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Ibero-America Looks to Eurasian Economic Union for Economic Ties

Today’s St. Petersburg Forum Russia-Latin America panel made clear that the potential for the expansion of economic ties between those countries “is huge,” because Russia proved itself a reliable partner in securing vaccine supplies and production for the region. Vaccine cooperation, prospects for increasing trade and investment flows, bilaterally and with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and the possibility of doing so without using the dollar, dominated the discussion.

High-level ministry officials from Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala, Guyana, and Venezuela, the Secretary General of the Andean Community (of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru), the President of the Central American Parliament, and the head of the leading Brazilian pharmaceutical company, Uniao Quimica, were the speakers scheduled from the Ibero-American side.

Sergei Glazyev, Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasian Economic Commission, dominated the panel discussion from the Russian side. He was joined by the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) and the panel’s excellent moderator, Sergey Brilev, knowledgeable about both sides as the anchor of the “Vesti v subbotu” program on TV Channel “Russia” and head of the Bering-Bellingshausen Institute for the Americas in Uruguay.

Uniao Quimica head Fernando De Castro Marques reported that production of Sputnik V in Brazil is underway. UQ has produced its first batch, and once it clears the Russian Gamaleya Institute’s quality checks, it will start producing 8 million Sputnik V doses per month—for both Brazil and its Ibero-American neighbors. Between the Brazilian-produced Sputnik doses and 100 million vaccine doses imported from China and India, he said Brazil could have 70% of its people vaccinated by the end of this year—while exporting vaccines to the region, he emphasized.

Guatemalan Minister of Economics Roberto Antonio Malouf Morales jumped: how long did you say it will take to produce 8 million doses? One month! Guatemala has eight million people! We have suffered a 15% drop in our economy in the pandemic; with those vaccines we can recover faster!

Malouf Morales, Chile’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Economic Relations Rodrigo Yanez Benitez, and Andean Community head Jorge Hernando Pedraza Gutierrez, all spoke of working out trade agreements with the EAEU. The Guatemalan and Chilean officials specified that they want to expand economic relations with Armenia and, yes, Belarus, through the EAEU, of which both are members.

Both noted that they had met separately with Sergey Glazyev before the panel. More than any details, the scope of the EAEU discussions in the region was best indicated by the Guatemalan Minister’s statement that if you say “Sergey” in Ibero-America today, everyone knows whom you are talking about.

The MOU’s being signed between Ibero-America and the EAEU reflect the restructuring towards a polycentric world underway, Glazyev said, but the question is how to turn them into actual business. He raised, in some detail, the need to create mechanisms to carry out this trade outside the U.S. dollar, “which has become toxic for us.” His remarks made clear that discussions are underway both nationally and at the level of businesses, of how to create a digital currency for trade between the EAEU and Ibero-America.

Valdai Club at SPIEF: “Weaponized Dollar” Forcing World To Flee the Dollar

One panel at today’s opening day of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) was chaired by the Valdai Discussion Club, moderated by the Club’s Programme Director, Ivan Timofeev, on the global impact of sanctions. The title: “The Risks Sanctions Pose to the Global FInancial System and International Business.” The program description included the following: 

“Sanctions present a threat to both the financial infrastructure of the ‘target country’ and foreign banks…. The transformation of the dollar into a weapon carries the threat of unforeseen shocks. Restrictions on the financial sector are also associated with human rights issues, particularly a lack of access to financial services (underbanking) for large groups of citizens…. The intensity and indiscriminate nature with which sanctions are deployed suggests that a targeted political tool is now becoming all-encompassing.”

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Alena Douhan (a former professor of international law at Belarus State University), spelled out the unilateral sanctions from the US and EU are illegal under international law, and are imposed “without any attempt at legal proceedings, without due process.” Due especially to the use of “secondary sanctions,” they create fear in businesses and banks to do any business with sanctioned countries or businesses or individuals. The impact is severe on a nation’s “health system, water and electricity, transportation — people can not get to the hospitals.” She named Venezuela, Syria, and Yemen as countries in which the hospitals have practically no medicine, no vaccines, high unemployment, and a consequent vast increase in crime and trafficking of people and drugs. 

Vladimir Kolychev, Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister, said that as the result of these crimes, “a new global financial system is coming into being. It won’t come overnight, but it is inevitable. The sanctioned countries will do it.” There is an ongoing withdrawal from  the existing structures, he said, since it is not safe to use US dollars. Russia’s trade was 80% in dollars as recently as 2019, but is now less than 50%. Reserves in Russia are now only 20% in US dollars. Russia and others under sanctions are also moving to produce goods domestically in critical areas, such as health care. 

Vladimir Chizhov, the Russian Ambassador to the EU, said we are living through a “sanctions pandemic.” The EU now has sanctions against 32 countries, including three which are applying to join the EU (Turkey, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Montenegro). The EU says it only uses sanctions as a “last resort,” Chizhov said, “but alas, this is not a fact, far from a fact — it is their first choice.” Only sanctions approved by the UN Security Council are legal under international law, he added. “Smart sanctions,” he said, “are stupid. Above all sanctions don’t work, “even legal ones — look at the Taliban.”

Sicily Daily Runs Call by Committee for Coincidence of Opposites on Afghanistan Emergency

Under the headline “Afghanistan, the Committee for the Republic: Let Us Help It,” the daily Il Corriere di Sicilia published the Dec. 10 call by the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites with an endorsement by Alessia Ruggeri.

The paper quotes Ruggeri saying: “I join the declaration by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, president of the Schiller Institute, which has highlighted that for more than two months no one has talked about Afghanistan, totally ignoring the emergency and the fact that, with the confiscation of funds, the population is likely to die of hunger and hardship,” and it continues: “These are the words of Alessia Ruggeri, spokesperson of the political movement ‘Committee for the Republic’ member of the Committee for the Coincidence of the Opposites that supports the call by David Beasley, director of the WFP, which states that immediate support from the West is needed, defining it as a moral test for the West.” See the Italian original.

Zepp-LaRouche: Psychopaths Are Threatening Our Existence! Germany Must Leave NATO!

The following is a pre-publication version of a Dec. 11 article by Helga Zepp-LaRouche which will appear in the forthcoming issue of EIR magazine.

In view of the political orientation of the new government in Berlin, it seems almost hopeless to demand Germany’s immediate exit from NATO. But if Olaf Scholz is serious about the oath of office he took two days ago when he took office as Federal Chancellor, namely that he “wants to dedicate his energies to the well-being of the German people, increase their benefits and protect them from harm,” then he has to set this exit in motion immediately. Because in NATO, and especially in the U.S.A. and Great Britain, there are influential forces who, for geopolitical reasons, toy with the existence of Germany and beyond that, of all of humanity. The real reason for the global military muscle play on multiple fronts is the systemic collapse of the neoliberal system, which they are trying to cover up with a complex confetti shower of anti-Russian and anti-Chinese narratives.

Some weeks ago, a media scenario was set up about the alleged preparation for a Russian military invasion in Ukraine, on the existence of which the National Intelligence Director of the U.S.A., Avril Haines, tried to convince the NATO ambassador in Brussels, but Russia emphatically denied it. For weeks there were simultaneously a series of provocations—such as a NATO maneuver in which a nuclear attack on Russia was rehearsed and U.S. planes flew within 20 kilometers of the Russian border—as well as drone attacks in eastern Ukraine and daring “reconnaissance flights” in Black Sea.

Russia accused NATO of crossing several “red lines” in Ukraine and of failing to respond to protests about it. In the run-up to the virtual summit proposed by President Biden at the height of the tension between Biden and President Putin, Putin demanded legally binding agreements that NATO would not expand further east toward the Russian border, which Biden initially rejected with the argument that one does not accept Russia’s “red lines”; while NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg emphasized that Russia has no right to develop “spheres of influence.”

Amid the escalation of tensions, the second-highest Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, threatened a first strike with nuclear weapons: “Military action could mean that we stand off with our ships in the Black Sea and we rain destruction on Russian military capability…. We don’t rule out first use nuclear action.”

Tulsi Gabbard, former Congresswoman from Hawaii and a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii Army National Guard, commented on Wicker’s tirade: “Anyone who would propose or even consider what he is saying as an option, must be insane, a sociopath or a sadist.” Wicker is no exception with his proposals, which would destroy not only the American people and the whole world, but also the Ukrainians, whose democracy is supposedly being protected. The same rhetoric comes from the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, the administration and the media, the same neoconservatives and neoliberals who dragged the country into the regime change wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

One can only agree with Tulsi Gabbard. Anyone who has followed the escalating propaganda against Russia and China, which has come from practically the entire political spectrum in the United States in recent years, will be reminded of the saying, that whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

The Reality of Ukraine and Iran

The content of the two-hour conversation between Biden and Putin is not yet public. In any case, Biden contacted four NATO partners regarding the legally binding assurance of a limitation on NATO, and announced further consultation with all NATO partners. And of course, all European governments know the true story of the Victoria Nuland-backed coup in Ukraine in February 2014, the active role of neo-Nazis from the tradition of Stepan Bandera in this coup, and the lie about the alleged annexation of Crimea by Putin, which was in reality the sovereign choice (by voting) of the people in Crimea that in view of the neo-Nazi terror in Kiev, they would rather belong to Russia. Perhaps it is time for the European governments to admit the truth about the events in Ukraine, in which they were naturally involved with their charitable foundations, before World War III breaks out on a fake narrative of Putin’s alleged aggression.

But even if the acute Ukraine crisis can be temporarily defused—Biden speaks of postponing Ukraine’s NATO membership for ten years—the acute danger of a world war remains.

The second source of danger from which a war could spark and spread is the situation surrounding the nuclear program in Iran and the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—ed.] treaty, which the Trump Administration had terminated. Although CIA Director William Burns has just confirmed that the secret service is not aware of any indications that Iran is working on a nuclear weapons program, Israel also sees the civilian nuclear program—to which Iran is entitled under international law—as a threat to its lifestyle, as Israel’s Defense Secretary Benny Gantz pointed out during his visit to the Pentagon, where Secretary of Defense Austin affirmed that the United States was determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

But the most dangerous situation is undoubtedly the U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan. After the world got dangerously close to World War III as the situation in Ukraine worsened, a number of American political experts spoke out—and this is new—about the American habit of staging pretexts for the initiation of military operations. The retired diplomat Peter Van Buren referred to the explosion of the battleship USS Maine in the port of Havana in 1898 (the cause of the Spanish-American War was not a Spanish terrorist attack, but a boiler explosion); the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin, with which the United States entered the long-planned Vietnam War; and of course the 2003 Iraq War, in which everyone involved knew beforehand that the WMD story was a lie, as Nancy Pelosi has publicly admitted.

Endless Wars Are Not ‘Human Rights’

With regard to China, Van Buren wrote, it “appears to be the next war now searching for a reason.” Since China refuses to invade Taiwan and thus provide a pretext for war fever in the United States, he wrote that there could be a less problematic outcome, an arms race for hypersonic weapons. “But what if the U.S. has its mind set on a real war, as in Vietnam and after 9/11, and needs a palatable reason to be found?” asks Van Buren, only expressing what has long since become obvious.

Can it be assumed that these and many other “false flag” incidents are known to Western governments and parties? Apart from maybe a few inexperienced backbenchers—absolutely! That is why the participants who took part in President Biden’s “Democracy Summit,” which should more likely be called hypocrisy summit, are about as trustworthy as the organizers of the notorious “carpet bus rides,” where plush carpets are foisted upon unsuspecting pensioners as “real Persians.”

The idea that this is an alliance of the “good guys,” a community of values that campaigns for democracy, human rights and freedom, against the “bad guys,” the autocratic regimes that oppress their populations, is an advertising story with which a spoiled product is intended to be disguised with cosmetic plasters and sold.

At least since the U.S. administration and its “allies” left Afghanistan in an absolutely catastrophic state after 20 years of war (withholding money that belongs to the Afghans and thus exacerbating the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the planet, where 24 million people are threatened with death from starvation and from winter’s cold), none of these flawless democrats should use the words “human rights” any more. We should speak of the millions of dead, injured and refugees who were created by the endless wars built on lies. And what about Julian Assange, whose only crime was exposing war crimes? He is being murdered by legal means before the eyes of the world.

The list could be much extended: The martial “pushback” policy of the EU with Frontex against refugees, who are only refugees because they are the victims of the “endless wars”; the refugee camps, which Pope Francis compared to concentration camps; the consequences of the Malthusian policy of the Klaus Schwabs of this world, which sees the attempt to overcome poverty as the greatest threat to the “climate” and thus says any development must be stalled for decades through “conditionalities.”

On the other hand, the success story of the “autocratic” governments does not look so bad: China has not only lifted 850 million people of its own population out of extreme poverty and given developing countries the chance to overcome poverty and underdevelopment for the first time. The United States has had almost 800,000 coronavirus deaths with a population of 330 million people, while China has fewer than 5,000 deaths with 1.4 billion people. Perhaps—the Eurocentric carpet sellers might want to think about this—is human life worth more to the “autocratic” regimes?

Germans should really urgently draw the conclusion that remaining in a military alliance, which in the event of a crisis will result in their annihilation, may not be such a good idea. There is, indeed, an alternative to NATO’s policy of confrontation which has been obsolete since 1991. There is an urgent need to establish an international security architecture that takes into account the security interests of all states.

Another Advance Toward Fusion Power in China’s EAST Tokamak

A record combination of high temperature and long duration of confinement of a fusion plasma has been achieved by China’s primary fusion power experiment, known as the experimental advanced superconducting tokamak, or EAST.

{Daily Pakistan} reported on May 29, “China’s artificial sun [has set] a new world record as it achieved a plasma temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius for a period of 101 seconds. The huge accomplishment is a key step toward the test running of a fusion reactor. Announced by Gong Xianzu, who is a researcher at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP), [who] was in charge of the experiment conducted in Hefei, capital of East China’s Anhui Province.”

The EAST experiment took a full year to prepare; and in another run, this Chinese prototype of an “artificial sun,” reached an even higher plasma temperature, 160 million degrees Celsius, and sustained it for 20 seconds. These temperatures are high enough and sustained long enough for deuterium-tritium ions in the plasma to fuse and produce energy, if the superhot plasma can be stably confined with less energy input than the output from the fusion reactions. This requires the third parameter — sustained, much higher plasma density than has thus far been reached in tokamaks.

“It’s a huge achievement in China’s physics and engineering fields,” the paper quoted ASIPP Director Song Yuntao. “The experiment’s success lays the foundation for China to build its own nuclear fusion energy station.”

China Launches Tianzhou Cargo Ship Which Docks With the Space Station

China launched the cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-2 on Saturday, May 29, which has docked with the space station core module Tianhe. It delivered supplies for the first crew, equipment, and propellant. The Long March-7 Y3 rocket, carrying Tianzhou-2, blasted off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site at 8:55 p.m. (Beijing Time), according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA). The launch was a complete success, the CMSA said.

The cargo includes more than 160 large and small packages, including supplies for astronauts, space-science equipment, and two tons of propellant, which are needed to keep the station in a stable orbit. After docking with Tianhe, Tianzhou-2 will replenish Tianhe’s propellant and help test equipment for space application projects.

Three astronauts will be launched on the Shenzhou-12 mission, and will stay in orbit for three months. It will be their job to unpack the goods stowed inside Tianzhou-2. In addition to supplies for the three-astronaut first crew, the gear delivered by Tianzhou-2 also includes two spacesuits for extravehicular activities, each weighing more than 100 kg, which will be needed on future “space walks.” This year, two manned craft will dock with the station.

Tianzhou-2 is also delivering space food, dubbed “space deliveries” by Chinese engineers, including many traditional Chinese dishes. From staple foods to non-staples, from meat to vegetables, the menu is appetizing for Chinese astronauts. Famous stir-fried Chinese dishes like shredded pork with garlic sauce and Kung Pao chicken are both on the menu. (The menu may be an added inducement for non-Chinese astronauts to visit the station.)

Later this year, another cargo vessel will dock with the station, as will a second manned mission. In 2022, the station will be complete, with the addition of the Wentian and Mengtian laboratory modules.

Then it will be open for other countries to send their experiments, their astronauts, or even their entire laboratories, to this truly international space station.

Video – There Are No Limits to Growth in the Universe — Conference excerpts

Speakers include: Jason Ross, Dr. Augustinus Berkhout, Prof. Carl Otto Weiss, State Senator Mike Thompson, Adrian Badescu, Prof. Franco Battaglia, Dr. Kelvin Kemm.

Watch the full conference here.

Video – Afghanistan: Fulcrum for a New Paradigm

This video compilation is from the recent November 13-14, 2021 Schiller Institute Conference. The entire proceedings can be seen here.

Video – Global Leaders Discuss: Can a Strategic Crisis Between the Major Powers Be Avoided?

This video compilation is from the recent November 13-14, 2021 Schiller Institute Conference. The entire proceedings can be seen here.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Founder and President of The Schiller Institute Keynote Address: “A Terrible End or a New Paradigm?”

Ms. Chen Xiaohan (China), Deputy Secretary General, The Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament (CPAPD) Topic: “Major Country Relations and Global Development”

Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva (Russia), Deputy Permanent Representative, the Russian Federation Mission to the UN Topic: “Situation in Afghanistan after Foreign Troops Withdrawal”

Dr. Andrey Kortunov (Russia), Director General, Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Topic: “Is There a Pathway for an Improved Relationship Between the U.S. and Russia?”

Col. Richard H. Black (ret.) (U.S.), former State Senator; former Chief of the Army Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, The Pentagon Topic: “U.S.-China Relations: Potential for War Avoidance and Cooperation”

Dr. George Koo (U.S.), Chairman, Burlingame Foundation; Retired international business consultant Topic: “The Survival of Our World Depends on Whether the U.S. and China Can Get Along”

Kirk Wiebe (U.S.), Senior Analyst (Ret.), U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), member, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) Topic: “До́брое бра́тство — лу́чшее бога́тство –Brotherhood is the Best Wealth”

CGTN Interviews Helga Zepp-LaRouche on Eighth Anniversary of Belt and Road Initiative

China’s CGTN conducted two interviews with Schiller Institute chairwoman Helga Zepp-LaRouche on the celebration of eight years of the Belt and Road Initiative, one for with the “Dialogue Weekend” program and the second with “Global Business.” Here are the transcripts:

Dialogue Weekend

LI QIUYUAN: Welcome to this edition of Dialogue Weekend: I’m Li Quiyuan.

In the fall of 2013, while on visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled the plan to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, otherwise known as the Belt and Road Initiative. Eight years on, how is the project progressing, and how has it helped all those involved? And what obstacles have been overcome during the construction? To review the last eight years of the BRI, I’m glad to be joined by Prof. John Gong from the University of International Business and Economics; and Miss Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and president of the Schiller Institute. Great to see you both.

Why don’t I start with Professor Gong first? Explain to us some context here: Why try to propose this, building this New Silk Road in the very beginning, and also why did the President announce this while travelling abroad? And also, eight years on, eight years into this project, where are we now, as far as its construction?

PROF. JOHN GONG: Hi Qiuyuan, you’re nice to have me here. It’s a long question, but let me first start by saying what the Belt and Road Initiative is not: It is not a geopolitical play, it’s not a geostrategic play, it’s not intended to seek a spread of influence. It’s mostly an economic play. There are several reasons why China started this initiative. I think the broader context is that this is a time when Chinese companies started to expand overseas, started to build a global supply chain, and in this course, Chinese companies quickly started to discover that the markets they’re mostly activating, these are the developing countries, the third world countries, they are handicapped by basic infrastructure for things like railways, port facilities, electricity network, telecom network—all these things are lacking for the Chinese companies to operate properly in these markets. And there’s a mutual benefit in developing these countries’ basic infrastructure. And this is also the time, when there was an access capacity in the basic building materials, mostly useful infrastructure buildouts for things like cement, steel, those things. We’re talking about a time in 2013, 2012.

And I would also mention this is also a time when China’s foreign exchange reserve was at an all-time high, and we would like to see the foreign exchange reserve at close to $4 trillion at the time, mostly sitting in the United States, buying American government’s Treasury bills and bonds.

So all these reasons combined contributed to the very natural evolution to using that money, using that excess capacity, and using the capabilities of Chinese companies of building infrastructure to help those developing countries to develop those projects. And I think this is the broader context: it work for both ways, and it works in particular in a way to benefit the host countries where the Chinese companies are operating, and these infrastructure projects are taking place.

LI: Helga, let me get your take on this: How do you evaluate the progress being made in the past eight years regarding this initiative?

HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think it’s the most impressive infrastructure project in the history of all of mankind. And China for the first time has given the developing countries the chance to overcome poverty and underdevelopment. And if you look at the progress, there is now the China-Laos high-speed rail project, which is fantastic. It will be extended to Thailand, and beyond. And soon, the previously not so developed country, like Laos, will have a high-speed rail system, which Europe and the United States can only dream of!

Then you have the [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] CPEC treaty, the Middle Corridor, all these projects in Central Asia, all these investments in Africa. So I think it has brought in an incredible shift in the strategic situation, by overcoming underdevelopment, for the first time, for all of these countries. So I think, despite all the opposition, I think it’s a great success.

LI: But now after all of China’s investments in Africa, we once again are hearing criticism or accusations of China setting so-called “debt traps” for the countries participating in the BRI. This is the most frequent criticisms we’ve heard about this initiative. Professor Gong, talk to us about it: Beijing has made it clear that this initiative is by no means a debt trap. What has been done by China to support its claim?

GONG: We have to go back to the origin of the so-called “debt trap” theory. I think it originated in India with respect to, in particular, the port project in Sri Lanka. The idea is basically conspiracy theory….

LI: Now, we’ve seen the pandemic COVID-19 causing massive disruptions and damage to economic activities all around the world including the global supply chain, such as thousands of containers sitting on the Los Angeles docks, waiting for truckers and warehouse personnel to transport and deliver goods. It would seem that the world desperately needs an economic boost now, more than ever. But, Helga, do you see the BRI being it, providing great opportunities for corporations, for countries involved? Could they benefit from a smoother and more efficient global trade infrastructure?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Oh, yes. You have already all the countries of Asia, many in Africa, even of Europe—you have Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece, the 16+1 East European countries that all are absolutely onboard of the BRI. But I think some of the so-called advanced countries like Germany, they would benefit the most if they would stop thinking in terms of geopolitical prejudices, because, for example, if they would join hands with China right now in the development of Afghanistan, which suffers the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet, and urgently needs to be integrated into the Belt and Road Initiative if it wants to ever have stability. So Germany, for example, is very concerned about the refugee crisis, and rather than building a wall around the EU outer borders, which is what the EU is considering right now—like the old Limes in the Roman Empire—I think the European countries, and hopefully also the United States, join hands; and they have a moral obligation because NATO countries were for 20 years in Afghanistan and they left the country in complete shambles. So, to reconstruct Afghanistan—and Haiti, and Syria, and Yemen, and all of these other countries that are in dire condition—if Germany and Europe would help and cooperate with China and the Belt and Road countries to develop Southwest Asia and Africa, there would be no refugee problem.

And I think we need a rethinking of this very, very urgently, because we have a tremendous moment in history. The Western financial system is not in good shape: You have signs of hyperinflation; the supply chain problem, you mentioned. So I think we need a rethinking. And the Schiller Institute is doing a lot of conferences and activities to convince the industrialized countries that it would be in their absolute self-interest to cooperate with the BRI and play a positive role in history.

LI: Helga, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We appreciate your perspective.

Professor Gong, a final question on this part to you: Certainly great steps have been made on the BRI over the last eight years, but what lessons can we draw from these experiences? And what challenges has the project faced as it reaches out for wider cooperation?

GONG: Well, let me first supplement your previous question. Helga actually knows my position on this issue. I wrote a paper several years ago, talking about how America can actually benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative. The article’s title is “Make America Great Again—with Chinese Money.”

As a matter of fact, I actually as an opportunity to make a keynote speech at a conference organized by Helga, the Schiller Institute. [Create a New Epoch for Mankind • February 16, 2019, Morristown, NJ]

There could have been greater opportunities between China and the United States to address the infrastructure problems you have just mentioned. You talk about the supply chain hiccups, or these clogs at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, all of these things can be substantially addressed by combining the capabilities of infrastructure buildouts, in China, together with investments in the United States. But unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

Now, back to your question about lessons in the past, I think this is a perfect example to show that there are opportunities if China and other countries will just come together and cooperate, and purely think of this from an economic perspective and setting aside all these, you know, these talks about geostrategic, geopolitics lens, not seeing these things through that lens, I think there could be huge opportunities. There are tons of countries out there who indeed benefit from these infrastructure investments. So, I think the biggest lesson is, this is a purely economic play, and there will be mutual benefits deriving from this. And that let’s have both sides going to this in cooperative spirits should generate benefits for both countries.

And as well as the better exchanges, through human to human, people to people exchanges, and also economic benefits as well. So I think that’s the biggest lesson. And United States could have—I emphasize again, could have—benefitted immensely, if we go into this with, as we say, with a cooperative spirit. But unfortunately, it’s not happening.

Global Business

ANCHOR: For more on the Belt and Road Initiative, I want to bring in Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and president of the Schiller Institute, who’s now in Wiesbaden. Helga, welcome to the program. You know, President Xi Jinping saying the BRI is really about finding the biggest common ground for all, and I think it’s interesting to contrast that with what we hear oftentimes, from the West in terms of only working with like-minded countries. This is about working with all countries, large and small, to find their greatest common denominator.

So, Helga, at a time of such uncertainty, how important do you think is the BRI in terms of growing the economic pie for all?

HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think it is, for sure, the most important strategic initiative on the planet right now. Because you say “uncertainty,” I mean, these uncertainties show for example, in the form of a hyperinflationary tendency: You see the energy prices skyrocketing, food prices, and we may actually head towards a hyperinflationary blowout of the entire system. And at such a moment, to have the Belt and Road Initiative which focusses entirely on the physical side of the economy, can actually become the absolute important savior for the world economy as a whole. So I think the existence of the Belt and Road Initiative is the most important initiative on the planet.

ANCHOR: And Helga, of course, one big topic that we are all talking about these days, from the public sector to the private sector, is how we can collectively tackle climate change. How do you see the Belt and Road Initiative really promoting sustainable and green development, especially for developing economies, who need more help in terms of making that green transition?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, you know, in the Glasgow COP26 summit, it became very clear that behind a lot of this climate policy, is also a Malthusian effort to prevent the developing countries from developing, and that has been expressed very clearly by India, Indonesia, Nigeria, which all did not go along with the program of Glasgow.

So I think China, on the other side, is offering especially cooperation in nuclear energy, which has a very high energy flux-density and therefore, is potentially the energy source for more developed economies. So I think the role of China and the BRI countries which all are going in the direction of promoting nuclear energy, also for the developing countries, are representing a very, very important alternative to the Malthusian policies coming from the financial centers in London and Wall Street.

ANCHOR: Hmm. So we have growing the economic pie for all, energy cooperation, green development, and of course, one other extension. Helga, of the BRI, is the Health Silk Road, and this is China aiding Belt and Road partner countries, by sharing medical knowledge about the coronavirus; last year providing medical aid as well, last year and this year. Help I believe will be a critical part of BRI cooperation going forward. How do you see this element of the Initiative developing, post-pandemic?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think it is very clear that China right now is helping many African countries to build vaccine production, so they can develop their own vaccine. I have been saying, since the outbreak of this pandemic, that it will only stop if we build a world health system: That means a modern health system in every single country. Because the idea to only take care of the rich countries with vaccines, and modern hospitals, does not work, because then the poor countries are left behind, and then the virus is mutating, and will come back and hit the entire human population.

So I think we have to have a very big emphasis on a modern health system in every single country: Which means modern hospitals—China has proven you can build a modern hospital in two weeks in Wuhan—but the developing countries need encouragement and help. They need energy, they need clean water, in order to do that. I think the most urgent ones right now are Afghanistan, Haiti, Syria and Yemen: These are the countries that need, urgently, international cooperation to build modern health systems, if they are supposed to survive. I have proposed something called “Operation Ibn Sina” which named after the great universal thinker of the Afghanistan region, from around the 10th century. And that could become the spearhead for a health system in every country in the Islamic world, but also for all the developing countries. And that’s the only way how the pandemic will stop, and future pandemics.

ANCHOR: Yes. And speaking about closing gaps all around in terms of the development gap, closing the energy and green development gap, what about the digital connectivity gap? The digital connectivity benefits provided by the BRI down the road can be absolutely huge, in terms of getting especially emerging and developing economies, really into the digital sphere. The pandemic, we’ve seen, has really accelerated digitization. How do you see the BRI boosting digital connectivity, and really helping to narrow the digital divide between developing economies and advanced economies?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think the fact that China was able to deal with the pandemic so much better than almost every other country on the planet has to do with the fact that the health sector is largely digitalized, and contact tracing, smart cities integrated—I think that’s future.

The problem is, the West is opposing that because there is a difference: In China the population for the most part trusts the government, and thinks that these measures are being applied for the common good. In Western Europe, for example, or the United States, there is a deep mistrust between the population and the government, and therefore, there is a lot of opposition. But look at Germany, right now, or many European countries: The pandemic is exploding again. And that is, for sure, they are still using photocopy machines, and very archaic means to trace the pandemic. And if Europe would have the kind of digitalization like China we would be in much better shape.

So I think that is clearly the way to go, and hopefully, people start to rethink and correct a lot of prejudices which do not come from facts, but they come—for example, the U.S. Senate just agreed upon a strategic act, which spent several hundred million dollars every year to counter the so-called “influence” of China! If that money would be spent on building hospitals and building real infrastructure for the benefit of the people, the United States image would gain much more than from these kinds of measures!

So again, I can only hope there will be a rethinking and a lot of the prejudices which have been spread should be put into the garbage pile.

ANCHOR: Yeah, instead of spending trillions of dollars on never-ending wars in foreign lands, I think definitely that money, at least for the United States, can be better put towards working with other countries in terms of boosting development around the world. And of course, that’s what the BRI is about, is really focussing and emphasizing cooperation, especially in the world that we live in today, and our future generations will need that cooperation. We must see that through the BRI. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Helga. That’s Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and president of the Schiller Institute.

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