Chinese path to modernization: Chinese Ambassador to Solomon Islands shares wisdom of Chinese modernization with Pacific Island Countries
Published: May 04, 2023 07:55 PM
Photo: VCG

An aerial view of Port Honiara, Solomon Islands  Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:

In his report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, proposed to comprehensively advance the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization - the modernization of a huge population, of common prosperity for all, of material and cultural-ethical advancement, of harmony between humanity and nature, and of peaceful development. 

Advancing Chinese modernization is a systematic endeavor and also an exploratory undertaking. It is through this framework that we wish to illustrate the process of the Chinese path to modernization through a series of landmark projects, touching stories, and grand visions. 

In this installment, the Chinese Ambassador to Solomon Islands Li Ming (Li) shared his experience working in the island nation for three and half years and his thoughts about Chinese modernization with the Global Times reporter Shan Jie (GT) and the inspirations the Chinese solution could provide to the Pacific Island Countries

Chinese Ambassador to Solomon Islands Li Ming delivers a speech at the National University of Solomon Islands on February 23, 2023. Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Embassy to Solomon Islands

Chinese Ambassador to Solomon Islands Li Ming delivers a speech at the National University of Solomon Islands on February 23, 2023. Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Embassy to Solomon Islands

GT: Recently, you published a signed article in the Solomon Islands media titled "Chinese path to modernization provides confidence and momentum to the world." Why do you want to introduce Chinese modernization to the people of the Solomon Islands? What kind of reference significance can Chinese modernization bring to the Solomon Islands?

The Solomon Islands is located in the South Pacific, which is rich in resources with a vast ocean, abundant natural resources, and kind-hearted people, possessing unique development advantages. However, for centuries, due to various factors, the natural endowments of Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have not been fully transformed into development advantages. On the contrary, Island nations are facing the threat of being marginalized in the current wave of globalization. 

Facing the major changes and challenges never before seen in a century, PICs are more eager than ever to find a path to modernization that suits their own characteristics in order to achieve the openness of ideas, economic prosperity, and security.

China has a long history of exchanges with the PICs. Chinese people sailed across the seas hundreds of years ago and settled in the southern Pacific region, contributing positively to the local economic and social development, integrating into the Pacific Island big family. In the Pacific Island region, China is not a "newcomer" but an "old friend." China does not export ideology or values but is willing to provide a new reference, inspiration, and hope to PICs, including the Solomon Islands, through Chinese modernization. 

The Chinese path to modernization has opened up a new modernization model and provided a new choice for PICs. Some developing countries were colonized by Western countries for a long time and have since followed Western political systems. Under the monopoly of modernization discourse initiated by Western countries, some countries are under the misconception that "modernization equals Westernization." As a result, they could not adapt to it and were trapped in long-term development stagnation. 

The great practice of Chinese modernization abandons the old Western modernization path and provides a new modernization reference model for PICs, providing a Chinese solution to achieve long-term stability and eradicate extreme poverty. 

Chinese modernization has shown a strong appeal in the Pacific Island region. Pacific Island Countries, such as the Solomon Islands, admire China's modernization achievements and prioritize the development of relations with China, hoping to achieve their own modernization as soon as possible. The strong ideological power demonstrated by Chinese modernization has shown PICs a new vision for modernization.

As the modernization of a huge population, Chinese modernization has brought new opportunities and injected strong momentum into the development of PICs. As the world's second-largest economy, China has a huge market, investment willingness, and advanced practical technology, which are highly complementary to South PICs. For example, the Solomon Islands has abundant agricultural, forestry, mining, and fishing resources. Timber has been the largest export from the Solomon Islands for many years. Organic products such as cocoa, coconuts, noni fruit, tuna, and coconut soap are pollution-free and purely natural, and are loved by the Chinese people. 

The overall modernization of China's more than 1.4 billion people will surpass the total population of existing developed countries, bringing huge opportunities to countries around the world. In the process of Chinese modernization, China will work with PICs to seek common development, promote mutual learning, and achieve common progress, injecting more vitality into the development of the Pacific Island region.

The Chinese path to modernization has strengthened the forces of peaceful development and provided more certainty for the development and stability of Pacific Island countries. Chinese modernization is not achieved through external expansion and plunder for primitive accumulation, but is a significant achievement of the leadership of the CPC and people from all ethnic groups after long-term exploration and practice, self-reliance, hard work, and unity. 

In his recent keynote speech at the Lanting Forum on "Chinese Modernization and the World," State Councilor and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang pointed out, "Modernization is a common cause for all humanity. There is no fixed model of, or single solution to, modernization."

The Chinese modernization model is based on China's national conditions and reflects distinctive Chinese characteristics. China is willing to share with the government and people of the Solomon Islands the opportunities, ideas, and solutions provided by Chinese modernization, and welcomes Pacific Island countries to ride on the fast train of China's development and share in the achievements of development.

Photo: VCG

An aerial view of a port wharf in East China's Shandong Province  Photo: IC

GT: "Chinese modernization is a modernization of peaceful development. Promoting the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind is a prominent feature of Chinese modernization." How is this reflected in China's communication and interaction with the Solomon Islands?

Chinese modernization refers to China's effort to modernize and transform itself into a modern and developed country. China is the world's largest developing country. Having suffered from aggression and bullying by Western powers in modern history, China has a deep understanding of the importance of sovereignty and independence. China has always upheld the principle of equality between big and small countries and has consistently stood with developing countries, is committed to turning Chinese modernization into a global opportunity, and is interested in promoting the concept of a global community of shared future through concrete actions.

Since establishing diplomatic relations in 2019, China and the Solomon Islands have rapidly advanced bilateral relationship, with friendship and cooperation between the two peoples deepening. 

Both sides have actively implemented the important consensus reached between President Xi and Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, and promoted fruitful cooperation in various fields in accordance with the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries. 

In November of this year, the Solomon Islands will host the Pacific Games 2023, a major event in the Pacific Island region that is expected to bring together more than 10,000 athletes, spectators, and tourists to Honiara, the capital. The main stadium built by China for PG2023 has been completed and become a landmark building in Honiara as well as a symbol of China-Solomon Islands friendship. For several months, Solomon Islands athletes have been training hard on the new athletics track in the stadium.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, young students from the Solomon Islands have actively come to China to study and specialize in a wide range of fields, including civil engineering, medicine, economics, public administration, and international relations. Such knowledge and skills are urgently needed for the development of the Solomon Islands.

At the request of the Solomon Islands government, China has provided riot control equipment and materials, sent a China Police Liaison Team (CPLT) to the Solomon Islands to conduct professional skills training, and invited members of the Solomon Islands police force to China for training to help strengthen its law enforcement capabilities. 

We are delighted to see that the current social order in the Solomon Islands is stable, the security situation is good, and economic vitality has returned. China-Solomon Islands police cooperation has been welcomed warmly and is widely supported by the people of the Solomon Islands. Since arriving over a year ago, the medical team from Southwest China's Guizhou Province, has actively practiced the spirit of the Chinese medical teams' motto, "fear no hardship, be willing to contribute, save lives, heal the wounded, and show boundless love." They have gone deep into grassroots communities, providing medical services and professional training for local health care workers. 

China and the Solomon Islands have become good friends who respect and trust each other, good brothers who know and care for each other, and good partners who develop together. China is willing to continue sharing its experiences and achievements in modernization with the Solomon Islands, promote sustained and stable development of bilateral relations, and bring tangible benefits to the people of both countries

A Chinese medical aid team member to the Solomon Islands administers free medical treatment in the western islands. Photo: Xinhua

A Chinese medical aid team member to the Solomon Islands administers free medical treatment in the western islands. Photo: Xinhua

GT: China and the Solomon Islands established diplomatic relations in 2019, and you are the first Chinese Ambassador to the island nation. In the recent years, you have traveled to various parts of the Solomon Islands to communicate with people from all walks of life. Looking back on your experiences in the Solomon Islands during the three and a half years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, do you have any particularly memorable stories? How do you think the local people's understanding China's transformation over the years?

As the first Chinese Ambassador to Solomon Islands, my most striking impression upon arriving in the Solomon Islands was the enthusiasm and expectations of the government and people toward China-Solomon Islands relations. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations over three years ago, both governments and peoples have been committed to promoting friendship and expanding cooperation, achieving fruitful results, and demonstrating through practical actions that the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Solomon Islands is on the right side of history. 

The enthusiasm in all sectors of Solomon Islands society in participating in cooperation with China has significantly increased, and their attitude toward maintaining China-Solomon Islands relations has become more resolute. Supporting the one-China principle has become a common consensus among all sectors.

Here I would like to share a few stories. The first is about the unrest in the Solomon Islands in November 2021. At that time, hundreds of Chinese nationals were impacted by the unrest and were homeless and displaced. Our embassy made every effort to provide consular protection and resettlement assistance to them, and we also received strong support from local friendly political figures and residents. 

One Solomon Islands friend accommodated more than 70 Chinese nationals in his home. This fully reflects the deep friendship between the peoples of China and the Solomon Islands, and the true feelings shown during difficult times.

The second story is about a Chinese national who, despite being in poor health, insisted on attending our embassy's opening ceremony in a wheelchair on September 21, 2020, and witnessed the raising of the Chinese national flag. Unfortunately, He passed away a few days after the opening ceremony. 

This fully demonstrates the strong expectations, concerns, and support of the overseas Chinese for the development and growth of the motherland and the continuous exploration of new horizons in China-Solomon Islands relations.

The third story is about the China Police Liaison Team, which went to Isabel Province in October 2022 to conduct one-week public order management training. The local area lacked electricity and water, and the conditions were harsh. The CPLT members overcame difficulties and patiently trained the local Solomon Islands police. 

After each day's training, the team specially took time to teach Chinese martial arts to local children to improve their self-defense skills, and soon formed a deep friendship with the people of the Solomon Islands. On the day of departure from Isabel Island, the village children brought bananas and mangoes they had just picked from trees early in the morning and walked for two hours to the fishing boat wharf to bid farewell to the Chinese police officers.

In the process of developing China-Solomon Islands relations, we have gained and enjoyed a lot, but also were paid through hard work and sweat. In the future, we will not forget our original intentions, keep our mission in mind, forge ahead bravely, and push forward the construction of a strong country and national rejuvenation in Chinese modernization. 

Together with the PICs, we will explore the path of human modernization and resolutely promote the building of a global community of shared future.