Global Eyes on China|Stephen Brawer: China with the BRI is a positive basis for world cooperation

全球财经连线施诗,杨雨莱 2024-03-08 22:27

南方财经全媒体记者 施诗 北京报道

Every year, China’s foreign policy always catches global attention. As the new international order is shaping, what role will China play? At the same time, China is on the way to modernization. How to understand China’s modernization? In the next decade, how will the Belt and Road Initiative influence the world?  Stephen Brawer, chairman of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden, is joining our discussion. 

Stephen Brawer considers that China has played a decisive role in bringing the peace and stability to the world because of the economic power that China has developed over the last 40 years. He suggested that more and more countries are willing to join the Belt and Road Initiative. “The Belt and Road Initiative is the direction that humanity needs to work with,” he stated.

 China's modern development will continue to expand

SFC Markets and Finance: As we all know, the new international order is shaping, from unipolarity to multipolarity. What do you think about this trend? What role will China play in shaping a new order?

Stephen Brawer: I think the new order is a very positive direction for the world development and world history. The Global South represents the great majority of the human race, and they are going forward with plans for a orientation, for sovereign economic development and productivity, which means that any form of the old colonial systems that have dominated, unfortunately, world history up until now, will have to be ended. I don't think there is any way to go back to this old colonial type of unipolar world.

China has played a decisive role in bringing this about because of the economic power that China has developed over at least the last 40 years since the opening up. There is no question that the great renovation is going to continue. And I think that will lead and continue to play a decisive role in how this new world order is going to materialize. Because it's connected to the Belt and Road Initiative, which has a lot of support. There are over 153 nations that are cooperating with it.

So it's time for the so called Western world to wake up and join. That might be easier said than done, but the only alternative. Which unfortunately, there are forces still defending this old unipolar where I would rather call it the Anglo-American imperial post-WWII policy. And there is unfortunately great danger that they are risking the conflict in global war. That being the case. It won't stop the movement for a new alternative, global, multipolar world, but it will, clearly, if it is escalated, it can lead to a catastrophe for humanity as a whole, a global war.

But the choice for Western Europe, the United States and for England, is in reality, to change their thinking and to join in cooperation and friendship. I will continue to work in that's in that regard. There are many people, I think, who would be ready to cooperate with me. But we have to make some adjustments and changes in the way that the decision makers in Western Europe and in Sweden are behaving right now, because they are not accepting the new direction willingly and voluntarily, at least not yet. 

SFC Markets and Finance: China is on the way to modernization. From your perspective, how to understand China’s modernization? 

Stephen Brawer: Well, I think that it's very clear that President Xi Jinping. When he outlined the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, already had a long-term plan for modernizing China, but not only internally. Because obviously, China’s internal development with the fast trains, the transport has surpassed any other nation on the planet. And given the extremely large number of people that live in China, 1.4 billion people, the amount of a potential workforce, which is not just potential, but is actively engaged in all of these incredible development projects, water projects, infrastructure, road building. 

The transformation that China is undergoing is a unique aspect of world history, that no other nation has achieved in history at that rate. And it will continue. To my knowledge, forward in leaps and bounds. The only problem in light of this, as I've already said, is the Western European economies and the United States are still refusing to recognize the role of China and the Belt and Road Initiative as a positive basis for world cooperation. And they therefore continue to operate ideas like de-risking indicating that they do not feel comfortable or willing to cooperate openly in light of these global changes.

I think that can change, and we're going to work to achieve that. But China's modern development will continue to expand and go forward. And I see no indications whatsoever that it will stop or slow down in any fundamental way.

SFC Markets and Finance: What would you say if you had an opportunity to introduce China’s modernization to the world?

Stephen Brawer:I think it's an excellent model for international and modernization and development for other nations of the world. It's not that they have to follow the exact recipe that China has. China has got its own history and civilization that it is building upon, which is a great culture, great civilization. But it has achieved, both historically and in the present, unique changes in development and modernization, not only in the practical form of economics, water projects, energy and transport, but very clearly now, China is going to be a leader in research and development of fusion technology, which is the form of nuclear power that there will provide virtually unlimited energy resources, and is playing a great leading role in new frontiers in space development.

So the direction and the need to continue educating and elevating the thinking of the population will continue to go forward. And I think this is clearly what makes the people of China happy. I think it can make any nation in their own way to continue such an objective, also to be happy in serving the interests of the people. And that idea of recognizing the common good in terms of all the people, actually, in its best case, in the United States itself. Stood for these ideas as it was expressed by President Lincoln, government of the people, by the people, for the people. This was an expression of what was the idea of the common good. 

Also, unfortunately, that has not been the direction of the U.S. policymaking in the present or generally, in the post-WWII period. But I think we can bring that back. And I think that if we do that, then that principle of representing the common good, a community for a shared future for mankind. And that is the key idea of the Belt and Road Initiative and the forward development in China. So I think that model can continue to benefit the world.

China with the BRI is a positive basis for world cooperation

SFC Markets and Finance: You are doing a lot of research on the Belt and Road Initiative. How do you think the Belt and Road Initiative influenced the world? 

Stephen Brawer: As I say, from 2013 to 2023, we celebrated, as I was present in Beijing for the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. This is a concept of connectivity that is already having deep imprints in changing the landscape in Africa. There are many countries now in South America. You have the connectivity from Kunming to the Vientiane in Laos. You have the agreements between Indonesia, which is one of the largest populations in the world, in working together with the Belt and Road Initiative. So we have already seen world changes based on the idea of developing infrastructure as the basis for eliminating poverty, and there is no other way to do it.

The West, the failure of Western policymakers in the general modern period, since, effectively, the WWII, but even since 1970s, 80s and forward to now, under the IMF and the World Bank, development did not go forward. In fact, it was generally prevented. So we're already seeing that through the Belt and Road Initiative, like it or not, the rest of the world is joining and cooperating in the great majority, because this is leaving their nations and the world in general, out of our poverty. 

And seeing this again as an alternative, that Sweden, in my view, would benefit enormously from much more than what they are presently doing by insisting on military escalation and the joining of NATO which is not going to help the Swedish population, and it is certainly not going to help to contribute to peace and development in the rest of the world. So the Belt and Road Initiative is the direction that humanity needs to work with. It's time for the Western European countries to wake up and recognize this.

SFC Markets and Finance: Some Western media regard the BRI as "debt traps”. How do you think about this criticism?

Stephen Brawer: These criticisms are basically being directed against China for reasons that are geopolitical. They want to defend the present a unipolar order, and therefore they want to demonize China in these ways, which like the so called debt trap scenario, that has been demonstrated to be a fake. Our association, the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden, and my colleague, who is the vice chairman of the Belt and Road Institute here, Hussain Oscarri, has written several articles, one which he wrote quite sometime back that is available on our website. And it shows that the arguments for this so called debt trap are fake. There is no substance to it. But it has been circulated, and to the degree that it is still being circulated, it is to counter a Western cooperation with what the Belt and Road Initiative has already achieved and can achieve in the future.

But the reality of the so called the debt trap, and the descriptions that indebting countries are who work with China for general infrastructure development, mostly are being directed against the European populations, where the decision makers are opposed to cooperation and and work with the BRI. So it's a propaganda tool, but it has no real substance to it whatsoever. We've researched it, and the research that we've done is available on our website, and can be seen and documented. If they were more intelligent than they are in Western thinking, they would either read and acknowledge the facts as we put them. And then they would keep quiet about continuing to circulate what, in principle, are are just false reports and lies.

The development of Guangdong becomes the model for the  entire country

SFC Markets and Finance: As China’s economic powerhouse, how can Guangdong contribute to the Belt and Road Initiative?

Stephen Brawer: That was developed out of Shenzhen and the Guangdong area of China, which is now one of the leading economic areas of development generally, is now being promoted as the model to expand and improve development in Xinjiang, which would mean not only that this area of the western part of China would experience great development and growth for all of the population, but it will also mean that all of the countries that are bordering Xinjiang. There are clearly very many opportunities for how to expand the Belt and Road Initiative into Central Asia in ways that will further improve communication and development. And I think this is the direction that things are gonna go. Guangdong was an experience, for me, of historic importance, to see it for myself, and to be able to see the plan of expanding that kind of modernization into areas like Xinjiang is exactly the kind of direction that China will continue to go, but will give increasing opportunities to other countries. So I think that we can only endorse it as the best road to continue in all respects. That's my my view of it.

SFC Markets and Finance: During your visit in Guangdong, what impressed your the most?

Stephen Brawer: It was a combination of seeing how well and how ordered and beautiful the city is, both in terms of its modern facilities and the modern skyscrapers. At the same time, the beauty of Guangzhou, as a city of flowers, environmentally, the clean beauty of the city and the surrounding area of natural beauty and the development is, again, a model that impresses whoever would come. And I understand, in my view, why the Chinese people will be and are so proud of what has already been achieved.

I saw the beauty and the population, meeting at least the smiling faces and people who are doing what we're doing, all kinds of tourist events. We took a boat trip through the river, which was in the evening, and it was with the lights, awesome experience that I will always remember and cherish.  So I can only praise the way things have gone forward in Guangdong, and I enjoyed, naturally.

So, I'm looking forward to go back to China this year, to continue my combination of lectures and experience. And we are also going to try and bring the real picture of what is going on in China to people here in Sweden through our own mechanisms and even certain media channels, which I do have contact with. And I think if we continue that work, we can hope that we will start to see a more truthful picture of what really is going on in China, and how is it look right now. 

The Global Civilization Initiative can reconnect Europe and China 

SFC Markets and Finance: Besides the BRI, there are three other initiatives, Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative, and Global Civilization Initiative. How will these three initiatives affect global development?

Stephen Brawer: I think that they are important. All of them. I think the Global Development Initiative, which follows the Belt and Road Initiative. The Global Security Initiative, were initially put forward to the UN as additional ways of supporting cooperation. I think that this was and is additional means for securing a more stable world picture. Because you need both economic development and security of sovereign nations in order to avoid what we are seeing now, which is dangerous conflicts in Ukraine, in Gaza, where there is, unfortunately, not only no concern for development, but the populations in these areas are being devastated. So peace and security are essential, and that's how I see these.

Now, the Global Civilization Initiative, which is the last of the initiatives, I think, has an important special significance, because we are highlighting this now in a series of interviews that my colleague and I are doing. Because we are referring to one of the great universal thinkers in European history, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who worked in his time, he lived from 1646 to 1716, which was the time of Kangxi, Emperor of the Qing dynasty. But there were exchanges between Europe at a Jesuit Catholic missionaries who were working for a knowledge exchange in astronomy, mathematics, geography. And many of these Jesuit missionaries who took the idea of Matteo Ricci, who is known in China as one of the most respected Western thinkers  because he was not only a Catholic missionary, he mastered Chinese deep of both speaking and written. He was admired by the leading intellectual circles in Confusion education in China at that time.

That's the kind of cooperation where one is understanding the deeper aspects of civilizations, both in China and in the West. That is, in my view, an essential basis for overcoming the political negativity, the exchange of at times, insults, arrogance. By lifting the thought processes to a time and to a place where there was a real idea of what do we have in common?

So I think this is a way that I am working and interpreting the Global Civilization Initiative. We respect that there are differences, but we also see the common qualities of respect for the common good and the quality of the goodness of human reason, which can be the bridge that will reconnect Europe and China in the way that Leibniz was thinking in his time. And these ideas, I want to emphasize, they're not academic, although there are many ideas that researchers have put together that I can support and reference to. I'm raising this because it is a living dynamic of how we can overcome the demonization and the hostility that is instead of being both for Chinese and for people in the West. Because this attitude tends to break down communication, when what we really need is to do the opposite.

SFC Markets and Finance: Finally, would you like to give a outlook on China's economy in the rest of 2024?

Stephen Brawer: As I mentioned earlier, I think that they're not gonna stop, continuing innovation, development. This is the rejuvenation. For those people who have studied even remotely the history of China, it's a very profound, long historical cultural history, that if people were more respectful and aware of it, they would not be threatened. They would see it as a great asset. 

And I'm sure that China will, as it is, embracing all of its history to move forward in the ways that it has been moving. And I think China can even expanding these areas of pioneering in space technology, in areas of new energy sources, like fusion power. They are much more efficient and powerful in their efforts than, for example, what people are often talking about solar and wind. Fusion power is an energy source that is far more efficient. It hasn't yet been successfully implemented in a commercial manner, but it's only, in my view, a matter of time. And China is working very actively on this. So I see these things as attaining a great goal, which I know that partly is oriented towards 2035. And I know also that there will also be objectives in 2049, which will be the 100 year celebration of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

So already there is a vision of long-term development. We've lost that right here in the West for the moment. I think we must bring that back, and hopefully cooperating in some manner with China. And the Belt and Road Initiative would be a first step here in Europe to bringing back that kind division that at times has been motivating European thinking. But right now, it's unfortunately not doing so. So we need to make some changes.





记者:施诗 杨雨莱




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(作者:施诗,杨雨莱 编辑:李依农)