With the world on the brink of a nuclear war with the United States pressurizing South Asia countries to support Ukraine in its “proxy” war against Russia, China is taking the lead in calling for reasoning and peaceful dialogue.
In a landmark speech at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022, President Xi Jinping introduced a global Security Initiative’aimed at deescalating the conflict. One of his key proposals at the conference was to resolve “differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation, support all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of crises, reject double standards and oppose the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction.”
How China is different from the US?
President Jinping’s remarks were probably a result of increasing alarm in Asia that a US-instigated conflict is brewing in their region which could blow up into full-scale war and cause untold devastation. Plus, what is more alarming is when US media outlets like The New Yorker openly declare that the US is in a “full proxy war with Russia” and the US Secretary of Defense defiantly states that America’s goal is to “weaken” Russia. According to journalist Caitlin Johnstone “US officials are leaking to the press claims that US intelligence has directly facilitated the Killing of Russian Generals and sinking of a Russian war ship.” She argues that the Biden administration is intentionally hindering diplomatic efforts and fuelling the conflict further with acts of war.
Washington’s long-term plan to weaken Russia and counter the growing power of China as often stipulated in RAND reports is being implemented through its proxy war in Ukraine where it is sending billions of dollars of weapons and western mercenaries.
In order to weaken Russia and isolate China Washington has launched a campaign through its global media network pressurizing countries to support Ukraine, using the same narrative it used when destabilising the Middle East and Afghanistan, ‘democracy’ ‘human rights’ based on the American ‘rule-based order.’
This same rule-based order US is attempting to impose on Pakistan to isolate it from Russia and China was evidently made clear on a Fox News interview where US National Security &Defense analyst Dr Rebecca Grant admitted that Imran Khan’s government was ousted due to“Anti American policies”. She then proceeds to send a message to the Pakistani establishment to “support Ukraine, stop looking for deals with Russia, limit their involvement with China.”
US pressure to support the war in Ukraine against Russia may have achieved its goal in western nations however is facing problems coercing South Asia, Africa, and Latin American countries to follow suit. Developing nations have seen through the façade of US’s fluctuating policy of “us and them,” over a decade ago the “them” was Islam and Muslims and today it is Russia and China.
Have developing countries finally opened their eyes?
Unlike Western leaders, developing nations have understood the geopolitical changes and value newly formed strategic alliances in a region dominated by China and Russia. China’s rapid economic growth has allowed it to become a significant leader in the Asian continent with development projects implemented far and wide giving weaker economies an opportunity to come out of poverty.
This refusal by the US to understand the new geostrategic reality of shifting balances of power is clearly highlighted when Washington wants Pakistan “to limit their involvement with China.”
Most Pakistanis are aware that neo-colonialism had turned their country into a vassal state exploited for its resources and wealth through organizations like the IMF and World Bank whose ‘debt traps’ ensured underdevelopment continued benefitting western interests.
While China on the other hand has presented Pakistan with a chance to develop its economy by helping with the finance and implementation of energy and infrastructure projects. China has been a close ally of Pakistan for 70 years, and this relationship further developed after the 2015 President Xi Jinping’s historic visit to Pakistan where the groundwork was laid for a strategic and economic cooperative partnership through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Since then, CPEC has created over 70.000 jobs with more on the way and brought billions of dollars in direct investment. Apart from the development of Gwadar port as a key logistics hub crucial for Belt Road Initiative trade routes it has eased the problems of power shortages through energy projects which include hydro, solar, wind and coal-fired power plants.
This China-Pakistan relationship has a long history and is based on non-interference in each other’s internal affairs established first by the 1955 Bandung Conference which outlined the five principles of co-existence including ‘economic cooperation’ and ‘non-interference’ in a nation’s internal affairs. China appears to have adhered to all these principals with a particular focus on ‘economic cooperation.’
In stark contrast to western practices where neo-colonial practices of exploitation involves punishing economic sanctions if there is any resistance to the American rule-based order. At present there are numerous countries under sanctions including Cuba Iran Venezuela, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Russia. American exceptionalism doesn’t realise that the more countries it sanctions the more “anti-America” sentiments grow resulting in these nations looking towards China for economic support. China’s planned Silk Route and economic projects have given developing nations an opportunity to be less dependent on western financial institutions and debt-ridden bailouts.
What is the way forward?
Even before BRI was introduced in 2015 China had made its mark much earlier by adhering to the Bandung principles of helping developing nations when in the 1970s it financed and built the Tazara Railway, later called the “Great Uhuru Railway” (freedom railway) which provided the landlocked country of Zambia with a 1,860 kilometres link to Tanzania so it could export its copper to international markets without crossing white minority ruled territories.
Since than China has become a key source of development finance in Africa, building a huge high speed rail network with two of its biggest investments in East Africa being the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway and the Kenya Standard Gauge Railway. The new lines are fast and highly efficient carrying millions of tons of cargo per year, helping to improve regional trade. Under BRI Beijing has financed more than 3,000 strategic infrastructure projects in the region.
Latin American countries are also looking towards China after the intergovernmental body the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) signed an agreement with Beijing earlier this year to enhance economic cooperation, including trade, investment, and development.
It has become common knowledge in developing nations that ‘while US destroys through wars, China builds economies. ’After the US pulled out of Afghanistan leaving the country with a destroyed and weak infrastructure and then proceeded to withhold its foreign currency exasperating poverty, hunger and malnutrition causing untold deaths. China introduced the “Tunxi Initiative” gathering foreign ministers and high-level representatives from Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan with an aim to support Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction in areas such as humanitarian assistance, connectivity, economy, trade, agriculture, energy, and capacity building.
During President Jinping’s landmark speech at the Boao Conference in April, he stressed that China will “always be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of the international order.” His speech had special relevance for the people of Asia, when he acknowledged their suffering through“hot and cold wars, hardships and tribulations”, however, he stressed that “Peace and stability in our region does not fall into our lap automatically or come as charity from any country” but needs to be worked at through “joint efforts.”
He went on to say “The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the Bandung Spirit, first advocated by Asia, are all the more relevant today. We should honour such principles as mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence, follow a policy of good-neighborliness and friendship, and make sure that we always keep our future in our own hands.”
The writer is a journalist based in London. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.