The Multipolar Challenge: Implications for dollar dominance and the shifting tides of US hegemony

We are very pleased to reprint the following article by Efe Can Gürcan, which was originally published in BRIQ Belt and Road Quarterly, Volume 5, Issue 1.

In his article, Dr. Gürcan, who is currently a Visiting Scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and is a member of the FoSC Britain Committee, argues that the global political economy has long been characterised by the commanding presence of the US dollar – a linchpin that has steadfastly upheld US hegemony across decades. He further endeavours to illuminate the multifaceted interconnections between a multipolar world and the potential reconfiguration of the dollar’s global standing. His findings suggest that China emerges as the principal contender to US hegemony, spearheading initiatives aimed at dedollarisation, with the prevailing trajectory being towards asset diversification in a post-hegemonic context. Evident manifestations of such inclinations are China’s policies on RMB internationalisation, exemplified by the introduction of the CIPS (Cross-Border Interbank Payment System), UnionPay, and the Digital Yuan. These strategies complement the growing prevalence of bilateral trade in alternative currencies, a growing intention to conduct oil trading in non-dollar currencies, currency swap agreements, and the prospective advent of a BRICS currency. Institutionally, this shift is anchored in frameworks such as the New Development Bank, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The mounting view of dollar dominance as a manipulative instrument of US foreign policy, coupled with the perceived waning of US hegemony and diminishing confidence in the US dollar, impels developing nations to hasten their currency diversification pursuits. This momentum is observed particularly within the framework of South-South cooperation, with China’s proactive stance being a pivotal influence.

Developing his argument, Efe explains that this emergence of multiple power centres, each with its own economic and political clout, threatens to reshape the traditional dynamics of international economic relations, challenging the very sanctity of the dollar’s global supremacy.

He also considers it relevant to address the negative implications of dollarisation for the developing world. Adjustments in US monetary policy have frequently precipitated debt, exchange rate, and financial crises in various developing economies. Noteworthy instances include the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s, and the 2018 exchange rate crises in Türkiye, Brazil, Argentina, and other economies, sparked by an increase in US dollar interest rates. Therefore, dollarisation is typically linked with high and unstable inflation, exchange rate fluctuations, and undisciplined monetary policy.

Global confidence in the US dollar has been foundational to its dominance. Such confidence has roots in the United States’ past contributions to global production, its unrivalled military prowess, and its capacity to maintain its currency’s purchasing power through technological advancements and a robust service sector. However, recent geopolitical shifts and the multipolarisation of world politics appear to be eroding this global confidence. China’s ascent as the leading producer and exporter of high-tech goods, combined with the repercussions of the 2007-2008 financial crisis and US military challenges in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, have raised questions about the dollar’s unassailable position.

He cites the work of Daniel McDowell to emphasise that sanctions are a crucial tool in the strategic use of the dollar to counter the emerging powers threatening US hegemony. Primary sanctions aim to directly isolate the targeted individual, company, or government from the dollar-based financial system. In turn, secondary sanctions are designed to exclude the target from global financial networks through the involvement of foreign financial institutions.

Turning to the trend towards dedollarisation, he explains that it emerged against the backdrop of the unprecedented rise of the Latin American left in the 2000s as an important catalyst in multipolarisation, which includes Lula’s Brazil, a leading BRICS+ member. Multipolarisation of the global political economy, he adds, goes hand in hand with the rise of South-South cooperation, embodied not only in the rise of the Latin American left and its social justice-oriented regionalism, but also in the proliferation of Eurasia’s security-oriented regionalism, including the SCO, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and other cooperation schemes such as the BRICS+, BRI, and the AIIB. These organisations hold the potential to serve as conduits for dedollarisation in forthcoming years.

Particularly significant are trends in the global energy market. If Saudi Arabia and potentially other Gulf countries start trading oil in yuan or other currencies, this would significantly erode the dollar’s dominant position in global energy markets. Additionally, the March 2023 agreement between Chinese and French energy companies to settle an LNG deal in yuan is also of historic importance. Given the magnitude and importance of energy deals, conducting transactions in currencies other than the dollar could set a precedent for future trade agreements. Equally important is China’s recent move to use the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange as a platform for yuan settlements with Arab Gulf nations, a strategic effort to bypass the US dollar in energy trade. Given the vast volumes of oil and gas traded between the Gulf and China, this shift could have a significant impact on the demand for the US dollar in global energy markets. A similar situation goes for nuclear energy. The 2023 agreement between Bangladesh and Russia to use the Renminbi for the settlement of a nuclear plant transaction is yet another sign of countries seeking alternatives to the US dollar for significant infrastructure and development projects.

In this evolving landscape, therefore, China is seizing the opportunity to amplify its global financial footprint. In fact, China’s push to reform the dollar-centric global financial system began following the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Dai Xianglong, who was then the Governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), expressed in 1999 that the instability caused by the dominant role of a few national currencies as international reserve currencies, as well as the system’s failure to address balance of payments imbalances, leads to international financial crises. In the wake of the 2007–2008 global financial crisis, Zhou Xiaochuan, Dai’s successor, emphasised the need to overhaul the international monetary system. He proposed an international reserve currency that would be independent of individual nations and identified the weakening dollar as a key factor in the global economic crisis.

China’s endeavours to reduce reliance on the US dollar and bolster the international stature of its currency, the RMB, have involved strategic maneuvers in global financial diplomacy. An integral part of this strategy has been the establishment of currency swap agreements with developing nations. By 2017, China had entered into swap agreements that amounted to more than $500 billion with 35 countries. Both the number of countries and amount of funds involved have continued to increase significantly.

China’s proactive steps towards dedollarisation and establishing the RMB as an international currency have manifested in various other innovative financial undertakings. Initiated in 2002, China’s UnionPay credit card system was instituted as a competitor to globally renowned credit card giants, Visa and MasterCard. By 2019, UnionPay’s ascendancy in the global credit card market was evident, as it held the lion’s share, accounting for 45% of credit cards in circulation. This significant development is not merely about market competition. It represents a strategic move to offer an alternative financial lifeline to nations, such as Russia, Iran, and Cuba, which, due to Western sanctions, find themselves estranged from the dominant international payment systems.

The advantages of the Digital Yuan are manifold. Beyond expediting financial transactions, the use of this blockchain-driven technology enhances China’s capability for comprehensive financial oversight and synchronisation – key attributes for maintaining a robust economy.

And the BRI stands out as one of China’s most ambitious global projects. While the initiative primarily focuses on infrastructural development and connectivity across continents, it also carries significant financial implications. By financing projects within the BRI framework, China can encourage or even mandate the use of yuan for transactional purposes, thereby promoting its global usage. If the BRI projects are primarily transacted in yuan, it could lead to an increased demand for the currency, thereby internationalising it and challenging the dominance of the US dollar.

Presently, dedollarisation represents a nascent trend, predominantly evident in developing nations seeking to diversify their monetary assets. In this context, the notion of “post-hegemony” encompasses not only the relative waning of US global influence and the rise of alternative power hubs, but also the burgeoning South-South collaboration.

Towards the conclusion of his article, Efe turns his attention specifically to Türkiye, which, he outlines, has articulated on multiple occasions its interest in deepening ties with non-Western multilateral organisations. Ankara has repeatedly signaled its intention to explore membership possibilities within the SCO and BRICS, two prominent platforms that present alternatives to the Western-centric global order. Furthermore, Türkiye’s engagement with the BRI is noteworthy. Within the BRI framework, Türkiye has championed its role in the Middle Corridor Initiative, serving as a critical bridge linking China to Europe, thereby reinforcing its geopolitical and geo-economic significance in Eurasia. Another testament to Türkiye’s eastward gravitation is its active engagement with the AIIB. As an institution primarily led by China, the AIIB has seen Türkiye emerge as one of its main beneficiaries, funneling considerable funds to support Ankara’s expansive infrastructure projects. Türkiye possesses a 2.54% voting share within the AIIB. Following India and Indonesia, Türkiye has emerged as the third-largest beneficiary of AIIB loans. As of 2019, Türkiye received 11% of the total loans extended by the AIIB. The majority of these funds are allocated to the energy sector. However, despite these efforts, and public statements opposing dollar dominance, Türkiye has achieved limited success in moving away from the dollar.

China’s efforts to promote the RMB on the international stage and challenge the hegemony of the US dollar, he concludes, are multifaceted. It is not just about the currency itself but is deeply tied to China’s broader strategic initiatives and global institutional leadership. In this context, the evolving financial landscape is a clear signal that the dominance of the US dollar is being actively challenged in the context of South-South cooperation, as a “post-hegemonic” form of international cooperation. Certainly, the perceived weaponisation of the dollar and the rise of the developing world as a site of resistance to US hegemony, is hastening this shift, as developing countries collaborate to develop and implement alternatives that insulate them from the economic risks of US policy decisions.

Efe Gürcan’s article is a serious study of a key issue in contemporary international political economy and one that deserves careful study.

The global political economy has long been characterized by the commanding presence of the U.S. dollar—a linchpin that has steadfastly upheld U.S. hegemony across decades. The dollar’s ascendancy, transcending mere economic value, has become emblematic of U.S. strategic influence in both the economic and geopolitical landscapes. However, as we witness the dawn of a new era marked by a multipolar global order, there is growing speculation about the potential waning of the dollar’s omnipotence. This emergence of multiple power centers, each with its own economic and political clout, threatens to reshape the traditional dynamics of international economic relations, challenging the very sanctity of the dollar’s global supremacy.

This article is anchored around the following pivotal inquiries: In what ways is burgeoning multipolarity in the global political economy reshaping perceptions and realities of the U.S. dollar’s dominance? How might a diminished dollar centrality impact the broader edifice of U.S. hegemony and the equilibrium of the global economic order? Which rising powers are at the forefront of this tectonic shift, and what strategic levers are they employing to influence the trajectory?

The present study endeavors to illuminate the multifaceted interconnections between a multipolar world and the potential reconfiguration of the dollar’s global standing. With this in mind, it also aims to elucidate the strategic implications for the United States and chart the evolving dynamics that will define the future global economic landscape. Using the method of Geopolitical Analysis Grid (GAG) (Cattaruzza, 2020; Cattaruzza & Limonier, 2019), moreover, this study systematically dissects the strategies and actions of pivotal emerging actors within the multipolar matrix. GAG facilitates a layered exploration of nation-states’ economic postures, geopolitical imperatives, and strategic alignments, all juxtaposed against their unique historical and socio-cultural backdrops. By assimilating these diverse insights, the present article uses this method to forge a holistic perspective on the emergent challenges and opportunities sculpting the global political economy. In this context, the article begins by establishing the conceptual and methodological framework that guides this research. The second and final section delves into an empirical analysis of multipolarization and de-dollarization.

Conceptual and Methodological Framework

To ensure a comprehensive and coherent analysis, it is imperative to commence by establishing a conceptual and methodological framework that will guide our examination of multipolarization and de-dollarization. The notion of U.S. hegemony is pivotal in framing this research. By “hegemony,” I refer to a scenario wherein a single state (or a group of states), “plays a predominant role in organizing, regulating, and stabilizing the global political economy (Du Boff, 2003, p. 1).” Notably, in the aftermath of World War II, U.S. imperialism emerged as the linchpin, driving the imperialist system and positioning itself at the epicenter of global hegemonic relations. It is essential here to clarify that my interpretation of “hegemony” does not necessarily require unanimous consent and unquestioned leadership. It rather encapsulates a nuanced interplay of consent and coercion in varying degrees, serving to relatively stabilize the international order and its alliance system led by a hegemonic power that pretends to act in the general interest, even in the face of discernible dissent (Gürcan, 2022b). For instance, the widely held conviction, prior to the 2000s, that the United States was unparalleled in global leadership—attributed to its economic superiority as a model nation, credibility in global governance, perceived military invulnerability, cultural appeal, and the dominance of the dollar—served as a quintessential illustration of U.S. hegemony.

Another essential term in this context is “multipolarization”, which describes the shift in the global balance of powers, as political, economic, and military clout becomes more evenly distributed, elevating the systemic importance of multiple states (Gürcan, 2019b). In turn, the term “dollar hegemony” describes a situation in which the U.S. dollar is widely adopted as the foremost instrument for international reserves, the main unit of account, and the primary means of payment, achieved through a combination of consensual and coercive measures. “Dollarization” is thereby the result of this hegemony, emerging from a process that entails the use of the U.S. dollar as a reserve of value, a medium of exchange, and a unit of account. Understood as such, one could identify three main types of dollarization. Financial dollarization pertains to the dollarization of assets and liabilities, whereas transaction dollarization relates to the payment system. Price dollarization concerns pricing units for goods and services (Vidal, et. al., 2022; Basosi, 2021; Levy-Yeyati, 2021).

Continue reading The Multipolar Challenge: Implications for dollar dominance and the shifting tides of US hegemony

Angolan President: We know what colonisation is and the Chinese are not colonising Africa but cooperating with us

Angolan President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço paid a state visit to China from March 14-17 at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. 

Whilst in China he gave an exclusive interview to He Yanke for the CGTN series Leaders Talk. 

He Yanke noted that Lourenço has visited China on numerous occasions since 2000, including as the Secretary General of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), as the Special Envoy of his predecessor, and this is his third visit as head of state. 

Summing up his impressions from all these visits, Lourenço remarked that what impressed him most was that China was continually making progress and bringing surprises to the world. 

Noting that last year saw the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Angola, he described the relationship as exemplary. During very difficult times for his country, for example the period of post-war reconstruction, China had lent a helping hand. And the same was true, not only for his country but for the world, when humanity was suddenly faced with the Covid pandemic. 

Asked for his views on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he recalled that China has provided Angola with strong financial support for infrastructure construction, including for roads, ports, airports, and hydropower plants, all of which are necessary for development. In his last few days in China, he had talked with 24 major companies, who had shown willingness to take risks and invest in his country.

Noting that China was building what will be Africa’s largest hydropower plant in Angola, and also training local personnel for the project, that will not only meet his country’s needs but also produce surplus electricity to be supplied to neighbouring southern African countries, Lourenço  was asked, given that Chinese companies are providing tens of thousands of jobs in Angola, how he would respond to the accusations levelled against China’s role in Africa from some quarters.

His answer was emphatic. Not just the Portuguese colonialists, he said, but the Europeans in general, including the British and French, had been in Africa for centuries. They had never engaged in the kind of infrastructure construction that we are seeing now. They are not just critics but slanderers acting out of malice. The facts are clear: China has not invaded any African country. The Chinese in Africa are not there for colonisation. We know what colonisation is and the Chinese are not colonising Africa but cooperating with us. China did not come to us fully armed but with funds and technology and a willingness to work with us.

The results are plain to see. In 2002 (when Angola’s long-running civil war finally ended), our country was in ruins. Thanks to the help from China, we now have land-based infrastructure connecting provinces and cities which didn’t exist before. 

The construction of roads, bridges, ports and railways was all done with the help of China. If these critics want to be part of the process, then they must act and do better than China. But we don’t believe they can.

Asked about President Xi Jinping’s three global initiatives, on development, security and civilisation, President Lourenço described the Chinese leader as a visionary and insightful statesman. Without peace and security, there can be no development – this is true both from the Angolan experience and also on a world scale.

The full interview with President Lourenço is embedded below.

China and Nauru committed to promoting peace, development and stability in the Pacific

President of Nauru David Adeang paid a state visit to China at the invitation of his counterpart Xi Jinping from March 24-29. The visit comes soon after the tiny South Pacific island nation resumed diplomatic relations with China on January 24.

The two heads of state met on March 25 and Xi noted that Nauru’s political decision to adhere to the one-China principle and restore diplomatic ties with China in January is a move that conforms to the trend of history and the times.

Friendship, no matter its beginning, will have a bright future, and cooperation, regardless of scale, will be productive as long as it is sincere, Xi said.

He added that China-Nauru relations have opened a new chapter in history, and China is ready to work with Nauru to create a better future for relations between the two countries and bring more benefits to the two peoples.

China welcomes Nauru as another country to sign the Belt and Road cooperation document with China, adding that China is ready to expand practical cooperation with Nauru in trade, investment and infrastructure construction, and provide assistance to Nauru for its independent and sustainable development without political strings attached.

Stressing that treating others as equals is a defining feature of China’s diplomacy, Xi said China always believes that all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community.

China has always been a member of the developing world, and China’s vote in the United Nations Security Council always belongs to the developing countries, Xi said.

Noting that China-Nauru relations are based on mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and mutual support, Xi noted that China firmly supports Nauru in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, and in independently pursuing a development path suited to its national conditions.

Calling on the two sides to strengthen exchanges in education, culture, health, youth and other fields, Xi said China welcomes more young Nauruan people to study in China, and is willing to provide Nauru with assistance to address climate change within the framework of South-South cooperation.

China is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with Nauru in multilateral fields such as the United Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum, jointly advocate an equal and orderly multipolar world and inclusive economic globalisation that benefits all, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries, the Chinese president said.

Adeang said it is a great honour to be invited for a state visit to China and experience China’s long history, splendid culture and vibrant development.

Not long ago, Nauru decided to stand on the right side of history and resume diplomatic relations with China on the basis of recognising and adhering to the one-China principle, which is an important landmark in Nauru-China relations and opens a new chapter in Nauru’s national development and bilateral relations, he added.

He said Nauru highly appreciates China’s commitment to equality among all countries, no matter big or small, and is willing to abide by the one-China principle, and continuously deepen cooperation with China.

As the world today faces many global challenges, common progress and prosperity can only be achieved through solidarity and cooperation, Adeang said, noting that the series of global initiatives put forward by President Xi Jinping is of great significance.

In a joint statement issued by the two countries, “the Nauruan side spoke highly of China’s great development achievements in the new era under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, and believes that the Chinese path to modernisation offers new options and solutions to fellow developing countries seeking independent development. Nauru welcomes and supports the vision of building a community with a shared future for humanity and the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilisation Initiative set forth by President Xi Jinping.”

The two sides agreed that all countries, regardless of size, strength and wealth, are equals. The Chinese side firmly supports Nauru in upholding its sovereignty, security and development interests, and in independently choosing a development path suited to its national conditions.

The Chinese side welcomes and supports Nauru in joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at an early date. The two sides agreed to expand exchanges and cooperation in such areas as culture, education, health, sport, tourism, youth, media, and human resources, and take policy measures to promote their cross-border travel.

They agreed that climate change is a global challenge that requires all countries to work together to address it under the framework of multilateralism and following the principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. The two sides will jointly promote the full and effective implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement.

In a particularly significant section, China and Nauru clearly addressed the twin issues of Japan’s discharge of waste water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear reactor and Britain’s planned provision of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia under the AUKUS agreement that also includes the United States, stating:

“The two sides are committed to working with all sides to promote peace, development and stability in the Pacific Islands region. The two sides firmly uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation regime with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as the cornerstone and the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, and call on relevant countries to fulfil international obligations and prudently handle the discharge of nuclear contaminated water, cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines, etc.”

It added: “The Chinese side reiterated its active support for the Pacific Island Countries in implementing the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation under multilateral mechanisms including the China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum and under multilateral cooperation platforms for emergency supplies, climate response, poverty alleviation and development, disaster prevention and mitigation, Juncao technology [a Chinese innovation that allows for the breeding of a hybrid grass from fungi and herbaceous plants, thereby addressing issues of poverty, soil erosion and desertification] and agriculture, and work together for a closer community with a shared future between China and Pacific Island Countries.”

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Roosevelt Skerrit: China has been a true friend of Dominica

Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit paid an official visit to China from March 23-29 at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Premier Li Qiang.

Announcing the visit on March 20, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lin Jian noted that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the two countries, adding: “China welcomes Skerrit’s official visit at this special moment.”

Dominica is an important country in the Caribbean and also a good friend and partner of China in the region, he noted, adding that since the establishment of diplomatic relations 20 years ago, China-Dominica relations have grown steadily, setting a good example of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, common development and win-win cooperation between countries of different sizes.

“It is believed that Skerrit’s visit to China will further enhance political mutual trust between the two countries, promote practical cooperation in various fields, consolidate the traditional friendship between the two countries and push bilateral relations to a new level,” he added.

Meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 25, the Chinese leader told Skerrit that the the two countries have respected each other and treated each other as equals since the establishment of diplomatic ties 20 years ago.

With increasing political mutual trust, vigorous exchanges and cooperation in various fields, and with the deepening friendship between the two peoples, China-Dominica relations have become a good example of South-South cooperation, he added.

China highly appreciates Dominica’s steadfast friendship, Xi said. China is willing to work with Dominica to synergise development strategies and turn the friendly relations into a driving force for win-win cooperation to achieve more results and deliver more benefits for the two peoples.

Xi stressed that the key to the sound development of China-Dominica relations lies in a high level of political mutual trust, as well as in mutual understanding and support on issues involving each other’s core interests and major concerns. China firmly supports the people of Dominica in following a development path suited to their national conditions, and stands ready to bolster friendly exchanges and strengthen the sharing of experience on governance.

China welcomes the Dominican side to board the “express train” of Chinese modernisation and to expand bilateral cooperation in fields such as trade and the economy, infrastructure construction, agriculture and health care, Xi said, noting that China will continue to provide assistance within its capacity for Dominica’s economic and social development.

China is willing to promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges with the Dominican side, welcomes more Dominican students to study in China, and will continue to provide scholarships and training programs.

China advocates an equal, orderly, multipolar world and inclusive economic globalisation that benefits all, and it holds that all countries, big or small, are equal in the international community, Xi said.

Stressing that China attaches importance to the issues of Small Island Developing States related to climate change, Xi said that China supports Dominica in playing an active role in international and regional affairs, and stands ready to strengthen coordination and cooperation with the Dominican side, deepen South-South cooperation, safeguard the common interests of developing countries, and advance the construction of a community with a shared future for humanity.

China attaches great importance to its relations with Caribbean countries, Xi noted, saying that China appreciates Dominica’s important role in promoting China-Caribbean cooperation during the latter’s rotating chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and that China will continue to support countries in the Caribbean to improve their prosperity, development and people’s well-being.

For his part, Skerrit said that he made the right decision to establish diplomatic relations with China 20 years ago, and that he was glad to visit China again on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Noting that China has not only made great achievements in poverty alleviation and development, but also contributes significantly to the peace and development of Dominica, other Latin American countries and the world at large, Skerrit said that China’s support and cooperation has helped Dominica to safeguard its independence and development.

Skerrit commended the concept of building a community with a shared future for humanity and a series of global initiatives proposed by China, saying that they are crucial to improving solidarity and cooperation, and to the joint promotion of development and prosperity in today’s world.

He expressed Dominica’s willingness to be China’s all-weather strategic partner, and to continue playing a positive role in promoting relations between Caribbean countries and China.

Skerrit added that his country also expects closer communication and coordination on international affairs with China in order to safeguard international fairness and justice, and to make positive contributions to the promotion of world peace and development.

Establishing diplomatic relations with China was one of the first steps taken by Skerrit when he came to power and his meeting with Xi came just two days after the twentieth anniversary.

Marking the anniversary, Xi had exchanged congratulations with Dominican President Sylvanie Burton.

Depicting Dominica-China relations as dynamic and fruitful, Burton said that the Dominican side cherishes the friendship with China, appreciates China’s support and assistance, and is willing to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation to jointly tackle global challenges.

Also on March 25, Skerrit held meetings with Premier Li Qiang and Zhao Leji, Chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.

Noting that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Dominica, Li said the two sides have been treating each other with mutual respect and equality over the past 20 years.

He added that China is ready to work with Dominica to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, further strengthen political mutual trust, and push for the new and greater development of bilateral relations and cooperation.

Li said China has always supported Dominica in safeguarding its national sovereignty and independence, and in following a development path suited to its national conditions. China is willing to enhance cooperation with Dominica continuously in areas such as infrastructure construction, agriculture and trade under the framework of the joint construction of the Belt and Road. It is also ready to develop new highlights in cooperation on new energy and the digital and blue economies, help Dominica improve its disaster prevention and mitigation capabilities, and share more development opportunities.

He noted that China supports its enterprises in investing and doing business in Dominica, and it also welcomes Dominica and other Caribbean countries to actively participate in the fourth China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum to open broader prospects for cooperation.

For his part, Skerrit said that Dominica and China have always respected each other, cooperated closely, forged a profound friendship and set a good example for the Latin America-China friendship. Dominica abides firmly by the one-China principle, and resolutely opposes the interference of any country in China’s internal affairs and the infringement of any country on China’s sovereignty.

He also said that China is committed to safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, and noted that the global initiatives proposed by China are receiving more and more support from the international community. Dominica is willing to strengthen communication with China further, increase personnel exchanges, expand cooperation, work together to deal with climate change, and promote the construction of a Dominica-China community with a shared future.

Zhao Leji said that China and Dominica are good friends and good partners sharing the same goals. He called on both sides to jointly implement the Global Development Initiative and promote the development of friendly and cooperative relations between China and Dominica.

During his visit, Skerrit also took part in the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024, held on China’s southern Hainan island.

Addressing the opening ceremony, he said that the global community should work together to solve the challenges faced today and build a prosperous future.

“We need to work together to pull our strengths and move faster towards achieving peace and sustainable development. We need to strengthen cooperation and solidarity between countries in order to provide effective responses to the financial, economic, and social crises faced by many countries around the world.” 

It is clear that sustainable development continues to be a pressing issue for the international community, given the high levels of inequality, poverty, and marginalisation among countries, he said, noting that inequalities between developed and developing countries persist and are widening.

Prior to embarking on his China visit, Skerrit gave an interview to China’s Xinhua News Agency in the Dominican capital Roseau. He said that, “”China has been a true friend of Dominica, and I would say an all-weather friend.” When Dominica was in difficult times, “China is always one of the first countries, which would come to our aid.”

In 2018, Dominica signed a memorandum of understanding with China to jointly build the Belt and Road. According to Skerrit, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has opened up numerous opportunities not only for Dominica, but for many countries around the world to help with their economic independence and social development.

Skerrit said that under the BRI, Dominica has been actively working with China to set up agricultural technology cooperative projects in order to improve agricultural development, technology transfer and guarantee food security in the country.

Dominica has limited medical resources and the population has a long history of difficulty in accessing health care.

In his opinion, the construction of the Dominica-China Friendship Hospital, the introduction of new technologies and equipment, and the direct support by China in respect to its first cardiology department show “a dramatic improvement in the health care in Dominica as a result of the BRI.”

Many young Dominican students are attending universities in China and attaining their degrees in China. “Most of them are back here working in various fields, such as medicine, agriculture, architecture, environmental studies, international relations studies and psychology,” he said.

 “We always say that every country has a right to determine its own political system. And I believe that the political system which exists in China has also contributed to China’s prosperity and the improvement in the way of life of the Chinese people,” he added.

As this year marks the tenth anniversary of the proclamation of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), Skerrit deemed the China-CELAC Forum an opportunity for these countries to participate in international affairs and share ideas.

“Dominica is ideally placed. Dominica has excellent relations with all of the countries within CELAC, especially those from Latin America. We have excellent relations with China, and we will continue to serve as a bridge between China and CELAC and to advance the collaboration and the cooperation,” he said.

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China and Sri Lanka reaffirm longstanding friendship and refute imperialist slanders

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena visited China from March 25-30 at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang. The visit and the agreements reached were a powerful reaffirmation of the long-standing friendship between the two countries and a clear refutation of the slanders spread in the imperialist countries, in particular, regarding their bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China’s supposed ‘debt trap diplomacy’. 

Gunawardena met with President Xi Jinping on March 27. Noting that the friendship between China and Sri Lanka enjoys a long history and the two peoples share a natural affinity, Xi said that consolidating and promoting China-Sri Lanka relations serves the fundamental interests and reflects the common expectations of the two peoples.

China is willing to work with Sri Lanka to carry forward the spirit of the Rubber-Rice Pact, which is characterised by “independence, self-reliance, unity and mutual support,” to consolidate political mutual trust, enhance exchanges of experience in governance, expand practical cooperation, and advance the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

The reference to the Rubber-Rice Pact carries great significance. The root of the two countries’ special friendship, it was concluded in December 1952, at a time when Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) had not long won its national independence from British colonial rule and the Chinese revolution had recently triumphed. More particularly, by this pact Sri Lanka courageously defied and broke the US-led blockade that had been imposed on New China at a time when the Chinese Volunteer Army was fighting on the Korean front. The agreement, which met the crucial needs of both countries at that time, lasted for 30 years, and led to the United States imposing sanctions, including those aimed at crippling its rubber production, and cutting off aid to Sri Lanka. 

Xi added that both sides should make joint efforts to promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, especially that of the two flagship projects, the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port. China and Sri Lanka should also work together to enhance logistics, energy, and industrial cooperation, and promote exchanges and cooperation in digital economy, green economy, clean energy, culture-oriented tourism and marine economy. China, he said, is willing to advance cooperation with Sri Lanka on rural poverty reduction, to help the country with economic transformation and upgrading, and with sustainable development.

The two sides, he added, should continue to maintain the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, enhance coordination on international and regional affairs, safeguard the common interests of both sides, uphold international fairness and justice, and promote the construction of a community with a shared future for humanity.

Gunawardena expressed appreciation for China’s assistance to Sri Lanka in times of difficulty, saying that projects such as the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port have boosted Sri Lanka’s economic and social development, as well as the overall development of the region.

The previous day Gunawardena held meetings with Premier Li Qiang and Zhao Leji, Chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.

Li said China and Sri Lanka are strategic partners of cooperation characterised by sincere mutual assistance and enduring friendship spanning generations. The two countries have always respected each other and enjoyed equality and reciprocal cooperation since the establishment of diplomatic relations 67 years ago.

Gunawardena thanked China for providing long-term support to Sri Lanka’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, and helping the country realise economic and social development and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and financial crisis.

Hailing the Belt and Road Initiative and the global initiatives proposed by China, he said that Sri Lanka has always adhered to the one-China principle and will continue to firmly pursue policies to strengthen friendly cooperation with China.

Zhao said that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1957, China and Sri Lanka have always enjoyed a sound and steady relationship despite changes in the international landscape.

The two sides released a joint statement on March 29. Noting that the Sri Lankan leader had also attended the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024, held on the southern island of Hainan, during his visit, the statement said that:

“The two sides share the view that the peoples of China and Sri Lanka enjoy long-standing friendship, and have engaged in mutual learning, mutual assistance and seeking strength through unity. In the 67 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the two countries have strengthened traditional friendship, enhanced political mutual trust, achieved fruitful results in practical cooperation, and engaged in close coordination on regional and international issues, setting a fine example of friendly interactions and mutually beneficial cooperation between countries of different sizes. The two sides agree to carry forward the spirit of independence, self-reliance, solidarity and mutual assistance enshrined in the Agreement on Rice for Rubber, jointly tackle challenges, share opportunities and seek common development, thereby cementing and expanding the China-Sri Lanka strategic cooperative partnership based on sincere mutual assistance and ever-lasting friendship to bring greater benefits to the two countries and peoples.”

Sri Lanka expressed its appreciation to China for “the support that helped its financial difficulties, and, in particular, the pioneering step taken by the Chinese financial institutions last year to propose a bilateral debts settlement plan and the preliminary agreement reached with Sri Lanka on the settlement of China-related debts on the basis of friendly consultation.”

Sri Lanka also expressed thanks and appreciation for “the assistance on its economic and social development, and speaks highly of the important role played by Belt and Road cooperation in boosting the economic development and livelihood improvement in Sri Lanka and other Belt and Road partner countries. The two sides agree to work together to deepen high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, accelerate the formulation of a Belt and Road cooperation plan, and make all-out efforts to advance the Colombo Port City project and the integrated development project of Hambantota Port as signature projects of Belt and Road cooperation between the two countries.

“Sri Lanka welcomes the investment of more Chinese enterprises, and stands ready to provide a favourable investment and business environment for them and roll out at a faster pace preferential policies to facilitate the implementation of the Colombo Port City and Hambantota Port integrated development projects. China will continue to encourage competent Chinese enterprises to invest in Sri Lanka and assist Sri Lanka in achieving economic transformation and sustainable development.”

After detailing concrete steps in a range of areas, including trade, emergency humanitarian assistance, economic development, people’s livelihood, agriculture, education, cultural heritage, tourism, sister city and people-to-people exchanges, and medical aid, the joint statement continued:

“The two sides will jointly champion the building of an equal and orderly multipolar world, practice true multilateralism, promote greater democracy in international relations, and call on all countries to jointly safeguard the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, jointly defend the universally recognised basic norms of international relations, and jointly contribute to the reform and development of the global governance system.”

They also “hold the view that in marking the 70th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, it is important to further carry forward these five principles, i.e. respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence, and commit to building a community with a shared future for Asia and for humanity.”

The following articles were originally published by the Xinhua News Agency.

Xi meets Sri Lankan PM in Beijing

BEIJING, March 27 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena in Beijing on Wednesday.

Noting that the friendship between China and Sri Lanka enjoys a long history and the two peoples share a natural affinity, Xi said consolidating and promoting China-Sri Lanka relations serves the fundamental interests and reflects the common expectations of the two peoples.

China is willing to work with Sri Lanka to carry forward the spirit of the Rubber-Rice Pact, which is characterized by “independence, self-reliance, unity and mutual support,” to consolidate political mutual trust, enhance exchanges of experience in governance, expand practical cooperation, and advance the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, Xi said.

He noted that China and Sri Lanka should join hands to advance their strategic cooperative partnership featuring sincere mutual assistance and ever-lasting friendship.

China firmly supports Sri Lanka in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence and national dignity, and in exploring a modernization path suited to its national conditions, Xi said, adding that China will continue to provide due assistance within its capacity for Sri Lanka’s economic and social development.

He said that both sides should make joint efforts to promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, especially that of the two flagship projects, the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port. China and Sri Lanka should also work together to enhance logistics, energy and industrial cooperation, and promote exchanges and cooperation in digital economy, green economy, clean energy, culture-oriented tourism and marine economy.

China will continue to import more high-quality specialty products from Sri Lanka, encourage Chinese enterprises to invest and do business in the country, and hopes that the business environment in Sri Lanka will be fair and transparent, Xi said.

He added that China is willing to advance cooperation with Sri Lanka on rural poverty reduction, to help the country with economic transformation and upgrading, and with sustainable development.

The two sides should continue to maintain the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, enhance coordination on international and regional affairs, safeguard the common interests of both sides, uphold international fairness and justice, and promote the construction of a community with a shared future for humanity, Xi stressed.

Noting that Sri Lanka and China enjoy a traditional friendship, Gunawardena said that Sri Lanka adheres unswervingly to the one-China principle, unequivocally follows the policy of friendly cooperation with China, and gives China priority on its diplomatic agenda.

He expressed appreciation for China’s assistance to Sri Lanka in times of difficulty, saying that projects such as the Colombo Port City and the Hambantota Port have boosted Sri Lanka’s economic and social development, as well as the overall development of the region.

Sri Lanka will take part in the China-proposed Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative, said Gunawardena, adding that the country will work with China to promote bilateral friendship, expand cooperation on trade and economy, education, tourism, poverty reduction and other fields, and improve international and multilateral communication and coordination.

Continue reading China and Sri Lanka reaffirm longstanding friendship and refute imperialist slanders

‘Al Aqsa Storm’ reshapes the Middle East

In the following article, which was originally published in the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune on December 29, 2023, Mushahid Hussain Syed, the Chairman of the Defence Committee in the Pakistan Senate, and a member of our Advisory Group, analyses the strategic implications for Israel and the United States, including for US policy towards China, following the launch of the ‘Al-Aqsa Storm’ by the Palestinian resistance on October 7, 2023.

According to Senator Mushahid, Israel’s and the United States’ “hubris, supreme over-confidence and carefully laid-down plans for maintaining an iniquitous status quo now lie buried under the rubble in Gaza.” He writes:

“To counter the Iran-led ‘Axis of Resistance’, the US cobbled an ‘Axis of Repression’ to maintain the regional status quo, freezing disputes like Palestine and Kashmir to combat the ‘real enemy’, China. Washington was endeavouring to connect an Israel-centred Middle East with an India-focused ‘Indo-Pacific’, to supplement and support the American-led New Cold War against China. Essentially, India is replicating Israeli policies of repression in Occupied Kashmir, with American complicity, so US regional strategy would rest on ‘twin pillars’, Israel in the Middle East and India in South Asia.”

Just a fortnight before the launch of the ‘Al Aqsa Storm’, three separate but related developments corroborated this policy:

  • On 22 September, Netanyahu proudly unfolded the map of the ‘New Middle East’ at the United Nations General Assembly, where the Palestinians were conspicuously absent.
  • On 20 September, following the G-20 Summit in New Delhi, the India-Israel Middle East-European Union Corridor (IMEC) was launched with much fanfare, touted as the West’s copycat response to China’s highly successful Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • In May 2023, President Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan personally took his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, to meet Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman to “advance their shared vision of a more secure and prosperous Middle East region interconnected with India and the world”. And on October 2, Jake Sullivan wrote in the influential Foreign Affairs magazine that “the Middle East has never been so calm before as it is today.” Five days later, ‘Al Aqsa Storm’ shattered that calm.

Senator Mushahid goes on to outline the six strategic consequences of a reshaped Middle East that have emerged as a result of ‘Al-Aqsa Storm’:

  • Israel and the United States were trying to ‘stage Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark’, in other words, build a ‘New Middle East’ minus Palestine. That policy is now in tatters: no durable peace or stability is possible in the Middle East without an independent Palestinian State.
  • A myth had been created about invincibility of the Israeli army and intelligence. Some 1,400 determined Palestinian fighters blew up that myth through ‘Al Aqsa Storm’ on October 7.
  • Israel presented itself as a safe haven, an ‘island of peace and tranquillity in a sea of a turbulent, volatile and weak Muslim World’. Now they say they have suffered the biggest casualties since the Holocaust.
  • The ‘Axis of Resistance’ led by Iran has shown itself more resilient than the ‘Axis of Repression’, as the Iran-led troika of Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthis of Yemen, have tightened the tactical noose around shipping lanes, diplomacy and military strategy in the Middle East, and Tehran is now central to Middle East stability. Instead of the encirclement and containment of Iran, it is Israel that is now feeling encircled.
  • ‘Al Aqsa Storm’ was apparently celebrated in Moscow as the ‘best birthday gift’ to President Putin as the Ukraine War is now relegated to the back-burner and now the US is suddenly facing a three-front situation: Ukraine, New Cold War in Asia-Pacific against China, and the storm in the Middle East, an untenable strategic scenario for Washington policymakers.
  • ‘Al Aqsa Storm’ is giving birth to a clear, new global South-North divide. The Global South, spearheaded by China, with a supportive Russia, is presenting a strategic option, an alternative worldview, to the US-led Global North, whether it’s Gaza or Ukraine or BRI or the hegemony of the dollar. The global centre of gravity is shifting inexorably to the South, and the ‘Al Aqsa Storm’ has accentuated this divide, as evidenced in the voting at the United Nations.

Senator Mushahid also notes that: “Gaza is also the first televised genocide in history. Despite Israel’s brutal capacity to kill, the Palestinians are unwavering in their determination and willingness to resist and die for the cause of freedom. The Palestinians are winning by not losing.”

The October 7, 2023 Operation ‘Al Aqsa Storm’ launched by the Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied Gaza has broader strategic implications for Israel and the US, whose hubris, supreme over-confidence and carefully laid-down plans for maintaining an iniquitous status quo now lie buried under the rubble in Gaza.

To counter the Iran-led ‘Axis of Resistance’, the US cobbled an ‘Axis of Repression’ to maintain the regional status quo, freezing disputes like Palestine and Kashmir to combat the ‘real enemy’, China. Washington was endeavouring to connect an Israel-centred Middle East with an India-focused ‘Indo-Pacific’, to supplement and support the American-led New Cold War against China. Essentially, India is replicating Israeli policies of repression in Occupied Kashmir, with American complicity, so US regional strategy would rest on ‘twin pillars’, Israel in the Middle East and India in South Asia.

Just a fortnight before the launch of the ‘Al Aqsa Storm’, three separate but related developments corroborated this policy. One, on 22 September, Netanyahu proudly unfolded the map of the ‘New Middle East’ at the United Nations General Assembly, where the Palestinians were conspicuously absent. Two, on 20 September, following the G-20 Summit in New Delhi, the India-Israel Middle East European Union Corridor (IMEC) was launched with much fanfare, touted as the West’s copycat response to China’s highly successful Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). Three, in May 2023, President Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan personally took his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, to meet Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman to “advance their shared vision of a more secure and prosperous Middle East region interconnected with India and the world”. And on October 2, Jake Sullivan wrote in the influential Foreign Affairs magazine that “the Middle East has never been so calm before as it is today.” Five days later, ‘Al Aqsa Storm’ shattered that calm! In fact, the Biden Administration is the first US Administration in 50 years that even dispensed with the fig-leaf of initiating a ‘peace process’ for the Middle East, being content with the Israeli-propped status quo of a coercive occupation.

Continue reading ‘Al Aqsa Storm’ reshapes the Middle East

A tale of two Chinas: Rhetoric on foreign domination and domestic instability

The following original article, submitted to Friends of Socialist China by Nolan Long (a Canadian undergraduate student studying politics at the University of Saskatchewan), shines a light on the absurdly contradictory Western media coverage of China. “First, China is described as a global superpower in terms of its supposedly dominating and exploitative foreign policy; on the other hand, China is represented as an unstable, backward, underdeveloped country, bound to inevitably collapse due to the failures of socialism.”

This portrayal and the various popular narratives associated with it – that China is engaged in “debt trap diplomacy”, or that the Belt and Road Initiative is a form of colonialism, or that the Chinese economy is on the verge of collapse – are promoted as part of an ongoing propaganda war, itself a crucial component of an escalating effort to contain and encircle the People’s Republic. These various claims “exist at the heart of the West’s insecurity about its decreasing relevancy and power in the twenty-first century.”

The falsity of this anti-China hysteria is amply exposed by its contradictory nature; and yet it is unlikely to go away any time soon. As Nolan concludes: “The tale of two Chinas presents a picture of Western insecurity and modern Chinese power, a theme that will increasingly come to the fore as China continues to develop on its own and on the world stage.”

Contemporary rhetoric on the People’s Republic of China, as disseminated by Western corporate media, is made up of contradictory claims about Chinese domination and Chinese instability. It is simple enough to find intentionally missing information or context, exaggerations, and even outright lies in the muniments of most corporate media. But a deeper analysis reveals two competing narratives, both of which have become increasingly (and paradoxically) common over the last few years.

First, China is described as a global superpower in terms of its supposedly dominating and exploitative foreign policy; on the other hand, China is represented as an unstable, backward, underdeveloped country, bound to inevitably collapse due to the failures of socialism.

Notably, the first typified China is used in Western capitalist media to generate fears about China’s development efforts in the Global South, which have largely been at the expense of Western hegemony and financial interests. Despite the positive results of the Belt and Road Initiative, capitalist media portrays China as a rapacious villain running rampant across the globe.

Here, China is described as an economic powerhouse. But when discussing Chinese domestic affairs, Western journalists suddenly think China is a poor, underdeveloped state, sometimes on the brink of complete collapse. These two conceptions of China cannot coexist, and go a long way in demonstrating the irrationality and lack of scholarship among anti-communists and defenders of American hegemony.

Continue reading A tale of two Chinas: Rhetoric on foreign domination and domestic instability

Senator Mushahid Hussain: Two visions, two destinies

In this short commentary for CGTN Reality Check, Senator Mushahid Hussain – Chairman of the Senate Defence Committee of Pakistan, Chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute, and member of the Friends of Socialist China advisory group – compares and contrasts two of this year’s anniversaries: the 10th anniversary of China advancing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. 

Mushahid describes the BRI as “probably the most important diplomatic and developmental initiative launched in the 21st century… about connectivity, about cooperation, about reviving the ancient Silk Road, which 2,000 years ago was probably the first instance of globalisation linking China’s Silk Road with Central Asia, with the Middle East, with even Europe.”

In contrast he notes that the US-led invasion of Iraq was “a war that was unjust, a war that was illegal, a war that was immoral, because it had no sanction of the United Nations, no sanctions of legality behind it.”

And while China is talking about connectivity and cooperation, “the West, led by the United States, is obsessed with the militarisation of international relations, igniting a new Cold War, talking of containing China, building a new pattern of military alliances.”  In this regard, Mushahid draws attention to the moves to create an ‘Asian NATO’, along with AUKUS, the Quad, and the tripartite alliance agreed between the United States, Japan and South Korea at their Camp David meeting. The senator concludes:

“These two contrasting visions show that the world is headed in a manner of confrontation sparked by the West, while what the world needs today in the post-pandemic world is to have a common approach, to face common challenges in a collective manner. And that is what China is doing and that is what the Global South would like – to build a better tomorrow without overlords and without underdogs.”

We reprint the article and embed the video below.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative – BRI, which is probably the most important diplomatic and developmental initiative launched in the 21st century. And it was done by President Xi Jinping of China when he spoke at Astana in Kazakhstan, about connectivity, about cooperation, about reviving the ancient Silk Road, which 2000 years ago was probably the first instance of globalization linking China’s Silk Road with Central Asia, with the Middle East, with even Europe. Connectivity through commerce and culture among countries and continents.

And this year on March 16, and I was present then, when President Xi Jinping launched the Global Civilization Initiative at the World Political Parties High-level Dialogue. Dialogue among civilizations, respect among civilizations, cooperation among civilizations, learning from each other. A civilizational cooperation in contrast to the vision that had been once presented and very popular in the West about the clash of civilizations.

But 2023 also marks another anniversary, and if I may say so, a dark anniversary, a sad anniversary. Twenty years ago, the United States launched unilaterally a war in Iraq. A war that was unjust, a war that was illegal, a war that was immoral, because it had no sanction of the United Nations, no sanctions of legality behind it. It was an attempt to bully and browbeat a country for ideological and geopolitical reasons. 

And these two anniversaries also present humankind today two contrasting visions. I would say that we are perhaps at an inflection point when the global center of gravity is shifting, when we are facing turbulence and transformation.

China is talking of connectivity and cooperation. The West is talking of containment, conflict, confrontation. China is talking of modernization, of being more inclusive, of diversity, of equality in international relations. The West, led by the United States, is obsessed with the militarization of international relations, igniting a new Cold War, talking of containing China, building a new pattern of alliances, military alliances.

NATO is now becoming an “Asian NATO.” NATO was talking of a threat from China while China is not part of the North Atlantic. China is thousands of miles away from the North Atlantic.

They are talking of AUKUS, Australia, UK, U.S., a new military organization. They are talking of Quad, which is again a military alliance, and recently U.S. President Biden hosted the leaders of South Korea and Japan at Camp David to forge yet another alliance, yet another pact ostensibly to contain China.

So, these contrasting visions are reflected in the pattern of contemporary international relations. China is building bridges, and a great example of that bridge building has been the China-brokered rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, who were at loggerheads for the last three-four decades, which destabilized the Middle East. And thanks to China’s efforts, there’s been normalization, there’s been rapprochement, and there’s been the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Conversely, we see the United States, the Western countries, building barriers based on protectionism, tariffs and trying to isolate China. These two contrasting visions show that the world is headed in a manner of confrontation sparked by the West, while what the world needs today in the post-pandemic world is to have a common approach, to face common challenges in a collective manner. And that is what China is doing and that is what the Global South would like – to build a better tomorrow without overlords and without underdogs.

Britain’s disdain for the Belt and Road Initiative goes against the national interest

In the following short op ed, which was originally published in China Daily, our co-editor Keith Bennett reviews the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), 10 years after it was first proposed by President Xi Jinping. 

He notes that BRI projects are becoming more focused, with an emphasis on avoiding waste and corruption, synergising with the development plans and priorities of the countries and regions concerned, ensuring both economic and ecological sustainability, and delivering real and tangible benefits to local people and communities.

Refuting the ‘China debt trap’ canard, Keith writes that China, has “no interest in some fanciful conspiracy that would only arouse the resentment of friendly countries and peoples with whom China has shared weal and woe for many decades, going back to the days of mutual national liberation struggles against colonialism and imperialism and for independence. Rather, talk of a ‘debt trap’ on the part of countries of the Global North is simply another instance of their ascribing their own behaviour to others.”

Noting that Britain could benefit greatly from participation in the BRI, he regrets that, unfortunately, the British government has chosen to follow behind the United States in its new Cold War against China.

The Third Belt and Road Summit for International Cooperation held in Beijing on Oct 18 was very timely because it coincided with the 10th anniversary of China first putting forward the initiative. In that time, the BRI has secured, to varying degrees, the support and participation of the majority of countries in the world and in the process has considerably extended beyond the first routes proposed. For example, it has drawn in countries in the South Pacific, West Africa, and Central and South America.

Moreover, as it accumulates experience, BRI projects are becoming more focused, with an emphasis on avoiding waste and corruption, synergizing with the development plans and priorities of the countries and regions concerned, ensuring both economic and ecological sustainability, delivering real and tangible benefits to local people and communities, and so on.

China lends to countries on favorable terms and is always sympathetic when they encounter difficulties. The very countries that talk the most about the so-called China’s “debt trap diplomacy” tend to be those holding most of the debt of the countries concerned – whether directly, through their private sector or through their disproportionate control over international financial institutions – and with the greatest historical responsibility for the plight of the Global South.

China has no interest in setting a “debt trap”. It lends on reasonable terms because without this, many developing countries would have no way to acquire the infrastructure and realize the modernization they so desperately need.

China responds to the needs and wishes of the countries concerned. It does not interfere in internal affairs, demand privatization, impose structural adjustment programs, instigate coups, or foment color revolutions. And it certainly has no interest in some fanciful conspiracy that would only arouse the resentment of friendly countries and peoples with whom China has shared weal and woe for many decades, going back to the days of mutual national liberation struggles against colonialism and imperialism and for independence. Rather, talk of a “debt trap” on the part of countries of the Global North is simply another instance of their ascribing their own behavior to others.

Britain could potentially benefit greatly from participation in the BRI, whether in terms of participation by British companies in projects in third countries or in terms of our own infrastructure needs. China was quite prepared to combine BRI projects with priorities identified by the UK, such as the Northern Powerhouse.

Unfortunately, the British government has chosen to follow behind the United States in its new Cold War against China. Meanwhile, the Northern Powerhouse has been abandoned, leaving the UK with progressively deteriorating and decaying infrastructure.

Last month, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the abandonment of the Manchester link of the HS2 high-speed rail link, from London to Birmingham to Manchester, at his party’s recent annual conference in that very city. He then proceeded to make himself look even more ridiculous when his list of alternative projects was soon exposed as being comprised, in no small part, of projects that had either already been completed or abandoned. The UK’s disdain for the BRI clearly goes against the national interest.

The West’s accusations against the Belt and Road are a form of projection and deflection

In the run-up to the Third Belt and Road Forum, which took place in Beijing on 17-18 October, the Beijing Daily subsidiary Capital News – in collaboration with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies (RDCY) – carried out an interview with Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez, addressing various questions related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), particularly the reasons for the BRI’s success and the absurd nature of the West’s assorted accusations against it – that it constitutes a “debt trap”, or that it is part of a Chinese hegemonic project.

The interview also covers the US-led New Cold War on China, and the West’s attempts to consolidate an anti-China alliance; the significance of the Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative, and Global Civilisation Initiative; the difference between China and the West’s responses to the Ukraine crisis; the significance of BRICS; and the possibilities for getting Britain-China relations back on track.

We published an excerpt and short video clip from the interview several weeks ago. The full transcript has now been published on the Beijing Daily website, and is reproduced below.

Capital News: As of June this year, China has signed over 200 cooperation agreements on jointly building the BRI with 152 countries and 32 international organization. Why are more and more countries and regions getting on board with the BRI?

Carlos Martinez: The BRI is playing a hugely significant role in global development. Its historical importance lies in providing primarily the countries of the Global South with the opportunity to modernize and break free from the chains of underdevelopment. These are the same chains that were originally imposed during the colonial era, affecting regions such as Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and the Pacific.

In many instances, these chains have persisted beyond the colonial era, extending into what are now considered northern neo-colonial areas or the imperialist era. The relationship between the US, Canada, Europe, and the Global South, particularly developing countries, remains fundamentally predatory. Here, the Global South often provides cheap labor, land, and natural resources, driving a relentless pursuit of profit in the advanced capitalist nations.

China’s approach with the BRI stands in stark contrast to that. It represents a profoundly important shift, characterized by the construction of an extensive network of roads, railways, bridges, factories, ports, telecommunications, green energy infrastructure, and more. These projects leverage China’s exceptional expertise in high-quality construction, honed through decades of infrastructure development within China itself.

This initiative is now opening up some of the world’s most challenging terrains for the construction of roads and railways. For the countries involved, what they are seeking and indeed gaining from the BRI on a historically unprecedented scale is nothing short of development, modernization, and industrialization.

And that means transforming people’s lives. It means creating jobs. It means lifting people out of poverty. It means breaking dependence on the West. Many of the times, when these countries have needed assistance, when they needed help, when they needed loans, they had to go to the IMF or they had to go to the Western lending institutions. And where they got any assistance, it’s been in the form of conditional loans.

You want to loan, that means you have to privatize your water supply, you have to privatize your education system, you have to liberalize your economy. You have to open up your domestic market to western multinationals and so on. Conversely, the BRI, and I would say China’s investment policy in general, works in a fundamentally different way. There are no loan conditions, no traps and none of the punishing, punitive measures often associated with vital infrastructure projects. Recently, CGTN carried an interesting interview with Senegalese president Macky Sall. He underscored precisely this point, emphasizing that China’s financial support in Africa is based on requests made by African nations, with the priorities being set by Africa itself. Furthermore, China’s loans typically come with roughly half the interest rate of Western loans. The repayment period is as much longer, and the terms are far more flexible.

And the results of this type of dynamic is that now Ethiopia has the first metro train in Africa. Lao has a high-speed railway, and it’s now possible to travel from Jakarta to Bandung in 30 minutes, rather than 3 hours. It’s this topic dynamic. That means that Africa has been able to join the renewable energy revolution. So, China is bringing development where the West for so many centuries brought under-development and exploitation. And for China, of course, it’s benefiting economically. These are win-win relationships. But I think more importantly, China’s got the opportunity to share its expertise, its resources, its experiences, which contributes to human progress. Overall, I think it’s part of China’s vision of a community with a shared future for humanity.

Capital News:What do you think are the challenges that the BRI is currently facing on the international stage? And what are the underlying reasons for these challenges?

Carlos Martinez: The BRI has already demonstrated significant successes, especially in the developing regions of Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.

Now, it’s making inroads into Latin America and the Caribbean. I believe this positive momentum will persist. Notably, Syria, Nicaragua, Argentina, Cuba, and Zambia have recently joined the BRI. If one pays close attention, many other nations are deepening their involvement with this initiative.

However, the complexity arises from the fact that the United States, which holds the top spot in nominal GDP and wields immense influence, especially in the Western world, harbors discontent with the BRI. The U.S. strategy is essentially rooted in extending its 20th-century dominance into the 21st century, a vision encapsulated in what they term the “Project for a New American Century.” This objective is at odds with the BRI’s transformative direction.

The BRI is pivotal in enabling the Global South to reduce its reliance on the West. It’s paving the way for a shift towards a multipolar and post-imperialist world order. In this emerging landscape, the U.S. will continue to be significant, but it won’t retain its status as the sole superpower or the policeman of the world. It must adapt to this evolving reality of a democratic, multipolar, and multilateral world. It’s evident that the U.S. leadership is grappling with this paradigm shift.

Continue reading The West’s accusations against the Belt and Road are a form of projection and deflection

Inspiring webinar marks ten years of the Belt and Road Initiative

On Saturday 4 November, Friends of Socialist China and International Manifesto Group organised an online event on the theme Building a multipolar world – Ten years of the Belt and Road Initiative, in order to learn more about the implementation, impact and trajectory of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The webinar assessed the role the BRI is playing in a global green transition towards renewal energy systems and biodiversity protection; the situating of the BRI within an overall geopolitical shift towards multipolarity; and the various accusations levelled against the BRI – that it constitutes a “debt trap”, or that it is part of a hegemonic geopolitical strategy being carried out by China.

The webinar was inspiring and hugely informative. The full event and individual speeches can be viewed on our YouTube channel. A brief write-up was published in China Daily.

Professor Zhang Weiwei (Director of the China Institute at Fudan University, and author of several important books about China) was the first speaker. Professor Zhang outlined the founding principles and broad historic significance of the BRI, observing that the foundations for it were laid during the two stages of China’s rise – the first three decades of socialist construction from 1949 to 1978, followed by the accelerated industrialisation and modernisation of the Reform and Opening Up period – and that both these stages were indispensable in allowing China to break from the US-dominated peripheral-central world order and emerge as an economic leader in its own right. The text of Professor Zhang’s speech has been published in full here.

Professor Radhika Desai (convenor of the International Manifesto Group) described the BRI as the flagship program of socialist China’s international engagement, and noted that it is a fundamentally inclusive project that seeks to cooperate on a win-win basis with the countries on the world. Radhika contrasted this with the US’s foreign policy – built on an exclusionary coalition of so-called democracies (in reality the imperialist powers) taking a stance of hostility and aggression towards the so-called authoritarian states (in reality the group of countries that refuse to go along with US hegemony). Radhika spoke powerfully of the horrific war being waged by Israel against the people of Gaza, and pointed out that this fits all too comfortably within the US’s vision of a “rules-based international order”.

Li Jingjing (a reporter for CGTN, and a well-known figure to those that follow Chinese media) discussed her recent trips to Pakistan, Greece and Tanzania – all countries actively pursuing BRI infrastructure projects – where she talked with locals about their attitudes to China and their response to the West’s slanders about the BRI being a “colonialist” project. People replied that they know all too well what colonialism looks like, having experienced it in countries like Pakistan and Tanzania for hundreds of years, and that China’s approach is profoundly different. Speaking about the importance of infrastructure to China’s development model, Li Jingjing made an interesting point connecting China’s role in infrastructure construction in Africa today to its work in the early 1970s building the Tazara railway between Tanzania and Zambia – that project enabled landlocked Zambia to break the isolation and blockade imposed on it by countries to its south then still under white racist and colonial rule. The Tazara railway remains a powerful symbol of China-Africa friendship.

Erik Solheim (former Norwegian Minister for Environment and International Development, and current President of the Green Belt and Road Institute) stated that the BRI has become the most important global project in terms of green development. Indeed China has become “the world leader in everything green” – a fact not widely understood in the West, due to Western arrogance and to obfuscation by the media. Solheim counselled the Western powers to drop their slanders against the BRI, to stop attempting to out-compete China on infrastructure construction and such areas where it has become an undisputed world leader, and instead to focus on complementarity: leveraging its own expertise in various areas to contribute to global development, alongside China’s contributions.

Continue reading Inspiring webinar marks ten years of the Belt and Road Initiative

How the war on Gaza has stalled the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor

In this article, originally published on People’s Dispatch and produced by Globetrotter, Vijay Prashad explains how the Gaza conflict has likely dealt a fatal blow to the proposed India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), that was proposed by seven countries along with the European Union (EU) at the G20 Summit held in the Indian capital New Delhi in September.

Prashad explains that: “The United States, which was one of the initiators of the IMEC, pushed it as a means to both isolate China and Iran as well as to hasten the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. It seemed like a perfect instrument for Washington: sequester China and Iran, bring Israel and Saudi Arabia together, and deepen ties with India that seemed to have been weakened by India’s reluctance to join the United States in its policy regarding Russia.” However: “Israel’s war on the Palestinians in Gaza has changed the entire equation and stalled the IMEC.”

He further outlines that, even two years before China first unveiled its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), in 2011, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had proposed a “new silk road” that would start from India and transit Central Asia. This in turn was part of a wider ‘pivot to Asia’, proposed by President Barack Obama and designed to check the rise of China. 

According to Prashad, even before the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, IMEC was already facing serious challenges:

“The attempt to isolate China appeared illusory, given that the main Greek port in the corridor—at Piraeus—is managed by the China Ocean Shipping Corporation, and that the Dubai Ports have considerable investment from China’s Ningbo-Zhoushan port and the Zhejiang Seaport. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are now members of the BRICS+, and both countries are participants [with the status of Dialogue Partners] in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.” 

Prashad concludes that IMEC will not progress “from paper to port”, “due to Israel’s bombing of Gaza but also due to Washington’s fantasy that it can ‘defeat’ China in an economic war.”

On September 9, 2023, during the G20 meeting in New Delhi, the governments of seven countries and the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding to create an India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor. Only three of the countries (India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates or the UAE) would be directly part of this corridor, which was to begin in India, go through the Gulf, and terminate in Greece. The European countries (France, Germany, and Italy) as well as the European Union joined this endeavor because they expected the IMEC to be a trade route for their goods to go to India and for them to access Indian goods at, what they hoped would be, a reduced cost.

The United States, which was one of the initiators of the IMEC, pushed it as a means to both isolate China and Iran as well as to hasten the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. It seemed like a perfect instrument for Washington: sequester China and Iran, bring Israel and Saudi Arabia together, and deepen ties with India that seemed to have been weakened by India’s reluctance to join the United States in its policy regarding Russia.

Israel’s war on the Palestinians in Gaza has changed the entire equation and stalled the IMEC. It is now inconceivable for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to enter such a project with the Israelis. Public opinion in the Arab world is red-hot, with inflamed anger at the indiscriminate bombardment by Israel and the catastrophic loss of civilian life. Regional countries with close relations with Israel—such as Jordan and Turkey—have had to harden their rhetoric against Israel. In the short term, at least, it is impossible to imagine the implementation of the IMEC.

Pivot to Asia

Two years before China inaugurated its “One Belt, One Road” or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the United States had already planned a private-sector-funded trade route to link India to Europe and to tighten the links between Washington and New Delhi. In 2011, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Chennai, India, where she spoke of the creation of a New Silk Road that would run from India through Pakistan and into Central Asia. This new “international web and network of economic and transit connections” would be an instrument for the United States to create a new intergovernmental forum and a “free trade zone” in which the United States would be a member (in much the same way as the United States is part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC).

The New Silk Road was part of a wider “pivot to Asia,” as US President Barack Obama put it. This “pivot” was designed to check the rise of China and to prevent its influence in Asia. Clinton’s article in Foreign Policy (“America’s Pacific Century,” October 11, 2011) suggested that this New Silk Road was not antagonistic to China. However, this rhetoric of the “pivot” came alongside the U.S. military’s new AirSea Battle concept that was designed around direct conflict between the United States and China (the concept built on a 1999 Pentagon study called “Asia 2025” which noted that “the threats are in Asia”).

Two years later, the Chinese government said that it would build a massive infrastructure and trade project called “One Belt, One Road,” which would later be called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Over the next ten years, from 2013 to 2023, the BRI investments totaled $1.04 trillion spread out over 148 countries (three-quarters of the countries in the world). In this short period, the BRI project has made a considerable mark on the world, particularly on the poorer nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where the BRI has made investments to build infrastructure and industry.

Chastened by the growth of the BRI, the United States attempted to block it through various instruments: the América Crece for Latin America and the Millennium Challenge Corporation for South Asia. The weakness in these attempts was that both relied upon funding from an unenthusiastic private sector.

Complications of the IMEC

Even before the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, IMEC faced several serious challenges.

First, the attempt to isolate China appeared illusory, given that the main Greek port in the corridor—at Piraeus—is managed by the China Ocean Shipping Corporation, and that the Dubai Ports have considerable investment from China’s Ningbo-Zhoushan port and the Zhejiang Seaport. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are now members of the BRICS+, and both countries are participants in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Second, the entire IMEC process is reliant upon private-sector funding. The Adani Group—which has close ties to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has come under the spotlight for fraudulent practices—already owns the Mundra port (Gujarat, India) and the Haifa port (Israel), and seeks to take a share in the port at Piraeus. In other words, the IMEC corridor is providing geopolitical cover for Adani’s investments from Greece to Gujarat.

Third, the sea lane between Haifa and Piraeus would go through waters contested between Turkey and Greece. This “Aegean Dispute” has provoked the Turkish government to threaten war if Greece goes through with its designs.

Fourth, the entire project relied upon the “normalization” between Saudi Arabia and Israel, an extension of the Abraham Accords that drew Bahrain, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates to recognize Israel in August 2020. In July 2022, India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States formed the I2U2 Group, with the intention, among other things, to “modernize infrastructure” and to “advance low-carbon development pathways” through “private enterprise partnerships.” This was the precursor of IMEC. Neither “normalization” with Saudi Arabia nor advancement of the I2U2 process between the UAE and Israel seem possible in this climate. Israel’s bombardment of the Palestinians in Gaza has frozen this process.

Previous Indian trade route projects, such as the International North-South Trade Corridor (with India, Iran, and Russia) and the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (led by India and Japan), have not gone from paper to port for a host of reasons. These, at least, had the merit of being viable. IMEC will suffer the same fate as these corridors, to some extent due to Israel’s bombing of Gaza but also due to Washington’s fantasy that it can “defeat” China in an economic war

Keith Bennett: The Belt and Road Initiative is a key component of Marxist internationalism in the 21st century

The following is the closing speech given by our co-editor Keith Bennett at our webinar held on November 4, marking 10 years of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Keith refers to the recent Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, held in Beijing, where President Xi Jinping said in his opening speech: “We have learned that humankind is a community with a shared future. China can only do well when the world is doing well. When China does well, the world will get even better.”

The BRI, Keith notes, is concerned with development, modernization and globalization. And there are two fundamentally different approaches to these questions in today’s world. It is not a coincidence that the approach to these questions that represents and embodies the interests of the overwhelming majority of countries, and the overwhelming majority of the people in every country, should be put forward by the world’s leading socialist country. Nor is it a coincidence that it is above all the world’s leading imperialist country that announces a supposed alternative to the BRI every few months, none of which achieve any traction or any concrete result.

Regarding globalization, in the western countries, the prevailing discourse, from much of both the left and the right, tends to assert that China has wholeheartedly embraced the model of globalization advanced by the major capitalist powers. This is so far from reality as to suggest that those who advance it are either ignorant or malicious. 

A White Paper issued by China’s State Council on October 10 makes clear that the fruits of economic globalization have until now been dominated by a small group of developed countries. Rather than contributing to common prosperity at a global level, it continues, globalization has widened the wealth gap between the rich and poor, between developed and developing countries, and within the developed countries themselves. Many developing countries have benefited little from economic globalization and even lost their capacity for independent development. Certain countries, it notes, have practiced unilateralism, protectionism and hegemonism. 

Keith argues that, grounded as it is in the stand, viewpoint, and method of Marxism, the BRI is based on and inherits not only the Silk Roads of antiquity, but also the diplomatic history of socialist China as well as the standpoint and practice of the international working-class movement more generally, particularly since the establishment of workers states. 

First, on behalf of Friends of Socialist China, I’d like to thank all those who registered for, attended, and supported our webinar today.

Special thanks go to our brilliant speakers who, from five continents, have shared their insights with us on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Thanks also to our co-organisers, the International Manifesto Group, as well as our sponsors, Connolly Books, Critical Theory Workshop, Geopolitical Economy Research Group, Geopolitical Economy Report, Hampton Institute, International Action Center, Iskra Books, Kawsachun News, Peace, Land and Bread, Pivot to Peace, and Veterans for Peace – China Working Group.

It is 10 years since President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative and therefore a good time to take stock and make an initial summing up. Last month, I was privileged to be seated in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to listen to President Xi open the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, his speech being followed by those of President Putin and the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Argentina, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

As President Xi noted, in the course of its first decade, Belt and Road cooperation has extended from its initial focus on the Eurasian landmass to Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. Indeed, more than 150 countries and over 30 international organisations have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents. Through this process, he explained, belt and road cooperation has progressed from ‘sketching the outline’ to ‘filling in the details’, and blueprints have been turned into real projects.

Xi Jinping said that over the past decade, “we have learned that humankind is a community with a shared future. China can only do well when the world is doing well. When China does well, the world will get even better.”

President Xi, in my view, expresses things here with such simplicity and clarity, making it sound like obvious common sense, that it might seem that this is acceptable to all and that nobody could possibly disagree with it.

But this is far from the case. The BRI is concerned with development, modernization and globalization. And there are two fundamentally different approaches to these questions in today’s world. It is not a coincidence that the approach to these questions that represents and embodies the interests of the overwhelming majority of countries, and the overwhelming majority of the people in every country, should be put forward by the world’s leading socialist country. Nor is it a coincidence that it is above all the world’s leading imperialist country that announces a supposed alternative to the BRI every few months, none of which achieve any traction or any concrete result.

Comrade Liu Jianchao, the Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee, spelled matters out clearly in a recent article, where he wrote:

“The vision of building a human community with a shared future and the three global initiatives are scientific. They encapsulate the stances, viewpoints, and methods of Marxism, reflecting the hallmarks of Marxism, and demonstrating salient theoretical character. Underpinned by dialectical and historical materialism, the vision and the three global initiatives reveal the laws governing the development of human society and its future direction.”

Careful study of the White Paper released by the Information Office of China’s State Council on October 10, to coincide with the tenth anniversary and the Beijing Forum, can help to understand this more concretely. And all the documents to which I refer may be read in full on our website, along with useful introductions.

The White Paper again makes clear that whilst the BRI has been launched by China, it belongs to the world and benefits the whole of humanity.

“Irrespective of size, strength and wealth, all countries participate on equal terms.”

Making very clear the distinction between the socialist and imperialist approaches to such questions, it notes that the type of development advanced by the BRI diverges from, “the exploitative colonialism of the past, avoids coercive and one-sided transactions, rejects the centre-periphery model of dependency, and refuses to displace crisis onto others or exploit neighbours for self-interest.”

The same point was made even more forcefully by President Xi Jinping in his report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October last year, where he stated:

“In pursuing modernization, China will not tread the old path of war, colonization and plunder taken by some countries. That brutal and blood-stained path of enrichment at the expense of others caused great suffering for the people of developing countries.”

These words of President Xi surely acquire even greater relevance and poignancy today in the face of Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza and the courageous resistance of the Palestinian people, a veritable 21st century Warsaw Ghetto. On one hand, the United States, Britain, France and Germany, aid and abet the genocide and even seek to curtail and deny their own peoples’ right to protest. On the other hand, socialist China, along with the overwhelming majority of the countries of the world, principally the Global South, and as seen in the recent United Nations General Assembly vote, stand for peace, an end to the war of aggression, and for the long overdue realization of the national rights to an independent state of the Palestinian people.

And the same fundamental distinction with regard to which road to take informs socialist China’s approach to globalization. In the western countries, the prevailing discourse, from much of both the left and the right, tends to assert that China has wholeheartedly embraced the model of globalization advanced by the major capitalist powers. This is so far from reality as to suggest that those who advance it are either ignorant or malicious. Or quite possibly both.

The White Paper is clear that the fruits of economic globalization have until now been dominated by a small group of developed countries. Rather than contributing to common prosperity at a global level, it continues, globalization has widened the wealth gap between the rich and poor, between developed and developing countries, and within the developed countries themselves. Many developing countries have benefited little from economic globalization and even lost their capacity for independent development. Certain countries, it notes, have practiced unilateralism, protectionism and hegemonism.

But just as, in their day, Marx and Engels could not endorse, but rather repudiated and stood against, the Luddite approach which, faced with the undoubted depredations and cruelties of the industrial revolution, sought to reverse the objective course of historical progress, China, unlike some, does not reject globalization. But it stands for a different globalization. Economic globalization, the White Paper insists, remains an irreversible trend. It is unthinkable for countries to return to a state of seclusion or isolation. But economic globalization must undergo adjustments in both form and substance.

The focus of BRI, it explains, is precisely on contributing to a form of globalization that generates common prosperity and that brings benefits particularly to developing countries. Thus, while the BRI is open to all, it is neither accident nor coincidence that the majority of its participants are developing countries. The developing countries as a whole all seek to leverage their collective strength to address such challenges as inadequate infrastructure, lagging industrial development, and insufficient capital, technologies and skills, so as to promote their economic and social development.

Grounded as it is therefore in the stand, viewpoint, and method of Marxism, it should be clear that the BRI is based on and inherits not only the Silk Roads of antiquity, but also the diplomatic history of socialist China as well as the international standpoint and practice of the international working-class movement more generally, particularly since the establishment of workers states, the constitution of the working class as the ruling class.

It resonates, for example, with China’s building of the Tazara railway in Zambia and Tanzania in the 1970s. With the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence put forward by Premier Zhou Enlai in 1954 and the Ten Principles adopted by the Afro-Asian Conference held in the Indonesian city of Bandung the following year.

As far back as 1921, even before the official formation of the USSR, Lenin’s government concluded treaties with Afghanistan, Persia and Turkiye, which provided for mutual support, aid in the financial, technical, personnel and other fields, and especially for support in their struggles to win and maintain independence from colonial and imperial powers.

This in turn built on the deliberations of the Second Congress of the Communist International, held in 1920, which established the absolute duty of the working-class movement to support the struggles of the colonial and oppressed countries and peoples for liberation and for independence against imperialism.

The Belt and Road Initiative, and the other global initiatives put forward by President Xi Jinping, are the 21st century inheritance and expression of this Marxist theory and practice. The difference is that today it is becoming a material force that is progressively uniting and mobilizing the majority of humanity. This is a major part of why President Xi constantly reminds us that we are presently witnessing changes unseen in a century. That is since the birth of the first workers’ state.

In Friends of Socialist China, we will continue to pay the closest attention to these developments. Thank you again for your support today and we hope to continue working with you.

The US has its own BRI: the Bomb and Ruin Initiative

The following article by Carlos Martinez, originally published in Global Times, compares the records of China and the US in terms of their engagement with the Global South. Specifically, Carlos summarises the impact of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) over the course of its first decade, and contrasts this with the effect of the US’s equivalent projects.

While several US-led global infrastructure projects have been announced (such as the Build Back Better World and the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor), none of these have made any meaningful progress as yet. However, “if we look at the actual history and reality of US foreign policy, it becomes clear that the US does actually have its own BRI: the Bomb and Ruin Initiative.”

From Iraq to Palestine to Venezuela to Syria to Ukraine to Zimbabwe and beyond, the US uses war, proxy war, destabilisation, sanctions and coercion, “spreading death and destruction in pursuit of its own selfish economic and political interests,” while China cooperates with the countries of the world on the basis of respect, equality and common interest in pursuit of a global community of shared future.

The article is based on a speech given at a webinar themed Third Belt and Road Forum: Together for Common Development and Shared Prosperity, organised by the Pakistan-based Friends of the Belt and Road Forum, the Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies and the Centre for BRI and China Studies, which took place on Tuesday 7 November.

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has attracted a great deal of attention recently, particularly with the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation having taken place in Beijing last month.

Since it was announced a decade ago, the BRI has already become the world’s largest platform for international cooperation, with more than 150 countries and 30 international organizations participating across five continents. A trillion dollars have been spent or committed on projects that are increasingly transforming the development prospects for dozens of countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, the Caribbean and the Pacific. 

A number of these projects have already been delivered. The Chinese-built Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, for example, is the largest infrastructure project carried out in Kenya since its independence. The China-Laos Railway, completed in 2021, has turned Laos from a land-locked country into a land-linked country, thereby stimulating trade, employment, economic opportunities and living standards. The Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway – the first high-speed rail system in Indonesia – has reduced the journey time from 3.5 hours to 45 minutes.

The BRI is becoming green. The prominent Norwegian environmentalist Erik Solheim, former minister of the environment, stated at a webinar hosted by Friends of Socialist China on November 4 that the BRI has become the most important global project in terms of green, sustainable development. 

Does the US – the world’s largest economy in nominal GDP terms – have an equivalent to the China-proposed BRI? A few such projects have been announced, to much fanfare. The Build Back Better World (B3W) was unveiled in 2021. The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) was announced in September this year. But these initiatives are yet to experience any manifestation in reality – and it’s tempting to wonder if they ever will.

But if we look at the actual history and reality of US foreign policy, it becomes clear that the US does actually have its own BRI: the Bomb and Ruin Initiative.

The Bomb and Ruin Initiative started in earnest in 1950 with the launch of the Korean War, in which an estimated four million people were killed. The initiative continued with the Vietnam War, the brutal 1965 coup in Indonesia, the coups and proxy wars in Guatemala, Angola, Brazil, Chile, Mozambique, Argentina, Nicaragua, Grenada, just to name a few.

The flagship Bomb and Ruin Initiative project this century so far has been the illegal war on Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed. The country was flattened and its development set back by decades. 

China has taken a significantly different approach with respect to Iraq. Indeed Iraq is one of the major recipients of infrastructure investment under the BRI, with a vast array of bridges, roads and railways being constructed, alongside energy and telecommunications infrastructure. China is committed to building some 7,000 schools in Iraq. 

Iraq of course is best known for its abundance of oil – certainly that has been a central motivating factor for a century of British and American interference – but these days China is leading the investment in Iraq’s growing solar energy industry. The world can look forward to the day when Iraq is an advanced, prosperous country, and a green energy superpower.

In Iraq, the contrast between the BRI and the Bomb and Ruin Initiative is quite stark. So much so that there’s a popular saying: “America bombs, China builds.”

This contrast is emblematic of the US’ and China’s role in the world in general.

The US has brought misery and destruction to Afghanistan, that long-suffering country, with a 20-year war and occupation, and now cruel sanctions put in place to prevent the country from getting back on its feet.

The US and its allies bombed Libya into the Stone Age, turning it from a relatively prosperous country – with the highest Human Development Index in Africa – into a failed state.

The US has been a key player in fomenting and perpetuating the devastating war in Syria, supporting the emergence of terrorist groups in a strategy of regime change, and then using the presence of those same groups as a justification for its own uninvited and unwanted military presence in the country.

About two weeks ago, the US responded to attacks on its illegal Syrian facilities not by dismantling the facilities but by carrying out air strikes against Syrian government sites. 

It’s no secret that the US is the driving force behind the war in Ukraine. The essential character of this conflict is a proxy war to weaken Russia.

With the sponsorship and total support of the US, Israel is showing no regard at all for the people of Gaza. Already more than 10,000 people have been killed. The UN has called it a “children’s graveyard.” The people of the world want a ceasefire; China, Russia, Brazil and many others have called for a ceasefire. But the US – along with its most dependable ally, Britain – is standing in the way.

The US gets criticized for not building enough infrastructure. However, the US is building plenty of infrastructure of war and aggression: 800 overseas military bases; the stationing of nuclear-enabled missiles and warplanes in Japan, Guam and South Korea, along with tens of thousands of US troops; the placement of the THAAD so-called missile defence system in Guam and South Korea; the AUKUS trilateral nuclear pact between the US, UK and Australia. When it comes to the project of containing and encircling China, the US has no problem with building infrastructure.

The stark difference between China’s BRI and the US’ BRI is clear for all to see.

The US is pursuing a hegemonic, imperialist project; a Project for a New American Century. It is spreading death and destruction in pursuit of its own selfish economic and political interests. 

Meanwhile, China is pursuing what it calls a global community of shared future – described by President Xi Jinping as “an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity, charting a bright future for human development.”

This is an inspiring, democratic and inclusive vision that is rapidly gaining broad support around the globe.

Zhang Weiwei: the BRI is built on socialist concepts of discussing together, building together and benefiting together

The following is the text of a speech given by Professor Zhang Weiwei (Director of the China Institute at Fudan University, and author of several important books about China, including The China Wave: Rise of a Civilizational State) at the webinar Building a multipolar world – Ten years of the Belt and Road Initiative, held on Saturday 4 November.

Professor Zhang outlines the founding principles and broad historic significance of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). He notes that the foundations for the BRI were laid during the two stages of China’s rise – the first three decades of socialist construction from 1949 to 1978, followed by the accelerated industrialisation and modernisation of the Reform and Opening Up period – and that both these stages were indispensable in allowing China to break from the US-dominated peripheral-central world order and emerge as an economic leader in its own right.

The BRI is a manifestation of this leadership. It is a “hard power” project, with China providing goods, experience and technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to developing countries, and a “soft power” project, with the socialist principles of “discussing together, building together, and benefiting together” guiding the BRI’s development. Zhang observes that these principles are rooted in China’s consultative democracy and can-do spirit, and have been tested and proven in China’s own modernisation process.

A short report of the webinar can be found on China Daily.

The event stream can be viewed on YouTube.

Hello, comrades and friends,

It’s a great pleasure to speak at this webinar on Building a multipolar world – Ten years of the BRI. I will make three observations:

First, on the rise of socialist China. Indeed, it’s remarkable than with 7 decades of unremitting effort, China has become the world’s largest economy by PPP, and the largest trading nation, with the largest middle income group, and largest consumer market.

This historic transformation can be divided into roughly two stages, the first stage, in the first three decades, under the leadership of Chairman Mao, China laid political, economic and social foundations for its rise.

Then the second stage, from 1978, economic take-off, roughly, “one decade, one Industrial Revolution”. China achieved a miracle of the “Four Industrial Revolutions in One” within four decades or so, and now it is in the premier frontier of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (big data, AI and quantum technologies, etc).

Second, on the Chinese break from the peripheral-central world order and becoming the first super-large socialist country that has meaningfully broken the yoke of dependency on the West.

Internally, China has completely eradicated extreme poverty, achieved medical insurance for all, pension for all, and China now has a higher literacy rate than the US, and higher life expectancy than the US (2 years longer, 2021).

Externally, China has become simultaneously the largest partner for the peripheral countries and center countries in terms of trade, investment, financial resources and technologies. That’s why we rightly predicted in 2018 that US will lose its trade war and tech war against China.

Third, all this has paved the way for the launch of the BRI by President Xi Jinping ten years ago and for its stunning success so far. Its success has to do with what may be called the BRI’s hard power and soft power.

Hard power: China is the only country capable of providing goods, experience and technologies of the Four Industrial Revolutions to the developing countries, and China has helped Africa build 6,000 kilometers of railways and 6,000 kilometers of highways. Many landlocked countries are no longer landlocked, many countries without railways are now with railways. Many people who could not afford smart phones now have smart phones and their countries have 4G or even 5G networks.

China is often capable of providing total solutions to industrialization in developing countries. For instance, China completed a comprehensive petro-chemical production package from scratch for countries like Chad, Sudan and Turkmenistan. Being the world’s largest consumer market, China can accommodate a large number of goods from developing countries. For instance, with the completion of the China-Laotian railway, China has become the largest market for the famous Thai fruit durian, a jump of 65% since the railway was built. Now the durian trade alone created 3 billion dollar business for Thailand and the Chinese consumers benefited from this trade.

Soft power: the motto of the BRI is gòngshāng gòngjiàn gòngxiǎng (共商共建共享) or “discussing together, building together and benefiting together”. These ideas are very socialist and have been tested repeatedly within China’s successful process of modernization.

Discussing together originates from China’s consultative democracy (in both high politics and low politics).

Building together originates from the Chinese can-do spirit. Many Africans described the Western projects in Africa as NATO (No Action, Talk Only) whereas Chinese projects are action-oriented, and once consensus is reached by the parties concerned, actions immediately follow suit.

Benefiting together means, China-aid projects aside, the BRI is not a charity, and most BRI projects are commercially viable ones and win-win for all the parties concerned.

In short, these well tested ideas and practices are guided by a deep-rooted Chinese philosophical belief. If the Western belief can be described as “divide and rule”, then the Chinese one is “unite and prosper”. We practice it at home with stunning success and now we promote it in the BRI, and it’s also working well.

In conclusion, the hard power and the soft power are still gaining momentum as shown in China’s rise and the BRI’s success, and this will surely encourage more and more countries in the Global South to work together in a meaningful way to change the unipolar global order to a multipolar one.

Senator Mushahid Hussain honoured with Silk Road award at BRI forum

Pakistan Senator Mushahid Hussain was one of three recipients, the others coming from Uganda and Russia, of the inaugural Silk Road News Award. The presentations were made on October 19, during the Media Cooperation Forum of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, held in Beijing. The award was presented in recognition of his work to promote the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In his acceptance speech, Mushahid, who currently chairs the Defence Committee in the Pakistan Senate, quoted Chairman Mao, that “an idea becomes a material force when it is grasped by millions and millions of people.” He also took the opportunity to refer to the situation in Gaza, which he denounced as genocide, adding that the western powers were complicit in Israel’s crimes.

Senator Mushahid, who also chairs the Pakistan-China Institute and is a member of our advisory group, has devoted his life to the promotion of Pakistan-China friendship, since first visiting the country as a teenager in 1970. He will be a speaker at our forthcoming webinar on ten years of the Belt and Road Initiative on Saturday November 4.

We take this opportunity to congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition and award.

The following article originally appeared in the Pakistani daily newspaper Express Tribune.

Senator Mushahid Hussain on Thursday was awarded the Silk Road Award during the Media Cooperation Forum on the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) in Beijing. The recognition was for his contributions to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The award ceremony took place on the sidelines of the 3rd Belt and Road Forum and was presented by Information and Communication of the Communist Party of China Chief of Media Li Shulei, who is also a member of the party’s top policymaking political bureau.

In his acceptance speech, Senator Mushahid said he was honoured to receive the first-ever ‘Silk Road News Award.’ He extended the achievement to the people of Pakistan. Two other recipients of this prestigious award were from Uganda and Russia. They were chosen from among 4,485 participants representing 80 countries.

The senator acknowledged China’s enduring support and consistent investment in projects like CPEC. Furthermore, he also highlighted the importance of BRI, stating that it represents a new platform for international economic cooperation and is the most significant development and diplomatic initiative of the 21st century.

The core of such an initiative, he added, is people-to-people connectivity and Pakistan-China relations, especially the role of media, think tanks, academia, youth, and NGOs, working towards a more ‘open, inclusive, and interconnected world’.

Quoting Chairman Mao, Senator Hussain said, “An idea becomes a material force when it is grasped by millions and millions of people,” referring to BRI as a “material force in the world,” bringing benefits and opportunities to a global audience.

Middle East situation

While addressing the international atmosphere in Gaza, the senator expressed his concerns about the Middle East and referred to it as ‘genocide in Gaza,’ where the West’s support of Israel’s crimes is complicit in the ongoing conflict. He criticised the West’s stance on human rights and democracy, calling it ‘double standards’.

Mushahid showed his solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians, terming the situation as a ‘struggle between the oppressed and oppressors’. BRI is a path forward, based on connectivity and cooperation, with CPEC serving as a guarantor for a better future for Pakistan and its people, he added. He encouraged taking ownership of CPEC to ensure its successful conclusion.

Challenge of fake news

Hussain concluded by addressing the challenge of fake news, falsehoods, and fiction, describing them as the most significant threats to the BRI. He called for a collective and cooperative approach among BRI countries on the media front, emphasizing that a “collective voice” would be a potent force multiplier.

The ceremony was attended by Vice Ministers for International Communication from the Publicity and International Departments of the Communist Party of China. It was hosted by ‘People’s Daily’ at its headquarters and attended by the President and Editor-in-Chief of ‘People’s Daily,’ the official organ of the Communist Party of China, along with 200 journalists from over 60 countries.

The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future

On 10 October 2023, China’s State Council Information Office released an important white paper: The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future. The document presents the achievements of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) since its announcement in September 2013.

A significant number of historic infrastructure projects in the developing world have already been built within the framework of the BRI. For example, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway is the largest infrastructure project carried out in Kenya since independence. The China-Laos Railway – an electrified railway directly connecting Kunming (in China’s southwestern Yunnan province) to Vientiane, the capital of Laos – was completed in 2021. The white paper notes:

“As an important part of the central section of the pan-Asia railway network, the China-Laos Railway has helped Laos to realize its long-cherished dream of becoming a land-linked country from a landlocked one. It has promoted transport, investment, logistics and tourism, and injected new impetus into the economic development of Laos and areas along the line. By August 31, 2023, the railway had recorded a total of 20.79 million passenger trips and carried 25.22 million tonnes of cargo. It has become a safe and efficient international passageway connecting Laos with its neighbouring countries and regions and generating mutual benefits.”

The Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway – the first high-speed rail system in Indonesia – has achieved an operational speed of 350 km per hour, reducing the journey time between these important cities from 3.5 hours to 45 minutes.

A huge number of energy production and distribution projects have been built as part of the BRI, connecting China, Russia, Mongolia, Central Asia, Pakistan and further afield.

The white paper makes it very clear that, while the BRI was launched by China, “it belongs to the world and benefits the whole of humanity”, and that “irrespective of size, strength and wealth, all countries participate on an equal footing.” The aim is not to travel the well-trodden path of imperialist modernisation but rather to build a global community of shared future – “an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity, charting a bright future for human development.”

This is a model of development and international relations that “diverges from the exploitative colonialism of the past, avoids coercive and one-sided transactions, rejects the centre-periphery model of dependency, and refuses to displace crisis onto others or exploit neighbours for self-interest. Instead, it aims to achieve win-win outcomes and shared development and prosperity.”

Rather than competing with other initiatives, the BRI has successfully integrated and cooperated with many other strategies including Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union framework, Kazakhstan’s Bright Road economic policy, Indonesia’s Global Marine Fulcrum initiative, Vietnam’s Two Corridors and One Economic Circle plan, South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, and Egypt’s Suez Canal Corridor Project.

“By June 2023, China had signed more than 200 BRI cooperation agreements with more than 150 countries and 30 international organizations across five continents, yielding a number of signature projects and small-scale yet impactful projects.”

The document notes that the fruits of economic globalisation have hitherto been dominated by a small group of developed countries. Rather than contributing to common prosperity at a global level, globalisation “has widened the wealth gap between rich and poor, between developed and developing countries, and within developed countries. Many developing countries have benefited little from economic globalisation and even lost their capacity for independent development, making it hard for them to access the track of modernisation. Certain countries have practiced unilateralism, protectionism and hegemonism, hampering economic globalisation and threatening a global economic recession.”

The focus of the BRI is precisely on contributing to a form of globalisation that generates common prosperity, that brings benefits particularly to developing countries. As such, “most participants are developing countries, all seeking to leverage collective strengths to address challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, lagging industrial development, limited industrialisation, insufficient capital and technology, and a shortage of skilled workers, to promote their own economic and social development.”

Hence the BRI stands in defence of greater globalisation and economic integration, but in a form that is beneficial to all. It stands against certain concepts that have become popular in the West recently – “decoupling” and “derisking” – which seek to impede global cooperation, exchanges and mutual learning. “In a world full of uncertainties and instabilities, all countries should urgently bridge differences through dialogue, oppose rifts with unity, and promote development through cooperation.”

Especially in the last few years, the BRI has embraced green and low-carbon development, “emphasising respecting and protecting nature and following its laws, and respecting the right of all parties to pursue sustainable and eco-friendly growth.” Hence for example China pledged in 2021 to stop building new coal-fired power stations overseas, and is actively building financing mechanisms to encourage sustainable energy and infrastructure.

The document also discusses progress made under the BRI in numerous fields that are largely overlooked, for example cooperation in public health, digital governance and people-to-people exchanges and tourism.

All in all, “the BRI has become the world’s largest platform for international cooperation” and is providing a springboard for progress and prosperity throughout the world.

We publish the full text of the white paper below. It can also be downloaded as a PDF. It was first published in English on Xinhua.


Note that Friends of Socialist China and the International Manifesto Group are holding a webinar – Building a multipolar world: Ten years of the Belt and Road Initiative – on Saturday 4 November 2023, featuring an array of interesting speakers including Erik Solheim (President, Green Belt and Road Institute), Professor Zhang Weiwei (Director, China Institute, Fudan University), Li Jingjing (Journalist and political commentator, CGTN), Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi (Political analyst, Iran), Senator Mushahid Hussain (Chair, Pakistan-China Institute), Martin Jacques (Author, When China Rules the World), Fred M’membe (President, Socialist Party Zambia), Camila Escalante (Editor, Kawsachun News), Keith Bennett (Co-editor, Friends of Socialist China) and Radhika Desai (Convenor, International Manifesto Group). Registration is free via Eventbrite.

The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future

The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China                                                        

Preamble

Over two millennia ago, inspired by a sincere wish for friendship, our ancestors travelled across grasslands and deserts to create a land Silk Road connecting Asia, Europe and Africa, leading the world into an era of extensive cultural exchanges. More than 1,000 years ago, our ancestors set sail and braved the waves to open a maritime Silk Road linking the East and the West, beginning a new phase of closer communication among peoples.

Spanning thousands of miles and years, the ancient silk routes were not only routes for trade but also roads for cultural exchanges. They made a great contribution to human progress. In the 1980s, the United Nations and some countries began to envisage the Eurasian Land Bridge, the Silk Road Initiative, and other plans, reflecting a common wish to engage in communication and cooperation.

In March 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the vision of a global community of shared future; in September and October that year, he raised the initiatives of joining with others to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI). The Belt and Road Initiative is a creative development that takes on and carries forward the spirit of the ancient silk routes – two of the great achievements in human history and civilization. It enriches the ancient spirit with the zeitgeist and culture of the new era, and provides a platform for building a global community of shared future.

Continue reading The Belt and Road Initiative: A Key Pillar of the Global Community of Shared Future

Building an open, inclusive and interconnected world for common development

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF III) at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on October 18, 2023.

The Chinese leader was joined at the opening ceremony by state leaders from more than 20 countries, including:

  • President of Argentina Alberto Fernández;
  • President of Chile Gabriel Boric;
  • President of the Republic of Congo Denis Sassou-N’Guesso;
  • President of Indonesia Joko Widodo;
  • President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev;
  • President of Kenya William Ruto;
  • President of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith;
  • President of Mongolia Khurelsukh Ukhna;
  • President of Russia Vladimir Putin;
  • President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić;
  • President of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe;
  • National Leader of the Turkmen people and Chairman of the Halk Maslahaty of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov;
  • President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev;
  • President of Vietnam Vo Van Thuong;
  • Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Manet;
  • Prime Minister of Egypt Mostafa Madbouly;
  • Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed Ali;
  • Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán;
  • Prime Minister of Mozambique Adriano Afonso Maleiane;
  • Prime Minister of Pakistan Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar;
  • Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea James Marape;
  • Prime Minister of Thailand Srettha Thavisin;
  • Vice President of Nigeria Kashim Shettima;
  • Special Representative of the President and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi;
  • Special Representative of the President and former Prime Minister of France Jean-Pierre Raffarin;
  • and Senior Representative of the Prime Minister and Minister of Development of Greece Kostas Skrekas, as well as heads of international organisations, including United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and President of the New Development Bank (NDB) Dilma Rousseff.

Presidents Vladimir Putin, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Joko Widodo, and Alberto Fernández, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, and Secretary-General António Guterres also delivered speeches at the opening ceremony.

Under the title, ‘Building an Open, Inclusive and Interconnected World for Common Development’, and noting that this year marks the tenth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), President Xi said that it draws, “inspiration from the ancient Silk Road and, focusing on enhancing connectivity, aims to enhance policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity, inject new impetus into the global economy, create new opportunities for global development, and build a new platform for international economic cooperation.

“Belt and Road cooperation has extended from the Eurasian continent to Africa and Latin America. More than 150 countries and over 30 international organisations have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents.”

Belt and Road cooperation, he noted, has progressed from ‘sketching the outline’ to ‘filling in the details’, and blueprints have been turned into real projects. A large number of signature projects and ‘small yet smart’ people-centred programs have been launched.

“Belt and Road cooperation has expanded from physical connectivity to institutional connectivity. Important guiding principles for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation have been laid down, which include the principle of ‘planning together, building together, and benefiting together,’ the philosophy of open, green and clean cooperation, and the goal of pursuing high-standard, people-centred and sustainable cooperation.

Over these 10 years, we have endeavoured to build a global network of connectivity consisting of economic corridors, international transportation routes and information highway, as well as railways, roads, airports, ports, pipelines and power grids. Covering the land, the ocean, the sky and the Internet, this network has boosted the flow of goods, capital, technologies and human resources among countries involved and injected fresh vitality into the millennia-old Silk Road in the new era.

Hydro, wind and solar energy based power plants, oil and gas pipelines, and the increasingly smart and interconnected power transmission networks are removing the development bottleneck caused by energy shortage and fulfilling the dream of developing countries to achieve green and low-carbon development. These energy projects have become the oasis and lighthouse for sustainable development in the new era.”

The Chinese leader went on to note that, “when COVID-19 struck, the Belt and Road became a life-saving road. China provided more than 10 billion masks and 2.3 billion doses of vaccines to other countries and jointly produced vaccines with over 20 countries, making a special contribution to BRI partners’ efforts in fighting COVID-19. And China also received valuable support from more than 70 countries when it was hit hard by the pandemic.

“Belt and Road cooperation is based on the principle of ‘planning together, building together, and benefiting together.’ It transcends differences between civilisations, cultures, social systems, and stages of development. It has opened up a new path for exchanges among countries, and established a new framework for international cooperation. Indeed, the BRI represents humanity’s joint pursuit of development for all.”

He also stressed that:

“We have learned that humankind is a community with a shared future. China can only do well when the world is doing well. When China does well, the world will get even better… We have learned that win-win cooperation is the sure way to success in launching major initiatives that benefit all. When countries embrace cooperation and act in concert, a deep chasm can be turned into a thoroughfare, land-locked countries can become land-linked, and a place of underdevelopment can be transformed into a land of prosperity. Countries taking the lead in economic development should give a hand to their partners who are yet to catch up. We should all treat each other as friends and partners, respect and support each other, and help each other succeed… Viewing others’ development as a threat or taking economic interdependence as a risk will not make one’s own life better or speed up one’s development… Belt and Road cooperation is based on the belief that flame runs high when everyone adds wood to the fire and that mutual support can get us far. Such cooperation seeks to deliver a good life not only to people of just one country, but to people in other countries as well… Ideological confrontation, geopolitical rivalry and bloc politics are not a choice for us. What we stand against are unilateral sanctions, economic coercion and decoupling and supply chain disruption… We need to remain clear-eyed and undisturbed in a volatile world, and we need to be keenly aware of our responsibility for history, for the people and for the world. We should jointly address various global risks and challenges, and deliver a bright future of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit for future generations… The modernisation we are pursuing is not for China alone, but for all developing countries through our joint efforts. Global modernisation should be pursued to enhance peaceful development and mutually beneficial cooperation and bring prosperity to all.”

President Xi also outlined eight major steps that China will take to support the joint pursuit of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

The following is the full text of President Xi’s speech. It was originally published on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Heads of International Organizations,
Representatives of Various Countries,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Friends,

Today, we are meeting here for the opening ceremony of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF). On behalf of the Chinese government and Chinese people and in my own name, I wish to extend a very warm welcome to you all!

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) I proposed. The BRI, drawing inspiration from the ancient Silk Road and focusing on enhancing connectivity, aims to enhance policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity, inject new impetus into the global economy, create new opportunities for global development, and build a new platform for international economic cooperation.

Continue reading Building an open, inclusive and interconnected world for common development

Chair’s Statement of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation

The Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF III) was convened in the Chinese capital Beijing on October 18, 2023. Marking ten years since President Xi Jinping first advanced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in speeches during visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, BRF III was themed on “High-quality Belt and Road Cooperation: Together for Common Development and Prosperity”. Three high-level forums were held under the topics of Connectivity in an Open World Economy, Green Silk Road for Harmony with Nature, and Digital Economy as a New Source of Growth. And six thematic forums, focusing on Trade Connectivity, Maritime Cooperation, Clean Silk Road, Think Tank Exchanges, People-to-People Bonds, and Subnational Cooperation also took place.

President Xi Jinping was joined by 23 national leaders and representatives from 150 countries at the forum.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, held in the Great Hall of the People, President Xi announced eight major steps that China will take to further high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. These entail:

  • Building a multidimensional Belt and Road connectivity network;
  • Supporting an open world economy;
  • Carrying out practical cooperation;
  • Promoting green development;
  • Advancing scientific and technological innovation;
  • Supporting people-to-people exchanges;
  • Promoting integrity-based Belt and Road cooperation; and
  • Strengthening institutional building for Belt and Road international cooperation.

A Chair’s Statement from the forum noted that over the past ten years, the Belt and Road cooperation network has stretched from the Eurasian continent to Africa and Latin America. More than 150 countries and over 30 international organisations have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China. China has also conducted more than 3,000 cooperation projects with relevant parties and catalysed investment of nearly USD 1 trillion.

Summarising the discussions, the statement notes that forum participants supported building a green silk road together to realise harmony between humanity and nature. Climate actions should follow the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities to tackle climate change. The Belt and Road cooperation partners support strengthening cooperation in areas of biodiversity conservation and pollution control, circular economy, green infrastructure, green transport, prevention and control of desertification and sandstorms, and encourage the development of effective green finance instruments.

They also held that bridging the digital gap will facilitate an inclusive digital economy. In this regard, it is necessary to foster an open, fair, just, and non-discriminatory environment for digital development, and build a digital silk road featuring joint contribution and sharing of digital resources, vibrant digital economy, well-targeted and efficient digital governance, better digital security, and mutually beneficial digital cooperation.

Calling for the promotion of unimpeded trade, the participants supported the rules-based, non-discriminatory, open, fair, inclusive, just, and transparent multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core, and oppose unilateral and protectionist measures. They support necessary WTO reform for multilateral trade rules to keep abreast with the times.

To enhance maritime cooperation, they called for promoting the development, transformation and upgrading of marine industries, and the development of a sustainable, resilient and inclusive blue economy, based on clean production, green technologies and circular economy.

They also called for zero tolerance for corruption in BRI projects.

To promote people-to-people exchanges, the Belt and Road cooperation partners encouraged political parties, parliaments, civil societies, media, think tanks and business communities to play bigger roles in fostering people-to-people bonds, and expect further exchanges and cooperation in areas of art, culture, education, science and technology, tourism, health and sports.

Friends of Socialist China co-editors Keith Bennett and Carlos Martinez attended the forum at the invitation of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

The following is the full text of the Chair’s Statement. It was originally published on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Preamble

1. The Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF III) was convened on 18 October 2023, in Beijing. President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, President Alberto Fernández of the Republic of Argentina, President Gabriel Boric Font of the Republic of Chile, President Denis Sassou-N’Guesso of the Republic of the Congo, President Joko Widodo of the Republic of Indonesia, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of the Republic of Kazakhstan, President William Samoei Ruto of the Republic of Kenya, President Thongloun Sisoulith of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, President Khurelsukh Ukhnaa of Mongolia, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, President Aleksandar Vučić of the Republic of Serbia, President Ranil Wickremesinghe of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, National Leader of the Turkmen People and Chairman of the Halk Maslakhaty Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of the Republic of Uzbekistan, President Vo Van Thuong of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, Prime Minister Hun Manet of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary, Prime Minister Adriano Afonso Maleiane of the Republic of Mozambique, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Prime Minister James Marape of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin of the Kingdom of Thailand, Vice President Kashim Shettima of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Secretary General of the United Nations Antόnio Guterres attended the forum. High-level representatives of the leaders of the French Republic, the United Arab Emirates, and the Hellenic Republic as well as representatives from more than 150 countries attended the forum. President Xi Jinping made a keynote speech at the opening ceremony.

2. The BRF III is themed on “High-quality Belt and Road Cooperation: Together for Common Development and Prosperity”. Three high-level forums were held under the topics of Connectivity in an Open World Economy, Green Silk Road for Harmony with Nature, and Digital Economy as a New Source of Growth, respectively. Six thematic forums with focuses on Trade Connectivity, Maritime Cooperation, Clean Silk Road, Think Tank Exchanges, People-to-People Bonds, and Subnational Cooperation were respectively convened. A CEO Conference was held on the eve of the BRF III.

3. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Over the past ten years, the Belt and Road cooperation network has stretched from the Eurasian continent to Africa and Latin America. More than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China. China hosted three BRFs, and launched together with its cooperation partners more than 20 multilateral dialogue and cooperation platforms in sectors of railway, port, finance, taxation, energy, green development, green investment, disaster risk reduction, anti-corruption, think tank, media, culture exchanges, etc.

4. The BRI, focusing on connectivity, has promoted development of the connectivity networks led by economic corridors, with major transportation passages and information highways as backbone, underpinned by railway, ports and pipelines, and encompassing land, sea, air and internet, which facilitated the flow of commodities, capitals, technologies and personnel among partner countries in the past decade. China has conducted more than 3,000 cooperation projects with relevant parties, and catalyzed investment of nearly USD 1 trillion.

5. The participants recognize that the BRI has rejuvenated the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning, and mutual benefit. The Belt and Road cooperation upholds the principle of extensive consultation, joint efforts and shared benefits, the approach of open, green and clean cooperation, and the pursuit of high-standard, people-centered and sustainable development. The BRI, featuring enhanced policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial cooperation, and people-to-people bonds, has mobilized driving forces for world economic growth, built platforms for international economic cooperation, opened up vistas for global common development, and become a widely welcomed international public good as well as a practice for building a community with a shared future.

6. The participants expect strengthened efforts to usher in a new stage of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, aiming to better contribute to promoting international cooperation, boosting global economic growth, accelerating implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and shape a bright future of peace, development, and win-win cooperation.

Continue reading Chair’s Statement of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation

Life for Angolans is changing for the better with the support of China

The following article, first published in Global Times, is based on an interview with João Baptista Borges, Angolan Minister of Energy and Water.

Borges, who was attending the Third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, addresses the accusations of “debt trap” that have been leveled against the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). He calls such claims “untrue and unfair”, noting that the infrastructure projects China is involved in – related to energy systems, water treatment and more – “have benefited millions of Angolans” and that Angola’s cooperation with China “is very important and strategic for us in terms of the great changes it has brought to our lives… If you ask anybody in Angola, they will tell you that our lives have changed with these supports from China.”

Borges insists that Angola’s participation in the BRI is based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, and that Angola makes its own decisions about what projects to pursue. “China has never imposed any projects on us; each project was selected by us.”

Furthermore, while Angola is a major fossil fuel producer, it is developing ambitious plans to carry out a green transition, and considers that Chinese experience and investment will be crucial in this regard. “We are talking in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars to construct solar power plants and hydro transmission systems in order to eliminate gradually the consumption of fossil fuels. Our priority is really to transform our economy in order to provide not only more power but also clean power to the people at affordable prices.”

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has generated numerous opportunities for partner countries, including Angola, as noted by João Baptista Borges, the Angolan Minister of Energy and Water, in an exclusive interview with the Global Times, during which he conveyed appreciation for the positive changes that Chinese companies have contributed to his country’s development, notably in sectors including water, energy supply, and green transformation.

The Angolan minister has also refuted the West’s intensified allegations over the so-called “debt trap” issue targeting the initiative, calling it both “untrue and unfair.”

These remarks were made on the sidelines of his visit to China on behalf of Angolan President João Lourenço to attend the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), which was held in Beijing from Tuesday to Wednesday.

China’s increased support for Angola can be traced back to the early 2000s when the country was emerging from a decades-long civil war and was in dire need of extensive rebuilding, the minister said.

At that time, there was a pressing need for rebuilding, and the country had already begun receiving substantial financial support from the Chinese government for various critical infrastructure projects, such as water and energy supplies, Borges explained.

The cooperation with China has later increased substantially, with a range of major projects, including water treatment systems and transmission systems, being built to help secure the energy supply of the country and improve the living standards of local people.

Continue reading Life for Angolans is changing for the better with the support of China