The following is an important article by Liu Jianchao, Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee (IDCPC), concerning the current state and prospects of the Global South.
Minister Liu begins by noting that the world today is confronted with unprecedented and accelerated changes. An important feature of the changes is that the collective rise of developing countries is gaining momentum. The rise of developing countries, as a whole, is based on and reinforced by their collective modernization.
Thus, he argues, an in-depth discussion on the modernization of the Global South is urgently needed, not only in response to the call of developing countries for peace, development, and progress, but also to meet the aspirations of the people of all countries for modernization and human advancement.
According to Liu, the Global South is where the hope lies today. The term “Global South”, he goes on, has first and foremost a “south” dimension.
“However, the ‘South’ in the Global South is not a geographical term but a byword for emerging markets and developing countries. It is an identity and representative of a community of countries with similar historical experiences, political pursuits, and development goals.
“The term also has a ‘global’ dimension. It symbolizes a prominent worldwide trend of the collective rise of developing countries and reflects their strong wish for solidarity and self-reliance. The countries of the Global South once suffered from aggression, colonization, suppression, and plunder. It is through years of struggle and hard work, along with the evolving changes in this century, that the Global South has gradually become an important force driving the reforms in the world order and seeking political independence, national rejuvenation and international justice.”
Arguing that the Global South is a “a leading champion of a new type of globalization”, Liu writes that, “unilateralism, protectionism and populism are rearing their ugly heads today. Attempts to build ‘small yards with high fences’ to ‘decouple’ from other economies, sever industry and supply chains and stoke bloc confrontation are rampant… At this crucial moment, the countries of the Global South have chosen to confront difficulties head on.”
“In particular,” he continues, “countries of the Global South, upholding the principle of ‘planning together, building together, and benefiting together’, have pressed ahead the Belt and Road cooperation to a new stage of high-quality development, thus injecting new impetus into global growth, creating new opportunities for global development, and building a new platform for international cooperation.”
According to Liu, the Global South is “the source of strength for global multipolarity.” And it is, “a key force promoting greater democracy in international relations. Over the years, the voice of the Global South has been muted on the world stage and the reasonable concerns of developing countries have not been addressed.
“The few traditional powers that have dominated the right to set the international agenda and rules have always put their own interests first. Their hegemonic, domineering, and bullying practices have disturbed the normal international order and undermined international justice and fairness. Under the new circumstances, more and more Global South countries have realized the [reality of the] ideological and institutional yoke of imperialism and colonialism. And they are more determined than ever to seek strategic autonomy, practice true multilateralism, and promote greater democracy in international relations.”
On the question of modernization, he notes that:
“The Global South must take measures to break the myth that modernization equals westernization. For a long time, people believed westernization is modernization. In fact, modernization is not a single answer question. Different historical conditions lead to different choices of paths to modernization. The modernization of the West started with the expansion of capitalism and reached its peak with the help of colonialism, large-scale exploitation of other countries and the use of power politics. It is an unjust path and by no means a viable choice for the Global South.
“To realize modernization, the countries of the Global South must find a path that best suits their respective national condition and is in line with the trend of the times.
“Besides, they should share their useful experiences, rise up to challenges together, and support each other’s exploration of paths in the pursuit of modernization, so that the Global South and the wider world have more options to achieve modernization.”
“China is ready to contribute the country’s strength to advancing modernization for the Global South. While addressing the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August, President Xi Jinping asserted that China is a member of the Global South. China and most countries of the Global South share similar historical experiences and journeys of struggle. And all of them emerged from the fight against colonialism, hegemony, and power politics… China is rooted in the Global South; it cares about the Global South. It has always stood in solidarity with other countries of the Global South through thick and thin, and has been an advocate for and an important player in South-South cooperation…
“China will never forget its roots and will remain a member of the big family of developing countries and the Global South. No matter how the international situation evolves, China will always be committed to the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness to develop relations with its neighbors, follow the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith to develop relations with African countries, and adhere to the principles of equality, mutual benefit and common development to develop relations with Latin American countries.”
In conclusion the IDCPC minister writes: “We believe the modernization of the Global South will become an unstoppable trend in the near future. A stable, united, strong and prosperous Global South will no longer be a forlorn dream, and humanity will eventually enjoy progress, lasting peace and sustained development.”
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
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.
At the opening ceremony of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, held in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on October 18, the speech of Chinese President Xi Jinping was immediately followed by that of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
Noting that the forum was being held on the tenth anniversary of President Xi proposing the Belt and Road Initiative, President Putin described the BRI, as “a truly important and global idea that is spearheaded into the future, towards creating a fairer multipolar world and system of relations,” adding:
“We pointed out on numerous occasions that Russia and China, just as the majority of other countries, share the striving for equal and mutually beneficial cooperation towards universal, sustainable and lasting economic progress and social welfare based on respect for civilisational diversity and the right of every state to its own development model.”
Putin asserted that BRI is based on these fundamental principles and therefore fits very well with the integration processes underway in many regions:
“It also rhymes with our idea of creating a greater Eurasian partnership as an area of cooperation and interaction among like-minded nations and the alignment of various integration processes, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which Russia is successfully developing with its post-Soviet partners. It is notable that Russia and China have reached a practical agreement on a concurrent and coordinated development of the EAEU and the Belt and Road Initiative.”
President Putin took the opportunity to outline the various projects and plans of the Russian Federation in this regard, such as work to connect Russian ports on the Baltic and Arctic seas to ports in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, including seamless rail connectivity from Murmansk in the far northwest of Russia to the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf.
Concluding, President Putin noted that, “when a major project is launched, everybody hopes that it will succeed. However, to be honest, it is difficult to expect that all its elements will be successful, considering the global scale of the initiative advanced by the President of the People’s Republic of China 10 years ago. Our Chinese friends are working successfully. We are happy for them, because this also concerns many of us.”
His speech was followed by those of the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Argentina, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The following is the full text of President Putin’s speech. It was originally published on the official website of the President of Russia.
President Xi, my dear friend,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to express gratitude to President of China Xi Jinping for inviting me to the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
The forum is being held on the 10th anniversary of the initiative Mr Xi advanced, a truly important and global idea that is spearheaded into the future, towards creating a fairer multipolar world and system of relations. It is a global plan, without a doubt.
I agree with the President of China that the Belt and Road idea ties in logically with multilateral efforts to promote creative and constructive interaction throughout the international community.
We pointed out on numerous occasions that Russia and China, just as the majority of other countries, share the striving for equal and mutually beneficial cooperation towards universal, sustainable and lasting economic progress and social welfare based on respect for the civilisational diversity and the right of every state to its own development model.
The Belt and Road initiative is based on these fundamental principles and fits in very well with the integration processes that are ongoing in many regions. It also corresponds to the Russian ideas of creating an integration contour that will ensure the freedom of trade, investment and employment and will be complemented with interconnected infrastructure.
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.
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.
We are very pleased to republish this important and extremely informative article by Michael Dunford, surveying and explaining China’s development path, 1949-2022. Michael, who is Emeritus Professor at Sussex University in the UK and a Visiting Professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is also a member of our Advisory Group.
In his article, China’s path is conceived as a transition from an economically underdeveloped and semi-colonised country of the Global South into a modern socialist country in a multipolar world, where successive steps were shaped by China’s external environment and a succession of contradictions and crises encountered along the way.
Three phases are examined: a turbulent phase of socialist construction in a context of capital shortage and US embargoes; a phase of reform and opening up in an era of neoliberal globalisation, whose early roots lay in the early 1970s’ rapprochement with the US; and a New Era, dating essentially from Xi Jinping’s election as General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee. In each phase, Michael argues, crises and contradictions saw waves of reform, involving successive joint transformations of economic structures and institutions, while each phase was anticipated in the years that preceded it, so opening up actually started in the early 1970s with the rapprochement with the US, and aspects of the New Era, concerned with innovation, green development, common prosperity and an equitable global order, also started to emerge earlier.
For example, the New Era was anticipated as early as the start of the new millennium, when reform and opening up continued, yet with greater attention to the goal of ‘common prosperity’ and the correction of all kinds of imbalances and contradictions associated with the reform era. In addition, it was shaped by a changing international environment in which the US and its allies sought, and are still seeking, to prevent the return of China and ensure continuing US global dominance and control.
This interpretation challenges the notion that the events set in motion at the very end of 1978 amounted to an ideological change of course, not least as the opening to Western capital and integration into world markets dated from at least the early 1970s and were, in fact, envisaged in the years up to 1949. Second, it challenges common negative assessments of the first 30 years of the New China and, indeed, sees them as laying the foundations for later developments in an overall transition to socialism. Third, it emphasises the significance of successive reforms designed to address internal and external contradictions. Fourth, it suggests that the entire path is connected with earlier phases laying the foundations for later phases and with reforms at each stage addressing contradictions generated at earlier stages.
The article notes that Deng Xiaoping repeatedly argued that:
“Predominance of public ownership and common prosperity are the two fundamental socialist principles that we must adhere to. The aim of socialism is to make all our people prosperous, not to create polarisation. If our policies led to polarisation, it would mean that we had failed; if a new bourgeoisie emerged, it would mean that we had strayed from the right path. In encouraging some regions to become prosperous first, we intend that they should inspire others to follow their example and that all of them should help economically backward regions to develop. The same holds good for some individuals.”
Michael then goes on to argue that in the first three decades of reform and opening up, China achieved sustained high rates of GDP growth, but the priority attached to increases in GDP and letting some get rich first was responsible for a series of negative consequences: serious environmental damage, resource depletion, growing inequalities in income and wealth, growing rural–urban and regional disparities, increasing corruption, and a rapid increase in mass incidents relating to employment, land acquisition, demolitions, pollution and official conduct. Addressing these issues from around the turn of the millennium, in 1998, the party leadership took up issues of greatest concern to farmers and, the next year, China’s western development was set in motion to expand domestic demand and drive economic growth in the aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis, and to contribute to ‘common prosperity’. Measures to support North-east and Central China followed.
In conclusion, Michael observes that the new China that emerged from a semi-colonial state and civil war in 1949 was one of the poorest countries in the world. As of today, it is an upper-middle-income country that has lifted all of its 1.4 billion people out of extreme poverty. In terms of material production, it is the largest economy in the world, and as a global actor, it envisages a new international order centred on the equality and sovereignty of all nations, and their right to choose their own development paths.
China’s own progress is a result of: a socialist model that is people- rather than capital-centred and in which politics (what is called ‘Chinese whole-process democracy’) rather than capital rules; avoidance of debt-traps that afflict many developing countries; its ability to preserve its sovereignty in an unjust and unequal world; its capacity to effectively mobilise the energy of its people; and its ability to maintain high rates of investment to drive catch-up industrialisation, urbanisation and rural–urban co-evolution.
China emerged from the turbulent Mao era with a core sovereign socialist industrial system, a doubling of life expectancy, an immense young, healthy and educated population, and a high degree of equity. After relations with the US improved, China embarked on reform and opening up under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping to accelerate the development of the productive forces and allowed some people and places to get rich first in the expectation that others would get rich later. Although almost everyone’s livelihood improved overall (though not at certain times and in certain places), a dramatic growth in inequality and serious environmental and social problems, as well as a need to innovate and reduce reliance on low-wage and low-skilled industries, caused China to address more strongly the goals of common prosperity, green development and economic modernisation. Between 2013–20, it successfully completed an extraordinary campaign to end extreme poverty. At the same time, modernisation goals involve a commitment to more measured and higher-quality development, and scientific, technological and industrial upgrading. In the New Era, however, China is also seeking to identify a distinctive Chinese path to modernisation, that is innovative, ecological, spiritually rich and equitable, and that enriches the lives of all of its people.
This thoroughly researched and detailed article deserves to be studied carefully and widely discussed. It was originally published in the journal Global Discourse.
China’s path is conceived as a transition of an economically under-developed and semi-colonised country of the Global South into a modern socialist country in a multipolar world where successive steps (modes of regulation) were shaped by China’s external environment (uneven and combined development) and a succession of contradictions and crises encountered along the way. Three phases are examined: a turbulent phase of socialist construction in a context of capital shortage and United States (US) embargoes, a phase of reform an opening up in an era of neo-liberal globalisation whose early roots lay in early 1970s rapprochement with the US, and a New Era dating from 2017. In each phase crises and contradictions saw waves of reform involving successive joint transformations of economic structures and institutions, while each phase was anticipated in the years that preceded it, so opening-up started in the early 1970s with the rapprochement with the US and aspects of the New Era concern with innovation, green development, common prosperity and an equitable global order started to emerge earlier.
China is one of the world’s most ancient civilizations marked by the reproduction of recognizable Chinese social, political and cultural characteristics. These characteristics were shaped by several thousand years of dynastic and imperial rule, by earlier socio-political orders made up of an ocean of local rural communities centred around patriarchal families, a single centre of political power and hierarchical administrations occasionally removed as a result of the loss of the Mandate of Heaven (expressing the dependence of the political legitimacy of ruling elites on the consent and wellbeing of the great majority of the Chinese people) and by Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist, Legalist and more recently Marxist values and thought that exercise important influences to this day.
Until the Eighteenth Century, China was a world leader in science and technology. In 1750 it accounted for 32.8% of world manufactures. By 1860, however, its share had declined to just 19.7%, and, by 1913, it was a mere 3.6% (Bairoch 1997: volume 3, p. 860). In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries neither the crisis-ridden Qing (Manchu) Dynasty nor the post-2011 Nationalist (Guomindang) governments managed to overcome the obstacles to industrial modernization, and the devastating impacts of the military, political and commercial penetration of China by foreign colonial powers and of Japan’s attempt at conquest. In more than one hundred years of humiliation, China was forced to sign unequal treaties, cede sovereignty and territorial rights to nineteen foreign powers and pay huge financial indemnities, while its real GDP per capita declined from 2011 US$ 926 in 1800 to 439 in 1950 (Bolt and van Zanden 2020).
On 26 September 2023, the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China issued a white paper titled “A Global Community of Shared Future: China’s Proposals and Actions”, setting out China’s high level foreign policy and describing a bold vision for building a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future for humanity.
The central theme of the document is succinctly stated in the preface:
To build a global community of shared future, all peoples, all countries, and all individuals – our destinies being interconnected – must stand together in adversity and through thick and thin, navigating towards greater harmony on this planet that we call home. We should endeavor to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity, turning people’s longing for a better life into reality.
The white paper describes the current division in geopolitics; the fork in the road, with one direction characterised by a “Cold War mentality that deepens division and antagonism and stokes confrontation between blocs” and the other aimed at developing common wellbeing of humanity, solidarity, cooperation, openness, equality and respect. “The tug of war between these two options will shape the future of humanity and our planet in a profound way.”
The paper can be considered as a modern reiteration of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence – mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity; mutual non-aggression; non- interference in each other’s internal affairs; equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful coexistence – which have been the lodestar of Chinese foreign policy since their announcement in 1954. Core to these principles is the notion – embedded in the UN Charter – of the sovereign equality of all states. The white paper observes:
The world needs justice, not hegemonism. No country has the right to dominate global affairs, dictate the future of others, or monopolize development advantages. Countries should safeguard the international order based on international law, uphold the authority of the international rule of law, and ensure equal and unified application of international law. The practice of double standards or selective application of law should be rejected.
This stands in contrast with the much-vaunted ‘rules-based international order’, which is in fact a euphemism for the primacy of the US and its allies, and the imposition of their will on the rest of the world.
The document reiterates China’s commitment to environmental sustainability and to the highest level of international cooperation in preventing catastrophic climate change.
We should reconcile industrial development with nature, and pursue harmony between humanity and nature to achieve sustainable global development and all-round human development. We should respect nature, follow its ways, and protect it. We should firmly pursue green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable development… We should make our world clean and beautiful by pursuing green and low-carbon development… We must follow the philosophy of harmony between humanity and nature and observance of the laws of nature and pursue a path of sustainable development, so that everyone is able to enjoy a starry sky, lush mountains and fragrant flowers.
Recognising the potentially catastrophic consequences of war in the nuclear age, the white paper also re-states China’s commitment to the principle of no-first-use of nuclear weapons, and to the goal of complete nuclear disarmament.
China actively advocates the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, and it is the only nuclear country that has publicly committed to no-first-use of nuclear weapons, and not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states and nuclear-weapon-free zones.
While “it is normal for countries to have differences”, there is always the possibility for these to be overcome through peaceful means and within a framework of international law. “No conflict is too big to resolve and no ice too thick to break.”
Quoting a number of powerful proverbs from around the world – including the Russian proverb “Together we can weather the storm”, the African proverb “One single pillar is not sufficient to build a house” and the Arabic proverb “If you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk together” – the document notes that the concept of a global community of shared future is not unique to China but runs deep through the history of civilisation. It is a unifying dream of humanity, which can inspire this generation to work seriously towards its realisation.
If the peoples of the world can work together to build a global community of shared future, “emerging countries and established powers can avoid falling into the Thucydides trap” and can “find the right way to get along in mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.” (Thucydides trap is a term popularised by US political scientist Graham Allison, describing a tendency towards war when an emerging power threatens to displace an existing great power).
The white paper describes the ways in which China, particularly over the last decade, has worked tirelessly towards building a global community of shared future. This includes the Belt and Road Initiative, which has already brought tremendous benefits to the people of Pakistan, Laos, Greece, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tajikistan and many other countries. The Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative – proposed by China in 2021, 2022 and 2023 respectively – provide an important framework for helping to meet humanity’s collective need for material prosperity, peace, and cultural progress and mutual learning.
The document concludes with a powerful call to joint action:
In the face of common challenges, no person or country can remain isolated. The only response is to work together in harmony and unity. Only by strengthening coordination and cooperation, and ensuring that the interests of the people of every country will be kept in line with those of all others, can all countries move forward towards a global community of shared future…
When all countries unite in pursuing the cause of common good, plan together, and act together day by day towards the right direction of building a global community of shared future, we can build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world of lasting peace, universal security and shared prosperity, and jointly create a better future for all of humanity.
We reprint below an important article by Liu Jianchao, Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, which first appeared in China Daily.
In his article, Minister Liu outlines the key points and significance of the three major initiatives put forward by President Xi Jinping, namely the Global Development Initiative (GDI), Global Security Initiative (GSI) and Global Civilisation Initiative (GCI). According to Liu, together they promote “global organic unity… in order to build a human community with a shared future.” This unity, “following the trend of human progress and in response to the unprecedented changes in the world, points to the direction in which the world, which now is at a crossroad, should go.”
He further outlines the essence of each initiative, as follows:
“The GDI, from the perspective of growth, answers the question of what development philosophy people need and how to achieve global development. It is aimed at creating the material foundation for a human community with a shared future. The GSI, from the viewpoint of security, focuses on the issue of what sort of security humanity needs and how to achieve universal security. It is aimed at providing security guarantee for the community. The GCI… answers the question of how to view different civilisations and promote exchanges and mutual learning among them. It aims to build the cultural foundation for the human community.”
Targeting issues like humanity’s survival, development, and modernisation, the GDI effectively responds to the strong aspiration and urgent need of the international community, developing countries in particular, to achieve faster economic growth. It also focuses on tackling the unbalanced and inadequate development within and among nations, thus setting the direction for the cause of global development and global cooperation on development.
China’s success in brokering a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and its commitment to promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis through peace talks, are all examples of how we address security dilemmas by following the GSI. Targeting issues such as misunderstandings, estrangement, lack of mutual trust and inclusiveness among civilisations, the GCI aims to achieve dialectical unity based on the commonality and notwithstanding the diversity of civilisations, by seeking the common ground among them while fully respecting that diversity.
Whilst also outlining the influence of traditional Chinese culture and philosophy on the initiatives, Liu particularly emphasises how they are rooted in and embody Marxism.
“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 characters. 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.”
They are also people-centred: “Focusing on the aspiration for a better life of the peoples across the world, the vision and the three global initiatives highlight the overall interests of humanity and strive to improve the common wellbeing of all peoples.
“Moreover, their vision of caring for every individual is self-evident. Responding to the yearning of peoples of different countries for peace, development and cooperation, the vision and the three global initiatives are committed to creating the right conditions to realise and guarantee each individual’s well-rounded development.”
Concluding his arguments, Minister Liu notes:
“The vision of a human community with a shared future and the three global initiatives uphold and apply Marxist stances, viewpoints and methods, and constitute a well-developed system of thought with compelling logic. They reflect China’s keen grasp of the law of history and its civilisation, and its deep reflection on the questions that have emerged in modern times.
“The three global initiatives, which are interconnected, interdependent and mutually reinforcing, provide a strong underpinning for the vision of building a global community with a shared future and offer China’s solution to build a better world.”
In March this year, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, proposed the Global Civilization Initiative at the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting. The GCI was the third global initiative he proposed to promote global organic unity after the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative in order to build a human community with a shared future.
The unity, following the trend of human progress and in response to the unprecedented changes in the world, points to the direction in which the world, which now is at a crossroad, should go. It is a new development of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy and speaks volumes about the sense of history, mission and responsibility, and the global vision of Chinese communists with Xi Jinping as their chief representative. To break new ground in advancing major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, we must get a sound grasp of the scientific nature and the considerable significance of this unity and the inherent relationship between the vision and the three global initiatives.
From the historical perspective, the three global initiatives, reflecting three major themes of human progress, constitute three pillars that support the overarching vision of a human community with a shared future.
In the long river of history, different civilizations, flowing and converging from time to time, have surged forward like waves. Along with the continuous progress of human society and the deepening of globalization, countries have become increasingly connected and inter-dependent, forming a community with a shared future.
People of all countries have come to realize that material abundance, peace and stability and cultural prosperity are what all societies aspire for. To achieve them, we need growth, security and civilization, which complement and reinforce each other.
As an ancient Chinese saying goes, “Only when the granary is full will people learn etiquette; only when people are well fed and clothed will they know honor and shame.” Growth is the basis for security and civilization. Only when all countries prosper can peace last and civilizations thrive.
“Stability brings a country prosperity, while instability leads a country to poverty,” is another ancient Chinese saying. Security is a prerequisite of growth and civilization. Chinese people in ancient times believed that the civilized tend to enjoy safety while the uncivilized are more prone to face troubles and encounter danger. Civilization develops on the basis of economic growth and security. It is the accumulation of a people’s cultural pursuit and carries the imprint of a nation’s history. It has a gradual and imperceptible influence on people’s way of thinking and doing things, providing spiritual strength to the cause of development and security.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, Prime Minister of Nepal, who is also the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), visited China from September 23-30, with his first engagement being to attend the opening of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou and to meet there with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Prachanda has visited China many times, but this was the first visit of his current third term as Prime Minister.
During his visit, Prachanda gave an exclusive interview to the Chinese newspaper, Global Times.
In its preamble, the newspaper described the Nepalese leader as having witnessed abject poverty in his youth and therefore, becoming “determined to change his country’s corruption and a ruling exploitative class, Prachanda embarked on a revolutionary path to transform Nepal’s destiny.” It added: “As a staunch socialist and a long-time member of the Communist Party, Prachanda has deep ties to China.”
The interview features a detailed overview of the economic situation in Nepal and the current stage and prospects of the country’s relations with China in the economic and social fields. Prachanda tells his interviewers that:
“Nepal urgently requires to create more jobs in order to address the unemployment problem, enhance productivity, expand the output of exportable goods and services, explore new markets for export, control inflation, and maintain trade balance. These objectives stand as my foremost priorities.”
He then adds: “China has ascended to become the world’s second-largest economy, showcasing remarkable achievements in the socio-economic transformation of its society. Notably, China serves as a significant pillar of economic support for Nepal. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and China in 1955, China has played an important role in assisting Nepal’s infrastructure and development endeavours. Many of these projects hold immense importance for our nation’s progress. As China continues to advance, its support and investment in Nepal are continuously growing. Nepal views China’s development trajectory as an opportunity, with the BRI [Belt and Road Initiative] serving as a suitable platform for enhancing trans-Himalayan multidimensional connectivity.”
One key element of the two countries’ cooperation, which holds the potential to be transformatory for the Nepalese economy, is a planned railway link. On this, Prachanda notes:
“The primary concern associated with this project is how quickly we can bring it to fruition. You must be aware that the construction of this project requires a substantial amount of resources that Nepal alone cannot afford. In such a situation, we have no choice but to rely on external funding. However, we also share concerns that the size of the loan for this project and terms and conditions should be manageable for the Nepali economy.”
Asked whether he believes that socialism is still relevant in Nepal, the veteran communist leader replies:
“Nepal’s constitution defines Nepal as a socialism-oriented state. In my view, socialism and Chairman Mao’s ideas and teachings remain relevant to transform Nepal into a socialist country.
“Under the socialism and the leadership of Mao, the Communist Party of China (CPC) established the People’s Republic of China. The CPC developed its unique path to socialism with Chinese characteristics.
“Similarly, Nepal will determine its own path as a socialism-oriented country that suits its historical political development and current geopolitical realities. It’s not about Nepal imitating China’s socialism and Chairman Mao Zedong. China’s socialism and Mao’s ideas offer us valuable insights to improve the socio-economic status of the oppressed and economically disadvantaged class of people.”
He is also asked whether he believes he has realised the dreams and goals he had when he first fought in the revolution, drawing this reply:
“I should say our dreams have been partially realised. Politically, the country has overthrown a centuries-old monarchy and has been transformed into a republic. This would not have been possible without our ‘People’s War.’ Now, in the eyes of the constitution and laws, all citizens are equal. The country has adopted inclusive policies protecting the basic rights of people from all walks of life. From the highest level such as parliament and other constitutional bodies to the lowest level of political representations such as ward committees, from government institutions to cooperatives, from recruitments in government jobs to student admissions in colleges, certain reservations have been ensured for people from marginalised groups like women, the economically poor, and the underprivileged classes. This remarkable achievement was institutionalised through the constitution promulgated in 2015.
“Despite achievements made in several areas, I must admit that much remains to be done in the economic sector. Economic, technical, and educational advancements take a longer time to show visible results. To achieve progress in these sectors, we need consistent, long-term efforts, and most importantly national consensus.”
We reprint below the full text of Comrade Prachanda’s interview.
We also reprint the full text of the joint statement between China and Nepal, which was released following Prachanda’s talks with his Chinese counterpart, Premier Li Qiang, in Beijing on September 26.
The statement notes that both countries agreed that, “since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1955, China and Nepal have withstood changes of the international situation, always upheld mutual respect, equality, solidarity, mutual assistance and win-win cooperation, setting a fine example of friendly interaction between countries with different social systems and of different sizes… China firmly supports Nepal in upholding its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and respects and supports Nepal’s independent choice of social system and development path that suits its national conditions.”
The statement reviews in detail all areas of bilateral cooperation and addresses ways to advance them in a smoother and more expeditious manner. It adds:
“The two sides commended their mutual support in fighting COVID-19 together. The two sides expressed satisfaction over the completion and handover of the China-aided project of upgrading and renovating the Civil Service Hospital in Nepal and are ready to further strengthen health and medical cooperation, including expediting the installation of a Bone Marrow Transplant Service at the B.P. Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital in Nepal.”
China and Nepal also stressed “the importance to uphold true multilateralism, promote greater democracy in international relations, and make global governance more just and equitable. The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation within the framework of the United Nations and other multilateral mechanisms to uphold the common interest of developing countries. The two sides support the multilateral trading system and oppose protectionism. They will work together to make economic globalisation more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all, promote global and regional peace, security, development and prosperity, and build a community with a shared future for humanity.”
The following articles were originally published by Global Times and the Xinhua News Agency.
Nepal to maintain non-aligned policy in friendly relations with neighbors, hopes China’s strengths will help bolster economy: Nepalese PM
At the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda commenced his five-day state visit to China from September 23 to 30, his first visit to China since the start of his third term as the Prime Minister of Nepal. The 69-year-old is a legendary figure in Nepal. Born in a poor Brahmin farming family in Pokhara in 1954, he witnessed abject poverty in his youth. Determined to change his country’s corruption and a ruling exploitative class, Prachanda embarked on a revolutionary path to transform Nepal’s destiny. In 2008, he became the first prime minister of Nepal after the abolition of the monarchy. In 2016, he assumed the office of prime minister for a second term, and in November 2022, this veteran of Nepalese politics made a comeback for a third term. As a staunch socialist and a long-time member of the Communist Party, Prachanda has deep ties to China. After assuming office as the first term as prime minister of Nepal, the first country he visited was China. In 2008, he also came to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
On 22 August 2023, the Chinese Embassy in the UK held a symposium themed The Communist Party of China and the Building of a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind, to which a range of political parties, organisations and individuals were invited. Three people attended the symposium on behalf of Friends of Socialist China, at which Ambassador Zheng Zeguang, Minister Zhao Fei, Minister Wang Qi and other senior diplomats introduced Xi Jinping’s concepts in relation to building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Ambassador Zheng and the ministers from the Chinese Embassy provided valuable reports on China’s major foreign policy initiatives directed at supporting global peace, prosperity and friendship: the Belt and Road Initiative, the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilisation Initiative. The presentations were followed by contributions from Robert Griffiths of the Communist Party of Britain; Ella Rule of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist); Andy Brooks of the New Communist Party; Keith Bennett of Friends of Socialist China; and British scholars Martin Albrow, Frances Wood and Martin Jacques. The event concluded with a wide-ranging discussion, to which Carlos Martinez and Francisco Dominguez both contributed on behalf of Friends of Socialist China.
The Chinese Embassy in the UK Holds a Symposium on “The Communist Party of China and the Building of a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind”
On 22 August 2023, the Chinese Embassy in the UK held a symposium themed “The Communist Party of China and the Building of a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind”, which was attended by representatives of various political parties and people from different sectors in the UK. At the symposium, H.E. Ambassador Zheng Zeguang, Minister Zhao Fei, Minister Wang Qi and other senior diplomats at the Embassy introduced the important thought of General Secretary Xi Jinping on Party building and the important contributions made by the CPC to building a community with a shared future for mankind. Participants from the British side made remarks respectively, sharing their understanding of the tenets and significance of the relevant philosophies of the CPC.
Ambassador Zheng pointed out that to understand China, one must understand the CPC. The key to China’s great achievements to date lies fundamentally in the strong leadership of the CPC and its Party building. Since the 18th Party Congress, the Chinese communists with General Secretary Xi Jinping as their chief representative, have attached great importance to the innovation of Party building on practical, theoretical, institutional and other aspects, and formed the important thought of General Secretary Xi Jinping on Party building.
This important thought is a scientific summary of the theoretical development and practical experience of Party building in the new era. It represents a major theoretical innovation that answers the call for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. It has given sensible answers to what kind of Marxist party exercising long-term governance we should develop in the new era, and how we should go about achieving it. This innovation has enabled the CPC to always remain at the forefront of the times, brimming with vigour and vitality.
Ambassador Zheng said that the CPC has led the Chinese people in a concerted effort to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, thus completing the First Centenary Goal, to embark on a new journey to build China into a modern socialist country in all respects and advance towards the Second Centenary Goal, and to promote the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernisation.
The Sixteenth Forum of the World Association for Political Economy (WAPE) took place from 25 to 27 September 2023 in Fuzhou, China, co-organised by Fujian Normal University. The theme of the forum was Chinese modernisaton and the prospects of world modernisation. Although unable to attend in person, Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez was invited to submit a video presentation.
Carlos’s presentation, entitled Capitalist and socialist modernisation, takes up a number of questions: What is modernisation? Is modernisation desirable? How has modernisation been achieved in the West? What is China’s modernisation plan? What are the unique characteristics of Chinese modernisation? How does socialist modernisation differ from capitalist modernisation? What effect does China’s modernisation on the global journey towards development and socialism?
The video and the text of Carlos’s presentation are available below.
What is modernisation, and is it necessary?
Modernisation is a somewhat nebulous concept. It means different things to different societies at different times. By definition, its parameters are constantly changing.
In the broadest sense, it means adapting to the latest, most advanced ideas and techniques for meeting humanity’s material and cultural needs.
In sociology, there is more or less an equals sign between modernisation and industrialisation, and is generally held to begin with Britain’s Industrial Revolution. We can think of it essentially as the transition from ‘developing country’ status to ‘developed country’ status; from a predominantly rural society to a predominantly urban society; from a technologically backward society to a technologically advanced society.
Is this desirable? Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder, but most people consider modernisation to be desirable, because it enables higher living standards for the masses of the people.
With modernised industry, production techniques, communication methods, transport systems, energy systems and healthcare strategies, there exists the possibility of providing a healthy, meaningful and dignified life to all, such that each individual has reliable access to a healthy diet, to decent housing, to clothing, to education, to healthcare, to a vibrant cultural, social and intellectual life, and to fulfilling work. In short, modernisation makes it possible to attend to people’s basic human rights.
The fruits of modernisation have thus far been divided extremely unequally: the process of industrialisation in North America, Europe and Japan has created previously unimaginable wealth for a few, but this has been accompanied by desperate poverty and alienation for significant numbers. However, modernisation creates a material basis for common prosperity, far beyond what a pre-modern economy can offer.
Specifically in the case of China, the government has set a goal of “basically realising socialist modernisation by 2035”, and has defined some parameters for this:
Reaching a per-capita GDP on a par with that of the mid-level developed countries such as Spain or the Czech Republic
Joining the ranks of the world’s most innovative countries in the realm of science and technology
Becoming a global leader in education, public health, culture and sport
Substantially growing the middle-income group as a proportion of the population
Guaranteeing equitable access to basic public services
Ensuring modern standards of living in rural areas
Steadily lowering greenhouse gas emissions and protecting biodiversity, so as to restore a healthy balance between humans and the natural environment
If achieved, these aims will constitute a significant – indeed world-historic – improvement in the living standards of the Chinese people, and will blaze a trail for other developing countries.
How did the West modernise?
But is China doing anything new? After all, it won’t be the first country to achieve modernisation.
In mainstream modernisation theory in the West, the dominant narrative is that the countries of Western Europe, North America and Japan achieved their advances via a combination of good governance, liberal democracy, free-market economics, scientific genius, geographical serendipity and a dash of entrepreneurial spirit.
Historical investigation reveals a considerably different story.
The most important precursors of the West’s modernisation are colonialism, slavery and genocide. The conquest of the Americas, the settlement of Australia, the transatlantic slave trade, the colonisation of India, the rape of Africa, the Opium Wars, the theft of Hong Kong, and more. The profits of colonialism and the slave trade were essential for propelling the West’s industrialisation, as was so eloquently uncovered in Eric Williams’ classic 1944 work, Capitalism and Slavery.
As Karl Marx famously wrote in Volume 1 of Capital: “The discovery of gold and silver in America, the enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalled the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.”
Such is the ugly truth of European modernisation. And the story is not so different in the United States. Many of the so-called founding fathers of that country were slave-owners, and they established a slave-owners’ society. They went to war against the indigenous peoples and against Mexico in order to expand their territory.
In the 20th century, having established their domination over the Americas, they constructed a neocolonial global system that is still in place to a significant degree, imposing American hegemony on the world.
A network of 800 foreign military bases. NATO. An enormous nuclear arsenal. Genocidal wars waged on Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya. Systems of economic coercion and unilateral sanctions.
This is the global system of violence that has facilitated and accompanied North American modernisation.
Japan’s rapid rise was facilitated first by its brutal expansionist project in East Asia, particularly Korea and China, and then through adaptation to and integration with the US-led imperialist system, the much-vaunted ‘rules-based international order’.
South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan Province constitute the small handful of non-imperialist territories that have been able to achieve modernisation, but these are special cases. Their shared proximity to China and the DPRK is no coincidence; they have been inducted into the imperialist club by the US, to play a dual role as regional policemen and living advertisements for capitalism on the frontline of its confrontation with socialism. Both roles rely on at least a certain degree of prosperity for a section of the population.
There is no shortage of countries of the Global South which have attempted to apply the “liberal democracy plus free market capitalism” formula, but none have been successful in modernising. Indeed the West’s prescriptions for (and interference in) developing countries have largely led to chaos and disaster.
The contrast between the West’s success in modernising and the Global South’s failure has fed into a largely unspoken but widespread and pernicious racism: an assumption that white people are somehow inherently more advanced than everyone else.
This supremacism is allowed to fester, because in addition to dividing working class and oppressed communities, it provides convenient cover for the reality that capitalist modernisation is built on the foundations of colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism.
As Kwame Nkrumah commented, “in the era of neocolonialism, under-development is still attributed not to exploitation but to inferiority, and racial undertones remain closely interwoven with the class struggle.”
How is China modernising?
China’s journey towards modernisation starts in 1949 with the founding of the People’s Republic, the early construction of socialist industry, land reform and the extirpation of feudalism and the landowning class, and the provision of at least basic levels of education and healthcare services to the whole population.
In 1963, Premier Zhou Enlai, supported by Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping and Chen Yun, first raised the question of the Four Modernisations: of agriculture, industry, national defence, and science and technology. Despite a complex political environment this goal was revived in the early 1970s, and, with the launch of reform and opening up in 1978, China accelerated its pursuit of those goals, and ushered in an era of rapid development of the productive forces and improvement in the people’s living standards.
China’s journey of modernisation has evolved again in recent years with the pursuit of the second centenary goal: of building a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful by 2049.
China is on a fast track to becoming an advanced, developed country, and this process stands in stark contrast to the West’s modernisation process:
First, China’s modernisation is built on the efforts of the Chinese people rather than on war, colonialism and slavery.
Second, its fruits are to be shared by everybody, not dominated by the wealthy. As General Secretary Xi Jinping said in his work report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, China’s modernisation is “the modernisation of common prosperity for all.”
Even today, not everyone in the West is able to enjoy the fruits of modernisation. Consider for example the US, where tens of millions lack access to healthcare; where over half a million people are homeless; where life expectancy for African Americans is six years less than for their white counterparts; where – according to the US Department of Education – over half of adults read below a sixth-grade level.
Third, China’s modernisation is becoming a green modernisation, fuelled by clean energy, careful not to destroy the planet that sustains us. Again quoting Xi Jinping’s work report, “it is the modernisation of harmony between humanity and nature.”
Capitalist modernisation has had a disastrous impact on the environment. With 4 percent of the global population, the US alone is responsible for 25 percent of historic greenhouse gas emissions. The simple fact is that humanity literally cannot afford for China’s modernisation to follow this pattern.
Socialist modernisation will become the ‘new normal’
The West’s modernisation path is not open to the countries of the Global South, and it wouldn’t be desirable even if it were. Today, the road of capitalist modernisation is closed, so how is China able to modernise?
China does not have an empire, formal or informal, but it does have a particular advantage of being a socialist state, a “people’s democratic dictatorship based on the alliance of workers and peasants”, to use Mao Zedong’s expression. Such a state can use its power to direct economic activity towards the goals of the social classes it represents.
Thus the specificities of China’s modernisation – the commitment to common prosperity, to ending poverty and underdevelopment, to preventing climate collapse and to peaceful development – are a function of China’s political system, its revolutionary history, and the leadership of the CPC.
At a meeting of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2016, Xi Jinping made this point very succinctly: “Our greatest strength lies in our socialist system, which enables us to pool resources in a major mission. This is the key to our success.”
Or as Deng Xiaoping famously commented in 1984: “the superiority of the socialist system is demonstrated, in the final analysis, by faster and greater development of the productive forces than under the capitalist system.”
In a world still largely dominated by capitalism – and an intellectual world still dominated by bourgeois ideology – it’s easy to forget this system’s fundamental and irreconcilable contradictions, which Marx identified with such clarity and profundity 150 years ago; contradictions which lead inexorably to inefficiency, stagnation and crisis. A political economy directed at the production of exchange values rather than use values can never result in common prosperity.
In China, the capitalist class is not the ruling class and is therefore not able to direct the country’s resources according to its own prerogatives. At the top level, resources are allocated by the state, in accordance with long-term planning carried out by, and in the interests of, the people.
This is what is enabling a new type of modernisation, which is blazing a trail for socialist and developing countries the world over.
The fruits of this process are being shared with the world, via mechanisms such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative, which are creating a path for the countries of the Global South to break out of underdevelopment, even where they lack China’s resources and political advantages.
As such, China’s evolving modernisation has great historic significance, and offers valuable lessons for the world. It is an embodiment of historical materialism in the current era: capitalism has long since exhausted its ability to fundamentally drive human progress, and therefore the future lies with socialism.
In this episode of the CGTN series Leaders Talk, filmed in the South African city of Johannesburg immediately following the BRICS Summit and the China/Africa Leaders Dialogue held in its margins in August, Wang Guan interviews President Macky Sall of Senegal.
President Sall sets out a strong case for the reform of international institutions formed in the wake of World War II. The world has changed greatly since then and reform is demanded by Africa and the Global South as we are moving towards a multipolar world.
Senegal was the first country in West Africa to sign up for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) advanced by President Xi Jinping. President Sall extols his personal and friendly relationship with his Chinese counterpart and is full of praise for China’s relations with Africa.
China, he notes, once suffered aggression from the colonial powers, so today it shows empathy and humility in its dealings with others. Citing a recent discussion he held with French President Emmanuel Macron, he said that his message to Africa’s other partners is that we want the same from them. There is now a generation, including himself, born after the end of colonial rule, and they have a new mentality.
Turning to questions of development financing and foreign debt, Sall makes the point that China’s financing is based on requests made by Africa and priorities set by Africa. Refuting ideas of a ‘Chinese debt trap’, he notes that Africa’s debt to China is only some 12% of its total. Moreover, the interest rate is low, at a maximum of 2.5%, with a minimum repayment period of 20 years, and a grace period before payments become due that is generally longer than that offered by others.
Furthermore, citing a China-built expressway in his country as an example, because China’s projects are built quickly, they can often be generating revenue for a few years before any loan repayments fall due.
The full interview with President Macky Sall is embedded below.
In the following op-ed, Erik Solheim – President of the Green Belt and Road Institute and former UN Under-Secretary-General – reflects on the first decade of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Solheim observes that “China has signed more than 200 Belt and Road cooperation agreements with 152 countries and 32 international organizations”, accounting for three-quarters of the world’s population, and practically all developing countries. The BRI has “brought huge benefit to developing countries, lifting millions of people out of extreme poverty.” For that reason, the author considers that the BRI is, without doubt, “the most important international initiative that serves as a global cooperation platform to reshape global development.”
Solheim describes a number of BRI projects around the world which are aiding low-carbon development and connectivity. He cites the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway and the Addis Ababa – Djibouti Railway as “shining examples that have helped African connectivity and green transformation.”
The author introduces a series of interesting suggestions for further enhancing green development along the Belt and Road, and concludes by expressing his hope that the BRI’s second decade will be as successful as its first.
This piece was first published on CGTN on 19 September 2023.
In February this year, I had an exciting visit to Bracell in Brazil. It is the most modern and greenest pulp factory in the world, a few hours from the megacity of Sao Paulo. The operations are purely fuelled by renewable energy and forests are used in a sustainable way. It underlines the South-South cooperation in the new global era. Bracell operates fully in Brazil, producing 3 million metric tons of pulp a year and creating about 6,000 jobs for the Brazilians. The mother company is the Indonesian RGE, which set up this factory in Brazil as part of its global product schemes. China has a prominent role to play as well, since the project is funded by Chinese banks and its pulp will primarily supply the Chinese market for paper and tissue. From Brazil to Indonesia and China, Bracell showcases a new global development cooperation landscape, bringing together three of the most important developing nations in the new global economy.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS and the Belt and Road Initiative are among the new mechanisms to unlock the potential of such South-South cooperation. And there is no doubt that the Belt and Road is the most important international initiative that serves as a global cooperation platform to reshape global development. Since it was unveiled in 2013 by President Xi Jinping, it has progressed with robust vigor and vitality. This year marks the 10th anniversary and it is right on time to sum up what has been achieved and to look ahead.
Looking back, the first decade of the Belt and Road cooperation has been a resounding success. Its great achievements are generally three-fold.
First, the sheer scale. As of June, China signed more than 200 Belt and Road cooperation agreements with 152 countries and 32 international organizations. Together, they account for about 40% of the world’s economy and 75% of global population. With a handful of exceptions, all developing countries are part of the initiative. And in different countries, the Belt and Road takes on different forms. It is by far the most important investment venture of our time. It has brought huge benefit to developing countries, lifting millions of people out of extreme poverty.
Second, the great contribution of green corridors. The China-Laos Railway has delivered more than 4 million tons of cargo since it was put into operation in 2021, hugely helping landlocked Laos to link to global markets in China and Europe and increase cross-border tourism. Indonesia’s first high-speed train, the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, reached 350 km per hour during the joint commissioning and test phase in June this year, reducing the journey between the two huge cities from over 3 hours to 40 minutes. The Mombasa-Nairobi Railway and the Addis Ababa – Djibouti Railway are shining examples that have helped African connectivity and green transformation. The green corridors have not only helped facilitate transportation and green mobility in developing countries, but also greatly boosted trade, the tourism industry and social development.
Third, the commitment to green development. In September 2021, President Xi Jinping announced the decision to halt all Chinese overseas coal investment. The move reflected a strong determination to advance green transition and has had a profound effect in driving other developing countries to a green path and high-quality development. Interestingly it happened at a time when many Belt and Road countries like Kenya, Bangladesh and Pakistan also decided to abandon coal.
Looking ahead, China may need to consider new steps to further green the BRI to ensure its sustainability and continued progress.
First, it is important to designate the BRI as a major vehicle for green investments. China has taken a leading position in nearly all renewable technologies. BYD is now the biggest electric vehicle company in the world. LONGi is the world’s biggest solar enterprise. China Three Gorges Corporation is a global leader in hydropower development and operation. Envision ranks as one of the world’s largest wind turbine companies. CATL has led the way in battery making. These companies have huge interests in and abilities to invest overseas. BYD recently said that it will invest over 620 million US dollars in an industrial complex to make electric cars in Brazil and LONGi has massive investment in Malaysia to produce solar products.
Second, efforts can be made to optimize the green corridors. The Mombasa-Nairobi Railway can potentially connect East Africa all the way to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, landlocked countries that have beautiful landscapes and are desperately longing to become attractive tourist destinations, as well as to be linked to ports and thus global markets. Similarly, the Jakarta-Bandung Railway could continue to reach Surabaya, the second-largest city of Indonesia, with fantastic landscapes and historical sights. I am glad to see that China and Indonesia have discussed this potential extension after Premier Li Qiang took a test ride on the bullet train recently. In addition, it is crucial to promote collaboration among countries involved in the Kunming-Singapore Railway Network to complete the project in an efficient manner, so that the countries can benefit from a most advanced transport system, boosting tourism and increasing economic integration. The Kunming-Singapore rail web will have a tremendous impact on the region’s connectivity and prosperity.
Third, the BRI should become a platform dedicated to exchanging investment and best practice for nature protection. President Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia in November last year. Saudi Arabia and Iran were invited this August to be new members of the BRICS. The Chinese support to peace has brought a very positive influence on the Middle East. There is huge space for cooperation between China and the Middle East on desert control and water management. The Ninth Kubuqi International Desert Forum opened last month in the city of Ordos, and lots of discussion emphasized that China’s best practice of desert control can be shared with the Middle East. By the same token, presidents of five Central Asian nations met with President Xi Jinping in Xi’an this May at the China-Central Asia Summit, which resulted in an inspiring declaration on environmental cooperation. China’s success in water management and protecting wild animals such as giant pandas, Tibetan antelopes and snow leopards shows the way for nature protection overseas.
Fourth, people-to-people bonds should be enhanced. One serious consequence of the COVID pandemic is the breakdown in the texture of global connectivity. Relationships and connections suffered an unprecedented challenge. The Belt and Road can play a significant role in creating a better global atmosphere and fighting stupid ideas of zero-sum and decoupling. The Belt and Road can serve as a forum to strengthen people-to-people exchanges, bridging cultural gaps and promoting understanding among peoples. I recently worked with Zhejiang Province to set up a tourist office in Europe, which will function as a window into the splendid Song Dynasty as well as the tea and silk culture of this historical province. The forthcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou is another example of bringing people together. Tea and sport are great catalysts to unite people from diverse regions and backgrounds.
The Belt and Road ten-year fruitful journey demonstrates that it is not about unreachable visionary or hollow dreams, but about determination and real action. It has met the inaccessible development hopes of many developing countries and has brought concrete benefits to people and communities. Let’s hope that, over the next decade, the Belt and Road will continue to be a major driver in global green development and bringing people together across continents.
In this episode of the CGTN series Leaders Talk, Wang Guan interviews Évariste Ndayishimiye, the President of Burundi. The interview was filmed in Shanghai during the Burundian leader’s recent state visit to China.
Burundi is a small, landlocked country in east central Africa, sharing land borders with Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. It was colonised by Germany during the imperialist “scramble for Africa”. Following World War I, it was handed to Belgium under a League of Nations mandate and after World War II was made a so-called United Nations Trust Territory, finally winning national independence in 1962.
Burundi established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China the year after it obtained independence, making this year the 60th anniversary of their bilateral ties.
They have been 60 years of fruitful cooperation, leading President Xi Jinping, in his meeting with his Burundian counterpart, to describe the relationship of one of all-weather friendship. For his part, President Ndayishimiye, who was making his first visit to China as president, but who has previously visited the country on a number of occasions, describes the relationship as one of friendship, solidarity and brotherhood. If there is one country, he says, that always stands with Burundi, whether in good times or bad, it’s China, which is always the first to come to his country’s support in times of difficulty.
Whenever he visits China, Ndayishimiye is keen to delve deeply into the lessons provided by China’s development. His ambition is for Burundi to become an emerging country by 2040 and a developed country by 2060. China, he notes, has become a global power in a very short time, so it is possible. He seeks to learn from China by reorganising his own country to work for the people’s well-being.
Ninety per cent of Burundi’s population currently works in agriculture, so this sector is also the foundation of its collaboration with China. Since 2009, under the auspices of FOCAC (the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation), agricultural experts from China have introduced various hybrid rice strains to Burundi, leading to a huge increase in the country’s food production. President Ndayishimiye praises the role of Chinese experts, who “work with our people shoulder-to-shoulder on the ground.”
However, China’s assistance to Burundi does not stop at agriculture, but also embraces such sectors as healthcare, education and infrastructure, including energy, roads and the expansion of the international airport in the country’s largest city and former capital, Bujumbura.
Burundi’s president is scathing about the record and legacy of European colonialism in his country. “Burundi is like a big family, but the colonisers’ strategy was to divide in order to rule over the resistant people.” He contrasts this to China and utterly refutes any suggestion of “Chinese colonialism” in Africa. He has studied Chinese history and the country was itself once a victim of colonialism. A devout Christian, the president invokes words from the Bible when he insists that China does not believe in doing unto others what has been done unto itself. Interestingly, almost the identical words can be found in the sayings of the Chinese sage Confucius. According to Ndayishimiye, the colonial powers are simply judging China by their own standards.
The full interview with President Évariste Ndayishimiye is embedded below.
Alongside the main BRICS Summit, held in the South African city of Johannesburg, a ‘BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus Dialogue’ was held on the sidelines on August 24
Hosted by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the event was attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Russian President Vladimir Putin participated online.
More than 60 leaders and representatives of African countries and other emerging markets and developing countries, as well as United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President of the New Development Bank Dilma Rousseff, and leaders of other international and regional organizations, also attended.
Xi Jinping delivered remarks at the dialogue under the title, ‘Hand in Hand Toward a Community of Shared Development’. He began by noting that:
“Development embodies our people’s aspiration for a better life. It is the top priority for developing countries and a timeless theme for humanity. As the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is due for a midterm review this year, the delivery of most Sustainable Development Goals remains slow. This is a cause for concern, and the global development endeavour faces formidable challenges.”
Xi pointed out that China has invariably stood in solidarity with fellow developing countries through thick and thin. The country has been and will always remain a member of the developing countries. Since holding the first High-Level Dialogue on Global Development last year, China has set up a Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund, with a total funding of four billion US dollars, and Chinese financial institutions will soon set up a special fund of 10 billion dollars dedicated to the implementation of the Global Development Initiative (GDI).
“Over the past decade, China has provided a large amount of development assistance to Africa and helped build more than 6,000 km of railway, over 6,000 km of highway, and 80-plus large power facilities on the continent. Going forward, China will carry out more cooperation with African countries to support Africa in enhancing its own capacity for development. Specific measures will be taken, such as providing satellite mapping data products, implementing a Smart Customs cooperation partnership, and launching with UNESCO a ‘GDI for Africa’s Future’ action plan, to support sustainable development in Africa.”
The following is the full text of President Xi’s remarks. It was originally published by the Xinhua News Agency.
Hand in Hand Toward a Community of Shared Development
Remarks by H.E. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China At the BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus Dialogue Johannesburg, August 24, 2023
Your Excellency President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa,
Let me begin by thanking President Ramaphosa for preparing the Dialogues. I am delighted to join you all in this discussion on global development.
Development embodies our people’s aspiration for a better life. It is the top priority for developing countries and a timeless theme for humanity. As the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is due for a midterm review this year, the delivery of most Sustainable Development Goals remains slow. This is a cause for concern, and the global development endeavor faces formidable challenges.
The international community must pursue the larger interests of all countries, respond to people’s concerns, and restore development to the center of the international agenda. The representation and voice of developing countries in global governance should be increased, and developing countries be supported in realizing better development. It is also important to uphold true multilateralism, forge a global development partnership, and create a secure and stable international environment for shared development.
Prior to the opening of the main BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, a BRICS Business Forum was held on August 22, marking ten years since the birth of the BRICS Business Council, also in South Africa.
In an address to the forum’s closing ceremony, which was read on his behalf by Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, President Xi Jinping, noting that, “changes in the world, in our times and in history are unfolding in ways like never before, bringing human society to a critical juncture”, posed the following questions:
“Should we pursue cooperation and integration, or just succumb to division and confrontation? Should we work together to maintain peace and stability, or just sleepwalk into the abyss of a new Cold War? Should we embrace prosperity, openness and inclusiveness, or allow hegemonic and bullying acts to throw us into depression? Should we deepen mutual trust through exchanges and mutual learning, or allow hubris and prejudice to blind conscience? The course of history will be shaped by the choices we make.”
The Chinese leader noted that humanity has “achieved notable economic development and social progress over the past decades, and that is because we have drawn lessons from the two world wars and the Cold War… and embarked on the right path of openness and development for win-win cooperation… What people in various countries long for is definitely not a new Cold War or a small exclusive bloc; what they want is an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys enduring peace, universal security and common prosperity.”
Stressing the need to promote development and prosperity for all, President Xi continued: “Many emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs) have come to what they are today after shaking off the yoke of colonialism. With perseverance, hard work and huge sacrifices, we succeeded in gaining independence and have been exploring development paths suited to our national conditions. Everything we do is to deliver better lives to our people. But some country, obsessed with maintaining its hegemony, has gone out of its way to cripple the EMDCs. Whoever is developing fast becomes its target of containment; whoever is catching up becomes its target of obstruction. But this is futile, as I have said more than once that blowing out others’ lamp will not bring light to oneself.
“Every country has the right to development, and the people in every country have the freedom to pursue a happy life. With that in mind, I have proposed the Global Development Initiative, with the goal of promoting development for all by the international community and boosting the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Highlighting the increasing role of the BRICS countries in the global economy, the Chinese leader noted: “The collective rise of EMDCs represented by BRICS is fundamentally changing the global landscape. EMDCs have contributed as high as 80 percent of global growth in the past 20 years, and their share in the global GDP has increased from 24 percent 40 years ago to more than 40 percent.”
Xi again expressed China’s support for more countries to join the BRICS mechanism, while noting that this is not a matter of pressing countries to take sides or fomenting confrontation:
“The gathering between BRICS countries and more than 50 other countries in South Africa today is not an exercise of asking countries to take sides, nor an exercise of creating bloc confrontation. Rather, it is an endeavor to expand the architecture of peace and development. I am glad to note that over 20 countries are knocking on the door of BRICS. China hopes to see more joining the BRICS cooperation mechanism.”
We reprint below the full text of President Xi’s speech. It was originally carried on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Your Excellency President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, Members of the Business Community, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
I wish to extend my warm congratulations on the success of the BRICS Business Forum in South Africa!
Ten years ago here in South Africa, we BRICS leaders witnessed the birth of the BRICS Business Council. Since then, the Council has stayed true to its founding mission. It has seized opportunities to deepen cooperation, contributing to economic and social development of BRICS countries and helping sustain global economic growth.
President Mohamed Irfaan Ali of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana was one of a number of international leaders to combine an official visit to China with attending the opening ceremony of the 31st summer edition of the FISU World University Games, held from late July in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu.
President Ali met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Chengdu on July 28.
Xi Jinping pointed out that China and Guyana, though far apart, have enjoyed a time-honored friendship. Guyana was the earliest country in the [English-speaking] Caribbean region to recognize the one-China principle and establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Last year, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Guyana was celebrated. China and Guyana should be good friends who trust and count on each other, and both countries should share opportunities, meet challenges, seek cooperation and advance development together, so as to promote the building of a more close-knit China-Guyana community with a shared future, the Chinese President said, adding that China is ready to enhance synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030, and to elevate the level of high-quality BRI cooperation between the two countries.
Xi Jinping also congratulated Guyana on being elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2024-2025 term. China supports Guyana in playing a greater role in international and regional affairs, and is ready to work together to practice true multilateralism, safeguard the common interests of the numerous developing countries, jointly tackle global challenges, including climate change, food security and energy security, and build a human community with a shared future together.
Xi Jinping added that during his first visit to the Caribbean region in 2013, he joined leaders of nine [English-speaking] Caribbean countries having established diplomatic relations with China in establishing a comprehensive cooperative partnership between China and the Caribbean countries. China, he said, has always supported the Caribbean countries in seeking strength through unity, and pursuing development and prosperity, and is ready to work with the Caribbean countries to build an even closer community with a shared future. He expressed the hope that Guyana will continue to play an active role in promoting the development of relations between China and the Caribbean countries.
President Ali said that the past 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Guyana and China have been years of friendship, cooperation, and mutual support. Guyana firmly abides by the one-China principle, highly admires President Xi Jinping’s outstanding leadership, and highly values China’s international influence. China, the Guyanese President said, has played an important role in the economic and social development of Guyana and the Caribbean region, not only by sharing its experience, but also by providing valuable assistance for Guyana and other regional countries, including in developing infrastructure, connectivity, medicine and health. Guyana hopes to carry out close cooperation with China to better address global challenges such as energy, climate change and food security.
The Guyanese head of state also met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Beijing on July 30.
Li said that since the establishment of diplomatic ties more than five decades ago, China and Guyana have always treated each other with mutual respect and equality. The political mutual trust between the two sides has become even firmer as time goes by, he said, adding that their practical cooperation has achieved fruitful results, setting an example of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation between countries with different social systems, histories and cultures. China stands ready to work with Guyana to promote relations between China and Caribbean countries, meet global challenges together, safeguard the common interests of developing countries, and improve international fairness and justice.
Reporting on the visit, the Hong Kong newspaper, South China Morning Post, said that China and Guyana had agreed to strengthen their cooperation in agriculture, energy and mining, as well as in education and culture. Under an agreement signed last September, Sinopharm International was building six new regional hospitals in different parts of Guyana and China had also built roads, hotels and airports in the country.
Among the other foreign leaders who attended the opening ceremony of the World University Games, alongside President Xi Jinping, were the Presidents of Indonesia, Mauritania and Burundi, as well as the Prime Minister of Georgia.
Xi Jinping Meets with Guyanese President Mohamed Irfaan Ali
On the morning of July 28, 2023, President Xi Jinping met in Chengdu with Guyanese President Mohamed Irfaan Ali who is in China to attend the opening ceremony of the 31st summer edition of the FISU World University Games and pay a visit to the country.
Xi Jinping pointed out that China and Guyana, though far apart, have enjoyed a time-honored friendship. Guyana was the earliest country in the Caribbean region to recognize the one-China principle and establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Last year, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Guyana was celebrated. In recent years, Guyana has witnessed rapid economic and national development, and China is advancing Chinese modernization on all fronts through high-quality development. China and Guyana should be good friends who trust and count on each other, and both countries should share opportunities, meet challenges, seek cooperation and advance development together, so as to promote the building of a more close-knit China-Guyana community with a shared future.
Liu Jianchao, Minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) recently visited South Africa to attend the BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue, which was organised by the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa under the theme of ‘BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism’. This was one of the preparatory international gatherings being held in South Africa as it prepares to host the BRICS Summit later in August. Reflecting the trend of more countries seeking to join BRCS, the meeting was attended by leading members of 41 political parties.
Addressing the meeting, which was held on July 18, Liu said, in the past 17 years, the BRICS countries have turned many seemingly impossible things into reality step by step, becoming an important force for maintaining world peace and stability, revitalising the cause of global development, and promoting the progress of human civilisation. He added that the the Chinese side firmly supports the deepening and expansion of the “BRICS+” cooperation mode, and supports the efforts to advance the BRICS expansion process, and to enhance the representativeness and influence of the BRICS, so as to gather more strength for maintaining world peace and promoting common development.
The previous day, Liu had met with Fikile Mbalula, Secretary-General of the ANC. Liu said that, since the establishment of the relationship between the CPC and the ANC 40 years ago, both parties have always supported each other, laying an important political foundation for the development of relations between the two countries. It should be noted that, whilst the formal relations between the ANC and CPC were established 40 years ago, the relations between the ANC and China date back to at least 1954, when Nelson Mandela sent Walter Sisulu to the country to seek China’s support for the anti-apartheid struggle. However, at that time, and for years to come, the IDCPC maintained a formal position of only establishing party-to-party relations with fellow communist parties and organisations, so the ties were previously handled by other departments.
Mbalula said, the ANC thanked the Chinese side for its strong support for the Former Liberation Movements of Southern Africa during the construction of the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School in Tanzania. He hoped to make good use of this platform, enhance governing capabilities and better build his country. The South African side supports a series of important global initiatives put forward by President Xi Jinping, and is willing to strengthen coordination and cooperation with the Chinese side in BRICS and other multilateral mechanisms to build a better world.
On July 18, Liu met with Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the ANC and of the Republic of South Africa. Ramaphosa stated that China is an important strategic partner for South Africa and expressed gratitude to the Chinese side for its valuable support in South Africa’s struggle for national independence, liberation, and economic development, as well as its support for hosting the BRICS Summit. The ANC regards the CPC as a trustworthy friend and appreciates the assistance provided by the CPC in areas such as official training.
Liu also met with Solly Afrika Mapaila, Secretary-General of the South African Communist Party (SACP). Liu stated that the CPC and the SACP are both Marxist political parties and good comrades and brothers. The Chinese side is willing to strengthen exchanges and mutual learning with the SACP, promote theoretical innovation in Marxism based on practice, provide scientific theoretical guidance for the development of undertakings of our respective countries, and work together to promote unity and cooperation among progressive forces in China and Africa, as well as the development of the international socialist movement.
Recalling his recent visit to China, Mapaila said the SACP attaches great importance to its relationship with the CPC and hopes to further strengthen friendly exchanges between the two parties, learn from the CPC’s experience in party building and state governance, and promote the national democratic revolution in South Africa. Liu also met with political party leaders from other countries in the margins of the conference. Meeting with Roque Silva Samuel, Secretary-General of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), Liu said that China and Mozambique are good friends, partners, and brothers sharing weal and woe. In recent years, President Xi Jinping and President Filipe Nyusi have maintained close exchanges, charting the course for the development of bilateral relations. The CPC and FRELIMO have a long-standing friendship, he noted.
Silva also said that the people of Mozambique and China have a long-standing friendship and expressed gratitude for China’s strong support to Mozambique’s efforts in struggling for national independence and national development, and maintaining national stability. FRELIMO cherishes the brotherly friendship with the CPC and hopes to strengthen all-round exchanges and cooperation, and push bilateral relations forward.
Following his stay in South Africa, Minister Liu visited Madagascar and Mauritius, two important island countries in Africa. On July 21, he met with Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina, who said that China is a good friend and trustworthy partner of his country and thanked the Chinese side for providing valuable assistance for Madagascar’s economic and social development and for improving the lives of the Madagascan people over a long period of time. The Madagascan side admires the CPC for leading the Chinese people to achieve great development achievements and become the world’s second largest economy. This has set an example for developing countries including Madagascar, and strengthened Madagascar’s confidence in realising its own development and its determination to reinforce cooperation with China. The ruling parties of Madagascar and China have similar philosophies, he said, adding that Madagascar has always stood with China, firmly supported China’s position in international affairs, supported China-proposed major global initiatives, and is willing to be a window and platform to promote Africa-China cooperation.
Whilst in Madagascar, Liu also met with the Foreign Minister and the Presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate.
On July 24, Liu met with Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Leader of the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) and Prime Minister of Mauritius, in the capital, Port Louis. Jugnauth recalled that he had met with President Xi Jinping twice in 2018, something which is still fresh in his memory. The friendship between Mauritius and China has a long history, he noted, with the governments and political parties of the two sides maintaining friendly exchanges and numerous cultural exchanges.
Liu also met with Maneesh Gobin, General Secretary of the MSM, together with a number of government ministers. Liu said that China and Mauritius share extensive common interests in safeguarding the rights and interests of developing countries and addressing global challenges such as climate change. The Chinese side supports Mauritius in playing a role in international and regional affairs, and is willing to strengthen international cooperation, jointly oppose hegemonism and power politics, and benefit the people of China and Africa.
General Secretary Gobin said he believed that China had not only achieved its own prosperity and development, but also benefited Africa and the world at large through its development. He added that, since the MSM established relations with the CPC, the two parties have maintained friendly relations and regular exchanges. The Chinese side has given huge support to the MSM and the people of Mauritius in project exchanges, skills training, and facility funds. The Mauritian side particularly thanked China for the vaccines and other support offered during the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped Mauritius successfully control it. Mauritius is the first African country to sign a free trade agreement with China, he observed. It is hoped that the two sides will expand cooperation in trade, finance, education, science, technology, and media, strengthen infrastructure construction, and treat Mauritius as a bridge to develop business with Africa.
Minister Liu also met with a number of other ministers, including the Foreign Minister and leader of the Patriotic Movement of Mauritius, in the course of his visit.
The following reports were originally published on the website of the IDCPC.
Liu Jianchao Attends BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue
Johannesburg, July 18th—The BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue was held here today by the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa under the theme of BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism. Paul Mashatile, Deputy President of the ANC and Deputy President of South Africa attended and addressed the function. Liu Jianchao, Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, attended the dialogue and delivered a speech. About 400 participants were present, including representatives of political parties of BRICS such as Fikile Mbalula, Secretary-General of the ANC, political heavyweights from 41 political parties, such as former South African presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, and Olusegun Obasanjo, the former Nigerian president, as well as representatives from international organizations.
Liu said, in the past 17 years, the BRICS countries have turned many seemingly impossible things into reality step by step, becoming an important force for maintaining world peace and stability, revitalizing the cause of global development, and promoting the progress of human civilization. The BRICS have adhered to the value of development and sharing, and continuously injected strong impetus into the development of the global economy; adhered to the value of building security together, and have successfully blazed a path of security featuring dialogue rather than confrontation, consultation rather than coercion, and partnership rather than alliance, and adhered to the value of co-existence among civilizations to enhance mutual understanding among people.
Liu said, political parties are the source of policies of countries, representatives of people’s interests, and an important force that determines the domestic and foreign affairs of a country. Every gathering of the BRICS political parties is not only a summary of cooperation experience, but also shows our commitment to cooperation, and an exploration of the future of cooperation. The CPC is willing to work with political parties of other countries to build and make good use of the BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue platform. We should focus on coordinated development and be a contributor to global development; strengthen solidarity and coordination to be a builder of world peace; promote exchanges and mutual learning and be a promoter of civilizations; improve global governance and be a defender of international order.
Liu said, the Chinese side firmly supports the deepening and expansion of the “BRICS+” cooperation mode, and supports the efforts to advance the BRICS expansion process, and enhance the representativeness and influence of the BRICS, so as to gather more strength for maintaining world peace and promoting common development. BRICS and Africa should forge a partnership that promotes global development causes, maintains world peace and security, carries out exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations, and practices true multilateralism. Both sides should jointly implement the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative, and make the development of the international order more just and equitable.
Representatives of political parties from all countries present said in their speeches that major changes have taken place in the geopolitical landscape of the world today, and the role of the BRICS has become increasingly prominent. The BRICS countries should work with other countries to promote the construction of a mechanism featuring inclusiveness and development that meets the needs of mankind. As an important force in the political life of each country, political parties should shoulder the political responsibilities of leading the way, building consensus, promoting development, strengthening cooperation, and improving governance, and actively explore modernization paths that suit their own national conditions.
Representatives from all countries voiced support for the strengthening of cooperation between BRICS countries and Africa, to accelerate economic growth in Africa and the world. They stressed their support for the central role of the United Nations in international affairs, upholding true multilateralism, and safeguarding international fairness and justice. As an important part of the BRICS mechanism, the BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue plays an important role in building consensus among political parties and promoting BRICS cooperation. Therefore the dialogue should be made a institutionalized one to strive for more practical results.
In the following article, submitted to us by Keith Lamb, the author argues that the current China visit by John Kerry, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, provides an opportunity for the two countries to cooperate in an area that is vital for the future, indeed the survival, of humanity. However, he notes that approaching this issue in isolation is not feasible in the long-term. The fight against climate catastrophe has to be combined with that for development as well as against war and for peace. The Global Development Initiative (GDI), proposed by President Xi Jinping, provides just such a holistic template and approach and is already reflected in numerous agreements between China and other countries of the Global South.
“How can we achieve our global climate goals without having Beijing working with us? We can’t, it’s that simple! There’s no way any one country can solve this crisis and particularly if we’re large emitting nations.” This was the answer of US climate envoy John Kerry being interviewed on MSNBC. He went on to claim that China and the US had agreed to separate climate, which affects us all, from the many other bilateral Sino-US issues.
This sensible recognition that there is a wider commonality binding humanity together is a welcome change from the hegemonic “America first” and faux human-rights rhetoric too often emanating from US circles. When it comes to climate and cooperation with China, Kerry went on to say that, “it’s not a question of the US giving away something, by cooperating we all gain something.”
This pragmatic win-win attitude should serve the diplomatic and well-mannered Kerry well on his current July 16-19 trip to Beijing, where he will discuss the climate crisis and hopefully promote a successful COP28 climate change conference, due to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Coming after the recent visit by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, it may also serve to thaw Sino-US tensions.
However, for real climate cooperation, which seeks the salvation of our planet and humanity, the many Sino-US tensions to which Kerry alludes cannot be bracketed off indefinitely. These tensions include the trade war, sanctions, interference in China’s domestic affairs, not least regarding Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and the US’ military containment of China.
To illustrate this point, climate talks have been suspended in the past, due to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. The weather balloon debacle led to Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceling his Beijing visit. The pushing of China’s red lines, the threatening of China’s integrity, and the China threat hysteria all push the world closer to the possibility of environmental annihilation, as the US plays a fool’s game of ‘chicken’, risking nuclear catastrophe.
Even without this dire outcome, according to Brown University, the US military is responsible for twice the amount of greenhouse emissions as all the cars in the US. War causes incalculable damage to the environment due to factors such as fuel infrastructure destruction and the use of depleted uranium. In Ukraine, we have seen how the destruction of energy infrastructure has led to renewed use of coal and the purchasing of expensive and environmentally damaging US fracked gas by Europe.
President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, paid a state visit to China, from May 24-29, visiting Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. During his visit, President Tshisekedi was interviewed by Wang Guan for the CGTN series, Leaders Talk.
Noting that he had never visited China before, Tshisekedi congratulated the country on its achievements in modernization, pointing out that, in the late 1960s, China and Congo were at approximately the same level of economic development. The leap China has made, he continued, is impressive. The Chinese model is one that he would like to emulate and replicate in his own country.
Asked why he had made a point of laying a wreath at the Monument to the People’s Heroes and visiting the Museum of the Communist Party of China, Tshisekedi explained that there are notable parallels between the history of the two countries. They had both suffered from poverty and famine. But China has leveraged its strength and resources to escape from this legacy. Coming to China to see how this had been achieved was, he said, important to him. Regarding some of the negative things said about China by some international voices, he noted that to ensure the safety of more than one billion people, in terms of food security, education and health, is an enormous challenge. Rather than condemn China, he is inspired by its achievements and seeks to build a strong friendship.
Surveying some of the key areas of enhanced cooperation agreed during his visit, the President cited climate change, where the bilateral partnership could benefit the whole world, particularly with the DRC being the most biodiverse country in Africa.
He also laid strong emphasis on the need for the DRC to stop being purely an extractive site for its vast mineral wealth. By moving to refining, jobs would be created and development promoted. China, he explained, had agreed to join hands to promote the industrialisation of the DRC. Without added value, Tshisekedi asserts that Congo’s vast resources are virtually worthless in terms of the country’s development needs. The same could be said for its agricultural produce. Tshisekedi is grateful to China for its understanding and support, which is already producing tangible results, for example in terms of Chinese investment in battery manufacturing facilities that are crucial for renewable energy.
Development is a pressing need and for this peace and security are also needed. In Tshisekedi’s view, Xi Jinping’s concepts of the Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative can all be of immense benefit to the DRC as well as to Africa as a whole. The DRC and Africa need China to stand alongside them in the search for peace and as a partner for development.
Moving to the end of the interview, President Tshisekedi struck an optimistic note. One day, he insisted, the DRC would achieve zero poverty. It is possible. China has done it.
The full interview with President Tshisekedi is embedded below.