•One success story is China’s trade cooperation with the 56-year-old Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
•The country’s socialist bent has evolved into a system that looks at development in 360 degrees. The benefits of development should be shared by the largest number of people possible and also ensure sustainability for the provision of progeny.
China has been known as the top developing country for decades. By virtue of its size, population, skilled manpower and other economic fundamentals, it seems the country was destined to be a major global economy.
The right socialist leadership has also ensured that the country is on the right path of peaceful development. China’s economic history is usually analysed through the changes and developments the country has undergone since the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949.
Both by design and by default, the country has not isolated itself from the rest of the world in its ascension to the economic big league. Through its bilateral relations with tens of individual developing countries globally, China has had a massive impact particularly on their infrastructural and trade development.
China’s relationship with developing countries has been focused on joint commercial ventures as opposed to the Western model of handouts. Instead of offering poor economies direct aid and grants, the strategy has been to enhance the capacity of developing countries to produce and transport the products where they are needed. This has been the case for both local and international markets.
The biannual China Import and Export Fair, commonly known as the Canton Fair held every Spring and Autumn in Guangzhou, has become a veritable platform for global trade between countries.
The 133rd Canton Fair is currently underway showcasing a wide range of products including agricultural and food machines, electrical and electronics, industrial components and tools, and plastic and rubber processing machines. Thousands of entrepreneurs from developing countries are in Guangzhou sealing business deals.
Products on sale at the Fair are relevant to the growth of the manufacturing sector in developing countries. For instance, businessmen from Kenya are reportedly exploring Chinese-manufactured clean energy technologies, auto parts and general machinery. Chinese technology is attractive since it is serviceable at cost effective prices. Initial purchase costs are also value for money, which means they are an affordable investment and have a high return on investment.
China’s role in various developing countries’ alliances has also been key in regional economic development. One success story is China’s trade cooperation with the 56-year-old Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). According to official data from the association, China has maintained its position as the group’s largest trading partner since 2009.
The country has maintained its position as ASEAN's largest trading partner since 2009. ASEAN-China trade has more than doubled since 2010, from U.S. Dollars 235.5 billion when the ASEAN-China Trade in Goods Agreement came into effect in 2005. ASEAN exports to China grew at a compound annual rate of 10.4 percent from 2010 to 2019.
The success story of China’s impactful partnership with the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is also well documented. This wholesome cooperation has included the economy, peace and security, cultural and political exchanges. The non-monetary sectors have been significant in creating strong social bonds which are crucial in trade relations.
Essentially, Africa comprises predominantly of developing economies. Established in 2000, FOCAC is the brainchild of African countries who felt that only their close association with the biggest developing countries could catalyze their economic development.
Recent projects and developments have also placed China at the core of the development of the so called third world countries. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is connecting developing countries across the four corners of the world. The project has been hailed as a game-changer in poverty reduction in the participating developing countries by opening them up through investment in railways, roads and energy.
Even amid the once in a century challenge posed to the world by the COVID-19 pandemic, China never neglected its partnership with developing countries. Although business was bad worldwide, the country reached out with donations of medical equipment, medical consumables and vaccines worth millions of dollars to ensure that the countries managed the crisis effectively.
Indeed, as stated in the January, 2021 white paper “China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era”, China has helped other developing countries reduce poverty and improve people's lives by helping to build public facilities in rural areas, sharing agricultural policy experiences, offering technology transfers among others ways.
China’s own defined path to modernisation is an inspiration to developing countries. The country’s socialist bent has evolved into a system that looks at development in 360 degrees. The benefits of development should be shared by the largest number of people possible and also ensure sustainability for the provision of progeny.
The Global South is gradually abandoning the Western capitalist system because of its inhumanity and extravagance. China is leading other major developing economies, led by the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) countries in setting up a different way of conducting international trade and development. There is an increased push to have developing counties trade with one another.
There is even serious talk of dropping the dollar as the preferred currency of international trade. While this cannot happen overnight and is fraught with a few financial challenges, the BRICS alliance has made the first step in the journey of a thousand miles.
The author is the Executive Director of South-South Dialogues, a Nairobi-based communications development think tank. This article was first published by CGTN.