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China's modernization enlightening for Iraq

By Adil Abdul-Mahdi | China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-22 07:18
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The skyline of Beijing. [Photo/VCG]

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China made a number of very significant decisions, including electing Xi Jinping as the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee again, which will affect not only China but the entire world. The congress also decided to more resolutely carry out development programs and take measures to overcome both existing and new obstacles.

The decisions were taken to promote China's development, benefit its citizens, facilitate national reunification and thwart attempts by both past and present colonial powers to prevent it. The aim is also to build a new global order, free of unipolarity.

One can say that a new world is emerging as the old one disintegrates. This is a historical process that has been going on for centuries but has recently acquired distinct and significant dimensions, necessitating the fulfillment of historical obligations by big and powerful states, such as China. If the local and global environments are unsuitable, neither China nor its people can be secure. If a big country with superior economic, scientific, political and logistical prowess such as China does not support them, the sacrifices of the people of the developing world would be in vain.

China and India were the richest, most civilized, and largest trading countries in terms of their markets and products, when Western colonial powers started their international campaigns in the 16th century. As a result, China and India became the poorest and most fractured countries at the start of the 20th century, which led the German-American thinker Andre Gunder Frank (1929-2005) to say that colonialism has made even the richest country poor.

The influx of people from developing countries to developed countries marked the start of the forceful transfer of values and wealth. Numerous intellectuals, including Charles Bettelheim, Immanuel Wallerstein, François Pallu and Samir Amin, have described its mechanisms.

European countries initially conquered other countries using their military might and naval power, or by subterfuge. With a system of uneven accumulation of wealth, unequal exchanges and monopoly, the West legitimized pillage and conquest. That caused great poverty in one set of countries while promoting affluence in another. For example, 50 percent of the world's wealth is currently held by 1 percent of the people.

The announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to improve connectivity between countries, economies and communities, was not unexpected, because it is aimed at helping resolve global issues, such as poverty eradication and promoting inclusive development. The colonial powers tore the world apart and usurped developing countries' wealth to establish a modern, developed core surrounded by the ruins of impoverished and fractured nations.

On the other hand, the Belt and Road Initiative is an inclusive development program for long-term mutual benefit. The initiative seeks to trigger a renaissance marked by material and spiritual progress and mutual benefit. When the water rises in one place, it does so everywhere; similarly, when one region advances, so do others. In contrast, however, the past saw the Global South suffer while the Global North gained material wealth.

Together with our Chinese friends, we tried to seize this historic opportunity of development in Iraq. We proposed the idea of using oil for construction, because Iraq requires comprehensive reconstruction of infrastructure and other facilities.

China has extensive expertise in both domestic and international reconstruction projects. It is familiar with the difficulties associated with reconstruction in a country like Iraq. For this reason, Iraq reached an agreement with China to deposit returns in a joint investment fund of 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day (subject to increase). Iraq will present a package of strategic projects, and in exchange, China will submit bids for its businesses in Iraq. Also, Iraq will decide on an international enterprise to seek guidance.

As a result, Iraq offered integrated development components, including planning, financing, execution and monitoring. Work has started in accordance with this agreement, and many projects are being carried out, including the construction of schools, airports, power plants and other structures.

To ensure that Iraqi oil is used for Iraq's reconstruction without any technical or financial problems, Iraqi officials will pursue more ambitious initiatives in the future, such as those involving mega-infrastructure, job creation, and production of surplus values.

China and Iraq have had close ties for many years. Today, with the rise of China and the independent policies of Iraq and its decision to look East, relations between Iraq and China are strengthening. The two countries have signed a number of agreements and carried out several projects, and Iraq aspires to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Besides, many Chinese enterprises are working in Iraq, and Chinese enterprises have invested almost $2 billion in the country, while Iraqi business people and traders have helped China and Iraq deepen their economic and cultural relations.

For example, the Iraqi Oil Marketing Company "SOMO" announced that the Chinese oil companies are the top buyers of Iraqi oil during April 2022. According to SOMO statistics, 34 international companies bought Iraqi oil. China ranks first with eight companies, followed by India with seven companies, while the US ranks third with four companies.

This is a very different situation from decades ago when the oil sector was a monopoly of Western companies.

We are confident that cooperation between Iraq and China will deepen, and exchanges between the Iraqi and Chinese peoples expand due to Iraq's decision to look East.

The author is former Iraqi prime minister.

The views don't reflect those of China Daily.

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