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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full interview with President Lourenço is embedded below.

Wang Yi: China will remain a staunch force for peace, stability and progress

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gave a press conference on March 7 in the margins of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC). 

In his opening remarks, Wang noted that: “In this changing and turbulent international environment, China will remain a staunch force for peace, stability and progress of the world… China will stand firmly on the right side of history and on the side of human progress, and will advocate vigorously peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit. It will pursue its development along with its efforts for peace and development of the world, and at the same time, it will make greater contributions to world peace and development through its own development.”

Following his introductory comments, he spent some 90 minutes answering 20 questions, concerning numerous international issues, from both the Chinese and foreign media.

Responding to a question from Rossiya Segodnya, Wang Yi said:

“The China-Russia relationship moves ahead along the trend of the times toward multipolarity and greater democracy in international relations and is thus very important for maintaining global strategic stability, enabling positive interactions among major countries, and promoting cooperation among emerging major countries.

“This year marks the 75th anniversary of China-Russia diplomatic relations. The two sides will also jointly launch the China-Russia Years of Culture. The relationship faces new opportunities. China is ready to work with Russia to foster new driving forces for cooperation and steadily enhance the foundation of friendship between the two peoples.”

Bloomberg raised a question regarding relations between China and the United States, following last year’s meeting between the two heads of state in San Francisco, and Wang stated:

“There has been some improvement in China-US relations since the summit in San Francisco. This meets the interests and wishes of people of both countries and the world. But it has to be pointed out that US misperception toward China continues and US promises are not truly fulfilled. The US has been devising various tactics to suppress China and kept lengthening its unilateral sanctions list, reaching bewildering levels of unfathomable absurdity. If the US says one thing and does another, where is its credibility as a major country? If it gets jittery whenever it hears the word ‘China,’ where is its confidence as a major country?… The challenge for the US comes from itself, not from China. If the US is obsessed with suppressing China, it will eventually harm itself… This year marks the 45th anniversary of China-US diplomatic relations. President Xi Jinping pointed out that the hope of the China-US relationship lies in the people, its foundation is in grassroots connections, its future depends on the youth, and its vitality comes from subnational exchanges.”

A question from the Xinhua News Agency gave Wang Yi the opportunity to set out China’s views on the related questions of multipolarity and globalisation:

“China believes in an equal and orderly multipolar world and a universally beneficial and inclusive economic globalisation. An equal multipolar world means equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal rules for every nation. Certain or a few powers should not monopolise international affairs. Countries should not be categorised according to their strength. Those with the bigger fist should not have the final say.”

And invoking an already infamous remark uttered by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at this February’s Munich Security Conference, he pointedly added:

“And it is definitely unacceptable that certain countries must be at the table while some others can only be on the menu.”

Responding to a question from the Nile News Egyptian Network, Wang Yi made a strong statement in support of the just cause of the Palestinian people on behalf of the Chinese government:

“The current Palestinian-Israeli conflict has caused 100,000 civilian casualties, and countless innocent people remain buried under the rubble. There is no distinction between noble and humble lives, and life should not be labelled by race or religion. The failure to end this humanitarian disaster today in the 21st century is a tragedy for humanity and a disgrace for civilisation. Nothing justifies the protraction of the conflict, or the killing of the civilian population. The international community must act promptly to promote an immediate ceasefire as its overriding priority and ensure humanitarian assistance as its pressing moral obligation. People in Gaza have the right to life in this world, and women and children deserve the care from their families…

“The calamity in Gaza is another wake-up call for the world that the long occupation of the Palestinian territories is a fact that should not be ignored anymore, and that the long-cherished aspiration of the Palestinians for an independent state should not be evaded anymore. More importantly, the historical injustice to the Palestinians must not be allowed to continue uncorrected from generation to generation…

“China firmly supports the Palestinian people’s just cause of regaining their legitimate national rights, and is always committed to a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine at an early date. We support Palestine’s full membership in the UN and urge a certain UN Security Council member not to lay obstacles to that end.”

The Foreign Minister also reiterated China’s call for a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis:

Continue reading Wang Yi: China will remain a staunch force for peace, stability and progress

President Xi’s three key global initiatives on development, security and civilisation

On the eve of China’s annual twin parliamentary sessions, China Dally published the below interview with our co-editor Keith Bennett, focusing on President Xi’s three key global initiatives on development, security and civilisation.

According to Keith, they constitute a “step-by-step process, [whereby] China is setting out its view of the world – not only the view of the world as it is, but a view of the world as it should be, and what kind of world humanity should be aspiring to.”

He notes that the Global Development Initiative, first proposed by President Xi at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2021, has received a warm welcome from the majority of countries in the Global South, as its philosophies and policies are in the interests of the majority of the people in every country. 

“This reflects the fact that development is still the most pressing need for the majority of humanity… But what are the things that people need to realise development? Peace and security.”

The following article was first published by China Daily.

China’s three major global initiatives on development, security, and civilization have been welcomed by the majority of the world, and the West needs to gain a better understanding of them, said Keith Bennett, an analyst of international relations.

“In a step-by-step process, China is setting out its view of the world — not only the view of the world as it is, but a view of the world as it should be, and what kind of world humanity should be aspiring to,” said Bennett, co-editor of the online platform Friends of Socialist China, as he discussed the Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative.

He added that the two sessions, the annual gatherings of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, provide an important window for the West to learn about China’s domestic policy and its global vision.

NPC deputies and CPPCC members come to the sessions representing all walks of life, and the government report is a result of many deliberations and wide-ranging consultations.

“A lot of people in the West say that China is unpredictable. But actually, China puts forward its policies and its philosophy and its proposals very clearly,” said Bennett, who studied Chinese history and politics at the University of London in the late 1970s and has visited China more than 200 times.

“I think whether people support China, or they don’t support China, they actually should understand China first,” said Bennett, who is also a long-time member of the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding, which was founded in 1965 to promote understanding and friendship between the British and Chinese people.

Bennett said the three initiatives outline China’s experience and wisdom that can be used to deal with current world problems, such as how to achieve growth for developing countries and how to resolve conflicts in the Middle East.

Since President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Development Initiative at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2021, the initiative has received a warm welcome by the majority of countries in the Global South, as its philosophies and policies are “in the interests of the majority of the people in every country”, Bennett said.

According to China’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Vienna, more than 100 countries and international organizations have voiced support for the GDI, and over 70 countries had joined the Group of Friends of the GDI by the end of last year.

“This reflects the fact that development is still the most pressing need for the majority of humanity,” Bennett said.

“But what are the things that people need to realize development? Peace and security.”

In that regard, the Global Security Initiative was put forward by Xi at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in April 2022, stressing the importance of upholding a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and adhering to non-interference in internal affairs.

Last year, the reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia under a China-brokered deal was a remarkable achievement of the initiative, Bennett said, adding that he has observed how China has been assisting in reconciliations in various regions.

“All three initiatives are linked as a whole. It’s like you put one on top of the other to make the house,” he said, adding that the Global Civilization Initiative, which was introduced by Xi during the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting in March last year has been indispensable in realizing those achievements.

“In the Western capitalist countries, Samuel Huntington’s ideas of a ‘clash of civilizations’ find a strong resonance… but at base, it is a racist conception which constructs a hierarchy of civilizations, elevating that of the West and placing them in an adversarial and antagonistic relationship to one another,” he wrote in another recent commentary.

“In stark contrast, the Global Civilization Initiative makes clear that the history of humanity, spanning thousands of years, has seen a variety of civilizations come into being, develop and thrive, and this has in return promoted the overall development of human society,” Bennett said.

Prime Minister Manuel Marrero: Cuba has much to learn from the Chinese experience

In this episode of the CGTN interview series Leaders Talk, Zou Yun speaks with Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero, who was primarily in China to attend the sixth China International Import Expo, which was held in Shanghai between November 5-10, 2023. It was his first China visit since his assumption of office and he also visited Beijing and Zhejiang province. Marrero previously served as Cuba’s Minister of Tourism for 16 years.

Marrero welcomed the open and inclusive spirit of the expo, the only one of its kind in the world, providing both the developed countries and those of the Global South with opportunities to promote their products and services. Cuba had particularly displayed its rum, coffee and seafood this time. 

He also acclaimed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), describing it as the pinnacle of China’s global initiatives. President Xi Jinping’s considerations, the Cuban Prime Minister observed, go well beyond China. They are for prosperity and development worldwide. 

Thanks to China, and the Communist Party of China, many forgotten and exploited countries now have opportunities to acquire technology and development experiences. 

He was particularly moved by his meeting with President Xi Jinping. Cuba and China, Marrero said, share years of a traditional friendship and they face many similar situations. Cuba has much to learn from the Chinese experience, aligning it to their national realities, particularly, for example in terms of attracting foreign investment despite the US blockade. 

Speaking of the impact of the 60 plus years US blockade of the socialist island, he notes Raúl Castro’s constant reminder that those responsible are the US government, not the US people, towards whom the Cuban people always maintain a positive and friendly standpoint. 

The full video of the interview is embedded below.

Vladimir Putin: US exceptionalism is an extension of the colonial mindset

In this edition of the CGTN series Leaders Talk, Wang Guan travels to Moscow to interview Vladimir Putin, shortly before the Russian President left for Beijing to attend the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. 

President Putin notes that, in building their relations, Russia and China have “always tried to reach a compromise, even on complicated issues inherited from the old days. Our relations have always been driven by goodwill. It helped us solve the border delimitation issues that had remained outstanding for 40 years.”

Wang Guan gives his impression of the thriving economic relations between the two countries, saying that on this visit to Moscow, he “saw that the streets and stores, including online trading platforms, were increasingly filled with Chinese brands. At the same time, Russian gas is supplied to the homes of Chinese consumers and Russian meat and dairy products, for example, are becoming more and more common in Chinese stores.”

President Putin agrees that his country and China are well on the way to meeting their joint target for two-way trade to reach 200 billion US dollars by 2024.

Turning to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Russian leader commented that: “Yes, we see that some people consider it an attempt by the People’s Republic of China to put someone under its thumb, but we see otherwise, we just see desire for cooperation. Our own ideas on the development of the Eurasian Economic Union, for example, on the construction of a Greater Eurasia, fully coincide with the Chinese ideas proposed within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Thanks to the BRI, the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) have already secured $24 billion dollars’ worth of investments, Putin says, and continues:

“It seems to me that the main advantage of the concept of cooperation proposed by the Chinese side is that nobody imposes anything on anybody in the framework of this work. Everything is done within the framework of finding not only acceptable solutions, but such projects and such ways of achieving a common goal that are acceptable to all. This is what makes China today, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, unique in building relations with others: no one imposes anything on anyone; no one forces anything on anyone, but only gives them opportunity. And, as I said, if there are difficulties, compromises are sought and always found. In my view, this is what distinguishes the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by the Chinese President from many others that countries with a heavy colonial legacy are trying to implement in the world.”

Reflecting his well-known interest, President Putin refers several times to sports, especially the martial arts and ice hockey, and to his hope to increase cooperation with China in this field, and, citing the importance of sports in his own life, states:

“Everyone knows and it’s not a secret that I come from a simple working-class family, and in the past, I had a lot of time to spend in the yard. I don’t know how my life would have turned out if I hadn’t taken an interest in sports. It doesn’t really matter what kind of sports I did, it’s important that I paid a lot of attention to it.”

Following up on what he said recently at the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, President Putin excoriated the Western verbiage about a “rules-based order”:

“Have you ever seen those rules? No, you haven’t, because no one has agreed on them with anyone. So how can one talk about order based on rules that no one has ever seen? In terms of common sense, it’s nonsense. But it is beneficial to those who promote this approach. Because if no one has seen the rules, it only means that those who talk about them are making them up themselves from time to time to their own advantage. That is the colonial approach.

“Because colonial countries have always believed that they are first-rated people. After all, they have always talked about bringing enlightenment to their colonies, that they are civilized people who bring the benefits of civilization to other nations, whom they consider second-rate people. No surprise today’s political elite, say, in the United States, talks about its exceptionalism. This is the extension of this colonial mindset, meaning that when they consider themselves exceptional in the United States, it means that other people, all the people in fact, are just some second-rate people. How else could one understand it? Those are mere vestiges of colonial thinking, nothing else.

“Our approach is quite different. We proceed from the fact that all people are equal, all people have the same rights; the rights and freedoms of one country and one nation end where the rights and freedoms of another person, of an entire state, appear. This is the way in which a multipolar world should be evolving gradually. This is exactly what we are striving for, and this is the basis of our interaction with China on the international stage.”

He also speaks about the BRICS cooperation mechanism and its recent expansion from five to 11 members, saying that “all those who have joined BRICS support the idea and concept of forming a multipolar world. No one wants to play second fiddle to some sovereign, everyone wants equal rights. And when they join BRICS, they see that we can achieve this goal by joining efforts within the framework of expansion and strengthening of such a format.”

President Putin also discusses the conflict in Ukraine and the Chinese proposal for a political solution:

“We are thankful to our Chinese friends for trying to think about ways to end this crisis. However, I would like to remind you that hostilities in Ukraine did not start with our special military operation, but way before – in 2014, when the Western countries, after having volunteered as guarantors of the agreements between President Yanukovich and the opposition, forgot about those guarantees in a matter of days and – worse still – supported a coup d’état. United States Administration officials even acknowledged spending big money on it…

“Therefore, the start of the special military operation was not the start of a war, but an attempt to end it.”

Referring to the negotiations held in the Turkish city of Istanbul, shortly after the start of the special military operation, Putin notes that agreement was almost reached, however, “as soon as we pulled our troops back from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, the Ukrainian side committed all the arrangements to flames.” Therefore:

“Of course, we know the proposals of our Chinese friends. We highly value those proposals. I think they are absolutely realistic and could lay the foundation for peace arrangements. But, unfortunately, the opposing side does not want to enter into any negotiations. In fact, the President of Ukraine has even issued a decree prohibiting everyone – including himself – to conduct any negotiations with us. How can we conduct negotiations if they are not willing to and even issued a regulation prohibiting such negotiations?”

Asked if there is any possibility to make progress based on the Chinese standpoint of building shared, common, and indivisible security, Putin says:

“Yes, we have always said that, too… In this context, it is extremely important for us that Ukraine stays outside any blocs. We were told as far back as 1991 – by the then US Administration – that NATO would not expand further east. Since then, there have been five waves of NATO expansion, and every time we expressed our concerns. Every time we were told: yes, we promised you not to expand NATO eastwards, but those were verbal promises – is there any paper with our signature on it? No paper? Good-bye.

“You see, it is very difficult to engage in a dialogue with people like that. I have already cited the example of the Iranian nuclear programme. The negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme were very, very lengthy. An agreement was reached, a compromise found, and documents signed. Then came a new Administration and threw everything in the trash, as if those arrangements never existed. How can we agree on anything if every new Administration starts from scratch – begin each time from the centre of the playing field?”

The CGTN interview with President Putin is embedded below. We also reproduce the full text of the interview as published by the Russian President’s website. The quotations above are taken from the latter version.

Continue reading Vladimir Putin: US exceptionalism is an extension of the colonial mindset

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prachanda: China’s successes building socialism provide great encouragement to the peoples of the world

In this episode of the CGTN series Leaders Talk, recorded on September 25, two days after the opening of the Asian Games in Hangzhou, Li Tongtong interviews Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the Prime Minister of Nepal, known as Prachanda.

Noting that Prachanda is now serving his third term as Prime Minister, Li notes that the first of his many visits to China was to attend the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics during his first term. Now, 15 years later, he is in China for the opening of the Asian Games, having moved up his speaking slot at the United Nations General Assembly session in New York to be present. Nepal set a record with more than 250 of its athletes competing in the games this time and Prachanda observes that the 2008 Olympics showcased China’s progress to the world. And now the Asian Games show that China has taken another leap forward. 

Prachanda says that he has met President Xi Jinping five times and finds him a very sincere and visionary leader. Topics he had discussed with him this time included the common interests of the two countries, how to better facilitate China’s support and help to Nepal, for example in aviation, railway, road and transmission line connectivity, as well as climate change, poverty reduction and friendly relations between the two peoples.

The Nepalese Prime Minister, who is also the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), says that the glorious history of the Communist Party of China (CPC), since its founding in 1921, has seen it amass a wealth of experience. As a result, it has achieved a great success in building a new model of socialism, namely socialism with Chinese characteristics. This has provided great encouragement to and made a positive impact on communist parties and people who want development and social justice around the world. They all want to learn from China’s experience.

The friendship between Nepal and China, Prachanda observes, has deep roots and one example of their special relations is that Nepal is the only country to have diplomatic representation in Xizang (Tibet), which Prachanda went on to visit as the last stop of his visit. Its consulate in Lhasa is one of five Nepali consulates in China, more than it has in any other country. 

Whilst the number of people engaged in agricultural production in Nepal is gradually decreasing, Prachanda explains that his country is still primarily an agricultural one. So China’s experience and assistance in the agricultural field is very meaningful and important for Nepal. He always aim to study agricultural matters each time he visits China and this time he is focusing on how Nepal can enhance its agricultural production through the adoption of modern technologies.

Turning Nepal from a landlocked to a land-linked country is another key priority and in this respect Chinese experts are now engaged in active feasibility studies for the construction of a China/Nepal railway. Prachanda dismisses allegations of a ‘debt trap’ or the idea that a rail link could somehow pose a a security threat to other countries as baseless.

Irrespective of international, regional or domestic changes, he insists, his country’s position on relations with China will not change or be allowed to change. Nepal has always pursued a foreign policy of independence and non-alignment. It is resolute in defending its national sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. Nepal has never wavered or capitulated under pressure and it never will.

Guided by the United Nations Charter and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, Nepal firmly believes that all countries are equal, that no country should be allowed to interfere in the internal affairs of others, and that all countries have the right to decide on their own affairs.

Asked finally about his use of the name Prachanda, he said he adopted it when he was leading the revolutionary struggle. But he also used it during the peace process. He is more recognised by this name than by his original name and he will continue to use it as it symbolises both revolution and peace.

The full interview is embedded below.

Clare Daly: ‘derisking’ from China would be suicidal for European industry

In this episode of the CGTN program Dialogue, Xu Qinduo interviews Clare Daly, the outspoken, anti-imperialist member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Ireland on the EU’s attitude towards the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine, as well as on China.

Clare notes that the recent resolution on Gaza adopted by the European parliament, which she and her colleague Mick Wallace voted against, did not address the root causes of the conflict or the crimes, including ethnic cleansing and genocide, perpetrated by the Israeli apartheid state. The EU and the United States, she notes, are complicit in Israeli genocide and that makes them equally culpable in international law.

On Ukraine, she is not presently hopeful of prospects for peace. Rather she fears that working class Ukrainian men will continue to be killed in the interests of western arms companies who seek to perpetuate the conflict. 

Asked about the moves to expand NATO to Asia, possibly starting with the establishment of an office in Tokyo, Clare responds that she has said before that the last bite of a dying snake is the most dangerous. US hegemony is in decline and there is no going back on this. But in its lashing out in desperation it is very dangerous. In this regard, she cites President Biden’s recent demand for US$100 bn for not only Israel and Ukraine but Taiwan as well. She feels that the US managed to provoke Russia and now seeks to do the same to China over Taiwan. However, she believes that Chinese diplomacy is more measured and the country will not walk into a similar trap.

Asked what impressed her most on her recent visit to China, she says there is not enough time to recount all the amazing things she saw. China, she notes, has built whole cities, but in Dublin it has not been possible to build even one metro station in 30 years. Ireland does not have a single high-speed train and neither does the US. Unfortunately, the EU has been following the US in seeking to restrict relations with China under the guise of ‘derisking’ and similar terms. Such a policy, she notes, if followed through, would be suicidal for European industry. In the face of these provocations, Clare advises China to continue with its diplomatic overtures and says she can think of nothing that China should be doing differently.

Within this situation, Clare asserts that Ireland has a special role to play. The EU is largely made up of former colonising powers or former socialist countries. Ireland, however, was colonised. It knows what it is like to be oppressed. Therefore, Ireland can be a voice for neutrality, non-alignment, multilateral cooperation and international solidarity.

The full interview with Clare Daly MEP is embedded below.

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

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

What follows is a short video clip from the interview, along with a full transcript.

Capital News: According to information from the China Belt and Road Network, as of June 2023, China has signed more than 200 cooperation documents on the Belt and Road Initiative with 152 countries and 32 international organizations. In other words, more than two-thirds of the countries in the world have reached consensus with China on the joint construction of the Belt and Road. Why are more and more countries and regions willing to join the joint construction of the Belt and Road initiative?

Carlos Martinez: The Belt and Road Initiative plays a huge role in global development, and its historical significance lies in providing countries in the Global South with the opportunity to modernize and shake off the shackles of their colonial history.

In essence, the relationship between the United States and the West and the Global South is still predatory: using the cheap labor, land and natural resources provided by the Global South, developed capitalist countries can realize their thirst for profits. The Belt and Road Initiative stands in sharp contrast. By building an extensive infrastructure network, it has greatly improved people’s lives. By creating more jobs, it gives countries of the developing world the opportunity to escape poverty and break their dependence on the West.

Under the BRI framework, Ethiopia has Africa’s first urban light rail, and Indonesia’s Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail has shortened the travel time from Jakarta to Bandung from three hours to around 40 minutes. What China brings to its partner countries is professional knowledge, resources and experience, as well as development and win-win situations. The joint construction of the Belt and Road is part of China’s vision of building a community with a shared future for humanity.

The Belt and Road Initiative has achieved remarkable results in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and is now bearing fruit in Latin America and the Caribbean. Countries such as Syria, Nicaragua, Argentina, Cuba, and Zambia have recently joined the Belt and Road Initiative, and many countries in other regions are also taking the initiative to understand and connect. This positive momentum will continue.

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

John Bellamy Foster on Ecological Marxism

In this extensive interview, John Bellamy Foster, the editor of the long-established and prestigious US-based socialist journal Monthly Review and professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Oregon, discusses ecological Marxism, on which topic Bellamy Foster is an acknowledged global expert, with Jia Keqing, a research fellow at the Academy of Marxism of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Bellamy Foster begins by noting that the term ecological Marxism is widely used in China, but elsewhere the term ecosocialism is more widely used. Ecosocialism, he notes, has a complex history, with a number of its proponents in the 1980s and early 90s coming out of the Marxist and New Left traditions but being highly critical of Karl Marx and the classical Marxist tradition as a whole. “This also involved, in some cases, attempts to wed Marx with other figures, such as Thomas Malthus (falsely viewed as an environmental figure) or Karl Polanyi, who provided a more social-democratic political economy… Much of this was coloured by reactions at the time to the demise of the Soviet Union and attempts to distance ecosocialism from core Marxist traditions.”

However, from the late 1990s, such views began to be challenged by other ecosocialists rooted primarily in the unearthing of Marx’s own ecological critique. Marx, Bellamy Foster notes, “was strongly critical of the Cartesian mechanistic separation of human beings and animals and defended Darwinian evolution, emphasising the human coevolutionary relation to the natural world. He also emphasised the close affinity in terms of intelligence of nonhuman animal species and human beings, and he criticised the brutality toward nonhuman animals that arose within capitalist production… He also indicated that we relate to nature not simply through our production but also sensuously, and through our conceptions of beauty, that is, aesthetically… One of the most brilliant insights of Xi Jinping, in line with both traditional Chinese civilisation and Marxism, was to recognise that the concept of ecological civilisation was not quite enough, and that it needed to be supplemented by a notion of ‘beautiful China’. That is, our aesthetic relation to nature, and thus the intrinsic value of nature, was seen as so important that it needed to be emphasised separately.”

Discussing the relationship between ecological issues and the class struggle, Bellamy Foster traces things back to Friedrich Engels’s 1845 work, The Condition of the Working Class in England: “Engels did not start his analysis with the exploitation of factory workers and conditions in the workplace, though that occupies part of the book, but rather with the capitalist city, housing conditions, air and water pollution, the spread of disease and illnesses of all kinds, and the much higher mortality rate of the working class. In this sense, his work was ecological as much or more than it was economic.

“The struggles of the working class in the early nineteenth century were a product of their whole living conditions, not just factory conditions, even if it was their ability to stop production that was the basis of their class power… For Marx and Engels, working-class struggles were not restricted to strikes and battles by workers within their work sites but were also evident in the entire realm of working-class material existence. Historical materialism has too often been reduced to what we might call historical economism, leaving out wider realms of life.”

Bellamy Foster also incorporates the contradiction between the Global North and the Global South, as well as the complex relationship between working people in the Global North and the Global South, into his analysis, stating:

“If there is a shortage of food or water available to the population in the Global South today, is this due primarily to economic or ecological factors? The fact is that such problems are more and more intertwined given the structural crisis of capital and combined economic and ecological crisis and catastrophe…

“The economic proletariat has often been constrained by the logic of trade unions and the struggle for wages and benefits. The environmental proletariat, which is simply a way of referring to the proletariat in terms of the full complexity of its material existence, is concerned with work relations but also the full range of material life conditions. Such a unified standpoint is necessarily more revolutionary and more capable of grappling with the problems of the age…

“In terms of the question of the more revolutionary character of workers in the Global South, there cannot be the slightest doubt. It is the workers in the periphery of the capitalist system who are faced with the sharp edge of imperialism… Not all of these revolutions have succeeded, of course… Nevertheless, it is the proletariat/peasantry in the Global South that has continually led the way, and where one consequently sees the most radical environmental-proletarian struggles today.”

Bellamy Foster is clear that the historic responsibility for the looming threat of climate catastrophe rests with the imperialist countries and not with China or other countries of the Global South and draws on the work of Jason Hickel, who “demonstrated in an important study in Lancet Planetary Health in September 2020, [that] if we subtract the actual emissions of countries from their fair share, we can then determine which countries have, in their historical emissions, generated excess or surplus emissions. What Hickel was able to determine based on 2014 data was that 40 percent of all excess carbon dioxide emissions in the world added to the atmosphere were attributable to the United States, and 92 percent to the rich nations of the Global North. Meanwhile, China and India both had zero excess emissions. The excess emissions of the countries of the Global North represent an enormous ecological debt in the form of a climate debt to the Global South.”

Jia and Bellamy Foster discuss the ideas advanced by James O’Connor, founding editor of Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, regarding capitalist and socialist approaches to development and the ecological crisis. Bellamy Foster notes that: “Socialism arises out of capitalism and thus is inherently infected by many of its contradictions. The world-economy as a whole is capitalist, which means that socialist countries have to navigate their way through all sorts of external contradictions imposed on them, not least of all imperialist pressures. Nevertheless, what differs between countries who are socialist (or postrevolutionary) and capitalist are the social relations of production, which open up all sorts of new opportunities. China, for example, though beset with ecological problems, has been able to develop modes of ecological management and planning that would be unthinkable in the Global North/West.”

Asked what China should emphasise to tackle the ecological crisis and build an ecological civilisation, he responds: “China’s approach to building an ecological civilisation is radically different from anything that exists in the West/Global North. Xi has made it clear that the goal is to alter the whole ‘developmental model and way of life’… This is achieving startling results.”

Tackling the question of the share of coal-fired plants in China’s energy consumption, which has so far dropped from 70% to around 56%, he continues:

“A big factor in China’s continuing reliance on coal has to do with energy security, not simply economics. Coal is the only fossil fuel that China has in abundance. With the United States launching a New Cold War on China during the Donald Trump administration, which has been carried forward and intensified under the Joe Biden administration, energy security has become a bigger issue for China. As Xi put it in a speech in October 2021, China ‘must hold the energy food bowl in its own hands.’ In this respect, Beijing is very conscious of the whole history of imperialism and how Western powers had imposed sanctions on it during the century of Western ‘gunboat’ interventions enforcing unequal treaties, something that only ended with the Chinese Revolution.”

Bellamy Foster does not accept the view that China’s emphasis on ecological civilisation has little to do with ecological Marxism, but is mainly rooted in traditional Chinese culture, “Yet, I also argued that the notion of ecological civilisation was developed in China as part of an ecological Marxism with Chinese characteristics, drawing on China’s own vernacular revolutionary tradition and thus on traditional Chinese culture… My way of thinking about this was very much influenced by the work of the great Marxist scientist and leading Western Sinologist Joseph Needham, the principal author of the massive multivolume Science and Civilisation in China.”

Finally, Bellamy Foster firmly locates his arguments in the context of the New Cold War primarily initiated by the United States against China:

“The United States is currently threatening the People’s Republic of China over Taiwan, which is internationally recognised—by the United States as well—as part of China, but with a different system, in accord with the One China Principle… In the context of declining US economic hegemony, Washington is insisting on a unipolar world, promoting military blocs aimed at China and Russia, and rejecting the actual multipolar development of the world at large, through the development of the BRICS… The US dollar’s role as the international reserve currency is being weaponised to sanction both Russia and China, along with all other nations that have challenged US dominance… The world is therefore on the edge of a Third World War, threatening the very existence of humankind. China’s response has been to launch in 2022 its Global Security Initiative, which constitutes the most comprehensive set of commitments for overall world security, including the security interests of all nations, that has ever been introduced.”

This interview, which is well worth reading in full, was first published in English in the September 2023 edition of Monthly Review. Conducted in English, the interview was also translated into Chinese and published in World Socialism Studies (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) in April 2023.

Jia Keqing: John Bellamy Foster, thank you for taking time for this interview. You are a leading theorist of contemporary ecological Marxism. In recent years, you have published a large number of works on Marxism, especially ecological Marxism. Could you give us an overview of the current state of ecological Marxism research worldwide? For example, what are the representative scholars and representative journals?

John Bellamy Foster: In China, the term ecological Marxism is widely used, but in most discussions outside of Asia the term ecosocialism is more common. I use both terms, along with Marxian ecology. At present ecosocialism is how the actual on-the-ground movement is referred to in the West. Still, the term ecological Marxism is useful at times since not all ecosocialist currents are clearly Marxist. Indeed, some self-styled ecosocialists adopt a more social-democratic approach. Ecosocialism thus has a complex history.

In the 1980s and early ’90s, many of the most prominent ecosocialists, figures like Ted Benton, André Gorz, James O’Connor, and Joel Kovel, came out of the Marxist and New Left traditions but were highly critical of Karl Marx and the classical Marxist tradition as a whole for being what was termed Promethean (standing for an extreme industrialist and extreme productivist position) and for being anti-ecological. The main thrust was thus an eclectic combination of traditional Marxist positions on labor and class with a Green theory that was primarily ethical in nature. This also involved, in some cases, attempts to wed Marx with other figures, such as Thomas Malthus (falsely viewed as an environmental figure) or Karl Polanyi, who provided a more social-democratic political economy, sometimes characterized as more environmental than Marx’s analysis. For Benton, Marx had failed (in contrast to Malthus) to recognize environmental limits. For O’Connor and Joan Martínez-Alier, Marx had rejected ecological economics as presented by the Ukrainian Marxist Sergei Podolinsky—though later research proved this to be incorrect. In the case of Kovel, Marx’s main failure was to deny the intrinsic value of nature. Much of this was colored by reactions at the time to the demise of the Soviet Union and attempts to distance ecosocialism from core Marxist traditions.

Beginning in the late 1990s, these views were challenged by other ecosocialists who developed a tradition of Marxian ecology rooted primarily in the unearthing of Marx’s own ecological critique. At the center of this was Marx’s conceptualization of ecological crisis known as the theory of metabolic rift and the relationship of this to his economic value theory. Paul Burkett and I played a leading role in this reconstruction of classical Marxian ecology in Marx and Frederick Engels—Burkett in his Marx and Nature, me in Marx’s Ecology. Over the last two decades not only has our knowledge of Marx’s ecology expanded enormously, but this has been extended into a critique of contemporary capitalist ecological destruction in the work of such figures as Kohei Saito, Fred Magdoff, Andreas Malm, Brett Clark, Richard York, Ian Angus, Hannah Holleman, Del Weston, Eamonn Slater, Stefano Longo, Rebecca Clausen, Brian Napoletano, Nicolas Graham, Camilla Royle, Mauricio Betancourt, Martin Empson, Jason Hickel, Chris Williams, and a host of others. Ariel Salleh has come up with an analysis of metabolic value that integrates metabolic rift analysis with ecofeminist theory. Jason W. Moore developed a world-ecology approach that grew out of metabolic rift analysis, but eventually gravitated to posthumanism. Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro has written on socialist states and the environment.

Continue reading John Bellamy Foster on Ecological Marxism

The historian rewriting China’s understanding of the world

Qian Chengdan is one of China’s best-known but more elusive historians. In 2006, he was a key consultant for a major CCTV television series which analysed the rise and fall of nine world-historical empires. It was widely and correctly identified at the time as illustrating socialist China’s determination that its peaceful rise would never lead to the previous historical outcomes of colonialism, imperialism and hegemony.

Following this high-profile project, Professor Qian preferred to concentrate on his own niche interests, including publishing monographs on English history and translating The Cambridge Introduction to the History of Art.

However, he is now once again in the spotlight having led a team of scholars in a three-year project, resulting in An Outline of World History, which was published in June by Peking University Press. The publishers have described the work as “the first attempt by Chinese scholars to create a new system of knowledge for world history, and to use that system to write a history of the world.”

The book draws heavily on the work of Karl Marx, but, according to an article and abbreviated interview by Wu Haiyun carried by the popular Sixth Tone website, it has “taken pains to distance the work from that of earlier Soviet scholars, whom he believes were overly dogmatic and overlooked key aspects of Marx’s ideas.”

In the interview, Professor Qian says that:

“The Soviet system boils down to two elements: the ‘five modes’ and class struggle. The importance of class struggle to Marxism is well known, but many Chinese also learn about the five modes of production, which refer to the progression of human society from primitive communism to slavery, feudalism, capitalism, and ultimately a future communist society.

“The problem with the Soviet system was its absolutism. It rejected the idea of cultural diversity and posited that all regions and countries worldwide underwent the same process. This does not align with historical reality.”

His interviewer responded: “What you described as the two key points of the Soviet system are fundamental concepts that every Chinese person learns from an early age. Isn’t that standard Marxism? How exactly does your approach differ from the Soviet one?”

This drew the following response:

“In his book The German Ideology, Karl Marx provided a clear description of the formation of world history. He wrote, ‘the more the original isolation of the separate nationalities is destroyed by the developed mode of production and intercourse and the division of labour between various nations naturally brought forth by these, the more history becomes world history.’

“This is Marx’s own understanding of the formation of world history. Regrettably, his words were largely ignored by Soviet historians…This implies that human society is not only characterised by the progression from lower to higher stages but also by the transition from fragmentation to unity. From this perspective, we can see the superiority of Marx’s theory of world history… We aim to restore history to its authentic form, preserving its most genuine characteristics. In my view, Marx’s theory of ‘world history’ comes closest to grasping the essence of history. Sadly, his theory has long been overlooked.”

One of the things that is not explored in the interview is that Professor Qian’s rejection of simplistic and dogmatic interpretations of historical materialism, something by no means confined to many Soviet Marxists, but also to be found, for example, in many schools and adherents of Western Marxism, is essential to correctly understanding and appreciating the fact that a number of countries have embarked on the road of socialism without first going through the phase of capitalist development.

Concluding on a note of well-placed optimism, Professor Qian notes that:

“From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the Western world, bolstered by capital and war, essentially gained control over the entire globe, leaving almost no room for the survival of non-Western civilisations. This was a comprehensive ‘horizontal’ shift. However, from that point onward, history has begun to reverse course, and the world today is markedly different from a century ago. Various regions are pursuing their unique development paths, and differences are becoming increasingly pronounced and apparent.”

We reprint the article and interview from Sixth Tone below.

Qian Chengdan might be the Platonic ideal of an ivory tower academic. The director of both Peking University’s Center for World History Research and its Institute of Area Studies, Qian occupies a prestigious perch at one of China’s top universities, but unlike many of his peers, he seems to have little interest in fame or attention: He rarely participates in public forums or sits for interviews, and he avoids all social media — even WeChat.

On the rare occasion Qian does descend from the ivory tower, however, he almost always leaves a mark. In 2006, Qian served as a key consultant on the acclaimed CCTV-produced documentary series “The Rise of the Great Powers,” which told the story of nine world-historical empires, from Portugal and Spain to Japan and the United States. It was one of the first extended introductions to world history aired on Chinese television — and a significant departure from past programming focused on China’s own history.

After the series aired, Qian quietly returned to academic life, eventually publishing a number of well-received monographs on world and English history while pursuing his passion project: translating “The Cambridge Introduction to the History of Art” in its entirety.

Continue reading The historian rewriting China’s understanding of the world

Hakainde Hichilema: China’s modernisation is a crucial reference point for Zambia

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema paid a state visit to China from September 10-16, where, following talks with his counterpart Xi Jinping, the two countries upgraded their bilateral relationship to that of a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

In this episode of the CGTN series Leaders Talk, President Hichilema recaps with Li Tongtong his six day journey through four provinces. 

He started his visit in Shenzhen, China’s first special economic zone, visiting such cutting edge companies as the telecoms giant Huawei and the electric vehicle pioneer BYD. An enthusiast for China’s modernisation path, he next went to the Jinggangshan mountainous region in Jiangxi province, which was Chairman Mao’s first revolutionary base area in the fight he led to liberate China and the Chinese people. Hichilema opined that Mao had displayed great vision in selecting this region and he saw his own visit as a key part of completing his understanding of the jigsaw of China’s development.

In a similar vein, he also visited a fishing village and other local areas in Fujian province where Xi Jinping had worked and led at the grassroots level, especially in the areas of poverty alleviation and green development. He sees the leapfrog progression to digital development as a crucial reference point for Zambia’s own development path. Zambia needs to drive industrialisation, so that it does not simply extract its natural resources but also processes them to add value.

Zambia joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2018 and tangible benefits so far include the stabilising of the energy sector, to eliminate the frequent power cuts known as ‘load shedding’, and the revival of the Tazara Railway, originally built by China in the 1970s to help free landlocked Zambia from the economic strangulation of its southern neighbours, then under European colonialist and white racist rule. The programme includes some moving footage from those years as a highlight of the long and consistent friendship between the two countries and peoples. Winning independence from British colonialism on October 24, 1964, Zambia established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China just five days later, becoming the first country in southern Africa to do so.

The full interview with President Hichilema is embedded below.

Bashar al-Assad: China has gone from being the world’s factory to being the world’s innovation powerhouse

In this edition of the CGTN series Leaders Talk, Zou Yun interviews Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was visiting China for the first time in 19 years. His 21-26 September visit began in Hangzhou, where he and his wife Mrs. Asma al-Assad were among the international leaders to attend the opening of the 19th Asian Games. Talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping saw the two countries establish a strategic partnership and their agenda focused in particular on the Syrian people’s efforts to rebuild their country after years of war and its full return to the regional and international stage.

In the interview, President Assad was clearly touched by the warm and spontaneous welcome given by Chinese spectators to the Syrian athletes as they entered the stadium as well as by the subsequent comments by Chinese netizens on social media. Comparing the China of today with the one he saw on his previous visit in 2004, he said it had gone from being the world’s factory to being the world’s innovation powerhouse. But what was even more important than the changes was that the patriotic qualities of the Chinese people had not changed.

Reflecting on his talks with President Xi, the Syrian leader noted that China rejects hegemony and always stands with Syria politically. He felt that there was much that could be learned from the Chinese experience of modernisation as China’s own situation was once similar to that of many other third world countries. Syria and other countries, he continued, had once tried to learn from the western experience, but these attempts had proved to be unsuccessful and even counterproductive.

Turning to the current situation in Syria, Assad noted that the war is not over. The physical destruction could be addressed, as Syria had done many times in its long history, but the destruction of national culture and civilisation by western neoliberalism led by the United States, along with the related issue of extremism, was more dangerous. If Syria is rebuilt, he continued, his country will have a bright future. It had previously enjoyed high growth and low debt, was an exporter of wheat and other foodstuffs and had been developing various industries.

He praised the recent reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which was facilitated by China, as a huge achievement and a wonderful surprise. Syria had suffered for years from the estrangement between these two neighbouring countries. According to the Syrian President, the world is now in a period of transition from the centuries of colonialism, which had begun with the “discovery” of the Americas, and which has been characterised by slaughter and exploitation. It is this transition that underlines the significance of the various international initiatives proposed by President Xi Jinping.

The full interview with President Bashar al-Assad is embedded below.

CGTN interview with Senegalese President Macky Sall

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.

Comorian President Azali Assoumani: Africa can rely on China

In this episode of the CGTN series, Leaders Talk, Wang Guan interviews Azali Assoumani, President of the Union of the Comoros, who is also this year’s rotating Chair of the African Union (AU). The president of the Indian Ocean island country was interviewed in South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg, where he was attending the BRICS Summit in late August, alongside the related China/Africa Leaders Dialogue.

President Assoumani was very positive both about the role in international affairs currently being played by the BRICS cooperation mechanism as well as for the prospects of an expanded BRICS Plus, which was first proposed by China. Citing the two examples of the disproportionate control exercised by the western powers over the traditional international financial institutions, as well as the allocation of Covid vaccines, he notes that he had discussed the latter issue with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa several times. Africa, he points out, has the ability to produce its own vaccines, an area where South Africa, Senegal, Morocco and Egypt, among other countries, have already taken a continental lead.

The Comorian leader was also emphatic on the need for industrialisation, so that Africa can export finished goods and not just raw materials. While the era of political colonialism may be largely over, that of economic colonialism is not. Often Africa exports raw materials and then imports finished goods made from them at ten, twenty or even thirty times the original export price. He therefore endorses the priorities China has set for its economic cooperation with Africa, namely industrialisation, agricultural modernisation and upscaling of the African workforce.

On agricultural modernisation, he highlights the centrality of both food processing and storage, the latter being of particular importance given the propensity of many African countries to drought and to resultant famine.

The president is also an advocate of the growing trend towards dedollarisation. Noting the successful development of the BRICS-initiated New Development Bank (NDB), he says this shows that BRICS countries could also find their way towards a common currency.

Assoumani praises China’s long standing commitment to Africa and notes that the Asian country has been fuelling Comoros’ deveopment. China was one of the first countries to recognise Comoros when it finally won independence from French colonial rule in 1975. China has always supported and stood by Comoros, he says. Therefore Comoros must also do everything it can to support China. Drawing on a popular Comorian saying, he asserts that China is now becoming a wall on which not just his country, but Africa and indeed the whole world can rely.

Africa and China, he notes, have a bond of brothers. Some other countries may be jealous of this relationship, but they, too, could enjoy a similar relationship if they treated their African counterparts as friends and brothers.

Located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, Comoros consists of four main islands and numerous smaller islands. However, France remains in colonial occupation of Mayotte, one of the major islands, making this issue part of the unfinished business of African decolonisation. France has even vetoed UN Security Council resolutions that would affirm Comorian sovereignty over the island. The CGTN commentary correctly refers to Mayotte as part of the sovereign territory of the Union of the Comoros.

The full interview with President Assoumani is embedded below.

Dilma Rousseff: China’s poverty alleviation a historic event in the story of human development

In this edition of the CGTN series, Leaders Talk, conducted in May but only recently screened, essentially coinciding with the BRICS summit in South Africa, Zou Yun interviews Dilma Rousseff, former President of Brazil and now President of the BRICS-initiated New Development Bank (NDB). The interview was recorded at the bank’s Shanghai headquarters. As President of Brazil in 2014, Dilma was one of the signatories to the founding document of the bank.

Dilma explains how developing countries and emerging markets of the Global South need investment, for example in physical and digital infrastructure so as to improve their people’s lives. But they suffer from problems such as a lack of access to credit and the non-convertibility of their currencies. The latter, in particular, contributes to reinforcing dollar hegemony, which adversely affects them, whether in terms of susceptibility to changes in US interest rates or the US propensity to arbitrarily impose sanctions and exercise ‘long-arm jurisdiction’, seeking to impose US domestic legislation on others. Therefore, conducting at least a portion of external trade in local currencies is vital. It is related to the development of a multipolar world.

According to Dilma, the US’ imposition of punitive tariffs on China is a grave mistake. Not only does it cause economic problems for China – it fragments global supply chains and impacts economic growth in a way unfavourable to all countries. She notes that 40 years ago, China was an impoverished country, but today it is the world’s second greatest economy. US tactics such as ‘friend shoring’, she notes, can be no substitute for China’s huge market.

Regarding US sanctions policy, Dilma insists that they are effectively just another form of war. Their aim is to prevent development and negatively impact the lives of the people, with the aim of triggering a change of system.

In contrast, she expresses her strong support for the series of international initiatives put forward by President Xi Jinping, which she considers have peace and development at their core. She further describes Xi as a great leader, who has appeared at the right time and place. During her term of office, and under President Lula, Brazil succeeded in lifting 36 million people out of absolute poverty. She knows the challenges that had to be met to achieve that, so lifting 800 million people out of poverty, as China has done, is a historic event in the story of human development.

The full interview with Dilma Rousseff is embedded below.

Global Times interview with Carlos Martinez

What follows below is the full text of a written interview of Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez, conducted by the Global Times.

The interview deals with a wide range of issues, including the New Cold War on China, the nature of Chinese socialism, the Belt and Road Initiative, capitalist versus socialist democracy, and anti-China propaganda in the Western media.

An abridged version was published in the Global Times on 31 August 2023.

Could you please briefly introduce yourself to us? When did you start to study China? And what made you start to be interested in the country?

I’m an author and campaigner from London, Britain, with a longstanding interest in the socialist countries and global anti-imperialism. My first book, released in 2019, was about the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union. I was involved in setting up the No Cold War campaign in 2020, and the Friends of Socialist China platform in 2021.

There were two main motivations for me to start studying China. The first comes from being a Marxist and wanting to understand how socialism is constructed in the real world. The second comes from being anti-imperialist and anti-war, and wanting to understand China’s role in the development of a peaceful and multipolar world.

The more I study China, the more I realise how poorly it’s understood in the West. In recent years, the anti-China propaganda in the media has been increasingly intense, corresponding to the rise of the US-led New Cold War. Many people have this absurd idea of China as some sort of authoritarian dystopia that’s intent on taking over the world. Many people believe the media’s disgraceful slanders about the suppression of human rights in Xinjiang, and so on.

China is misunderstood even on the left: lots of people believe that, because China uses market mechanisms, or because there are some very rich people in China, that it can’t be socialist any more. But then how do we explain China’s achievements? China has raised living standards beyond recognition; it’s become the world leader in renewable energy; it’s gone from being a poor and backward country to being a science and technology powerhouse; it’s leading the global shift to multipolarity; its life expectancy now exceeds that of the US. All this is historic and unprecedented progress, on a scale which has never been achieved by any capitalist country. Why on earth would the left want to attribute these successes to capitalism rather than socialism?

Continue reading Global Times interview with Carlos Martinez

Azerbaijani president: Belt and Road an important contribution to Central Asia’s development

In this recent episode of the CGTN series, Leaders Talk, Wang Guan, travels to the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, to sit down with President Ilham Aliyev.

He notes that this year is the 100th birth anniversary of the current president’s father, former President Heydar Aliyev, who is, it is noted, not only the founding father of independent Azerbaijan, but also of China-Azerbaijan friendship. 

President Aliyev emphasises that his father created a framework for cooperation with China based on mutual respect and friendship. And, as illustrated in photos shown by Wang Guan, during his China visits, Heydar Aliyev also took particular care to visit ordinary Chinese families and to learn about their daily lives. 

President Aliyev noted that his father was already well aware of developments in China from the time when he served in the Soviet government. In the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), Heydar Aliyev held the highest position ever attained by someone of Muslim heritage.

The current president considers the relations between China and Azerbaijan to be on a long journey of strategic cooperation. They are based on an alignment of major positions in international relations, for example with regard to sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs.

All this also helps to create a favourable backdrop for economic cooperation, particularly within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which, in turn, contributes to regional security, stability and development. The progress of the BRI enables Azerbaijan to leverage its geographical location to its advantage, through the development of both the Caspian seaport and international rail links. 

Noting that he has met President Xi Jinping on many occasions, both in China and at international gatherings, Aliyev describes his Chinese counterpart as a person of vision and intelligence. This, he notes, contributes to the fact that the number of international friends of China is growing year by year. 

Aliyev also praises China for the assistance it provides to other countries, particularly when other countries refuse to do so. For example, China was the only country to supply Covid-19 vaccines to Azerbaijan when they were first developed. His letter to President Xi drew an immediate response, making Azerbaijan one of the first countries to start a vaccination programme during the global pandemic.

With regard to the question of Taiwan, he said that Azerbaijan always supports China’s territorial integrity and reunification. HIs country’s support for the one-China principle is absolutely unchanged and will never be changed.

Turning to negative western perceptions of developing countries like China and Azerbaijan, Aliyev says that the basic reason is his country’s pursuit of independent policies based on the national interest. Besides the western media, President Aliyev also excoriated the role played by supposedly independent NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, noting that their agendas did not diverge from those of their funders.

The full interview with President Aliyev is embedded below.

Algerian President: No matter how the world changes, our friendship with China will remain unchanged

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune paid a state visit to China, from July 17-21 2023. During this visit, shortly after his meeting with President Xi Jinping, he sat down with CGTN’s Li Tongtong to record an episode of the channel’s Leaders Talk series.

The Algerian leader began by expressing his people’s “sincere admiration for the great nation of China.” Algeria and China, he noted, share a similar history of development. Both of them started from scratch. Algeria endured 130 years of colonialism, but friendly countries like China helped both during the struggle for national liberation and when embarking on the road of development.

Li Tongtong noted the emotional way in which Xi Jinping had recalled how the two countries had stood together against imperialism and colonialism.

China was the first non-Arab country to recognise the Algerian provisional government, 65 years ago, at the height of the liberation war. China’s very first overseas medical team was sent to Algeria in 1963 – they were the first foreign doctors to reach the newly liberated country, which was then in dire need of medical assistance. In 1971, together with Albania, Algeria was the key sponsor of UN Resolution 2758, which restored China’s UN seat to its legitimate government.

President Tebboune said that China and Algeria had shared the same experiences. China had suffered from war, poverty and famine, but the indomitable Chinese people, under the leadership of revolutionaries like Chairman Mao Zedong, had fought hard for a better future and now China stands tall in the world.

Beijing’s action, in recognising the Algerian provisional government, he continued, had helped his country to win a complete victory in the war of liberation, and to embark on a new journey hand in hand with friends like China.

President Tebboune expressed great confidence in Xi Jinping, who he described as a wise leader. The weight on his shoulders is immense. China’s new path of development has implications for the whole world and many countries are looking to China. Algeria wholeheartedly supports him.

Algeria, which was the first Arab country to enter into a comprehensive strategic partnership with China, and which joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2018, is seeking to deepen its economic cooperation with China, which has long been its main partner in infrastructure development and other areas. One plan is for a railway to link the north and south of this vast country. Algeria’s first satellite, itself the first product of Sino-Algerian aerospace collaboration, is proudly featured on an Algerian banknote.

According to President Tebboune: “True friends step forward in times of adversity. So we are very clear about who our friends are and who are not. No matter how the world changes or what difficulties we face, our friendship with China will remain unchanged.”

Algeria, he noted, explaining the basis of his country’s regional and foreign policy, had struggled for national liberation, justice and freedom, and this had entered deep into the Algerian people’s subconscious. The Algerian people had paid a heavy price for these ideals. Fifteen percent of the total population at the time had sacrificed their lives in the national liberation war. So Algeria is very clear – it supports national liberation and rejects hegemonism of any kind. Some powers were now pursuing attempts at neo-colonialism, but the African peoples, he said, have awakened. 

Referring to last November’s reconciliation agreement between 14 Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, which was brokered in Algiers with his country’s mediation, President Tebboune said Algeria pursued no selfish interest in this. Palestine’s strength lies in unity. The older generation of his country’s leaders had said that Algeria’s independence would be incomplete without the independence of Palestine and his country always adhered to this.

Algeria is striving for a multipolar world together with China and looked forward to joining the BRICS cooperation mechanism and its New Development Bank. 

The full interview with President Tebboune is embedded below. Our previous report on his state visit to China can be read here

Solomon Islands PM: establishing relations with China one of the best decisions in our history

In this episode of the CGTN series Leaders Talk, Zou Yun interviews the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare at the start of his second official visit to China in July. Sogavare came to China nearly four years after his previous visit, which marked the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. This time, he officially opened his country’s embassy in Beijing and the two countries formally established a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Mutual Respect and Common Development in the New Era. When asked how he felt to be visiting China again, he simply says: “It’s good to be back home.”

Solomon Islands finally won independence from British colonial rule in 1978, but Sogavare repeatedly describes the decades between the proclamation of independence and the establishment of diplomatic relations with China as ones of “wandering in the wilderness”. This strikingly biblical phrase doubtlessly reflects his own Seventh Day Adventist faith, as well as the deep religious sentiments of the Solomon Islands people as a whole, and therefore, in turn, his deep attachment to the China relationship, which, despite being just under four years old, has been on the fast track to become a model of solidarity, cooperation and joint development between large and small countries and between developing countries. For Sogavare, the establishment of diplomatic relations was one of the best decisions made in his country’s history and he praises the attitude he ascribes to President Xi Jinping that, “no country is too small; no one comes too late.”

In the very short history of diplomatic relations between his country and China, Sogavare asserts that the achievements have been huge, not least China’s provision of the national stadium, where Solomon Islands will host the Pacific Games this year. He expresses himself vehemently with regard to those countries who have criticised his relations with China, saying that, “we are a sovereign state and who we have diplomatic relations with and who we develop cooperation with is no one’s business.” He dismisses the theory of a ‘Chinese debt trap’ as “nonsense”, saying that some countries are afraid that they are losing their grip over the small island states.

Establishing relations with China was the best decision because his country is struggling for development. Decades after independence, Solomon Islands is still aid dependent and the country is still poor, despite its immense resources and potential, including in forestry, marine resources, minerals and tourist attractions. Unless his country realigned itself to open up to the opportunities provided by China, he feared it would remain poor forever. Asked about his impressions of President Xi Jinping, he singles out his leadership in lifting the Chinese people out of poverty. This does not simply happen by chance and is something that other countries should emulate.

As the leader of a Pacific Island country, and home to some of the world’s greatest diversity of corals and coral reef species, Sogavare expressed serious and grave concern with regard to both the Japanese plan to release contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear reactor into the ocean and the AUKUS agreement between Australia, the UK and the US that will see the introduction of nuclear powered submarines into the South Pacific. The South Pacific countries had jointly sent the Prime Minister of Cook Islands to Japan to convey their concern. 

Regarding the AUKUS agreement, he explained that the first he had heard of this was on the media – the countries concerned had not even had the courtesy to inform Solomon Islands. This is despite the fact that both Australia and Solomon Islands are signatories to the 1986 South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Rarotonga. The South Pacific, he says, is very clear on its nuclear free policy, citing the impact of the nuclear tests on Moruroa (a part of Polynesia still under French colonial rule) and the continued suffering of the people there.

Finally, Prime Minister Sogavare speaks of his personal admiration for the Chinese martial arts icon Bruce Lee. Himself a Second Dan (black belt) in the Japanese Shotokan school of karate, it was Bruce Lee who inspired him to take up the martial arts seriously and the Prime Minister recalls how meaningful it was for him to visit Lee’s Hong Kong home in 1997.

The full interview with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is embedded below.