Oct. 9 (EIRNS) – Ahead of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China which convenes Oct. `16, Global Times has published an extensive interview with Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche, “the second piece of a series of GT‘s interviews with influential scholars” on China’s economy and the BRI.
In answer to one of many question in the interview, Zepp-LaRouche warned, “The neoliberal financial system may disintegrate, either in a hyperinflationary disintegration – it would not happen in only one country – or if the central banks try to curb inflation through a ‘Paul Volcker style’ high interest rate policy, there could be a sudden chain reaction of bankruptcies of both emerging markets and over-indebted firms. While this will obviously affect China, its economic blueprint approach of caring for each segment of the economy with appropriate incentives will be invaluable.”
And to another, on Germany’s predicament, she answered: “Top executives are already ringing the alarm bells, warning that Germany is about to crash into a wall and that its identity as an industrial nation is at stake. The straw that is about to break the camel’s back is the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines. The destruction of these pipelines means they cannot be re-opened as a fallback source, which means the energy crisis in Germany will get extremely serious in the short term with a great deal of social upheaval. The only way to solve the situation would be for all European nations to put an end to the sanctions against Russia, and throw all their weight into insisting on a negotiated solution for the Ukraine situation. This situation has moved beyond an energy crisis. A comprehensive approach is needed, which is why the Schiller Institute has called for a completely new international security and development architecture, which takes into account the interest of every single country on the planet.” [The entire interview is available here.]
Oct. 9 (EIRNS) – Ahead of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China which convenes Oct. `16, Global Times has published an extensive interview with Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche, “the second piece of a series of GT‘s interviews with influential scholars” on China’s economy and the BRI.
EIRNS, June 23–Pakistan’s PTV World program Views on News, hosted by Faisal Rehman who spoke with Helga Zepp-LaRouche and other guests concerning security and development issues facing the new Pakistani government. Zepp-LaRouche’s theme was that there must be peace and development for Afghanistan. She asked, “How long do you want to keep fighting? The grievances of the past are not the starting point for defining the future.” Mrs. LaRouche called for the integration of Afghanistan with the Belt and Road initiative. The full program can be viewed here.
Aug. 3, 2022 (EIRNS)–Leading representatives of industrial, port and rail interests in the northeastern state of Maranhão turned out in force for a three-day seminar July 11-13, sponsored by the state government, on the subject of “Maranhão’s Potential in China’s New Silk Road: Business and Development Opportunities for Brazil.” The central subject was the proposal to transform the Itaqui port complex at the state capital, São Luis, which already handles major grain and metals exports from Maranhão and several surrounding states, into a logistics, distribution and manufacturing center on the Belt and Road. The featured speaker was Paul Tae-Woo Lee, a professor of International Logistics and Maritime Transport at Zhejiang University, who came from China specifically for the seminar. Lee was one of the authors of the 2022 study, “Strategic Locations for Logistics Distribution Centers along the Belt and Road,” which includes the Maranhão port in the potential sites it takes up, and he briefed the seminar at length on the global scope and current status of the BRI.
The key organizer of seminar was the state of Maranhão’s Secretary for Economic Development and Strategic Projects, José Reinaldo Tavares, a civil engineer known for getting things done. He has played a key role for decades in great infrastructure projects aimed at developing Brazil’s poor but resource-rich northeast. He headed SUDENE, the big northeast Brazilian development agency created in 1959 on the model of the TVA; is described as the “author” of the São Francisco Water Transfer project (also modeled on the TVA); and as (federal) Transport Minister under President Sarney, was responsible for the creation of the North-South Railway.
“The Maranhão capital possesses extraordinary conditions for joining [the BRI] because of its road, rail connections and exceptional port conditions. The connection with the North-South Railway, Brazil’s leading cargo transport axis, linking the railroads of the country’s five regions, is an example. In the region called the ‘Northern arc,’ that is, above the 16th parallel, no state has similar transport logistics conditions,” local media emphasized. “Including São Luís in the greatest economic expansion program in the world, that of China, will guarantee tremendous resources for infrastructure, commodity distribution centers, and privileged access to the other countries which make up the project.”
The president of Itaqui Port, Ted Lago, emphasized to the seminar that while the port is already a leading point of cargo shipments to China, by Maranhão becoming a major center on the BRI, South America as a whole can be brought into that global project. He also insisted that Brazil wants its trade relations with China to be more than its shipping commodities; it wants Chinese industries to set up in Maranhão, to add value and generate jobs.
Aug. 1 (EIRNS)—Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi continued on his Central Asian diplomatic tour, which brought him to high level meetings in Uzbekistan July 28-29, including the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting, and then to Kyrgyzstan on July 30, and Tajikistan July 31-Aug. 1, all focused on the growth of both the nations, and Central Asia as a whole.
In Kyrgyzstan, Wang met with Foreign Minister Jeenbek Kulubaev in the town of Cholpon-Ata. The Chinese Foreign Ministry readout reported that Wang said “the Chinese side has felt the great importance and ardent expectations by Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan [CKU] railway project, and will jointly advance this important project at a faster pace…. The Chinese side is ready to import more green and quality livestock products from Kyrgyzstan.” Wang said that China and Kyrgyzstan are ready to increase the frequency of direct flights. Kulubaev said he looks forward to accelerating the CKU railway and welcomed Chinese experts’ arrival in Kyrgyzstan to “carry out the survey work.” His country is “ready to work with China to speed up the implementation of key projects such as the new North-South Highway” and the renovation of the municipal roads of Bishkek, the nation’s capital.
Kulubaev attached special importance to China’s pledge to construct in his nation the Luban Workshop, a program China has developed in several nations, in which Chinese engineers and professionals educate host country’s students and labor force in such subjects as industrial robots, cloud computing, high-speed train maintenance, and vocational training.
On July 31, Wang set foot in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where he met with President Emomali Rahmon, who noted on his website that China is one of the major trading partners of Tajikistan and its largest investor. Bilateral trade between Tajikistan and China during the first six months of 2022 increased by 82%, compared to the same period last year, and accounted for one-fifth of Tajikistan’s foreign trade.
Some of the groundwork for this trip was worked out at the third China + Central Asia Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on June 12. The C-5 include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan; at the ministerial, Wang outlined a 10-point program, stemming from the Belt and Road, for the region’s development. It is significant that for the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which Russia helped to found in 2014, both Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are full-time members, and Uzbekistan is an observer.
It is not accidental that both the China and Russian headed organizations seek the agricultural and industrial development of landlocked Central Asia, including Afghanistan, over the Anglo-American looting eyes.
July 2, 2022 (EIRNS)–Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos Jr. was inaugurated as President of the Philippines on Thursday, following up the ceremony with a very substantial meeting with Chinese VIce President Wang Qishan who had headed the Chinese delegation to the inauguration. (It is notable that the Biden Administration sent Kamala Harris’s husband, the “second gentleman” Douglas Emhoff, to head the U.S. delegation, a lowly designation indeed.)
The Manila Times reports that President Marcos told Vice President Wang that China is “the most powerful partner of the Philippines,” and that the Philippines’ “good-neighborly friendship is in the fundamental interests of both peoples.”
“The new Philippine government attaches utmost importance to the relations with China, and is willing to deepen its participation in the joint construction of the [One Belt One Road], join hands with China in coping with regional challenges and elevate the bilateral ties to a higher level,” Marcos said, as quoted by Xinhua. This is precisely what the neocons in the U.S. feared with the Marcos overwhelming election victory.
Wang told Marcos that the Philippine leader and his family have made “great contributions” to enhancing China-Philippine friendship. It was Bong Bong’s Mother Imelda Marcos (the First Lady to Ferdinand Marcos Sr.) whose visit to China in 1974 opened relations between the two nations (see the famous Mao “kiss on the hand” of Imelda here.
Wang added: “The Chinese side has always given priority to the Philippines in its neighborhood diplomacy, and is ready to work with the new Philippine government in carrying on with their friendship, boosting mutual trust and deepening cooperation so as to usher in a new ‘golden age’ in bilateral ties.”
Regarding the South China Sea issue, near the top of the list of U.S. efforts to undermine Chinese relations with the Philippines and others in the region, Wang called for the two countries to “properly resolve differences and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility” in the contested waters.
The Marcos regime is re-opening discussion regarding joint exploitation of resources in contested waters.
During a recent event of the Association for Philippines-China Understanding, Marcos said he would continue Duterte’s independent foreign policy. “This is what we feel is best in the national interest and I feel it is to be advantageous not only to our friends in China but to all our friends around the world,” he said. He added that “our strongest partner has always been… our close neighbor and our good friend, the People’s Republic of China.”
April 1 (EIRNS)—Helga Zepp-LaRouche was interviewed on CGTN’s broadcast “The Dialogue” this morning with host Xu Qinduo and a second guest Prof. John Gong, who frequently appears on CGTN’s shows. The discussion was on the EU-China meeting by videoconference today, which included President Xi Jinping (in what Xinhua dubbed “Xiplomacy”) and EU Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
XU: That’s a good point, John. Helga, what do you think about this Ukraine issue somehow playing a part in the relationship between China and the European Union? Is there a way they can deal with the issue that will enhance or bring the two sides together? Is that affecting their relationship?
HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Obviously. The EU had on their website beforehand that they wanted to have the Ukraine issue practically the only issue. They want China to mediate and influence Russia. But I think it is very clear that China did not want to take a side. However, given the fact that EU economy is in free fall; as a matter of fact, the accumulation of COVID, the sanctions, Europe is not in a strong position at all. And I think China has a conception which I think lends itself to a mediation role, and that is President Xi Jinping’s idea of a shared future for a joint humanity. I think that is the most important conception right now, given the fact that we are in a situation strategically which is more dangerous than during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Therefore, what we really need, and I think China would be uniquely in a position to do that, is to propose a new international security architecture which would take into account the interests of every single country on the planet. Because the reason why we have the Ukraine crisis is because NATO expansion to the East for 30 years, which the West does not want to even discuss anymore. But the question is, how do we get out of it? We need a new security architecture, and I have proposed it to be in the tradition of the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the 150 years of religious wars in Europe. The situation today in face of the danger of nuclear war is much more dangerous than even then.
I think the Europeans, they totally are ignoring the fact that a new system is emerging, based on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BRICS, the Russia-India-China combination. India refused to be drawn into the camp of the United States, but wants to stay neutral, also. I think the only way how we will get out of this is if the Europeans—and finally also the United States—would understand that it is in their best interest to cooperate with the Belt and Road Initiative, in addressing the real issues which concern all of humanity: Which is, the pandemic is not over, we have a hunger crisis. I think one Chinese economist recently said that as a result of the sanctions against Russia, 1 billion people are in danger of dying of hunger this year. So, I think if China would play a mediating role, and say that all of these issues have to be addressed simultaneously. And then, Ukraine could become a bridge rather than being a geopolitical tool between the EU and Russia, it could become a bridge in the cooperation on the Eurasian continent.
XU: That’s a good point, Helga. China stressed very much cooperation, win-win cooperation. China also takes pride in being the source of peace and stability. When it comes to China-EU cooperation, we know the two sides are great civilizations, they are two of the largest economies. They represent the two largest markets. So, if you look at their cooperation against this background with emerging ascendity, even an emerging Cold War. How important it is, Helga, for the EU and China to further cooperate in multiple fields?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think for the EU it is much more existential than they admit, because there are two possibilities. Either the EU finds a way of cooperating with China, and that way the conflict can be solved; or, there are some people in the West—especially in Great Britain and in the United States—who want a complete decoupling of the West and the so-called authoritarian regimes. In this case, I think the West would suffer, because their values are much more based on monetarist values, as let’s say China and the countries cooperating with the BRI, because they are putting much more focus on physical economy. So, if they would go for a complete decoupling, the West would suffer. Hopefully, the European Union understands that it is not in their own interest to go this way, even if Victoria Nuland was just there and told Europe to side with the U.S. completely.
So, I think that a lot depends on the initiatives proposed by China, because China right now has the only policy which is a way out: And that is the shared community of the one future of humanity. And I think more and more people realize that.
XU: Helga, to further cooperation, we know there is a very important trade agreement, a comprehensive investment agreement between China and the EU. So, are we going to see any headway during the summit, or after the summit? Should we probably re-energize that kind of cooperation?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think obviously it is an agreement which would benefit both sides, so it should be pushed. But I’m not so hopeful that, given the geopolitical tension right now that that will be accomplished at this summit. However, I think the fact that the trans-Atlantic financial system is collapsing—look at the hyperinflation; this was there long before the Ukraine crisis erupted. So, the question of a new financial system, a new credit system maybe in the tradition of the New Bretton Woods system, should be put on the agenda; because there is the danger of a repetition of the 2008 crisis, but much larger. The Federal Reserve does not dare to increase the interest rate much to fight the inflation, because of the indebtedness of the whole system. So, a new credit policy should be put on the agenda, and in that context, then you can increase the EU-China trade agreement, and that will all be beneficial. But I think the problem is much more fundamental than it even can be addressed through that agreement.
XU: Well, many thanks to you, Helga.
Mar. 7 (EIRNS)–In reply to a question on the Belt and Road Initiative at his press conference today, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the BRI had maintained its momentum during the COVID-19 outbreak, with new projects completed, like the China-Laos high-speed railroad. China has conducted joint vaccine production cooperation with partners from 20 developing countries and the China-Europe Railway Express has been in full operation delivering goods and vaccines to Europe. During the last year, 10 more have begun cooperating with China on the BRI, and there will be new opportunities developing in the post-COVID-19 world.
He also noted that the Global Development Initiative proposed by President Xi has been embraced by the UN for the implementation of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. He said that China was prepared to work together in the GDI with other countries, and specified four principles for joint development under the GDI. “First, we need to synergize in key areas, in food, health. employment, and green development. Second, we need to respond to the needs of all countries. Third, we need to partner with cooperation mechanisms. Fourth, we need to reach out to partners in all sectors.”
Wang Yi also noted that 2022 will be the Year of Asia in respect to development as three major international meetings will be hosted in Asia: the BRICS Summit by China, the APEC Leaders’ Summit by Thailand, and the G20 summit, which will be hosted by Indonesia. These will undoubtedly be important venues to discuss further development of these initiatives. “We welcome the participation of all parties,” Wang Yi said. President Xi’s call for the GDI was “another clarion call to put people front and center,” Wang said.
Dec. 19 (EIRNS)–On Sunday, the Council of Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met in extraordinary session in Pakistan, and agreed upon resolutions for coordinated humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, and measures for economic functioning. Follow-up mechanisms were specified to implement the decisions of the OIC. Attending the meeting were 70 delegates, representing member countries, guest nations, international financial and UN aid agencies. The OIC, with 57 member nations, is the largest such world body after the United Nations. But even so, what determines what will happen for the Afghanistan people and nation, the greater region, and world situation, requires a shift in approach to abandon deadly geopolitics, and launch concerted positive action among major powers.
This was stressed on Friday, the opening day of the three-day OIC meetings in Islamabad, by Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche, appearing in a discussion on Pakistan’s national television PTV, which covered the OIC proceedings intensively. She said, “In a certain sense, to get all the forces internationally together to help Afghanistan is, in my view, one of the absolute, important historical missions. In a certain, I think the whole destiny of mankind is in a laser, concentrated on what happens in Afghanistan. So, I would really hope that all the participating and affected countries would double and multiply their efforts to make saving Afghanistan an issue of the whole world, because right now it is. And I think all channels must be used: media, United Nations, conferences. There must be a drumbeat, a drumbeat of awakening the conscience of the world, because I think this is sort of a judgment of our ability as a human species: Are we morally fit to survive or not?”
What is happening this evening is that pledges are starting from OIC nations, on what donations they will commit, for purposes of urgent relief operations. From preliminary reports, the framework that is to administer ongoing aid includes several features. A resolution was adopted unanimously that the OIC will set up a Humanitarian Trust Fund and a Food Security Program. The OIC meeting requested that the existing Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) work with this new Food Security Program for Afghanistan, including using IOFS reserves, when warranted. The Humanitarian Trust Fund is to come into operation during the First Quarter of 2022, under the auspices of the Islamic Development Bank.
In Kabul, the existing OIC Mission is to be reinforced with more logistical, financial and staff resources to enable it to coordinate operations with global agencies and partnerships. These include the obvious UN agencies, from UNICEF, to the World Food Program, and other organizations. A priority will be working with the World Health Organization for vaccines and medical supplies.
There will be support for the Afghan refugees who have fled to neighboring countries, and for the internally displaced within Afghanistan. An estimated 665,000 people have been displaced just between January and September 2021, over and above the 2.9 million already dislocated within their nation. In brief, 60% of the population of 38 million people face crisis levels of hunger, and lack of necessities for life.
The conference welcomed the offer by Uzbekistan to create, with UN efforts, a regional logistics hub in Termez city, to handle the shipment of humanitarian material into Afghanistan. The OIC meeting approved the designation of Ambassador Tarig Ali Bakhit Salah, Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian, Cultural and Family Affairs at the OIC Secretariat, to be OIC Special Envoy to Afghanistan for the OIC Secretary General, to coordinate efforts, and provide reports to the OIC. The Humanitarian Trust Fund is to be up and running within the first quarter of 2022.
It is reported by APP (AP Pakistan,) that there was an urgent appeal made for large-scale projects in the multi-nation region, to serve reconstruction and development. In general, this should include energy, transportation and communication projects. Two mentioned were the TAPI Pipeline, and the TAP (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan) electricity transmission line. Participants in the deliberation drew attention to the importance of the 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization, which met on Nov. 28, 2021, in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
The second area of OIC action, alongside the humanitarian, food-aid and anti-pandemic work, concerns creating the banking, credit and related conditions to serve a re-established functioning economy, and for reconstruction. The Council of Foreign Ministers decided, according to the report by APP, that exploratory talks “to unlock the financial and banking channels to resume liquidity and flow of financial and humanitarian assistance” should commence under the direction of the OIC General Secretariat, and the Islamic Development Bank. APP added that, participants discussed “exploring realistic pathways towards unfreezing Afghanistan’s financial assets.”
Here is where the outright clash comes in with the networks in London, Washington D.C., and co-conspirators, which insist on wrongfully withholding $9.5 billion in Afghanistan state assets, sorely needed for government and economic functions. An especially ugly, duplicitous public relations campaign is going on in the United States, where two open statements were issued this past week, crying crocodile tears, asserting that some of the $9.5 billion should be unfrozen, and used to “directly help the Afghan people,” but only if allocated directly through non-Kabul government, non-Taliban, UN or other agencies. One letter was from former military figures, in connection with the infamous Atlantic Council, and the other letter was from a group of 39 Congressmen, either ignorant, gullible, corrupt, or all three.
No nation exists without functioning institutions. There is no independence without economic sovereignty. Withholding the funds, or arrogating decision-making over their use means destroying a nation. This will do the job by genocide, that 20 years of military presence and non-development didn’t do in Afghanistan. This is a moral test for the West.
What needs to be done with the funds, and in general in Afghanistan is presented in the newly-released EIR interview with Dr. Shah Mehrabi, for 20 years on the Board of Governors of the Da Afghanistan Bank, the central bank of Afghanistan.
Our role is indispensable in getting out such policy interventions, along with getting out the truth on the scale of the emergency in Afghanistan, which is being blacked out severely in the Trans-Atlantic media. The Zepp-LaRouche call for Operation Ibn Sina to bring a modern healthcare platform to the country is a call for world action. Shining the light on Afghanistan and mobilizing for what must be done, spreads understanding of the necessity to end the grip of the imperialist foreign policy and globalist financial system everywhere, now in breakdown, and threatening nuclear war.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche ended her remarks on PTV Dec. 17 by summarizing, “So in one sense, I think the fate of Afghanistan and the fate of humanity are much more closely connected than most people can imagine.”
Dec. 3 (EIRNS)–The following is a transcript, done by EIR, of the Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021 broadcast on CGTN of “Dialogue,” with Helga Zepp-LaRouche as a guest.
XU QINDUO: [recording starts in progress] … achieved over the past eight years, what are the concerns behind it, and how does it embody Green development? To discuss these issues and more for the first part of the program, I’m joined by Shiran Illanperuma, research analyst at Econsult Asia, and Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and president of the Schiller Institute. For the second part of the program, I’ll also be joined by Erik Solheim, president of the Green Belt and Road Institute. That’s our topic; I’m Xu Qinduo.
Welcome to the show, Helga. For starters, how do you evaluate China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the BRI, over the past eight years?
HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think it has changed the world for the better. It is historically the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in the history of mankind. I think with all the attacks on it recently, there is a very good way of looking at it, and that is to imagine that it would not exist. Just imagine if Xi Jinping would not have announced the New Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road and all these projects would not have been undertaken. The world would be in a much worse situation. You would have much more poverty; the pandemic would still be here. However, the developing countries would not have received a lot of help from China, because it was this civilizational contribution by China to first lift its own population — 850 million people — out of poverty. And then have the economic strength to offer to the developing countries the model and offering them to do likewise by applying the same economic principles. So, I think the world has changed for the better in ways it never has happened in history before, and I think this will be recognized eventually by everybody; including those people who don’t seem to be so happy with the existence of the Belt and Road Initiative, because they will recognize in the coming period, which will be characterized by more upheavals, inflation, even a hyperinflation in the Western liberal system. You will have new waves of the pandemic because these other countries did not manage as well as China to deal with it. And in the end, it will be clear that the cooperation with the Belt and Road Initiative is really the savior of civilization.
XU: Jiran, if you look at the Belt and Road Initiative, in particular for the developing world — more investment, more trade, more connectivity — it is a good thing in particular for developing countries, right?
SHIRAN ILLANPERUMA: Yes, I would definitely agree, especially coming from Sri Lanka, which is situated in the Indian Ocean very strategically close to some of the busiest shipping lines in the world. For example, the Hambantota Port, which was an investment from China, is situated just ten nautical miles off the shipping route. So, building that regional connectivity is really beneficial for Sri Lanka, as well as for its neighbors.
XU: Helga, the China-Laos Railway constructed in the BRI is the first international railway mainly funded and constructed by China, directly connected with the Chinese railway network after the proposal of the BRI in 2013. So, how significant is it to Laos? And how important is it to the BRI?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think this is one of the most exciting projects I know of, because Laos has so far not been a very developed country. And by having a high-speed railway connecting Kunming with first Laos, but then beyond that to Singapore, Thailand. This connects ASEAN with China; it opens up the connectivity for Laos for eventually the entire Belt and Road infrastructure. Also, it’s not just a railway, even so it is very exciting and it will be very high-level technologically. But infrastructure corridors which always develop out of such transport lines open up the potential for the real industrialization of the country. So, I think this is a major breakthrough, and I think given the rather desolate condition of the railway system in the United States and Europe, I think people will go to Laos and Laos can be proud of having such a modern system, which will be a shining example for many other countries around the world.
XU: Shiran, you talked about the Hambantota Port. In 2017, Sri Lanka and China signed this deal with the leasing of Hambantota. Then there were criticisms — mostly from Western media — that Sri Lanka was forced into the deal, afterwards it was lured into a “debt trap” with easy access to Chinese money. What do you make of that criticism?
ILLANPERUMA: I think it’s nonsense, basically. The facts speak for themselves. Unfortunately, this narrative has been forward as you say by the Western media. But not just Western media. It has been picked up locally as well, whether it’s politicized or deliberate misinformation, that’s another topic. But if you just look at the facts, only 10% of Sri Lanka’s debt is to China; 50% is to international sovereign bonds, most of which are held by US banks and financial institutions. We have the same amount of debt to China as we do to Japan or the ADB, but nobody says we have a Japanese of ADB debt trap. So, that’s one thing.
Then, on the other hand, if you look at the facts of the case, Sri Lanka never actually defaulted on the loan that it took for the Hambantota Port. What happened was that in 2017 there was a huge balance of payments crisis, which forced the government to go to the IMF and then later it disinvested from Hambantota Port. But as you said, that was a 99-year lease that was given to a Chinese company, and we got an infusion of US$1 billion for that; something around that amount. That was not used to settle debt or anything like that. It was used to buffer our reserves. So, there was no debt default, there was no debt [ inaudible ] or anything of the sort.
XU: One thing is like a prominent feature of building infrastructure — it’s long-term. And also, it takes a long time to see positive results; usually like you are building a road, when does your return come back? It takes years, right? If you look at this Hambantota Port, experts say, “The Chinese-built Hambantota Port is expected to create 200,000 jobs and contribute $11.8 billion to the Sri Lankan GDP per year.” How do you evaluate the potential of the port?
ILLANPERUMA: As you said, the potential is huge. And it’s not just the port, because the port is kind of a catalyst for a lot of other things. Sri Lanka has traditionally lagged a bit behind in terms of manufacturing. The port has an industrial park adjacent to it which is also operated as part of the port. So far, there has been investments of $300 million into a tire factory; there’s been a plug-and-play electronics manufacturing factory; there have been deals signed for ship building, yacht building specifically. So, there’s a lot of potential to create jobs, and for Sri Lanka to improve its exports. Because of the way it’s situated in Hambantota Port, there is a lot of agricultural land as well as land that can be used for industrial investments. So, the potential is quite huge, and already I can tell you that there are a lot of locals who are employed there in the RO-RO facilities at the Hambantota Port. So, that’s quite a lot of potential for Sri Lanka to improve its exports, its regional connectivity, and tap into global value chains.
XU: There’s a criticism for Chinese, they say there is a lack of transparency and it’s increasing Chinese influence, or even Chinese military influence. So, what’s your response to that, Helga?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: The argument that it’s just to increase the military influence is sort of ridiculous, given the fact that the United States has about 1000 bases around the world, and China has a meager one or two. But I think more important is not to just look at the label. I think what’s behind it is an ideological difference. I think this has been expressed most clearly by the head of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, who in his new book, Stakeholder Capitalism, says the famous sentence that “The real problem is overcoming poverty, because that desire to overcome poverty is what causes the climate catastrophe.” So, for these people, real development is the problem, because it supposedly according to their wrong science, damages the planet by causing climate change. Which is obviously completely wrong. What China is doing, look at what happened at the FOCAC meeting where China again for the I don’t know how many times, is forgiving the debt to the least developed countries. That has not been done by the countries of the Paris club likewise. But I think this ideological question that that there is a Malthusian faction who do not want the developing countries to develop. I think that has been left out of the discussion so far, but without recognizing that that is the motive, and it’s in the old tradition of Malthus, of the British Empire. It’s the same philosophy as what was behind the Opium Wars, or what was behind the British policies in India, and Africa for that matter. Nothing has changed in terms of this colonial outlook, which is the idea that the developing countries should stay undeveloped and be just the reservoir for raw materials for the rich countries.
If you look at the behavior during the pandemic right now, where the rich countries were hoarding vaccines, they were not trying to distribute masks and other medical supplies. We have now the result of that in the form of the pandemic spreading with omicron and mutations which are the result that you cannot leave pockets of the world without medical help. Then you get that as a result. So, I think we have reached a point where we need a complete change of the system. I think the model China has offered so far is the best available on the planet.
The Significance of The Belt and Road Initiative – Zepp-LaRouche contributes to dialogue
Nov. 19 (EIRNS)–On this eighth anniversary of the announcement by China’s President Xi Jinping, of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI,) which he made in Kazakhstan Nov. 19, 2013, calling it then, One Belt, One Road, President Xi spoke at the symposium on the project, discussing in detail its many achievements and continuing intent, functioning as the modern-day Silk Road, for the common good of all.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Schiller Institute President, and long known in China and internationally as the “Silk Road Lady,” for her advocacy of the concept, gave three interviews today, on the occasion of the BRI anniversary. She appeared on CGTN TV, in two interviews, one on Global Business, and another on the Dialogue Weekend program; and she was interviewed on her weekly Schiller Institute webcast, titled, “Most of the World Is Hungry for Change.” See transcript of both interviews here.
Beginning in the early 1990s, she and her husband Lyndon LaRouche, promoted the idea of the “World Land-Bridge,” of development corridors. The latest books they issued on this were two volumes (2014 and 2018) of the “The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge,” along with “Extending the New Silk Road to West Asia and Africa” (2017.) These presented details, region by region, for world economic development.
In each interview today, she stressed the urgency for Western nations to rethink, and give up geopolitics and neo-colonialism, which have brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, worsening famine and persisting pandemic. Nations have been deliberately kept in poverty. These conditions, and induced strife, have produced mass migrations. She said on her webcast, “We have to have a re-thinking. Germany, the United States, other European countries should stop this geopolitical confrontation and say, ‘We have a pandemic, we have a mass famine, we have a refugee crisis of Biblical dimensions, and we must join hands and build infrastructure, hospitals, schools, industry, agriculture in all these countries…’.” She stated, “Let’s just build infrastructure, let’s build up Africa, this is the natural thing, and the Chinese are doing the natural things, and we should stop bickering about it, because we should take the moral lesson from the Chinese in this respect.”
President Xi Jinping reported that as of August, 2021, 170 nations had, in various ways, cooperated with the BRI. Now today, in terms of combatting the pandemic, 110 of these nations have received some of the 1.7 billion doses of vaccine.
Zepp-LaRouche drew attention in her webcast, to the fact that the same principle is involved in what China calls its “Belt and Road Health Initiative,” and what the Schiller Institute is campaigning for, in calling on nations to collaborate in building a world health system. This means facilities, staff, water, power, food, infrastructure.
We have a moment of special opportunity now. A week ago in Glasgow, COP26 ended as FLOP26. It was a failure for its organizers—the gaggle of royals, banksters, billionaires and the like, who want nations to agree to commit suicide, “to save the planet.” A critical number spoke out against this in Glasgow, and their view was again re-stated yesterday in Abuja, Nigeria, by Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama. He said simply, while standing alongside visiting U.S. Foreign Sec. Antony Blinken at a joint press conference, that Nigeria is “a gas-producing country…and we’re looking to gas to help to address our energy needs.” So, he called on Blinken to do something to stop the international financial institutions from refusing to lend to fossil fuels development. Nigeria has the right to use its resources and develop.
Now it is the time for all humanity to step forward and take the lead. Zepp-LaRouche replied to CGTN reporter Michael Wang’s question about her opinion of the BRI at a time of uncertainties in the world: “I think it is, for sure, the most important strategic initiative on the planet right now. Because—you say, `uncertainties’—these uncertainties show right now in the form of hyperinflationary tendencies—you see the energy prices skyrocketing, food prices, and we may actually head towards a hyperinflationary blowout of the entire system. At such a moment, to have the Belt and Road Initiative, which focuses 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.”