29.03.2023 Author: Oleg Pavlov

Russia-China Partnership: What is the use of it for Africa?

Africa Russia

President Xi Jinping undertook a landmark visit to the Russian Federation from March 20 to 23. It was full of events and symbolism, which will be analyzed by political scientists for a long time to come. It is now clear nonetheless that this visit signaled the beginning of a profound transformation of the entire international relations system, which would have a direct impact on the African continent.

The very fabric of the visit and the manner in which it was arranged demonstrate that it was conceived and realized by both sides precisely as designed: the Chinese leader came to Moscow on his first state visit since his re-election; his arrival was preceded by an exchange of conceptual articles by the Russian and Chinese leaders, in which they essentially heralded the beginning of a new era in international relations; during the visit, the parties exchanged important statements and demonstrated a model of cooperation between the countries in the 21st century.

If we summarize the two leaders’ statements, they spoke in unison in favor of constructing a multipolar world based on respect for the norms and principles of international law, particularly those enshrined in the UN Charter, and on the principles of security indivisibility, recognized universal values, mutual benefit, and a long-term positive partnership in which the parties adhere to a strong tradition of continuous and substantive dialogue.

Western commentators focused on the Chinese leader’s streamlined wording, primarily with regard to the conflict in Ukraine, missing the main point: Xi Jinping’s visit in the midst of the Russophobic campaign in the West and attempts to pressure and harass Russia, as they say, to isolate it “across the board”, was in itself a challenge to the system of coordinates in foreign policy that the West has decided to impose on the world.

Let us now see what the collective West, which claims to be “more united than ever,” has to give the world.

First. They effectively seek to return the world to a paradigm that isn’t even unipolarity, but a completely colonial structure of thought and action, hidden behind accusations of Russian imperialism and aggression. This means the selective application of international law: Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi (meaning ‘what is permitted to Jupiter is not permitted to an ox’). Yugoslavia was bombed in 1999 by the US and its allies under the pretext of “humanitarian intervention” after creating “evidence” of the massacre of civilians in Srebrenica by the Serbs. A similar strategy was used in Iraq, whom the US invaded alongside its allies under the guise of Saddam Hussein’s regime developing biological weapons. As it turned out later, none of this happened, but the country was destroyed. The same plan was then implemented in Libya, but this time it was done so in the name of defending the rights of the opposition. The same is true for Ukraine: there, the West resolves its security issues by unceasingly growing NATO and advancing its war capabilities closer to Russia’s borders, entirely ignoring Moscow’s worries, while attributing the aggression to the Russian side, which dared to defy Western demand.

Because of this, the West has rejected the idea that security cannot be divided, declaring that security for itself and its allies comes first while actually treating them like vassals without the ability to vote.

The second component of the Western-centric model is the total subjection of those who have declared themselves allies to the interests of the superpower, notably the United States and the global elites behind it. There is no democracy, no efforts are allowed to anyone to defend their best interests. Germany’s efforts to build its economy at the price of cheap Russian energy resources is a noteworthy example. They were ignored coldly, and the Russian gas pipes were simply blown up: purchase our LNG at three times the price and keep quite! Furthermore, a “war till victory” in Ukraine is being imposed on all Western European allies, regardless of whether it is in their national interests.

Moving on. The Western concept of democracy is not open to debate, and country differences, cultural identities, customs, and values are not taken into account. Everyone is given the same prescription, which cannot be changed – the framework is one and is declared to be mankind’s greatest achievement. Any divergence is subject to penalties and prosecution by the International Criminal Court, which effectively establishes a universal criminal code that, for reasons that are not clear, must supersede domestic law. It is mandated that gender equality come with mandatory protections for the rights of sexual minorities. Why sexual? Nobody offers an explanation; it is simply how it is. Yet, as experience has shown, notably in Ukraine, national minorities’ rights can be crushed with impunity, even up to the prohibition of national language and culture, expulsion of clergy from the Temple, and erasure of national memory.

Now let’s look at the economics. It is postulated in Western discourse that if your country develops democratic institutions in the Western sense, it must be doing well economically. What if it isn’t? The IMF and World Bank subsequently rush to your aid. However, it turns out that these loans are given at high interest rates and have a relatively short “leverage,” which means that you are required to pay back the debt quickly, and if you do not have time, the debt will not necessarily be restructured and certainly will never be forgiven, but new, unfavorable conditions would rather be imposed. All of these loans will prohibit you from expanding your own business, but they will keep your market open to Western goods and capital, sustaining your dependence on Western nations in other areas as well as in terms of technology. It is unlikely that anyone will develop high tech production in your country; instead, they will be preoccupied with how to swiftly and inexpensively pump out your resources. Europe, which has been left without Russian resources and is now looking for alternatives, desperately requires them, particularly oil and gas. In light of this, Europeans do not aspire to build processing facilities on the African soil, at least not ones owned by Africans.

The same holds true for Africa’s single currency. Muammar Gaddafi’s fate, who sought to adopt the gold dinar for the entire continent, is highly revealing. The best model for Western countries is the CFA franc zone, in which 70% of the finances of 14 African states, principally members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), are held in French banks. Yet any of these countries may only withdraw these funds theoretically since there hasn’t been a precedent for the practice.

We may be told in response that the West remains the world’s economic and technological leader, that it, represented by the US Federal Reserve, is the issuer of the world’s main currency, the dollar, which is used in 42% of settlements, while the yuan is used in only 2% of global trade transactions, and Russia’s GDP is only 2% of global GDP. Such data, however, appears deceptive, because it is clearly evident to everyone that the Western model of financial capitalism is in its last throes, the dollar is printed indiscriminately at the same pace as in some African countries, and it is backed only by Washington’s “word of honor” (remember When George H.W. Bush said, Read my lips), the United States’ national debt has surpassed the unfathomable $30 trillion threshold, and Western countries consume more than 40% of global GDP, producing many times less commodities but many times more financial services in the form of purely speculative transactions. Unlike the yuan, which is rich in             full-fledged goods produced in the Celestial Empire, and Russia’s use of the Chinese currency (renminbi), which was agreed upon during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia, makes it much more appealing for international settlements, because Moscow is the source of 20% of the world’s hydrocarbons and a producer of a diverse range of military and civilian goods.

When you combine this well-functioning model of equal partnership between Russia and China with the growing popularity of non-Western associations such as the BRICS, SCO, and others, it becomes evident where the wind of global change is blowing and who will shape the world in the future.

Africa is invited to decide whom it wants to cooperate with and in what kind of world to live in – a world of diktat and constant robbery or a world of mutually beneficial cooperation leading to security and development.

Oleg Pavlov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

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