China betting on new models of partnership

By Jagadish Pokhrel

Beijing, Mar. 27: A professor at the Institute of Foreign Trade at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation here on Tuesday said that China was building new models of trade partnerships with underdeveloped countries.

Responding to a question, Zhu Caihua, Deputy Director at the Institute of the Ministry of Commerce of China said these partnerships were built on the bases of equality and mutual benefits and added that they would go beyond trade and investment to all-round connectivity.

“Earlier many countries were blocked or marginalised from the process of globalisation,” she said. “They had no access to outside support due to their lack of infrastructure and productive capacity.”

The new models were built on comprehensive trade tools, with consultations, joint efforts and shared benefits, she said.

Three logics guided the partnerships, she said, placing emphasis on developing better connectivity as the first step. “How can we discuss the issue of investment and trade if we are not connected? Infrastructure was the big loophole in the past.”

So, she said, China would help these countries build infrastructure through joint efforts and ensure quality of that infrastructure.

The second step, she said, would be to improve the industrial capacity of the partner countries.

For the third step, China had opened its market to developing economies, she added.

Leveraging technology, such as e-commerce, had helped small and medium industries with trade promotion platforms.

“Talking about debt trap in this context is itself a trap,” she said, adding, “US has a trap. They borrow lots. In early stages, we also borrowed a lot. These debts helped China grow.”

For China, when it lent the money, it wanted the money to go nowhere else, it wanted to evaluate the impact and take the money back, she said, adding, China’s money was not the only debt, it was a portion of the debt.

Stressing the need of better understanding and cooperation between China and neighbours, she said the relations should not be like that of the ant and elephant.

In 2009, when the world economy had plunged, China helped it regain its growth and resilience, she said. “We helped overcome the difficulties of friendly countries. Germany came out of the crisis and credited us for doing what we had done.”

In the recession, in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which went to help the recovery process by 2017-2018, she said.

“China’s trade relationship with neighbouring countries has helped their growth. China’s import growth was twice the size of the world’s average in the first decades of the 21st century,” she said.

Fifteen neighbouring countries had seen their export boost, she said, while giving the example of Laos.

“Reforms are the answer to debts,” she said.

Lin Xiaohong, Director of the Publicity Office of the Academy, had shared the agenda of the discussion, which focused on BRI and further opening up of China.

Hu Hailiang, Deputy Director of the Division of Information and Public Diplomacy, at the Department of Asian Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, introduced the members of a media delegation attending the interaction. 

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