Trump Administration Wrong Not Sending High Level Officials to Belt and Road Forum

President Trump did not attend the first Belt and road Forum-(BRF) in May of 2017, only sending a sub ministerial delegation. According to the US State d\Department, no US delegation will be attending this month’s second BRF. If true, this would represent a serious error by the Trump administration in its future relations with China. Beyond China, the decision not to participate in this historic conference will undermine US commitment to collaborate with more than half the world’s population that has joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Thus far, the only G-7 nation that has the wisdom to join the BRI is Italy. A minimum of 40 heads of state will be attending the second BRF. For the US to abstain, from this conference on the Belt and Road, which has already transformed the planet, would be strategic blunder in US policy. A more enlightened US foreign policy would view China as a partner in development not as a competitor, as China as been described by the Trump administration.

(courtesy huffingtonpost.com)

April 4, 2019

State Department Says U.S. Will Not Attend the Belt and Road Forum

According to an unnamed spokesperson for the U.S. State Department yesterday, the United States will not send high-level officials to attend China’s second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing later this month, Reuters reported. In 2017, when the first Belt and Road Forum took place, the U.S. was represented by Matt Pottinger, the senior White House official for Asia. There are no such plans this year, Reuters stated.

Answering a question from Reuters, the unnamed State Department spokesperson said: “We will not send high-level officials from the United States…. We will continue to raise concerns about opaque financing practices, poor governance and disregard for internationally accepted norms and standards, which undermine many of the standards and principles that we rely upon to promote sustainable, inclusive development and to maintain stability and a rules-based order. We have repeatedly called on China to address these concerns.”

On March 29, speaking to the ruling Communist Party’s official mouthpiece, {People’s Daily}, Political Bureau member Yang Jiechi, who runs the party’s foreign affairs committee, said he found that critics of the Belt and Road Initiative “obviously show a lack of objectivity and fair understanding of the Belt and Road initiative. It is a misunderstanding, misjudgment and is even prejudiced,” stated Yang. Yang also confirmed that “about 40” foreign leaders would take part in the second summit.

Italy, China, and Africa Busting Apart Old Geo-Political Regime

March 23, 2019

Italy and China Sign Groundbreaking MOU on Belt and Road Initiative

 

 

Italy and China have signed the famous Memorandum of Understanding on Belt and Road cooperation today, together with 10 economic agreements and 18 institutional agreements (19 with the BRI MOU). The MOU is a milestone and is said to already be being studied by other countries that want to follow Italy.

The MOU says at the outset that “The Parties will work together within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to translate mutual complementary strengths into advantages for practical cooperation and sustainable growth, supporting synergies between the Belt and Road Initiative and priorities identified in the Investment Plan for Europe and the Trans-European Networks, bearing in mind discussions in the EU China Connectivity Platform.”

With the MOU, Italy is the first large industrial economy to join the Belt and Road, as Chinese media proudly stress. The signature of the MOU occurred in spite of trans-Atlantic pressures and open hostility by Italy’s “partners” in the EU. Italian Minister for Economic Development Luigi Di Maio, who signed the MOU together with his counterpart He Lifeng, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, stated that “today is for us a very important day, in which the Made in Italy is winning, Italian firms are winning. We made a step to help our economy to grow. Italy came first with China.”

The economic agreements include: a strategic partnership between the Italian Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and the Bank of China to finance Italian firms in China; a MOU between the Italian oil company ENI and the Bank of China for explorations in China; Ansaldo Energia signed two agreements, one to develop gas turbines with UGTC and another one for the supply of a turbine to Shanghai Electric and Benxi Steel; the Port Authorities of Trieste and Genoa signed an agreement with the construction giant CCCC. Cassa Depositi and the natural gas utility Snam signed a deal with the Silk Road Fund for investments along the Silk Road; the Institute for Foreign Trade signed a deal with Suning to create a platform to promote Italian lifestyle in China; and the Danieli group signed a contract with China Camc Engineering for the construction of a steel plant in Azerbaijan.

The institutional agreements, besides the MOU on the BRI cooperation, include cooperation on innovative startups and electronic trade, as well as cooperation between the two space agencies, agriculture and culture, health and media.

Read article

Italian Finance Minister Tria on Italy-China-Africa Cooperation

In an op-ed in {China Daily}, entitled “As Belt and Road Opens New Doors Across Globe, Italy To Play A Key Role,” Italian Finance minister Giovanni Tria emphasized Sino-Italian cooperation to develop Africa.

After praising the BRI as a way to relaunch global economic integration, Tria recalled that “In September, the Italian government signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s National Development and Reform Commission for joint cooperation in third countries. This way, Italy and China are committed to collaborating in important geographical areas such as Africa, which in the near future will be a top actor for demographic reasons and due to its prospects for economic growth.

“Playing a role in building and restoring large infrastructure is an invaluable opportunity for Italian companies. There is an astonishing variety of areas of expertise where Italy can provide a competitive, paramount contribution. Beyond those more strictly linked to the physical construction of infrastructure (machiner), logistics and plant construction), Italy has strong capabilities in the provision of high-quality technical services such as consulting, feasibility studies, design, engineering services, security, finance and insurance.

“Italy believes in the prospective cooperative development of the BRI. This process will help to identify the paths of action and the main projects. Italy also enjoys a strategic geographical position along the current and future frames of commercial relations between the East, the West and Africa. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Italy is the second-largest manufacturing country in Europe, leading in technological innovation and equipped with high-quality ports and road and rail networks. These features make Italy the ideal southern gateway to continental Europe and for the trade routes between Europe and China.

“By opening new connections and intensifying trade relations, the BRI will help improve the competitiveness of Italian and Chinese companies operating in each other’s markets and together toward third markets, leaving the respective governments with the task of providing adequate support to foster a business-friendly climate that can enhance their expertise, strengths and innovative approaches.

“I believe that developing physical connections, while enlarging and strengthening cooperation networks and partnerships, represents a valuable opportunity to face the challenge of sustainable growth and to avoid backtracking toward protectionism and nationalism. Commercial synergies and relationships of trust represent the path we want to take to counter international tensions and to favor wider and more widespread global well-being.”

 

China and Italy Challenging Old Geo-Political World Order

This signed article by Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, was published March 20, in Corriere della Sera, a leading  Italian newspaper on the eve of his state visit to Italy. It is a beautiful expression of the potential alliance of “East and West.” The old geo-political order manipulated this so called division to maintain political domination. Hopefully, we are now embarking on a new era with the old-order is coming to an end. 

Chinese President, Xi Xinping, to arrive in Italy

East Meets West — A New Chapter of Sino-Italian Friendship

It is a great pleasure for me to pay a state visit to the Italian Republic at the invitation of President Sergio Mattarella in this blossoming season of spring. In 2011, I visited Rome on celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Italian unification and, in 2016, I had a stopover on Sardinia. I was deeply impressed by the way of life and industrial outlook of Italy that blend together the ancient and the modern, the classic and the novel. Now that I am about to set foot again on this beautiful country, it feels like I am to be among old friends, and get immersed in
their wonderful hospitality.

China and Italy are both stellar examples of Eastern and Western civilizations, and both have written splendid chapters in the history of human progress. Being the birthplace of ancient Roman civilization and the cradle of the Renaissance, Italy is known to the Chinese people for its imposing relic sites and masterpieces of great names in art and literature. Friendly ties between our two great civilizations go back a long way. As early as over 2,000 years ago, China and ancient Rome, though thousands of miles apart, were already connected by the Silk Road. During the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220), Chinese emissary Gan Ying was sent to search for “Da Qin”, the Chinese name of the Roman Empire at the time. Roman poet Virgil and geographer Pomponius Mela made many references to Seres, the land of silk. The famous explorer Marco Polo’s Travels roused the first wave of “China fever” among European countries. That pioneer of cultural exchanges between
East and West was followed by a long list of personages in search of friendship over the centuries.

In our own era, China-Italy relations, tracing the footsteps of our ancestors, are brimming with dynamism. The People’s Republic of China and the Italian Republic established diplomatic relations in 1970. In 2020, the two countries will celebrate the 50th anniversary of our relations. Through the past decades, our two countries have enjoyed mutual trust and close cooperation regardless of changes in the international landscape. Together, we have set a fine example of mutually beneficial relations between two countries that have different social systems,
cultural backgrounds and stages of development. The traditional friendship between us, stronger than ever, has become a strong pillar supporting the rapid and steady growth of our bilateral ties.

Sino-Italian friendship is rooted in our long history of exchanges. In the course of over two millennia, our two countries have embraced the principles of mutual respect, mutual learning, mutual trust and mutual understanding in our interactions, principles that underpin our long-lasting, ever-strong friendship. Confronted by the transformations and challenges of today’s world and informed by our deep appreciation of history, China and Italy both envision a new type of international relations that are built on mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation, and a community with a shared future for all mankind.

Sino-Italian friendship is embedded in our deep strategic trust. Both countries’ leaderships approach our relations from a strategic and long-term perspective. Since the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2004, our two countries, guided and driven by high-level exchanges, have given each other understanding and firm support on issues concerning our respective core interests and major concerns. Our strategic trust provides a firm underpinning for the long-term and steady growth of China-Italy relations.

Sino-Italian friendship is reflected in our multi-faceted cooperation. As key trading and investment partners for each other, China and Italy have deeply entwined interests. Two-way trade exceeded 50 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 and investment surpassed 20 billion dollars in accumulative terms. “Made in Italy” is a guarantee of quality, Italian fashion and furniture are immensely popular with Chinese consumers, and pizza and tiramisu are the love of many young Chinese. Every now and then, we hear stories about the success of Sino-Italian cooperation in satellite R&D and manned space exploration. Initiatives such as the China-Italy Science, Technology and Innovation Week, joint police patrols and football training, to name just a few, are applauded by people in both countries.

Sino-Italian friendship is carried forward through our intensive cultural exchanges. Chinese and Italians have a deep interest in each other’s cultures. A Chinese professor in his 70s spent 18 years translating Dante’s Divine Comedy, and after revising several drafts, completed this mammoth task before his final days. From Martino Martini, author of the first Chinese grammar book in Europe, to Giuliano Bertuccioli and Federico Masini who wrote Italy and China, many Italian Sinologists have built bridges between Europe and China and contributed to a
long-running boom of China studies on the Apennine Peninsula.

The well-known Italian writer Alberto Moravia once wrote, “Friendships are not chosen by chance, but according to the passions that dominate us.” In a world that faces profound changes of a kind unseen in a century, the onus is on us to bring China-Italy relations to a higher level and to jointly safeguard world peace, stability, development and prosperity. Through my upcoming visit, I hope to work with Italian leaders to map out the future of our relationship and move it into a new era.

China hopes to work with Italy to strengthen our comprehensive strategic partnership. Our two countries may plan more high-level exchanges and cooperation between our governments, parliaments, political parties and sub-national entities, strengthen policy communica-tion, enhance strategic trust and synergy, and continue to give understanding and support to each other on issues of core interests and major concerns, so as to consolidate the political foundation of our relations.

China hopes to work with Italy to advance Belt and Road cooperation. Our two countries may harness our historical and cultural bonds forged through the ancient Silk Road as well as our geographical locations to align connectivity cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative with Italy’s plan to develop its northern ports and the Invest-Italia program, and jointly build the Belt and Road of the new era on sea, on land, in the air, in space and in the cultural domain.

China hopes to work with Italy to expand cooperation into new areas. China will open up further to the rest of the world, and share its market opportunities with Italy and other countries through the annual China International Import Expo and other avenues. Our two countries may fully tap our cooperation potential in ports, logistics, ship-building, transportation, energy, telecommunications, medicine and other fields, and encourage our companies to partner with each other in third markets for win-win cooperation.

China hopes to work with Italy to promote closer people-to-people ties. As countries with the largest number of UNESCO world heritage sites, China and Italy have plenty of cultural and tourism resources. We may encourage our world heritage sites to forge twinning relationships and our cultural institutions and individuals to organize premium relic and art exhibitions. We may also encourage joint production of films and TV programs, the teaching of each other’s languages, as well as more mutual travel and visits. Through these exchanges, we will make new contributions to the diversity of civilizations and mutual learning between different cultures.

China hopes to strengthen coordination with Italy in international affairs and multilateral organizations. China is ready to enhance communication and collaboration with Italy in the United Nations (UN), the G20, Asia-Europe Meeting and the World Trade Organization (WTO) on global governance, climate change, UN reform, WTO reform and other major issues. Working together, we will promote our shared interests, uphold multilateralism and free trade, and safeguard world peace, stability, development and prosperity.

Looking back at the last five decades, China-Italy relations have struck deep roots and borne rich fruits. Looking ahead, China-Italy cooperation will continue to flourish and prosper. The Chinese people look forward to working hand in hand with our friends in Italy to carry forward our blossoming relationship and imbue our friendship with more vitality and dynamism.

China’s experience: Helping transform an African desert into a garden

William Jones

Editor’s noteWilliam Jones is the Washington Bureau Chief for Executive Intelligence Review and a non-resident fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

With the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Italy, there will no doubt be some discussion of cooperation between the two nations on the African continent. For Italy, helping to resolve the dire economic situation in Africa is both a humanitarian and an economic concern. The devastated economy in many African countries is bringing more and more refugees to Italy’s shore, and the burden is taking its toll on the Italian economy. For China, Africa has always been a particular concern having shared in the condition of underdevelopment for so many years. Even when both were clearly developing countries, China offered its assistance to its African brothers.

One of the most significant projects in that regard is the Transaqua project. This project would take some of the water from the Congo River, a river with the greatest flow of water in the world, and through a series of canals to the Chari River which flows into Lake Chad, a lake whose surface has been dramatically reduced from 25,000 km2  in 1960 to 1,500 km2 today.

The water transfer project would help revive the lake, and with the construction of dams and power plants along the canal, would help to bring development to the region, directly affecting the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa and Nigeria, through which it would pass. In addition, it would also bring economic benefits to Niger, Cameron, Chad and Congo Brazzaville as well.

People crowd the oceanfront area along the Galle Face green in Colombo, Sri Lanka, November 20, 2018. /VCG Photo
The Italian engineering company, Bonifica SpA has been instrumental in working out the plans for this project and is fully committed to it. In 2017 Bonifica and Powerchina entered an agreement for the joint development of the project. China, with its own extensive south-to-north water diversion project, possesses a good deal of expertise in dealing with such a project. Such collaboration also fits in nicely with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has received strong support from the Italian government. The Transaqua project developed by Bonifica has in part been developed by PowerChina.

Representatives from both Bonifica and PowerChina were invited in 2018 as speakers at the International Conference on Lake Chad, in Abuja, sponsored by the Government of Nigeria. The final declaration of the conference stated that Lake Chad needs to be saved and that its current situation demands immediate action. The Italian government at the time pledged 1.5 million Euros (1.7 million U.S. dollars) to start the Transaqua feasibility study.

The expansion of the BRI to Africa has kindled new hope in a continent that had virtually been abandoned by the West in terms of large development projects. The Mombasa-Nairobi railway, the Nigerian coastal railway, the Chad-Sudan railway, the Port Sudan-Khartoum railway have already provided the template for industrializing the entire African continent.

President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer attends the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region in Oslo, Norway, February 24, 2017. /VCG Photo
While China has been ground-breaking in returning to the long-awaited – and much-delayed – project of African industrialization, the enormity of the project is of such a magnitude, that China alone cannot do it.  But the BRI opens the possibility of working together with other Western nations in realizing this goal. And the cooperation with Italy on the Lake Chad project can serve as a paradigm for how the BRI must work.

While some Western nations are trying to depict the BRI as a geopolitical “ploy” by China, anyone looking at the effect of the project on the recipient countries will see the falsehood of these claims. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “You can’t fool all the people all the time.” And to the extent that countries overcome their fears and begin to work with the BRI and contribute their strength to developing other countries, they will better understand the importance of the project and its more profound implications for global development.

China has made great gains in reversing the effects of desertification by means of their water diversion projects, their reforestation efforts and their irrigation projects. If some of this know-how were to be applied in Africa, it would help turn the devastated Sahel region into a veritable garden, which it once was. And the lessons learned can be used on a broader scale to change the nature of life on this planet – for all its people.

*Lawrence Freeman has been an advocate of the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project for over two decades. I am the Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee to the Lake Chad Basin Commission

Italy Wisely Becomes First G-7 Nation to Join China’s Belt and Road: Financial Predators Upset

March 7, 2019

City of London’s {Financial Times} Beside Itself over Italy’s Joining Belt and Road

The City of London mouthpiece {Financial Times} criticizes Italy for becoming, as they write, “the first G-7 country to formally endorse China’s controversial Belt and Road global investment drive, in a move that has drawn a sharp response from the White House and is likely to cause alarm in Brussels.”

{FT} has suddenly discovered that Italy is going to sign a memorandum of understanding during President Xi Jinping’s Rome visit scheduled for March 22-23. The daily quotes Undersecretary for Economic Development Michele Geraci, who says that “the negotiation is not over yet, but it is possible that it will be concluded in time for [Xi’s] visit. We want to make sure that ‘Made in Italy’ products can have more success in terms of export volume to China, which is the fastest-growing market in the world.”

{FT} then quotes U.S. National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis, who makes a not-so-veiled threat: “We view BRI [Belt & Road Initiative] as a ‘made by China, for China. We are skeptical that the Italian government’s endorsement will bring any sustained economic benefits to the Italian people, and it may end up harming Italy’s global reputation in the long run.”

Marquis further said that U.S. officials had raised concerns about what he called the negative effects of “China’s infrastructure diplomacy,” and urged “all allies and partners, including Italy, to press China to bring its global investment efforts into line with accepted international standards and best practices.” Marquis was brought into the National Security Council by John Bolton, for whom he had earlier worked as a spokesman at the Foundation for American Security and Freedom.

The {FT} goes on to allege that “Italy’s support for China’s BRI initiative would undercut U.S. pressure on China over trade and would under-mine Brussels’ efforts to overcome divisions within the EU over the best approach to deal with Chinese investments. Italy is a founding member of the EU.”

President Xi will visit Italy on March 22 and meet Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president, as well as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and attend a military ceremony before traveling to Sicily.

The article concludes quoting National People’s Congress spokesman Zhang Yesui as saying this week that 67 countries had signed up to the BRI in the past year or so, bringing the total number of countries or international organizations that have formal endorsements to 152.  China takes the issue of debt very seriously and within a project the Chinese side never imposes things, nor, least of all, creates debt traps,” {FT} quotes Zhang. “Of course, like any international co-operation, some problems and challenges may crop up. With experience it will improve.”

Italy’s Geraci Rejects {Financial Times} Criticism of Italy Joining the Belt and Road Initiative

In an interview with the Italian financial daily {Il Sole 24 Ore}, Italian Undersecretary to the Economic Development Ministry rejects criticism raised by the City of London’s {Financial Times} and defends Italy’s sovereign choice to join the Belt and Road. “Sincerely, I am a bit surprised. I do not understand what it is, that is controversial,” Geraci said.

“I confirm what I said in an interview with this newspaper last Feb. 21st. I said the same thing to the {Financial Times}: We work every day down to the last detail. “It will be a framework agreement: Just the indication of some strategic sectors in which joint investments are promoted and orders by Italian firms are accelerated. We work on infrastructure, transport and highways, trade, industry, green economy. It will be up to private companies to choose whether to participate or not. If they do it, they will have guarantees in terms of protection from disputes and questions about rules.”

As for the U.S. position, Geraci stated:  “I wonder where such a big concern comes from. We will protect our know-how thanks to a ‘golden power’ rule we have in Italy, which is among the strictest in Europe. And we just fulfill demands from our companies to create for them more room in the most promising markets, such as China. Anyway, we have supplied the United States, as per normal exchanges we have with our main diplomatic partners, all insurances on the issue.”

On the concern about Italy being the first G-7 country to sign a New Silk Road protocol, Geraci replied to the criticisms: “So what? Poland, Hungary, Portugal, Greece have done it and I do not consider them second-class countries in Europe. Those who think differently do not have a real European view. And the G-7 club may be a somewhat outdated concept: It no longer represents the real world economic powers, since it does not include either China or India.”

Italy is not “selling out” its ports, as some have claimed, he countered: “We do not sell, at most we give concessions to create greenfield investments, which means starting from zero. You cannot sell out things that were not there in the first place.”

China Responds to U.S. Attack on Italy Joining the Belt and Road

The Chinese Foreign Ministry today responded to the attack on Italy’s plan to join the Belt and Road by Garrett Marquis, a long-time ally of National Security Adviser John Bolton (who brought him onto the National Security Council).

An unsigned editorial in {Global Times,} titled: “White House’s Criticism of Italy’s Plan To Join BRI Ridiculous,” reports that Lu Kang, spokes-person of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a routine press conference today, said: “Italy, as a major country and economy in the world, is clear about its interests. It could make its own policies and decisions.” {Global Times} added: “The BRI is an important inter-national public good that China contributes to global cooperation for common development. China and more than 150 countries and international organizations have signed BRI cooperation agreements, which witnessed more than $6 trillion in cumulative trade between China and participating countries, Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said at the 55th Munich Security Conference in February, the Xinhua News Agency reported.”

Greek Foreign Minister in Beijing To Discuss Intensifying Belt and Road Cooperation

Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos began a five-day official visit to Beijing on March 5, in which he co-chaired the 13 Joint Inter-ministerial Committee with China’s Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi and with Commerce Minister Zhong Shan.  On the margins of the meeting,

Katrougalos met Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission Ning Jizh, and chief of the Development Commission He Lifeng, according to a statement by the Greek Foreign Ministry.The Greek delegation included Christos Lambridis, Secretary General of Ports, Port Policy, and Maritime Investment, and officials from the Hellenic Ministry of Agricultural Development.

“From all these contacts, both with my counterpart, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as with the head of Foreign Relations of the Communist Party of China, and the economy ministers, the Minister of Commerce, the head of the crucially important Planning Commission of China, the conclusion drawn is dual in nature: First of all that Greece and China are seriously investing in their bilateral strategic partnership. This is not occasional, it has as its guide the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative which the Chinese government is promoting at the moment, but there is a significant alignment of interests, precisely because we too endeavor that our country becomes a bridge between Europe, Asia, and Africa. The second thing that was affirmed is the observation that Greece has exited the economic crisis and offers significant opportunities for investment to the Chinese side.

Katrougalos also participated in the formal commencement of proceedings of the annual plenary of the National People’s Congress, ahead of which he said, “As you know, China has achieved a lot. It is on its way to becoming the world’s largest economy. It helped 700 million of its citizens out of complete poverty.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi congratulated Katrougalos on assuming his new post as foreign minister, and expressed satisfaction that “Mr. Foreign Minister chose China as the first country to visit after taking office, which demonstrated with concrete actions his friendship with China and the importance he attached to China-Greece relations and that both countries are good friends and good partners.” He further stated that “as the birthplace of Mediterranean civilizations, Greece possesses profound cultural heritage and enormous development potential.

The Chinese side feels happy that Greece has overcome the influence brought by financial crisis and regained economic and social vitality, and is willing to, together with the Greek side, strengthen high-level exchanges, increase understanding and mutual trust, expand bilateral cooperation fields under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative….”

March 1: Celebrate Ethiopia’s Defeat of Italy At Adwa; A Victory Against European Imperialism

This article was published in the March 2017 Newsletter of the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC. If you read the headlines of  the European press following Italy’s defeat in 1896, you will see that this battle shook the foundations of European Imperialism to its core. 

Victory at Adwa- A Victory for Africa

Ethiopia’s victory against Italy at Adwa on March 1, 1896, profoundly shaped the future of Ethiopia.

Lawrence Freeman

March 1, 2017

The battle of Adwa is probably the most renowned and historic battle in Ethiopian history. This celebrated victory by the Ethiopian army helped define the future of their nation, as one of only two non-colonized countries in Africa. The defeat of a European colonial empire by an African country, following the “Scramble for Africa” after the 1884-1885 Berlin conference a decade earlier, is not only a source of enduring pride and nationalism for Ethiopians, but also an inspiration to other Africans, who took up the fight for independence six decades later. Some historians suggest that this victory also led to the idea for the Pan-African movement. As a result, it is no surprise that on May 25 1963, Ethiopia under the rule of Emperor Haile Selassie was a founding member of the Organization of African States-OAS.

Adwa, also known as Adowa, and in Italian Adua, was the capital of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. A late comer to grabbing territory in Africa, Italy began colonizing Somaliland and Eritrea in the 1880s. It was from the vantage point of Eritrea from where Italy launched its campaign against Ethiopia. The immediate pretext of the invasion was a dispute of Article 17 of the 1889 Treaty of Wuchale. Italy insisted that the treaty stated that Ethiopia had to submit to its imperial authority, thus effectively making Ethiopia a colony of the Kingdom of Italy. The Ethiopians resisted Italy’s military enforcement of its version of the treaty, leading to the outbreak of war in December 1894, with the Italian imperialists occupying Adwa and moving further south into Ethiopian territory. On March 1, 1896, King Menelik II, who, commanded a force of over 70,000, defeated the Italian army, killing 7,000 of their soldiers, wounding 1,500, and capturing  3,000 prisoners, routing their enemy, and forcing them to retreat back to their colony of Eritrea. It has been speculated that, if Menelik had pursued the retreating Italian troops, and driven them off of the continent, it might have prevented a second Italian invasion. On October 3, 1935, Italy led by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, launched its second military incursion into sovereign Ethiopia territory. Five years later in 1941, Ethiopia once again drove the Italian invaders out of their country. The 1896 defeat of a European nation, considered an advanced country, by Ethiopia, viewed as a backward Africa country, led to riots on the streets of Italy and well deserved consternation in the capitals of European powers.

Without taking the time now to review the ninety years of Ethiopian history following this famous battle, the military defeat of Ethiopia’s dictatorial Derg Regime in 1991 brings us to the beginning of contemporary Ethiopia. When the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front-EPRDF assumed control of the government in 1991, it was led by the now deceased, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who initiated the economic policies that have guided Ethiopia for over 25 years. It was Meles Zenawi’s intellectual leadership, in particular his understanding of the indispensable role of the state in fostering economic development that distinguishes Ethiopia today from all other sub-Saharan African nations. For him the state was not “a night watchman,” but rather an active participant promoting economic growth for the benefit of its people. Ethiopia is a poor country. with a population approaching one hundred million, not endowed with rich mineral or hydrocarbon resources, and repeatedly struck by drought. Yet it has emerged in recent years with a rapidly growing economy. This is the result of Zenawi’s legacy that created a leadership with a self-conscious commitment to use the powers of the state to build an integrated infrastructure platform, which has served to drive the economy forward. This is clearly evident in Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plans I and II, which set ambitious economic goals five years into the future, along with its proposed thirty year road construction plan. Since the EPRDF took over the responsibility of governing the nation, more than thirty new universities have been created, graduating more students that can be easily employed.

In collaboration with China, Ethiopia operates the first electrified train in sub-Saharan Africa, traveling 750 kilometers in seven hours from Addis Ababa to Djibouti, establishing a port to export Ethiopia’s products. Their highway system consisting of toll roads, highways, and all weather roads will connect their light manufacturing industries to the port in Djibouti via their new rail line.   As a result of coherent policy planning in energy infrastructure, the Gibe III hydroelectric power plant has now added 1,872 of megawatts to the country’s electricity grid, and over the next two years, the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) will add an additional 6,000 megawatts, making Ethiopia the second largest producer of power in sub-Saharan Africa, behind South Africa.  The next step to develop the Horn of Africa is for Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya to extend their rail lines to become the eastern leg of an East-West railroad. Thus would transform Africa by connecting the Gulf of Eden/Indian Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean , creating an economic corridor that would literally revolutionize the economic power of the continent; contributing to the ending of poverty, hunger, and war.

One cannot deny the success of Ethiopia’s unique path of development, nor can one omit the important role contributed to this process by Ethiopia’s successful resistance to foreign occupation; thus never having to suffer the dehumanizing effects of colonialism.

End French Colonialism in Africa: Terminate the CFA franc

Italy Rightly Accuses French of Colonialism in Africa

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio has accused France of running a “neo-colonialist system” in Africa through the CFA franc single currency union imposed on ten countries in Central Africa of being the cause for impoverishing Africa and for migration flows.

Di Maio, who has managed to make this the issue number one of the political debate in Italy, declared that “Europe is ignoring one thing, i.e. what some countries are doing, impoverishing Africa. France above all, prints a double currency in over ten countries, through which a percentage of French national wealth is paid and a minor part of the French deficit is financed.”

“Africans will stay in Africa if the French stay at home instead of colonizing,” Di Maio went on, announcing  a parliamentary initiative. “I want to ask the EU to sanction countries such as France and we will ask France to open its ports.” Di Maio threatened to henceforth ship all refugees rescued at sea to Marseille until France stops printing the CFA franc.

French sources acknowledge that the CFA franc is an issue and there is a debate in France already, but say it is not connected to the refugee flows. The countries where most refugees come to, such as Italy  are from Nigeria, Eritrea, which are not part of the  CFA  franc. The Italians have responded that the CFA franc area is nevertheless allowing the transit of refugees organized by human traffickers.

{Italy is correct. Through their monetary imposition of the CFA franc currency, the French are continuing their colonialist policy in Africa. The African Union with the full support of all African nations should immediately declare termination of the CFA in West and Central Africa. Every African nation has a right to be sovereign and control its own currency}

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The article below echoes the theme in my own earlier statement regarding the so called US-Africa Strategy: Pres. Trump’s Non-Africa Strategy

It concludes: That renewed focus gives African nations unprecedented opportunities to pursue their own interests, rather than simply act as client states. America’s drive to contain both Russian and Chinese influence brings chances to secure foreign investment and to leverage strategic advantages into a more prominent presence on the world stage. And, after centuries in the shadow of global powers, it is high time that Africa finally found its own voice.

Read: America’s New Policy in Africa is Attempt to Contain Chinese and Russia 

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Same Geo-political outlook for Africa

New National Intelligence Strategy Report: Geopolitical Focus on Russia and China

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats presented the 2019 National Intelligence Strategy Report, which is released every four years. Similar to National Security Adviser Bolton’s so called US African Strategy released last year, it s steeped in British geo-political ideology. Like NSA Bolton’s report, it emphasizes the dangers posed by such “traditional adversaries” as Russia and China, as well as North Korea and Iran, reflecting a shift away from previous years’ focus on combating international terrorism.

It is also said to echo the intelligence community’s “unanimous” 2017 conclusion that Russia interfered in the U.S.’s 2016 presidential elections to “undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order. While documenting many other “dangers” such as cyber-threats, the “democratization of space,” the development of anti-satellite weapons, the report is primarily concerned that “traditional adversaries will continue attempts to gain and assert influence internationally  weakening of the post-WWII international order and dominance of Western democratic ideals…in the West, and shifts in the global economy.”

In its “Strategic Environment” section, the report warns of the likely continuation of “Russian efforts to increase its influence and authority” which “may conflict with U.S. goals and priorities in multiple regions.” An additional concern, is “Chinese military modernization and continued pursuit of economic and territorial predominance in the Pacific region and beyond.”

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China Plans Biggest-Ever Investment in High Speed Rail is Good for Africa

{Global Construction Review} (GCR) reports today that “China is planning to invest a record $125 billion in rail this year as the government looks to cushion the impact of slower economic growth. This would be 6% more than was spent last year, and 10% more than was originally planned, according to a report in the {Nikkei Asian Review}.”

China is taking measures to stimulate the economy in response to the “slowdown” in growth, although growth is still 2018. These include an “acceleration in construction projects, as well as cutting taxes and boosting the money supply…” {GCR} reports.

China Railways’ annual plan envisages a 45% rise in new projects, resulting in the addition of 6,800 km to the total network, {GCR} reports. High-speed rail will be expanded by 3,200 km, more than the total of High Speed Rail in any other country. This will mean China far exceeds its previous schedule to build 30,000 km of high-speed railway lines by 2020.

 

 

Italy and Buhari Keep Transaqua on the Agenda to Save the Shrinking Lake Chad

Jan. 18, 2019

Italian Prime Minister Conte Discusses Development with Presidents of Chad and Niger

Giuseppe Conte made a two-day visit to Niger and Chad, two countries members of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, to discuss short and long-term measures to fight terrorism, migration, and their causes on Jan. 15-16. In both countries he discussed development perspectives with national leaders.

At the joint press conference in Ndjamena with Chad President Idriss Déby, Conte referred to the Transaqua project for the revitalization of Lake Chad as an example of development programs.

European countries, Conte said, “cannot remain insensible to the drying up of Lake Chad. If it goes on, there will be increased misery and thus increased emigration and terrorist threat,” Conte remarked. “If we don’t have a vision on those issues, we will be overwhelmed. I reminded President Déby that the possibly oldest project to tackle the drying out of Lake Chad has been made by Italian experts. There is a project of dams and canals to provide irrigation.

This means laying the basis for the development of those territories and therefore better controlling migration flows.”

Both in Niger and Chad, Conte said that Italy will be “the ambassador” of the Sahel region at the EU, to promote a larger effort to finance development. The EU Trust Fund for Africa must be enlarged, Conte said.

At the joint press conference in Niamey, Niger President Mahamadou Issofou thanked Italy for the support of the Sahel-5 Multinational Force to fight terrorism, but repeatedly stressed that “the solution is developing Africa, industrializing Africa.” This goes for defeating terrorism as well as for controlling immigration flows.

Conte thanked Issofou for its support to Italy in the stabilization plan for Libya. Although this was the first visit ever of an Italian Prime Minister to Niger (and Chad as well), Conte remarked that this was his third meeting with Issofou, following meetings in Rome and Palermo, the latter at the International Libya conference. Stabilizing Libya is key to defeat terrorism, Conte remarked.

Nigerian President Buhari Reiterates His Commitment To Refilling Lake Chad

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari called for more commitment from the international community on redirecting water to Lake Chad on Jan. 14, warning that the 40 million people who rely on the lake in the region would pose adverse migration and security challenges to the world.

The Transaqua project to refill Lake Chad was approved at the Feb. 26-28, 2018 International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja and soon the feasibility study financed by the Italian government should start. The cost of the entire 2400 km system of dams and canals will be in the order of several dozen billion dollars.

Receiving Letters of Credence from the High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria Philip Baker at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari said the tragedy of the shrinking Lake Chad would continue to fuel more illegal migrations, banditry and provide willing hands for terrorism since majority of the people have lost their means of livelihood.

A statement by the special adviser to the President on media and publicity Femi Adesina said that Buhari warned that “the about 40 million population in the region will pose adverse migration and security challenges to the world” if the lake should dry up completely. The President pointed out that banditry, illegal migration and terrorism would worsen if the lake were not rescued. He said: “An academic rightly predicted that unless there was a redirection of water to Lake Chad, it would dry up. Now, whenever I go for any global meeting or visit a country, I will always draw the world’s attention to the adverse effect of climate change on the lake, and the resulting negative effects.”

 

 

President Buhari Outflanks Climate Conference with Call for Transaqua

Nigeria Outflanks Climate Conference with Call for Transaqua, Expresses Gratitude to Italy

Dec. 6, 2018 (EIRNS)—Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari outflanked the green-fascist lobby at the ongoing COP24 climate summit circus, in Katowice, Poland, by calling on the international community to help build the inter-basin water transfer infrastructure to replenish Lake Chad (Transaqua) and thanking the Italian government for financing the feasibility study.

As the Nigerian daily Independent reported,“President Muhammadu Buhari lauded the Italian government for providing a grant of € 1.5 million towards conducting feasibility studies on the Lake Chad basin. Buhari said:

“With water receding in the Lake which provides livelihood to over 40 million people, the federal government in conjunction with [Lake Chad Basin Commission] member nations are proposing inter-basin water transfer from the Congo basin to revive it.”

“Nigeria would build on the success of an International Conference [on Lake Chad] held earlier in February this year in Abuja to create additional awareness globally on the serious environmental and security challenges facing the Lake Chad region.”

Buhari reminded the COP24 Summit that a consensus was reached at the Abuja conference that an inter-basin water transfer from the Congo Basin remains the most sustainable option available to save Lake Chad. With that, he referred to the conference resolution endorsing Transaqua by name as the only available option.

“I once again call on the international community to support this worthy project, for the benefit of nearly 40 million people who depend on the Lake for their livelihood, and to guarantee future security of the region,” Buhari said.

Nigerian President Buhari Wants Europe, and US to Help Recharge Lake Chad

Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa Should NOT Have the Majority of Poor People.

President Buhari is right and should be commended for requesting that Europe and the United States help in recharging the shrinking Lake Chad, which is at 2,000 square kilometers-less than 10% of its area in 1963.  At the Abuja conference to Save Lake Chad in February, organized by President Buhari, the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project was adopted as the solution to saving Lake Chad.  Transaqua is a transformative water infrastructure project that would connect the nations of the Great Lakes and the Lake Chad Basin through a 2,400 kilometer canal. Thus creating a new platform for expanded trade and commerce between these economies. Unlike the US and Europe politicians, who feign concern about the migrant crisis, President Buhari and other African leaders understand that the best way to prevent Africans from risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean is; to create economic growth in the Sahel/Sahara. After decades of inaction, the Italian government has given the Lake Chad Basin Commission 1.5 million Euros to begin a feasibility study by Bonifica, the Italian engineering company that created the Transaqua design over 35 years ago.  I have advocated the Transaqua project for over 20 years, and was able to discuss it with then President-elect Buhari a few days after his election in March 2015. It is most unfortunate that with the single exception of the current Italian government, Western leaders have failed to invest in major infrastructure projects like Transaqua that will generate economic growth in African nations. Let us hope that Western institutions act appropriately to President Buhari ‘s request to help recharge Lake Chad; a vital body of water in Africa’s desert. 

Buhari Wants Europe, US to Help Recharge Lake Chad

President Buhari
  • It would be the greatest western investment in Africa

By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja said the greatest investment Europe and the United States could make in Africa now was to help in accomplishing inter-basin water transfer to recharge the Lake Chad.

Receiving the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, in the State House, Buhari recalled how the Lake Chad had served as the source of livelihood for millions of West African citizens in the past.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president listed countries which benefitted immensely from the lake in its productive years as Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.

The president, according to the statement, also noted that Lake Chad  had now shrunk to 10 per cent of its initial size as a result of the huge impact of climate change.

He was quoted as saying, “People who depended on the Lake for fishing, farming, animal husbandry, and many others, have been thrown into dire straits.

“That is one of the reasons youths now dare the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, to seek greener pastures in Europe. But helping to recharge Lake Chad will help a great deal in curbing irregular migration.”

The statement added that Buhari observed that the size of Nigeria and resources available there-in placed a lot of responsibilities on the country’s shoulders and pledged that the country would continue to fulfill its obligations to the African Union (AU).

Adesina further quoted the president as saying, “At all international fora, we emphasise the matter of Lake Chad. We also talk about the influx of small arms from the Sahel, which worsens the security situation between herders and stagnant farmers. We will keep the issues on the front burners.”

Furthermore, the statement added that Mahamat, in his remarks, praised Buhari, saying his leadership has been good for Nigeria, the AU, and Africa in general.

“He added that the next AU summit would look into the reform of the AU Commission, positioning the AU and Africa in the world, Single Air Transport Market, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, and other issues,” the statement added.

Read:  Save Lake Chad With Transaqua: Presidents Roosevelt and Nkrumah Would Concur, by Lawrence Freeman