In the midst of a flare-up of tensions between the US and China, sparked by the Anglo-American establishment’s fierce commitment to drive a wedge between the two nations, the Schiller Institute held a forum on June 15 in the Los Angeles area to promote the idea of cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The session was opened by a movement from a composition for unaccompanied violin by J.S. Bach, performed by a student from the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts. This was followed by a five minute video of Schiller Institute founder and chairperson Helga Zepp-LaRouche, who greeted the attendees and provided a strategic context for the meeting. She deplored the recent nasty provocations being directed at China by some notorious political factions in the US, and presented a vision of an alternative path, where the US and China lead the world into the future based on the highest cultural and scientific principles, and the most ambitious infrastructure scheme in human history, the BRI.
Zepp-LaRouche was followed by Shi Yuanqiang, deputy consul general for the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles. Shi provided a very thorough explication of the goals and structure of the BRI, stressing that there is extensive consultation between China and the other nations participating in the project, that all parties participate as equals and share in the benefits. He provided examples of the projects that are being built with Chinese collaboration in Africa and Central Asia, and elaborated on President Xi Jinping’s vision of a “Community of Common Destiny”, a mutually beneficial, “Win-Win” relationship among nations. Shi emphasized that there was a place at the table for the United States.
Following Shi’s presentation, there were remarks by Richard Chen, a board member of the US-China Forum who had acted as an interpreter for Chairman Deng Xiaoping during his historic visit to the US in 1979. Chen said that the two great accomplishments of the US after the end of World War II were the establishment of the United Nations, and the Marshall Plan. He compared China’s current role with respect to the developing nations, to the Marshall Plan.
The concluding presentation was by Schiller Institute representative Daniel Platt. He opened with an image that juxtaposed two historic paintings, showing Americans and Chinese fighting their respective battles against British colonialism during the American Revolution and the Opium Wars. Platt asserted that the methodology of the Empire, typified by the “Zero-Sum Game” approach of geopolitics, is an “article of faith” for today’s neoconservative movement. To this he contrasted President Xi’s concept of “Win-Win”, or Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s vision of humanity entering adulthood. He discussed the historical parallels between the US and China with Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s embrace of the economic conceptions of Abraham Lincoln, and their shared approach to infrastructure development. He then reviewed the history of the proposals made by Lyndon LaRouche in the years following the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, culminating in the World Landbridge.
Among the eminent personalities who took part in the forum were the consul generals of Kenya and Belgium, as well as consular officials from Armenia and Malaysia, and a large delegation from the PRC consulate.
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.
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.”
Italy and China have signed the famousMemorandum of Understanding on Belt and Road cooperation Friday,together with 10 economic agreements and 18 institutionalagreements (19 with the BRI MOU). The MOU is a milestone and is said to already bebeing studied by other countries that want to follow Italy.
The MOU says at the outset that
“The Parties will worktogether within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to translatemutual complementary strengths into advantages for practicalcooperation and sustainable growth, supporting synergies betweenthe Belt and Road Initiative and priorities identified in theInvestment Plan for Europe and the Trans-European Networks,bearing in mind discussions in the EU China ConnectivityPlatform.”
With the MOU, Italy is the first large industrial economy tojoin the Belt and Road, as Chinese media proudly stress. Thesignature of the MOU occurred in spite of trans-Atlanticpressures and open hostility by Italy’s “partners” in the EU.Italian Minister for Economic Development Luigi Di Maio, whosigned the MOU together with his counterpart He Lifeng, chairmanof the National Development and Reform Commission, stated that
“today is for us a very important day, in which the Made in Italyis winning, Italian firms are winning. We made a step to help oureconomy to grow. Italy came first with China.”
The economic agreements include: a strategic partnershipbetween the Italian Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and the Bank ofChina to finance Italian firms in China; a MOU between theItalian oil company ENI and the Bank of China for explorations inChina; Ansaldo Energia signed two agreements, one to develop gasturbines with UGTC and another one for the supply of a turbine toShanghai Electric and Benxi Steel; the Port Authorities ofTrieste and Genoa signed an agreement with the construction giantCCCC. Cassa Depositi and the natural gas utility Snam signed adeal with the Silk Road Fund for investments along the Silk Road;the Institute for Foreign Trade signed a deal with Suning tocreate a platform to promote Italian lifestyle in China; and theDanieli group signed a contract with China Camc Engineering forthe construction of a steel plant in Azerbaijan.
The institutional agreements, besides the MOU on the BRIcooperation, include cooperation on innovative startups andelectronic trade, as well as cooperation between the two spaceagencies, agriculture and culture, health and media.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella told the business leaders that, once again, there is a “culture of growth.” He said, “we can have confidence in both countries” that there will be development. The Memorandum of Understanding has been worked on since last September, and the cooperation between Italy and China will not only facilitate our own development, but will “enable global growth.” He said that ‘the globalized world needs more consultations” between nations, in all areas, especially trade, space and culture.
In an interview with Chinesejournalists, Italian President Mattarella spoke at lengthabout the ancient bonds between Italy and China and the futureperspective for cooperation. This year marks the 15th anniversaryof the comprehensive strategic partnership between the twocountries, and this partnership is “built on solid foundations,inspired by natural convergences between two very ancientcivilizations,” Mattarella was quoted by Xinhua.
Mattarella underscored the “growing and fruitful interactionbetween our peoples, who are so similar in terms ofindustriousness and creativity.”
Xi’s visit is an expression of the “solidity of the bond andthe mutual respect” between Italy and China, he said.
After some lip service to transparency and openness,Mattarella said that on the cultural front, the heritage of bothItaly and China “arouses admiration everywhere in the world,” andthis heritage could be a great development driver. He referred tothe mechanism of forging twinning relationships between the twocountries’ World Heritage Sites.
Speaking of how the Italy-China partnership contributes to abetter and more stable world, the President said that Italy iscommitted to safeguarding peace and rules-based multilateralism,and is pleased to see the two sides have consensus on that.
The Italian press agency ANSA reported that Mattarellaexpressed the wish that, with the visit of President Xi,“agreements, ideas, projects can come out, in which theItalian-Chinese partnership could develop further, including fora larger benefit of the collaboration between Europe and Asia,which needs an ever bigger volume of sustainable investments ininfrastructure, to ensure a future of well-being and peace forall peoples of the two continents.”
President Juan Carlos Varela presided over a ceremony Friday for the release of China Railway Design Corporation’s feasibility study on the Panama City-David high-speed railway line agreed upon as part of Panama’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative. The study found that building the proposed 391.3 km railway from the capital to David, a city near the Costa Rican border, is economically and, as the President emphasized, socially viable—and that it is feasible to extend it into Central America.
The railroad will provide “unprecedented integration of the country, and will empower the country’s logistical platform,” Varela said at the ceremony. The study took into consideration its future extension into Costa Rica, which would “facilitate trade of products between our [Central American] countries, which face great challenges in the area of logistics,” he stressed.
“Such a railway has been the dream of Panamanian leaders for 100 years, and therefore I hope that future leaders will take it up and make it a reality, always thinking of Panama first,” Varela added.
Panama will elect a new President on May 5, and Varela had previously announced that it will be up to his successor to undertake the project. By ensuring the feasibility study was released with proper promotion now, Varela is placing Panama’s participation in the Belt and Road, with the great potential it represents for transforming the country’s poorer regions, at the center of that campaign. (He cannot run again because of term limits.)
The CRDC, assisted by Panamanian government agencies, universities and private consulting companies, estimates that it will take six years to complete the railway, at a cost of $4.1 billion, involving 6,000 employees, direct and indirect, to build it, and 2,900 to operate and maintain it once built.
The conference “Italy on the New Silk Road” organized byMovisol (LaRouche’s movement in Italy) and the Lombardy Region(state legislature) in Milan Wednesday, was a success, withUndersecretary Michele Geraci (of the Task Force China in theItalian government) opening it and emphasizing the importance ofthe MOU which Italy will sign with President Xi Jinping on March22 in Rome, of the benefits for Italy of this cooperation withChina, including for the development of the Italian Mezzogiorno.
Undersecretary of the Task Force China in the Italian government, Michele Geraci and EIR’s Claudio Celani.
Geraci was followed by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, who explainedthe more profound meaning of this important development for therest of the world, the realization of the New Paradigm for whichLyndon LaRouche and the Schiller Institute have been working forthe last 30 years. See a full text of Helga’s remarks below.
There was a short message from Sen. Tony Iwobi, the firstNigerian parliamentarian elected for the Lega, about thehistorical significance on the Transaqua project, which was thendescribed in detail by Engineer Bocchetto of Bonifica, which isworking on the feasibility study with China.
Geraci, Celani, Zepp-LaRouche and Movisol leader, Liliana Gorini.
Liliana Gorini, chairwoman of Movisol, concluded theconference by thanking the Lombardy Region, which had helped toorganize it, and dedicating it to Lyndon LaRouche, who is knownin Italy not only as the “visionary” of the New Silk Road, asformer Economics Minister Giulio Tremonti defined him Tuesday in Corriere della Sera, but also as the main promoter ofGlass-Steagall and LaRouche’s Four Laws, and reminding people howmany parliamentarians who had heard him speak at the ItalianFinance Committee at the Parliament in Rome in 1998, admittedyears later that he was completely right.
TRANSCRIPT OF HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE’S REMARKS
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: It is in one sense quite amusing to seewhat high waves the possibility of Italy signing the MOU withChina is causing right now. Because, when Xi Jinping announcedthe New Silk Road in 2013 and then proceeded to make treaties inthe meantime, I think it’s with 112 countries, an enormous growthdeveloped, six major industrial corridors, the Belt and RoadInitiative became very quickly the largest infrastructure projectin history, ever. And the strange thing was that for about fouryears, in the mainstream media in the United States and Europe,there was practically no reporting about this.
And then, all of a sudden, in an obviously coordinated way,the major think tanks of Europe and the United States started aseries of attacks, studies, that China is causing countries tofall into a debt trap, that it’s just an effort to replace theUnited States as the dominant force in the world, to becomeChinese imperialists, that the Belt and Road projects are notviable, that China is an authoritarian system and Xi Jinping is adictator. So all of a sudden, you had a barrage of attacks onthis concept.
The funny thing is, if you would ask and listen to theleaders of the countries cooperating with the Belt and Road, likethe Africans, the Asian countries, the Latin American countries,they would be full of praise and say that with the Chinesecooperation, they have for the first time, the opportunity toovercome the underdevelopment and poverty they had suffered as aresult of Western colonialism, and 70 years of IMFconditionalities, which prevented them from having exactly thatkind of development. And they were full of praise, calling Chinaa friend — so you get a completely opposite view.
I have come to the conclusion that everything in the Westernmainstream media are saying about China is fake news, and just alie. And it comes from the fact that many people in the Westsimply have lost the ability to imagine that any country, letalone China, could promote something which is, indeed, for thecommon good of all of humanity. When Xi Jinping talks about the“shared community of the common future of mankind,” or the“community of destiny,” he means it! And isn’t it obvious thatin the time of thermonuclear weapons, in international spacetravel, of conquering all the problems of the world, that we haveto think about the one humanity first, before we talk aboutnational interests? As a matter of fact, the concept of a win-wincooperation for the Belt and Road Initiative, it has all theeconomic aspects which are beneficial to all the countries thathave participated.
But it is much more than that: Because from the standpointof the evolution of mankind, if you take a step back, and don’ttake a look at the conflict between Marseille and Trieste, whichI understand is obviously very important for the Italians, but ifyou look at the larger point of view, isn’t it natural thatinfrastructure development would eventually open up allcontinents and connect them?
So now, all of a sudden, you have this eruption ofanti-China propaganda, but it comes from the fact that we are nowat a point where something is happening, which has alreadyhappened 16 times in history, namely, that the up-to-now dominantpower is being surpassed by the up-to-now second largest power.And in history this has led 12 times to war, between those twocompeting power, and 4 times it was just that the second powersurpassed the dominant power without war. China has emphasizedmany times, they don’t want, obviously, to follow the 12 exampleswhere this conflict would lead to war, but they also don’t wantto simply replace the United States in the role of the leader ofan unipolar world, but that they want to build a completely newsystem of international relations based on sovereignty, onrespect for the different social system, on non-interference, andactually proposing a completely new system of internationalrelations.
So, the big question strategically is you have the conflictbetween the United States and Russia, which is obvious, becauseof the cancellation of the ABM Treaty, then the Russian reactionto that, and now the cancellation of the INF Treaty — so thereare many who think that we are actually close, in worse strategiccrisis than during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis,because of the relations between the United States and Russia.But if you talk to some strategic insiders on both sides of theAtlantic, they easily admit that the much more dangerous conflictis actually the one between the United States and China: Willthe United States accept the rise of Asia, and the Belt and RoadInitiative is just the obvious expression of that? Or, is whatwas said by the RAND Corporation a couple of months ago, thatit’s better to have the war with China now, than in 10 years,because the casualties will be less?
Well, obviously, this is something we have to change, and Ithink that the best way to change it is, indeed, to bring in thisreality of a new paradigm of thinking altogether: We have toleave geopolitics. We have to leave the idea that there can be alegitimate interest of one country, or a group of country,against another bloc of countries, because this was what ledtwice to world war in the 20th century. As a matter of fact, Ithink the potential to overcome this conflict is absolutelythere. I know in Europe, many people are fainting when youmention the name of President Donald Trump, but President Trumpis not seeking confrontation with Russia — as a matter of fact,he wants to have an improved relation with Russia, which heproved in the summit with Putin in Helsinki. And despite thepresent trade tension, President Trump always talks aboutPresident Xi Jinping as his very good friend, and China being agreat country and that he wants to actually have a goodrelationship between the United States and China.
So the attacks on Italy, coming from the White House — the[i]Financial Times[/i] mentioned this Garrett Marquis — is notrepresenting the same view as Trump. It comes from a faction ofthe neo-con which are unfortunately also in the TrumpAdministration, but the factional situation in the United Statesis very divided. You have the Democrats and the neo-cons tryingto get Trump out of office with Russiagate, but on the otherside, I think President Trump has proven a tremendoussustainability against the efforts to drive him out of office,and his supporters are absolutely backing him, and the chancesthat there will be a second Trump Administration are actuallyvery, very high.
Now one of the accusations against China and the Belt andRoad Initiative is that it would divide Europe. I thinkeverybody knows Europe is divided already, without China: Youhave the North-South conflict because of the EU austerity policy,which impoverished, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, gave nodevelopment to the East European countries, so they are now happyto cooperate with the Belt and Road initiative, because the EUdid not provide these things. Now, the second area of divisionis obviously the migrant issue, where you have the divisionbetween East and West — the East European countries do not wantto have any part of the proposed quota system of the EU.
Now, what Italy is actually doing in this context is reallya role model, because the kind of cooperation between Italianfirms and Chinese firms in the development of Africa is actuallythe only human way to address the refugee question.
So you have right now 13 countries which have already signedthe MOU with China; you have, now with Italy, the first G7country (which is really overrated, because the G7 is no longerthat important as compared to the G20, for example). And youhave many ports — Mr. Geraci said, if actually all the ports ofEurope which are already wanting to be a hub between not only theNew Silk Road over the land route, but also hubs to the MaritimeSilk Road, Portugal and Spain becoming the hub for all theSpanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries around the world. Sothere is a completely changed attitude developing very quickly.
Now, also even in Germany and France, the two countrieswhich are now trying to put the brakes on the most, apart fromthe EU Commission, there are many cities which are absolutelyrecognizing their self-interest to cooperate with the Belt andRoad Initiative. You have three states in Germany —Schleswig-Holstein, Bavaria, and Brandenburg — which all thetime have huge delegations back and forth; you have many citieswhose mayors are complete fans of cooperation with China, and itis an increasing dynamic, which is growing more rapidly than youwould think.
So, if you would ask my prognosis, I think the perspectiveof unifying Europe, not necessarily under the EU bureaucracy, butin the conception of de Gaulle, more like a “Europe of theFatherlands” uniting with China, with Russia, with the Belt andRoad Initiative, the Eurasian Economic Union [EAEU], and Europeancountries, to cooperate fully in this new paradigm is absolutelythere.
Well, I think that that is also the only way how Europe canimpact the strategic situation: Because if you had a unitedEurope of the Fatherlands cooperating with the Belt and RoadInitiative, including Germany and France, that would be the bestway to get the United States to also give up their opposition —which I said, is not Trump himself, but these other forces — andget the United States to join the new paradigm. And I think thisis the [i]only[/i] hope we have to avoid a catastrophe where we wouldend in World War III with nuclear weapons, meaning the extinctionof civilization. So in that sense, what Italy is doing right now,is of the greatest historical importance, because Italy, withwhat you are doing, with the MOU but also with the joint ventureswith China in Africa, can become the role model for all the otherEuropean countries.
But the New Silk Road is not just an economic concept.Obviously, infrastructure, investment, all of this is extremelyimportant, as the backbone, but it has a much more, and not sowell-known cultural/moral dimension, which I think is bestexpressed in the fact that the Chinese thinking is actually basedon the Confucian theory, namely, that you absolutely must haveharmony among all the nations, developing all in a harmoniousway. And when some think tanks say that there is now acompetition of systems between the Western liberal model and thestate-guided model of the Chinese state economy, well, what theyreally mean is, China has developed its whole policy based on aConfucian orientation, which means that the state is also incharge of the moral improvement of its population through theaesthetical education. As a matter of fact, Xi Jinping has saidrepeatedly, that he puts the highest emphasis on the aestheticaleducation, because the result of this is the “beauty of the mind”and the “beauty of the soul.”
So the problem is, the reason why some people in the Westregard that as a competition, is because Western neo-liberal andliberal philosophy has moved away from that conception: We areno longer humanists. We are no longer thinking as during theItalian Renaissance or the German Classical period, but we havereplaced that with a liberal thinking of “everything is allowed,”every degenerate form of culture is allowed, everything goes — Idon’t want to elaborate that, but if you look at the violence,the pornography in the entertainment, we don’t have to worry. Wewill lose that competition of the systems, simply because we arenot taking care of our future generations, but allowing them tocompletely morally decay.
And that is why I think that we have to understand that theonly way how Europe can persist in the coming future is notthrough military power — what Mr. Macron is proposing isridiculous — but we will preserve our European culture [i]only[/i] ifwe return to the greatest tradition of our own history, meaningreviving the spirit and the ideas and principles of the ItalianRenaissance, of the Ecole Polytechnique of France, of the GermanClassical music, literature, and poetry. Only if we rise againto our best traditions can we persist in the coming world.
So I think that the cultural dimension of the New Silk Roadis as important, if not more important, than the question ofeconomics.
I would be happy to take any questions. Thank you.
The Italian government has just announced it’s intention to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to join the Belt and Road Initiative with China when President Xi Jinping visits Italy on March 22-23. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, speaking at an event in Genoa March 8th declared,
“The Silk Road, is a major project of infrastructural connectivity which offers a large availability by China to promote a trade exchange and not only that. I believe that, with all necessary caution, this can be an opportunity, a chance for our country. It is an opportunity for our country system and for Europe in general.”
Conte also said he promised to attend to the second Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation in Beijing at the end of April. As for their U.S. ally,
“we have explained that this is for us a choice of economic and trade relationships. The fact that we are comfortably in the Atlantic Alliance and in the European system does not prevent us from making economic and trade choices that allow us to have more opportunities.”
This wonderful news of international cooperation in major infrastructure projects, as well as joint projects in Africa, was greeted with absolute horror by the Financial Times, the voice of the City of London, and by Garrett Marquis, a member of the US National Security Council under John Bolton. The FT rants that China is building a “Trojan Horse” in Eastern and Central Europe to divide and undermine the EU, ordering Italy to cease and desist. The FT quotes Marquis that he and his neocon associates believe the BRI to be “made in China, for China,” and that it will not bring any “sustained economic benefit to the Italian people, and it may end up harming Italy’s global reputation in the long run.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to the attack on Italy’s plan to join the Belt and Road by Garrett Marquis, a long-time ally of National Security Adviser John Bolton (who brought him onto the National Security Council). An unsigned editorial in Global Times, titled: “White House’s Criticism of Italy’s Plan To Join BRI Ridiculous,” reports that Lu Kang, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a routine press conference today, said: “Italy, as a major country and economy in the world, is clear about its interests. It could make its own policies and decisions.” Global Times added:
“The BRI is an important international public good that China contributes to global cooperation for common development. China and more than 150 countries and international organizations have signed BRI cooperation agreements, which witnessed more than $6 trillion in cumulative trade between China and participating countries, Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said at the 55th Munich Security Conference in February, the Xinhua News Agency reported.”
The FT goes on to allege that,
“Italy’s support for China’s BRI initiative would undercut U.S. pressure on China over trade and would undermine Brussels’ efforts to overcome divisions within the EU over the best approach to deal with Chinese investments. Italy is a founding member of the EU.”
In an interview with the Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore, Italian Undersecretary to the Economic Development Ministry rejects criticism raised by the City of London’s Financial Times and defends Italy’s sovereign choice to join the Belt and Road. “Sincerely, I am a bit surprised. I do not understand what it is, that is controversial,” Geraci said. “I confirm what I said in an interview with this newspaper last Feb. 21st. I said the same thing to the Financial Times: We work every day down to the last detail.
“It will be a framework agreement: Just the indication of some strategic sectors in which joint investments are promoted and orders by Italian firms are accelerated. We work on infrastructure, transport and highways, trade, industry, green economy. It will be up to private companies to choose whether to participate or not. If they do it, they will have guarantees in terms of protection from disputes and questions about rules.”
As for the U.S. position, Geraci stated:
“I wonder where such a big concern comes from. We will protect our know-how thanks to a ‘golden power’ rule we have in Italy, which is among the strictest in Europe. And we just fulfill demands from our companies to create for them more room in the most promising markets, such as China. Anyway, we have supplied the United States, as per normal exchanges we have with our main diplomatic partners, all insurances on the issue.”
On the concern about Italy being the first G7 country to sign a New Silk Road protocol, Geraci replied:
“So what? Poland, Hungary, Portugal, Greece have done it and I do not consider them second-class countries in Europe. Those who think differently do not have a real European view. And the G7 club may be a somewhat outdated concept: It no longer represents the real world economic powers, since it does not include either China or India.”
Italy is not “selling out” its ports, as some have claimed, he countered:
“We do not sell, at most we give concessions to create greenfield investments, which means starting from zero. You cannot sell out things that were not there in the first place.”
Nov. 25—A Schiller Institute team visited Portugal and Spain from Nov. 12-20 to present the new SI report “The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge, A Shared Future for Humanity; Vol. II”—the Schiller Institute’s overall strategic vision, and concretely Lyndon LaRouche’s policy solutions to the global crisis. The visit intersected animated policy discussion in both countries preparatory to the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Spain on Nov. 28-29, immediately prior to the G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires, and to Portugal on Dec. 4-5.
Reflecting the activities of the Schiller Institute organizers in Portugal, the Macauhub.com economic website, established by the Macau Special Administrative Region to report on China’s economic and trade ties to Portuguese-speaking countries, on Nov. 19 prominently covered the new SI report under the headline “Iberian Peninsula Can Be `Bridge’ of the Belt and Road Strategy for Africa and Latin America.”
Macauhub reported that, “according to a new study that was recently released,” the “New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge: A Shared Future for Mankind,” the Iberian Peninsula “could become a bridge for the Belt and Road strategy to reach Africa and Latin America, with a `critical point’ in the Portuguese port of Sines, south of Lisbon.” The new report, issued by the Schiller Institute, which “is led by Helga and Lyndon LaRouche,” … details “20 of the most pressing development projects on the agenda for the coming decades,” Macauhub noted.
Pointing to Spain’s and Portugal’s growing interest in the Belt and Road Initiative, it added that, in the last year, the two nations have “been actively working on specific proposals and projects to make this prospect a reality.”
Macauhub quoted more extensively from the report, and explained that the Spanish port of Algeciras, and the Portuguese port of Sines, are two of the “critical points” for the interface between the Silk Road Economic Belt with the Maritime Silk Road “which will extend to the West, across the Atlantic, to Ibero-America, the Caribbean and the United States as well as south toward Africa.” (See, “Iberian Peninsula can be “bridge” of the Belt and Road strategy for Africa and Latin America“)
As for Spain, the Schiller team found in its discussions with people in Valencia, a port city which is being transformed by its role as one of the top Mediterranean ports for the Belt and Road, as well as in Spain’s capital, Madrid, that intense organizing is underway in Spain to link up with the New Silk Road. What was exciting was to find that discussion is going on not only on how Spain’s internal development can benefit through participating in the Belt and Road, but also on the potential for jointly developing Northern Africa, in particular.
The Nov. 20 presentation at Madrid’s Club Siglo XXI by the 82-year-old head of Spain’s Cátedra China think-tank, Marcelo Muñoz exemplified the discussions taking place in Spain preparatory to President Xi’s visit. Muñoz presented the new world order emerging under the Belt and Road Initiative to a packed audience of 150 top Spanish and foreign diplomats (including China’s ambassador to Spain), businessmen, trade unionists, and sinologists. Joining Muñoz on the panel were two former Spanish ambassadors to China. Two representatives of the international Schiller Institute, Dennis and Gretchen Small. were also present in the audience and participated in the Q&A session.
Muñoz gave an extensive, well-documented review of the phenomenal advances of China over recent decades in all areas of domestic and international economics, in which he emphasized China’s commitment to innovation, technological advance, scientific activity, and global cooperation with other nations. The highlight of his remarks was a discussion of how the New Silk Road is creating the new world of the 21st century, which he illustrated with the signature World Land-Bridge map from the
Schiller Institute’s new Special Report (without identifying the source). He highlighted four projects: the Bering Strait tunnel; the Kra Canal; the Darien Gap; and the Gibraltar Strait tunnel –with the latter receiving enthusiastic support in further discussion from the floor.
Concern over the direction of China policy under Trump, and how to ensure no conflict ensues between the US and China, was a major element of the presentations by Muñoz and the other panelists. Spain’s three-time ambassador to China Eugenio Bregolat stated that there are both sane voices in and around the administration and also hawkish ones (mentioning trade advisor Peter Navarro by name). He counterposed the U.S. reaction to China’s development today, to how the United States under John F. Kennedy responded “confidently” to the Sputnik shock, by leap-frogging ahead in science and technology of its own. America should do the same today, Bregolat emphasized, and not try to stop China’s progress.
The last written question chosen to be answered was that of Dennis Small, on the Schiller Institute’s commitment to getting the United States on board with the New Silk Road and how the speakers thought win-win cooperation in that regard would work. The question as read addressed the question of the U.S. role in the New Silk Road, although not mentioning the Schiller Institute.
Both Muñoz and Bregolat agreed that such cooperation is the solution; America should join with confidence. Munoz emphasized the common basis for cooperation which lies in the realm of scientific cooperation, noting that Confucian philosophy is critical to that common endeavor.
Paris, Nov. 24—Maxime Perrotin from Sputnik France, authored two in-depth articles covering the ideas presented at the Schiller Institute’s November 6 conference in Paris. Our conferencewas held to announce the publication of the French edition of the Institute’s report The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge Vol. 2.
The first article was entitled, “The Chinese economic miracle, a defeat of the West’s neo-liberal model” and published on November 2. The second article was published on November 23, entitled, “The new Chinese silk roads also go through … Africa,” and starts with the provocative question: what’s the connection between a canal in the African Rift, the Port of Gwadar in Pakistan and the idea of the coincidence of opposites of Nicolas of Cusa, a German thinker of the middle ages? Answer? The BRI initiative of president Xi Jinping. The article said, Helga Zepp-LaRouche started the conference with the provocative statement, “This dossier contains the solutions to all the major problems that we are undergoing in this planet.”
Zepp-LaRouche outlined the enormous scale of the project, in terms of countries which have joined and overall investments, noting however that it is not a one way road: president Xi Jinping in his opening statements to the China international import export fair in Shanghai early November stated that China would “import” the equivalent of 40,000 billion dollars in the course of the following 15 years! She qualified the project as “the most important at a strategic level on the planet today,” because of its win/win cooperation, the idea that no country is to dominate another one, and because of its adoption of the peaceful coexistence principles laid down by the Bandung conference of the non aligned movement, of 1955, such as respect of sovereignty and peaceful coexistence.
The BRI is not Chinese, reports Perrotin citing Schiller Institute Africa advisor, Sebastien Périmony, who said it has sparked up the desire everywhere to “develop Africa.” After outlining the achievements of the last FOCAC conference in Beijing, Périmony presented ongoing projects promoted carried out by Europeans in Africa such as the Lake Chad Bonifica/Power China studies of feasibility, but also the Inga 3 hydroelectric plant in DRC with participation of a Spanish firm, ACS. But also projects that France could take up: such as the Togo, Niger, Burkina, Ivory Coast loop, which can be coupled to the trans-sahelien Nouakchott-N’Djamena railway.
Perrotin reports also that the Schiller Institute rejects the West’s accusations that China is leading countries into a debt trap, reporting that Zepp-LaRouche turns those attacks around against the IMF and its conditionalities. The author also picked up on the fact that in the 1990’s Lyndon and Helga LaRouche campained, at the end of the cold war, for a Eurasian landbridge. This was their response to the collapse of the Soviet Union, a peace project for the 21st century which would have used the COMECON industrial capacities to relaunch the economy of the former East bloc; a project that was killed by Bush, Mitterrand and Thatcher whose shock-therapy lead to a rapid deindustrialization of the former communist countries.
For Helga LaRouche, Xi Jinping’s concept of “a shared community of principle for all humanity,” is a conception coincident with the thinking of Nicolas of Cuse, and his coincidence of the opposites.
The French edition of the Schiller Institute report “New Silk Roads Becomes the World Land-Bridge Vol II,” was presented on Nov. 6 at a Paris seminar. Among the 100 participants were representatives of 10 embassies from Europe, Africa and Eurasia, Chinese and Russian media, strategic analysts, and African associations particularly interested by the industrialization perspective for their continent.
This dossier will help to counter the negative propaganda about the New Silk Road promoted by many of the national think tanks and media in France, including the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), which just published a very hostile report. While the French government is open to participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, it is so far only involved in small joint projects in the area of artificial intelligence, and a couple of joint projects in Namibia and Cambodia.
Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche opened the seminar, followed by representatives of the French Schiller Institute who gave brief outlines on the contents. Helga Zepp-LaRouche noted that the Schiller Institute’s dossier, with its development projects for Africa, the Middle East, and the rest of the world, offers the solutions to the major crises of today, including the threat of a new financial crash, the refugee flows, and world peace. In the same vein, the Belt and Road Initiative, based on the principle of win-win cooperation, proposes an alternative to geopolitics, which seeks to impose the interests of one country or group of countries (empire) on others. Zepp-LaRouche drew a parallel between Xi Jinping’s idea of a “shared community of principle for the future of humanity” and the philosophy of Nicholas of Cusa of the “coincidence of opposites”, where humanity is thought of as a “One”, which is of a higher magnitude than the “Many”.
Odile Mojon went through the 40-year historic role of Lyndon and Helga Zepp-LaRouche in the emergence of this Eurasian perspective, going back to the fights of the non-aligned movement in the 70s and the 80s and up to the emergence today of the BRICS group and China's New Silk Road. Karel Vereycken presented the secrets of the Chinese development model, which has nothing to do with British free trade, but much more with centralized long-term planning that regulates the market, such as guided the New Deal in the US and the French planning tradition.
Sebastien Périmony went through the rapid industrialization occurring in Africa as a result of Chinese investments, a situation that is creating panic in France whose market shares plunged from 11% to 5,5% between 2000 and 2017, while the Chinese share rose from 3% in 2001 to 18% last year. Périmony debunked the “debt trap” campaign designed to discredit Chinese initiatives, and concluded by presenting a few large infrastructure projects like the Trans-Sahelian Noukchott-Ndjamena railway, which would give France an excellent opportunity to engage with China in joint African projects.