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An Exclusive Interview with Professor Mingliang Zhuo On China’s 14th Five Year Plan and It’s Impact on Africa

Dr Mingliang Zhuo is PhD and guest professor at Nanchang University of Technology, Jiangxi province, China.

Ovigwe Eguegu (OE)Hello, Dr Zhuo Mingliang, Welcome to our exclusive interview. As the second-largest economy in the world, China’s actions have attracted the attention of people all over the world. In October 2020, the Communist Party of China just convened the Fifth Plenary Session of its 19th Central Committee, What role do you think the recently announced five-year plan will play in China’s National Economic Development?

Mingliang Zhuo  (MZ): The development of the Socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics has a unique political logic. It combines marketing and planning, which solves the relationship between market vitality and development’s stability, and holds the development of market economy firmly in the hands of the socialist nation. It not only can avoid the blindness of the Western market economy, but also can make the market economy more vigorous by giving full play to the role of the governments. The Socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics is an unprecedented undertaking, which is different from the western market capitalism road, also different from the former Soviet socialist road.

   The Five-Year Plan is an important part of China’s national economic Plan and a long-term Plan. It plans major national construction projects, the distribution of productive forces and the important proportion of the national economy, and sets the goals and directions for the long-term development of the national economy. China began to formulate its first five-year plan in 1953. Recalling the history of the five-year plan not only can we draw a general outline of the economic development since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, but also we can explore the law of China’s economic development from it. Through comparison and examination of the past, we can gain valuable experience from the historical development to guide future economic development.

China is implementing its 13th five-year plan (2016-2020). From the year 2021, China will enter the period of 14th Five Year Plan (2021-2025). We will complete the Xiaokang, the process of building a moderately well-off society in all aspects, that is fulfilling the first hundred-year dream, and embark on a new journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects in 2035.  

OE: What do you see as China’s influence on the world economy in the next few years, especially for Africa?

MZ: For the world economy ravaged by the COVID-19 virus, the recovery of China’s economy is of great significance. The CPC’s  14th five-year plan and the proposals for the 2035 long-term goals point that the international environment is becoming increasingly complex, instability and uncertainty are increasing, the new coronavirus is widespread and far-reaching, economic globalization has encountered adverse currents, and the world has entered a period of turbulence and transformation, unilateralism, protectionism and hegemony pose a threat to world peace and development.

In the face of this situation, no country can stay out of the way. Facing it, in the future, the Chinese government will promote a domestic and international double cycle, attract the global resource elements with the domestic big circulation, make full use of the resources of both domestic and international markets, and actively promote the coordinated development of domestic and external demand, import and export, the introduction of foreign capital and foreign investment.

Thus, other countries, especially African countries should make an in-depth study of China’s new policies and actively consider how to align China’s development strategy so as to carry forward China-Africa traditional friendship and truly benefit the Chinese and African peoples.

As you know, 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation. As Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, “Compared with 20 years ago, China-Africa trade reached $208.7 BN last year, and China’s stock of direct investment in Africa reached $49.1 BN, 20-fold and 100-fold respectively. China has built more than 6,000 kilometres of railways and roads, built nearly 20 ports and more than 80 large-scale power facilities in Africa, and brought about remarkable changes in Africa’s economic and social development. China has provided about 120,000 government scholarships to African countries, built 61 Confucius Institutes and 44 Confucius classrooms in 46 African countries, sent 21,000 medical teams to 48 African countries and treated about 220 million African patients. China-Africa cooperation not only contributes to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation but also promotes the joint and self-strengthening of Africa. It fully demonstrates that developing countries, through independent exploration, are fully capable of forging a path of rejuvenation that suits their own national conditions”. And this trend will be going on in the future. Therefore, the people of African countries are full of expectations for the future development of China.

OE: How do you see China’ future developmental agenda within international politics and its subsequent significance?

MZ: This is a good question. Western countries initiated the current system of global economic governance with the fundamental goal of satisfying their core interests, this neoliberal system of governance has driven the world economy for long, but has become increasingly unfair and exploitative in recent years as the neoliberalism crisis spread. Most of the developing countries are in a vulnerable position, as such, it has become the common aspiration of most developing countries to advocate equal participation and promote a more fair and just global governance system. Countries like Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa are among the emerging economies working with China in the BRICS format to reforms of the global order. In this context, the “Belt and Road” initiative put forward by China is of particular global significance, representing a new concept of global governance and Chinese accountability, which is fundamentally different from Western-led globalization and will bring benefits to the developing world, especially for Africa.

In recent years, the Chinese government has been actively advocating the concept of global governance that involves consultation, joint efforts and shared benefits, actively safeguarding the multilateral trading system and promoting a more just and equitable international order,  opposing the use of the Cold War mentality and coloured glasses to observe the world and opposing unilateralism and trade protectionism. This approach partly led to the successful signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership between 15 Asia-Pacific countries.

China seems poised to take an active part in reforming the global economic governance system, adhere to the principle of equal-footed consultation for mutual benefit and win-win results, and enable the G20 and other countries to play their role in international economic cooperation. China has shown commitment to upholding the multilateral trading system, take an active part in the reform of the World Trade Organization, and work to improve a more just and equitable global economic governance system. This series of measures will continue to provide the countries of the world with “unprecedented” and “historic” opportunities, especially for Global South countries.

OE: China is on its way to recovery, what is your assessment of China’s assistance to African countries as they face major economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

MZ: It’s not hard to answer this question if you keep up with the latest developments and news from the Chinese government. China-Africa friendship was born in the difficult years of national liberation and is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people of both sides. President Xi Jinping pointed out that China and Africa are friends in adversity. From China’s foreign minister Wang Yi’s recent article Two decades of common destiny, a new era on the heights to be reached, as it was for the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation in People’s Daily, we can easily get that China and Africa need to set a new model for a community of shared future for mankind, should stimulate new potentials for pragmatic cooperation and set a new standard for international cooperation in fighting the epidemic. Specifically, China will speed up the implementation of President Xi Jinping’s important declarations at the China-Africa Solidarity and Anti-epidemic Special Summit, and make China’s contribution to the realization of vaccine accessibility and affordability in African countries as soon as possible. China will continue to provide anti-epidemic material assistance to the African side, send a team of experts, and assist the African countries in purchasing anti-epidemic materials in China, and strive to realize the breaking ground of the headquarters of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention at the end of this year, to demonstrate the determination and strength of China-Africa solidarity in fighting the epidemic through concrete actions.

OE: Thank you.

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