Africa's rich cultural heritage doesn't need imposition of Western values
Published: Nov 08, 2022 05:49 PM
Peter Lam Both Photo: Courtesy of Both

Aerial photograph of Juba, the capital of South Sudan. Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:

For Chinese people, the past decade has been epic and inspirational. The country, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, has made great endeavors in boosting its economy, deepening reforms, improving the rights of its people and acting as a responsible global power.

Peter Lam Both (Both), Interim Secretary General of The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), said he was impressed by China's equitable development across the country and China's ability to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. He also shared his views over development of China-Africa ties over the past 10 years in an interview with Global Times (GT) reporters Yu Jincui and Li Aixin.   

This is the 28th article of the Global Times series about this special decade.

GT: Would you like to talk about China's development in your eyes? Over the past 10 years, which aspects of China's development have left the deepest impression on you? Why?

Both: When I visited China for the first time in 2018, my impression was the equitable development across the country where no province was left behind. When I asked how this happened they said it was the CPC's equal economic development policy. I was specifically impressed by the ability to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. These two aspects of Chinese development strategy need to the emulated in developing countries.

GT: The CPC has led the people toward successfully developing Chinese modernization, creating a new form of human civilization and expanding the opportunities of developing countries in attaining modernization. What are the lessons and inspirations of the Chinese path for developing countries?

Both: The lessons that can be drawn from CPC experience are many. First, mixing foreign ideology with local experience to have ownership and meaning to the local people is a huge achievement. Second, economic liberalization grounded in local context as well as development assistance without strings attached or interference into the internal affairs of the countries are great lessons for all of us.

GT: Western political parties are constantly fighting without solving real problems. How do you understand whole-process people's democracy? Can Western- style electoral politics efficiently solve social problem?

Both: The focus of national liberation movements is to free our people from colonial yoke and administration. Therefore, by definition, such ideology is people-centered. By contrast, imperialism is driven by the desire for few people to dominant society in term of wealth and power. Therefore, Western political parties do not fight to solve problems of local people. Rather, they fight to gain access to power and resources with intention to perpetuate the imperialist ideology. Therefore, none of them is able to break down barriers and lift the poor people out of poverty.

Peter Lam Both Photo: Courtesy of Both

Peter Lam Both Photo: Courtesy of Both

GT: Can you briefly introduce China-South Sudan cooperation, for instance, what are the key areas and highlights?

Both: The SPLM and CPC have established excellent and cordial relations as political forces that are established to liberate the oppressed people of their respective countries and their desire to establish democratic, harmonious and united countries based on the principles of mutual respect and understanding. The CPC and SPLM cooperation focuses in the areas of physical infrastructure development, humanitarian intervention and mutual political support in the international arena.

GT: The West has been using various means, including "debt trap," "neo-colonization" narratives to sow discord in China-Africa relations. Are such deceptive narratives persuasive in African countries?

Both: The mutual support between China and Africa is based on mutual understanding that both sides must benefit from such arrangements. China doesn't interfere in the internal affairs of African countries. It rather responds to cooperative requests from Africa for technical support and understanding. Whereas the Western ideology is to keep people trapped in vicious cycles of conflicts by preferring to install puppet leaders who serve the interests of the West rather than the interest of their people. Therefore, these wrong narratives of "debt tap or neo-colonization" are a deflection of what they do through IMF and World Bank to the African people.

GT: Economic development is prerequisite for the development of civilization. In this regard, how do you evaluate the different contributions of China and the West to Africa, specifically South Sudan? 

Both: In South Sudan, China has invested in oil production, road construction network and political support for our country to build sustainable peace. These are cornerstones for South Sudan to lift-frog from backwardness and war to economic prosperity. By contrast, the West doesn't want to support the government of South Sudan to bring peace. They recently withdrew from funding the mechanisms meant to bring peace to the country. They stopped their development assistance since the commencement of the civil war in 2013 and have persuaded other likeminded countries to abandon supporting the government. Instead, they focus on humanitarian support through their humanitarian organizations whose work has been to write negative reports to discredit the government and incite the people against their government.

GT: How do you view the idea of the China-Africa community with a shared future? 

Both: We believe that in order to prosper, communities of Africa and China must work together to create prosperity for all. In so doing, there must be exchange of ideas, funding, technical support and cultural exchange which will create a world that is harmonious and equal.

GT: The US often intervenes in African affairs under the guise of democracy, human rights, etc, and tries to impose the Western model on Africa. How do you view this power politics? 

Both: African cultures are rooted in democratic values and principles. When an issue is of concern, traditional Africans would gather under a tree and deliberate until a consensus is reached. This rich democratic heritage doesn't need an importation or imposition of values from the West. Instead, it is up to the African people to create the kind of democracy that works for them based on their objective realities in their countries. The African people fought against the West to be free and live as human beings based on the liberties that are bestowed up on them by God. It is so unthinkable that the sons of slave owners have the audacity to think that they can teach the sons of slaves about democracy and human rights. That is an insult to the intelligence of the former colonized people of Africa.