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专访卡洛斯·马丁内斯:西方不在乎(全文)

来源: 长安街知事

记者:刘晓琰

2023-11-04 21:56

10月17日至18日的第三届“一带一路”国际合作高峰论坛,是中国今年最重要的主场外交活动。来自140多个国家、30多个国际组织的代表与会,参会嘉宾注册人数超过4000人。

过去十年,围绕“一带一路”,美西方炮制了不少谣言。直到峰会临近,一些美西方媒体还在炒作:“一带一路”只能吸引发展中国家,“一带一路”制造了“债务陷阱”,“一带一路”带有“经济胁迫”……

为什么美西方抹黑污蔑多年,仍然有越来越多的国家和地区愿意加入共建“一带一路”?“一带一路”项目在国际上正面临哪些挑战?如何看待在今年的全球多边峰会上,部分西方媒体和政客不分场合地试图“带跑”经济合作主旋律,强加俄乌冲突或巴以冲突的话题?

长安街知事(微信ID:Capitalnews)联合中国人民大学重阳金融研究院(微信公众号:人大重阳)推出“全球治理大家谈”栏目。英国“社会主义中国之友”联席主编卡洛斯·马丁内斯(Carlos Martinez)就“一带一路”倡议等与记者进行了分享。

马丁内斯表示,共建“一带一路”是中国构建人类命运共同体愿景的一部分,中国带给伙伴国家的是专业知识、资源和经验,更是发展和双赢。西方的恶意指控其实是一种“自我投射”,即西方拿自己实际做过的恶事来指责中国。

积极势头还在持续

知事:根据中国一带一路网的信息,截至2023年6月,中国已经同152个国家和32个国际组织签署200余份共建“一带一路”合作文件。也就是说,世界上超过三分之二的国家已经就共建“一带一路”与中国达成共识,为什么越来越多的国家和地区愿意加入共建“一带一路”倡议?

卡洛斯·马丁内斯:“一带一路”倡议在全球发展中发挥着巨大作用,其历史意义在于为“全球南方”国家提供了实现现代化和摆脱殖民历史枷锁的机会。

本质上看,美西方和“全球南方”之间的关系仍是掠夺性的:利用“全球南方”提供的廉价劳动力、土地和自然资源,发达资本主义国家得以实现对利润的渴求。

“一带一路”倡议与此形成鲜明对比,通过建设广泛的基础设施网络,极大地改善了人民的生活,通过创造更多的就业岗位,共建国家有了摆脱贫困和打破对西方依赖的机会。

在“一带一路”框架下,埃塞俄比亚拥有了非洲第一条城市轻轨,印度尼西亚的雅万高铁将从雅加达到万隆的通行时间从3小时缩短到40多分钟。中国带给伙伴国家的是专业知识、资源和经验,更是发展和双赢。共建“一带一路”是中国构建人类命运共同体愿景的一部分。

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10月17日,印尼雅万高铁正式开通运营,一名乘务员在列车前。

“一带一路”倡议在非洲、亚洲和太平洋等地区已取得显著成效,现在正在拉丁美洲和加勒比地区开花结果,叙利亚、尼加拉瓜、阿根廷、古巴、赞比亚等国近期都加入了共建“一带一路”倡议,还有许多其他地区的国家也在主动了解、对接,这种积极势头将持续下去。

知事:您认为“一带一路”在国际上正面临哪些挑战?这些挑战的根源是什么?

卡洛斯·马丁内斯:第一个挑战源于美国对“一带一路”倡议心怀不满。美国的名义国内生产总值(GDP)高居全球首位,在西方世界具有巨大影响力。美国的战略基本上立足于将其20世纪的主导地位延伸到21世纪,这一愿景被称为“新美国世纪计划”。

在该战略下,尽管美国的许多盟友参与共建“一带一路”会为本国带来实质性的好处,美国仍试图利用自己的影响力劝阻盟友,对待印度、菲律宾和欧洲都是如此。

欧洲本可以而且应该成为共建“一带一路”的重要参与者。一方是拥有经济、市场和人口的亚非国家,一方是在先进工程领域拥有丰富经验的欧洲,如果能够架起“桥梁”,欧洲就可以从与亚非新兴市场的联系中获益。

然而,由于长期以来在意识形态和经济上与美国结盟,欧洲经常被迫与中国保持一定的距离。这种压力很可能在未来几年继续持续下去,问题的关键在于这些美国的盟友能否坚持战略自主权,将自己融入共建“一带一路”这个历史上最重要的全球发展倡议。

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10月17日,北京,“一带一路”企业家大会签约仪式结束。

此外,“一带一路”还面临着西方对华战略不稳定的挑战,而受到这种战略波动影响的国家,有许多位于“一带一路”的东西陆路通道上。

“其实是自我投射”

知事:近几年,以美国为首的西方国家大肆炒作“中国经济胁迫”,他们煞有介事地渲染在华投资“风险”,声称许多企业在中国遭遇“胁迫”。他们还极力抹黑“一带一路”,宣称这是中国对其他国家进行“经济胁迫”的手段,妄图破坏中国的国际合作,把更多国家拉入他们的“反华包围圈”。您如何看待这种所谓“经济胁迫”的论调?

卡洛斯·马丁内斯:这是令人难以置信的讽刺,表明美西方缺乏自省,美国才是无可争议的“经济胁迫之王”。这种观点得到了美国国内分析人士的认同,其中包括著名经济学家萨克斯(Jeffrey Sachs)教授。

萨克斯指出,美国目前在全球范围内实施经济胁迫:美国单方面对中国、朝鲜、伊朗、叙利亚、古巴、委内瑞拉、尼加拉瓜、厄立特里亚、津巴布韦等多个国家实施单边制裁。

此外,美西方的贷款机构都附加贷款条件,这构成了另一种形式的经济胁迫。当一个发展中国家或财政困难的国家,向国际货币基金组织或美西方贷款机构寻求帮助时,通常是有条件的,比如必须将供水、教育系统私有化,必须向西方跨国公司开放国内市场。

而中国从不采取单边制裁,也不实施贷款条件限制,既没有陷阱,也没有与重要基础设施项目相关的惩罚性措施。中国的贷款是通过国家或公司之间的双边协议商定的,用于借款国要求的项目。

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10月18日,北京,中外记者在位于国家会议中心的新闻中心观看第三届“一带一路”国际合作高峰论坛开幕式。

近日,塞内加尔总统麦基·萨勒在接受CGTN采访时特别强调了这一点。他说,中国对非洲的财政支持是基于非洲国家的需求,具体优先事项由非洲自己决定。

有关中国采取强制手段或制造“债务陷阱”的说法已被彻底揭穿。值得注意的是,指责中国的国家实际上都不是这些贷款的接受国。

斯里兰卡、孟加拉国、塞内加尔、津巴布韦、刚果民主共和国、阿根廷、古巴、委内瑞拉和尼加拉瓜……这些直接接受中国贷款的国家并没有指责中国制造“债务陷阱”,提出指控的却是美国、英国、欧盟和加拿大。

这非常荒谬:那些被认为受到影响的人没有提出担忧,反倒是没有参与的人在领导一场针对中国的舆论战。这种没有根据的指控其实就是一种“自我投射”,即西方拿自己实际做过的恶事来指责中国。

知事:继“一带一路”倡议后,中方又相继提出全球发展倡议、全球安全倡议、全球文明倡议,为应对世界之变、时代之变、历史之变提供了中国方案。在国际形势变乱交织、人类社会面临前所未有的共同挑战的当下,这些中国方案有何积极意义?

卡洛斯·马丁内斯:这三项倡议是中国作出的重大和关键的贡献,在世界范围内获得了压倒性的认可和支持,特别是在“全球南方”国家中,突显了“三大倡议”在解决人类面临的共同问题方面的重要性。

以全球发展倡议为例:毫无疑问,发展中国家都需要发展,需要工业化,但他们最需要的是一种绿色、可持续的现代化发展方式,就像中国几十年来所走过的路一样,以非剥削、非环境破坏和非侵略性发展为特征的道路。这与包括北美、西欧和日本在内的西方国家所追求的过时的发展制度和模式形成鲜明对比。那些植根于侵略、扩张主义、殖民主义和帝国主义的模式不再是可行的发展路径选择。

全球发展倡议与“一带一路”倡议一道,为其他发展中国家走上和平、可持续的现代化、工业化之路提供了宝贵的机遇,代表了全球消除贫困和实现发展繁荣的总体目标。全球安全倡议是对全球发展倡议的补充,国家要想繁荣,首先必须实现稳定和安全。全球文明倡议是全球安全倡议的题中应有之义,为了促进合作,避免冲突或侵略,我们必须相互理解和欣赏,尊重全球人民生活、思考和行动的不同之处。“三大倡议”共同致力于为全人类培养共同体意识。

“西方不在乎”

知事:在国际多边外交场合,以美国为首的西方国家和广大发展中国家的隔阂似乎愈来愈明显。在今年的G20峰会上,中国在倡导共同发展,其他发展中国家在关注落实2030可持续发展议程,而西方国家则聚焦于谴责俄罗斯。您如何看待美西方国家的这种心态?

卡洛斯·马丁内斯:西方,尤其是美国对俄乌冲突的反应很能说明问题。在过去的二三十年里,美国发动了多场战争,造成了许多复杂的局面,这些都没有像乌克兰一样在美国的新闻报道和政治话语中占据如此多的关注。

1999年,以美国为首的北约在未经联合国安理会授权的情况下,对主权国家南联盟进行狂轰滥炸,使南联盟遭受了78天的毁灭性打击。西方媒体却将其描绘成一场“小规模冲突”、“必要的人道主义干预”。

2003年,伊拉克也出现了同样的情况。虽然乌克兰的局势无疑是悲剧性的,但与伊拉克相比,它就相形见绌了。

在伊拉克,战争导致约20万至25万平民死亡,其中美军直接致死逾1.6万人。这个国家基本上被炸回到石器时代,到现在还没有完全恢复,甚至2023年的伊拉克处于比2003年更糟糕的发展状态。即便如此,伊拉克都成为不了西方议程上的焦点。

有些西方政客以前以“战争鹰派”而闻名,比如美国总统拜登,他几乎支持了每一场美国参与的战争,现在却把自己表现得像一个“和平活动家”和“坚定的反战者”。

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当地时间17日,美国总统拜登登上空军一号专机,前往以色列。

在俄乌冲突中,有一个重要的地缘政治因素在起作用,那就是美国实际上在通过乌克兰对俄罗斯发起代理人战争。美国就是想利用这场战争削弱俄罗斯,最好能让俄罗斯发生政权更替,这样就能使俄罗斯与西方保持一致。

因此,对美西方而言,俄乌局势才是世界上唯一重要的事。应对气候变化、减贫、粮食安全、消除不平等和核扩散等问题在西方眼中已经失去了意义,哪怕这些都是“全球南方”国家亟待解决的问题。西方在很大程度上无视了他们的诉求。

知事:金砖国家今年迎来扩员,沙特、埃及、阿联酋、阿根廷、伊朗、埃塞俄比亚正式成为金砖大家庭成员。另外,在中国的努力下,今年非盟加入了G20,这是G20成立以来第一次扩员。您认为这些国际组织的扩员反映出什么趋势?为什么发展中国家越来越坚定地站在了一起?

卡洛斯·马丁内斯:金砖国家正迅速成为新兴多极世界秩序的关键,得到了整个“全球南方”的大力支持。今年有6个国家加入金砖,另外还有20多国在竞争成员资格,已有超过40个国家表达了希望成为金砖国家一员的意愿,这突出了金砖国家在全球舞台上发挥的积极作用,在国际社会中具有极高的优先级。

伊朗和沙特阿拉伯的加入意义重大。这两个国家是宿敌,40年来相互仇恨,爆发多起冲突。最近却能在中国的推动和斡旋下达成和解。两国现在都认识到金砖国家的重要性,并接受多极世界的概念,他们都认为,“全球南方”代表着我们这个星球上最具活力的新兴力量。

值得注意的是,埃塞俄比亚是一个人口众多、经济快速增长的国家。但其实直到上世纪90年代,它都被认为是世界上最贫穷的国家之一。在西方眼里,“埃塞俄比亚”就是饥荒和极端贫困的代名词。然而,通过与中国等友好国家的合作,埃塞俄比亚快速发展,未来十年有望跻身中等收入国家行列,成为了全球最具活力的经济体之一。

最令人兴奋的经济进步都发生在“全球南方”国家的范围内,金砖国家正日益成为推动这一趋势的主要力量,标志着世界经济重心的历史性转移。金砖国家的发展是这一变革进程的缩影,人们对金砖国家的兴趣激增是有充分理由的。

英国人应该扪心自问

知事:最近,英国刮起了一阵关注“中国间谍活动”的怪风。此前,英国媒体声称两名英国人涉嫌为中国提供情报被逮捕,但其中一名被指控为“中国间谍”的英国议会研究人员回应说,他“完全无辜”。10月23日,多家英媒又炒作所谓“中国洗衣工被怀疑对英国进行间谍活动”一事,英国皇家海军开始停止雇佣来自中国的洗衣工,理由是“存在间谍活动风险”,这些洗衣工多数来自香港。此前,英国情报部门军情五处负责人肯·麦卡勒姆(Ken McCallum )还声称,中国正在对英国开展“史诗级规模”的间谍活动,以窃取英方科研成果等敏感信息。您如何看待英国媒体和政客炒作所谓“中国对英开展间谍活动”?

卡洛斯·马丁内斯:最近有关中国在英国从事间谍活动的报道大幅增加,这与美国的报道类似,特别是美国媒体此前炒作的“间谍气球”事件,透露出西方在叙事方式上的趋同。

在美国炒作的“间谍气球”事件最初,中方坚定指出,该物体是一个气象装置,具体来说是一个偏离轨道的气象气球。然而,美国拒绝接受这一说法,并大肆宣传,让这件事情连续几天霸占各媒体的头版头条。随后,美国采取了单方面、鲁莽且愚蠢的决定,击落了所谓的“间谍气球”。几个月后,真正的证据公布显示,原来这个物体确实是一个气象气球,并非用于间谍活动。

这与英国炒作所谓“中国间谍”,声称两名英国人涉嫌为中国提供情报被逮捕的情况如出一辙,这些事件似乎暗含一种更广泛的宣传战略,其特点让人想起冷战时代和麦卡锡主义。

这些叙事将中国描绘成一个敌对的、危险的、扩张主义的力量,从而将其视作英国国家安全的威胁,这种说法又反过来为西方对中国发起的“新冷战”提供了借口,用以争取英国公众对各种政策的支持,例如向中国台湾提供军事援助,和与美、澳签订AUKUS三边军事协议,以及为对华实施制裁提供了借口。“间谍故事”只是这一更广泛战略的一部分。

在中英两国友谊的“黄金时代”,双方曾共同顶住美国的巨大压力,达成了许多协议,包括英国加入亚洲基础设施投资银行。在那时,与中国保持友好互利的关系被认为对英国的经济发展至关重要,表达对中国的积极态度或讨论中国的成就,不会受到今天这般严厉的惩罚。

但在如今的英国,即使是陈述客观事实,比如庆祝中国成功使数亿人摆脱贫困,或承认中国在可再生能源生产方面取得了全球领先的进展,都可能会被贴上“危险人物”的标签,或者与主流叙事背道而驰的人的标签。

不幸的是,麦卡锡主义正与反华、反亚洲的种族主义日益勾连在一起,这种令人不安的趋势越来越多地出现在伦敦和纽约等大城市的街道上。“间谍故事”似乎是为了加剧这种反华情绪而量身定制的,尤其是在这种紧张的环境下。

知事:美国政府、政客和媒体对中国进行污蔑和指责,这很好理解,他们不过是想继续延续美国的霸权,但英国也跟着这么做,图什么呢?

卡洛斯·马丁内斯:这的确是英国人应该扪心自问的一个重要问题。十多年前,美国前总统奥巴马宣布“重返亚洲”的时候,“新冷战”就出现苗头了。美西方国家在某种程度上越来越多地将中国视为其主要挑战。而后美国进行了大规模的军事重新定位,包括将军队和资源从中东重新部署到太平洋等动作,标志着对中国的重大战略关注。尽管如此,中美贸易仍然继续增长,两国的双边讨论在2015年巴黎气候峰会的成功中发挥了关键作用,最终达成了国际协议和重大承诺。

但自那以后,两国关系明显恶化。当美国前总统特朗普上台时,他发起了一场更激进的反华运动,造成了贸易战的爆发和外交紧张。不幸的是,拜登政府延续了这一路线,现在美国两党在众多领域都存在许多分歧,但在反华问题上却能达成一致,这种情况很难在短期内改变。

所以,英国对华友好的动力已经改变了。虽然在过去的70年里,英国也深受美国的影响,但自从英国投票决定退出欧盟和欧洲单一市场以来,情况就加剧了,“脱欧”让英国在经济上陷入了非常困难的境地,因为其大部分贸易都是通过欧盟进行的。

在此背景下,努力与美国达成自由贸易协定对英国来说变得至关重要。英国仍在就这项协议进行谈判,非常担心如果违背了美国的意愿,届时不仅自由贸易协定落空了,自己也会陷入孤立无援的境地。因此,英国非常在意美国是如何看待自己的,在外交政策上基本与华盛顿保持一致。

以下为本次专访的英文原文:

The Carlos Martinez Interview: "The West Doesn't Care"

The Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on October 17-18 represents China's most important diplomatic event at home this year. The Forum is attended by representatives from more than 140 countries and more than 30 international organizations, with more than 4,000 guests registered.

Over the past decade, the “Belt and Road Initiative” is pestered by rumors concocted by the United States and the West. Until the summit is approaching, some of their media are still hyping up that “Belt and Road” can only attract developing countries, and that it has created a “debt trap”, that it is a form of “economic coercion” and so on.

One may wonder why more and more countries and regions are willing to join in the construction of “Belt and Road” despite years of smear and defamation by the U.S. and the West? And what are the challenges that the Belt and Road project is facing in the international arena? What is implicated in the fact that at this year's global multilateral summits, some Western media and politicians have tried to distract from the main theme of economic cooperation to the topics of the Russia-Ukraine conflict or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict regardless of the occasion?

In collaboration with RDCY, Capital News has launched the “Global Governance Forum” section. Carlos Martinez, the co-editor of Friends of Socialist China, shared with us on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Martinez said the joint construction of BRI is part of China's vision of building a human community of shared future, and what China brings to its partner countries is expertise, resources and experience, as well as development and a win-win cooperation. The West's malicious accusations are in fact a kind of psychological projection of itself, that is, the West takes the evil things it has actually done to accuse China.

Positive Momentum Continues

Capital News: As of June this year, China has signed over 200 cooperation agreements on jointly building the BRI with 152 countries and 32 international organization. Why are more and more countries and regions getting on board with the BRI?

Carlos Martinez: The BRI is playing a hugely significant role in global development. Its historical importance lies in providing primarily the countries of the Global South with the opportunity to modernize and break free from the chains of underdevelopment. These are the same chains that were originally imposed during the colonial era, affecting regions such as Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and the Pacific.

In many instances, these chains have persisted beyond the colonial era, extending into what are now considered northern neo-colonial areas or the imperialist era. The relationship between the US, Canada, Europe, and the Global South, particularly developing countries, remains fundamentally predatory. Here, the Global South often provides cheap labor, land, and natural resources, driving a relentless pursuit of profit in the advanced capitalist nations.

China's approach with the BRI stands in stark contrast to that. It represents a profoundly important shift, characterized by the construction of an extensive network of roads, railways, bridges, factories, ports, telecommunications, green energy infrastructure, and more. These projects leverage China's exceptional expertise in high-quality construction, honed through decades of infrastructure development within China itself.

This initiative is now opening up some of the world's most challenging terrains for the construction of roads and railways. For the countries involved, what they are seeking and indeed gaining from the BRI on a historically unprecedented scale is nothing short of development, modernization, and industrialization.

And that means transforming people's lives. It means creating jobs. It means lifting people out of poverty. It means breaking dependence on the West. Many of the times, when these countries have needed assistance, when they needed help, when they needed loans, they had to go to the IMF or they had to go to the Western lending institutions. And where they got any assistance, it's been in the form of conditional loans.

You want to loan, that means you have to privatize your water supply, you have to privatize your education system, you have to liberalize your economy. You have to open up your domestic market to western multinationals and so on. Conversely, the BRI, and I would say China's investment policy in general, works in a fundamentally different way. There are no loan conditions, no traps and none of the punishing, punitive measures often associated with vital infrastructure projects. Recently, CGTN carried an interesting interview with Senegalese president Macky Sall. He underscored precisely this point, emphasizing that China's financial support in Africa is based on requests made by African nations, with the priorities being set by Africa itself. Furthermore, China's loans typically come with roughly half the interest rate of Western loans. The repayment period is as much longer, and the terms are far more flexible.

And the results of this type of dynamic is that now Ethiopia has the first metro train in Africa. Lao has a high-speed railway, and it's now possible to travel from Jakarta to Bandung in 30 minutes, rather than 3 hours. It's this topic dynamic. That means that Africa has been able to join the renewable energy revolution. So, China is bringing development where the West for so many centuries brought under-development and exploitation. And for China, of course, it's benefiting economically. These are win-win relationships. But I think more importantly, China's got the opportunity to share its expertise, its resources, its experiences, which contributes to human progress. Overall, I think it's part of China's vision of a community with a shared future for humanity.

Capital News:What do you think are the challenges that the BRI is currently facing on the international stage? And what are the underlying reasons for these challenges?

Carlos Martinez: The BRI has already demonstrated significant successes, especially in the developing regions of Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.

Now, it's making inroads into Latin America and the Caribbean. I believe this positive momentum will persist. Notably, Syria, Nicaragua, Argentina, Cuba, and Zambia have recently joined the BRI. If one pays close attention, many other nations are deepening their involvement with this initiative.

However, the complexity arises from the fact that the United States, which holds the top spot in nominal GDP and wields immense influence, especially in the Western world, harbors discontent with the BRI. The U.S. strategy is essentially rooted in extending its 20th-century dominance into the 21st century, a vision encapsulated in what they term the "Project for a New American Century." This objective is at odds with the BRI's transformative direction.

The BRI is pivotal in enabling the Global South to reduce its reliance on the West. It's paving the way for a shift towards a multipolar and post-imperialist world order. In this emerging landscape, the U.S. will continue to be significant, but it won't retain its status as the sole superpower or the policeman of the world. It must adapt to this evolving reality of a democratic, multipolar, and multilateral world. It's evident that the U.S. leadership is grappling with this paradigm shift.

The U.S. maintains a notably negative stance towards the BRI. It exerts its influence to dissuade its allies, like India, from engaging with the BRI, despite the substantial benefits such engagement could bring. Anyone visiting India can readily observe the need for improvements in its energy, transport, and telecommunications infrastructure. Moreover, India's strategic geographical location between West Asia and Southeast Asia positions it to play a pivotal role in enhancing connectivity across the Eurasian supercontinent.

However, the U.S. is leveraging its influence over India to steer it away from the BRI, using it as part of a broader anti-China strategy. A similar approach is being taken with the Philippines. Europe, too, could and should be a significant player in the BRI. European nations stand to gain from connecting with the emerging markets and industrial powerhouses in Asia and Africa—a region characterized by a growing economy, market, and population. Europe boasts extensive expertise in advanced engineering, and European companies could actively participate in bidding for BRI. Nevertheless, they often feel pressured to maintain a certain distance from China due to their longstanding ideological and economic alignment with the U.S..

This challenge is likely to persist in the coming years. The question remains: can Europe, India, the Philippines, Australia, and other nations assert their strategic autonomy to integrate themselves into the BRI, which is undeniably the most significant global infrastructure initiative in history? There are a few other challenges to consider. The U.S. may attempt to propose various alternatives to the Belt and Road, as it has with initiatives like "Build Back Better World." However, it's becoming increasingly evident that these projects lack the necessary resources and expertise to truly compete. If the U.S. truly excels in infrastructure development, it should probably consider fixing its own crumbling infrastructure at home.

Another complex challenge confronting the BRI lies in the Western strategy of destabilization, aimed at weakening China and sabotaging the BRI. It's widely acknowledged that the U.S. supports separatist elements in Xinjiang and actively stirs up tensions in various regions of Central Asia. Notably, these areas constitute vital east-west land routes crucial to the success of the BRI.

The international community has witnessed the profound and lasting impacts of U.S. involvement in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. So, there are these complex and unpredictable military and geopolitical factors that could emerge, potentially posing challenges and obstacles to the BRI. Vigilance in this regard will be essential.

The Irony of Accusations

Capital News: In recent years, Western countries led by the United States have been vigorously promoting the idea of "Chinese economic coercion." They exaggerate the "risks" of investing in China, suggesting that many businesses face "coercion" in the country. They also claim that the BRI is a means for China to economically coerce other nations, with the aim of disrupting China's international cooperation and pulling more countries into their "anti-China encirclement." What is your take on this so-called "economic coercion" narrative? Is China a perpetrator of economic coercion?

Carlos Martinez: It's incredibly ironic and indicative of a certain lack of introspection and self-understanding for the U.S. and the Western world to accuse China or anyone else of economic coercion when the U.S. is the undisputed king of economic coercion.

This sentiment has been echoed by analysts within the U.S. itself, including prominent economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs. He asserts that the U.S. currently wields economic coercion on a global scale. The U.S. unilaterally imposes sanctions on various nations including China, the DPRK, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, and several others. This establishes the U.S. as the preeminent global enforcer of economic coercion and unilateral coercive measures. Additionally, both the U.S. and Western lending institutions employ loan conditionality, which constitutes yet another form of economic coercion.

When a developing or financially strapped nation seeks a loan from the U.S., IMF, or Western lending institutions, it often comes with conditions. This may compel the borrowing nation to deregulate its local industries or privatize critical services like water supplies and education systems. This kind of coercion coerces a country into adopting policies it may not otherwise choose, purely due to the urgent need for resources and loans.

In stark contrast, China refrains from employing unilateral sanctions and adheres to the principles of international law in imposing sanctions. China also abstains from implementing loan conditionality. Its loans are agreed upon through bilateral agreements between states or companies and are utilized for projects requested by the borrowing country. As Senegalese President Macky Sall has noted, these projects are conceived and designed with the input of African states to meet the needs of their people. This has been the case across Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and the Pacific. The notion that China engages in coercive tactics or creates debt traps has been thoroughly debunked. It's worth noting that none of the countries accusing China of such tactics are actually recipients of these loans.

Countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Senegal, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua—direct recipients of China's assistance—aren't leveling accusations of debt traps. Instead, it's primarily the U.S., Britain, the EU, and Canada making these allegations. This creates a peculiar situation where those who are supposedly affected aren't raising concerns, while others who aren't directly involved are leading the charge in a propaganda war against China.

A parallel scenario unfolds with the allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East and North Africa, including Pakistan, Palestine, and Iran, notably do not make these accusations. Instead, it's countries like the U.S., Britain, and France, ironically, which have all been going to war against Muslim-majority countries over the past two decades and face their own challenges with Islamophobia and religious discrimination. They're the ones advancing these unusual claims.

So, this squander that's being hurled at China about economic coercion. There are no facts to back it up. And, in fact, it seems like a form of reflection, what it's about is describing something that the West is actually engaged in and accusing China of that thing.

Capital News: Following the BRI, China has successively put forwards Global Development initiative, Global Security Initiative, and Global Civilization Initiative, offering Chinese solutions to address changes in the world, the era, and history. In the current complex and ever-changing international landscape, with humanity facing unprecedented common challenges, what positive significance do these Chinese initiatives hold?

Carlos Martinez: These three initiatives represent a significant and crucial contribution. Their importance is underscored by the overwhelmingly positive reception they've garnered worldwide, especially within the global South and among developing nations. They address the pressing needs of humanity at this juncture.

Consider the Global Development Initiative: There's no doubt that countries require development, modernization, and industrialization. Yet, what they need most is a contemporary form of development that is green and ecologically sustainable. They need access to a trajectory akin to the one China has followed over several decades—a path characterized by non-exploitative, non-environmentally destructive, and non-aggressive development. This stands in stark contrast to the outdated systems and models of development that were pursued by the West, encompassing North America, Western Europe, and Japan. These models, rooted in aggression, expansionism, colonialism, and imperialism, are no longer viable options.

Moreover, the historical paths taken by Europe and North America, which involved practices like the slave trade and the ruthless exploitation of Africa, are ethically unacceptable. Furthermore, if space is been based on a kind of brutal destruction of the environment, the United States, which has got 4 % of the world's population, is responsible for 25 % of existing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.

Even if such development approaches were still available, they wouldn't be desirable for the rest of the world to emulate. China, with its distinctive resources and a socialist political system, has forged an alternative development path—one free from war, aggression, and colonialization. Notable, it has the potential to be green and ecologically sustainable and is consistent with humanity’s goal of averting climate breakdown.

The Global Development Initiative, alongside the BRI, offers an invaluable opportunity for other developing nations to embark on a journey of modernization, development, and industrialization—a path marked by peace and sustainability. This bears immense significance. Subsequently, the Global Security Initiative naturally complements the Global Development Initiative. It acknowledges that for nations to thrive, they must first attain stability and security. They need assurance that they won't be plagued by conflicts that impede progress and prosperity.

The Civilization Initiative follows logically from the Security Initiative. To foster collaboration and avoid conflict or aggression, it's imperative that we comprehend and appreciate one another. We must create an environment that celebrates our shared humanity, recognizing and respecting the diverse ways in which people across the globe live, think, and act. Our cultures, traditions, and ideologies all contribute to the rich tapestry of human civilization, paving the way for collective advancement.

So, I think Global Development Initiative really represents the overall kind of goal of prosperity and the eradication of poverty worldwide. It finds steadfast support in the Security and Civilization Initiatives. Together, they are geared toward cultivating a sense of shared community for all of humanity.

The West Doesn't Care

Capital News: In international multilateral diplomacy, it seems like there's an increasing divide between Western countries, led by the United States, and many developing nations. James Cleverly, the UK's Foreign Minister mentioned in New York at the United Nations General Assembly, that leaders from Global South countries have told him that G7 nations only seem concerned with discussing Ukraine. Similar situations occurred at the current G20 summit, where China is advocating for shared development, while other developing nations are focused on implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. But Western countries tend to concentrate more on condemning Russia. How do you view this phenomenon, where G7 nations consistently press other countries to prioritize the Russia-Ukraine conflict regardless of the occasion or context? What does this reflect about the mindset of the U.S. and Western countries?

Carlos Martinez: The Western, particularly the U.S.'s response to the crisis in Ukraine, speaks volumes. There have been other wars, other complexities in the last 20 or 30 years that have received much less attention in U.S. news reporting and political discourse.

For example, in 1999, the U.S. and Europe waged war against Yugoslavia subjecting the country to 78 days of devastating attacks, dropping thousands of bombs and causing the loss of thousands of lives. The way it was portrayed in Western media painted it as a minor conflict, framed as a necessary humanitarian intervention. There was no concerted effort to mobilize the public against war, no widespread international outcry.

No repeated United Nations resolutions condemning the bombing of a sovereign nation, a clear violation of international law without the endorsement of the United Nations. The same pattern emerged in Iraq in 2003. While the situation in Ukraine is undoubtedly tragic, it pales in comparison to the level of devastation witnessed in Iraq, where over a million people, including civilians, lost their lives. The country was essentially bombed into the Stone Age, and it still hasn't properly recovered from that.

In 2023, Iraq is in an even more dire developmental state than it was in 2003. Yet, this wasn't a focal point on the agenda. There wasn't a massive international condemnation, especially not from Western nations who were carrying out this illegal act of aggression. The same narrative holds for Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan. Ukraine has taken center stage, and politicians from the West, some of whom were previously had a reputation of being war hawks—individuals like Joe Biden, who supported nearly every U.S.-involved war—now present themselves as peace activists and staunch opponents of war.

All of these actions are part of an overarching agenda for a 'New American Century,' aimed at extending American hegemony and dominance into the 21st century. There's a significant geopolitical aspect at play here, with the U.S. essentially waging a proxy war against Russia through its actions in Ukraine. The U.S. has been provocatively temping Russia into this conflict with Ukraine for quite some time. Therefore, it's fair to assert that the U.S. is the ultimate source and cause of this crisis. Their intention now is to leverage the crisis to undermine Russia, possibly to such an extent as to precipitate a regime change in the country. This would align Russia with the broader Western agenda, aligning it with the U.S. and Western Europe. Consequently, as far as the U.S. and the West is concerned, the situation between Russia and Ukraine is the only important situation in the world.

As you pointed out, matters like global poverty have lost their significance in the eyes of the West. They are actively working to take off such concerns from the agendas of international institutions. While these issues continue to be pressing for nations in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, the Pacific, and Africa, they're largely dismissed by the West. Because they don’t think it is significant. It's quite striking to observe this dismissal, especially considering the global consensus on the gravity of climate change. Over the past decade, China has clearly emerged as a leading force in renewable energy, electric vehicles, public transportation, biodiversity preservation, and reforestation. They've also demonstrated an increasing awareness of the needs of the global South, focusing on how to revolutionize their energy systems and provide more widespread access to modern energy for their populations.

The urgency of addressing environmental concerns, particularly in the context of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and avoiding environmentally destructive practices like fossil fuel consumption, should be a top priority, if not the foremost concern, on the international stage. However, as you've pointed out, the Western world appears to have largely shifted its focus away from this critical issue. It is imperative that the West take a leading role in this matter, given its substantial historical responsibility, as acknowledged by international law and the principle of 'common but differentiated responsibilities.' The developed nations achieved their current level of prosperity, in large part, through the release of greenhouse gases and the utilization of fossil fuels. Collectively, Western nations bear the lion's share of the responsibility for existing emissions in the atmosphere. So, they should be using their position and wealth to assist the rest of the world in tackling this challenge. Regrettably, they've stopped caring about it. The only thing they want to talk about now is the situation in Ukraine.

However, the way taken in dealing with this conflict also carries its own environmental toll. By preventing European nations from using Russian natural gas, there is a shift towards alternatives such as fracked shale gas from the United States. This entails shipping large quantities across the Atlantic on container ships,its economic cost is double, and the environmental cost is increased many times.

It becomes clear that the U.S. and its Western allies are not actually interested in the broader global interests. The rest of the world is primarily concerned with progress, it's interested in modernization, safeguarding the environment, ensuring food security, and addressing critical issues such as pandemics, nuclear proliferation and antimicrobial resistance. These are the problems that humanity faces, and the rest of the world wants to face up to those questions. In contrast, the West just puts forward this agenda, which doesn't prioritize global well-being, prosperity, or the health of our planet. Instead, it seems more focused on asserting hegemony, seeking dominance, and imperialism. It's about continuing a 20th-century status quo where the U.S. remains the sole superpower.

Capital News: We’ve got some new members joining the BRICS club this year, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Argentina, Iran, and Ethiopia. Also, thanks to China's push, the African Union hopped on board with the G20 this year. What’s your take on this trend of international organizations expanding? Why do you think developing countries are increasingly standing together?

Carlos Martinez: BRICS is rapidly emerging as the linchpin of the arising multipolar world order, enjoying substantial backing from the entire developing world. In January, six new countries are set to be admitted, with an additional 20 nations vying for membership and another 20 to 30 expressing keen interest. This underscores its dynamic and paramount role on the global stage, commanding immense priority for the international community.

It's hugely significant that both Iran and Saudi Arabia are joining. These two countries have long stood as adversaries, marked by 4 decades of mutual animosity and conflict. A recent reconciliation between these two countries has been facilitated and moderated by China. The fact that both nations now recognize the importance of BRICS and embrace the concept of a multipolar world is quite significant. They share an understanding that the developing world, particularly the global south, represents the most vibrant and emerging aspect of our planet.

Historically, this development holds great significance. The inclusion of Ethiopia, a highly populated country experiencing rapid growth, is noteworthy. Until fairly recently, well into the 90s, Ethiopia was known as one of the poorest countries in the world, especially in Africa. In the Western world, 'Ethiopia' was often synonymous with famine and extreme poverty.

Ethiopia's development journey, bolstered by collaborations with friendly nations like China, has positioned it on the verge of attaining middle-income status. It stands as one of the most dynamic economies globally. The most exciting economic progress is occurring within the sphere of the developing world and the Global South. BRICS is increasingly emerging as the primary driving force behind this transformation.

This surge of interest in BRICS is well-founded. It signifies a historic, albeit gradual, shift in the world's economic center of gravity. We are witnessing a transition from the West towards the East and South. So, the importance of the Eastern regions and Global South is on the rise. In this context, BRICS epitomizes this transformative process.

Capital News: So, just before this year’s BRICS summit, South Africa, the chairing country, let slip that there are over 30 countries that have made it clear they want in on BRICS, and that includes some of the buddies from the US and Europe. It was reported that during a chat with South African President, French President Macron put in a request to get in on the BRICS summit. Why are European countries keen on jumping into the BRICS club?

Carlos Martinez: European countries expressing interest in joining or collaborating with BRICS is a positive sign. It indicates their acknowledgment of the shifting global economic landscape, with a growing recognition that power dynamics are moving towards the East and South. This marks the conclusion of a nearly 500-year era dominated by Europe and North America.

While not everyone in Europe shares this perspective, some understand the necessity of adapting to this evolving reality. However, this transition won't be an easy process. European countries, in particular, under great deal of pressure from the U.S. to join in with a new Cold War stance, opposing multipolarity. The U.S. was outraged when French President Macron went to Beijing a few months ago and had a very high-level bilateral talks with China’s president. He made a perfectly sensible comment to the press that Europe must make its own decisions and maintain its strategic autonomy to develop its own independent policy in relation to China. It's pretty clear that's not what the U.S. wants. Strategic autonomy for Europe is not what the US favors. At present, the U.S. still wields substantial economic, ideological, and political influence over Europe. This is evident in Europe's involvement in the proxy conflict against Russia in Ukraine, in spite of the fact that it's like directly harmful to the living standards of the European citizens, who grapple with crises such as inflation and the rising cost of living directly linked to the situation in Ukraine.

While it is positive that Europe is showing interest in BRICS, the pursuit of strategic autonomy will undoubtedly be a complex and arduous journey.

The people of Britain should be asking themselves

Capital News: Lately, there has been a peculiar surge of attention in the UK towards "Chinese espionage activities". Previously, British media claimed that two British individuals were arrested on suspicion of providing intelligence to China. However, one of them, a British parliamentary researcher accused of being a 'Chinese spy,' responded by stating that he is 'completely innocent'. On October 23rd, several British media outlets hyped up the so-called "Chinese laundry workers suspected of engaging in espionage activities in the UK". The British Royal Navy has begun to cease employing laundry workers from China, citing "espionage risk" as the rationale, with the majority of these workers originating from Hong Kong. Earlier, Ken McCallum, the head of MI5, the UK's intelligence agency, also claimed that China is conducting an "epic scale" of espionage activities against the UK, aiming to steal sensitive information such as British scientific research achievements. How do you view the British media and politicians sensationalizing the alleged "Chinese espionage activities against the UK"?

Carlos Martinez: There has been a notable surge in reports of alleged Chinese spy activities in the UK, mirroring similar reports in the US. I think the recent narrative surrounding the spy balloon incident in the US is indicative of a broader trend across the Western world.

Initially, the Chinese side maintained that the object in question was a meteorological device, specifically a weather balloon that had gone astray. However, the U.S. refused to accept that and made a big fuss, turning it into headline news for several days. Subsequently, the U.S. took the unilateral and, some argue, reckless and stupid decision to shoot down the supposed spy balloon.

Months later, when actual evidence was released, it turned out that the object was, indeed, a weather balloon and not equipped for espionage. This scenario appears to parallel the current story in the UK involving an alleged parliamentary researcher who is said to have lobbied for or provided information to China. Such incidents seem to fit into a broader strategy, characterized by elements reminiscent of the Cold War era and McCarthyism.

These narratives serve as a form of propaganda, aimed at painting China as a hostile, dangerous, expansionist force—portraying it as a threat to Britain's national security. This narrative, in turn, provides justification for what is perceived as a new Cold War initiated by the West against China, encompassing policies of encirclement and containment.

This narrative aims to garner support from the British public for various measures, such as supplying military aid to Taiwan province. It also serves as a rationale for initiatives like the AUKUS trilateral military pact involving Britain, the US, and Australia, which is quite clearly related to the project of China and circumvent. Additionally, it provides justification for the imposition of sanctions on China, along with aggressive economic measures against the country. These include restricting Chinese involvement in British telecommunications infrastructure, such as excluding Huawei from our 5G network and imposing barriers on the import of solar panels, electric vehicles, batteries, and other related products.

It's important to recognize that these actions may have economic repercussions for the British population. For instance, without Huawei in the 5G infrastructure, Britain may end up paying more for an inferior product, potentially compromising the efficiency of network connectivity. This narrative is therefore employed in the broader context of a propaganda campaign to justify these policies in the eyes of the British public. The spy stories are just one part of this broader strategy.

There's a concerning, McCarthyism-inspired element to this dynamic, prevalent on both sides of the Atlantic. These narratives, often referred to as the "yellow peril" stereotypes, are gaining traction and are becoming increasingly pervasive in the media. The intention seems to be to heighten the physical and psychological costs associated with aligning with China, representing a remarkable transformation from just 8 or 9 years ago.

Back then, China and the UK were enjoying what was dubbed the "golden era" of their friendship. In 2015, China’s President Xi visited Britain and held productive discussions with then-Prime Minister David Cameron. They forged numerous agreements, including Britain's participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, despite significant pressure from the United States. It was seen as crucial for the economic development of Britain to maintain a friendly, mutually beneficial relationship with China. At that time, the cost of such an affiliation was not as high, nor was there such a severe penalty for expressing positivity towards China or discussing its accomplishments.

Fast forward a few years, and today, even stating objectively true and evident facts can mark one out as a dissenting voice. For example, celebrating China's success in lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty or acknowledging its progress as a global leader in renewable energy production can label you as a dangerous person of someone who's going against the dominant narrative.

This surge in McCarthyism has unfortunately been linked to a notable rise in anti-Chinese and anti-Asian racism. This disturbing trend is increasingly manifesting on the streets of major cities, such as London and New York. The espionage narratives appear to be tailored to exacerbate this anti-China sentiment, particularly in the context of this new Cold War environment.

Capital News: Over the past several years, it seems like the British political scene has been in a state of confusion regarding how to handle UK-China relations. On one hand, you have figures like Prime Minister Sunak and Foreign Secretary Cleverly who believe that there should be continued engagement between the UK and China. On the other hand, you have figures like former Conservative Party leader Duncan Smith, who thinks that China should now be labeled as a "threat." It's understandable why the U.S. government, politicians, and media would vilify and criticize China – they're essentially trying to maintain American hegemony. But what's the underlying motive behind Britain doing the same thing?

Carlos Martinez: It's an important question that people in Britain should be asking themselves. One thing is that the relationship between the US and China has deteriorated. Obviously, 10 years ago, we witnessed the beginnings of what could be termed a new Cold War, with President Obama's announcement of the "pivot to Asia" in 2011. Since then, the U.S., along with the rest of the Western world, has to some degree increasingly identified China as its primary challenge. This entailed a substantial military reorientation, involving the redeployment of troops and resources from the Middle East to the Pacific, marking a significant strategic focus on China.

Despite this, there still existed a level of reasonable cooperation. U.S.-China trade continued to grow, and the bilateral discussions between the two countries’ president played a pivotal role in the success of the Paris climate summit in 2015, culminating in international agreements and significant commitments.

However, the relationship has witnessed a marked deterioration since then. When former U.S. president Trump came to power, he did so on a platform largely characterized by anti-China rhetoric. He vowed to rescue the American economy by taking a tough stance against China. During his election campaign, he famously claimed that China was economically exploiting the US, framing it as one of the worst economic crimes in history, among other ridiculous sensationalist statements. This signaled his intention to launch a more aggressive anti-China campaign, which subsequently materialized with the initiation of a trade war and the ensuing diplomatic strain.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration has continued with that trajectory and to the point where now there's really a bipartisan consensus in the U.S. now, the democrats and the republicans, they don't agree on much, but they agree on being anti-China. And it's difficult to see that changing anytime soon, I hope I'm wrong.

So, dynamics has been changed. And Britain has tended to, historically over the last 70 years, be very much influenced by the United States. And that's been exacerbated since Britain voted to leave the EU and to leave the European single market, then that leaves Britain in economically very difficult situation, because Britain did the bulk of its trade via the EU.

All of a sudden, working towards a Free Trade Agreement with the United States became of utmost importance for Britain. The country is still in the process of negotiating this agreement, which has made it much more sensitive to how Britain is thought of in the US. As a result, there's been a tendency to essentially align British foreign policy with Washington's objectives. This has been a longstanding trend for Britain, exemplified by its strong partnership with the United States in key foreign policy decisions.

In 2003, for instance, while France and Germany voiced reservations about going to war in Iraq, Britain played a leading role in that conflict, showcasing a very strong partnership between the Blair government and the Bush administration in the United States. Similarly, in 2011, Britain was one of the leading instigators of this brutal destruction of Libya of bombing Libya into the stone age. This historical connection is deeply ingrained.

Westminster is now deeply concerned that if they go against the U.S. wishes in relation to China now, then they'll have no hope of getting a Free trade agreement and find themselves very isolated. This concern is particularly pronounced since Britain's departure from the EU.

Capital News: But we now see that many citizens stay in London, they want to come back to the European Union. So, do you think they will success?

Carlos Martinez: My personal view is that leaving the European Union was an act of self-harm, marked by an unpleasant campaign that was largely driven by racist and xenophobic sentiments, as well as an anti-immigration stance. The result of this decision is now evident for all to see: Britain's economy is enduring significant challenges.

And the one thing that could mitigate the situation and improve Britain's economy really and truly would be excellent relationship with China. Currently, there is a headline-grabbing crisis in Britain regarding the anticipated announcement by the Prime Minister regarding the future of the HS2 rail infrastructure project. This project was intended to symbolize a "leveling up" agenda, aiming to boost prosperity in the North and address the economic stagnation and decline that has persisted for over half a century. HS2 was envisioned as a cornerstone of this endeavor.

It's highly likely that the HS2 development will essentially halt, not extending any further north than Birmingham and not even reaching as far south as Euston in central London.

And what's interesting is that 3 years ago, China had offered to undertake this project, promising timely delivery at a significantly lower cost. Looking at the current state of the project, one can't help but think how beneficial it would have been if the British government had accepted the offer from the Chinese state-owned enterprise to construct this railway. We would be reaping the benefits now. Unfortunately, the project is probably going to collapse entirely.

The reason we didn't accept that offer everyone in the world knows that if you want to build infrastructure quickly into a high quality, and for a relatively low cost, turning to the Chinese is a sound choice. They possess incredible resources and experience in doing that.

Everyone in the world knows that, but Britain couldn't accept that offer, largely due to its commitment to the broader agenda of the new Cold War. There appears to be a segment within the British ruling class and circles that recognize the significance of UK-China relations. This is evidenced by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly's recent visit to Beijing and his relatively sensible remarks on the matter.

It should be uncontroversial, but in today's climate, even stating such a perspective is noteworthy. Cleverly emphasized that whatever we think of China, it remains a very important country and will not stop being a very important country. We must actively engage with China and work towards establishing diplomatic and economic relationship. We may not agree with it on everyone, on everything, but we can have our differences. That's okay. But we should be trading with China and we should be working with China on the major problems of the day. It's significant that Cleverly made this statement, because it's kind of a response to the more hawkish and aggressive forces within the British Parliament. These elements, which likely constitute a majority at present, advocate for a more hostile and antagonistic positioning towards China. So that's the situation we're in.

来源:长安街知事 记者 刘晓琰

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