40 years of Guyana-China relations
This year marks 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Guyana and China. The two countries established diplomatic relations on June 27, 1972, a significant diplomatic step given the fact that many countries in the region were at that time under the influence of the United States dictation and were therefore timid in establishing diplomatic relations with China.
The Cold War was raging at the time and the United States was opposed to any foreign power that sought to penetrate the region diplomatically or otherwise. The Caribbean was regarded as the United States ‘backyard’ and any attempt to gain a foothold in the region was seen by the United States as an unfriendly act.
It is against that background of the Cold War, when ideological and political differences between the United States and China were at its peak, that the establishment of diplomatic relations has to be situated.
The United States was in support of Taiwan which broke away from China and was prepared to recognize what China regarded as a ‘renegade” state despite strong objections from the Chinese government. The PPP, even though in the political opposition at the time of the establishment of diplomatic relations, lent its full support to China and was in full solidarity with the Chinese people and government on the issue. It was not accidental, therefore, that Guyana became the first country in the English-speaking Caribbean to establish diplomatic relations with China.
Since then, diplomatic and cultural relations between China and Guyana have grown and matured to higher levels. As pointed out by the President of the People’s Republic of China, Hu Jintao, in a message to Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar on the occasion of 40 years of China-Guyana relations, bilateral ties between the two countries have made steady development. The past four decades have seen a further deepening of mutual trust and understanding between the peoples of the two countries. In addition, there is growing cooperation and collaboration in regional and international affairs.
According to President Hu Jintao, both China and Guyana are developing countries faced with the common tasks of developing the economy and improving people’s livelihood. The Chinese government, he said, attaches great importance to the development of friendly relations and cooperation with Guyana.
President Donald Ramotar for his part, acknowledged the mutually beneficial nature of the relationship between Guyana and China and said that the relations between our two countries have been founded on the principles of democracy, respect for territorial integrity and the development of harmonious relations among states as enshrined in the Charter of the United States.
According to the Guyanese leader, since the establishment of diplomatic relations, Guyana’s relations with China has been evident in several areas which benefitted from our vibrant cooperation programme, including frequent high-level exchanges at the political, diplomatic, economic and cultural levels. As players on the international stage, both of our countries have pursued common interests as members of the United Nations and the Group of 77 and China.
The Communist Party of China and the People’s Progressive Party of Guyana have long been friends, even before the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Indeed, the PPP was the first political organization that stood firmly in support of the Chinese government in opposition to the ‘Two China” policy that was being encouraged by the United States and other western powers. This friendship has grown and matured over the years. The two parties shared much in common, including the necessity to pursue a development programme based on addressing the needs of the ordinary people.
China has made great strides in terms of poverty reduction and bridging the income gap between the towns and the rural communities. Indeed, thanks to China the global poverty rate has shown a significant decrease, with China alone accounting for an average of 20 million people who are lifted out of the poverty threshold annually.
The Chinese model of development is certainly worth studying, with its emphasis not only on production, but also on equitable distribution of the resources created by the collective labour of the Chinese people. The ruling Communist Party has shown over the years some interesting innovation in terms of development models, having regard for the peculiarities and characteristics of China and the Chinese people.
With its adumbration of “market socialism” China has been successful in taking advantage of the creativity and entrepreneurial qualities of the Chinese people not only to create wealth, but also to distribute the wealth created along more equitable lines.
Chinese President Hu Jintao is being modest in saying that both China and Guyana are ‘developing’ countries. The truth is that China is now ranked among the more advanced industrial powers in the world, having only recently overtaken Japan as the second largest economy in the world. With an annual growth rate of some 10% over the past two decades, it is only a matter of time before China overhauls the United States as the largest economy in the world, even though on per capita terms it is still behind the industrialized countries. This is due mainly to the fact of population size, where almost one in six inhabitants in the world today is from mainland China.