Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Blueprint for Africa: Provides an Opportunity for Liberia’s Socio-economic Development Gape?
Africa in recent years has come to be major Geo-strategic importance to the oil-dependent industrialized economies and giving attention that Africa receives from state actors on the global stage in the context of international politics, the idea of an African rebirth seems to be finding more and more acceptance within the contemporary global politics.
But it entails instituting the right policy at the right time by the right people at the right place, while those at the helm of leadership on the African continent must be proactive not reactive and worse of all passive; in paying keen attention to a win-win diplomacy.
Unlike other global powers, Beijing’s “win-win” diplomatic style has featured greater accommodations with Liberia. An Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Liberia Graduate School, Josephus Moses Gray, offers insight into the subject
The Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in his recent book title: The Governance of China, II, page 598 paragraph two disclosed that from 1950 to 2016, China provided foreign countries with over RMB400 billion in aid, and will continue to increase assistance. According to him, China has contributed on average over 30 percent of global growth each year and revealed that in the coming years, China is expected to import US$8 trillion worth of goods, attract US$600 billion in foreign investment, and made US$750 billion in outbound investment.
In view of Liberia’s current economic situation and development gape, the people-centered policy of one belt and one road initiative which has developed from blueprint to road-map, from concepts on paper to projects on the ground, provides a unique opportunity for the Liberian government to benefit from the Chinese President President Xi Jinping’s socioeconomic blueprints for African states’ development. When the Xi Jinping visited Duisburg in March 2014, the phrase ‘One Belt, One Road’ was a new phrase heard by very few people. Nowadays, this phrase is a buzzword in the media all over the world. Moreover, a glance at the map of the economic corridors reveals that the initiative has expanded from including just ‘one’ belt and ‘one’ road, into including many ‘belts’ and many ‘roads’ Recent histories have taught us that it takes more to convince people about the benefits of this kind of infrastructure program. In 1949, the birth of new China opened up a new chapter in Sino-African relations.
The Chinese government new diplomatic ties with African states and governments present a unique opportunity for Liberia-China new chapter of relations that bordered on south-south cooperation especially in the areas of national Interests, socio-economic growth, and infrastructure development. Whilst other powerful states continue to debate the merits of aid to Liberia, China continues to fill a major gap in several areas of interventions, even though it is too early to predict precisely whether Chinese long-term rendezvous in Liberia will produce a positive influence, the impact of China in the country is highly visible in several developmental areas including roads rehabilitation, constructions of bridges, hospitals, schools, sports stadium, agriculture facilities, and investments projects.
The new chapter of friendship subsisting between the two countries should move forward against all odds, build on open and inclusive friendship with mutual understanding based on political and economic benefits, by fostering partnerships grounded on competing for national interest through non-confrontation diplomatic engagement. Recent trends confirmed that China-Liberia relations are moving ahead in a very positive way, based on a vision of the community of a shared future, mutual support and equality grounded on a common historical struggle against imperialism and national independence. Closer strategic alignment between China and Liberia and in areas of main focus such as economic cooperation will produce win-win cooperation for both nations.
The President’s pro-poor doctrine which is built on five pillars-agriculture, job creation, infrastructure development, improved education, and health delivery systems and pave roads across the country should strongly consider other values and support reform at all levels of the public sectors. This will help to ease the magnitude of poverty in the country, and at the same time attract quality education; reduce unemployment in the country to an appreciate levels.
If African leaders pay keen attention to economic independence, turn from the western concept of development and introduce Africa’s own model of development concepts, and ease foreign aid reliance from the western imperialists, focusing on flagship projects and the structure of Community of Shared Future for Mankind, the continent can ultimately overcome abject poverty, wars, political, social and cultural conflicts on the continent. As a Chinese proposition that reflects China’s wisdom, this concept is based on the long-standing cultural tradition and the advanced Chinese ideological system, representing a new perspective for international cooperation and international order and the new concepts of development, security and civilization; it offers the right direction for the ongoing efforts to improve global governance.
The Chinese development agenda has helped to improve the nation’s infrastructure construction and built new homes for Shushan villages and other populations – for free. Electricity and telecommunication connections to the village have also been made. Now local people no longer have to worry about being affected by natural disasters.
Another example is Hainan in China; which stands as a symbol of an important historical testimony of positive China’s reform and opening up; as Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA). President Xi Jinping since 2012 to present has more than 68.5 million rural people lifted out of poverty in China over the past six years, that means 37,000 people escaped poverty every single day in China while the national poverty rate falling from 10.2 percent to 3.1 percent.
The Chinese government has succeeded to remove people from their shabby thatched or wooden houses to new apartments. China has made great leaps in reducing poverty and reaching the benchmarks laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals, according to the United Nations Development Program. The Weah’s administration can gain lots from the China-Liberia new diplomatic ties if attention is given the Chines development model if the right policies by the right people at the right time and the right place are considered,
Unlike the Western donors who tend to impose Western values like democratic ideas on Africa, China invests and provides aid without much preconditions and interference in their internal affairs which in some instances is not wealthy for some democracies and provides room for bad governance. The Chinese Government has captured the attention of many African countries including Liberia due primarily to Beijing’s reasonable approaches towards socioeconomic and infrastructural development, and the ways in which the Chinese Government practices win-win diplomacy and its foreign aid’s policy.
In several African states, infrastructure development and innovation have compared most African governments to rethink its strategies towards engaging with belt and road, while in Liberia the Government is seemingly becoming more interested due to its enormous developmental needs to achieve its people-centered pro-poor agenda especially road connectivity. For long, China has provided within its capacity foreign aid assistance to the economic development of most African countries. The flexibility of the Chinese model which exemplifies the traditional way of cooperation to western journalists the way through which China promotes multilateral cooperation lacks transparency and is unsustainable because it is not based on codified legal rules.
Let it be known that peace brings the world closure and unite a diverse group of people into a family and community, and can bring a peaceful and stable order to society, and a beacon for the necessary condition that enhances the survival and development of mankind. A world deprived of peace certainly will be denied itself of being turned into a Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind where law and justice will protect all; not forgetting that peace is an essential benefit. Liberia is a case study where China’s infrastructures are visible. China has provided aid to hundreds of projects in Liberia which involved road construction, infrastructure development, health and education assistance, security, energy, human capacity development and other sectors; but let me specifically states that America and Europe, in general, have greatly contributed to Liberia’s socioeconomic development and stability.
There is no doubt that the Belt and Road Creativity aims to create new networks between Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia based on China’s innovation of railway connections and resuscitate the historic Silk Road. The initiative, the shift to railways appears to be a great leap backward but modern production chains are heavily reliant upon offshoring and trade in intermediate goods. Understandably, China and Africa’s countries shared a comprehensive consensus on major international issues, common interests and a willingness to deepen their cooperation. China emphasizes the notion of “respect” for African countries, embodied in its policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of sovereign countries and in an approach to conflict resolution on the continent that is seen as much less confrontational as Western interventions while African countries and governments similarly treat China with greater respect.
The central reason for the formation of the United Nations as entrenched in the UN Charter primary responsibility is: To tirelessly main international peace and security and to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and in the equal rights of large and small nations, to ensure fairness and respect of international law, to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom. The oath is reflective in this year’s General Assembly 73rd Debate under the Theme: Making the United Nations Relevance to All people of the world”. If we take our respective time and critically digest the theme; one question that comes up is how the UN can be relevant to all mankind when the world’s body lacks geographical and regional balance, and powers only concentrated in the hands of just five states-the Five Permanent members of the Security Council?
Indeed, I believe that the new world order can be significantly better regulated if all nations subscribe to the principles of building Belt and Roads, and the construction of a Community of a Shared Future for Mankind; with respect to common development based on innovations and industrialization. However, the issue of inequality is a major concern for countries from developed to under-developed, and if not address adequately will endanger world peace; we have a historic role to play in this by promoting a robust, pro-active policy. Roughly seventy-three years ago, in San Francisco’s “the founding fathers” of the United Nations laid down on the negotiating table the basis of new interstate relations under which a political dialogue and cooperation had come to replace the policy of expansion and “civilized war of all against all”; in an effort to safeguard world peace and create a unique forum of goodwill and unattainable goals. The unification of the society and mankind depend on the maintenance and safeguards of global peace and stability, which are the direct opposite of conflict and war, since peace promotes and helps to unify individual rights and collective rights, and keeps the society integrated and saved, where love and care are shown to inhabitants of community of a shared future for mankind.
I am of the opinion that this journey cannot be complete nor can it win this battle by simply theory without being practical and decisive in our deeds and actions. Our presence here demonstrates our commitment to finding an international response to these challenges that stand or tend to stand in the way of the belt and Road and Building of a Community of a Shared mankind. We must firmly uphold the spirit of this gathering and successfully achieve the goal for which we are here. In order to promote an era of common development and the implementation of the Belt and Road, peace should be safeguarded since belt and road requires stability.
The phenomenon of war is as old as history; throughout recorded history political governance has never been there to serve as domain of the civil authorities; history, ancient and modern, furnishes ample proof of Caesar, Cromwell, Napoleon, Garibaldi, Mao, Ataturk, Castro, Franco, Spinola, George Washington and the American Rebels, Lenin and the Bolsheviks, the Sandinistas, the Greek Colonels, and countless military coup-makers in Africa and Latin America. The only continents that have-not experienced a coup d’état are North America (USA, Canada) and Australia. For instance, in France, First Consul (President) Louis Napoleon Bonaparte carried out a coup d’état in 1802, dismissed the French Assembly and proclaimed himself Consul (President) for life. His new dictatorship was approved by an overwhelming plebiscite. Just two years later, in 1804, he abolished the French Republic that he headed, proclaimed the French Empire and literally crowned himself Emperor. Napoleon would later be overthrown by a coalition of European powers.
The French eventually abolished the monarchy and reinstated the republic; in each case, the coup-makers abolished the monarchy and proclaimed a republic. In this, in the overthrow of monarchies, the revolutionaries were merely following on the footsteps of the American (1776), French (1789), Russian (1917), Spanish (Franco in the early 1930s), and the Greek rebels before them. Of the three surviving monarchies on the African continent (Lesotho, Morocco, and Swaziland), only Swaziland has so far escaped a coup or an abortive coup.
This old phenomenon preciously widespread in Africa and other parts of the world has been brought under control but replaces with insurgency and terrorism, both have changed the world especially international relations. These two new phenomena are most difficult to handle or be defeated on the front lines since they have greater oppositional devastating consequences on a peaceful population. Using recently developed models of the overall prevalence of civil wars in about 170 countries between 1960-1999, with special reference to Africa, shows that the relatively higher prevalence of war in Africa is not due to the ethnolinguistic fragmentation of its countries rather to high levels of poverty, failed political institutions, and economic dependence on natural resources, and most importantly, the absence of a community of a shared mankind.
The best and fastest strategy to reduce the prevalence of civil war in Africa and prevent future civil wars is to construct a community of a shared mankind and institute a democratic reforms that effectively manage the challenges facing Africa’s diverse societies; to promote inter-group cooperation in Africa, specially tailored political governance and economic management institutions are needed and we advance some hypotheses on the nature of such institutions.
There are three main types of coups which include Presidential coup, Palace coup and Putsch while a presidential coup can be defined as the “temporary suspension of constitutional guarantees and closure of the executive, which rules by decree, and uses referenda and new legislative elections to ratify a regime with broader executive powers.” This occurs when a democratically elected president converts the regime into a dictatorship with the objective to expand and increase executive power. Africa is rated as the continent that has experienced the most frequent coup d’états around the world, in contemporary Africa, out of the current 54 States, there are so far only Eight (South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, Mozambique, Djibouti, Malawi, Namibia, and Mauritius) that have not experienced a successful or failed military coup or an armed insurgency.
What Sudan, Rwanda, ivory coast, Uganda, Liberia and Sierra Leone have taught us is that there is nothing inevitable about regional instability, whether with respect to internal conflicts or conflicts between neighboring states; the fall of the League of Nation or the disintegration of powerful empires and states of an Ancient time, it is important to be practical in our ideas and dialogue extensively to convey to each other to discuss the many challenges ahead. When the leaders of African countries and the People’s Republic of China met in Beijing, the capital of the world’s second-largest economy on 3-4 of September this year to map out the Forum on Africa-China (FOCAC) future development and new way forward, much of the world’s attention was shifted from the ongoing trade war and protectionism to the platform of multilateralism. The successful gathering provided an opportunity to promote a modern era of development and the implementation of the Belt and Road Construction & Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind which helps to offer socioeconomic growth, industrialization, innovation, infrastructure, and human capacity building.
The new dynamic of the global system shows that China has energetically provided the intercontinental public with a succession of a productive public with new motivation innovations into the emerging concept of building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind and the Belt and Road. The concept of world peace promotes and helps to unify individual rights and collective rights, unifies basic principles including socio-economic, political, industrialization and innovations are geared towards promoting an era of common development and shared values. Let me further reiterate that the concept boons the principles of universality and advocates finding the common values and norms. However, this concept can only be achieved if states outdo unilateralism and understand the importance of peace and security, the principles on which the United Nations was founded in 1945, and ratified by 193 UN members’ countries.
Subsequently, there should be no distraction by the parties while African leaders and policy-makers must learn more about China’s concept of Belt and Road and the Building of a Community of Share Future for Mankind, and draw lessons from the Asian Tiger and Japanese miracle. It contains the basic pursuit of common human values such as peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy freedom, as well as respect for the particularity and diversity of countries with different cultures, societies, institutions and stages of development. Every effort should be made in order to win the concerted battle against corruption and poverty on the African continent.
Also need for the exchanged ideas in the areas of promoting industrial capacity, infrastructure and agriculture, ways of increasing the voice of the parties, economic development, and means of tightening the communication gape and cooperation between African countries and China to help achieve Belt and Road and construction of Community of Shared Future for Mankind, since the concept serves as a tool for poverty reduction and the elimination of corruption. The significance of safeguarding global peace and promoting an era of a common development squally rallied on two main dynamics, workable policy and inclusiveness backed by sincerity and fairness including good governance, respect for human right, socio-economic and industrialization; all shielded by an international best practices and standards. This tangible help to accelerate the industrialization process on the continent supports flagship projects such as road constructions for the African continent connectivity, human resource development, job creations, railways, seaports, airports, industrial parks, and economic zone.
Due to the importance of the concept of a Community of Shared Future for Mankind and as an important topic on good governance and on international human rights, it is entrenched in United Nations Security Council and Human Rights Council resolutions; this demonstrates how imperative the concept is to the society and a community of mankind. However, the concept can become an unfilled reality if the right policies for the greater good of the largest population cannot be adopted and fully implemented. Since 1950s and 1960s, as more and more African countries won independence and established diplomatic relations with China, the Sino-African relationship was ushered in a new era of all-round development that is having great impacts on the lives of millions on both fronts; the presence of China in Africa’s development cannot be questioned, China is visible on the continued march as evident by the hundreds of projects undertaking or completed, while new agreements have been consolidated for an effective implementation.
China and Africa have shared comprehensive consensus on major international issues, common interests and a willingness to deepen their cooperation. The rapid development of the Sino-Africa relationship reveals on-going transitions that facilitate the move towards a new strategic partnership. China also emphasizes the notion of “respect” for African countries, embodied in its policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of sovereign countries and in an approach to conflict resolution on the continent that is seen as much less confrontational as Western interventions.