The Honourable Dr Mamadou Tangara, foreign minister of The Gambia, was among high-profile speakers at this year’s Lanting Forum held in Shanghai Friday.
The forum, jointly organised by China Public Diplomacy Association, the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs and the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, was themed on Chinese Modernisation and the World.
Addressing the gathering at the Grand Halls, Dr Tangara said for the past four decades China has been a source of hope for developing countries, arguing that Beijing has shown to the world that no one system fits all and that every country ought to find its own path.
“Since the start of its modernization era, the People’s Republic of China stands as a beacon of hope for all developing countries and symbolizes the truth that mankind has a shared future, and that collaboration, cooperation and unity are indispensable for global prosperity.
However, it is worth noting that the converging impetus is the prevalent confidence that collaborations should intrinsically be mutually beneficial to all. For Africa, there was a strong undercurrent that the perception of the continent as a place synonymous with brazen impoverishment is rendered a mere conjecture and this unjust prediction is not made a reality. This course of action is being realized with the positive role of China in our global system and the regional architectures we developed to reshape our development agenda.
This Forum is indeed the right platform for us to also collectively examine the fundamental questions of our contemporary global system and the positive cascading effects of the efforts to realize a Chinese Dream.
I therefore thank Mr. Hailong for the kind invitation that has been extended to me to speak at this Forum. The modernity of China is an inspiration and proof to all that this Century offers unique and viable options to anchor our development pursuits,” he noted.
China, with a staggering population of over 1.4 billion, has managed to lift more than half it out of poverty and the Gambian diplomat believes this could inspire developing countries to launch their own poverty alleviation initiatives.
“China’s modernization is one that addresses in a resolute way, the global deficits of development, peace, governance and trust. Widely viewed as a miracle in the history of human development, it promoted poverty alleviation, common prosperity, ecological conservation and people centered democracy as well as the rule of law. Indeed, it is often said that having evidenced that it can be done, China has inspired many developing countries to seek their own formula to reduce poverty and to promote their respective economic development and prosperity.
The socio-economic transformation of China has simply been unprecedented. This evolution is a clarion testament to the great utility of competent, visionary and stable domestic leadership. China has historically espoused a consistent commitment to pursuing a development narrative and strategic thinking that is fully cognizant of its great civilizational values and history. This spirit of innovativeness and consistency is also a demonstrative inclination that the quest for sustainable development and the resulting beneficial partnerships can be fully realized through differentiated avenues and platforms,” he said.
Ten years ago, President Xi Jinping launched the Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious global infrastructure development strategy billed to promote trade and regional integration. More than 150 countries and international organizations have since joined, including The Gambia and Foreign Minister Tangara described it as a bridge to our physical distances.
“The Belt and Road Initiative is postured to immensely accelerate our strong desire for a more integrated and just World where positive collaboration between States is not burdened by the complexities of ideological and cultural differences. The desire for self-actualization for Nations transcends mere schematics and perspectives that have long lost their persuasive vibrancy. What is critically important in the configuration of the Belt and Road Initiative is a uniquely focused aspiration that regardless of our subtle differences, we are all galvanized under the common ambition of seeking beneficial and sustainable socio-economic transformative partnerships. It essentially bridges physical distance and shared interests and prosperity.
A prosperous China is a welcomed development for many of our countries. History has demonstrated that China has a greater preoccupation with respecting the civilizational differences of others. This is matched with a greater tendency to deploy a more benign engagement mantra with others. In Africa, there is no recollection of history that China has forcibly imposed its cultural ethos and abrogated the value and political systems of countries on the continent. For us, therefore, a Chinese Dream epitomizes a greater opportunity to widen the scope for mutually beneficial and friendlier political, trade and cultural relations,” he added.
Honourable Tangara also praised President Xi Jinping for extending support to the African continent and developing countries at large.
“The Republic of The Gambia commends President Xi Jinping for his dynamic leadership and indivisible dedication to ensuring that the African continent occupies a central space in the articulation of the imperatives for closer relationships between countries particularly under the major flagship initiative of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.
Dr Tangara argued that African countries have earned the right to cooperate with China without looking over their shoulders or facing threats to their economic progress.
“The further realization of the Chinese Dream naturally represents an alluring diversity of options and opportunities for us to realize our development agenda. As a result, it will not be greatly helpful if this critically positive momentum is embraced by others as a signal to heighten narratives of divisiveness and the employment of zero-sum tactics.
Our right perspective is that diverse development partnership pathways within our international system are good for all Nations. We must be allowed within the sacrosanct limit of our sovereignty to collaborate with any country that offers us the optimum and just outcomes for our development aspirations. Therefore, it does not augur well with us that in some instances we are urged to abdicate the wisdom of freely cooperating with our development partners including China.
As developing countries like The Gambia pursue their development agenda, they are continually confronted by multifaceted risks which not only slows its socioeconomic progress but threatens to reverse the gains registered over the past decade.
We therefore welcome the three initiatives launched by His Excellency President Xi Jinping – specifically, the Global Development Initiative (GDI); Global Security Initiative (GSI) and the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) for together, they unwaveringly offer hope for a shared and better future for mankind.
In the GDI which aims to steer global development toward a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth, the world received a much-needed boost for achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. The strategic focus on poverty alleviation, food security, industrialization, climate change and green development addresses the core development challenges of our times while financing for development, COVID-19 response and vaccines, digital economy, and connectivity will enable mutual prosperity and win-win for all stakeholders in the global economy.
Similarly, the GSI is widely considered timely in a progressively insecure world as it provides safeguards for regional and international security, peace, and stability. In this initiative, many countries will find a neutral partner in conflict resolution; the promotion of peace over conflict; and the establishment of global harmony in a multipolar world. Considering the unbreakable link between peace and justice, The Gambia renews its call for reform of the global governance order, to ensure proper commitment and execution of UN-based international law.”
Representatives of governments, think-tanks and the media from nearly 80 countries participated in the forum, which was held outside Beijing for the first time.