A section of our media has been attacking the People’s Republic of China on several fronts. It is critical of China’s investments in Guyana in the first place, and more recently, has moved to attack China’s investment in the developing world. Accusing China of having a colonial type of foreign policy.
This attitude seems to have been influenced by our own domestic politics, more specifically, politics of the recent past, and also by some international developments.
This anti-Chinese position was a main propaganda tool of the PNCR/APNU and AFC while in opposition. At that time, their main efforts were directed at damaging Guyana’s economic progress. To do so, they had to try to influence investors, mainly foreign investors, from investing in Guyana. Their hope was that if the economy was not performing the government would be weakened and it would be better for them politically.
Despite all their efforts, the PPP/C government performed well, with an average growth rate of approximately 5% per annum.
However, they did have some successes. The main one being their influence on the European Union to hold back the twenty-five million euros for the sugar industry. That was after the PPP/Civic administration had fulfilled its commitments and met all the targets set for the disbursal of the EU money. The sugar industry up to May 2015 was well on the way to recovery and that money could have gone a far way to consolidate the gains.
The APNU+AFC regime’s real intention became clear after the elections. They have started the process of closing the industry down.
The two parties, now in power, together with their friendly media, mainly the ‘Kaieteur News’ began a big anti-Chinese campaign. The main reason was that Chinese investments were having a positive impact on our country’s economy.
That anti-Chinese attitude is still persisting in some quarters even though the situation is different now. It is basically a hangover from the past.
In passing, some of the slanders are more a reflection of the persistence of a colonial mentality. This is starkly seen in the vicious criticism of the Chinese construction of the new Skeldon sugar factory.
All the blame for the problems experienced in operating that factory are placed on the Chinese company.
The main criticism should have been directed at Booker Tate who were the engineers of the project. It was more their failure than that of the Chinese company.
However, the attack is only on the Chinese. It shows that some of our people still have an inferiority complex to the past colonial masters.
They should take Bob Marley’s advice seriously and free their own minds from mental slavery.
Now let us examine Chinese policy.
China has been growing at a rapid rate since the opening up, which began in 1978. It has moved from being probably the tenth economy in the world, to now the second largest. Its per capita income has increased from US$150 in 1978 to now almost US$9,000. It has also taken more than seven hundred million people (700M) out of poverty in this same period. This is unprecedented in the world.
Not only is its internal achievements impressive, but so too is its international contribution to the world’s economy.
China has since 2013, become the world’s largest trading nation. It is the biggest contributor to global economic growth.
In developing countries China’s investments are leading to assisting those countries from being dependent. The railroads in Africa, Zambia/Tanzania/Kenya have certainly helped Africa to progress.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, China’s offer to assist in building infrastructure is actually a dream come true. Many Caribbean countries are taking advantage of this. The infrastructure work that was done in Jamaica, for example, has helped the island to overcome its economic problems recently.
Europe and North America are courting China’s investment. Looking at international trade, China’s contribution is great.
At the end of January, British Prime Minister May visited China and was high in praise for China’s Belt and Road Initiative. She signed many agreements to help the UK economy.
Why is China being so generous with all its partners?
In the first place China wants to continue growing so that it can take all its people out of poverty and improve their standard of living to be among the best in the world.
To do so it needs firstly to assist the development of other countries so that trade could be mutually beneficial to all countries and peoples. It also developed mutually beneficial projects with the developed world.
Secondly, China has no interest in war. It has no desire to conquer and control any country. In fact, it needs peace to pursue its goals at home and abroad.
China does not have a history of colonial domination. It has a passion to be independent and to assist others in consolidating their economic freedom. Therefore, no one should be afraid that China wants to colonialize them. It is alien to China’s philosophy and contrary to its own history.
President Xi Jin Ping in his address to the Davos Global Economic Conference advocated that; “…. countries should view their own interests in a broader, global context and refrain from pursuing them at the expense of others.” This is a strong statement of China’s policy.
Only those who believe that China is becoming too powerful and influential are making the false charges that China wants to colonialize the world. It is mainly to drive fear where none should exist.
China is a friend of the developing world including Guyana.
Indeed, the progress of the People’s Republic of China is the best thing that has happened for former colonial countries and the world.