Tuesday, 25 November 2008


China keeps proving socialism’s worth

Havana, Monday November 17 2008. Year 12 / Number 320
Oscar Sánchez Serra

A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.

On November 23, 2004, Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro said:
“In the face of all the mortal dangers of times past and
the even worse ones we face today, socialism will
definitely remain humanity’s only real hope of peace and
survival. That’s precisely what the Communist Party and the
people of China have proved beyond question. They have also
shown, as have Cuba and other friendly countries, that
every people must fit their revolutionary strategies and
goals to their own specific conditions, and that no two
revolutionary socialist processes are identical. We can
learn from each country’s best experiences and worst

Recently, while we enjoyed the privilege of traveling for
17 days across more than 6,000 kilometers of the great
Asian nation (the world’s third largest one), where we
witnessed its impressive scientific and technological
development and were dazzled by the magnificence of cities
like Beijing, Shanghai or Suzhou, not without realizing
that they also have social problems, those words spoken by
the leader of the Cuban Revolution seemed to reverberate in
our ears.

Those who have never visited that huge country and do it
now in 2008 might as well think they have arrived in
another galaxy or been abruptly pushed into the setting of
a science-fiction movie, all with its futuristic
architecture, its highly computerized society, its
extraordinary road infrastructure, its modern means of
transport, and its vast and functional airports –Beijing’s
is considered to be the world’s largest one– its amazing
industrial and construction activity, and a remarkable boom
in trade, to name just a few of China’s realizations that
the whole world, almost in wonder, can appreciate nowadays.

At the same time, you can feel all around you the respect
paid by the People’s Republic to a time-honored culture
rich in traditions that defies the brisk pace of
development to give us a nation where modern and ancient
features merge into a fascinating, mind-blowing ambiance.

China knows what it has, but also what it lacks

2008 marks the 30th year of a process of reforms for
China’s development spearheaded by Deng Xiaoping. Based on
the premise that progress is reason, it set in motion a
gigantic wave of investments which soon bore rich rewards.
Not that the negative effects of such a hasty spiral took
too long to appear either: there still exist unequal income
levels, noticeable differences between urban and rural
areas and a damaged environment, the yardstick some use to
find fault with China instead of its achievements.

But watch out! Regardless of the gloomy picture the West
intends to give us, China’s success and reforms by no means
point to an abdication of socialism, much less a move
towards capitalism, another media-fed idea intended to
present the country’s colossal advance in only 30 years as
an excuse to vilify the socialist model.

In October 2007, the XVII Congress of the Communist Party
embraced a scientific approach to development based on the
assurance that the human being is paramount and the
integral, coordinated and sustainable development of the
nation, qualities at once intrinsic to socialism and
contrary to capitalism. History has proved them right:
owing to the latter’s long-standing ills, children are
dying of curable diseases and there’s illiteracy,
malnutrition and poverty in more than 100 nations

Underlying the above concept is a long list of goals,
including a harmonized development between cities and the
countryside as well as between regions, economy and
society, and individuals and nature. In other words, it
means acting on the main problems currently facing China,
which shows consistency between what the authorities preach
and what they do, but also makes it plain that they know
what they have and don’t have.

Development is proportional to the Chinese Communist
Party's leadership

Those were precisely the topics discussed in the III
Meeting of the Party’s Central Committee, which held its
final session last October 12, the day of our arrival. For
instance, it launched a strategy for rural development
until 2020 to improve the peasants’ living and working
conditions and double their per capita income by the end of
next decade. In 2007 they earned around 605 dollars, a
figure to be raised in more than 6% before the end of the

In a meeting with Political Bureau member Liu Yunshan, who
is also Head of its Information and Propaganda Division, we
learned of other projects that come high on the
government’s list of priorities, such as plans to meet the
Chinese people’s increasing demands by focusing on a more
just distribution of wealth and better measures to protect
the environment. As Liu himself said, “We have
environmental problems, and a country aiming for high
levels of development must do it in a sustainable manner".

He insisted that only by persevering with today’s
Chinese-style socialism –which welcomes foreign investment
and fosters state and private ownership, known as "one
country, two systems", in line with the present situation
of this large nation of almost 1.4 billion inhabitants and
56 ethnic groups– and the rules of scientific development
followed for the last 30 years of reform will the People’s
Republic be able to deal successfully with its current

Powerful though they are, the West’s media machinery and
the top exponents of that select world can disregard
China’s advancement no more than they can deny that its GDP
has steadily remained a two-figure number since 2002
–estimates for this year place it between 10.1 and 10.4– or
downplay the fact that it’s the world’s second exporting
country, with reserves adding up to two billion dollars.
But they fail to mention both the institutional work
carried out by the Chinese people and their government and
the role of the Communist Party as the driving force of
this process.

No matter how much they twist reality, they can’t make it
go away. Suffice it to walk the streets of the big cities
or countryside villages, even in the most backward regions
of central or western China, to notice the Party’s force
and how it has managed to stick to its history and
principles and highlight the consistency of the scientific
theories it practices with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong’s
ideas, Deng Xiaoping’s postulates, and the triple
representativeness, that is, the Party must always stand
for what is needed to develop the most advanced productive
forces, the direction national culture must take, and the
interests of the great mass of the population.

As compañero Fidel stated on November 23, 2004 when the
Council of State of the Republic of Cuba bestowed upon
president Hu Jintao the José Martí Order –our Homeland’s
highest award: “China has objectively become the most
promising hope for and the best example to all Third World


Friday, 21 November 2008


Hu Jintao addresses Peruvian Congress, vows to establish comprehensive cooperative partnership with Latin America

LIMA, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- China is willing to make concerted efforts with Latin American countries to establish a comprehensive cooperative partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development, Chinese President Hu Jintao said here Thursday.

China, as the largest developing country in the world, is willing to work with Latin America, an important developing region, to boost mutual cooperation to a higher level, which conforms to the trends of the times and their respective development needs, President Hu said in his address to the Peruvian Congress.

Hu put forward five proposals to boost Sino-Latin American ties.

Firstly, China and Latin American countries should maintain high-level exchanges and contacts, improve bilateral and multilateral political consultation and dialogue systems at various levels, while continuously enhancing mutual political trust.

Secondly, to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in economy and trade, China and Latin America should optimize trade structure and increase mutual investment, especially in the fields of manufacturing, infrastructure construction, energy, minerals, agriculture and high technology, said Hu.

China is willing to continue providing assistance for the economic and social development of Latin American and Caribbean countries within its ability, Hu said.

Thirdly, China and Latin American countries should enhance communication and coordination on their stances on such global issues as climate change, food security, energy and finance, multilateral trade system and the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Under the current complex international financial and economic situation, China and Latin America should join hands and participate in the framing of international economic, financial and trade rules, so as to help the international economy develop in a fairer and more reasonable direction, the Chinese president said.

Fourthly, Hu said China and Latin America should learn from each other and make progress in the fields of social welfare and development.

Both sides should carry out pragmatic cooperation in poverty reduction, education, social security, medical and health care, environmental protection and disaster relief, he said.

Finally, both sides should take effective measures to deepen and boost cooperation in culture, sports, media and tourism, said Hu.

The Chinese leader arrived in Lima on Wednesday for a state visit to Peru and the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting scheduled for Nov. 22-23.

During his speech, Hu said that to forge the comprehensive cooperative partnership, both sides should first grasp the theme of common development because development is a basic way to improve people's well-being and promote social development.

He added that both China and Latin America are at a crucial time of development and China is willing to expand pragmatic cooperation with Latin American countries in various fields to boost common development.

The president said that to forge the comprehensive cooperative partnership, both sides also need to pursue the basic principle of equality and mutual benefit.

According to Hu, China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development and uphold the opening up strategy of mutual benefit and win-win progress. It maintains that all countries, big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, should be equal and regards safeguarding and developing the common interests of China and Latin American countries as the starting point and the purpose of bilateral cooperation.

China respects the rights of people in Latin American countries to independently choose their paths of development, treats Latin American countries equally and takes into account their concerns in cooperation in a bid to realize mutual benefit and win-win results.

Hu stressed that innovation and all-round cooperation are also required to build China-Latin America comprehensive cooperative partnership.

He added that China is willing to work with Latin American countries to innovate their cooperation mode, expand their cooperation field, and enrich cooperation content in order to achieve more tangible results and better benefit their peoples.

Hu said that he has agreed with his Peruvian counterpart Alan Garcia to build a strategic partnership between the two countries.

"We have agreed to build a China-Peru strategic partnership and strive to deepen and enrich the mutually-beneficial cooperation between the two countries in all fields," Hu said.

Peru, which is one of the fastest growing economies amongst Latin American nations, is playing an increasingly important role in the world and regional affairs, he said.

Recalling the long history of friendship between the Chinese and Peruvian peoples, Hu said their mutual political trust is ever expanding and cooperation and exchanges in various fields is developing rapidly in an all-around way.

China and Peru have each other's support and have worked closely in dealing with international affairs, Hu said. China has become Peru's second largest trading partner and Peru is one of the major destinations for Chinese investment in Latin America.

Hu had talks with Garcia on Wednesday afternoon on efforts to expand mutually beneficial cooperation and further develop bilateral relations.

"We've come to the agreement that China and Peru, both developing nations, share wide common interests and the same target for development. Strengthening their links is not only in keeping with the fundamental interests of the two countries and their peoples, but also conducive to exchanges and cooperation between the Asian and Latin American regions," Hu said.

"China has always attached strategic importance to promoting cooperation with Latin America," Hu said.

"I made it clear that China hopes to become a trustworthy and all-weather friend, a mutually beneficial cooperative partner of Latin America and make the two a role model for active dialogues between different civilizations when I visited the region in 2004," the president said.

Hu thanked Latin American countries for their aid during the devastating earthquake in southwest China in May and their support for China on Taiwan, Tibet and other issues.

Hailing the rapid expansion of trade between China and the region, Hu noted that their trade reached the threshold of 100 billion U.S. dollars last year, an over ten-fold increase compared to 10 years ago.

In addition, their cultural exchanges continue to grow with an increasing number of events featuring each other's cultures and more tourist arrivals and exchange students, Hu said.

Confucius Institutes have been set up in more and more Latin American nations and many renowned media in the region have set up their branches in Beijing, he said.

The mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and Latin American peoples is ever deepening, while the foundations of their ties have further consolidated and China and Latin America are facing more opportunities for the future development of their relations, Hu said.

Thursday, 20 November 2008


Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) visits Fidel Castro, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, in Havana, capital of Cuba, Nov. 18, 2008

HAVANA, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday visited Fidel Castro, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, in Havana.

The two leaders warmly shook hands, exchanged greetings and had a long conversation in a sincere and friendly atmosphere.

Hu said he was delighted to see Castro again. The comrades of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China "have all cared about your health and I brought their sincere greetings to you," he said.

"I see in person that you have recovered and have been energetic so I feel very pleased," he told Castro.

Castro extended a warm welcome to Hu for his second state visit to Cuba. "We are old friends. I am happy to see that you are as energetic as when I met you last time," he said.

Hu said that as the founder of the Cuban socialist revolution and construction, Castro is dearly adored by the Cuban people. During the past half century, Castro led the heroic Cuban people in their fearless struggle to safeguard state sovereignty and adhere to the path of socialism, thus winning respect from people worldwide, including the Chinese people.

Hu said that Castro has followed closely his country's development, showed great concern about people's life and dedicated himself to profound reflections of major strategic issues, such as international affairs and national development.

"Your thoughts and experience will surely guide the Cuban people to continue their march on the road of socialist construction," he said.

On Sino-Cuban relations, Hu said relations between the two countries have withstood the changes of international situation thanks to the joint efforts to forge and nurture their bilateral ties by generations of Chinese leaders, including Mao Zedong, DengXiaoping and Jiang Zemin, and Castro and other Cuban leaders.

"The brotherly friendship between our two countries and two parties has been deeply rooted in the hearts of our two peoples," he said.

"The Chinese people will never forget that thanks to your concern and effort that Cuba became the first Latin American nation to forge diplomatic ties with China 48 years ago," he said.

Thanks to the concerted efforts of both sides, the Sino-Cuban mutually beneficial and friendly cooperation in all areas have been expanding continuously, and bilateral ties have entered a new era of all-round development, said Hu.

"Our two nations, parties and peoples have become reliable friends and brothers who share weal and woe," he said.

"What affected me and other Chinese leaders most is that you always pay close attention to China's development and remain committed to promoting friendly cooperation between our two countries," Hu added.

Hu noted that Castro ordered to send a medical team to China immediately after the devastating earthquake in Wenchuan, southwest China's Sichuan province on May 12.

The Cuban leader also made constant phone calls to offer instructions on the team's work in China, Hu added.

Moreover, in his article entitled China's Victory, Castro has showed his firm support for China on such major issues as Taiwan, Tibet and the Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese president said.

The Cuban leader has also showed great concern about the Chinese students studying in Cuba and the progress of a joint ophthalmic hospital. "The Chinese people, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government will for ever remember all these," he said.

Castro expressed appreciation of China's relief and reconstruction efforts following the Wenchuan earthquake and other natural disasters. He once again congratulated China on its successful hosting of the Beijing Olympic Games and Paralympics as well as the success of the Shenzhou-7 manned space mission.

Hu said that the Chinese government will always adhere to the principle of long-term friendship between China and Cuba. The Chinese people will, as always, support the just struggle of the Cuban people in safeguarding state sovereignty and opposing outside interference.

China will continue to provide assistance for Cuba within its capacity, and will firmly support the country's socialist cause, he said.

"We will work with the Cuban people to continuously push forward the development of friendship between China and Cuba," he added.

Castro said he and other Cuban comrades have followed closely "everything that happened in China."

"China has a large population and a culture of long standing and the Chinese people are known for their diligence," he said, adding that the Chinese people "have surmounted all manner of unimaginable difficulties and accomplished great achievements in construction."

"As the current international financial crisis is spreading, the Chinese economy has kept a sound momentum for development, demonstrating that China is the most prepared country," he said.

China is the most dynamic nation in the world and "no force can stop it from forging ahead," he said.

The two leaders also exchanged views on the two countries' economic development and major international and regional issues, including the international financial crisis and the world economy.

Before the conclusion of the meeting, Hu again expressed his heartfelt wish for Castro's good health. Castro, in return, expressed his gratitude.

Cuba is the third leg of Hu's five-nation trip. He has attended a Group of 20 summit on the financial crisis in Washington and visited Costa Rica.

He will also visit Peru and Greece, and attend the Economic Leaders' Informal Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in the Peruvian capital of Lima.

Monday, 10 November 2008


The credit crunch

Oct 30th 2008 | BEIJING
From The Economist print edition

In a whirl of financial summitry, China ponders how to wield its new-found clout


“WE SWIM together, or we sink together,” said the European Commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso, as Asian and European leaders gathered in Beijing for a summit on October 24th and 25th that was dominated by the global financial crisis. But China, proclaiming itself relatively unscathed, is in no rush to act.

The crisis is pushing the world’s fourth-largest economy, with the biggest foreign-exchange reserves, to the centre of global summitry. The prime minister, Wen Jiabao, has said China will “actively participate” in a meeting of world leaders called by George Bush to discuss the issue on November 15th. After the Asia-Europe meeting, or ASEM, Mr Wen headed to Russia and Kazakhstan, venue for a pow-wow of Central Asian leaders, for more talks with global finance at the forefront.

But for all its avowed confidence in its own future (“the impact is limited and controllable,” said Mr Wen), and its hinted aspirations for a world financial order less dominated by America and its dollar, China does not want to throw its weight around. At ASEM, the seventh such biennial gathering since 1996, China echoed Mr Barroso’s calls for concerted international action. But it had few ideas to offer on what this should involve. More regulation of the international financial system, Mr Wen unadventurously proposed.

The most concrete idea discussed by the Asian countries at ASEM was to set up an $80 billion fund by the middle of 2009 to help countries in the region deal with liquidity problems—a plan already agreed in May. The bulk of the money would come from China, Japan and South Korea, but details of how much each would contribute and how the fund would be managed have yet to be announced.

For China, with $1.9 trillion in reserves, and Japan, with nearly $1 trillion, the proposed amount is hardly massive. But the countries giving most are likely to wield most clout. The participating countries, which also include the ten members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, are a fractious lot and have differing views, not least over the roles of China and Japan in Asia. Most of them are still far too touchy about sovereignty to agree on any meaningful pooling of it.

Chinese leaders told ASEM that their priority was to keep their own economy running smoothly. This, said Mr Wen, was China’s “greatest contribution to the world”. China’s economic growth has recently slowed, unusually, to a single-digit rate (9% in the third quarter) and many economists expect it to remain that way next year. But its buoyancy is a solace to Asian countries, several of which enjoy trade surpluses with China, and to the European Union, for which China is the fastest-growing market—albeit, as the Europeans like to point out when they complain about Chinese trade barriers, still no bigger than Switzerland. At least European moans about successive years of the yuan’s depreciation against the euro, making European exports costlier, have now been silenced by a reversal of the trend.

China seemed reluctant at first to let the financial crisis dominate ASEM’s agenda. But it lost nothing by doing so. It deflected attention from climate change, another big issue of concern. The Europeans want China to make stronger commitments to cut its carbon emissions. But if there were concerns at ASEM about backsliding by China as it focuses more on boosting growth and employment, participants were too well-mannered to raise them publicly (just as they were all far too tactful to complain that Taiwan, Asia’s fifth-biggest economy, is not even represented at ASEM because of China’s objections).

A shared sense of crisis also gave China a face-saving way of engaging in some fence-mending. Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, who had riled the Chinese by meeting the Dalai Lama in September last year, was told by President Hu Jintao during a meeting on the sidelines that China’s relations with Germany were “good”.

That is as far as a Chinese leader will ever go towards saying that all is forgiven. Japan’s new prime minister, Taro Aso, was also cordially received despite his China-sceptical views, and despite his just having signed a security pact with India, which some at least in China will see as directed against their country. Japan and China agreed to set up a hotline. China and Vietnam agreed to finish marking their contentious land border by the end of the year.

But while China relishes the attention it commands at such gatherings, it is resisting the temptation to swagger in its dealings with America. There are concessions China would like. One would be an end to America’s de facto power of veto in the IMF. Recently it has been showing its pique at this by blocking publication of an IMF report examining whether China has been manipulating its exchange rate for the sake of trade advantage. A Chinese newspaper said America must give up its control over the IMF in return for China’s helping out in the crisis. But the government has not gone that far in public.

In Russia, with whose leaders China shares strong misgivings about America, Mr Wen did allow himself to say that developing countries should have a stronger say in a new financial system. He also said there was a need to “diversify” the global currency system, a tactful way of saying the dollar’s sway should diminish. But ASEM’s closing statement said the IMF should play a critical role in helping badly-hit countries. Its only caution was that this should be “upon their request”.

Albert Keidel of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think-tank, says China does not want “to be seen as a problem for existing powers” at this stage of its economic development. But he also argued in a recent paper that there could be trouble ahead as recession in the West, which he believes China could ride out, stokes protectionist demands. The crisis could also result in China’s economy surpassing America’s earlier than expected—well before 2030, Mr Keidel suggests. Hard as Chinese diplomats try to wear a friendly face, this would be a psychological jolt for Americans.