By H.E. MA Qiang, Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan
It is my great honour to be the 5th Chinese ambassador to South Sudan, a true friend, and brother of China. October 1st marks the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Being born in the late 1960s, I have seen the rapid development of China, experienced the great leap from insufficient food and clothing supplies then to a moderately prosperous society in all respects nowadays, and witnessed that more than 1.4 billion Chinese people are heading for a bright future of common prosperity. On this special occasion of the National Day, I think of these dramatic changes of China with even deeper feelings.
The People’s Republic of China was founded on October 1st, 1949. At that time, China was one of the poorest and most backward countries in the world. In 1952, China’s GDP was only 67.9 billion RMB, and the GDP per capita was only 119 RMB. In more than 7 decades which are only a fleeting moment in human history, the Chinese people under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) have taken the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and realised a historic leap of making China from a poor and weak backward country to the world’s second largest economy with their perseverance and strenuous efforts. In 2021, China’s total economic aggregate reached 114.4 trillion RMB, accounting for 18% of the global economy, and the GDP per capita reached 80,976 RMB. China’s total foreign trade exceeded 6 trillion USD for the first time, maintaining its position as the largest trading country in the world. China is the largest trading partner of more than 130 countries and regions. All these earth-shaking changes in China have been realized in just 73 years.
A line of an ancient Chinese poem reads, “Seemingly easy creation of poem implies painstaking efforts”. What’s behind the profound changes of China is arduous struggle, which embodies precious experience and wisdom. I’d love to share some of my thoughts.
First, to uphold the leadership of the CPC. The General Principles of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China clearly articulates that the leadership of the CPC is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics. China is a huge country with a large population and complicated national conditions. It is necessary to have a strong leading force for national rejuvenation and development, and thus upholding the leadership of the CPC is the only correct choice. It has been fully proved by the history of 73 years that without the CPC, there would be no new China and no great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. This is the choice of history and people and must be consistently upheld.
Second, to uphold the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. The direction determines the path, and the path determines the destiny. The socialist system with Chinese characteristics is a scientific system explored by the CPC and Chinese people through long-term practice and exploration, which provides a strong guarantee for China’s political stability, economic development, cultural prosperity, ethnic harmony, people’s happiness, social peace and national unity. The successful practice of the new China in the past 73 years has proved to the world that, in the process of governing a country and promote its modernization, we should not blindly copy the institutional models of other countries, but take the development path that is in line with our own national conditions. The best is what suits you the most.
Third, to take economic development as the central task. Material production plays a fundamental role in a society, and the success of socialism, in the final analysis, depends on the continuous liberation and development of productive forces. The Chinese government formulates a national economic and social development plan every five years, which enable the consistency of the policy so that the country’s economic strength has greatly improved and people’s life become better and better. It has been proved by practice that development holds the key to solve all problems. Only by firmly focusing on the central task of economic development while promoting other aspects of construction and reform can we provide a vibrant institutional guarantee and material conditions for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Fourth, to adhere to reform and opening up. The reform and opening up is a key endeavor that has determined the fate of contemporary China. In the past 40 years and more, China’s economic development has been achieved in an open environment; in the future, the high-quality development of China’s economy must also be realized under more open conditions. H.E. Xi Jinping, President of China and General Secretary of the CPC, has repeatedly declared to the world that ” China will never shut its door; its door will open even wider! ” China will grasp the general trend of the era and promote high-standard opening-up in deeper and broader fields, to provide more opportunities for world economic development.
Fifth, to maintain a long-term stable social environment. By emphasizing that “stability is the premise of reform and development” and “without social stability, there would be no smooth reform and development, and even the already-made achievements would be lost”, China has carefully and successfully handled the relationship among reform, development and stability. The CPC has adhered to the people-centered development thought, attached great importance to improving people’s livelihood and solving the most pressing difficulties and problems that are of great concern to the people, and constantly improved the social governance system and the social security situation. All these have demonstrated the remarkable advantages of “China’s governance”, which instills great impetus into the ongoing miracle of China’s development.
As an ancient Chinese adage goes, “the noblest ideal is to create a world truly shared by all”. While realizing its own rapid development, China has always been dedicated to building a community with a shared future for mankind, contributing to human progress and world harmony with concrete actions, and unswervingly playing the role as a promoter of world peace, contributor to global development, defender of the international order, provider of public goods, and mediator of hotspot issues.
With that, China has put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which provides a key platform for building a community with a shared future for mankind. Since the BRI was launched 9 years ago, China has signed BRI cooperation agreements with 149 countries including South Sudan, and 32 international organizations. Upholding the BRI principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, China has carried out mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries on high-quality Belt and Road construction with no political strings attached. Connectivity between China and Africa has expanded at a faster pace, and our economic and trade cooperation has been brought to greater heights than never before. In the first half of 2022, the total volume of trade between China and Africa reached 137.38 billion USD, registering a year-on-year growth of 16.6%. During the same period, China’s imports from Africa increased 19.1% year on year, and Chinese companies invested 2.17 billion USD in Africa. These tangible achievements prove that China-Africa cooperation is action-oriented, not a “talk shop”, China always keeps its word in front of its African brothers, and that China’s support for Africa’s development is ever-lasting.
China has also put forward the Global Development Initiative(GDI), the Global Security Initiative(GSI) and the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa, which provided clear guidance for all countries, especially African countries, to seek sustainable development and solve security dilemmas. Currently, the world economy still faces strong headwinds on its path toward recovery and security challenges are more prominent. As the theme of our times, peace and development are facing severe challenges. How to realize security and development in a synchronized manner is a major problem for all countries and for global governance. The GDI and GSI, based on the principle of sustainable development and indivisible security, advocate the building of a global development community and a global security community to effectively respond to the universal demands of people of all countries for peace, development and cooperation. Once put forward, they are highly welcomed by most countries including South Sudan and are hailed as a “golden key” to solve the development dilemma and a “golden prescription” to resolve the security challenges. The Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa focuses on addressing the triple challenges of security, development and governance in the region, supporting regional countries to get rid of major powers’ geopolitical competition, creating conditions for achieving peace and stability fundamentally, and playing a constructive role in helping this region achieve peace, prosperity and long-term stability.
Chinese people believes that “with one heart and one mind, we can accomplish everything we aspire for.” As South Sudan’s good friend, good partner and good brother who always stands shoulder-to-shoulder, shares the same ideal and follows the same path, China respects South Sudan’s sovereignty and independence, supports South Sudan in exploring a development path that suits its national conditions, and firmly supports its peace process. As the political transition in South Sudan has entered a new and important stage, the development of South Sudan is now facing new opportunities. China will continue to work with the international community to provide support and assistance for the implementation of the R-ARCSS, make positive contributions to South Sudan’s peace and development, and help the people of South Sudan in their efforts to lead a peaceful life at an early date.
In two weeks’ time, the CPC will hold its 20th National Congress. It will be a congress of great significance to be convened at a crucial moment as China embarks on a new journey toward building a modern socialist country in all respects. It is also a new starting point for the developing cause of the CPC and China in the next five years and more. All Chinese will continue to forge ahead towards greater success! At this crucial moment, I feel even more honored and a greater responsibility to be the Chinese ambassador to South Sudan. During my term, I will work closely with friends from all walks of life in South Sudan, and spare no efforts to promote the political mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation between our two countries to my level best, so as to bring China-South Sudan bilateral relations to a new height!