Tampering With the Concept of "Colonialism" Is Ill-Intentioned
——By H.E. Chinese Ambassador Lin Songtian to South Africa
On August 26, Michael Donen, a counsel of the International Criminal Court, published an article on the Star, claiming that foreign direct investment (FDI) is one of colonialism's modern faces to smear China's investment cooperation with Africa. Both Chinese and African people are victims of Western colonialism and we know very well what colonialism is.
As we all know, the essence of colonialism is to conquer other countries by force, compel other countries' governments and people to compromise on sovereignty, change other countries' politics, cultures, religious beliefs, and legal and economic systems, and plunder other countries' natural resources by imposed trade.
It is either an ignorance of the new knowledge of FDI and commercial loans, or a attempt to beautify the colonial history of the West for a professional lawyer like Mr. Donen to play tricks with the concept. This is an ignorance of history and a betrayal to the people in Asia, Africa and Latin America who suffered from colonialism. It is by no means acceptable.
The FDI and commercial loans are public financial products and tools created by the United States and other developed Western countries. Both developed and developing countries need loans for their development. Loans can bring capital, expertise, advanced managerial experience and knowledge to the recipient country, thus playing an important role in driving its economic growth. They are essentially different from the railways built by the colonialists to link the mines and ports.
China owes its rapid development to FDI and foreign commercial loans. Over the past 40-plus years since the inception of reform and opening up, China has utilized over $2 trillion worth of FDI. Now China still attracts more than $130 billion worth of FDI annually. In order to attract more FDI, China is committed to rolling out more preferential policies and measures, improving laws and regulations, enhancing government's efficiency, and opening up the market to make foreign investors feel secure, comfortable and happy to make money. It is because a large number of foreign investors have flocked to China and brought with them a huge amount of capital, expertise and managerial experience that China could be developed into the world's second largest economy, largest manufacturer, the largest trader in goods, and the largest holder of foreign exchange reserves in the world over the past 40-plus years. We do appreciate foreign investors who have made a lot of money for all what they brought to us.
According to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), despite the decline in global FDI in 2018 for the third consecutive year, the FDI in China surged against the odds, making China the second largest recipient of FDI in the world. China is committed to opening up and improving its investment environment so as to attract more FDI and ensure China's sustainable development and employment.
In order to support African countries' self-sustainable development, in recent years, China has provided a large number of preferential, interest-free and commercial loans in light of African countries' needs, and encouraged Chinese enterprises to increase their direct investment in Africa so as to help African countries break through the three development bottlenecks, namely, backward infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled persons, and short of capital sources
Anyone with basic economic knowledge knows that infrastructure construction is the prerequisite for any country's sustainable economic development, and needs a large amount of money. As estimated by the World Bank and the African Development Bank, Africa needs $170 billion for infrastructure construction every year, which is a huge shortfall. Whoever can provide financial support to Africa to help it break through the three bottlenecks and achieve self-sustainable development is Africa's true friend and partner.
China is committed to striving for win-win cooperation and common development with African countries. China's investment in Africa has increased from less than $1 billion in 2000 to more than $110 billion in 2018. So far, through investment and financing, China has helped Africa build over 10,000 kilometers of highway, more than 6,000 kilometers of railway, over 150 stadiums, conference centers and parliament buildings, more than 200 schools, 80-plus power plants, 80% of telecommunication infrastructure and a lot of airports and ports, benefiting all African countries.
We are glad to see that with China's strong commitment and support, the African continent as a whole is rising. In 2018, 17 African countries registered a GDP growth rate of over 5%, among which Ethiopia, Kenya and other east African countries registered a GDP growth rate of over 6%.
Unfortunately, since 2014, the FDI and loans from the US, the EU, Japan and other major Western countries and their trade with Africa have been declining. The United States and other Western countries are not only unwilling to help Africa, but also fearful of the rapid development of China-Africa cooperation. Therefore, they have fabricated the so-called "new colonialism" and "debt trap" fallacy to smear and slander China and China-Africa cooperation so as to deter Africa, undermine China-Africa cooperation and prevent Africa from achieving self-sustainable development and getting rid of their control.
The Chinese people cherish peace. China is committed to win-win cooperation for common development and does not have any track record or DNA of invading or colonizing any country. China will never pursue the old path of colonization like the West.
As for the so-called "debt trap" fallacy, it does not hold water either theoretically or practically. China's preferential or commercial loans to African countries are mainly used to support Africa's construction of large-scale infrastructure such as railways, roads and ports, and help Africa achieve self-sustainable development, instead of consumption or wage payment. The loans provided by China, which aim to make the relevant projects deliver economic and social benefits to the recipient countries, have all gone through strict feasibility studies so as to ensure that the relevant projects could fuel local development and help create jobs, and ensure the solvency of the partner countries.
The US' total debt is now over $22.5 trillion, more than its total GDP in 2018. President Trump is calling on the whole world to pour more FDI in the United States. If FDI and loans are colonialism, the the US is being colonized.
Colonialist is colonialist. Falsifying or beautifying colonialism can by no means change people's memory of it, nor can it blind the Chinese and African people who suffered a lot from colonization, let alone erase China's firm will to help Africa and the fruitful outcomes achieved by Africa in self-sustainable development with China's whole-hearted support.