and oppose the pursuit of one’s own security at the cost of others’ security; stay committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation, support all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of crises, reject double standards, and oppose the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction; stay committed to maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains, and work together on regional disputes and global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity and biosecurity.

Specifically turning to Asian issues, the Chinese president noted that: “The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the Bandung Spirit, first advocated by Asia, are all the more relevant today. We should honor such principles as mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence, follow a policy of good-neighborliness and friendship, and make sure that we always keep our future in our own hands.”

The entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and specifically the opening to traffic of the China-Laos Railway, were cited by Xi as key examples of Asian cooperation.

Continue reading Xi Jinping’s speech at 2022 Boao Forum for Asia

Xi Jinping says China and South Africa are comrades and brothers, and affirms unbreakable friendship with Cambodia

Whilst international media coverage understandably focused on President Xi Jinping’s March 18 telephone conversation with US President Biden, the Chinese leader also held two other important conversations that day with leaders of countries that have particularly friendly relations with China. 

Speaking with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Xi said that their two countries “share a special friendly relationship of comrades and brothers”. This phrase is particularly significant – whilst it has been used several times by the Chinese leadership to describe their ties with South Africa, it is highly unusual, if not unique, for China to describe its state relations with a non-socialist country as embracing comradeship. In this context, it is worth noting that the friendship between the Communist Party of China and the African National Congress of South Africa date back to at least 1953, when Nelson Mandela sent ANC Secretary General Walter Sisulu to China to gain support for the steadily building anti-apartheid struggle, following Sisulu’s participation in the fourth World Festival of Youth and Students in Romania. China consistently supported the South African people’s struggle against apartheid and for national liberation.

President Xi further said that the relationship with South Africa is of great significance both for China/Africa relations as well as solidarity and cooperation among developing countries. The two leaders also exchanged views on the development of the BRICS grouping, which links Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and which China chairs this year. They noted that their two countries share a very close position on the conflict in Ukraine, standing for dialogue and negotiation. There have been a number of suggestions that South Africa could play an important role in this regard. Clearly alluding to the US pressures that both countries are facing, the two leaders agreed that sovereign countries are entitled to independently decide on their own positions.

The same day, President Xi also spoke with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, with a key focus being their bilateral Belt and Road Cooperation. Xi stressed that China would pay particular attention to developing roads and education in Cambodia’s rural areas so as to help develop agriculture and lift farmers out of poverty. Noting that next year will see the 65th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, President Xi said that their ties had become even more unbreakable whilst Prime Minister Hun Sen described the two countries as true ironclad brothers. Discussion also centred on the prospects for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), to which both belong, and relations between China and ASEAN, a ten-country bloc of South East Asian nations that Cambodia chairs this year.

China ready to move ties with South Africa to deeper level

Originally published in Xinhua.

China stands ready to work with South Africa to move their ties forward toward a deeper level with higher quality and broader scope, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday afternoon.

Continue reading Xi Jinping says China and South Africa are comrades and brothers, and affirms unbreakable friendship with Cambodia

Interview: is China an imperialist force in Latin America?

Interviewed by Sean Blackmon and Jacquie Luqman for Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary radio show, Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez discusses the recent expansion of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean. He specifically addresses the issue of whether China’s relationship with the region is exploitative, and compares and contrasts it with the behaviour of the US and the international financial institutions.

The full show can be found on Sputnik News.

Panel discussion on the Belt and Road in Latin America

Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez joined Manolo De Los Santos, Executive Director of the People’s Forum, in a CODEPINK webinar about the expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative into Latin America and the Caribbean. Carlos and Manolo contrast the Belt and Road with the Washington Consensus, pointing out that Chinese economic engagement with Latin America is based on mutual respect and win-win relationships, as opposed to the domination and coercion that characterise the West’s approach. The Belt and Road Initiative offers an unprecedented opportunity for the countries of the region to upgrade their economies, to gain access to cutting edge technologies, to develop critically needed infrastructure, and to decarbonise their energy systems. In short, the relationship with China is helping the countries of the region to build a road out of underdevelopment.

Argentina’s ambassador to China reflects on 50 years of China-Argentina relations

In this article for CGTN marking 50 years of diplomatic relations between China and Argentina, ambassador Sabino Vaca Narvaja details the deepening of the relationship over the last two decades in particular, starting with the Strategic Partnership announced by Hu Jintao and Néstor Kirchner in 2004. Most recently, Argentina has joined the Belt and Road Initiative, and the two countries are cooperating closely in an array of areas, including renewable energy, transport, housing and telecommunications. Vaca particularly notes China’s indispensable support during the Covid-19 pandemic: China supplied vast quantities of medical supplies, and has to date provided over 30 million vaccine doses. Sinopharm is now working with Sinergium Biotech to produce vaccines in Argentina.

Argentina and China are “comprehensive strategic partners,” the highest level of diplomatic relations, and this year we celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations. Here I invite you to join me in a brief review of the evolution of this relationship.

Since the beginning of the new century, the bilateral relationship has deepened. It was precisely in 2004 that the government of Néstor Kirchner signed the “Strategic Partnership between Argentina and China” with the then Chinese President Hu Jintao. An important figure in this event was the then chief of the cabinet of ministers and now president of the nation, Dr. Alberto Fernández. In 2014, the relationship was raised even higher to the level of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Xi Jinping being presidents at that moment. Now the vice president is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the president is Alberto Fernández, who has just concluded a successful official visit to Beijing and signed the accession to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), deepening bilateral relations even more.

The nature of the comprehensive strategic partnership subscribed in 2014 by both governments implies a mandate to deepen cooperation in all areas, identifying and implementing projects that best meet the interests of both peoples. The potentialities of cooperation are incalculable since all areas are open to cooperation. In this aspect, we are working hard to consolidate and expand bilateral cooperation. An example of this is the Strategic Dialogue for Economic Coordination and Cooperation (DECCE). This mechanism is also in charge of implementing the Integrated Five-Year Plan which lists priority projects between both countries, such as photovoltaic parks, wind farms, gas pipelines, thermal power plants, transmission lines, dams and so on. There are also important projects related to strengthening our railway network, both in cargo and passenger transport and strengthening the connectivity of the Pacific through bi-oceanic corridors from east to west and the border crossings with Chile. Likewise, bridges, aqueducts, water treatment plants and residential buildings are being planned.

Continue reading Argentina’s ambassador to China reflects on 50 years of China-Argentina relations

Understanding China’s latest guidelines for greening the Belt and Road

This important article from China Dialogue describes a new document issued by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), Guidelines for ecological and environmental protection of foreign investment cooperation and construction projects. The authors describe the guidelines as “the most comprehensive document by any country regulator to guide environmental management of overseas projects”. Guidelines include adopting international standards or China’s stricter standards for environmental protection in host countries; actively cutting pollution of all kinds; strongly favouring clean energy; and reconsidering projects with high potential biodiversity costs. The authors note that these guidelines are not enforceable, but that they “send clear signals to China’s state-owned and private enterprises.” As such, they form an important milestone towards a Green Belt and Road.

This January, less than six months after publishing the “Green development guidelines for overseas investment and cooperation”, China’s ministries of commerce and of ecology and environment issued another set of recommendations with a similar name: “Guidelines for ecological and environmental protection of foreign investment cooperation and construction projects”.

How is this document different to last year’s? And how does it add value?

Simply put, the latest release reaffirms recommendations made in the earlier guidelines but has more focus on specific issues of environmental risk management throughout the whole lifecycle of Belt and Road projects. It provides more robust direction to manage environmental risks in specific sectors, such as energy, transport and mining.

It also reflects wider developments in recent months. Since the publication of last year’s guidelines, in July, China has made important commitments to support green overseas development. Notably, President Xi pledged China would no longer build new coal-fired power plants abroad, and would support green low-carbon energy in developing countries. In November, he further elaborated that China is exploring the establishment of an early warning and assessment system for overseas project risk.

Continue reading Understanding China’s latest guidelines for greening the Belt and Road

China agrees to help Nicaragua develop infrastructure, hospitals, renewable energy

We are very pleased to republish this short article by Ben Norton, originally carried on Multipolarista, outlining the huge strides made in developing friendly relations and cooperation between Nicaragua and China since the two countries resumed diplomatic relations in December last year and especially since Nicaragua formally joined the Belt and Road Initiative last month. Major Chinese state owned companies will take the lead in a comprehensive program to develop hospitals, renewable energy, medical equipment, roads, railways and ports, as well as the water and public health systems, in the Central American nation.

The People’s Republic of China has come to an agreement with Nicaragua’s Sandinista government to develop infrastructure projects in the Central American country.

Top Nicaraguan officials announced on February 9 that they had signed a comprehensive memorandum of understanding with representatives from Beijing.

Under the agreement, China will help Nicaragua develop hospitals, renewable energy, medical equipment, roads, railways, and ports, as well as its water system and public health sector.

Continue reading China agrees to help Nicaragua develop infrastructure, hospitals, renewable energy

Along the Belt and Road: Breaking the cycle of underdevelopment in Latin America

The following article by Carlos Martinez was commissioned by the Taihe Institute for the January 2022 edition of its monthly magazine, TI Observer. Carlos gives an overview of the history of European and North American subjugation of Latin America, and explores the ways in which the expanding relationship between China and the region is helping to break the cycle of underdevelopment and poverty.

There is an audio version of this article available on the TI Observer podcast.

The last few months have seen a significant expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean. Although this region of the world is not the most obvious fit for an undertaking that was originally modelled on the Silk Road – a network of trade routes linking East Asia with the Middle East, Africa and Europe – the reality is that the countries of South America, Central America and the Caribbean share many of the same needs as their counterparts in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Most Latin American countries won their formal independence from Spanish and Portuguese colonialism in the 19th century, but they found themselves in the shadow of an incipient North American imperialism. The Monroe Doctrine, first articulated by President James Monroe in 1823, denounced European colonialism and interference in the Western Hemisphere, not on the basis of anti-colonial principle but with a view to buttressing US hegemonic designs. Since that time, the US has tended to consider Latin America as its ‘backyard’ – a collection of countries subjected to the control (direct or indirect) of Washington.1

Eduardo Galeano wrote that the transition from colonialism to neocolonialism made little difference to Latin America’s position within the global capitalist economy. “Everything from the discovery until our times has always been transmuted into European – or later, United States – capital, and as such has accumulated on distant centres of power. Everything: the soil, its fruits and its mineral-rich depths, the people and their capacity to work and to consume, natural resources and human resources.”2

Continue reading Along the Belt and Road: Breaking the cycle of underdevelopment in Latin America

Syria joins China’s Belt and Road Initiative

In this January 27th episode of CGTN America’s The Heat, a distinguished panel, including Chinese international relations expert Victor Gao, US Professor Joshua Landis, Bassam Abu Abdullah, the head of the Syrian Baath’s Party School, and independent analyst Adnan Nasser debate the significance of Syria’s signing up to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Victor Gao says that China regards the people of Syria as brothers and sisters and treats the country as a political and strategic equal. Beijing, he further explains, rejects the sanctions imposed by imperialist powers.

Richard Medhurst: Syria officially joins China’s Belt and Road Initiative

In this impassioned and informative video, Richard Medhurst, himself born in Syria, explains both the historic and contemporary importance of this embattled and defiant Arab country’s recent accession to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Drawing further examples from Iran and Cuba, Richard paints a vivid contrast between China’s programme of nation building and the US programme of nation destruction.

Senator Mushahid Hussain on the 3D strategy against China: Demonise, Damage and Destabilise

Speaking at a webinar held on 20 January 2022 by the Islamabad-based think-tank Pakistan-China Institute, Senator Mushahid Hussain, chairman of the Pakistani Senate’s Defense Committee, discusses the motivation and methods of the US-led New Cold War against China. Addressing the Xinjiang situation, Senator Hussain describes the US strategy as being to “demonise, damage and destabilise” in order to put a stop to China’s peaceful rise.

Below the video, we reproduce a report of the event that appeared in Pakistan Today.

Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) organized a first-of-its-kind webinar on the “New Cold War about playing the Xinjiang card against China” under its flagship event series, “Friends of Silk Road (FOSR)”.

The Webinar was attended by over 35 participants online, and featured six speeches, including Dr. Ejaz Akram, Chairman of the Rehmat ul Lil Alameen Authority, Dr. Shireen Mazari, Federal Minister for Human Rights, Professor Li Xiguang, Director of the Center for Pakistan Cultural and Communication at Tsinghua University, Allama Tahir Ashrafi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Religious Affairs, Sabah Aslam, Founder and Executive Director of the Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution, and Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman of the Senate Defence Committee and the Pakistan-China Institute.

The dialogue was moderated by Mustafa Hyder Sayed, Executive Director of the Pakistan-China Institute. Mr. Mustafa Hyder Sayed highlighted that the US has weaponized human rights and is engaged in the selective application of human rights principles. He emphasized that Pakistan should continue to support China on Xinjiang since China has always supported Pakistan on its core interests.

Continue reading Senator Mushahid Hussain on the 3D strategy against China: Demonise, Damage and Destabilise

Nicaragua along the Belt and Road

This excellent article from Global Times locates this week’s inauguration of Daniel Ortega for a further term as President of Nicaragua, and the increasingly close ties between China and the Central American nation, within the overall context of a resurgence of the left throughout Latin America. This is occurring in the teeth of intense US pressure and hostility and, the article notes, the Latin American left is characterised by a strong opposition to hegemony. The growth of the left in Latin America  therefore  aligns with global trends and will lead to stronger ties with China as well as Russia.

Swearing in at inauguration ceremony for his new term attended by envoys from China and Russia and reaffirming cooperation with China, Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega is aligning with current global trends as more Latin American nations elect left-leaning governments that will act in their own best interests, despite continuing US attempts to reinforce its influence by using measures mixing sanctions and aid in what it considers its “backyard.” 

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special envoy Cao Jianming attended Ortega’s inauguration ceremony in Managua on Monday, meeting with Ortega prior to the ceremony to exchange views on deepening future cooperation, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Continue reading Nicaragua along the Belt and Road

Wang Yi’s Africa and Asia tour further debunks ‘debt trap’ conspiracy theory

This article by Stephen Ndegwa, first published in CGTN, discusses the ‘debt trap’ narrative in the context of Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent trip to several countries in Africa and Asia. Ndegwa notes that, although Western media and politicians often decry Chinese infrastructure loans as being exploitative, these accusations don’t stand up to scrutiny. Indeed, the debtor countries don’t share these criticisms and are highly appreciative of China’s support for their sovereign development.

One of the most popular rules of power says if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. Well, that could be so. But those who religiously apply this maxim, which purportedly emanated from Nazi Germany’s Joseph Goebbels, forget that it carries a rider. The lie can only be maintained for as long as the originator shields people from the truth.

This has been the case with the so-called debt trap, a phrase generally coined by Western countries that alleges that China ensnared developing countries with unserviceable debt to take over their national assets. China’s aim, so goes the lie, is to enable China to get a foothold in various strategic locations around the world.

Interestingly, even after the United States-led Western bloc’s warning that choices have consequences, China’s partners do not seem to be relenting in expanding and deepening their Sino cooperation. The stress-free partnership has given developing countries much-needed breathing space that has helped them make economic choices best suited to their needs, rather than experimenting with high-blown models that have no practicality.  

Continue reading Wang Yi’s Africa and Asia tour further debunks ‘debt trap’ conspiracy theory

Zhou Enlai’s Legacy in the Belt and Road Initiative

We are very pleased to republish this important article on the internationalist activities of Premier Zhou Enlai by Chinese scholars Han Tongyou and Xu Zhengfei. This English language version was originally machine translated by Dongsheng’s Chinese Voices, to whom grateful thanks.

Zhou Enlai, whose 46th death anniversary fell on January 8th, was New China’s first Premier, serving from the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949 to his death in 1976. He also doubled up as the PRC’s first Foreign Minister, 1949-58. He was a tireless worker, an extraordinary statesperson and an outstanding Marxist-Leninist. He is still remembered with boundless respect and affection by the Chinese people and progressive people around the world.

In this article, Han and Xu comprehensively outline how, integrating patriotism and internationalism, Premier Zhou stood on the side of the socialist countries and firmly supported struggles against imperialism and the process of decolonisation. In particular, he brilliantly applied and creatively enriched and developed Lenin’s thesis of peaceful coexistence for a period in which the existence of states with different and varying social systems had proved to be a phenomenon of considerable historical duration. On this basis, he advanced proletarian diplomacy and the theory and practice of the united front regarding the nationalist regimes of various hues that developed in the formerly colonised countries especially from the 1950s onwards.

The authors correctly assert that Zhou’s practice and example played a major role in laying the long-term groundwork for today’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as the concept of building a community with a shared future for humanity. He personally visited more than 18 countries along the Belt and Road and his Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and Eight Principles in Foreign Aid have stood the test of time.

Executive Summary

Among the countries along the Belt and Road today, Zhou Enlai, the world’s most distinguished diplomat, has personally visited more than 18 countries and established diplomatic relations with more than 36 countries, which has had a wide and far-reaching impact. This article explores Zhou Enlai’s diplomatic activities with countries along the Belt and Road, analyzes his design for spreading China’s voice and telling China’s story, and demonstrates his remarkable contribution to shaping China’s international image and showcasing the charm of a great power. Zhou Enlai’s thoughts and practices are of great relevance to us today in implementing the “Belt and Road” initiative and promoting the community of human destiny.

Keywords: Belt and Road, Zhou Enlai diplomacy, peaceful coexistence, seeking common ground while preserving differences


“Zhou Enlai is a glorious name, an immortal name.” During his 26 years of leadership and diplomatic work, Zhou Enlai personally visited more than 18 countries along the “Belt and Road” and established diplomatic relations with more than 36 countries, creating a new situation in the diplomatic career of the new China, greatly enhancing China’s international prestige, demonstrating China’s image as a great power to the world, and making a great impact. It has greatly enhanced China’s international prestige, demonstrated China’s image as a great power to the world and had a great impact.

In 2013, after General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed the idea of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative gradually entered the domestic and international horizon. On March 27, 2015, authorized by the State Council, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce jointly issued the “Vision and Action for Promoting the Construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”. The introduction of this document marked the decision of the “Belt and Road” initiative into the implementation and construction phase.

In response to the ever-changing international and domestic situation, Zhou Enlai spoke on several occasions in February 1957 about the division of the nature of countries at that time, mainly socialist countries, nationalist countries and imperialist countries, and then clarified China’s foreign policy: unite socialist countries for the better; fight for national independent countries and make a good united front; against imperialism, be vigilant and guard against war, but not to take the initiative. There are many socialist and nationalist countries in the “Belt and Road”.

First, it will strengthen contacts with socialist countries, open up a new pattern of diplomacy for the new China, and establish a new national image.

China was a socialist country. The capitalist camp, represented by the United States, and the socialist camp, led by the Soviet Union, were strongly opposed to each other, and because of the extreme hostility of the capitalist countries to the new China, it was decided that China could only adopt a “one-sided” foreign policy and join the socialist camp. Thus, within three months of the founding of New China, 11 countries with which China established diplomatic relations were all socialist countries, including Mongolia, Vietnam, Poland, Bulgaria, Albania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and the Soviet Union, which later split into 15 independent states. The establishment of diplomatic relations was only the first step in the political interaction between countries; the promotion of all aspects of the country’s development was the fundamental goal, and for this reason Zhou Enlai was frequently active on the international stage.

The old China was poor, and after many years of war, the new China was in need of reconstruction. In order to restore and develop the national economy, Zhou Enlai visited the Soviet Union under Stalin three times and signed a series of economic, political, diplomatic and military contracts, which led to all-round cooperation between the two sides. In particular, during the implementation of China’s first five-year plan, Zhou Enlai actively carried out diplomacy with the Soviet Union to restore the national economy, achieving remarkable results and promoting the development of China’s socialist construction. Vietnam has a long history of relations with China and is a socialist country. As the leader of Vietnam’s national liberation and independence, Ho Chi Minh and Zhou Enlai shared a deep revolutionary friendship, which made the Sino-Vietnamese relations extraordinary. Unlike Sino-Soviet relations, Sino-Vietnamese relations were more about China’s help to Vietnam, such as helping Vietnam to resist the aggression of the French and American imperialists and helping them to develop their national economy. Zhou Enlai visited Vietnam seven times and brought a lot of military supplies, loans and technology, which were warmly welcomed by the Vietnamese people. The situation of Mongolia was similar to that of Vietnam, and it was also a country that needed China’s assistance. Zhou Enlai visited Mongolia 2 times and gave it necessary help from both political and economic aspects to promote its development.

Poland and Hungary were both Eastern European countries that achieved national independence and built socialism with the help of the Soviet Union. However, after Stalin’s death, due to Khrushchev’s criticism of Stalin, the Polish- Hungarian Incident occurred, the Soviet Union sent troops to Hungary, and the socialist camp was momentarily divided. In this situation, Zhou Enlai visited these two countries from January 11 – 17, 1957, in order to maintain the unity of the socialist camp. In Poland, Zhou Enlai put forward eight proposals, which were welcomed by the Polish party members, who said: “There are many interesting, interesting and useful things in Premier Zhou Enlai’s speech, which we will study carefully”; Hungary was badly damaged and the country was in difficulties, so Zhou Enlai came to the capital personally, despite the danger to his personal security. It touched the whole Hungary.

In his dealings with these socialist countries, Zhou Enlai gave full play to his high diplomatic skills and noble personality, and achieved outstanding diplomatic success. On the one hand, China received assistance from the Soviet Union, which stabilized the domestic situation and promoted the construction of China in all aspects. On the other hand, from the economic, military and diplomatic aspects, China assisted other socialist countries, helping them to oppose aggression, achieve national independence, develop socialist economy, and strengthen the socialist camp. Second, to enhance exchanges with nationalist countries, develop good neighborly relations and establish the image of a great power.

In the late 1950s, as the domestic situation in China and the Soviet Union changed and the two parties diverged on the line of the international communist movement, the “one-sided” pattern became untenable, and Chinese diplomacy, under the direct leadership of Zhou Enlai, gradually developed an independent diplomatic line based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. It focused on developing relations with nationalist countries.

China and other Asian and African countries had a common situation, they had just overthrown the colonial rule, gradually mastered their own destiny and future, and shared common development needs, so it was easier to gain mutual understanding, and the rapid development of the new China gradually attracted their attention. By the time of the Asia-Africa Conference in 1954, 22 countries had formally established diplomatic relations with China, including 12 socialist countries and 10 nationalist countries, and countries along the “Belt and Road” such as India, Burma, Indonesia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, followed by Nepal, Ceylon (later renamed Sri Lanka), Cambodia, Egypt and Turkey. The “One Belt and One Road” countries such as India, Burma, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, followed by Nepal, Ceylon (later renamed Sri Lanka), Cambodia, Egypt, and Turkey also established diplomatic relations with China.

In relations with Southeast Asian countries, Zhou Enlai always adhered to the policy of peaceful and good-neighborly relations and resolved the border dispute issue well. The Sino-Burma border issue is a good example of China’s handling of border issues. Zhou Enlai pointed out at the border demarcation meeting that “this work needs to be done very carefully and prudently; to stand firm on the national position and to take care of friendly relations; to draw the border in a practical way and not to lose our sovereignty.” In order to solve the border issue, Zhou Enlai proposed the principle of “mutual understanding and compromise”, and after many rounds of consultations, surveys and negotiations, an agreement was finally reached and the border was demarcated. Myanmar’s Prime Minister U Nu commented on the matter: “I and some people in the Myanmar government were satisfied, and the diplomatic team of the cabinet also considered the Prime Minister’s proposal to be reasonable. Using this as an example, China went on to successfully resolve border issues with Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nationalist countries respectively, securing a peaceful environment for China’s socialist construction at the time.

In order to better develop domestic economic construction, Zhou Enlai also actively developed economic and trade exchanges with nationalist countries. He emphasized : “The purpose of foreign trade is to develop production so that products can be sold and materials necessary for the country can be bought in.” In the autumn of 1952, Zhou Enlai asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to conduct state negotiations with Ceylon, which culminated in the signing of an economic and trade agreement to exchange rubber for rice, meeting the respective development needs of both countries. Starting from 1956, China began to provide economic aid to Cambodia, supplying various commodities and materials free of charge and helping to build complete equipment projects, making Cambodia the first country in which China provided free aid to a nationalist country. Thanks to Zhou Enlai’s extraordinary diplomatic achievements, the political status of the new China was improved and the development of China’s trade with Asian and African nationalist countries advanced a big step. After the Bandung Conference, China launched government-to-government trade activities with Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Nepal and other countries one after another. In Africa, Zhou Enlai worked with Egyptian President Nasser to promote the development of trade between the two countries. He also sent Foreign Trade Minister Ye Jizhuang to organize the opening ceremony of the China Commodity Trade Fair in Egypt, which expanded China’s influence in Africa and subsequently more than 10 African countries established trade relations with China.

During his premiership, Zhou Enlai promoted a large number of foreign affairs activities with countries along the “Belt and Road”, with the following main features:

First, the development concept of opening up to the outside world is proposed. Although Zhou Enlai did not explicitly put forward the concept of “opening up to the outside world” during his lifetime, he had already reflected this concept in his discussions on foreign politics, economy, diplomacy and culture. Zhou Enlai pointed out that “any country in construction, any country in the world, cannot be completely closed and self-sufficient, but always in need of each other”, and therefore “the idea of building behind closed doors is also wrong. He explained the historical necessity of opening up to the outside world from the height of the times. In response to the economic and cultural backwardness of China at that time, Zhou Enlai said in a foreign affairs conversation with the Prime Minister of Pakistan on October 19, 1956 that “China itself has lagged behind for a century” and that “the world science has made particularly great and rapid progress in the last twenty or thirty years, and these advances have left us These advances have left us far behind in the development of science.” General Secretary Xi Jinping clearly pointed out in his speech at the symposium commemorating the 120th anniversary of the birth of Comrade Zhou Enlai that Zhou Enlai attached great importance to learning advanced foreign technology, emphasizing that “to dare to learn from the strengths of all countries is the expression of the greatest self-confidence and self-respect, and such a nation must also be a nation capable of self-reliance.” In his foreign affairs activities, he emphasized the importance of learning and advocated learning from all countries. “We must learn not only from the Soviet Union and from our brother countries, but also from all countries in the world, including those that are peaceful and neutral, such as India, Burma, Indonesia, Egypt, etc.” It can be seen that Zhou Enlai’s idea of opening up to the outside world has broken through the shackles of ideology and social system and embodies visionary insight. He insisted on the principles of equality and mutual benefit, mutual benefit and common development, and advocated learning from all the strengths of these countries.

Learning from the Soviet Union had become a trend at the beginning of the new China, and Zhou Enlai was also the driving force behind the “learning from the Soviet Union”. He said: “The Chinese people are now working on their first five-year construction plan. In order to ensure the success of this construction, it is necessary to learn from the advanced experience of socialist construction in the Soviet Union, as Comrade Mao Zedong has often called for, honestly and diligently. The Soviet Union’s today is our tomorrow.” With the arrival of large numbers of Soviet experts in China, a nationwide movement was formed calling for the study of Soviet experts’ knowledge and technology as well as ideas, styles and methods, which promoted the construction and development of early New China and laid the foundation for China’s later national economy. Zhou Enlai often asked to take the initiative to study the advanced technology outside and to exchange with an attitude of learning. When reviewing the program of the Song and Dance Troupe of the Political Department of Xinjiang Military Region, which was to perform in Egypt and other African countries, he told the actors that you were the first ones to go to Africa and were the advance team of diplomatic work, so you should learn from the African people with an open mind in order to express the deep love and friendship of the Chinese people to them, and never have a big country mentality, but learn the advanced aspects of other countries to better promote the development of our country.

Second, adhering to the unity of patriotism and internationalism. Zhou Enlai was a model of unity between patriotism and internationalism. In 1952, he clearly pointed out in “Our Foreign Policy and Tasks” that the guiding ideology of the new China’s diplomacy was “to adhere to internationalism and oppose narrow nationalism” and “to adhere to patriotism and oppose cosmopolitanism”. Our internationalism is to make all countries independent and equal” and “socialist patriotism is not narrow nationalism, but patriotism that strengthens national self-confidence under the guidance of internationalism”.

In the early days of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the new China adopted a “one-sided” foreign policy and fell back on the socialist camp. Zhou Enlai called for the development of the spirit of internationalism, the unification of the socialist countries, the establishment of a united front, the exchange of benefits and disadvantages, and active support for the cause of independence and liberation of the Third World. After the outbreak of the Suez Canal incident in 1956, Zhou Enlai quickly issued a statement condemning the aggression of the British and French governments and supporting the Egyptian people’s war against aggression; subsequently, Zhou Enlai, on behalf of the Chinese government, offered a cash donation of 20 million Swiss francs to the Egyptian people. Zhou Enlai then donated 20 million Swiss francs in cash to Egypt on behalf of the Chinese government, fully embodying the spirit of internationalism and winning the friendship of the Egyptian people.

As the international environment developed and changed and the Sino- Soviet conflict escalated, Zhou Enlai promptly adjusted China’s diplomatic strategy from the hegemonic rule of the two superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union to the struggle for the “two middle zones” and active support for the just struggles of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America. In developing diplomatic relations with these countries, Zhou Enlai’s internationalist spirit was brought into full play. He visited many countries along the “Belt and Road”, fully exchanged views with their leaders on issues of national independence and liberation, and actively provided assistance to them. For example, economic and technical assistance has been a long-standing foreign policy of China since 1956, when he assisted Cambodia.

Between 1956 and 1960, China and Mongolia signed three agreements on economic and technical assistance, and provided Mongolia with one non- refundable aid amounting to 160 million rubles and two long-term loans totaling 300 million rubles to help Mongolia develop its economy. Later, China also provided economic and technical assistance to Albania, Hungary, Cuba, Burma, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Egypt, Guinea, Algeria, Nepal, Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, Laos, Syria and other Asian and African countries. Even during the difficult period of China’s national economic development, such as the Cultural Revolution, foreign aid has continued. China has always believed that foreign aid is China’s internationalist obligation, and it is also very beneficial to its own construction. In 1962, Zhou Enlai pointed out: “The victorious Chinese people, while carrying out socialist construction, must also, according to the possible conditions, give assistance to brotherly and nationalist countries, which is our inescapable internationalist obligation. …… their construction work well, and their strengthened opposition to imperialism is an important support to our socialist construction cause”. During his visit to Africa in 1963 – 1964, Zhou Enlai put forward the famous eight principles of foreign aid During his visit to Africa in 1963-1964, Zhou Enlai put forward the famous eight principles of foreign aid, which fully embodied the spirit of Chinese internationalism and was thus well received and praised by the countries concerned.

Third, we are committed to creating a peaceful and stable international environment. At the very beginning of the founding of New China, Zhou Enlai put forward the idea that “we urgently need a peaceful national environment to develop our independent economy”. The foreign policy of seeking world peace is in line with China’s need to build socialism and the aspirations of peace-loving people around the world. In accordance with the post-war Cold War pattern of U.S.-Soviet hegemony, Zhou Enlai developed Lenin’s idea of peaceful coexistence and creatively put forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which was used to solve some border and territorial disputes. There is no reason why international disputes cannot be resolved through consultation”. He presented China’s “Declaration of Peace” to the conference, on the basis of which the conference eventually adopted the ten principles. Since then, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence have gradually become a universally accepted diplomatic principle for all countries in the world and have been written into the UN Charter, promoting the cause of world peace.

Zhou Enlai advocated the five principles of peaceful coexistence and firmly opposed hegemony. He once proposed a criterion to measure whether a country could be a friend of China, namely, “the main key to the distinction is the attitude toward war and peace”. If any country, regardless of its size, strength, development or backwardness, dares to launch a war of aggression, the Chinese government will stand up and condemn it. For example, China actively supported and supported the victim countries in the war against France in Vietnam, the war against the United States in Korea, and the war against Britain and France in Egypt.

During Zhou Enlai’s premiership, there were continuous international wars. China’s economic development, coupled with the instigation of some Western countries, aroused the fears and fears of some countries, who feared China’s foreign aggression when it became strong. The Burmese ambassador to China, U Nu Maw, said frankly in a conversation with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai: “I am afraid of Chinese aggression, I am really afraid. Based on this, Zhou Enlai repeatedly stated the Chinese government’s position on foreign affairs occasions. During his visit to Vietnam, he particularly emphasized the position of the new China: “I would like to offer a pledge that China will always abide by the five principles and resolutely oppose chauvinism of the great powers, so as to strengthen friendship and solidarity among nations.” During the meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, who visited China, he pointed out: “As soon as China develops, it must be imperialism, which is something we cannot agree with”, “The question is not whether a country is strong and developing, but whether its policies and institutions threaten people “. Our country is a socialist country, which is against colonialism and imperialism. China has also suffered from aggression, and the lessons of history do not allow China to invade other countries. Zhou Enlai’s series of diplomatic activities dispelled other countries’ doubts about China and firmly established good-neighborly and friendly relations with China.

General Secretary Xi Jinping spoke highly of Zhou Enlai’s diplomacy: “Comrade Zhou Enlai’s profound diplomatic thinking, colorful diplomatic practice, unique diplomatic art and diplomatic style have won the universal respect of people around the world and international friends, and earned the Party and the country a high international reputation.” Although Zhou Enlai’s diplomatic legacy belongs to history, much of it has been applied to all aspects of contemporary China and has influenced Chinese politics, from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping and up to today’s “One Belt, One Road” strategic approach.

Peaceful coexistence is the primary prerequisite for promoting the Belt and Road Initiative. The concept of “peaceful coexistence” was first introduced by Lenin as a diplomatic concept for socialist countries to have normal relations with other countries. Zhou Enlai developed it into a diplomatic guideline for the new China to get along with other countries, uniting the vast number of Asian, African and Latin American countries and expanding the international united front for peace. With the rapid development of China’s economy in the 21st century, China’s comprehensive national power has become the forefront of the world, and it has increasingly moved closer to the center of the world stage, but local turmoil and strife still exist in the world today. Therefore, China still has to inherit Zhou Enlai’s diplomatic idea of peaceful coexistence and firmly follow the road of peaceful development. “The Belt and Road Initiative is an important initiative for China to adapt to the new situation of economic globalization and build a new system of open economy. The “Vision and Action for Promoting the Construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road” clearly proposes to “abide by the five principles of peaceful coexistence, namely, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, non-aggression, non- interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence”. This shows that the diplomatic concept of peaceful coexistence is still the most basic principle of interaction between countries in today’s world and has universal significance. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out: “Under the new situation, the spirit of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence is not obsolete, but deeper than ever; the meaning of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence is not diluted, but newer than ever; the role of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence is not weakened, but stronger than ever.” In the case of the “Belt and Road” initiative, China is more active in interacting, exchanging and cooperating with relevant countries under the premise of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and promoting the development of both sides for a better future.

Common development is the long-term goal of promoting the “Belt and Road” initiative. An important feature of Zhou Enlai’s diplomatic thinking is his insistence on the unity of internationalism and patriotism. In his article “Our Diplomatic Policy and Tasks,” he pointed out that we should not only insist on patriotism and oppose the “cosmopolitanism” of losing national self-confidence and deferring to the big powers, but also “uphold internationalism and oppose narrow nationalism” and firmly “establish the idea of internationalism.” [32] After that, he repeatedly expressed in public the need to carry forward the spirit of internationalism, to unite and support the peoples of the world, and to promote common development. On this basis, he further proposed the “Peaceful Economic Policy,” the connotation of which is “to oppose the imperialist policy of destroying national economies, enslaving human beings, and impoverishing people by seeking the prosperity and development of human beings throughout the world. The aim is to achieve human prosperity and economic development.” And the aim of our Communists “is to make the world a better place, so that everyone can live and live well.” Zhou Enlai’s idea of common development is still worth inheriting and carrying forward in the new situation. The vision of building a community of human destiny proposed by General Secretary Xi Jinping in the “Belt and Road” initiative is a continuation of Zhou Enlai’s thought on peace diplomacy, and at the G-20 summit in 2013, Xi called on “all countries to build a sense of community of destiny, cooperate in competition, and win together in cooperation. Take into account the interests of other countries while pursuing their own interests, and take into account the development of other countries while pursuing their own development. Let each country’s development create a linkage effect with the growth of other countries.” China hopes to build an “open, inclusive and diversified” community through the Belt and Road to achieve common development and win-win cooperation.

‘The country that bombed you is your friend. The one that built your new railway is your enemy’

We are pleased to republish this article by Tom Fowdy, originally carried by RT. The author calls out the grotesque hypocrisy of imperialist criticism of China for having built a high speed railway to Vientiane, the capital of Socialist Laos – a small country on which the United States dropped more bombs than were dropped in the whole of World War II, killing some 10% of the population and making it the most bombed country in history. 

This is the Western media’s bizarre messaging to the people of Laos, a nation that was carpet bombed by America, and which is now being vilified for accepting a new $9 billion railway line paid for by China.

Thursday was National Day in Laos, a celebration marking 46 years since the landlocked Southeast Asian nation deposed its monarchy and became a revolutionary communist state, an effort which was supported by Vietnam.

This year, the anniversary had added significance, as it saw the opening of a major new project, an electrified high-speed and freight railway system connecting the capital city, Vientiane with its northern neighbour, China. 

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Shakeel Ahmad Ramay on the greening of the Belt and Road

This important article by Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, Chief Executive Officer of Asian Institute of Ecocivilization, Pakistan, details how China is working energetically to ‘green’ the Belt and Road Initiative, divesting from fossil fuel projects, promoting renewable energy projects, and working closely with other countries to agree standards and strategies on sustainable development. The article was first published in China Focus on 4 November 2021.

A lot has been written about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but there is a dearth of literature which highlights green aspects of the BRI. China, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, has a clear commitment to green and nature-friendly development and the BRI is the torchbearer of President Xi’s vision.

Unfortunately, this dimension is not part of any discourse. The opponents criticize China on the basis of self-assumed perceptions. They have launched smear campaigns against the BRI without understanding the new philosophy of development, President Xi’s vision of Eco-civilization and circular economy.

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Bullet train for China-Laos railway arrives in Vientiane

We are pleased to republish this report in Xinhua marking the completion of a high-speed railway linking China and Laos. The railway is an example of China’s win-win approach to relations with foreign countries and its support for sovereign development.

The streamlined “China-standard” bullet train, or electric multiple unit (EMU) train, for the China-Laos railway arrived at the newly built China-Laos Railway Vientiane Station on Saturday.

The EMU train was officially delivered to the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd., a joint venture based in the Lao capital Vientiane in charge of the railway’s construction and operation, at a handover ceremony held in the station with the attendance of Chinese Ambassador to Laos Jiang Zaidong and Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Viengsavath Siphandone.

Continue reading Bullet train for China-Laos railway arrives in Vientiane