China’s philosophy of building a community with a shared future for mankind offers Uganda lessons and hope

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By Allawi Ssemanda

The last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic have taught us that no man can stand on his own and, that as a global community, weak or strong, the world is safe if we work together for the common good and prosperity for mankind.

From this experience, it is clear that the current global challenges, such as armed conflict, climate change, economic hardships and poverty, can be addressed if countries of the world work together to find solutions for such challenges.

Looking at African Union’s Agenda 2063 and China’s philosophy of building a community with a shared future for mankind, one can confidently argue that Africans should unite and speak with one voice with their Chinese counterparts who have showed readiness to work with African countries under a win-win cooperation arrangement.

The good news is that, through Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC), the two sides already have an action plan in place for the period 2022-2024, drawn from FOCAC’s ministerial conference which was generated through consensus, evidence that China’s relationship with African countries is guided by mutual respect, and is a textbook example of a partnership of equals.

The action plan highlights nine areas that the cooperation will focus on: peace and security, digital innovation, people-to-people relations, and promotion of trade and investments in African countries. The others are supporting medical and health programs, poverty reduction, supporting agricultural programs, green development, and capacity building. All these areas are vital for sustained the socio-economic development of Uganda, and Africa in general.

While global cooperation is key for international development and cooperation, in a post-colonial era where the architecture of current global institutions favors former imperial and colonial states, mutually beneficial relations and unity of the people of the Global South is vital in efforts to realize a prosperous, democratic and harmonious society in Africa and China.

As a major developing country, China eradicated extreme poverty among its 1.4 billion people in record time, and successfully built a moderately prosperous society. The country has since embarked on a new, ambitious path of moving towards high-quality development, dubbed “common prosperity”.

While popularizing the common prosperity concept, also known as “modernization with Chinese characteristics”, China’s president, Xi Jinping, argued that common prosperity will help in building a great and modern socialist country.

The main goal of the common prosperity concept is to reduce growing socio-economic inequalities, and promote all-round development, in Chinese society. Put differently, common prosperity seeks to empower Chinese citizens by creating conditions for all to thrive in their chosen fields and make a meaningful contribution to the development of their motherland.

In his essay entitled “To Firmly Drive Common Prosperity”, President Xi observes that while China succeeded in ending extreme poverty, the country still has to address the challenge of unequal development between urban and rural areas as well as closing the gap in income distribution between the rich and the poor.  This challenge is not unique to China, but a major problem to all developing countries like Uganda, and must be addressed to ensure meaningful development and social cohesion.

All the above offers Uganda and Africa in general vivid examples that while designing programs meant to reduce poverty, like China is doing now, such programs should aim at promoting all-round development.

Actually, as Uganda rolls out the Parish Development Model program, China offers practical examples which we should emulate, and seek views on how to use intervention programs to bring about all-round development.

The good news is that China seems ready to support and share experience with African countries and the entire world in taking the positive steps they have taken so far. Indeed, late last year, president Xi put forward a number of major initiatives, including building a global community of health for all, a community of life for man and nature, and a global community of development with a shared future. To join China in building a community with a shared future for mankind, African countries should support such initiatives and learn from China’s experience in an effort to make our world a better place for mankind.

However, African countries should not just sit and wait to be spoon-fed; they must be pro-active and use the opportunity of China’s willingness to work with them as “equal partners”. Currently, despite FOCAC, there seems not to be a coordinated engagement with China, and African countries have no clear “China strategy.” Although China has released three comprehensive Africa policy papers since 2006, and Africa has many experts on China, including thousands that are highly educated, thanks to Chinese government scholarships, Africa has no single policy paper on China either under the African Union or FOCAC.

The author is Executive Director of Development Watch Centre; a foreign policy think tank.




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