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Ex-Brazil president Rousseff says Chinese modernization offers new alternative

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By Talibeh Hydara

Former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has said the path China offers to modernization is a new people-centred approach which is better than the “false models” imposed on the global South for too long.

The Brazilian economist and president of the New Development Bank was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Lanting Forum in Shanghai on Friday, 21st April 2023.

The forum, which was held outside Beijing for the first time and attracted participants from nearly 80 countries, was jointly organised by China Public Diplomacy Association, the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs and the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government under the theme Chinese Modernisation and the World.

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Mrs Rousseff, who was elected president of Shanghai-based New Development Bank in late March this year, said China’s model of development is more inclusive and offers holistic approach to modernization.

“As president of the New Development Bank and former President of Brazil, I am fully aware of what different models of modernization mean for the peoples of the global South, which for centuries has been in a position of subordination and dependence on central States, particularly in Latin America, which for too long imposed on us a false modernization, first in the form of colonialism, including the slaughter of natives, slavery, and predatory extractionism. In the recent neoliberal context of financialization, the increasing concentration of income and wealth in the hands of a few is a brutal process. Millions were abandoned. The modernization proposed and promoted by China offers a new alternative, which shows that a new world is entirely necessary and possible. This is crucial at a time of fragmentation due to climate change, intensifying geopolitical conflicts, disruption of industrial chains, and the deglobalization movement characterized by reshoring,” she said.

The NDB president noted China was able to achieve the unthinkable in poverty alleviation because the whole process was focused on the people and that should be a lesson to developing countries.

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“I have noticed that the main feature of Chinese modernization is that it is people-centered and based on the principle of common prosperity. China has been able to lift more than 800 million people out of extreme poverty in the past 40 years. This in itself is a great feat, unparalleled in human history. But China is still moving ahead, aiming to build a modern socialist society by 2030. This is a huge challenge, because we need to promote industrialization through technology, and bring more added value to production and create more and better jobs. The great impact of this modernization on the countries of the global South is to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. This commitment by China will help narrow the global North-South gap and help build a more inclusive multipolar order,” he said.

“This provides a new alternative to existing models and contributes effectively to the efforts of the countries of the global South. Multilateral platforms such as digital integration, the Belt and Road Initiative and the New Development Bank are of strategic importance in promoting this new, more equitable and inclusive multipolar order. The countries of the global South, especially Latin America, are seeking to re-industrialize with new characteristics beyond global commodities. In fact, we must make our modernization centered on our own people, so China is not only a model, but also a path.”

She added that developing economies must learn from China that each country has to establish its own model unique to its people and with its own pace.

“I believe that the Chinese style of modernization proposed by China attaches great importance to high-quality development. For all countries, modernization cannot be carried out in the same mode or in the same process. It depends on the specific characteristics of each country and each country has its own appropriate time. We know that what is most important is high-quality modernization, based on a harmonious relationship between man and nature, which makes environmental issues and the transition to a low-carbon economy more strategic and important. The countries of the global South contain most of the world’s tropical forests and biodiversity, and we have a responsibility to ensure that this essential natural treasure is properly preserved and protected. And make our modernization green and non-predatory. In short, it is a model of united, inclusive and sustainable development, which can be summarized as shared modernization, people-oriented modernization, technological modernization, educational modernization and green modernization. Only in this way can we jointly promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. This is a very important initiative put forward by China,” she concluded.

Established in 2015, NDB is a multilateral development bank which mobilises resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other EMDCs.

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