Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche discusses her recent trip to China where she participated in the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations, May 15-16 in Beijing, keynoted by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Zepp-LaRouche and host Bill Jones discuss what’s actually at stake in the so-called US-China trade war, and how it’s possible to be resolved in a win-win manner for both nations. She warns that there is no benefit for the West to try to contain a nation like China, who has made so many contributions to human civilization. The only path forward that will be mutually beneficial for both countries, and their populations, is one of cooperation and overcoming the “Clash of Civilization” strategy of the western neo-cons.
Peru’s signing an MOU joining the Belt and RoadInitiative during the Second Belt and Road Forum forInternational Cooperation April 25-27 has set into motion hugeeconomic development projects which China has been offering.
Peru’s Volcan mining company and China’s port and shippinggiant COSCO signed an agreement on May 13 to construct a megaportin Chancay, 50 km north of Lima. Chancay is a natural deepwaterharbor (maximum water-depth of 16 meters), capable of handlingtoday’s largest ships, but currently with no commercial portcapacity. Now it is to be developed into the biggest port onSouth America’s Pacific Coast, and serve as a “continental hub”for cargo between South America and China, with two specializedterminals able to handle container, bulk, roll-on/roll-off andgeneral cargo. Projected completion is in 28 months, with anestimated 9,000 jobs (1,500 direct and 7,500 indirect) created inthe process.
The signing ceremony was attended by Peru’s President MartinVizcarra and Transportation Minister Maria Jara, and COSCO’sChairman Captain Xu Lirong and Managing Director Zhang Wei, andreceived great national media coverage.
“COSCO Shipping will jointly cooperate with Peru to developthe Port of Chancay into an important hub port in Latin Americanear the Pacific Coast, which will promote regional economicdevelopment. It will become the new link and bridge for trade andeconomic exchanges between China and Peru,” Captain Xu said atthe signing.
President Vizcarra called the signing
“a milestone. Based onmutual connectivity of the Belt and Road Initiative, thecompanies from China and Peru jointly invested and developed theChancay Project, which lays a solid foundation for Peruvianeconomic development,” he said.
“The construction of the Port ofChancay will contribute to regional development, and we expect todevelop the Port of Chancay into one of the most important ‘hub’ports in South America, and a logistics center near the PacificCoast, which will promote regional trade and trade between Chinaand the Latin America.”
This new “regional hub” begs the question of the continentalrail network which has yet to be built. Not surprisingly,President Vizcarra raised the bioceanic part of that railnetwork, in a recent interview with Reuters. Vizcarrasuggested that China — among others — could be a naturalpartner to help finance and build the bioceanic railroad, becauseit would be purchasing its products. He referred to the CentralRoute, connecting Brazil and Peru through Bolivia.
[Transcript included] Helga Zepp-LaRouche gave an excellent 42-minute video interviewto GBTimes’ Senior Editor Asa Butcher on May 10. GBTimes is aChinese multimedia site based in Finland, and established toenhance a dialogue between China and Europe.
GBTimes: We’ll begin. I’m going to focus on the Belt andRoad Initiative today, following on from the Forum in Beijinglast week. If you could describe your feelings on the outcome ofthe Forum that concluded last week in Beijing.
HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Oh, I think it was very a reallyimportant progress as compared to the first Belt and Road Forum.The first Belt and Road Forum was filled with optimism and theknowledge of all the participants that we were experiencing thebirth of a new system of international relations — that wasalready extremely important. But I think the Second Belt andRoad Forum saw a consolidation of that, so you have actually anew system of international relations which is overcominggeopolitics, and I think this is one of the most importantoutcomes, apart from, naturally, the enormous economicdevelopment which was presented. But I think the idea that youhave a system which has a win-win possibility for everybody tocooperate, is the way to overcome geopolitics, and that is theremaining danger, which after all, caused two world wars in thelast century. So this is a real breakthrough for humanity.
GBTimes: There’s been a growing criticism and backlashagainst the BRI. Do you think this is misunderstanding,suspicion toward this new system? What are your thoughts onthat?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: It’s actually a temporary phenomenon,because the funny thing was, here you had the largestinfrastructure program in history, ever, with enormous changesfor Africa, for Latin America, for Asia, even for Europeancountries, and the Western media and think-tanks pretended it didnot exist for almost four years! And then, all of a sudden, theyrealized, “Oh, this is really growing so rapidly; it is includingmore than 100 countries.” So they started what I think was acoordinated attack, slandering the Belt and Road Initiative, witharguments which I think can all individually can be proven to bea lie. It comes from the old geopolitical effort to control theworld by manipulating countries against each other, and with theBelt and Road Initiative, I think that possibility is vanishing,and that’s why they’re so angry and hysterical.
GBTimes: What could China do to reduce this demonization ofthe BRI?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think China is already doing a lot. Forexample, even Handelsblatt, which was very negative towards theBelt and Road Initiative in the past, they had to bring anarticle which brought out the fact that the whole argument thatChina is putting the countries of the third world into a “debttrap” is not holding. For example, the IMF just released figuresthat there are 17 African countries which may not be able to paytheir debt, but China is only engaged in 3 of them, and all ofthe others have huge debts to the Paris Club and to other bigWestern banks — so, who’s putting whom into a debt trap?
All of these arguments will be very easy to counter-argue,and the more China makes known its beautiful culture, people willbe won over. Because the beauty of Chinese painting, ofClassical music, it will win over the hearts. And the mostpeople understand what China is actually doing, the less theseattacks will be possible to maintain.
GBTimes: The attacks are more on China than on the Belt andRoad Initiative, you say?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, yes. They’re on China because Chinais the major motor behind it. And some of the attacks were thatChina is supposedly an autocratical dictatorship, andsurveillance state and all of these things. But first of all,concerning surveillance, I think the NSA and the GCHQ haveoutdone anybody already. And naturally China has a system whichuplifts the morality of the people: This is based on theConfucian tradition, and for some of the very liberal people inthe West, that is already too much, because it disturbs theiridea that everything goes, everything is allowed, and from thatstandpoint, any kind of emphasis on morality is too much forthese people.
GBTimes: Isn’t sometimes criticism of new ideas andinitiatives healthy? It’s what we understand here in the West, wedon’t openly unquestionably accept new things. We do question,and we are a little bit cynical sometimes.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: It’s superfluous. It’s a waste of energyand it distracts people from accomplishing what needs to beaccomplished: Namely, to overcome poverty in Africa, in LatinAmerica, even in Europe. You know, Europe has 90 million poorpeople, and I have not seen a plan by the European Union toovercome poverty by 2010, which China intends to do with its ownpoor people.
So I think it’s a waste of energy, and it comes from what Icall, when people put on geopolitical spectacles and haveneocolonial headphones, then they see and hear the world quitedifferently from what it is, namely, they only project their ownviews.
GBTimes: Having been writing about China for the last 5-7years, it has made a dramatic entrance onto the world stage, whenI started writing about it many years ago. And the speed of itsarrival, the size of the investments, it can scare a lot ofcountries — just family and friends who don’t know much aboutChina, they want to know about my job where I’m introducing Chinato the West, as this bridge. There’s a lot of amisunderstandings. Do you think some of it comes from thisignorance? And how could that be changed?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I have the feeling that everybody who was inChina, either as a tourist or as a business person, investing ortrading, they all come back and they have a very, very positiveview. People are impressed about what they see, the reallyincredible fast train system. Then, if you go in the region ofShenzhen, Zhuhai, Guangdong, Macao, Hong Kong, this is thepowerhouse of the world economy, not just the Belt and RoadInitiative.
Compare that with the decrepit infrastructure in the UnitedStates or many parts of Western Europe, for example. Less thantwo years ago, I was in Zhuhai at a conference, and we visitedthis bridge between Hong Kong and Zhuhai and Macao, linking thisentire triangular: And this bridge was built, I think, in sixyears or eight years, including planning! Now, in Germany, wehave a famous bridge between Mainz and Wiesbaden, which has beenin repair for almost six to eight years, and it’s still notready!
So, I think if people go to China, they come back and theyare completely impressed, because they see that in China, peoplehave now virtues, like industriousness, ingenuity, creativity —these are all values we used to have in the West, like when theGermany economic miracle was made in the postwar reconstruction,these values and virtues were German. But now, no longer. Now,we have all kinds of other crazy ideas, and therefore China istaking the lead.
So the people who go to China come back with a positiveimage, and those who have not been, naturally, they’re scared bythe negative reports in the media. So the more people canactually go and form their own image, the better.
GBTimes: I have myself, I’ve seen a disconnect betweenChina and Chinese society, and then the role of the Chinesegovernment, the more negative side that gets covered about in theWestern media. Do you think, for instance, with the BRI is justa way to legitimize the Chinese leadership in the world, and toraise it up to the same level that is given to the othercountries? Do you think that’s acceptable?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, it is a challenge. Some of the Westerninstitutions talked about that there is now a competition of thesystems, meaning the Chinese state model and the Western freemarket model. And in one sense, it is true; the only problem isthat if you have the neo-liberal system, especially after thecrisis of 2008, only favoring monetarist interests — the banks,the speculators — and the gap between the rich and the poorbecomes ever wider, naturally, then, if you have a country wherethat is not the case, namely, China having a policy which isoriented toward the common good, an increasing well-to-do middleclass of 300 million people, which in 5-10 years will be 600million people, and obviously the vector of development isupward, naturally that is regarded as a threat by the neo-liberalestablishment, which only takes care of its own privileges.
So in a certain sense, the challenge does exist, but I thinkthere is the possibility of a learning process, so one can behopeful that even some elements of the Western elites willrecognize that China is doing something right.
GBTimes: What do you think China could learn from theWestern mode? And vice versa, what do you think the two couldlearn from one another?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think China can learn a lot from the West,but I’m afraid to say, not from the present, contemporaries, or,there is very little to learn. Naturally, ESA cooperating withthe Chinese space agency, there is a lot of exchange possible.But in terms of general, cultural outlook, I think China has togo back about 200 years to find positive things in Europe, or theUnited States, for that matter. You know, European Classicalculture can be an enormous enrichment for China, but these arecomposers who are Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, orgreat poets. But these are all things which, unfortunately arenot dominating the cultural outlook of most Europeans andAmericans today. So there has to be a dialogue across thecenturies, and then both sides can profit from each other.
GBTimes: In a sense, you’re very pessimistic about theWestern stands at the moment. Do you think China is the onlyoption available to the West at the moment?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: No, I’m not pessimistic, I’m just sayingthat you see that some of the elites, or so-called elites, arehardened in their view. You have others who are absolutelyrecognizing that the whole mankind needs to cooperate together innew ways, for example, Switzerland. You know the President ofSwitzerland, who participated in the Belt and Road Forum justsigned a memorandum of understanding, not only for Switzerland,but for a whole group of Central and Eastern European countries,which Switzerland is representing in the internationalorganizations.
So there is a big motion. You have Italy signing amemorandum of understanding with China, on the development ofAfrica. Greece wants to be the gateway between trade from Asia,through the Suez Canal all the way into Europe. Portugal andSpain want to be the hub for the Portuguese- and Spanish-speakingpeople around the world.
So there is a lot of dynamics and motions, I’m justreferring to some of the monetarist views and those people whotalk about the “rules-based order” all the time, but what theyreally mean is austerity.
So, I’m not talking about the West in general. I think theWest — I’m an optimist about the potential of all human beings— I’m only talking about certain parts of the establishment inthe West.
GBTimes: You mentioned Italy and Switzerland. Howsignificant is it that they signed up to the BRI now?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think this is extremely important. Firstof all, Italy, as you know, is the third largest economy inEurope. The north of Italy is highly industrialized and has alot of industrial capability; many hidden champions actually arein northern Italy. So, if such a country is now, as the first G7country, officially joining with a memorandum of understanding,this can become the model for all of Europe. And Prime MinisterGiuseppe Conte who just participated in the Belt and Road Forumcame back and said exactly that: That Italy plans to be theleader in bringing about a better relation between China andEurope. So I think this is extremely important.
And Switzerland, even if it may be a small country, they areindependent; they are sovereign, they are not part of theEuropean Union. And President Maurer just declared, or hisspokesman, that they do not need advice from the European Unionbecause they can make their own policy. So, I think this is alla new, healthy spirit of self-consciousness and self-assertion,which is very good, and can be indeed a sign of hope foreverybody else.
GBTimes: How do you see it impacting Europe, theirparticipation in the BRI, in the short term, and perhaps in thelonger term?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, there are different learning curves:Some are quicker, others are slower. For example, the so-calledfour big countries — that does not include Italy — that didnot send heads of state or government, but only ministers, Spain,France, Germany, and I think Great Britain, by not sending theirheads of state sort of expressed their reservation. But theneven the German Economic Minister Altmaier, who on the first dayof the Belt and Road Forum basically said, “we have to havetransparency and rules,” with the usual kind of arguments, butthe next day, he said something much more positive. He said: Oh,this was much better than I expected, the Chinese are actuallytrying to solve problems, and I will come back in June with alarge delegation of businessmen. So, I actually find this quitegood. It shows that eventually, I think, I hope, reason willprevail.
GBTimes: I think some of the obstacles for Westerncountries, is like Turkey refusing to participate because of theUighur problem; that there are other issues that aren’t relatedto the Belt and Road, that China has to overcome first.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: All of these problems will eventually besolved, because I think the key to solving of any regional,ethnic, historical cultural problem is development. If peopleactually see the advantage of turning non-developed countries orareas into prosperous ones, into having more youth exchange,young people understanding each other, people-to-people exchange,dialogue of cultures, bringing forth the best tradition of eachculture; plus, naturally, real improvement of living standards,longevity, I think that even if not all develop with the samespeed, we are at a tremendous change of an epoch of humancivilization. The idea of these local and regional conflictswill eventually not be there any more.
If I just can point to the fact that now the eightradio-telescopes working together, being able to make, for thefirst time, images of the black hole in a galaxy which is 55million light-years away, proving that Einstein’s theory ofgeneral relativity was actually correct — now, that, for me isthe sign of the future: Because this image could not have beenmade by one country alone. It needed telescopes sited in Chile,in Spain, in the United States, in the Antarctic, and you neededthe whole world actually working together to make such atechnological breakthrough possible.
I think that that will be the kind of relationship peoplewill have to each other in the future, and I think this is whatXi Jinping really is the kind of thing he means when he says, “ashared community for the one future of humanity.” Because thecommon interest will eventually come first, and then everythingelse will fall into place.
GBTimes: Another one of the criticisms was currently “allroads lead back to Beijing” rather than a multilateral approachto BRI, where it’s between other country, it always leads back toChina at the moment. Do you think that is a problem?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I don’t know. First of all, I think Russiahas a big influence, I think the African countries are becomingmuch more knowledgeable and confident about their own role. Thereare many Africans who speak that, in the future, Africa will bethe new China with African characteristics. So, I think it’s allchanging very quickly, and those people who complain that thereis too much Chinese influence, well, then they should bring intheir active, creative contribution, and define what the newplatform of humanity should be.
And I think China has said many times, and I have absolutelyevery confidence that that is the case, that they’re not tryingto export their social model, but that they’re just offering theexperience of the incredible success of the last 40 years of theform in opening-up, and basically tell developing countries,“Here, if you want to have our help in accomplishing the samething, we are willing to provide it.” And naturally, thecountries of the developing sector, which had been neglected, oreven treated negatively by colonialism, by the IMFconditionalities, when they now have the absolute, concrete offerto overcome poverty and underdevelopment, why should they nottake it?
So, I think all these criticisms are really badly coveredefforts to hide their own motives. I really think China is doingthe best thing which has happened to humanity for a very longtime, and I think the Belt and Road Initiative is the onlylong-term plan for how to transform the world into a peacefulplace. And I think that should be applauded and people shouldhave a cooperative approach.
GBTimes: My next question was going to be, how confidentare you that the BRI will pay off for China, but I get the sensethat you’re very confident.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Oh, I think it already paying off! First ofall, it makes it more easy for China to develop its own westernand internal regions, because they are now sort of integratedinto the Belt and Road transport routes to Europe, to CentralAsia, integrating the Belt and Road Initiative with the EurasianEconomic Union, and hopefully eventually also the European Union.So I think it is already bringing benefits to China.
And from an economic standpoint, the more a country exportshigh technology goods and technologies, the more than becomes amotor to develop one’s own industry even to high levels. So it’slike a self-inspiration, so to speak, and that is already payingoff. That’s what any country should do.
GBTimes: You mentioned technology: It’s also the digitalSilk Road, Digital Belt and Road. Of course, China has a lot ofcontrol over its internet, on the Great Firewall: How much of abarrier do you think that will be for countries to buildrelationships via the Belt and Road Initiative?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: You mean the G5 question and Huawei?
GBTimes: Well, partly that, too, but also the control ofthe internet inside of China, which is difficult for Westerncompanies to do business, to establish themselves, as there are alot of controls there. Do you think that could be a barrier, aspart of the digital Belt and Road, that’s also being discussed.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think there can be ways of makingarrangements which are satisfying to everybody. This wholequestion of “digital control” and so forth, is highlyexaggerated, because, if you look at who is controlling theinternet, you have the big firms, Apple, Google, Facebook, andthey are very linked with the Western government’s. You know, ina certain sense, after the scandal of the NSA listening intoeverybody’s discussions, which erupted a couple of years ago andwhich was never changed or remedied or anything, we are living ina world where that already happening. And I think China is notdoing anything more than the NSA or the already mentioned GCHQdoing that in the West.
So I think the fact that China has a competitive system, tothis Western system is what causes all of this debate. Becausethe people who had the control of the internet first, they shouldlike to keep it that way, and they regard China as a competitor,which they don’t like, but that’s a fact of reality now.
GBTimes: One question I have is why do you think the Beltand Road Initiative is needed, when there’s the AsianInfrastructure Investment Bank, now? Do you think the two aremutually exclusive, or do they work together?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: No, I think the Belt and Road Initiative hasmany financing mechanisms. You have the AIIB, you have the NewSilk Road Fund, you have a lot of the Chinese banks themselveswhich are doing the investment. I have been advocating for avery long time, that the West should modify its own creditinstitutions to work on a similar principle. Now, that would beactually very possible, because the American System of economy asit was developed by Alexander Hamilton, who created the firstNational Bank as an institution for issuing credit, that isactually very close to what China is doing. As a matter of fact,I would even go so far as to say, that the Chinese economic modelis much closer to the American System, as it was developed byAlexander Hamilton, and then revived by Lincoln, by Henry C.Carey, by Franklin D. Roosevelt; so if the United States wouldsay, we create our own national bank; and Germany, for example,would say, we go back to the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, theCredit Institution for Reconstruction, which was used for thereconstruction of Germany in the postwar period, which was also astate bank, — or it still is a state bank — then you could havea new credit system, whereby each country would have their ownnational bank; you would have clearing houses in between them tocompensate for duration of investment, or the differences betweensmall and large countries with lots of raw materials, or not somuch — you need these clearinghouses. But you could create anew credit system, a New Bretton Woods system with fixed exchangerates, having a stability in the system which the Western systempresently does not have.
So, I think that the more countries go to these kinds ofcredit financing of projects the more stable this new system willbecome.
GBTimes: Do you think the United States will ever becomepart of the Belt and Road Initiative, under the Presidency ofDonald Trump, or perhaps whoever is voted in next
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: That’s actually the big question, you know:Will the rise of China be answered by the United States, eitherwith a war, the Thucydides trap which some people have mentionedas a danger? There were in history twelve cases where a risingpower overtook the dominant power up to that point, and it led towar; and there were four cases where it happened in a peacefulway. Now, China, first of all, has offered that neither of thesetwo options should occur, but they have offered a special greatpower special relationship model, based on the acceptance of theother social model’s sovereignty, non-interference. And I thinkTrump with his America, First policy is more inclined to respondto such a model than the previous administrations of Obama andBush, who had these interventionist wars in the Middle East andeverywhere else for exporting their system of so-called“democracy” and human rights.
So I think President Trump has said very clearly that hewants to have a good relationship with China. He calls PresidentXi Jinping his friend all the time. And I think the presenttrade negotiations actually, in my view, demonstrate that theUnited States would suffer tremendously, if they would try todecouple from the Chinese economy. They probably would suffermore than China, because China is much more capable, in my view,to compensate for the loss of the relationship with the UnitedStates.
But I think that the hopefully reasonable way would be tosay, “OK, let’s use the foreign exchange reserves of China whichthey have in terms of U.S. Treasuries; let’s invest them throughan infrastructure bank in the United States, to help to modernizeAmerican infrastructure.” And that would be an urgent need,because if you look at the U.S. infrastructure, it’s really in aterrible condition, and President Trump, who is talking today, Ithink, with the leading Democrats Pelosi and Schumer on a newinfrastructure legislation; the sums which are discussed here,from what I have heard so far, are so small! First of all, theRepublicans don’t want to have Federal spending; the Democratsare talking only about “repair,” and small issues.
So, what is lacking in these discussions is a grand design,where you would take the approach China has taken for themodernization of its infrastructure: To have fast train systemsamong all the major cities, to have slow-speed maglev trains forintra-urban transport. Now, you could take that same approachand modernize the entire infrastructure of the United States. Andif China would, in turn, off that U.S. companies would integratemore into the projects of the Belt and Road around the world, itwould be beneficial for both. Some American companies are alreadydoing that, like Caterpillar, General Electric, Honeywell, butthat could be a real incentive for the United States to go in tisdirection.
Hopefully it will happen that way, because if not, I think aclash between the two largest economies would be a catastrophefor the whole world: So, let’s hope that the forces of good willall work together to get to this positive end.
GBTimes: Let’s talk about the Schiller Institute itself asa think tank. What is your day-to-day role in the promotion ofthe Belt and Road Initiative? How do you work to support it?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Oh, you know, this all goes back to thelife’s work of my husband, who died recently: Mr. LyndonLaRouche; who spent, actually, the last 50 years, to work on veryconcrete development projects. The first such project wepresented in ’76 in Paris. This was a comprehensive plan for theinfrastructure development of all of Africa. Then we workedtogether with the President of Mexico José López Portillo on aLatin American development plan — this was ’82. We worked withIndira Gandhi on a 40-year development plan, and also in thebeginning of the ’80s, we developed a 50-year development planfor the Pacific Basin. And then, when the Berlin Wall came down,and the Soviet Union disintegrated, we proposed to connect theEuropean and Asian population and industrial centers throughdevelopment corridors, and we called that the EurasianLand-Bridge.
So we have been engaged in these kinds of big projects forthe transformation of the world economy for the last decades, andnaturally, we proposed it to China in the beginning of the ’90s.I attended a big conference in ’96 in Beijing, which had thetitle, “The Development of the Regions along the EurasianLand-Bridge.” And China, at that time, declared the building ofthe Eurasian Land-Bridge the long-term strategic aim of China by2010. Then, naturally, came the Asia crisis in ’97, so the wholething go interrupted.
We were very happy when Xi Jinping announced the New SilkRoad in 2013, because, in the meantime, we had kept working forthis. We had many conferences, actually hundreds ofconferences and seminars all over the world. So this is has beenone major point of what the Schiller Institute has been doing forthe last decades. So naturally, we are very happy that now, whatwas only planning on our side is now being realized by the secondlargest economy in the world, and therefore, it becomes reality:And that makes quite happy.
GBTimes: Is there anything else you’d like to add? I’veasked my questions and a lot more. Is there anything we haven’ttouched upon, you’d like to talk about?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: We could talk a little bit more about theculture of the New Silk Road.
GBTimes: Please — in what way?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think that the New Silk Road, or theBelt and Road Initiative, it’s not just about economics andinfrastructure. But I think equally important, if not moreimportant, in my view, is the cultural side of it: That it couldlead and will hopefully lead to an exchange of the besttraditions of all cultures of this world. And by reviving thebest traditions, like Confucianism in China, Beethoven inGermany, and Schiller; Verdi in Italy, and so forth and so on, itwill ennoble the souls of the people, and I think that that isthe most important question right now, because I agree withFriedrich Schiller, according to whom this institute is named:That any improvement in the political realm can only come fromthe moral improvement of the people. And therefore, I think it’salso very interesting to me that President Xi Jinping hasemphasized the aesthetical education as extremely important,because the goal of this is the beautiful mind of the pupil, ofthe student.
Now, that is exactly what Friedrich Schiller said, who inthe response to the Jacobin Terror in the French Revolution,wrote his Aesthetical Letters in which he develops hisaesthetical theory, which I find is in great cohesion with whatXi Jinping is saying; and that has also to do with the fact thatthe first education minister of the Chinese Republic studied inGermany, and he studied Schiller and Humboldt; his name was CaiYuanpei — I’m probably pronouncing it wrong again — but hewas the first president of the Beijing University, and I thinkthere is a great affinity, a much greater affinity between thethinking of the aesthetical education as it is discussed by XiJinping and as it does exist in the Schiller-Humboldt traditionin Germany, in particular. I would just hope that that kind of adialogue could be intensified, because then I think a lot of theprejudices and insecurities about the other culture woulddisappear, and you would bring back and bring forth the best ofall sides.
GBTimes: How could this be accomplished, do you think? Whatsort of forms?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: You can organize conferences, you can moreconsciously make the poetry known — I think poetry is very, veryimportant, which is naturally not so easy, because as Schillersaid, you have to be a poet in two languages to do justice to thepoetry of one language. You could have more conscious theaterperformances, not just as an entertainment but involvingstudents, children, adults, and make more exhibitions, make moredeep-level understanding of the other culture.
I think China is doing an enormous amount of that, but Iwould have still some suggestions to make it more thanentertainment, because many people go to these things, and theydon’t quite “get it” what it’s all about; and then, it was nice,but the deeper philosophical, poetical, musical meaning could bemade more pedagogically intelligible, and I think that would be away of opening the hearts of more people, because they wouldrecognize what treasures are there to be discovered.
GBTimes: Do you have any closing words on the Belt and Roadyou’d like to share with our readers?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think we are probably the generation onwhom later generations will look back to, and say, “Oh! This wasreally a fascinating time, because it was a change from an epochto another one.” And I have an image of that, which is, thischange that we are experiencing right now, is probably going tobe bigger than the change in Europe between the Middle Ages andmodern times. In the Middle Ages you had people believing in awhole bunch of axioms, the scholastics, Aristotelianism,witchcraft — all kinds of strange beliefs — and then, becauseof the influx of such thinkers as Nicholas of Cusa, or theItalian Renaissance, the modern image of man, of science andtechnology, of the sovereign nation-state, all these changeshappened, and they created a completely different view of theimage of man and of nature, and the universe, and everything wecall “modern society” was the result of this change.
Now, I think we are in front, or the middle of such anepochal change, where the next era of mankind will be much, muchmore creative than the present one, and that’s something to lookforward to, because we can actually shape it, and we can bringour own creative input into it. And there are not many periodsin history when that is the case: So we are actually lucky.
The extraordinary attendance of governments, heads of state and government, and thousands of businesses at the Second Belt and Road Forum, comparing with the largest international meetings in history, was already proof that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has expanded greatly since the first BRF in 2017 and is now an unstoppable new paradigm of economy. After the Second BRF, certain myths of “backfire” and “criticism” in Asia also fell away.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed gave interviews in which he expressed full confidence in the BRI and surprise at its scope. Speaking to Bernama News Agency April 28, he said:
“We feel that the [One Belt, One Road] OBOR initiative is not a domination plan by China, which would end up being controlled by China. Instead, it is a policy developed by all the countries, and not only focused on China. Previously … including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, developed countries made the proposals and asked us to accept them. This is not like that; the forum attendees are from small countries and they are sitting with China…. They sit together at the same level, and talk about how to develop infrastructure projects.”
In an interview with China’s TV network CGTN, Dr. Mahathir said he had thought the Belt and Road was an infrastructure project for Asia, forecasting large-scale Chinese investment and exports into Malaysia.
“Now it is quite clear that it is, practically, a worldwide project … to improve connectivity and infrastructure development all over the world…. I’m very glad I’m here, because now I understand better the character of the project. China has a lot of new technologies, and we need these technologies.”
Indonesia’s investment minister, Harvard graduate Tom Lembong, who had been critical of China’s rail investments, told South China Morning Post that Indonesia has
“found China’s openness to its feedback on improving the Belt and Road Initiative highly encouraging…. I believe in the next 5 to 10 years, BRI will stimulate additional investment in probably tens of billions of dollars [in Indonesia].”
In Europe, Italy and Austria are joining Portugal in planning issuance of “Panda Bonds” — infrastructure bonds issued by other countries in yuan, to be issued into China’s bond market. Even Germany Economics Minister Peter Altmaier found the Beijing forum “better than expected,” and is headed back with a Mittelstand delegation.
On Saturday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met Russia’s President Putin, Ethiopian PM Abiy, IMF Director Christine Lagarde, and Egyptian President Al Sisi.
“The series of bilateral meetings was concluded by the wonderful dinner offered by President Xi to myself and to the Italian delegation that accompanied me,” Conte wrote on his Facebook page.
“I am very satisfied by the strengthening of economic and trade relations between Italy and the Chinese Republic and, personally, by the friendship which is being consolidated with President Xi Jinping. And I am proud that in the final release of the Belt and Road Forum, many of the Italian suggestions have been adopted, among which [are] the references to financial and social sustainability, protection of human rights and of intellectual property.”
“The Silk Road, I repeat, is a great opportunity for Italy, a challenge which we happily accepted through the signing of the MoU, in a framework of European principles and level playing field and with the maximum of guarantees for security of our strategic infrastructures. We opened the way for other European partners which are now getting ready to join this major infrastructural connectivity.”
“For the last several years or so, Western media and mainstream politicians have chosen to largely ignore the Belt and Road Initiative, which Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed in 2013. The initiative, consisting of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, efficiently addresses the infrastructure needs of developing countries, which the West simply pretended not to exist.
“But, at a certain point it dawned on the Western establishment that China was not only building an enormous amount of railway lines, ports, bridges, power plants and industrial parks in Asia, Africa and even in parts of Europe, but that the prospect of poverty alleviation offered by China instilled an unprecedented spirit of optimism.”
The major French dailiesLe Figaro and Le Monde published a full-page paidsupplement on the Belt and Road Initiative last week which includes threearticles: a larger one entitled “BRI: Soon Six Years ofImplementation”; a second one entitled “One China-Europe Link IsAlready on a Good Track,” and one last article, about one fifthof the page, on the Schiller Institute’s book-length dossier “TheNew Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge,” headlined“Everything You Want To Know about the ‘World Land-Bridge.'” Thethree articles are written by People’s Daily journalists.
The first two articles are full of updates on the ongoinggreat Silk Road projects; the third, on the Schiller Instituteand its dossier, was written by Ge Wenbo, who has already severaltimes covered our work in Africa.
The articles are a paid supplement, published in bothpapers. The articles are shorter in Le Monde, in particular onour dossier, which became a small box with the same title. Thetranslation follows:
“All You Need To Know about the ‘World Land-Bridge'”
“Last year, on Nov. 6, the Schiller Institute, aninternational think tank, published the French version of itsdossier ‘The New Silk Road, a World Land-Bridge To BringGeopolitics to an End.’ The presentation, which took place in theParis 5th arrondissement municipality, recommends countries totake part in the Belt and Road Initiative.
“Contrary to the analysts on the other side of the Atlantic,often prisoners of the ‘geopolitical’ software in which thewinner always wins to the detriment of the loser, we try to showhere that a new win-win paradigm is not only possible butindispensable. Whereas the New Silk Roads must be known becauseof the major opportunity they represent for international trade,above all they must be known, explains this dossier, as amultilateral alternative to financial globalization, a trueleverage to restart growth and a chance for peace. HelgaZepp-LaRouche, president and founder of the Institute, affirmsthat since its launching in 2013, the BRI has shaped the world.The Chinese initiative will have a growing influence over moreand more countries and improve the future.”
A photo of a container ship at berth accompanies the articlewith a following caption: “Container ship CSCL Star, withthousands of containers onboard, sailed from Shanghai and reachedFrance’s port of Le Havre a month later. That port plays animportant role in the implementation of the 21st Century MaritimeSilk Road.”
Under the headline above, China’s Ambassador in Washington Cui Tiankai wrote a column in Fortune magazine on the eve of the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. “Don’t miss all the winning” involved in the Belt and Road, Cui admonishes, perhaps referring to one of President Donald Trump’s favorite phrases.
The ambassador starts with a very direct challenge:
“Imagine the potential of China and the United States, the world’s two largest, most vibrant economies, collaborating on the most ambitious development project in history. The scenario is no fantasy: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which kicked off almost six years ago, will eventually connect a vast swath of the world, creating huge yields in economic activity, and wiring the world together as never before. However, the United States remains on the sidelines, and this has implications not only in terms of missed opportunities for growth in the U.S., but for the cause of global development which needs the ingenuity and the industry of the U.S.”
Cui gives many arguments for the BRI which reflect those of Xi Jinping. He cites total benefits to the 126 countries now in relationship to it: $6 trillion in total trade, $80 billion in direct investment by China; 300,000 new “local jobs” in those countries; Kazakhstan’s first-ever access to the Pacific Ocean; 6,000 new jobs in Europe’s largest inland port, Duisburg; Kenya’s beginning of economic development and industrialization; and so on, with citations from national leaders.
“So where is the U.S. amid all of this winning?” he concludes.
“There are countless opportunities to U.S. corporations available through BRI projects. Honeywell International is already working with partners to further oil and gas development along the Belt and Road. General Electric has signed a number of deals with partners of the BRI which will help to provide reliable power and energy to critical regions across the world. Caterpillar is working with China’s initiative to help solve Pakistan’s severe power shortages. Meanwhile, Citibank is actively providing financing for projects through the markets along the Belt and Road. We certainly welcome more taking part…. My suggestion is that the U.S. embrace this opportunity.”
Costa Rica’s Ambassador to China, Patricia Rodriguez Holkemeyer, enthusiastically endorsed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), describing it as a New Paradigm for global development which embodies Confucius’s thought.
In an interview with CGTN TV on April 21, Amb. Rodriguez described the BRI as a project which is creating “a new paradigm for development … [which] may be as important perhaps as Bretton Woods was after World War II.” China is calling “upon the whole world to design together what the New Paradigm is going to be,” she said.
Rodriguez rightly identified Confucius’s teachings as the basis for China’s concept of the Belt and Road. As she explained, Confucius taught that a person’s welfare depends on their family’s welfare, and the family’s welfare depends on the community’s welfare, and the community’s welfare depends on the province’s welfare, and so on, in concentric circles.
“Thus China wants to develop in order to provide happiness to its own people, and cannot make it alone; it has to be done jointly with the whole world,” she explained.
But when the Ambassador asserted that “this new paradigm could not have been conceived by a Western mind, but only by, I would dare to say, by a Confucian mind,” she really missed the boat.
Not only did the “Western minds” of Lyndon and Helga Zepp LaRouche develop and fight for the concept of the New Silk Road/Eurasian Land-Bridge decades ago, but the Confucian values expressed in the Belt and Road are universal, and can be found at the highest moments of every great culture. The case of Benjamin Franklin is only one such example. As the works of Plato, Nicholas of Cusa, Gottfried Leibniz, Friedrich Schiller attest — to name only a few — the best of the paradigms developed by the West are a far cry from today’s dominant British empiricism, egoism and materialism. And that is very good news!
Kirk Meighoo in Trinidad & Tobago, a former Senator and a notable academic and political figure in the country, has done a beautiful 1-hour podcast with Helga Zepp-LaRouche as his guest. The podcast centered on the issue of the Chinese role in development around the world, as part of the global New Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI). Zepp-LaRouche reviews 45 years of initiatives from her husband, Lyndon LaRouche, and herself, for the kind of American System economics embedded in the BRI, and evaluates how the United States can be brought aboard.
Another prime case of the “debt trap” lie, used to demonize China, has been blown away by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad in Malaysia. From the beginning of his return to leadership in 2018 (after having retired as Prime Minister in 2003 after 22 years in office), he openly declared that the problem with the rail (and other) contracts with China negotiated by the disgraced former government under Najib Razak was not China’s fault, but was due to the corruption of Najib. This didn’t stop the China bashers from declaring Malaysia a case of China’s supposedly evil use of debt to take over nations.
On April 12th, Dr. Mahathir announced that he and his long-time economic collaborator Daim Zainuddin had renegotiated the East-West Railroad construction contract, reducing the price by about one-third, while also cutting off a 40 km stretch along the east coast. The rail line will still connect the west coast to the east coast (the east coast is less developed than the west), over a 648 km line.
Dr. Mahathir was one of the first heads of government to announce that he would attend the Second Belt and Road Forum in China at the end of this month.