PM Roosevelt Skerrit at launch of Dominica-China Friendship Association

The following video, which we reproduce with thanks to our friends at Kawsachun News, features a warm and important speech by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of the Commonwealth of Dominica at the September 10 launch of the Dominica-China Friendship Association, attended by a galaxy of the country’s VIPs, including President Charles Savarin.

Prime Minister Skerrit hails the formation of the Friendship Association as a “most progressive move towards a deepening of already strong ties” between the two governments and peoples.

Roosevelt Skerrit is the third successive Prime Minister from the Dominica Labour Party. The first, Rosie Douglas, was a long-standing and good friend of the People’s Republic and Communist Party of China. Unfortunately, he tragically died on October 1 2000, from a heart attack, after just a few months in office, and before he could complete the work he had initiated of breaking the ties that the previous right-wing government had established with the Taiwan authorities. It fell to his close comrade Skerrit to take this step on March 23 2004. 

In his speech, Skerrit notes that this decision has enhanced the lives of Dominica’s people – including in education, human resources, health care, agriculture and sports. China has also extended invaluable help in the face of two tropical storms and the global pandemic. He drew particular attention to the word friendship in the new association’s name.  Friendship, the Prime Minister explained, means that you stand with your friends, especially in difficult times. He encouraged the association to issue statements of solidarity with China whenever the country is unjustly attacked.

China has proved itself to be key partner for African development

We are pleased to reprint the below article by Michael Olugbode, a journalist with the Nigerian newspaper, This Day, originally carried by People’s Daily Online.

Situating his argument in the context of the contributions of the great Pan-African and socialist revolutionaries Walter Rodney and Frantz Fanon, respectively from Guyana and Martinique, and their most famous works, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa and The Wretched of the Earth, Michael goes on to assert:

“It has been many decades since colonization ‘ended’ on the African continent, but the continent has not fully healed from this past trauma and continues to search for a path to continue from where its development was disrupted. Perhaps this search may have at last come to an end with the support of a country that had also once witnessed a dose of colonization and whose people has since healed from this inhumane history, having emerged from the ruins of colonization and wars to become the fastest growing economy on the planet. That country is none other than the People’s Republic of China.”

Outlining details of the multifaceted cooperation between China and Africa, he notes that the 10 plans that President Xi Jinping outlined at the 2015 FOCAC (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) Summit in Johannesburg have been implemented in full, with the construction of numerous railways, highways, airports, ports and other infrastructure projects, and concludes:

“The facts are there for everyone to see that Africa has finally and gradually started moving towards a promising mode of development thanks to the fellow brother that China has proven itself to be.”

Modern science, and especially the latest archeological discoveries, has shown that the African continent is the cradle of humankind. Its people were developing slowly and steadily at their own pace until some external forces invaded the continent and carted away its able bodied men and women to strange lands where they were forced to toil for generations building the emerging economies of another continent.

Some have referred to this process as an exchange or perhaps a kind of trade, but could it be described as such when humans, treated like nothing but property, were exchanged for goods such as guns and gin. No wonder Walter Rodney, in reference to his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, argued that it was a combination of power politics and economic exploitation of Africa by Europeans that eventually led to the poor state of African political and economic development as became evident in the late 20th century. Although the author did not state his intention “to remove the ultimate responsibility for development from the shoulders of Africans… [He believes that] every African has a responsibility to understand the [capitalist] system and work for its overthrow.”

Similarly, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth provides insights into how the developmental strides of Africa were distorted. The psychiatrist provided a psychological and psychiatric analysis of the dehumanizing effects of colonization upon the individuals and the nations of Africa, and discussed the broader social, cultural, and political implications of establishing a social movement for the decolonization of a person and of a people.

It has been many decades since colonization “ended” on the African continent, but the continent has not fully healed from this past trauma and continues to search for a path to continue from where its development was disrupted. Perhaps this search may have at last come to an end with the support of a country that had also once witnessed a dose of colonization and whose people has since healed from this inhumane history, having emerged from the ruins of colonization and wars to become the fastest growing economy on the planet. That country is none other than the People’s Republic of China.

China has presented Africa with a way out of its constant state of underdevelopment by offering a friendly win-win international development springboard in the form of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). At the opening ceremony of the 2018 FOCAC Beijing Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping quoted the observations of an ancient Chinese scholar, who stated that: “Only with deep roots can a tree yield rich fruit; only filled with oil can a lamp burn brightly.” Xi noted that history follows its own rules and logic, and that with a similar fate in the past and a common mission, China and Africa have extended sympathy to and helped each other throughout all the past years. He said: “Together, we have embarked on a distinctive path of win-win cooperation.”

“Marching on this path, China has followed the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests. China has stood with African countries. Together, we have worked in unity and forged ahead,” said Xi.

The words of President Xi is the moving spirit behind the FOCAC. Since the 2015 FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, China has fully implemented the 10 cooperation plans adopted at the Summit. A large number of railways, highways, airports, ports and other infrastructure projects as well as a number of economic and trade cooperation zones have been built or are under construction. Mutual cooperation on peace and security, science and technology, education, culture, health, poverty reduction, and people-to-people exchanges has been deepened. The massive financing pledged by China has been either delivered or arranged to be delivered. These 10 cooperation plans have brought huge benefits to the African and Chinese peoples. They have fully demonstrated the creativity, rallying power and efficiency of China-Africa cooperation, and have lifted the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership to new heights.

China has meanwhile promised to build an even closer-knit China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era. It has even gone a step further to launch an industrial promotion initiative and a China-Africa economic and trade expo in China to encourage Chinese companies to increase their investment in Africa, in addition to building and upgrading a number of economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa. China also has a plan to support Africa in achieving general food security by 2030, working with Africa to formulate and implement a program of action to promote China-Africa cooperation on agricultural modernization. China has continued to strengthen cooperation with African countries in local currency settlement and has made good use of the China-Africa Development Fund, the China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation, and the Special Loan for the Development of African SMEs.

The list is endless. Every series of important cooperation plans proposed by China during each FOCAC Summit has been effectively implemented, which has provided a great boost to the economic and social development of Africa and which has been highly praised by the African people and the international community.

China-Africa trade and cooperation have both blossomed. A number of major Chinese-assisted infrastructure projects have been completed, including the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, Kenya’s standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, and Cote d’Ivoire’s Soubre hydropower plant. These projects provide much needed transport and energy infrastructure to help further develop local industries.

The facts are there for everyone to see that Africa has finally and gradually started moving towards a promising mode of development thanks to the fellow brother that China has proven itself to be.

Danny Haiphong: Does China practice imperialism in Africa?

In this video breakdown on the Left Lens, co-editor of Friends of Socialist China Danny Haiphong analyzes China’s recent announcement that 23 interest-free loans to 17 African nations will be forgiven in the context of its broader relationship with the continent. Haiphong argues that China not only provides more flexible loan terms but also prioritizes the industrial development and export markets of African nations, something Western imperialism has never done.

Report: International Civil Society Solidarity Conference on the Global Development Initiative

On August 12, some 400 people from around the world attended an online and offline meeting organized by the China NGO Network for International Exchanges, with the guidance of the International Department of the Communist Party of China, and on the theme, ‘International Civil Society Solidarity Conference on the Global Development Initiative’.

The Global Development Initiative (GDI) was advanced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in his September 2021 address to the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly, and the conference was focused on helping to implement the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The meeting opened with the reading of a message of greetings from President Xi, in which he said that China is ready to join hands with all so as to contribute more to building a community with a shared future for humanity and to usher in a new era featuring prosperity and development.

His message was followed by a keynote report from CPC International Department Minister Liu Jianchao and contributions from a number of heads of state or government.

Pakistan Prime Minister and President of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz, Shehbaz Sharif, welcomed the GDI as another visionary development following the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project. In the course of promoting global development, China has provided valuable help and support to developing countries. China’s own unprecedented achievements in economic, social, and industrial development have encouraged the vast number of developing countries. China has successfully lifted 800 million out of poverty in just a few decades, leaving a deep impression on the world. Stressing the strong and durable relations between his country and China, Sharif said that Pakistan, as the 2022 Chair of the Group of 77 Plus China, was ready to play its part in pushing for global development.

Faure Gnassingbé, President of Togo and Chairman of the Union for the Republic, said that the great initiative of President Xi effectively responded to the urgent need of all countries in the world, especially the developing countries, to accelerate post-epidemic economic recovery and realise the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Praising China for its unremitting efforts to “leave no country behind”, he added that the country had just won its battle against extreme poverty at an unprecedented and amazing speed, and the valuable experience accumulated by China in this process will be of benefit to human society.

Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica and Leader of the Dominica Labour Party, praised the long-standing friendly relations between the governments and peoples of Dominica and China, and said that the Global Development Initiative proposed by General Secretary Xi Jinping is highly consistent with the concept of a community with a shared future for humanity, and will inject new and strong impetus into the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The GDI provides small states with an important way to promote development, benefiting small island developing countries such as Dominica in a number of areas, such as poverty reduction, food security, financing for development, climate change, the digital economy and connectivity. As an important cooperation platform provided by China to the world, the GDI will certainly receive extensive support from the international community.

Skerrit said Dominica thanked General Secretary Xi Jinping for his commitment to increase the capital of the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund by US$1 billion and to integrate and upgrade the fund into a Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund. He particularly expressed thanks to China for its support to the Caribbean region, not least during the pandemic. China has played an important leading role in promoting the equal distribution of vaccines and the global supply of public goods. China has also been vigorously supporting the Caribbean region in addressing climate change, enhancing regional climate change response capabilities, and helping regional disaster relief and post-disaster reconstruction.

Skerrit called on all people to unite to deepen multilateral cooperation and jointly build a new era of balanced, coordinated and inclusive global development. Dominica is willing to actively respond to the appeal made by General Secretary Xi Jinping to all countries in the world, work with partners to promote global development and security, work together to translate global development initiatives into practical actions, ensure that no country is left behind, and contribute to building a fairer, more sustainable, and safer world.

Bertie Ahern, former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, from the Fianna Fáil party, and Co-Chairman of the InterAction Council, noted China’s commitment to advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and expressed his hope that China will work closely with international civil society, so as to make greater contributions to promoting global development.

Other speakers included Martin Schulz, former President of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (the think tank associated with the German Social Democratic Party); Wang Yaping, China’s second woman taikonaut (astronaut), who has completed two space missions, becoming the first woman taikonaut to perform a space walk and the Chinese taikonaut who has so far spent the longest cumulative period in space; and Stephon Marbury, former African-American basketball player and currently Head Coach of the Beijing Royal Fighters. Marbury praised China’s zero tolerance response to Covid-19 and expressed his strong personal commitment to promoting ‘sports diplomacy’, as a way to enhance people-to-people friendship.

The following two reports were first published on the websites of the Xinhua News Agency and the CPC International Department respectively.

Xi calls on international community to build development partnership

Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the international community to gather consensus on promoting development, create an enabling environment and foster new driving forces for global development to jointly work for a global development partnership.

Continue reading Report: International Civil Society Solidarity Conference on the Global Development Initiative

Expanding China-Africa friendship and cooperation

On August 18, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired, by video link from Beijing, the Coordinators’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-Up Actions of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

At this meeting, Wang announced that China is forgiving 23 interest-free loans for 17 African nations. Writing on Multipolarista, the website he edits, Benjamin Norton notes:

“This is in addition to China’s cancellation of more than $3.4 billion in debt and restructuring of around $15 billion of debt in Africa between 2000 and 2019. While Beijing has a repeated history of forgiving loans like this, Western governments have made baseless, politically motivated accusations that China uses ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ in the Global South.”

Wang Yi’s speech contained a wealth of detail on the progress in China-Africa cooperation since the ministerial meeting was held last November, including that:

  • China has completed major projects in Senegal, Kenya, Cameroon and Egypt.
  • Provided emergency food assistance to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea.
  • Provided 189 million doses of anti-Covid vaccines to 27 African countries, with joint production capacity in Africa having now reached around 400 million doses.
  • Undertaken resilient and sustainable development initiatives in Zambia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Seychelles, Madagascar and Mozambique.

Presenting a number of proposals to develop the cooperation still further, Wang welcomed the initiative by Tanzania and Zambia to restart the Tazara railway, a huge project built by China in the 1970s to help those countries get out from the vice-like economic grip exercised by the countries to their south that were still under white racist and colonial rule.

On August 22, the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post reported that, “the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation has been appointed to carry out a feasibility study on the project, the Chinese embassy in Zambia announced.

“‘China is making every effort to prepare for the reactivation of the railway upon Zambian and Tanzanian request again,’ Chinese ambassador to Lusaka Du Xiaohui said, adding that Beijing will engage the Zambian and Tanzanian governments to explore ways to make Tazara profitable.”

Noting that some 70 Chinese workers and engineers sacrificed their lives in the course of building the railway, the newspaper further reported that, on August 10, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema commissioned a memorial park in their honour in Chongwe, near to the national capital, Lusaka.

We reprint below the article by Benjamin Norton and the full text of Minister Wang Yi’s speech. They were originally carried respectively by Multipolarista and the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

China forgives 23 loans for 17 African countries, expands ‘win-win’ trade and infrastructure projects

The Chinese government has announced that it is forgiving 23 interest-free loans for 17 African nations, while pledging to deepen its collaboration with the continent.

This is in addition to China’s cancellation of more than $3.4 billion in debt and restructuring of around $15 billion of debt in Africa between 2000 and 2019.

While Beijing has a repeated history of forgiving loans like this, Western governments have made baseless, politically motivated accusations that China uses “debt-trap diplomacy” in the Global South.

Continue reading Expanding China-Africa friendship and cooperation

Time for pursuing common prosperity

The following article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez, written for China Daily, outlines the progress made in China over the past decade, and describes the rising emphasis on common prosperity and sustainable development.

After eradicating absolute poverty at the end of 2020 following the most systematic and extensive poverty alleviation program in history, China achieved its goal of becoming a moderately prosperous society in all respects. This achievement is nothing short of extraordinary, and reflects the enormous commitment of the Chinese leadership, government and people to fundamental human rights.

What’s more, the goal of eliminating extreme poverty was fulfilled while the country was concurrently battling the COVID-19 pandemic which has driven millions into poverty around the world.

What does it mean for a Chinese person to have risen out of extreme poverty? It is more than simply surpassing the World Bank-defined income threshold of $1.90 per day. China’s definition also includes two assurances (for adequate food and clothing) and three guarantees (access to medical services, safe housing with drinking water and electricity, and at least nine years of free education).

Anyone who has visited rural areas elsewhere in the developing world-whether in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East or the Caribbean-will understand that for a huge country of 1.4 billion people to be able to meet the basic needs of every citizen is a historic accomplishment. Such an accomplishment is built on the firm foundations of the Chinese revolution, the strength and wisdom of the Communist Party of China, and the system of whole-process people’s democracy.

With the completion of the targeted poverty alleviation campaign and the accomplishment of the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, China has scored an important victory. Yet the war on poverty continues, with focus now shifting toward tackling relative poverty: improving per capita GDP, revitalizing rural areas, and reducing inequality between regions and groups. It is time for “making the cake bigger and better and sharing it fairly,” as Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin put it recently.

Continue reading Time for pursuing common prosperity

Africa, China, and US imperialism

This important essay by US scholar Joel Wendland-Liu, originally published on the CPUSA website, provides a serious and detailed comparison of the US-Africa relationship and the China-Africa relationship. Referencing numerous recent studies indicating that Africans – and particularly younger Africans – have a more favorable opinion of China than of the US, the author contrasts the West’s record of military, economic and political coercion on the continent with China’s record of extensive, mutually-beneficial cooperation.

Wendland-Liu notes that China’s loans and investment terms are consistently more favorable than those of the US, and that China’s interest rates are lower and repayment terms more flexible. Most importantly, Chinese financing does not come with strings attached, and investment is not linked to an undermining of African sovereignty – as is the case with the Western financial institutions. Meanwhile, it is the US and its allies that are engaged in assorted and escalating military projects in Africa, in particular via AFRICOM.

The assorted (and unsubstantiated) claims about Chinese “debt traps” and imperialistic behavior in Africa, generated by the Western ruling class media but unfortunately parroted by sections of the left, serve to demonize China and to distract attention from the West’s very real ongoing imperialist objectives on the continent. As such, it is crucial that these myths be comprehensively exposed.

The U.S. government has become obsessed with Africa. Not with fostering its strength, independence, health, or economic development, mind you. Instead, it is worried about why Africans don’t like us much. Recent polling in 29 African countries shows that African youth hold more favorable opinions of China than of the U.S. More than eight in 10 respondents see China’s influence in their country as both more prominent than that of the U.S. and more positive. Upbeat views of China are nearly unanimous in Nigeria, Malawi, and Uganda.

Separate data reveals that since 2015 the number of African students from English-speaking countries who gained admission to Chinese universities surpassed that of those who attend universities in the U.K. and the U.S.

This data shows a considerable shift in African perceptions of China, to the detriment of the dominant neocolonial powers.

After four centuries of the European/American slave trade, colonialism, and neocolonialism, followed by decades of neglect, the U.S. government in 2021 called Africa “the southern flank” of NATO. Large chunks of the massive annual $800 billion military budget fund the complex of military installations, intelligence networks, and interventionist political projects called AFRICOM.

Continue reading Africa, China, and US imperialism

Deciphering the Chinese economic miracle: lessons for the developing world

We are pleased to publish this important article by Associate Professor Efe Can Gürcan, which sets out what he describes as the ‘Chinese miracle’, “that China has enjoyed unprecedented economic success in world history despite enormous historical, demographic, geographical and geopolitical adversities.” Despite this, he notes, “China has developed an exemplary model of economic development that inspires much of the developing world.” Therefore, “to decipher the formula behind China’s historic economic success” is to “offer fundamental hints to guide developing countries in their endeavours to reach an advanced stage of economic development.”

Professor Gürcan surveys the various stages of China’s socialist development under Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, noting that “the roots of the Chinese economic miracle can be traced back to the early phase of the Chinese revolution under the leadership of Mao,” who he sees as the real originator of the concept of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Deng Xiaoping developed this, including by digging deeper into Mao’s work, for example his, ‘A Critique of Soviet Economics’, and he highlights Deng’s view of the essence of socialism lying in the “liberation and development of the productive forces, elimination of exploitation and polarisation, and the ultimate achievement of prosperity for all.”

Professor Gürcan concludes by stating that: “In contrast to Western capitalism, the Chinese economic miracle does not originate from forced accumulation, wars, and colonialism. On the contrary, it springs from peaceful development and international cooperation. Understood as such, China’s model also constitutes the living example of the rising relevance and superiority of socialism over the capitalist system.”

This is an extremely important article that is worthy of careful study. It was originally published in Volume 3 Issue 2 of the Turkish journal Belt and Road Initiative Quarterly (BRIQ) and is reproduced with thanks. The article can be also be read/downloaded in PDF form.

Abstract

Despite enormous historical, demographic, geographical, and geopolitical adversities, China has enjoyed unprecedented economic success in world history. This article aims to decipher the formula behind China’s historic economic success and distill policy lessons for developing countries in their endeavors to reach an advanced stage of economic development. Based on descriptive case study and statistics, the article suggests that the Chinese economic miracle can be explained by a four-fold formula: a) devising an autocentric economic model aspiring to improve national autonomy and cushion the impact of foreign interference, b) insisting on socialism and the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which allows for strategic coherence and long-term planning to overcome free-market anarchy, c) creating a state-driven industrial base fueled by national science and technology policies, and d) adopting a balanced approach to development centered on attaining a higher sociocultural and ecological quality of life. The findings also help to debunk the myths surrounding the Chinese miracle, particularly the “cheap labor thesis”, the “technology theft thesis”, the “foreign investment and capitalist integration theses”, the “imperialism thesis”, and the “Mao-the-monster thesis”.  

Keywords: Chinese miracle,economic development, Mao Zedong Thought, socialism with Chinese characteristics, Xi Jinping Thought

Deciphering the Chinese Economic Miracle: Lessons for the Developing World

The “Chinese miracle” has become a widely used term in development studies, inspiring developing countries to achieve high levels of prosperity, living standards, and stability over the last decade. The popularity of this term can be explained in large part by the fact that China has enjoyed unprecedented economic success in world history (Zakaria, 2011; Gürcan 2021a), despite enormous historical, demographic, geographical, and geopolitical adversities. China was one of the world’s poorest countries before the socialist revolution in 1949. In the early revolutionary era, China struggled much to overcome its crippling semi-colonial legacy characterized by the medieval conditions of an agricultural economy and the weakness of its industrial base. History aside, China is the largest country by population size, which currently accounts for 22% of the world’s population. This goes hand in hand with China’s resource scarcity problem as a structural adversity constraining its development potential. China possesses only 7% of the world’s arable land and freshwater resources and 8% of the world’s natural resources. Furthermore, only 19% of its surface area is suitable for human habitation, and 65% of its surface area is rugged. This severely cripples China’s farming capabilities and facilitates ethnic heterogeneity as a potential impediment to political cohesion (Morton, 2006; Naughton, 2018). Another adversity threatening China’s economic development concerns geopolitical circumstances. Cases in point are how China’s membership in the United Nations was stalled until 1971, and the US resorted to military interventions in China’s neighboring regions to suffocate the revolution. The current geopolitical circumstances find their sharpest expression in the current US containment strategy and the US-led trade and technology war against China (Gürcan, 2019; Gürcan, Kahraman & Yanmaz, 2021).     

Despite such adversities, China has developed an exemplary model of economic development that inspires much of the developing world. Since 1979, China is the only country that has remained untouched by any economic crisis. The 1979-2018 period testified to an average economic growth rate of 9.4% in the lead of the CPC, making China the world’s second-largest economy, top producer, and the leading exporter of technological goods (Hu, 2020). By 2015, China came to assume the global production of 40% of washing machines, 50% of textiles, 60% of buttons, 70% of shoes, 80% of televisions, and 90% of toys. Recently, China has made significant progress in producing higher-value added products in the computer, aviation, and medical technology sectors, among others. One should also note that China has risen to the world’s largest lender to the developing world, second-largest investor in foreign direct investment (FDI), and top leader in green bonds and credits. China’s contributions to green finance also bring to mind China’s global leadership in sustainable development. China has recently emerged as the world’s top leader in green transportation as the largest producer of electric buses and the largest market for electric vehicles and bikes. Similarly, China’s status as the world’s top producer of solar, wind, and hydroelectric power is closely related to its reputation as the world’s top investor in sustainable energy technology (Gürcan, 2021a). Besides China’s historic success in economic and environmental development, one should also note that the Chinese economic miracle is credited for 70% of global poverty eradication between 1990 and 2015 (Gardner, 2018).

Continue reading Deciphering the Chinese economic miracle: lessons for the developing world

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

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

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

The full event stream is also embedded below.

Dear Friends

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

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

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

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

China cements its ties with Timor-Leste

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi concluded his recent visits to South Pacific island nations with a highly significant stop, with an intense and packed agenda, to Timor-Leste on June 3-4.

His first reported meeting was with Prime Minister Taur Matab Ruak, who said that his country, “thanked China for speaking up for [his] country in the international arena and supporting Timor-Leste’s integration into the international system.”  For his part, Wang “extended his congratulations on Timor-Leste’s 20th anniversary of the restoration of independence and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. The Independence Day of Timor-Leste coincides with the date of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which fully demonstrates that the two countries have stood firmly together.”

Wang noted that last year, Timor-Leste’s exports to China increased by more than 90 times, leading Ruak to observe that, “under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), China has achieved miracles of rapid economic growth and poverty alleviation of hundreds of millions of people. Its great achievements are unparalleled. Timor-Leste looks forward to seizing the huge development opportunities brought by China, expanding bilateral practical cooperation in economy, trade, investment, infrastructure, education and tourism, among others, speeding up self-driven development and bringing more benefits to the people of Timor-Leste.”

In a meeting with Timor-Leste’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Adaljiza Albertina Xavier Reis Magno, Wang cited the cooperation between the two countries in fighting Covid-19, with nine medical teams sent by China having provided help to 300,000 patients.  Among many further areas identified for cooperation were the cultivation of hybrid rice and the building of agricultural high-tech development zones, to help Timor-Leste achieve self-sufficiency in grain and agricultural modernisation.

Wang also met with Xanana Gusmão, known as Timor-Leste’s Founding Father and who is often compared to Nelson Mandela. Xanana, noting that all the small and medium-sized Pacific Island countries were faced with the common task of development, added that: “What we need is a united response to the challenges, more attention and support from the international community and tangible assistance. The Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to the South Pacific region sent a positive signal, showing that China stands with developing countries and brings hope to small island countries.”

Meeting with Mari Alkatiri, the Secretary-General of Fretilin (The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor), the party which led the armed struggle for independence, Wang said that “Fretilin is a political party with a glorious tradition, which has been committed to the rebirth of the country and the nation since its birth and still plays an important role in the development and revitalisation of Timor-Leste today. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has time-honoured contacts with Fretilin and the two parties have always maintained inter-party exchanges.”  For his part, Alkatiri said that, “China not only firmly defends world peace, but also shares development dividends with other countries and stays committed to upholding fairness and justice. China has never exported its ideology and has brought development and opportunities to all countries. Timor-Leste trusts China, supports China’s development and growth, and is willing to work with China to dedicate to the common pursuits and goals of developing countries.”

Finally, Wang met with President Jose Ramos-Horta, to whom he expressed appreciation for his signing the joint communique on establishing diplomatic ties with China on the day of independence in 2002, when he served as the first Foreign Minister of Timor-Leste.

Prior to his Timor-Leste visit, Wang had visited Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. He also held virtual meetings with the leaders of Micronesia, Cook Islands and Niue, the latter two being still in an essentially colonial relationship with New Zealand. He made a stop over in Malaysia on his way home from Timor-Leste.

The following reports on Wang Yi’s visit to Timor-Leste were originally published on the website of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak Meets with Wang Yi

On June 3, 2022 local time, Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak met with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Dili.

Ruak warmly welcomed Wang Yi’s visit to Timor-Leste on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, saying that the visit shows the great importance China attaches to bilateral relations and its positive willingness to deepen bilateral cooperation. Ruak said that Timor-Leste and China have a long history of exchanges and since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the two countries have carried out mutually beneficial cooperation in a wide range of areas. Timor-Leste sincerely thanked China for having assisted the country in a time of urgent need and helping the country safeguard security, deal with disasters and fight the pandemic since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Timor-Leste thanked China for speaking up for the country in the international arena and supporting Timor-Leste’s integration into the international system. Timor-Leste will always be a friend of China and will stay committed to consolidating the achievements of the establishment of diplomatic ties, firmly pursuing the one-China principle, expanding friendly cooperation and opening up new prospects for the development of bilateral relations.

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Wang Yi addresses the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative

China’s proposal for a Global Development Initiative (GDI) has made considerable progress since it was proposed by President Xi Jinping at the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2021. Thirty-five countries joined China to formally launch the Group of Friends of the GDI on January 20th. Addressing a High-Level Virtual Meeting of the Group on May 9th, Foreign Minister Wang Yi was able to report that so far more than 100 countries have expressed support for the initiative and 53 have joined the Group of Friends. He put forward four key areas where all parties could work together to deliver concrete results, namely: re-energising global cooperation on the 2030 Global Agenda; creating a favourable environment to accelerate global development; fostering an equal and balanced global development partnership; enabling the UN system to play the central and guiding role.

China, the Foreign Minister continued, would enhance consultation and hold a future high-level meeting to promote global development; increase input into development along with support for South-South cooperation; establish a pool of shared projects, to which proposals would be welcome; and prepare a Global Development Report to promote international exchanges based on respecting countries’ explorations of their own development paths.

Besides high-ranking officials from participating countries, the meeting also heard an address from UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

The following report of Wang Yi’s speech was originally carried on the website of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On May 9, 2022, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended and addressed the opening ceremony of the High-Level Virtual Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI) in Beijing via video link.

Wang Yi said, we meet at a time when the world is beset by global changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century. World economic recovery is facing headwinds. North-South gap keeps widening. Development cooperation is losing steam. And the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is facing unprecedented challenges. Last September, President Xi Jinping proposed the GDI at the UN General Assembly. The purpose is to galvanize worldwide attention to development, strengthen global development partnership, promote international development cooperation, and lend fresh impetus to the realization of the 2030 SDGs.

Wang Yi said that since the very beginning, the GDI has been warmly received by the international community. More than 100 countries expressed support, and as many as 53 countries have joined the Group of Friends. This fully shows that the GDI responds to the call of the times, meets the needs of various countries, and reflects the trend of the world as well as the aspiration of the people. The GDI is committed to building political consensus on accelerating development, building a common platform for development cooperation, promoting exchanges and mutual learning of development experience, and enhancing international synergy for coordinated development. China proposes that all parties work together in four key areas for the GDI to deliver concrete results.

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Common prosperity in action in Anhui Province

In this video made for CGTN by Michael Dunford, Visiting Professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (and Friends of Socialist China advisory group member), we get a glimpse of common prosperity in action, as Michael travels to a village at Tuohu Lake, in the northeast of Anhui Province. With the aim of revitalizing the village and promoting high-quality sustainable development, the village cooperative has worked with the local authorities to improve the water system and to adopt traditional, environmentally-friendly agricultural practices. Combined with technologies such as an internet-of-things monitoring system and e-commerce, the villagers have been able to significantly improve their standard of living whilst simultaneously contributing to biodiversity and environmental protection.

Panel discussion on the Belt and Road in Latin America

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

Gyude Moore on the significance of China investments in Africa

In this informative speech, Gyude Moore – Senior Policy Fellow at the Center for Global Development and Liberia’s former Minister of Public Works – discusses the nature of the economic relationship between China and Africa. He draws on his personal experience of dealing with Chinese private and public investors to debunk the standard ‘debt trap’ myth that’s pervasive in the West, pointing out that China is extensively building infrastructure in Africa that’s essential for development and the improvement of living standards.

He notes that whereas the infrastructure built by colonisers was directed exclusively towards serving the economic needs of the European powers, the infrastructure being built by China is increasing connectedness between the different countries on the continent, allowing regional value chains to develop. Furthermore, Moore points out that China, as a developing country, tends to treat its African partners as equals rather than seeking to impose its authority in the way the imperialist countries are so used to doing.

China’s solidarity with Tonga and the islands of the Pacific

The eruption of an underwater volcano off the South Pacific island nation of Tonga has triggered a humanitarian crisis, cutting the country off from the outside world and damaging vital connectivity and infrastructure. This once again demonstrates the vulnerability of small island states in particular, faced with the challenges of overcoming centuries of colonial rule, developing their national economies and facing the existential threat of climate change. This useful article, which we reproduce from Global Times, notes that China has pledged all possible support and assistance to Tonga, both now and in the future. China, it further notes, is prepared to cooperate with all other countries in this endeavour and does not wish to see the South Pacific as an arena for any new Cold War. The island nations, it notes, “are not the backyard of the US and its allies”.

The massive eruption of an underwater volcano off Tonga, which triggered tsunami waves to hit the Pacific island nation and other locations in the Pacific, has become a focus of global headlines. 

Tonga is in need of emergency aid, and China said it is willing to help. On Sunday, Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China is ready to provide every possible support and assistance to Tonga. 

We hope those who see Tonga as a battlefield with China, such as the US and its allies, could work together with China to provide help to the Pacific island nation.

While the danger of the Tongan volcano erupting again remaining largely unknown, videos posted on social media and various news reports so far suggest that the eruption has caused serious damages to the island nation. For instance, Tonga’s submarine cable connectivity to the outside world has been offline since Saturday due to the earthquake caused by the volcanic eruption.

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

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

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

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

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

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Danny Haiphong: The West distorts the China-Africa relationship in order to justify its own imperialism

In this speech to a recent webinar entitled Africa/China Relations: Challenges of Cooperation and Development (organized jointly by the International Manifesto Group and the Group for Research and Initiative for the Liberation of Africa), Danny Haiphong explores the evolving win-win relationship between China and Africa, and exposes the West’s distortion of this relationship. The full webinar can be watched on YouTube.

Joint statement on democracy and common development

We are very pleased to republish this statement, coordinated by the International Department of the Communist Party of China, promoting a pluralistic approach to the issue of democracy and calling on the world’s countries to develop mutual understanding and cooperation rather than attempting to pursue hegemony and unilateralism.

The statement has been endorsed by 351 political parties, social organisations and think tanks from 140 countries and regions. Friends of Socialist China is proud to be among the signatories.

Joint Statement of World Political Parties, Social Organisations and Think Tanks on making Independent Efforts to Explore the Path Toward Democracy and Working Together to Promote Common Development

Democracy represents an important achievement of humanity in the advancement of political civilisation, and development an eternal pursuit throughout human history. People of different countries and regions, through their unremitting explorations, have brought about distinctively varied forms of democracy and development paths, presenting a magnificent spectacle of flourishing human civilisations. Political parties, as they are in a position to build, preserve and develop democracy, have been charged with the important mission to realise democracy and promote development. In view of the above, we, the 351 political parties, social organisations and think tanks from 140 countries and regions, issue a joint statement to the whole world as follows:

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Bertie Ahern: China’s infrastructure investment has been of major benefit to the people of Africa

In this short interview with CGTN in advance of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern gives his opinions on China-Africa relations. He praises the growing role of FOCAC, points to the transformative impact of China’s infrastructure investment, and debunks the idea that China has laid a ‘debt trap’ for African countries; indeed he notes China’s leading role in debt relief for poor and indebted nations. Video embedded below.

Keynote speech by Xi Jinping at opening ceremony of 8th FOCAC ministerial conference

We are very pleased to publish the full text of President Xi Jinping’s important speech to today’s opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. 

Noting that this year marks the 65th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between China and African countries, Xi notes that China and Africa have “forged unbreakable fraternity in our struggle against imperialism and colonialism”.

The Chinese President goes on to make four proposals, concerning fighting Covid-19, deepening practical cooperation, promoting green development and upholding equity and justice. 

He further notes that the two sides have jointly prepared the ‘China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035’. Its first three-year plan features nine programmes, covering medical and health, poverty reduction and agricultural development, trade promotion, investment promotion, digital innovation, green development, capacity building, cultural and people-to-people exchange, and peace and security. 

Your Excellency President Macky Sall,

Distinguished Colleagues,

Dear Guests and Friends,

It is such a pleasure to attend the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Let me first express sincere appreciation to President Sall and the government of Senegal for their excellent organization, and extend a warm welcome to the colleagues and guests attending the Conference.

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between China and African countries. Over the past 65 years, China and Africa have forged unbreakable fraternity in our struggle against imperialism and colonialism, and embarked on a distinct path of cooperation in our journey toward development and revitalization. Together, we have written a splendid chapter of mutual assistance amidst complex changes, and set a shining example for building a new type of international relations.

Continue reading Keynote speech by Xi Jinping at opening ceremony of 8th FOCAC ministerial conference