Zim to benefit from China’s commitment to Africa, Global South

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By Wesley Mashambanhaka

The People’s Republic of China has reaffirmed its commitment to growing the historical relations with Africa, while also deepening cooperation with the Global South.

This reaffirming has far-reaching implications for international affairs, more so at a time when there is a move towards recentering, recalibration and reshaping of the global world order. Zimbabwe, a traditional ally of China, will stand not only to benefit from the changing global dynamics, but also become a participant of the history-making epoch.

Recently, in the first week of March, on the sidelines of the Two Sessions, China’s Foreign Minister and a member of the politburo of the governing Communist Party of China (CPC)  – Wang Yi – made important remarks regarding China’s relations with Africa and the Global South, whose centre point now has become the expanded BRICS countries, which was this year extended to enable more membership and participation in its programmes, even for non-network members.

Wang explained the importance of China-Africa relations, its philosophical underpinnings and pragmatism, all at the centre of President Xi Jingping’s foreign policy. At the same time, Wang clarified the role and nexus of the Global South that is hinging on the new approach of the BRICS+ concept. These approaches are informed by China’s belief in “true multilateralism” as a basis for equality and respectful cooperation of nations of the world.

Meanwhile, it is also noteworthy that China is currently leading a re-think of globalisation as a force for good, at a time the concept has come under attack by Western forces such as the United States and Europe that are now pursuing inward-looking policies as a futile attempt to decelerate global interdependence in the vain belief that it can hurt countries such as China. This article discusses, as the first part, China-Africa-Global South dynamics, and, in subsequent articles, seek to understand what the Global South matrix and China’s defence of globalisation mean and entail.

China-Africa community of a shared future

China respects Africa because of historical links, similar struggles against imperialism and colonialism. China assisted African countries, including Zimbabwe gain Independence from colonial rule – and it did so out of sacrifice when it was not as advanced and economically strong as it is today. It commited its money and personnel to the cause of African liberation. A similar important marker was China’s building of the Tazara Railway line covering three countries in east and southern Africa, which is a story of immense sacrifice, which, in major respects has not been fully told, but remains a testament of the deep roots of China supporting Africa in pursuit of development; and a forerunner of the massive infrastructure and economic relations of today.

Politically, China and Africa have been like Siamese twins, always finding common ground in global affairs and international relations, witness Africa’s support for China’s restoration to its lawful seat at the United Nations in 1971; and the support for One-China Policy. Fast forward to the new era, China is equally supporting Africa to get a permanent seat at the United nations, as well as at the G20.

A white paper released by the The State Council Information Office  in November 2021, titled, “China and Africa in the New Era

A Partnership of Equals”, states that, “Shared past experiences and similar aims and goals have brought China and Africa close together. China and Africa will always be a community of shared future. Developing solidarity and cooperation with African countries has been the cornerstone of China’s foreign policy, as well as a firm and longstanding strategy.”

Wang explained recently that China’s President Xi Jinping has put forth the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and called for taking the right approach to friendship and interests.

Said he: “The endeavor of building a China-Africa community with a shared future has thus been steered onto a fast track.”

This has seen China maintaining the status of Africa’s biggest trading partner for 15 years straight, with increasing cooperation is growing bigger as well as affinity between the two peoples.

As part of the Global South, China and Africa, are cooperating “and profoundly shaping the course of world history”, Wang noted.

“In this new historical process,” Wang affirmed, “China will continue to stand firmly with our African brothers and supports an Africa that is truly independent in thinking and ideas.

“China will assist Africa in building capacity for self-driven development and support faster modernization in Africa.”

He explained that China “always holds that Africa should not be marginalized”, and is not interested in monopolising or exploiting the continent, taking advatange of it, but will even welcome more trilateral and multilateral cooperation on the basis of respecting the will of Africa.

China-Africa relations are set to be cemented at this year’s Focac Summit in Beijing. Zimbabwe will also participate. Wang said: “I believe that through this summit, China and Africa will enhance their long-standing friendship and deepen unity and collaboration to open up new vistas for faster common development and start a new chapter for a China-Africa community with a shared future.”

BRICS, rise of Global South

As alluded to above, there is a new movement of reshaping the global world order – which will benefit countries such as Zimbabwe which are small and historically marginalised – and China is a key cog in that movement at, and through, various multilateral actions. BRICS, the grouping of emerging economies that began with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa and has now been expanded to include at least six others, is at the centre of this change that could see geopolitical tectonic shifts because of the implications in global economy and political power, as seen in moves towards de-dollarisation or removal of dependence on US currency as the world’s reserve currency; and greater political and diplomatic power and influence away from Washington and Brussels.

BRICS is important in that it has representatives from all geographic, geopolitical and geostrategic corners of the world, and is welcomed by countries and institutions of the world, which see it as an alternative multilateral player at the global stage.

Wang said: “A stronger BRICS means growing force for peace and increasing international support for justice…In a broader sense, BRICS expansion reflects the collective rise of the Global South and a world evolving faster toward multipolarity.”

At the same time, the growth of the Global South with BRICS arguably at its core, is an important development changing the global economic landscape in a profound way; and it is asserting itself as no longer the “silent majority,” but a key force for reforming the international order and a source of hope as the world undergoes profound changes unseen in a century, as Wang explained. He affirmed that China is, and will be, be a steadfast member of the Global South, going “through thick and thin and head toward a shared future together with countries of the South”, while China takes its place as a crucial force for the development and prosperity of the Global South.

All these developments are leading to exciting outcomes.

Wang said: “This year will be a year of harvest for Global South cooperation, and a new starting point for unity among Asian, African and Latin American countries. The China-Arab States Cooperation Forum will celebrate its 20th anniversary. The China-CELAC Forum will count 10 years of productive cooperation. Another FOCAC Summit will take place in China this coming autumn. China looks forward to jointly celebrating the milestones with various parties, and continuing to promote unity and cooperation among developing countries to augment the strength of the South.”

These changing dynamics are important, and it is critical that Zimbabwe will benefit from material benefits and cooperation, while also contributing towards the reshaping of the world order. A lot of credit goes to China, Zimbabwe’s comprehensive strategic partner and traditional ally, in championing these changing dynamics.

*The writer is an associate researcher with Ruzivo Media and Resource Centre,  local think tank that analyses local and global issues