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France and the Maritime Silk Road: Past, Present and Future

The July 2 Schiller Institute conference, “France and the Maritime Silk Road: Past, Present, and Future,” held in Nantes, was a major intervention on a hot topic: France has a maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 10 million square kilometers and the world’s second largest maritime economic area. Nantes—a port city of 900,000 on the Atlantic Ocean and the birthplace of the visionary Jules Verne—has a place in France’s “blue economy.”

Schiller Institute booth at the La Mer XXL Exposition in Nantes, France on June 30, 2019.

Schiller Institute booth at the La Mer XXL Exposition in Nantes, France on June 30, 2019.

The four-hour conference with nine speakers was part of an international maritime exposition, La Mer XXL, that drew 38,000 visitors. Several of the speakers at the Schiller event had important institutional roles in France and all of the speakers were passionate about their subjects and conveyed a sense of optimism and mobilization. The creative ideas and science-driver perspective of Lyndon LaRouche, for the common good of mankind, were very much present.

The Expo was organized by one of the largest media groups in France, the Group Ouest-France; the Maritime Credit Bank; and the French Maritime Cluster, a business association encompassing all ocean-related enterprises—ports, transport o and from ports, shipbuilding, fishing, aquaculture, and deep-water research institutions in biology and mining (oil, rare earths).

Odile Mojon at the literature table during the La Mer Expo.

Odile Mojon at the literature table during the La Mer Expo.

For twelve days, June 28 to July 10, the Schiller Institute manned an exhibit at the Expo. At least 200 exhibitors—associations, companies, research institutions—had booths to present their work. Schiller Institute representatives were able to present the full spectrum of the Institute’s activities and the 484-page French edition of the Institute’s World Land-Bridge report released in November 2018. In the months preceding the event, the Schiller Institute had sent out mailings to regional industrialists and companies; French and Chinese engineers and scientists; and its own contact lists, and followed up with personal contact.

The four-hour, in-depth Schiller conference drew 60 people including representatives from the Friends of the Maritime Museum of La Rochelle, and the Maritime Cluster of Luxembourg, who were eager to get copies of the Land-Bridge report. People came from as far as Provence and Switzerland to participate.

Several copies of the Land-Bridge report were sold on the spot and more during the book dedication event set up at the Expo library. A professor from Africa, who attended the conference, when passing our booth the next day, said he was so excited that he persuaded his university to order five copies.

Prof. Michel Cantal-Dupart (left) and Karel Vereycken, two of the speakers at the Schiller Institute Conference in Nantes, France on July 2, 2019.

Prof. Michel Cantal-Dupart (left) and Karel Vereycken, two of the speakers at the Schiller Institute Conference in Nantes, France on July 2, 2019.

The Schiller Institute’s Karel Vereycken, who has studied the maritime domain for several years, was the moderator, and opened the floor to greetings: André Sobczak, a Nantes city councilman and the 15th Vice-President for International Relations of the Nantes Metropolitan Area, warmly welcomed the participants; Anne Lettrée, CEO of China’s Silk Road Business University and co-organizer of the event; two Minister Counselors of the Chinese embassy who were unable to attend at the last minute, and Minghong Chen, Chairman of the French-Chinese Intercultural Center.

Maritime Silk Road: Ancient and Modern

Karel Vereycken speaks on the Maritime Silk Road.

Karel Vereycken speaks on the Maritime Silk Road.

Vereycken presented the idea that the Maritime Silk Road in history—in China and other countries—has always been a space of cooperation and not of confrontation. With images of beautiful pottery, other ceramics, and other artistic or mechanical objects and utensils, he showed how each one, produced in one area, had designs and decorations coming from elsewhere, thanks to trade on the Maritime Silk Road. He presented another example of the high degree of development of that trade, the shipwreck of an Arab vessel made in Oman, from 826 AD, which was discovered recently on the sea floor near Java, Indonesia complete with the 60,000 pieces of ceramics and manufactured goods, including some with Persian motifs.

University Professor Antoine Cid followed, on Zheng He’s maritime expeditions to the Gulf and eastern Africa in the early 15th century and China’s peaceful and diplomatic objectives of cooperation. This activity was not limited to Zheng He, or to that period of time. Prof. Cid hypothesized that the Chinese, in the early part of the 20th century, decided to make this excellent story a positive epic narrative to convey the message that China is not a conquering power, on sea or on land.

Henri Tsiang, a former researcher at the Pasteur Institute, who also played an important role in mediating between France and China after World War II, went through what is happening in the South China Sea, the issues and the actors, and how the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has led to the expansion of other peaceful trade initiatives in the zone, a good way of solving disputes that had been used by geopolitical forces to harass China.

Sebastien Goulard, a public affairs consultant, and founder and coordinator of OBOReurope, countered the fake “debt trap” narrative and other false stories circulated to slander China. He made clear that problems can and do arise here and there, due to changes in political power in participating countries, and due to differing conceptions of investment terms: for the Chinese it’s the long term, while for the West it’s the time of an election cycle.

He showed that the Chinese are quick to find new solutions: The sale of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port to a Chinese company, with the possibility offered to the state to acquire up to 50% ownership in 20 years, protects that port from political changes created in the country by competitors to China, in this case, India. Chinese investments, he showed, improve competition in a good way. After the Chinese financed the port, the Indians decided to build an airport, which in the meantime has become complementary to the port!

Sébastien Périmony discusses his recent trip to Africa with a conference attendee.

Sébastien Périmony discusses his recent trip to Africa with a conference attendee.

Sébastien Périmony of the Schiller Institute Africa Desk spoke about projects of the African terrestrial and maritime “silk roads,” and reported on his recent experiences in Ivory Coast and Angola. 

Contributions followed from people actively involved in New Silk Road cooperation.

The Silk Road Today and Tomorrow

The next speaker, Professor Mohamed Jebbar, held the audience in rapt attention. He is a professor of microbiology at Brest University, Director of the Microbiology Laboratory of Extreme Environments (LM2E) and co-director of the French-Chinese Laboratory of Deep-Sea Microbiology, called MICROB-SEA, which he fought for several years to establish. The laboratory’s objective is to study the conditions of ocean life at a depth of 5,000 meters—where the total absence of light had led people to believe that life was not possible, or that it was determined by life above those limits. Prof. Jebbar explained that life does exist at those depths, and that it is organized by bacteria that accomplish through chemosynthesis what the Sun accomplishes on the Earth’s surface through photosynthesis. He explained to the audience how this works.

His Franco-Chinese research center collaborates with the astrobiologists of the European Space Agency (ESA) and other space agencies to see what those extreme conditions can teach us about the existence of life in space. The first test carried out in a joint effort between the Chinese and ESA was to see if the microalgae called spirulina, sent in satellites, could grow in space.

Anne Lettrée spoke on “Earth, innovation, technologies, art, nature and health, a whole program.” She is an executive of the Silk Road Business School (Paris and Xi’an) who has become impassioned with China and fully supports the New Silk Road. She is creating a large holistic park, the Garden of Titans, in Normandy, with spaces for research, artwork, and theater, combined with ecology. Jane Han, the official representative in France of China’s largest photovoltaic company, confirmed China’s interest in this park conception.

Two important French figures spoke in the last section on the future of the New Silk Road. Michel Cantal-Dupart, architect, urban planner, and professor at CNAM (Conservatoire Nationale des Arts et Métiers—School of Industrial Arts and Crafts) is engaged in large urban architectural projects and territorial infrastructure—inland waterways, rapid transport—and works with the UN to develop these programs in developing countries. He was clear in his anger at the lack of vision by successive French governments for the  development of France’s waterways and canals—the largest set of inland waterways in Europe, which are all totally disconnected today. Instead of having a system, France has a series of dead ends.

He was followed by Bernard Planchais, the recently retired operational Director General at the National Naval Construction Company (formerly DCNS and today the Naval Group), producing civilian ocean liners and military vessels such as the Mistral and submarines. Planchais presented a “war plan” for France to develop its maritime economy, since France commands, after all, the second largest maritime zone in the world. While at the DCNS, Planchais worked with the nuclear sector to develop Flex Blue, a program using nuclear submarine technology to build small nuclear plants operating on the ocean floor—a great idea which, like many others, was never developed at all by our successive governments.

The conference concluded with Odile Mojon’s presentation of the Schiller Institute’s Land-Bridge report, in the context of the ongoing fight by Helga Zepp-LaRouche today to bring about a just new world economic order.

The organizers of the Expo were impressed by the size of the group gathered for such a four-hour, in-depth conference and requested three minutes of video footage of our event to use in their Expo publicity.


Schiller Institut⁠e⁠ in China⁠—Xinjiang Province: China Rejects All Accusations

by Christine Bierre, Bierrechristine@gmail.com

Hardly had the breakthroughs of the Xi-Trump meeting occurred at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan than London and its neo-conservative allies, in and out of the Trump administration, escalated a new flank in the war of nerves against China. Following the demonization of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by London’s neo-con and liberal acolytes in the United States and Europe, the trade-war hype, the Huawei saga, and the Hong Kong mass demo destabilization, in come accusations of mass torture in Xinjiang.

Attacks have been growing in recent months against China’s counter-terrorist offensive in this region, one that has suffered the most from the spillover of terrorism spawned in recent years’ Middle East wars. A Uyghur contingent that had joined ISIS and Al Qaeda in those wars brought that terrorism home to China. Accusations have been made that China has illegally jailed 1-3 million Uyghurs, and is subjecting them to torture, brainwashing and even organ harvesting!

china-provinces-map-600

Photo Credit: Adam Ludwiczak

 

These accusations came to a head on July 10 when a group of 22 nations (18 European nations joined by Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand), addressed a letter to Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, noting “disturbing reports of large-scale arbitrary detentions of Uyghurs, and other Muslim and minority communities.” On July 13, however, a group of 37 other countries sent their own letter to the UN authorities, backing China and praising its government for having invited diplomats, think-tanks and media to visit Xinjiang, noting that “what they saw and heard in Xinjiang was in total contradiction with what had been reported by certain Western media.” Among the signers were ten Muslim States!

Foreign Affairs Ministry in Beijing with Wang Lixin Deputy director general at the Department of External Security Affairs and international tour of journalists.

Foreign Affairs Ministry in Beijing with Wang Lixin Deputy director general at the Department of External Security Affairs and international tour of journalists.

The Chinese government has, in fact, successfully conducted a counter-terror operation and is continuing to organize visits to Xinjiang. Between July 7 and 14, representing the French Schiller Institute’s China desk and as a journalist who writes on strategic and defense questions, this author had the opportunity of participating in one such visit, with a very interesting group of experts. They were representatives from Russia, Italy, France, Poland, Pakistan, Thailand, and New Zealand, including journalists and academic think-tank experts, most of whom had in-depth experience and knowledge of China. Our eight-day “Information Mission” concentrated on China’s policies towards ethnic and religious minorities in general, and on its policies of counter-terrorism in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

China’s Policies Towards Minorities

Our tour started with seminars at the Institute of Tibetology and the Institute of Borderline States, in Beijing. China, with its more than 5,000-year history, is a centralized but multi-ethnic and multi-religious state, home to 56 different ethnic groups, which benefit from having equal rights with the Han majority (92%). China has created 5 autonomous regions and 30 autonomous prefectures, in which minorities are granted some advantages beyond those available to the Han majority, such as favorable quotas to enter schools and greater access to jobs in the public companies as well as an exemption from the “one child only” policy that had been applied to the Han. Religious practices are strongly protected as long as they don’t promote separatist or extremist ideas. The Koran, the Bible and other scriptures are published by the State and are accessible through the internet and available at all libraries. The Muslim religion is practiced in 39,000 mosques in China (25,000 in Xinjiang alone) and requires only certification of the Imams.

Seminar at the Institute of Tibetology in Beijing.

Seminar at the Institute of Tibetology in Beijing.

The contribution of ethnic minorities to the particularly rich cultural and religious heritage of China is fully recognized by the State. However, due to the difficulty of reaching out to them in the border lands of China (e.g., Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang) and the daunting challenges of their geography, economic development has lagged, a weakness which the enemies of China have always exploited. 

Xinjiang has been part of China ever since the Han dynasty, under the name of “Western territories.” But, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, taking advantage of China’s weakness, the British, the Russians, and the Japanese fought for the control of this area in what was then called the “Great Game.” The ideologies of Pan-Turkism and Pan-Islamism promoted by the different camps gave birth to a movement in favor of an “Oriental Turkestan.”

Xiahe county at Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Gannan (Gansu).

Xiahe county at Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Gannan (Gansu).

Some were calling for an independent state on Xinjiang’s territory; others, for an Islamic State extending from Turkey to Xinjiang. The heirs to the British Empire today are following the same policies towards the Uyghurs and Tibetans. Is it a coincidence that the so-called freedom and liberation movements are both financed by the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington and that their main propaganda instrument, Radio Free Asia, was recreated by the U.S. government in 1996 and has been run by it ever since?

What is important in the Chinese counter-terror offensive is that it is based on the recognition that economic development is the key to solving those problems: “We have to eliminate the soil which allows extremist groups to recruit people, and that is poverty,” insisted Xu Jianying of the Institute of China’s Borderlands at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. The counter-terrorist campaign is also based on a clear differentiation between those who have committed major crimes, who are punished severely, and those who have committed minor crimes, who are offered a very positive rehabilitation program if they admit to their crimes and clearly express a desire to change. The Chinese policy aims, says the government, at striking the right balance between “severity” and “leniency.”

Gansu and Xinjiang

Our visit took us to two of the poorest provinces of China today, Gansu and Xinjiang. But thanks to modern road and rail infrastructure such as the Beijing-Urumqi Expressway inaugurated in 2017 and the Lanzhou-Urumqi high-speed train, these provinces are rapidly catching up with the rest of the nation. Both provinces played key roles in the ancient Silk Roads and are strategic to the success of the BRI today.

Gansu has a Tibetan minority and Xinjiang, a large minority of Muslim Uyghurs (45%). In these areas our group saw the ongoing “poverty alleviation” measures that had started with the Western development strategy (1999) and were accelerated by the BRI beginning in 2013. We also witnessed the strong protection given by the State to local cultures and to the practice of religions, and, in Xinjiang in particular, the ongoing massive rehabilitation efforts in this area, which has almost eliminated all terrorist attacks in the last three years, to the great relief of local populations and the Chinese government.

Labrang Buddhist monastery at Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Gannan.

Labrang Buddhist monastery at Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Gannan.

Gansu is a province with great disparities: a very mineral-rich soil, but a mountainous and desert-like geography. The rich Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Gannan (TAR) is an exception to this. We visited this beautiful area, home to some 120 Buddhist temples, and in particular to the Labrang monastery of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. Here, a monk, with a Socratic outlook, having engaged in a 20-year study of philosophy, gave us a tour. “Man is not a beast,” he stressed. “He has access to the light of reason. Man can know truth, but for that he must first know himself!”

We visited a model village in Gaxiu that will replace 95 poorer villages totaling 1,800 inhabitants, as part of the extensive effort to meet the goals set by Xi Jinping of eliminating all extreme poverty by 2021. Five such new villages, equipped with clinics, primary schools, and areas for growing vegetables, have been already built. Twenty-five more will be built by next year. The villages are financed by the government, but built by the people, who become owners of their homes. Richer provinces also contribute 0.1% of their income. Today, in this area, 100% of the population has access to clean water and to 15 years of free education. With the orientation towards industry, ecological investments and tourism, a Tibetan yak herder today can expect to go from a yearly 9,000 Yuan income to 30,000 Yuan.

Model Tibetan village in Gaxiu (Gannan).

Model Tibetan village in Gaxiu (Gannan).

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

On July 12 we headed towards Xinjiang, taking a bus through the mountains on good roads that had gas stations and restroom facilities. First we visited Turpan, then the capital city, Urumqi.

These areas are the supposed site of the alleged massive arrests by the Chinese government. This Western state is strategic to the success of the BRI. It not only represents a sixth of China’s territory and is very rich in raw materials; it is also the door to the Silk Road leading to Europe. Without a peaceful Xinjiang, there will be no Belt and Road Initiative! Xinjiang has a large Uyghur minority and shares borders with eight states (Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kashmir) in which poverty and religious extremism is often endemic. This is the province in China that is most exposed to terrorism.

However, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs official accompanying us stated emphatically: “The Chinese government is not fighting Muslims or Uyghurs; it is fighting terrorism that has spilled over into our country through these borders, from people going back and forth to the wars in the Middle East.” Between 8,000 and 15,000 Uyghurs are reported to have joined ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with the explicit aim of pursuing their Holy War against Beijing next.

A large International Exhibit on terrorism in Urumqi demonstrates, with extensive photo and video material, the extent of problem. No less than 14,000 bloody attacks occurred in Xinjiang between 1992 and 2015—suicide bomb attacks, vehicles launched against people in crowded areas, arbitrary knife, machete and axe attacks against ordinary people. The high point of these attacks was the 2009 riots in Urumqi which left 197 dead and more than 1,600 wounded.

A Preventive War Against Terrorism

This is the background to understanding what the Chinese government calls a preventive counter-terrorist policy. First, the decision was taken to improve the living standards of the local population, through development of infrastructure. And it works! Infrastructure has boosted tourism in the ancient city of Turpan, from 8 to 10 million visitors between 2016 and 2017 and up to 6 million in just the first six months of 2019.

In a White Paper on Xinjiang published on March 2019, the Chinese government lists the efforts it is conducting to “ensure and improve public well-being” in this area. Among those efforts are plans to transfer 100,000 jobs to southern Xinjiang (2018-2020); creating 1,400,000 new industrial jobs; free universal health checkups; health insurances for 15 serious illnesses; improving the social security system; and increasing allowances granted to impoverished populations.

While those having committed major crimes undergo “severe punishment,” those having committed minor crimes and having confessed, repented, and shown willingness to reintegrate into society, are treated with “leniency” and offered a full rehabilitation package.

Those who accept reintegration are then recruited to vocational centers where they undergo a well thought-out strategy of rehabilitation that can go from several months to several years. The first phase is the mastering of spoken and written Mandarin, along with their own languages, to be able to integrate in the society; then civic education given by legal experts, which educates people on China’s standards of criminal law. 

Trainees then can choose among different vocational activities they want to learn in order to improve their chances to get gainful employment. The choices offered depend on the job potentialities of the local market. Options range from hairdressing, to garment production, medical first aid, tourism, and factory work. According to the White Paper, these rehabilitation centers for minor delinquents adopt “a boarding school management system,” in which “students can have home visits on a regular basis and can ask for leave to attend to personal matters. When the trainees meet the proper trade assessment standards, they get completion certificates and are assisted in getting jobs.”

Visiting Vocational Centers

When we arrived in Turpan, it was over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, which is normal in its 100-day summer season! We first visited the Gaochang District vocational education and training center that has a capacity of 600 students.

The counter-terror policies were clearly carefully thought out. Xinjiang is well known for its beautiful folklore. What better way to counter the Wahhabite ideology, which rejects progress and social activities, than with beautiful music and dance? We were invited to watch a dance performance by a highly professional group, with projected images of local realities and of modern China in the background.

Beautiful Folk dance and projected images, Gaochang District vocational and training center (Turpan).

Beautiful Folk dance and projected images, Gaochang District vocational and training
center (Turpan).

We then visited the vocational classes. One group was reading out loud in Mandarin a text composed by the class, focusing on local values. Later we spent some time in the civic education classes, before moving to vocational classes in learning how to use sewing machines, how to apply first aid, and a class training tourist guides. We then witnessed a group receiving art lessons: ten people were learning figure drawing and the use of watercolors in one room; another group was practicing calligraphy, copying and translating between Chinese and Uyghur; others were singing in a chorus accompanied by instrumental musicians.

Dancing at Gaochang District vocational and training center (Turpan).

Dancing at Gaochang District vocational and training center (Turpan).

There were many young people in those groups, especially young women. In the artistic classes, there was a form of playfulness and freedom, which is the key to reorienting people towards productive ideas of society, and contributing to social harmony, rather than criminal behavior. The environment we saw in those classes is coherent with the Chinese government’s stated policy of creating not only a functioning Xinjiang, but also a “beautiful Xinjiang.” Through these efforts and others, we saw a productive cross-cultural approach, bringing together different ethnic groups and the Han, coherent with the national orientation of China as a multi-ethnic unity, without trying to eliminate or marginalize minorities. 

Urumqi

At Urumqi, we visited a cross-cultural center, created in 2001, working on the same principle. People of different ethnic groups are brought together to practice dancing, choral singing, cooking or other activities in order to better know each other. Here also, the environment was free and playful.

Our last stop in Urumqi was the White Mosque where the Imam reported the participation of 200 to 300 people in services every day; 1,000 to 2,000 on Fridays, and up to 5,000 during Ramadan. Parallel to the ongoing crackdown on terrorists in the area, the government has improved the material conditions in these mosques—providing water, electricity, flush toilets, radio and television facilities, libraries, and fans and air conditioning.

Urumqi International Bazaar crowded on Sunday.

Urumqi International Bazaar crowded on Sunday.

We visited the museum and public areas, confirming what other witnesses have reported, that the security situation has vastly improved in Xinjiang. The police presence and checkpoints, which were very visible last year, have disappeared. We were able to walk around the large, beautiful central park, which was thick with probably as many as 10,000 people enjoying themselves in the environs. The last stop was shopping at the bustling Grand International Bazaar.

China Denounces ‘Double Standards’

In such information missions, often the fear is that the country visited might restrict your access, displaying select showcase locations. The composition of our group was very helpful in addressing this concern, many having long experience in China and the regions of China that we were visiting. The group included Russian scholars from the Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who have visited the province and working closely with Chinese institutes on the Xinjiang minorities, for more than 15 years; a former Pakistani Air Force officer, who is now a journalist and TV anchorman—his first visit to Xinjiang goes back to 1974; and the head of a China-New Zealand friendship association who organizes tourist trips to China, and is also involved half the year in poverty reduction programs in China. 

All these experts confirmed the important improvement of living standards and infrastructure in the areas with which they were familiar. Our Pakistani expert, a practicing Muslim, who has a keen interest in seeing that Muslims can practice freely, confirmed that this is the case.

What we saw therefore, during this intense trip, is a model which has been able to cope with a highly degraded security situation, by giving to many Uyghurs, the possibility of looking towards a better future and integration in the nation. The Chinese government White Paper from last March openly discusses that “a large number of people are undergoing training.”

The terrorist problem is not Chinese in origin. China has been successful in bringing some 800 million people out of extreme poverty in the last 30 years. The approach to its western regions is aimed at solving the economic problems of provinces like Gansu and Xinjiang. But foreign powers, which since the end of the 1990s have been playing with fire, have been using Wahabbite extremists as cannon fodder first in Afghanistan, then against Libya and Syria. Chinese officials met on this trip denounced, in this respect, the “double standards” of some Western countries, which make distinctions between “extremists” useful to themselves, and others they decide to battle, letting “useful extremists” operate against China, some based in European countries.

In order to bring terrorism once and for all to an end, I am convinced, it is urgent, that this problem be brought up, once again, at the UN Security Council, as was done most effectively during the Syrian war. We were told, in briefings during the trip, that this approach is one supported by China.

Christine Bierre, Bierrechristine@gmail.com


The Schiller Institute’s New Silk Road Dossier in French Presented in Paris

The French edition of the Schiller Institute report “New Silk Roads Becomes the World Land-Bridge Vol II,” was presented on Nov. 6 at a Paris seminar. Among the 100 participants were representatives of 10 embassies from Europe, Africa and Eurasia, Chinese and Russian media, strategic analysts, and African associations particularly interested by the industrialization perspective for their continent.

This dossier will help to counter the negative propaganda about the New Silk Road promoted by many of the national think tanks and media in France, including the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), which just published a very hostile report. While the French government is open to participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, it is so far only involved in small joint projects in the area of artificial intelligence, and a couple of joint projects in Namibia and Cambodia.

Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche opened the seminar, followed by representatives of the French Schiller Institute who gave brief outlines on the contents. Helga Zepp-LaRouche noted that the Schiller Institute’s dossier, with its development projects for Africa, the Middle East, and the rest of the world, offers the solutions to the major crises of today, including the threat of a new financial crash, the refugee flows, and world peace. In the same vein, the Belt and Road Initiative, based on the principle of win-win cooperation, proposes an alternative to geopolitics, which seeks to impose the interests of one country or group of countries (empire) on others. Zepp-LaRouche drew a parallel between Xi Jinping’s idea of a “shared community of principle for the future of humanity” and the philosophy of Nicholas of Cusa of the “coincidence of opposites”, where humanity is thought of as a “One”, which is of a higher magnitude than the “Many”.

Odile Mojon went through the 40-year historic role of Lyndon and Helga Zepp-LaRouche in the emergence of this Eurasian perspective, going back to the fights of the non-aligned movement in the 70s and the 80s and up to the emergence today of the BRICS group and China's New Silk Road. Karel Vereycken presented the secrets of the Chinese development model, which has nothing to do with British free trade, but much more with centralized long-term planning that regulates the market, such as guided the New Deal in the US and the French planning tradition.

Sebastien Périmony went through the rapid industrialization occurring in Africa as a result of Chinese investments, a situation that is creating panic in France whose market shares plunged from 11% to 5,5% between 2000 and 2017, while the Chinese share rose from 3% in 2001 to 18% last year. Périmony debunked the “debt trap” campaign designed to discredit Chinese initiatives, and concluded by presenting a few large infrastructure projects like the Trans-Sahelian Noukchott-Ndjamena railway, which would give France an excellent opportunity to engage with China in joint African projects.


Helga Zepp-LaRouche in Paris: “It’s now or never for the New Silk Road”

On the occasion of the release of the French version of the Schiller Institute’s report “The New Silk Road becomes the World Landbridge,” Helga Zepp-LaRouche presents the urgency of making this new paradigm a reality.

 

 

Image credit: Getfunky Paris, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eiffel_Tower_and_Pont_Alexandre_III_at_night_(banner_esVoy).jpg


Helga Zepp-LaRouche Addresses Institut Mandela Conference in Paris

PARIS, July 10 – Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche was invited on July 6 to address the Institut Mandela for the African Economic and Consular Days in Paris.

Madame Zepp-LaRouche was invited on the subject “Partnership, Inclusive Growth and Infrastructure in Africa” following the publication of her call to the European Union to apply the model of the Singapore summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un to a European development project for Africa. Her appeal, “History Is Now Being Written in Asia! The EU Summit Must Follow the Example of Singapore!” has been being circulated in the African networks in France, as well as throughout Europe.

The video of her remarks is available HERE and the transcript is below.

The first panel presented the “Singapore spirit” with the participation of the Ambassador of Eritrea, speaking on the end of the war with Ethiopia and the economic perspective of the biggest free trade zone in Djibouti, for real cooperation in the region.

Following her presentation was Ghana’s Minister Plenipotentiary and Deputy Head of Mission Bonaventure Adjavor at the Paris Embassy, who developed the concept of a new era for Africa—a new era of manufacturing from raw materials, and no longer merely exporting them. He used the example of cocoa, of which Ghana and Ivory Coast have 80% of world production, all of which goes for export. But he described that cocoa can be a primary material for manufacturing many products, including brandy, body lotion, chocolate, etc., and that the policy of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s government is to do that.

President Akufo-Addo, then newly elected, is famous for his public lecture to visiting French President Emmanuel Macron during their joint press conference on Dec. 4, 2017, in which Akufo-Addo said Africa “can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves … on the basis of whatever support that the Western world or France, or the European Union can give us…. We have to get away from this mindset of dependency. … Our concern should be what do we need to do in this 21st century to move Africa away from being cap in hand … to have a mindset that says we can do it … and once we have that mindset we’ll see there’s a liberating factor for ourselves.”

Helga Zepp-LaRouche then spoke, defining the long-term perspective for Africa and the world, presenting the World Land-Bridge report and the physical project for Africa within the framework of the Belt and Road dynamic, as in Ethiopia with the high-speed train. She also presented the other projects the Schiller Institute has developed or promoted including the Transaqua project, and the extension of the World Land-Bridge into Africa via a tunnel between Spain and Morocco and/or between Sicily and Tunisia.

The audience was very challenged by the optimistic vision of Africa, as Mrs. Zepp-LaRouche showed the photograph of Africa from space at night, as it is now, and as it would be, all lit up, in 2050.

All 40 people in the room and on the panels were members of institutions, such as the International Organization of La Francophonie, and lawyers, entrepreneurs, public relations, etc.

The next speaker was the president of the Efficiency Club, formed by the Diaspora and first pan-African economic network of Europe. They are trying to stop the flow of remissions from the diaspora to Africa just to help their families survive. He developed the necessity to create a network of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) throughout the continent to provide jobs and not just subsistence on money.

Then a final panel was very interesting, with one of the panelists bringing in the economics of Alexander Hamilton, and how Africa has to go with this manufacturing economy. He also mentioned that Colbert had called Huygens and Cassini to France to develop a real science academy, and asserted that Africa has to do the same today. Many contacts were made … our time is now.

The Institut Mandela is dedicated to the strategic mission of Africa’s emergence as well as the “open society” values of peace through “intellectual diplomacy.” Its proposals are conveyed to public policymakers, the international community, private actors, and civil society, so that they can make visionary decisions. Its fundamental mission is to reorganize intellectually and institutionally the African countries.

The Institut’s activities revolve around six research areas:
Security and Development, Emergence of Africa, Geopolitics and Geostrategy of raw materials, Africanization of democracy, Prospects of African governance, Energy and Environment.

The Mandela Prizes are awarded annually to personalities or institutions to acknowledge their laudable actions in favor of Africa and peace, in the spirit of Pan-Africanism.

Transcript of Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s remarks:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

There is a profound reason for optimism for the African continent, because with the rise of China, and especially the New Paradigm which emerged with the Belt and Road Initiative, the world has been changing, especially in the last five years with an incredible speed. What China has done with the New Silk Road is to develop a new model of relations among each other, and it is an initiative which is open to all nations of the world.

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So this map is actually a map of uniting all continents through tunnels and bridges, and as we can see, African development is an integral part of this world development.

What has happened is that with the offer to have a win-win cooperation, where according to the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, already 140 nations are participating, in various degrees, the spirit of the New Silk Road has actually captured the imagination of many countries in Africa, in Asia, and in Latin America, who see for the first time the concrete possibility to overcome poverty and underdevelopment in the short term.

In the last ten, but especially five years, what China has done is to create development potentials after centuries of colonialism and decades of IMF conditionalities, which were designed to prevent African and Third World development in general.

With this new change in the strategic situation there is the absolute perspective of turning Africa into a global powerhouse.

There has been a study published last November, that Africa is going to be the next factory of the world, and the Russian International Affairs Council, RIAC, just put out new figures showing the positive role of China in the development of Africa.

In 2000, the total trade between China and African states was $10 billion only. In 2014, the China was already Africa’s main trading partner, with a trade volume of $200 billion, and in 2017 China gave additional loans of more than $100 billion.

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(Next) Naturally, this is the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway, which was built with Chinese help; it’s 750km long, and it now allows also to bring food aid to areas which are hit by drought which was not possible before. And this is just the very beginning. China also has developed a China-Africa Development Fund, which is financed by the China Development Fund, and also many of the other state banks of China have been involved in direct investments. Over the last decade, China took part in the creation of more than 100 industrial zones, 40% of which are already operational. They have helped to build 5,756km of railway, 4335km of motorways, 9 ports, 14 airports, 34 power stations, 10 large and 1,000 small hydroelectric power stations, and by the end of 2016, it had this number.

This coming September, there will be a big China-African Union summit which obviously will take this relationship to a new level.

There is a fundamental change, because previously the Western countries refused to invest in a real way in Africa, but with the second largest economy of the world, there is now the chance for African nations to replicate the Chinese model of development, each in their own African way. But nevertheless, in terms of the infrastructure and industrial development they can take China as a model, which after all, in the last 40 years had an incredible transformation, from being a very, very underdeveloped country, to now being an absolutely breathtaking, dynamic economy.

This is the positive side. On the other side, we are confronted with unprecedented challenges: Terrorism, financial turbulence, migrants, and a large percentage of the 68.5 million refugees worldwide are migrating from Africa, trying to get through the Sahara, many of them dying of thirst; or drowning in the Mediterranean, where in the last years, thousands if not tens of thousands of people have drowned.

Since the refugee crisis escalated in Southwest Asia and Africa in 2015, it became very clear how deeply disunited the European Union is. And especially in the recent weeks there was a total government crisis in Germany, which nearly ended the political career of Chancellor Merkel. There was demonstrated a complete erosion of the EU: No unity, no solidarity, tensions between France and Italy, total tensions between Eastern Europe and Western Europe. And it is also very clear that they could not come up with any solution, because all they could propose at the recent EU summit was a complete brutalization of the migrant issue: They want to militarize Frontex, to supposedly keep the refugees out of the EU, which is sort of a maritime border police, and there were event proposals to use the German army or even NATO, to put the refugees into “disembarkment camps,” as they call them, either within Europe or in North African states, all of which already have rejected to be the hosts of such camps.

And Pope Francis has compared these camps to the concentration camps of the Nazi period.

So, what has happened to “Western values”? What about human rights? What about democracy? These are barbarian proposals, and they’re not only inhuman, but they also will not work. They will not work: They all the time talk about that one needs to look at the root causes for the refugee crisis, but they never do.

So, I have a proposal how this can be changed: I call it the “Singapore Summit model.” We all have witnessed the very historic summit between President Trump and President Kim Jong-un of North Korea recently in Singapore. And it is very clear that it {is} the New Silk Road Spirit which has changed the environment in Asia, which made this summit possible in the way it took place, and it is also an example of how you can change, within a few months, a relationship of complete adversity and the potential trigger of a large nuclear war, which was the situation between the United States and North Korea, and turn it into cooperation. This agreement now includes the denuclearization of North Korea, in exchange for the promise from the United States, China and Russia to help to develop North Korea economically, and turn it into a prosperous nation.

My proposal was that the EU should have changed the agenda of their just-concluded summit, invite Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the African heads of state who already have successfully cooperated with China; and then present a comprehensive crash program for the development of the infrastructure in Africa. (Next slide) Where the presence of Xi Jinping would give this credibility, because China has delivered on development, and the idea would be to present such an integrated, continental transport plan, a trans-African transport network, which already has been proposed by Foreign Minister Wang Yi in 2014, and reiterated in 2016.

If these leaders, the Europeans, the Africans, and the Chinese leader would say that it is our intent to make a crash program for such a development, then this would be a signal to the young people now running away, risking their life in drowning in the Mediterranean, or ending up in a concentration camp, to participate in the economic buildup of their own country.

At the recent visit of French President Macron in Ghana, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo basically told Macron that, we don’t need your development aid crumbs; what we need is a real investment. And he called on the youth that they should not try to get to Europe, but that this energy these young people have should be used to build up the country. This would require training centers, very much like what Franklin D.

Roosevelt did with the New Deal, the CCC program, training especially young people in the Civilian Conservation Corps; and then, such a summit, making such a declaration of intent, could be like the Singapore Summit, a complete turnaround.

I think we have to use, also, Xi Jinping’s notion of “sustainability.” Not to mean “appropriate technologies,” which in reality means no technology, and not sustainability which means only green solar and wind, but it means total infrastructure and industrialization as the new definition of sustainability.

African nations do not have to repeat all the levels and phases of the industrialization of the Western countries, but like China they can leapfrog to the most advanced technologies, such as focussing on high-speed trains, on magnetic levitation, on the fourth generation nuclear power. Party of this plan should be, first, a regional infrastructure investment bank, like the AIIB for Asia,— like an African Infrastructure Investment Bank—and that should be parallelled with national credit mechanisms, or national banks, to have the internal financing of the infrastructure.

Secondly, there should be an integrated network of high-speed trains, waterways between rivers and lakes, the full development of hydropower projects, the fourth general of nuclear electricity generation, and desalination of large amounts of ocean water for irrigation. Also, as the Ambassador of Ghana already said this morning, there should not be the export of raw materials, at least not only, but high-end petrochemical and metallurgy, semi-finished and finished products upgrade the value chain in the country.

In addition, there should be a Green Revolution, not in the sense of the Greenies of Europe, but in the sense of the Green Revolution of Jawaharlal Nehru, who transformed the agriculture of India in this way. You need disease- and drought-resistant plants, modern food-processing, and addition, you need certain large-scale projects, such as (next slide) the tunnel through the Strait of Gibraltar which is an eminently doable project, because a feasibility study has already been concluded; a state treaty between Spain and Morocco does exist, so one could start to build this immediately. Also, a bridge or a tunnel, as we see in the picture on my right, between Sicily and Tunisia, which could be built, with a couple of islands in between, and integrate the European development with that of Africa. And naturally, also a high-temperature reactor in South Africa should be promoted.

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(Next slide) The biggest infrastructure project ever, in the history of Africa, is Transaqua. In February of this year, there took place a big conference in Abuja, with the presidents of all of the countries of the Lake Chad Basin, who concluded that the only way to save Lake Chad, which now has dried out to about 10% of its original size, and fill it up through the water from some of the tributaries of the Congo River, from a 500 meter height, and then, through gravitation, you could bring this water all the way to Lake Chad, and not only have an inland shipping lane for all the participating countries, hydropower, large amounts of water for irrigation and refill Lake Chad. This would transport up to 100 billion cubic meters of water annually, and as I said, Lake Chad would again have the size of 25 square km — now it’s only one-tenth of that. This has been adopted by this Abuja conference and then a treaty was concluded between PowerChina, which is a large, Chinese engineering firm — which is famous for having built the Three Gorges Dam, so they are very knowledgeable and experienced in making such big projects together with the Italian engineering firm Bonifica. The Italian government at that conference, announced that they are paying EU1.5 million to have a feasibility ready in one year; and this is also a perfect model for a tripartite cooperation among African nations, China, and in this case, a European nation, Italy.

This will be not a long-term project. The leading engineer of PowerChina announced at the conference that they are confident that they can finish this project in 12 years, and it will be an industrialization in the heart of Africa which can have complete transformational character.

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(Next) People’s Daily already last August wrote an article about this, giving credit for this Transaqua project to the LaRouche movement and the Schiller Institute, because, we over the last three decades worked in many conference, advertising this to many people, and finally got the connection between PowerChina and Bonifica; and it’s now a state treaty between China and Italy. (Next) They emphasize in particular the role of our efforts in that.

This is, as I said, one of the results of our decades’ long work to help to industrialize Africa. (Next) This is a book which has a total plan for the industrialization of Africa which we already wrote in 1976, and this book was published in 1978.

So as you can see, this is not pouring from the heaven, but this movement, from the very beginning of the ideas of my husband, Lyndon LaRouche, stood for the industrial transformation of the southern hemisphere, simply because it’s the only way how you alleviate poverty, and create a good living standard for all the people.

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(Next) In 1980, with the Lagos Plan of Action was published, my husband wrote a commentary to it, which already then was a very important conceptual approach how to tackle this problem of underdevelopment, by creating a continental infrastructure plan, new cities, science cities, and the education of the youth in particular. And we campaigned for this, for over really four decades;

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(Next) The total work of this went into “The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge,” which we published in 2014, after Xi Jinping announced the New Silk Road. And just about one week ago, we put out the World Land-Bridge report second edition, which has an updated plan for how to do this.

We conducted many conferences in Sudan, for the five countries around the Nile, how they could work together on development. And I also addressed an economic summit in Abuja in 1997.

In Europe we conducted many campaigns with the headline “The Future of Europe Lies in Africa.”

I think the application of the Singapore model is quite possible: Because the new Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz, who is for one-half year the president of the European Union Council, has announced that he wants to conduct an EU-Africa summit before the end of the year. Now, Austria, while having a hard line on the migrants, on the other side, has in their coalition document of the two coalition parties in the government, a whole chapter that Austria wants to become the hub for the New Silk Road. And there are also many Central and Eastern European nations, Balkan nations, Southern European nations that all want to be the hub — for example, Spain and Portugal want to be not only the terminus of the Eurasian Silk Road towards the West, but they want to be the hub to the Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking countries around the world.

If they all cooperate on the New Silk Road this would be the way to do this, and since the refugee crisis will not go away, until you change, fundamentally, the policy towards an industrialization of Africa, I think this crisis can be turned into an chance. What the Schiller Institute is doing right now, and I would encourage all of you to help and do the same, is to have a full mobilization of all European nations and in Africa, which agree to actually put pressure on behalf of this perspective; and present the EU at this upcoming summit with the concrete outline of the necessary investments, with the participation of China, but also involve other countries, like India, Japan, even the United States, and do likewise. That if one approaches it like China — China builds a high-speed train, and I saw it with my own eyes, from Lanzhou to Urumqi in half a year — by doing it, by not simply building it one step after the other, but by starting to build it at 10 different places or even 20 different places. (Next slide) So if you had such a concrete plan you could start building it at many places at the same time.

We have outlined what projects could be in these two reports — we published one full report which is called “Extending the New Silk Road to West Asia and Africa,” which has many of these projects in it.

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(Next slide) The left picture is, if you look at the electrification by night, this is how Africa is now. If one would go in the direction I just suggested, to extend the New Silk Road to Africa through a collaborative effort of all nations, then the African night sky could like the righthand picture, which is about equivalent of what you would see in the United States or Europe.

So, I think that this would turn Africa into a modern, prosperous continent, where all citizens would enjoy a safe, and happy and long life. So if we all act together in the spirit, Africa will be the new China with African characteristics.