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Working together to build a modern Global South

Liu Jianchao



The world today is confronted with unprecedented and accelerated changes. An important feature of the changes is that the collective rise of developing countries is gaining momentum. The rise of developing countries as a whole is based on and reinforced by their collective modernization.

Thus an in-depth discussion on the modernization of the Global South is urgently needed, not only in response to the call of developing countries for peace, development and progress, but also to meet the aspirations of the people of all countries for modernization and human advancement.

The Global South is where the hope lies

First, the Global South is where the hope lies today. The term "Global South" has first and foremost a "south" dimension. However, the "South" in the Global South is not a geographical term but a byword for emerging markets and developing countries. It is an identity and representative of a community of countries with similar historical experiences, political pursuits and development goals.

The term also has a "global" dimension. It symbolizes a prominent worldwide trend of the collective rise of developing countries, and reflects their strong wish for solidarity and self-reliance. The countries of the Global South once suffered from aggression, colonization, suppression and plunder. It is through years of struggle and hard work, along with the evolving changes in this century, that the Global South has gradually become an important force driving the reforms in the world order and seeking political independence, national rejuvenation and international justice.

The Global South is a leading champion of a new type of globalization. Unilateralism, protectionism and populism are rearing their ugly heads today. Attempts to build "small yards with high fences" to "decouple" from other economies, sever industry and supply chains and stoke bloc confrontation are rampant. Globalization has suffered major setbacks, and we have to make critical choices to avoid being pushed back and forced to sail upstream.

At this crucial moment, the countries of the Global South have chosen to confront difficulties head on. They have embraced globalization in an unprecedented manner, and launched mechanisms to improve globalization by enriching its content and extending its outreach, and endeavored to make the rules of globalization more reasonable and conditions more favorable. Thanks to these efforts, a new type of globalization that involves more diversified players and is more open, inclusive and beneficial for all is taking shape. Globalization has indeed been tinted with the Global South hues.

The Global South is the source of strength for global multi-polarity. Since the end of the Cold War, the trend of global multi-polarity has evolved amid twists and turns. Along with the unfolding of profound changes across the global economic and political landscape and the collective rise of developing countries, the Global South has got an important opportunity to play a greater role on the world stage.

According to statistics, the land area of the Global South countries accounts for more than 70 percent of the world's total, and its combined population and contribution to global economic growth over the past 20 years account for 80 percent of the world's total. Hence, it is fair to say that the Global South has already become the most dynamic force promoting multi-polarity in terms of its size, vitality, growth potential and contribution. In fact, the collective rise of the Global South is reshaping the global political landscape.

The Global South is a key force promoting greater democracy in international relations. Over the years, the voice of the Global South has been muted on the world stage and the reasonable concerns of developing countries have not been addressed.

The few traditional powers that have dominated the right to set the international agenda and rules have always put their own interests first. Their hegemonic, domineering and bullying practices have disturbed the normal international order and undermined international justice and fairness. Under the new circumstances, more and more Global South countries have realized the ideological and institutional yoke of imperialism and colonialism. And they are more determined than ever to seek strategic autonomy, practice true multilateralism, and promote greater democracy in international relations.

By doing so, the countries of the Global South have gained a greater say on the international stage and added new impetus to the reform of the global governance system.

Global South needs to achieve greater collective strength

Second, working together to advance modernization is what the Global South must do to achieve greater collective strength through unity. Realizing modernization is a shared pursuit of all countries of the Global South. To build a better world, the Global South must work together to pursue and realize modernization. Their aim should be to build a strong and modern Global South, so as to propel the progress of civilization and develop a human community with a shared future.

The Global South must work together to prove wrong the saying, "the weak get weaker".

The modernization process of different countries is different. As the countries of the Global South were once exploited, plundered and suppressed by imperialists and colonizers, and started to develop their economy relatively late with a weak foundation, they are the latecomers to the global modernization process.

In an international system that is neither fair nor reasonable, the North-South divide continues to widen, which proves true more than ever the Matthew Effect that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The countries of the Global South find it more complicated and difficult to achieve modernization. The Global South's goals cannot be achieved if each country acts on its own. Working together is the right way forward.

United under the banner of the Global South, we should strengthen strategic communication and policy alignment, remove barriers, and share resources, technology and experiences to build a modern Global South market. More important, we should leave no one behind and help all the countries of the Global South catch up with the process of world modernization.

The Global South must take measures to break the myth that modernization equals westernization. For a long time, people believed westernization is modernization. In fact, modernization is not a single answer question. Different historical conditions lead to different choices of paths to modernization. The modernization of the West started with the expansion of capitalism and reached its peak with the help of colonialism, large-scale exploitation of other countries and the use of power politics. It is an unjust path and by no means a viable choice for the Global South.

To realize modernization, the countries of the Global South must find a path that best suits their respective national condition and is line with the trend of the times.

Besides, they should share their useful experiences, rise up to challenges together, and support each other's exploration of paths in the pursuit of modernization, so that the Global South and the wider world have more options to achieve modernization.

The Global South should also undertake the responsibility of championing the just cause. The Global South wants to realize modernization not to oppose, exclude and/or replace any country from the modernization process but to advance the well-being of the entire human community.

On the one hand, we should strengthen the Global South's synergy to defend our legitimate rights and interests by tightening the important mechanisms such as BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the G77+China. On the other hand, we must stay away from zero-sum games and Cold War mentality and, instead, strengthen the North-South dialogue and cooperation with a cool mind.

There is also a need to build an open world economy and create an enabling environment for inclusive development that benefits all. Only by doing so, can we find the path to a new type of modernization that rises above the differences in cultures, social systems and ideologies, and create a new eco-system featuring harmonious coexistence and joint governance in order to realize win-win results.

China contributes strength to modernization of Global South

Third, China is ready to contribute the country's strength to advancing modernization for the Global South. While addressing the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August, President Xi Jinping asserted that China is a member of the Global South. China and most countries of the Global South share similar historical experiences and journeys of struggle. And all of them emerged from the fight against colonialism, hegemony and power politics.

China has always supported the reasonable concerns of Global South countries, defended their legitimate rights and interests, shared with them development opportunities and outcomes, and helped them to achieve independent growth. China is rooted in the Global South; it cares about the Global South. It has always stood in solidarity with other countries of the Global South through thick and thin, and has been an advocate for and an important player in South-South cooperation.

At the same time, China is an explorer and practitioner on the journey toward modernization. The past 100 years traversed by the CPC to seek national rejuvenation is also an exploration of a path to modernization. Thanks to the unremitting efforts of previous generations, we have found that path and attest that the countries of the Global South also have the right and the ability to achieve modernization.

China will never forget its roots and will remain a member of the big family of developing countries and the Global South. No matter how the international situation evolves, China will always be committed to the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness to develop relations with its neighbors, follow the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith to develop relations with African countries, and adhere to the principles of equality, mutual benefit and common development to develop relations with Latin American countries.

We will stand shoulder to shoulder with developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and explore the paths to modernization which best suit the national conditions of the countries of the Global South.

Going forward, China wishes to work with the other countries of the Global South to press ahead with high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, implement the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative to build a modern Global South and a community of the Global South with a shared future, so as to lay a solid foundation for the modernization of the world and build a human community with a shared future.

We believe the modernization of the Global South will become an unstoppable trend in the near future. A stable, united, strong and prosperous Global South will no longer be a forlorn dream, and humanity will eventually enjoy progress, lasting peace and sustained development.


(Liu Jianchao is minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee.)

Source:China Daily 2023-11-08
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