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China’s Wang Yi: BRI Is Moving Forward; Elaborates on the Principles of the GDI

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.


Helga Zepp-LaRouche and Hussein Askary Appear on PakistanTV

Dec. 17 (EIRNS)—Helga Zepp-LaRouche and Hussein Askary appeared on Pakistani PTV World today, commenting live on the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) dedicated to Afghanistan. {A transcript of Mrs. Zepp-LaRouche and Askary’s remarks will be posted soon.}

In her intervention, Zepp-LaRouche praised Pakistan for hosting the OIC conference on Afghanistan, given the failure of the West to take responsibility for the enormous risk to life of millions of people in Afghanistan. The withholding of Afghanistan’s funds by Western banks is shameful. She promoted Operation Ibn Sina as a path forward in creating a health and development path forward for Afghanistan, and hoped that the OIC would incorporate it into its proposals.

The American-NATO defeat by the Taliban was a humiliating experience, but this does not end the responsibility to the well-being of the people of Afghanistan. The given reason for withholding funding is the Taliban’s mistreatment of women and children, but creating the conditions for mass starvation is essentially genocide, and this is what the economic blockade does. Withholding funds may also cause Afghanistan to turn to drug production, which the Taliban opposes. She appealed to the entire world to choose the side of humanity over barbarism.

Responding to another question about the discussion of Afghanistan and the OIC meeting in the West, Zepp-LaRouche emphasized the potential of the human impulse to do good could overcome geopolitics. As an example, she cited the coordination between India and Pakistan of Indian supplies going to Afghanistan via Pakistan. Another example is the collaboration of the Central Asian Republics with Russia and China. If the United States could be induced to make a positive contribution, this would be of absolute world historical importance in shifting the world paradigm: “I think the whole destiny of mankind is concentrated like a laser in what happens in Afghanistan.” It must become an issue of the whole world. Is humanity fit to survive? “In one sense, I think the fate of Afghanistan and the fate of humanity are more closely connected than most people can imagine.”

Askary praised Pakistan’s efforts to support the people of Afghanistan, both to release the billions of dollars held by American and European financial institutions and to end sanctions. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Qureshi has made commendable efforts to these ends. The release of funds is essential, but more is required. The crisis in Afghanistan was not caused by the Taliban, but by twenty years of failures of Western military action. The current situation in Afghanistan will cause the rise of terrorism and of immigration, outcomes that Western nations supposedly oppose. The geopolitical game must be ended, replaced by the new paradigm exemplified by the Belt and Road Initiative. The immediate crisis must be addressed, but the way must be paved to the long-term solution provided by infrastructure, including health infrastructure. The Schiller Institute’s Operation Ibn Sina is a proposal that allows for international cooperation across the geopolitical divide to provide for the common well-being of the people of the world. This is the opportunity presented by the current crisis, an opportunity that must be fought for.

Askary explained that Afghanistan had fallen off the media in Scandinavia as well. Although there are many Nordic organizations pushing for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, this receives scant coverage. But with the push among institutions to oppose China and Russia, there is little room to support useful efforts.

He emphasized that Muslim nations have been pitted against each other by British geopolitics, as happened in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. But, the age of geopolitics has ended with the failure in Afghanistan and a new paradigm beckons, based on economic cooperation. Muslim nations should join this new paradigm. He also spoke to the importance of India taking its rightful position as an Asian nation rather than an Atlanticist one, working with Pakistan and other neighbors of Afghanistan like China.

He closed by stressing that although narratives may appear to have a certain power, it is reality that ultimately has the upper hand. {The link to watch it is here.}


Argentina to Sign MOU Joining the Belt and Road Initiative As Soon As Possible

Argentina Ready to Sign MOU on Joining the Belt and Road Initiative As Soon As Possible

May 28 (EIRNS)–In a lengthy interview with the Spanish-language edition of China Today published May 18, Argentine Ambassador to China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, underscored that while President Alberto Fernandez was unable to travel to China in early May to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he is absolutely committed to doing this as soon as conditions permit him to travel, or alternatively, to sign the MOU virtually during this year’s biannual Belt and Road Forum.

Vaca Narvaja, who is an expert on China, noted that of course Argentina seeks to maintain a positive, “mature” relationship with the Biden administration, but pointed out that China is Argentina’s “main investor and financier.” China’s strict protocol for quarantining foreign visitors makes it difficult for the President to travel right now, because of the time this would involve, but, he continued, “it’s an option to sign the MOU for the Belt and Road if the President’s trip is put off much longer. We want to sign it as soon as possible because we already announced it, and because our government’s decision is to deepen even further its relations with China.” The bilateral relationship “is central for our President,” he said. “China is one of the countries at the top of his travel agenda.”

China and Argentina, he said, are about to renew a five-year development perspective including 16 to 20 development projects worth $30 billion, to be presented soon to China’s National Development and Reform Commission and to the Argentine Foreign and Finance ministries.. Those projects include railroad construction, telecommunications, energy–including a new nuclear plant with China’s Hualong technology–science and technology, “everything that has to do with bioceanic corridors…and working on the possibility of improving our rail lines and highways to have access to both the Atlantic and Pacific.” In this context, he emphasized the necessity of Latin America forging its own economic integration, having a long term development perspective just as China does, and pointed to ASEAN and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as examples of Asian integration. “If we don’t integrate and begin to think on a level of scale, our relationship will be more difficult,” he warned.

“China is a sufficiently large market for us to think about a continental strategy and this must be a policy of state for our governments,” he insisted. ”Our relationship with China should be an excuse to work for the long term in the region.” Latin America, he said, “should have its own Belt and Road and its own infrastructure plan linked to [China’s] Belt and Road Initiative.” China’s economy and those of Latin American nations are complementary, so, he emphasized, “we have a lot of potential for joint development and the Belt and Road Initiative is the most ambitious infrastructure plan for humanity.”


South Africa’s DIRCO Posts ‘China’s Shared Future for Mankind’

South Africa’s DIRCO Posts ‘China’s Shared Future for Mankind’

May 17 (EIRNS)—A lengthy op-ed from March 29 for the Independent Online (IOL) website, highlighting the benefits to Africa from its recent relationship with China was posted on March 30 on South Africa’s website for the Department for International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the country’s foreign ministry. The op-ed is by DIRCO’s Deputy Director-General for Asia and the Middle East Anil Sooklal, who holds the rank of ambassador. He is South Africa’s Sherpa to the BRICS, the G20, and IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa), and the IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation). The article is headlined “China’s Shared Future for Mankind.”

Striking a very non-combative but distinctly pro-China tone from the start, Ambassador Sooklal begins with the story of China’s “idea of a community with a shared future for mankind,” from their first appearance on the world scene in 2013, with the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative, writing, “The concept, or what is now considered as a vision, calls for the fostering of international relations based on mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation, and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.”

China recognizes that this vision of “shared future” runs across the grain of the existing uni-polar order, the ambassador says, and they have not chosen confrontation, but rather doubled down on the multi-polar vision. “While there is greater convergence among countries and regions, there is also a worrying trend towards increasing political divergence in the international community. This does not augur well for the promotion of global peace, security, economic growth and development, and hence for China, working with the major players and other countries has become all the more important towards sustaining economic globalization, maintaining the system of global governance and ultimately promoting a community of shared future, based on equal opportunity and access to economic wealth, development and growth.”

The foreign ministry’s posting of the ambassador’s op-ed contributes to South Africa’s internal discussions and orientation as it struggles to emerge from the pandemic. Watching from their cockpit at the “top” of the African Global South, its decision and direction will have a major effect on the entire Sub-Saharan third of the huge continent. In the month since it was written, the explosion of the Mozambique terror has shaken the region, and in the days following, South Africa announced that it would order COVID-19 vaccines from China and Russia. The appearance of Sooklal’s article on the foreign ministry website is an indication of the internal fight currently raging, and also an indication of which way many would like to see it go.


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

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

Dialogue Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Former Greek Premier Calls for BRI to Be Model of Cooperation Between China and EU

May 12 (EIRNS) — In an interview with Xinhua, former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou called for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to become a project for new relations between the European Union and Asia. “The Belt and Road Initiative should become a project of new relations, building the new and future relations of the European Union with Asia and of course with China,” he said. He added that because Greece has “worked closely with China for many years,” it is in a position to play a role in this effort. “Greece and China, as ancient cultures, have a lot to give not only to each other, but to the world,” the former prime minister stressed.

Papandreou cited China’s Cosco Shipping investment at Piraeus as an example of fruitful cooperation between Greece and China. Piraeus has been transformed into a major trading and transportation hub for goods both ways. In addition to trade, Papandreou said, Greece and China can collaborate in areas such as the environment, tourism, as well as in the exchange of traditional medicinal and wellness knowledge, among others. Papandreou is currently a member of the Greek parliament and the President of the Socialist International (SI). He has consistently called for cooperation with China, despite the positions of other member parties in the SI.

A recent example is a meeting via video link between Papandreou and Song Tao, Minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), on April 2, where Papandreou said, “We need to find ways to lower the tensions around these issues [human rights issues] and actually have a dialogue… If we get into this tit-for-tat policy, it often escalates. In the zero-sum game, nobody wins or everybody loses it”. He also praised the successful fight against poverty. As vice chairman of the International Olympic Truce Centre, Papandreou also spoke highly of China’s contribution to the Olympics. “As a Greek, and also as part of the Olympic movement, we see the Olympics as neutral ground, one which should not be politicalized,” he said, referring to recent contentions around a range of issues between China and the United States.


Did Geopolitics Sink Portugal’s Sines Port Expansion Project for Now?

Did Geopolitics Sink Portugal’s Sines Port Expansion Project for Now?

May 5, 2021 (EIRNS)—At the close of the April 6 deadline for submitting bids to construct a new, huge container terminal at Portugal’s Sines Port, not a single bid had been entered. Port authorities blamed the fiasco on the drop in world shipping from the pandemic, and are talking of launching another offer with more “flexible” conditions when “market conditions” are better. The chairman of the port’s board of directors José Luís Cacho assured that the port expansion will happen, calling the possibility of a two-year delay “almost irrelevant.”

Most likely more than pandemic effects were involved. Portugal and China have been working for several years to use the planned “Vasco de Gama” terminal at Sines’s excellent deep-water port, just south of Lisbon on the Atlantic coast, as a key Belt and Road Initiative hub, connecting the westernmost point of the Eurasian rail network with the Maritime Silk Road in the Atlantic, thereby facilitating trading connections with the Americas and the Western coast of Africa. The Schiller Institute supported the plan as key for developing the Americas, and Portugal pinned its own industrial expansion on the project, envisioning proudly a return to its historic role as a leading center of maritime development. In late 2018, Portugal signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China on the Belt and Road, becoming one of the few countries in Europe willing to counter pressure from Washington and the EU.

The Anglo-American nexus moved in. The U.S. Embassy organized multiple visits of U.S. gas companies promising big investments to build up Sines’s LNG facilities. The Portuguese government welcomed investments from all serious bidders, but in September 2020, U.S. Amb. George Glass told the Portuguese daily Expresso that Portugal is inevitably “part of the European battlefield between the United States and China,” and Portugal now had to choose between its American “friends and allies” and its “economic partner” China. Among other threats, Glass stated that if Portugal awarded the Sines terminal contract to China, the U.S. would pull out of its LNG investments there.

Keeping the pressure on, former British diplomat John Dobson published an op ed in the Sunday Guardian of India on Dec. 5, 2020, picked up in Portugal, stating that the fight over Sines was an “economic flashpoint” between China and the U.S., similar to the military flashpoint building up in the South China Sea. “So will it be America’s huge LNG terminal, or China’s huge container port?,” he wrote. “Whoever is the winner, the geopolitical consequences will be massively significant.”


Linking Up Scandinavia and Europe to the Belt and Road via Pakistan

STOCKHOLM, April 29, 2021 (EIRNS)–The Zoom webinar meeting of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden, together with the Embassy of Pakistan in Sweden, and the Embassy of China in Sweden, was an extraordinary success. More than 130 participants were present at the height of participation. The first part of the program was moderated by the Commercial Counsellor of Pakistan for Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. The focus was on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the tremendous potential for European and Scandinavian business interests to invest in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) that are connected to the current industrialization phase of CPEC.

There were welcoming remarks by the Ambassadors of Pakistan to Sweden and Denmark, and by the Ambassador of China to Sweden. The Chinese-language website of the Foreign Ministry the next day highlighted the BRIX event, printing the greetings of Chinese Ambassador Gui Congyou at the event.

There were several leading governmental agencies from Pakistan, like the Board of Investment, as well as regional officials, who outlined the great potential for investments and business in all areas when the basic infrastructure, especially electric power, is built. There were also important presentations from Business Sweden, Innovation Norway, and the Trade Council of Denmark to welcome and provide support and help for Scandinavian businesses that are ready to invest in Pakistan. The significance of Pakistan’s cooperation with China on the BRI was highlighted, and many business interests from China also participated.

The second part of the webinar was focused on the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and how the work of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden continues to present truthful and accurate information on BRI, despite deliberate distortions by Western media and other institutions.

This section was moderated by Stephen Brawer, the Vice Chairman of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden, and the responsible leader of BRIX for webinars and seminars. His preliminary remarks summarized three of the most important points on the BRI as a global development policy, open to all nations, and the necessity of eliminating extreme poverty worldwide as has been achieved in China in 2020. He also noted the importance of the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, as a principle for cooperation, in which the interests of the other are primary, as opposed to only serving your own interests, i.e., geopolitics.

There were four speakers in the afternoon session. Professor Michele Geraci of Italy pointed to the primacy of commercial relations behind the much discussed and dramatic geopolitical controversies. Mr. Henry Tillman of the UK reported from his own investigations the meteoric rise of the Chinese pharma industry in just one year, showing how China and India are now the main suppliers of vaccine to the world, as the USA and Europe have limited their deliveries to their domestic markets. In the UK the entire vaccine production has been kept 100 percent for the British people.

Dr. Maria Sultan of Pakistan situated the CPEC in the global landscape of container trade and digital transmissions, showing the tremendous growth in the Asia-Europe and Asia Pacific corridors with the Pakistani ports of Karachi and Gwadar in the crossroads. Hussein Askary of the BRIX highlighted the Health Silk Road as the only possible approach to counter the current and future pandemics, providing the necessary infrastructure needed for a modern health system.


Uzbekistan Delegation Meeting with Taliban Promotes Infrastructure and Aid

A delegation from Uzbekistan’s government, led by Investment and Foreign Trade Minister Sardor Umurzakov, met with the Afghan delegation led by Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy prime minister of the Taliban’s provisional government in Termez (in the southern portion of Uzbekistan) on Oct. 16, for a one-day conference.

In a statement from Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yusup Kabulzhanov told TASS on Oct. 16: “‘At the meetings, representatives of a number of ministries and agencies discussed trade and economic cooperation, border security, cooperation in the fields of energy, international haulage and transit.’

“The talks are reported to have focused on the implementation of infrastructure projects, which include the construction of the Surkhan-Puli-Khumri transmission line and the Termez-Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway,” TASS reported.

The Afghani English-language online daily 8AM also reported that “In the meeting, the two sides have appointed a joint technical team to provide instructions for the implementation of projects. After 10 days, the team is supposed to complete strategy and instructions on how to implement these projects and present them to the officials of both sides.”

Termez is becoming a hub for humanitarian aid. The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) said this week that three consignments of humanitarian aid would be airlifted to Termez in the near future before entering Afghanistan by truck.

Radio Free Europe reported that last month, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev told the UN General Assembly that his country has resumed the supply of oil and electricity to Afghanistan. “It is impossible to isolate Afghanistan and leave it within the range of its problems,” RFE quoted him as saying.

In related news, AFP reported that acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met in Ankara on Oct. 14 with Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu: “Cavusoglu called on governments to unfreeze Afghanistan’s foreign accounts to ease the growing humanitarian crisis but said Turkey was not yet ready to recognize the group.”


Hungary To Become Regional Logistics Hub, as Rail Project Proceeds

At a stone-laying ceremony in Kiskunhalas for the Hungarian section of the modernization of Budapest-Belgrade railway on Oct. 15, the Hungary Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics said: “Railways will clearly be in the focus of Hungary’s transport development efforts in the next 10-15 years, with the upgrade and capacity expansion of the Budapest-Belgrade line as one of the priority investments.” Palkovics attended the ceremony, as did Serbia’s Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Tomislav Momirovic, and Chinese Ambassador to Hungary Qi Dayu, and via video, Ning Jizhe, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Palkovics elaborated that with the renovation of the Budapest-Belgrade railway, Hungary will offer the fastest transport route for Chinese goods between Central and Southeast Europe, extending from Budapest to Belgrade, into Skopje, North Macedonia, and extending to Athens. He also thanked the Chinese people for their help in supplying medical and other equipment to Hungary, as it was hit by COVID-19.

Xinhua reported today: “For his part, Ning said that the railway project will promote the connectivity between Hungary and Serbia and other European countries, help the two countries build a regional transport and logistics hub, give a strong boost to European infrastructure and economic growth along the route, and enhance the well-being of the European people.

“The project is also of great significance for the connection of the Belt and Road Initiative to European development strategies and the deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Europe, Ning added. ‘It could be said that the railway is beneficial to our three countries, to Central and Eastern European countries, and to the entire Europe,’ he said.”

Kiskunhalas, Hungary is about 20 miles north of the Serbian border, and is 122 miles from Belgrade. During July 2021, Hungary celebrated the 175th anniversary of the Hungarian Railways. A short clip of the ceremony was posted by “Built by China”


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