At 4th UNCTAD Session
Speech by Chou Hua-min,
Head of Chinese Delegation
[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 19, #21, May 21, 1976, pp. 17-20.]
The Fourth Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) officially opened in the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, on May 5. Taking part in the meeting were more than 2,000 representatives of 153 UNCTAD member states.
The session, scheduled to close on May 28, will discuss various issues on the implementation of the Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order and the Programme of Action adopted at the Sixth Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly, including the stabilization of prices of commodities, the alleviation and cancellation of debts of the developing countries and the transfer of technology.
Addressing the session on May 6, President Marcos of the Philippines appealed to UNCTAD to adopt the Manila Declaration and the Programme of Action which were signed last February by the Group of 77 with a membership of 110 states.
Following are excerpts of the speech by Chou Hua-min, Head of the Chinese Delegation and Vice-Minister of Foreign Trade, at the May 11 session. Sub-heads are ours. —Ed.
SINCE the Third Session of UNCTAD, the international situation has undergone encouraging changes. The situation is excellent and will get still better with each passing day. A marked manifestation of this is the rapid emergence of the third world in its growing role as the main force in the struggle against imperialism, colonialism and hegemonism.
Third World’s Struggle Against Hegemony In Economic Fields
In the past four years, the struggle against imperialism and hegemonism waged by the third world countries in economic fields has also witnessed great development. It has advanced to a new stage of shattering the old international economic relations and establishing a new international economic order. The Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order and the Programme of Action adopted at the Sixth Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly are a great victory for the third world countries in their united struggle. Since then, great efforts have been made by the developing countries for the implementation of the correct principles of the Declaration and those of the Programme of Action. Their united struggle is becoming larger in scale, their unity more consolidated, their target more concentrated. The just struggle of the third world countries to safe-guard state sovereignty, protect national economic rights and interests, develop national economy, establish a new international economic order is unfolding unswervingly. It is winning victories and making headway in the spheres of resources, trade, industrialization, finance, shipping, etc. Today, an increasing number of developing countries are taking resolute measures to defend their sovereignty over their natural resources, and to ensure that their national economic lifelines be safe in their own hands. Various organizations of raw material producing and exporting countries of the third world are coming into being and growing rapidly and more and more becoming a major force in their united struggle against international monopoly, exploitation and shifting of economic crisis. Variform economic co-operation among developing countries is getting under way and continuously being stepped up.
In the past four years, the struggle of the second world countries to rid themselves of the control, intervention, subversion and bullying by the superpowers has evidently intensified. Many of them now favour “dialogue” and economic co-operation with third world countries. This is something to be welcomed.
Meanwhile, it is also clearly seen that the two superpowers are beset with difficulties both at home and abroad and are getting more and more isolated. Their fierce contention extends to every corner, in every field the world over, continuously enhancing the danger of eruption of a new war. Numerous facts go on proving that the danger of war stems mainly from that very superpower which most zealously preaches about peace. Its wild ambitions and unbridled aggression and expansion have fully laid bare its ferocious features of social-imperialism.
The question of trade and development is a momentous question of common concern to the third world countries and people. It is the eager desire of the developing countries to abolish the old, international economic relations and ensure equality and mutual benefit in trade and develop the national economy independently in their efforts to achieve economic independence and consolidate political independence. Viewed from international economic relations, the essence of the question of trade and development is a question for the third world countries to safeguard state sovereignty, develop the national economy, oppose the control, plunder and exploitation by imperialism, particularly the superpowers. This is an important part of the revolutionary struggle of the third world countries and their people.
Old and new colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism have, for long years, controlled the major part of the world’s industry and the production and trade of many primary commodities, monopolized international money and finance, shipping, insurance, science and technology. They extort superprofit and subject many of the developing countries to the status of source of raw materials, markets for manufactures and places for capital investment, thus reducing these countries to sheer slavery. As a result, the rich countries get richer, the poor ones poorer. Therefore, it is entirely justified and reasonable for the developing countries to demand the abolition of the old order of monopoly, plunder, control and exploitation and the establishment of a new international economic order based on equality and mutual benefit.
Obstructions Come From Two Superpowers
Obstructions to the establishment of a new international economic order come mainly from the two superpowers. They are the obstinate upholder of the old order, and opponent and saboteur of a new order. One superpower desperately clings to the old order, opposes the establishment of a new international economic order, in order to preserve its vested interests. It painstakingly preaches about “interdependence” as “the core of maintaining international order,” alleging that “global prosperity” rests on its leadership. To put it bluntly, it means nothing but to maintain the control, plunder and exploitation of the developing countries. The other superpower, which is “socialism” in name but social-imperialism in essence, though pretending to be in favour of a new international economic order, actually commits dirty acts of undermining the just struggle of the third world. On the one hand, it uses such political swindles as “relaxation of tension” and “disarmament” to reverse the course of the third world struggle against imperialism and hegemonism in economic fields. On the other hand, it peddles the series of old wares such as “international division of labour,” “integration,” etc., in a vain attempt to establish a social-imperialist system of exploitation with itself as the sole overlord. Such shopworn stuff is in direct conflict with and runs counter to the new international economic order which the third world countries are striving to bring about.
This superpower, in a vain attempt to evade its criminal responsibility as one of the biggest international exploiters of the present world, asserts that it bears no responsibility for the state of poverty of the developing countries, and stresses that the reasonable propositions put forward by the Group of 77 have “no prospect of reaching agreement,” and even asks the Group of 77 “not to insist on such demands.” What a truculent act! It is well known that this superpower is even more greedy and more cruel than the old-line imperialism in its plunder and exploitation of the people of the third world. Following the footprint of transnational corporations of the West, it sets up joint ventures abroad for capital export, seizure of markets and grabbing natural resources. Under the pretext of “developing trade,” it asks the developing countries to adopt an “open door” policy and let it share “equal opportunity” with other imperialist countries. It extorts fabulous profit by practising trade exchange of unequal values and reselling at high prices. It uses “aid” as a means of controlling other countries and practising usury. It takes advantage of other countries’ difficulties to encroach upon their sovereignty, demand military bases and interfere in their internal affairs wantonly. It ferociously presses recipient countries for repayment of debts and servicing of interests. And this very superpower which has done so many evils at the expense of the developing countries now wants to clear itself of all responsibilities. But this is impossible.
The integrated programme for commodities is a major proposition which the developing countries have all along upheld since the Sixth Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly. However, this proposal is opposed by the superpowers. One of the superpowers makes an uproar for replacing the integrated programme for commodities with individual commodity agreements, the common fund with an “international resources bank” with the aim of retaining the old order in opposition to the Manila Declaration and the Programme of Action. The other superpower vilifies the integrated programme for commodities as unrealistic and trumpets that the only way out is to sign medium- and long-term contracts with it and land oneself in the trade trap and exploitative system of this superpower. This fully bears out that the superpowers are still trying by hook or by crook to hold on and preserve the old international economic order.
The truculent acts of the superpowers, however, have been repeatedly denounced and condemned in the strongest term by the developing countries at a series of international conferences. A growing number of small and poor countries are taking vigorous measures in various spheres to safeguard their state sovereignty and economic rights and interests, waging resolute struggle against superpower aggression, intervention, exploitation and plunder. Of late, the Egyptian Government and people took a brave action in defending their independent sovereignty and national dignity by stripping that superpower—which styles itself the “natural ally” of the developing countries—of its disguise of “aid” and “co-operation” for intervention and control. This indeed is a brilliant example for the people of the third world countries in their struggle against hegemonism. We are convinced that so long as the third world countries and peoples strengthen their unity, defy pressure and intimidation, reject deception, persevere in a protracted and unremitting struggle, all obstruction and sabotage are doomed to utter failure, the struggle for the establishment of a new international economic order will definitely triumph.
It is the strong demand and eager desire of the third world countries and peoples to safeguard national independence and develop the national economy. We developing countries have deeply realized from our own experience that independence and self-reliance is the fundamental policy in developing the national economy. We have learnt from our own experience that in developing the national economy, we must first of all rely on our own people, make full use of our state sovereignty, take hold and make use of our national resources, gradually get rid of the control and plunder by imperialism, particularly the superpowers, and eradicate old and new colonialist forces and their influence. Only in this way can we clear the way for national economic development. We are happy to see that quite a number of developing countries, taking the path of independence and self-reliance and through prolonged strenuous efforts while taking into consideration their specific features and conditions, have now achieved promising success in developing agriculture, striving for self-sufficiency in food grains, developing national industry, training local technical personnel and cadres of management. It proves that the policy of independence and self-reliance is correct and that it is possible to carry it out if due consideration is given to the specific features and conditions of each country. It should also be pointed out that in the present circumstances when the two superpowers are locked in fierce contention for world hegemony and the danger of war is continuously increasing, the implementation of such a policy by the developing countries is of great significance in strengthening their national defence and protecting themselves from foreign aggression.
In the struggle to develop the national economy and oppose international exploitation and monopoly, it is quite necessary to strengthen economic co-operation and mutual support among developing countries. Such co-operation will help to promote economic and trade development, strengthen the economy of the developing countries, break through the economic monopoly by imperialism, particularly the superpowers.
The Chinese Delegation maintains that the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted recently at the Manila meeting of the Group of 77 embody the spirit of the Sixth and Seventh Special Sessions of the U.N. General Assembly, reflect the reasonable demands of the developing countries and should be taken as the basis for consideration at the current session of the conference. We resolutely support all the just propositions put forward by the developing countries in these documents.
We hold that international economic relations should be based on the five principles of mutual respect for state sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence. International economic and trade affairs should be handled jointly by all countries of the world, instead of being controlled and monopolized by either of the superpowers or both. The developing countries enjoy permanent sovereignty over their own natural resources and have every right to exercise it and bring all foreign capital, particularly transnational corporations, under their control, supervision, administration or nationalization.
We hold that international trade should be based on equality and mutual benefit and exchange of needed goods to make up each other’s wants. We support the righteous action of the developing countries in setting up and expanding raw material producing organizations and waging united struggle in order to safeguard state, sovereignty and economic rights and interests; we support their reasonable proposition on an integrated programme for commodities and price indexations, and hope that the current session of the conference will reach positive decisions on the integrated programme for commodities. We are opposed to attempts to replace the integrated programme for commodities with individual commodity agreements or medium- and long-term contracts. We support the just demand of the Manila Programme of Action that an agreement should be reached at the Fourth Session of UNCTAD on a comprehensive strategy for manufactures and semi-manufactures to expand and diversify the export trade of the developing countries, reduce and eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers and restrictive business practices, enable the developing countries to expand market and secure remunerative prices, stabilize and increase export earnings. We firmly oppose imperialism, particularly the superpowers, in using international trade as a means of control and plunder.
We maintain that, when giving economic aid to the developing countries, the aid-giving countries should strictly respect the sovereignty of the recipient countries, attach no conditions, political or military, and ask for no privileges. Any aid rendered should be of genuine help to the recipient countries in their efforts to develop their national economies on the basis of independence and self-reliance. The loans provided to the developing countries should be of low interest or interest-free, and in order to alleviate the debt servicing burden, repayment of loans and servicing of interests should be made deferrable when necessary. We support the just demand of the developing countries for convening a conference of major developed creditor and interested debtor countries to work out measures to solve the debt problems.
We maintain that transfer of technology to the developing countries must be practical, effective, cheap and convenient for use. All the unfair restrictions and obstacles to the transfer of technology from developed countries to developing countries must be eliminated. We support revision of the international patent system, the drafting of a legally binding code of conduct for the transfer of technology and the efforts to strengthen the technological capabilities of the developing countries.
We hold that the issue of reforming the international financial and monetary system should be tackled through consultations on equal footing among all countries. Monopoly by a few big powers in the international financial and monetary fields must end. We stand for full and effective participation by the developing countries in the decision-making in international financial and monetary issues and in the reform of international financial institutions and their irrational rules and regulations. We support the reasonable demand of the developing countries for taking measures to adjust in a fair manner the international balance of payments deficit and to stabilize exchange rates.
We would like to express our deep sympathy with the least developed countries, landlocked and island developing countries for their difficult position. We are in favour of taking effective action in the fields of trade, aid, transport and communication, transfer of technology, etc., to implement special measures in favour of these countries, give special consideration to helping them expedite development.
It is our hope that the current session will advance along the major orientation of the Sixth Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly and make useful contribution to the abolition of the old international economic relations, the establishment of a new international economic order and the safeguarding of independence, sovereignty and economic rights and interests of the developing countries. It should be seen that the establishment of a new international economic order is a protracted, sharp and complicated struggle. Though we are still facing various obstructions and difficulties, we believe nothing is hard in the world, if you dare to scale the heights. So long as the third world countries and people keep on closing their ranks, ally with all the forces that can be allied, uphold principles, persevere in struggle, they are sure to achieve their objectives.
[See also the related article: Facts on File: The Integrated Programme for Commodities.]
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