Editor’s note for January 4, 2023

A note for Access newsletter readers from Jeremy Goldkorn

My thoughts today:

On May 1, 1967, the Communist Party’s house newspaper, the People’s Daily, published an editorial that included the following:

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, the Vietnamese People’s War of National Salvation and Resisting the United States, the revolutionary storms in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and the revolutionary struggles of the people of various countries are dealing devastating blows to the entire old world…The day when the pestilence of American imperialism and Soviet Revisionism are “completely buried” is not far away.

The Party is no longer worried about Soviet Revisionism, but it is still very concerned about America, although in current rhetoric the word “imperialism” has been replaced with phrases like “unipolar world” and “Cold War thinking.” Now China has become a major player in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, much more than in the Mao era — when Beijing half-heartedly funded revolutionary groups around the world, and made only one significant investment in what used to be called the “Third World” — the Tanzania-Zambia Railway.

Today’s big news from China is largely about its political and financial investments in the old Third World — our top story is about a new free trade agreement with Ecuador, and we also cover a huge new investment in Pakistan and Beijing’s attempts to make nice with the Philippines.

As Eric Olander of our partner organization, The China Global South Project, wrote at the end of 2022, “China’s efforts to build a parallel international order are going to accelerate in 2023.”

Our word of the day is yà fēi lā 亚非拉, which is the Cultural Revolution era contraction for Asia, Africa, and Latin America (亚洲、非洲、拉丁美洲 yàzhōu, fēizhōu, lādīng měizhōu).

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief