ONE BELT, ONE ROAD INITIATIVE: A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY FOR LIBERIAN GOVERNMENT TO BENEFIT FROM THE CHINESE REVOLUTIONS

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By Josephus Moses Gray, [email protected], Contributing Writer

   The people-centered policy of building a community of shared future for a poverty-stricken Liberian society entails several developmental concepts but precisely demonstrates a duty to resolve socioeconomic and political problems, which generally served as obstacles to prosperity for the Liberian society. The concept if effectively carried out, will lead to socioeconomic growth and promote an era of Belt and Road Construction & Building a Community of Shared Future for all Liberians. The concept of one belt, one road which is highly rooted in the Chinese culture and approach towards development embodies the principle of harmonizing all facets of good governance and respect for global human rights, rule of law and justice, all directed towards safeguarding global peace and promotes common development across the globe.

    Considering Liberia’s economic apathy and development gape, the one belt and one road initiative, and the building of a community of shared future for mankind 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 country  must be proactive not reactive and worse of all passive; in paying keen attention to Chinese innovations, industrialization and a win-win diplomacy.

      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.

       Since its introduction in 2013, the one belt, one road (BRI) has grown from blueprint to roadmap, from concepts on paper to projects on the ground. When President 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.

       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 displayed 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 socio-economic growth, industrialization, innovation, infrastructure and human capacity building.

      Indeed, I believe that our world order can be significantly better regulated if all nations subscribe to the principles of Belt and Roads and the construction of a Community of a Shared Future for Mankind; with respect to common development based on innovations and industrializations. 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.

         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.   

       A series of new concepts and new approaches if properly managed effectively might become a path to the attainment of Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind, where world peace is secured and protected, a common development is promoted and the Belt and Road reflectively visible across from one region to another, indeed result is bound to date prosperity. As a cue, the community of shared future for mankind includes a win-win cooperation, mutual understand and just partnership, fairness, openness, and importantly, inclusiveness which promotes harmonious interactions and exchanges among different societies and developments. 

      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.    

        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.

      Before deliberating further, kindly permit me to provide equilibrium on “peace, development and belt and road”; the three are interconnected and provide light for human surviving but the key to them is peace in the content of harmony and intimacy; in the absence of a safeguarded peace, there will always be obstacles along the way to development which can pose a serious threat to the successful achievement of Belt and Road, not to mention Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind.

     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 industrializations. 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 reform 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 socio-economic 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.  

        African Countries and global south especially the People’s Republic of China has an interest in promoting greater connectivity and solidity in their south-south cooperation. This can be attained by removing all lukewarm attitudes, well operational coordinated initiative, and transparency. But through safeguarding world peace, promoting an era of common development and the visionary Belt and Road by Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind. In modern history, China and Africa shared similar experiences, both having suffered from aggression, plunder, and enslavement by colonialists. Therefore, the Chinese people and the people of Africa have all along rendered each other solidarity and support and shared weal and woe in their struggles against imperialism and for national independence and liberation.

          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 a 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.

     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 governances.  The Chinese Government has captured the attention of many African countries including Liberia due primarily to Beijing’s reasonable approaches towards socio-economic and infrastructural development, and the ways in which the Chinese Government practices win-win diplomacy and its foreign aid’s policy. Beijing’s “win-win” diplomatic style has featured greater accommodations with several African states, governments and leaderships including Liberia.

         Therefore, it is not unimaginable that China is regarded by Africa as a more cooperative and valuable partner to the West. Africa has long proclaimed its desire to industrialize its economy in an effort to attain higher living standards and increase productive employment opportunities for its populace. Sino-African trade and economic cooperation have been advancing smoothly. 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.

         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. Africa in recent years has come to be a major Geo-strategic importance to the oil-dependent industrialized economies and giving an 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.

       In my native country Liberia, just like several African states, infrastructure development and innovation have led the government to rethink its strategies towards engaging with belt and road, and at the local government level, the current Liberian Government is seemingly becoming more interested due to its enormous developmental needs to achieve its people-centered pro-poor agenda especially road connectivity. This new interest on the part of the Liberian Government intensified recently during the September 3-4 FOCAC meeting in Beijing, China when the government requested a US$3 billion loan from China to address its development priorities.

       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.

About the Author:Josephus Moses Gbala-hinnih Gray is an Assistant Professor at the University of Liberia Graduate Studies Program with specialty in International Relations, Foreign Policy Studies and Development Communications.  He is a native-born Liberian, hails from the Southeastern village of Kayken Chiefdom in Barclayville, Grand Kru County. He has authored and published a 600-page doctoral dissertation on the theme: “Geopolitics of African Oil and Energy: China and America New Strategic Interests in Africa”.. He can be contacted at Email: [email protected] or reach on mobile (231)880330299

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