OFWONO OPONDO: China CPC Centenary, a great inspiration for Uganda and Africa

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Government Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo. Courtesy Photo/File

This week the Communist Party of China (CPC) marked Centenary of its founding in 1921, and doing so with immense pride in the all-round successes it has achieved especially lifting over five million of its citizens out of extreme poverty into prosperity, and overtaking Western nations that colonized, subjugated, and exploited the rest of the world including China. President Xi Jinping used the occasion to send out unmistaken caution to outsiders who routinely lecture other countries on what they claim are ‘international standards’ but mainly false arrogance believing that even in their diminished imperial image they can still remake the world.

After stumbling during the “Great Leap Forward” and “Cultural Revolution,” Deng Xiaoping in 1976 launched “Reform and Opening-up,” in what became the catch-phrase “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics” and the evidence is rapid and broad success for all to see, feel, touch and experience as China became a global military, science and technological, economic, social, political, and international power in a relatively short span of time. Today China is the leading trading country and threatening to overtake Uncle Sam in global superiority.

And as Deng said, “it doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, if it catches mice it is a good cat.” The often arrogant Western countries should leave other nations develop based on their own specific and peculiar conditions as China’s experience of lifting 1.4bn people in peace and stability attests. China is today a respected power without it seeking to impose its will by meddling or force on other nations and peoples because it respects mutual and cordial relations among nations and cultures.

Uganda, and indeed the rest of Africa should join China in celebrating this centenary because after its revolution succeeded in 1949 under Chairman Mao Tse Tung (Ze Dong), China along with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) became the formidable allies of the African peoples who were then still under colonial rule. China offered training, military supplies, education scholarships and diplomatic cover to many emerging African patriots and their organizations which enabled them to launch their own struggles against colonialists.

Perhaps unknown to many people today, China had been colonized by Britain which together with France forced the Chinese to trade in and consume opium brought by British and French traders from India which was their colony causing massive addiction and social upheavals in China. China fought two opium wars (1839-42) and (1856-60) with them because they didn’t want it halted or taxed. This is how the Chinese territory of Hong Kong was ceded to the British Empire in 1842 at the Treaty of Nanjing. At the end of the Second World War II, France, Britain and the US the victors over the so-called Axis of fascist powers-Italy, Japan and Germany, falsely thought that China would be their war booty to occupy. It is the reason today there is Taiwan, Macau, and two Koreas because when imperialism failed in its subjugation it sought to divide and has maintained a hostile posture to-date. And so when you hear all the hubris on the BBC, other western controlled media, academia and corridors of power, its background is in the disputed and discredited opium trade. And the fact that Western powers failed to neutralize China when it was still poor and living on the margins, it’s unlikely that any effort to undermine its forward growth in strengthen will succeed. The best option available is for the US and its allies is to accept the sad reality that only cooperation based on mutual respect is desirable.

In Uganda’s case, China established diplomatic relations with an embassy here in 1962 soon after independence which has been unbroken since including during the tragic times of Idi Amin Dada. It was China that introduced large scale rice growing scheme in Uganda at Kibimba, and offered to build a national sports stadium in 1964. But due to the political turmoil starting that year, the stadium and other projects went into limbo until NRM came to power in 1986 enabling further negotiations and hence Mandela national Stadium at Namboole outside of Kampala.

Under the NRM government in the last thirty-five years, China-Uganda relations have expanded and deepened beyond the traditional token education scholarships and diplomatic support of each other at international forum. China through mutual support has encouraged its private and state companies to invest in Uganda which has caused rapid growth in transportation, energy, and ICT infrastructure to facilitate the lowering of investment costs, doing business, movement of goods, services and people.

In the last three decades Uganda with support from China has seen additional kilometers of road and energy supply than in the sixty-eight years of British colonialism, plunder and domination by Western business interests. Today close to sixty percent of goods in Uganda is produced within often with Chinese technology, and investment infrastructure. Through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) there is increasing coordination, consultations, implementation of projects, rise in prosperity and security, and China should be an inspiration, if African elites could learn.

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The writer, is Government Spokesperson and head of Uganda Media Centre

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