Mr. Onunaiju delivering his remarks at the International Seminar on the 40th year anniverssary of China’s reform and openning up
Lesson of China reforms is Africa can find her own path to development
October 10, 2018
China’s reforms and opening up: Reflections on the condition of ethnic minorities and prospective lessons for Africa”
October 20, 2018




The fact of universally diffused high technology especially the component of Information Communication technology (ICT) has objectively deepened the trend of building a community of shared destiny and future for humanity.

The inexorable trajectories of mankind to construct and preserve a common home for all humanity, objectively recommends a participatory and inclusive international system in which all state actors have the political and socio-economic ambience to engage fruitfully and productively with others. The foremost institutional representation of the international aspirations for inclusive and participatory global order is the United Nations System.

But the United Nations itself, despite the high premium of universal hope placed at it, has itself to fight and struggles to maintain a modicum at universal consensus. The pockets of narrow, but special powerful interest groups that have vitiated the popular democratic aspirations in most times attempted vigorously and successfully to understand the work of the United Nations to modestly fulfill its obligations to the noble ideals of securing international peace and security.

However, despite the viciousness of entrenched powerful interest groups and their representative state actors, to set section of humanity against the other, the powerful current of integration, expressed boldly in the emerging trends of the inexorable drive to construct and form a community of shared destiny and future for mankind, is the true manifestation of the scientific laws, cascading through the rough trajectories of society’s inevitable evolution.

The China’s initiated “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” otherwise called the “Belt and Road Initiative,” (BRI), a massive framework of global connectivity through networks of overland, maritime and digital infrastructures not only captures the trends of the aspirations of humanity but seek vigorously to give practical effects to it, by engaging in the building blocks of global integration and the re-humanization of the arcane and brash globalization that gave vent exclusively to roaming capital, while excluding the bulk of humanity.

The ancient Silk Road from which the contemporary Belt Road framework of new international relations and cooperation, took its inspiration was itself the synergies of man’s vigorous entrepreneurial, intellectual, cultural and spiritual exertions, which gave the ancient Silk Road, its outstanding as historical essence. Its similar parallel included, the Tran-Sahara trade route, through which Sub-Sahara Africa engaged with the Arab North of the continent and Europe. Before it degenerated to slave trade routes in the 19th century, resulting from the rise of capitalism in Europe, it was essentially a major artery for trade, culture, intellectual exchange and religious transmission.

Trans-Saharan trade was essentially the transit of good between Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab and European worlds that flourished between the 7th and 14th century, with goods traded including precious metals, such as gold. The trans-Saharan trade route expanded and crossed the more established trade route of the Silk Road between Europe and the Middle East.

Among articles traded on the trans-Saharan trade routes, gold was one of the sought after resources from sub-Saharan African countries such as the ancient Kingdom of Ghana, Mali and regions of Sudan in return, European nations traded salt. Besides trade in goods, the trans-Saharan trade route facilitated cultural exchange between Africans and Arabs, promoting the spread of Islam.

One of the central ancient history’s African figure, who traversed both the trans-Saharan trade routes and the enigmatic Silk Road was the Moroccan traveler, Ibn Battutah, 1304-1377.

In the emerging international system that would be characterized by broad inclusion, participation and strands of political connectivity, the spirit of the ancient Silk Road, trans-Saharan trade route and the monumental figure of Ibn Battutah would considerably loom large.

While the ancient Silk Road, trans-Saharan trade route and other similar historical endevours at evolving a human community of shared destiny, cannot approximate to the contemporary complex international system, their relevance is the undying human spirit to find accommodation to each other, despite vast diversities and geographical spread.

The rediscovery of the ancient Silk Road and its historical contemporary spirit and their re-incarnation in the China’s initiated Belt and Road strategy of international cooperation testifies to the enduring and formidable human spirits to re-enact the finest of its trajectories despite the odds.

It is therefore an ode to an incredible thought and exponential rigour of profound theoretical explorations to connect the extant tapestries of histories, to the contemporary challenge of future for all mankind.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) stands out as one of the contemporary scientific answers to the vexed questions of an inclusive roadmap to accommodate the objective strands of global integration and the critical infrastructure necessary to bring about a community of shared destiny and future for mankind. Whether it is perceived as grand strategy of Beijing to accelerate her dominance, as expressed in some minority views, the sound theoretical and scientific ramification of the Belt and Road process cannot be over-emphasized.

The Belt and Road Initiative is not happenstance, a mere projection of power or a geopolitical calculus of emerging world police inspector. It is the outcome of the theoretical rigor and exertions of a proletarian party and the government and people it leads, a consummate realization of the scientific interrogation of contemporary social realities and the crystallization of the depth of inquiry of arriving at truth through the intense examination of facts and a confirmation of the endless trajectories of reforms, embodied in the latest theoretical achievement of the CPC, dutifully manifested in the “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a New Era,”

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) issued from the objective analytical interrogation of contemporary realities, reflect a profound grasp of the unfolding global trends of common universal aspirations for a shard future and destiny for all mankind. The sheer depth and rigor of thought invested in fleshing out the social architecture of the Belt and Road Initiative, the output of massive physical road map and the overwhelming inclusive global acceptance and ownership testifies to the resourcefulness of the Chinese proletarian party to toil on behalf of humanity despite the humongous burden of advancing in particular the well being and prosperity of the Chinese people. Interestingly, it sees the opportunities of the dialectical relationship between the wellbeing and prosperity of the Chinese people and rest of humanity as mutually reinforcing and complementary.

The objective convergence of universal aspirations for peace and development, inclusion and participation contradicts the existing pockets of isolationism and unilateralism in the international order. The former yearns for practical expression while the later yields to the cold war ideological fixations of power politics and hegemony.

Meanwhile, as the inimitable spirit of new international cooperation asserts itself, the ideological and intellectual fervor, justifying and enabling the conflictual paradigm as the elemental drive of international intercourse persists with seductive scholarly allure. The most recent incarnations though, with less intense appeal as the Mr. Francis Fukuyama ideologically feverish “End of History,” in the 1990s, is the “Destined for war: can America and China escape Thucydide’s Trap?” by Graham Allison, director of the U.S Harvard Kennedy School’s Belter Centre for Science and International affairs.

Referring to the Greek historian Thucydides, who observed that the Peloponnesian war that ruined the ancient Greece was caused mainly by “the rise of Athens and the fear instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” According to the author, similar conditions of when a rising power threatens to displace a ruling one, have occurred sixteen times over the past five hundred years and twelve ended in war, with only four ending in peaceful compromise. Professor Graham Allison went on, to raise the question whether “in the seventeenth case, an irresistibly rising China is on cause to collide with an immovable America.”

Even as he outlined premises, by which the “clash” may be averted through strategic recognition of each other’s vital interests, the emerging international trends, that is subordinating geopolitical calculations to the contemporary integrative mechanism objectively accelerating the convergence of human aspirations, did not particularly appeal to the author, who appeared obsessed with strategic conflict management of aggressive competitions.

Though couched in contemporary rise of China and the perceived America’s existential dilemma, allegedly arising from it, Prof. Allison Graham’s “Thucydide’s trap” largely re-echoes the “Clash of civilization,” published towards the end of last century by Professor Samuel Huntington.

Yet, Henry Kissinger, doyen of U.S diplomacy with whom former U.S President the late Richard Nixon pioneered modern Sino-US relations in the early 1970s, has in his insightful work published in 2014, asked “will the rapidity and scope of communication break down barriers between societies and individuals and provide transparency of such magnitude that age-old dreams of human community will come into being? Or will the opposite happen. Will mankind, amidst weapons of mass destruction, networked transparency and the absence of privacy, propel itself into a world without limits or order, careening through crises without comprehending them?

However, while intellectual speculations are welcomed to flourish on the intervening complexities of the current human conditions, it will take a bolder act of theoretical rigour to apprehend the evolving trajectories and navigate it through an inclusive and participatory process and enabling a considerable global consensus on the framework and the roadmap of its physical and institutional architecture.

In a strong and powerful affirmation that China and Africa are a community of shared future, leaders of the two sides met in Beijing last September for the 3rd summit of the heads of state and government of the Forum On China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and called “on all countries to work in concert toward a community with a shared future for mankind, an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity, and a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation, with a view to upholding and advancing world peace and development.”

The successful convocation of the Beijing Summit of FOCAC clarified and laid out the foundational architecture of integral global system whose functional dynamics would be underpinned by active collaboration and participation in nurturing and sustaining an inclusive international order.

In offering themselves as a model of a community of shared future,” China and African countries through the mechanism of FOCAC demonstrated what is possible in a genuine, practical and mutually respectful partnership despite the vagaries of geographical divide and even differences in social systems and political organizations.

The China-Africa relations as a trend of contemporary international cooperation defined by the principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith is a powerful current and rare opportunity to re-define international relations beyond the cold war and its aftermath characteristics of zero sum game, power politics and the vexatious practice of hegemonism.

While pockets of entrenched, powerful and vicious special interests, nestled at vintage corners of some national political arenas would not be easily persuaded to the historical imperative and the obvious viability of international cooperation and partnership against the outdated paradigm of conflict and alliance, the trajectories of historical course and especially in its current manifestations bears out a stronger push to the construction of a community of shared future for all mankind.

As a powerful impetus driving the emergence of an inclusive and cooperative international order, China is neither a “superpower” nor a “hyperpower” and to my understanding would never aspire to be.

The then vice premier, Deng Xiaoping dispelled any notion of ever, a hegemonic China. In a landmark speech at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th of April, 1974 he defined “a superpower as an imperialist country which everywhere subjects other countries to its aggression, interference, control, subversion or plunders and strives for world hegemony” vowing that “China is not a superpower, nor will she ever seek to be one,”

Deng Xiaoping plainly told the world that “if one day China should change her colour and turn into a Superpower, if she too, should play the tyrant of the world, and everywhere subjects others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as a social imperialism, expose it, oppose and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it.”

Nearly five decades after  Deng Xiaoping, the core of the Chinese second generation leadership, well regarded for the profound insight in pioneering China’s enigmatic reforms and opening up, spoke up to the world on the historic trajectory to international cooperation and inclusive participation, President Xi Jinping, the contemporary core of China’s fifth generation leadership from the rostrum of the 3rd FOCAC Summit in Beijing last September announced that “to respond to the call of the times, China will get actively involved in global governance and stay committed to the vision of consultation, cooperation and benefit for all in global governance.”

“To create new drivers to power common development through a new platform of international cooperation, President Xi Jinping said that “China is ready to jointly promote Belt and Road initiative with international partners,” vowing that “China take it, its mission to make new and even greater contributions to mankind, and work with other countries to build a community with shared future for mankind.”

With development footprints and partnership across all regions of the world, China definitively means what it says and has remained true to her historic vision of inclusive and equitable global order.

The paradigm of the Belt and Road Strategy of international cooperation and the vision of community of shared future for mankind are two important questions of our time and how they are reckoned with would inevitably shape the fate of humanity.


Charles Onunaiju,

Centre for China Studies,

Abuja, Nigeria

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