Guyana
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Global buy-in needed for China’s Global Development Initiative

President Ali says, emphasises strong partnership with China

ADDRESSING China’s President Xi Jinping’s proposal of the Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative, President Dr. Irfaan Ali said that he believes they are theoretically sound; however, global buy-in was needed if the issues are to be addressed from a global perspective.
President Ali made the statement during his first official visit to China, where he sat down with CGTN’s Dong Xue, for an exclusive interview.
When asked about his thoughts on the initiatives which offer potential solutions to the challenges of the era, President Ali related: “I’ve been referring to these initiatives a lot, because I believe that the initiatives are sound. They are theoretically sound and they’re addressing what the global issues are.”
He noted that what President Jinping was proposing was a global system that addresses all the multifaceted issues that they must confront.
“What President Xi is proposing is a global system that addresses all of these multi-faceted issues that we have to confront, especially in context of the SDGs, in context of inequality, in the context of fairness, in the context of addressing the concerns of the developing world, whilst, at the same time, letting the developed world understand that allowing the developing world space to grow and to bridge that gap, rebound to their benefit,” President Ali stated.
However, he noted that for that to happen, there would need to be global buy-in, where everyone participates in the process of global change.
“…because in totality, [there are] climate issues, food, energy, people, social services, climate financing, restructuring of the global financial system. All of these things he addressed, he addressed it from a global perspective, a global solution, any global solution must have global buy- in,” the head of state said.
Additionally, given that Guyana was the first country to sign up for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is part of efforts to build a community with a shared future, President Ali noted that Guyana would have benefitted from infrastructure transformation.
“…the investment in our infrastructure — Infrastructure is key for the expansion of sectors, for the opening up of opportunities, the opening up of land, for housing, food production, the modernisation of the country, the improvement in terms of efficiency and transparency, the security of the country, the security architecture of the country. All of these are areas that would have benefitted,” he said.

Further, President Ali said that President Jinping’s idea of the BRI has been carefully analysed, modified, and expanded into a new area of the shared value system.
“We have a situation now globally where countries are faced with expanding fiscal deficit, increased debt burden, inability to service their debt; the pandemic has created much greater and a more volatile situation,” he noted.

He added: “The technological gap, the digitisation gap, AI coming on stream, the people-centred development, re-prioritising financing, getting the commitment the developed world had made in terms of climate financing, 100 billion dollars, getting them actually to reach and act upon this commitment, all these are new areas and become necessary in the context of SDGs by 2030.”
President Ali said that President Jinping’s approach for the BRI which includes all of the aforementioned in his shared governance framework, shared responsibility framework makes it interesting.
Guyana’s development

Moving to China’s involvement in Guyana’s development, President Ali said that, over the years, they have seen the contribution of China’s development in Guyana in various areas.

“If you look, for example, at the oil and gas sector, we have CNOOC as part of the consortium in the Stabroek Block that is with Exxon, Hess, CNOOC and the government,

“Now, we have 11 billion barrels proven reserve. We have just gone out to auction for 14 more blocks. We are hoping that not only CNOOC but more Chinese companies would participate in this auction,” he added.

President Ali further stated: “We are going back for an expression of interest for hydroelectricity, because we want to create an energy infrastructure in Guyana that positions us as a regional energy hub. When you look at northern Brazil, the Guyana shield, then the possibility exists with the downstream industry from natural gas. I see tremendous opportunity for co-operation between Guyana and China.”

He noted that there is great collaboration and partnership on the human resource development and education side, with many of Guyana’s students studying in China; there are also many exchange programmes.

“Very recently, we have worked out an arrangement where we have a number of Guyanese being trained here in China in agriculture management, and we are now working with China on our agricultural modernization expansion plan,” he said.
President Ali noted that as they move forward, they are expanding the collaboration between China and Guyana to include climate change and environmental and ecological services.

When questioned on the significance of abiding by the “One China” principle, the President reiterated Guyana’s support for the policy.
“We have made it very clear that we support the ‘One China’ policy. This has been our position all along throughout the now 54th anniversary of our diplomatic relationship with China,” he said.

He further explained that they have consistently made it clear and public, that they see their relationship with China as one in which they pursue the social economic advancement of the Guyanese people.

“We do not see ourselves as a country that promotes division. We want to be the country that brings people together, and we want to be the country that brings nations together. We are not going to position ourselves into situations that test our principles. One of the principles we have consistently stood by is the ‘One China’ policy. There is absolutely no need for a debate on that,” he assured.

Considering Guyana’s deep cultural and economic ties with the United States and China, concerning the management of both relationships on Guyana’s end, President Ali noted that it is important for the global environment that both countries work together, as they both possess capacity, capability and economies that cannot be ignored.

He noted it goes beyond just cultural ties with the US, as lots of Guyanese live in the US, and there are second generation Guyanese also born in the US, just as how the Chinese are part of Guyana’s ethnic makeup.

Relating that no balance is required to maintain both relationships, he said that they respect every nation.
“We value our friendship with everyone and our friendship, and our trust is based on principles. We are in no power struggle. We are part of a global system; we believe in multilateralism, we believe in standing strong to values and principles that promote equity for all of humanity,” President Ali said.

He added: “China is a great friend to us, China is an important partner in our development. The US is a great friend to us and a very important partner also to our development.”
The Head of State said that China has been and continues to be an important development partner, not only for the developing world, but also for the developed community.

“China’s role in global politics, global economy, global trade, and its global position does not allow you to ignore the influence of China. So as a leader, I’m fully aware of the potential of China, the contribution of China and emergence of China as an important development partner,” he said.

Noting that it was his first time in China, he said that his impression of the country had been crafted a long time ago, since his grandmother had visited the country in 1965.

“My grandmother visited China in 1965, she was part of a women delegation coming here then, representing the party I am from, the People’s Progressive Party, on a party to party exchange programme,” he explained.

He said that Guyana’s society is made up of six different ethnic groups and the value of every ethnic group is enormous to the history of our country and whom they are as Guyanese people.

“So our Chinese heritage, our Chinese inheritance is culturally integrated, is socially integrated, is economically integrated into the collective whole as to who make us Guyanese,” the head of state said.

President Ali related that, over the years, the Chinese population and those who continue to go from China to Guyana have played a significant role in the country’s development, commerce, infrastructure, the trade and retail sector and, importantly, its cuisine.