China at 74: Country remains a natural member of Global South

Dr Zhou Pingjian

From left, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Korir Sing'oei, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Dr Zhou Pingjian and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Chinese Embassy Zhang Zhizhong cut a cake during the celebration of the 74th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China at the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi on September 27, 2023.

Photo credit: Habil | Nation Media Group

The People’s Republic of China was founded on October 1, 1949.

Seventy-four years ago, life expectancy in China was around 35 years. Now, it has risen to over 78 years. China has built the largest education, social security, and healthcare systems in the world.

Seventy-four years ago, China did not have the capacity to manufacture even a tractor. Today, China’s manufacturing sector is the largest in the world. China has remained the world’s second-largest economy since 2010. In the first six months of this year, China exported 2.14 million cars. China is expected to become the world’s biggest automobile exporter in 2023.

In a short span, China has accomplished what took developed countries hundreds of years to accomplish. The key to China’s rapid economic development and long-term social stability lies in the path we take. Working under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the resilient and assiduous Chinese people have blazed a trail of socialism with Chinese characteristics and embarked on an epic journey toward national rejuvenation.

Following the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new era. With the historic achievements and changes for more than a decade in the new era, the Chinese nation has achieved a tremendous transformation from standing up and growing prosperous to becoming strong, and China’s national rejuvenation has become an unstoppable process.

The 20th CPC National Congress was convened last October. We have adopted a two-step strategic plan to build China into a great modern socialist country in all respects by the middle of this century.

Today, we are closer, more confident, and more capable than ever of reaching the goal of rejuvenating the Chinese nation. No force can ever stop the Chinese people and nation from marching forward.

Since the beginning of this year, China’s economy has continued to recover on a general soundtrack of rebound. In the first half of this year, China’s GDP grew by 5.5 per cent year-on-year, notably faster than last year’s 3 per cent. The IMF predicted that China’s economy will grow by 5.2 per cent this year and contribute one-third of the global growth. China’s economy will remain a major engine for the global economy.

China enjoys several distinct advantages: a socialist market economy in systemic terms, a super-size market in terms of demand, a full-fledged industrial system in terms of supply, and, an abundant, high-calibre labour force and entrepreneurs in terms of human resources.

The strong resilience, ample potential and strong vitality of the Chinese economy and the fundamentals sustaining China’s sound economic growth in the long run stay unchanged. We are confident and capable of promoting the sustained development of the economy and providing new opportunities for world development as we make new progress in Chinese modernization.

On September 26, China released a white paper titled “A Global Community of Shared Future: China’s Proposals and Actions.” The idea of building a global community of shared futures was propounded by President Xi Jinping ten years ago. It answers a question raised by the world, by history, and by the times: “Where is humanity headed?” His Proposal lights the path forward as the world fumbles for solutions and represents China’s contribution to global efforts to protect our shared home and create a better future of prosperity for all.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Over the past decade, China has contributed its strength to building a global community of shared future with firm conviction and solid actions.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a vivid example of building a global community of shared futures. The BRI originated in China, but the opportunities and achievements it creates belong to the whole world.

Over the past decade, the BRI, focusing on connectivity as the main theme, has provided a new platform for international economic cooperation and added fresh impetus to participating countries’ development and world economic growth. It has become a popular global public good and international cooperation platform.

The third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing in October. The forum is not only the highlight in commemorative events to mark BRI’s 10th anniversary but also an important platform for all partners to plan high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

China will continue to act in the principle of shared growth through discussion and collaboration and pursue open, green, and clean cooperation under the BRI. We will continue to follow a high-standard, people-centred, and sustainable approach to promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with partner countries.

Kenya is an important partner in Belt and Road cooperation. Our fruitful cooperation stands out in China-Africa cooperation. Kenya actively participated in the first Belt and Road Forum in 2017 and the second in 2019. It is my belief that Kenya will continue to make significant contribution to the BRI by actively participating in the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of China-Kenya diplomatic relations. Over the past 60 years, China and Kenya have treated each other as equals, supported each other, pursued revitalisation through solidarity, and have been good friends with political mutual trust and good partners with economic win-win cooperation. Under President Xi's and President Ruto's strategic guidance, China-Kenya relations have sustained strong momentum for growth and opened a new chapter of China-Kenya friendship and cooperation.

China views and grows China-Kenya relations from a strategic height. Guided by the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith and with a commitment to the greater good and shared benefits, China endeavours to strengthen solidarity and cooperation with Kenya.

China firmly supports Kenya in safeguarding sovereign independence and national dignity, supports Kenya in following a development path suited to its national conditions, and supports Kenya in playing a greater role in regional and international affairs.

China is ready to work with Kenya to jointly act on multilateralism, defend the central role of the United Nations in international affairs and the common interests of developing countries, advance the implementation of the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa, and safeguard regional peace and development.

As the largest developing country in the world, China is a natural member of the Global South. China breathes the same breath as other developing countries and shares the same future with them. No matter how strong it may grow, China will always see in Africa a tried and tested friend.

China stands ready to work with Kenya to take the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries as a new starting point to deepen traditional friendship, align both countries’ strategies for revitalization, and strengthen win-win cooperation. China is committed to putting into action the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative. China is committed to implementing the outcomes of the Belt and Road Forum, the FOCAC meetings and the China-Africa Leader’s Dialogue.

Together, we will bring the China-Kenya comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership to a new level in the new era and deliver greater benefits to the people of both countries.

Dr Zhou is the Ambassador of China to Kenya. (This article is an abridged version of a speech he gave at the embassy reception in Nairobi on September 27, 2023 on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China).