China’s Cooperation with Africa is a Win-win Cooperation

By Arnold Katende Ricky and Ssemanda Abdurahim

Dear Editor, on Thursday 27th July 2023 Sino-Uganda Research Centre, a Ugandan Think Tank dedicated to analysis of Uganda’s foreign policy and diplomacy in international milieux with focus on China-Uganda relations left me deeply thinking much about China-Uganda cooperation.  The symposium which ran under the theme “A New Era of China-Africa Relations: What is in it For Uganda?” saw different scholars and researchers discussing different topics among others China’s development path to modernisation and what lessons can Uganda and Africa in general draw from it, and role of women in development among others.

Partly organised to discuss likely implications of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in regard to China-Africa Cooperation as well as the outcomes of the China-Uganda cooperation, Sino-Uganda Research Centre released results for research entitled “perceptions about China-Uganda Relations: Public and Key Stakeholder’s Perspectives,” towards China-Uganda relations. The findings showed that majority of Ugandans are happy and support China-Uganda cooperation with 76% of Ugandans commending China’s role in supporting Uganda’s development plans especially through infrastructure funding support crediting the support for improving the countries road sector, creating employment opportunities to Ugandan and training as well as offering scholarship opportunities.

While according to Sino-Uganda Research Centre, only 22% of Ugandans believe China’s loaning terms to Uganda are fair, with the discussion of China’s development assistance, one can conclude that this area is always left out by Ugandans and Africans in general to be analysed and discussed by western media who arguably always want to criticise China’s engagement with the rest of the world. This is partly because; by playing a positive role in economic development of developing countries, China shrinks the so-called traditional development partners’ role who are largely western countries and secondly, because in most of Chinese funding are implemented by Chinese firms, a negative narrative is created since these Chinese firms take contracts which western countries firms normally want. Therefore, the negative feeling of Chinese loans to African countries should always be expected because of western media narratives and propaganda.

Indeed, Professor Timothy Kerswell of Chinese University of Hong Kong explained that most of negative views towards Chinese loans are as a result of what he described as “penetration of the so-called ‘Western Debt’ trap Narrative” which lacks facts.

While lauding Sino-Uganda Research Centre for investing time and resources in research that focuses on shaping Uganda’s interests, the First Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda and Minister for East African Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, who represented the Vice President Jessica Alupo under scored importance of researchers and think tanks being independent while conducting their work. She stressed that; “aware that credible and independent research is very important in guiding policy formulation and implementation, I would like to encourage and urge you to make sure that your work is done in total observance of the principle of independence in research for the benefit of Uganda, China, and the world.”

Kadaga stressed that for the last 61 years, China and Uganda have enjoyed good relations which has seen China’s continued support to Uganda in areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, health, industry, and energy sectors emphasised Uganda government is commitment to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Speaking at the same occasion, Chinese ambassador to Uganda, Zhang Lizhong, explained that the Chinese Path to Modernisation is socialist modernisation under the leadership of the CPC, and emphasised that it is “based on China’s national reality, and draws on other countries’ experience.” Ambassador Lizhong argued that as part and parcel of humanity’s modernisation, Chinese modernisation path contains what he described as “elements that are common to other countries’ modernisation, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, greater democracy, and rule of law. Meanwhile, it also has unique Chinese features as it is rooted in the Chinese context.”

If we critically analyse ambassador Lizhong’s words in regard to China’s development path, it is not a surprise that when China announced that the country had eliminated extreme poverty, United Nations described the rate at which China achieved this as a record time. The point of emphasis here is that China took a path that that is/was compatible to the country because, their development path is/was “based on China’s national reality.”

Upon that background and recalling the failed structural adjustment programs (SAPs) which Bretton Woods Institutions particularly the International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposed on Africa, it looks clear that China’s path to development if considered may be the magic bullet for African countries to attain development and modernisation, more importantly, modernisation. Put differently, while African countries may learn from other countries’ development path, it is important that like China which decided to take a development path with Chinese characteristics or which is compatible with their national realities, African countries must also take a path that is compatible with our national realties but not simply following any program as it was in 1980s when IMF forced many of developing countries especially in Africa and Latin America to follow SAPs.

The other interesting revelation was arguments by Ambassador Lizhong that China’s modernisation path is premised on a view that modernisation should not be considered as a reserve of one country or individual stressing that Chinese modernisation is the modernisation of common prosperity for all, and will open up a broader path to common development of all countries. “Modernisation should not make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Common prosperity for the whole world requires prosperity of all countries,” argued ambassador Lizhong.

In a nutshell, looking at China’s continuous engagement with African countries and Chinese leaders’ consistency in their communication, there is no reason to doubt or question China’s relations with Africa. As a Ugandan, I have no reason to conclude that as Africans let’s joint our hands together, to open up a new chapter of China-Ugandan friendship of solidarity, friendship and cooperation, and jointly build the China-Ugandan and China-Africa Community of Shared Future in the New Era!

Arnold Katende Ricky and Ssemanda Abdurahim are Research Fellows at The Development Watch Centre.

Strategic Government Planning is at the Root of China’s Modernisation

By Moshi Israel

The path of China to modernisation is a tale of perseverance, strategic planning, reform and whole process democracy. It is a path trodden by all the people of china with the Communist Party of China (CPC) leading the way. China’s path to modernisation should be a revered blueprint for other developing countries. It is testament to the fact that with a determined population and an organized government that appreciates its own contemporary and historical context, development can be achieved at the highest level.

Before the communist revolution in 1949, China like other impoverished countries struggled to find its identity. The country was stuck in the murky waters of constant civil wars, the opium wars, colonialism and years of humiliation. The advent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under Chairman Mao ushered in a new era of strategic ambition for the Chinese. Since then, the CPC has been at the forefront of efforts to turn china into a modern, developed and advanced socialist country with Chinese characteristics.

During this year’s April 21st Opening Ceremony of the Lanting Forum on Chinese Modernisation and the World in Shanghai, H.E State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang gave a keynote speech in which he uttered these immortal words that capture the spirit of China’s Modernisation path;

A towering tree grows from its roots, and a long river flows from its source. Likewise, our success in Chinese modernization was not handed down from the heaven or just emerged by itself. It has been attained step by step through determined, painstaking efforts of the Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC always staying true to its founding mission. Chinese modernization is deeply rooted in Chinese history, practices and philosophies.”

The above quote should be framed and hanged on the walls of all policy makers in all developing countries. Words are the building blocks for action. A careful study especially here in Uganda of China’s path to modernisation can yield inspiration in various forms and put the country on a similar path. This path should involve all Ugandans and should be led by a government invested in long-term strategic planning.  One avenue to study are the characteristics of China’s path to Modernisation.

The first characteristic involves the fact that china’s modernisation covers a huge population of well over a billion people (1.4b). The lifting of millions of people out of absolute poverty is not only an advantage for China but also helps the world at large. The more people out of poverty, the more the world realizes its sustainable development goals expressed through the United Nations. Also, China has over 50 nationalities and a vast territory which in most cases is a recipe for disaster. However, all these diverse peoples have been well integrated into a development program that leaves no one behind. This is not easy to achieve but should serve as an example to a country like Uganda which also boasts numerous ethnicities and tribes. Cultural diversity is a strength and not a weakness.

Secondly, China’s modernisation involves common prosperity for all. This involves the reduction and elimination of the gap between the rich and poor. China’s President Xi Jinping commonly says “The Country is the people, and the people is the country.”  No country can achieve development without involving its people. For instance, China has established the world’s largest compulsory education system, social security system and health system. This prosperity is not relegated to the Chinese people but also extended globally to include Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. Initiatives such as the Belt and Road (BRI), FOCAC and GDI are China’s embrace of prosperity with the rest of the world.

Also, another characteristic of China’s modernisation path is the modernisation of Material and Cultural-Ethical advancement. It is rooted in Karl Marx’s philosophy of all-round development of the human being. China recognises the importance of material abundance in building a modern socialist country. However, to avoid the social breakdown in some other developed countries, the Chinese also value and implement Cultural-ethical advancement that focuses on upholding morality and social values to build a well-balanced material and Spiritual state.

The fourth characteristic of china’s modernisation honours the link between humanity and nature. The world today is seemingly united in the fight against the existential crisis of climate change. China has been taking major steps in curbing its carbon emissions. It has also pushed for sustainable development and promised to achieve carbon dioxide peaking and neutrality. This is an area in which, many developing countries are facing challenges and require extensive research and investment. Fortunately, China is also looking to address this global challenge through the ‘Belt and Road Green Development International Alliance.’

Last but not least, the Chinese path to modernisation is a path of peaceful development. A world without conflicts is an ideal world for all involved. It is a safe world for development and it is especially important for developing nations. China rejects the old notions of development through war, plunder and destruction of others. Vital to Chinese interests is a peaceful world in which to conduct relations. Therefore, china advocates for mutual respect and win-win partnerships. China’s credentials as a peace advocate have been enormously boosted by the recent brokering of the Saudi-Iran peace deal that had a positive effect on conflicts in the Middle East.

It is therefore, vital for developing nations to study China’s modernisation path that elevated it from a century of humiliation to a modern economic and political power house slated to overtake the United States as the largest economy in the world.  It is important to note that when the cold war ended in 1991, western countries were jubilant and celebrated the victory of capitalism. Several scholars labelled it the ‘end of history,’ because capitalism was the sole system driving human civilization. However, China through the strategic planning of the CPC and Chinese people produced a miracle, it achieved in a few decades, a kind of development that took western countries thousands of years. China’s modernisation is proof that there is more than one way to achieve development.

The Writer is a Research Fellow with the Development Watch Centre





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