The Real African|| By I.K. Cush
Ignoring the cacophony of war drums, the Chinese government has inserted, quietly, its Belt and Road Initiative into the global discourse.
While the Trump administration appeared to move, inexorably, towards a military confrontation with Russia by launching an unprovoked attack against Syrian targets; around the same time, the administration of Chinese president, Xi Jinping, collaborated with the United Nations to host a High-Level Panel Discussion to examine the benefits of his country’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Ambassadors from several countries, including Afghanistan, China, the Czech Republic and Zimbabwe, participated in the High-Level Discussion. Dr. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, and director of the Center for Sustainable Development, delivered the keynote address.
“The Belt and Road Initiative is important for the whole world because the idea that China has is to build infrastructure that’s going to unite Europe, Central Asia, East Asia and South Asia. That’s about 70% of the world’s population and GDP,” explained Dr. Sachs below:
Insisting that western dominance of the global discourse “is over,” Dr. Sachs hailed the Belt and Road Initiative as a vision that will “facilitate peaceful economic integration through technology and building [the] human basis for peaceful cooperation.”
As the United States and its NATO allies pour gasoline on the fire of global flashpoints – Syria, North Korea, Afghanistan – China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a sobering reminder to peace-loving members of the human family that there is an alternative to bellicosity and hubris.
New Paradigm for Development
Dr. Patrick Chi Ping Ho, deputy chairman and secretary general of the China Energy Fund Committee, a think tank with special consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council, believes that the Belt and Road Initiative will “eliminate inequality and create pathways into markets.”
Dr. Ho described the Belt and Road Initiative as “globalization 2.0” – a new paradigm for development. “Globalization 2.0 emphasizes inclusiveness, equality and environmental friendliness,” Ho declared.
That’s a view shared by Professor Jeffrey Sachs who pointed out during his address that the Belt and Road Initiative seeks to realize two important outcomes: social progress – reaching the unreached, and sustainability – being environmentally sound.
Ambassador Frederick Makamure Shava, president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and Zimbabwe’s permanent representative to the United Nations, welcomes China’s Belt and Road Initiative: it will promote “market integration, development and connectivity” on the African continent while at the same time enhance China’s capacity to expand its trade and investment relationship with African countries.
China’s president, Xi Jinping, seeking to assuage the concerns of some countries that are suspicious of his country’s intentions said in 2015 that “the Belt and Road Initiative, though initiated by China, is not only about China…people in all countries along the Belt and Road will actually feel the benefit brought by the initiative.”
“While taking care of our own interests, we will give more consideration and care to the interests of other countries,” President Xi added.
It seems as though most peace-loving nations of the world have embraced the Belt and Road Initiative. According to reports, heads-of-state from over two dozen countries, including Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, the Philippines, Italy, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Spain and Kenya, have confirmed attendance to a May summit in Beijing to discuss the Initiative. Leaders of major western powers refuse to attend.
So, while some nations hew to the anachronism and backwardness of war, China, according to Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, continues to be an “exemplar of the incredible capacity to build” bridges and forge synergies that adhere to the principles of sustainability, inclusivity and mutual respect.