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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maritime Silk Road: Ancient and Modern

Karel Vereycken speaks on the Maritime Silk Road.

Karel Vereycken speaks on the Maritime Silk Road.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Silk Road Today and Tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Amidst US/China Tensions, Schiller Institute Holds “Win-Win” Forum on BRI in Los Angeles

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.

Shi-presentation

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.

Platt-presentation

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.

platt-wlb

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.


China To Build New Megaport in Peru as “Continental Hub”

Peru’s signing an MOU joining the Belt and Road Initiative during the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation April 25-27 has set into motion huge economic development projects which China has been offering.

Peru’s Volcan mining company and China’s port and shipping giant COSCO signed an agreement on May 13 to construct a megaport in Chancay, 50 km north of Lima. Chancay is a natural deepwater harbor (maximum water-depth of 16 meters), capable of handling today’s largest ships, but currently with no commercial port capacity. Now it is to be developed into the biggest port on South America’s Pacific Coast, and serve as a “continental hub” for cargo between South America and China, with two specialized terminals able to handle container, bulk, roll-on/roll-off and general cargo. Projected completion is in 28 months, with an estimated 9,000 jobs (1,500 direct and 7,500 indirect) created in the process.

The signing ceremony was attended by Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra and Transportation Minister Maria Jara, and COSCO’s Chairman Captain Xu Lirong and Managing Director Zhang Wei, and received great national media coverage.

“COSCO Shipping will jointly cooperate with Peru to develop the Port of Chancay into an important hub port in Latin America near the Pacific Coast, which will promote regional economic development. It will become the new link and bridge for trade and economic exchanges between China and Peru,” Captain Xu said at the signing.

President Vizcarra called the signing

“a milestone. Based on mutual connectivity of the Belt and Road Initiative, the companies from China and Peru jointly invested and developed the Chancay Project, which lays a solid foundation for Peruvian economic development,” he said.

“The construction of the Port of Chancay will contribute to regional development, and we expect to develop the Port of Chancay into one of the most important ‘hub’ ports in South America, and a logistics center near the Pacific Coast, which will promote regional trade and trade between China and the Latin America.”

This new “regional hub” begs the question of the continental rail network which has yet to be built. Not surprisingly, President Vizcarra raised the bioceanic part of that rail network, in a recent interview with Reuters. Vizcarra suggested that China — among others — could be a natural partner to help finance and build the bioceanic railroad, because it would be purchasing its products. He referred to the Central Route, connecting Brazil and Peru through Bolivia.


French Dailies’ Supplement on Belt and Road Covers Schiller Institute Dossier

The major French dailies Le Figaro and Le Monde published a full-page paid supplement on the Belt and Road Initiative last week which includes three articles: a larger one entitled “BRI: Soon Six Years of Implementation”; a second one entitled “One China-Europe Link Is Already on a Good Track,” and one last article, about one fifth of the page, on the Schiller Institute’s book-length dossier “The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge,” headlined “Everything You Want To Know about the ‘World Land-Bridge.'” The three articles are written by People’s Daily journalists.

The first two articles are full of updates on the ongoing great Silk Road projects; the third, on the Schiller Institute and its dossier, was written by Ge Wenbo, who has already several times covered our work in Africa.

The articles are a paid supplement, published in both papers. The articles are shorter in Le Monde, in particular on our dossier, which became a small box with the same title.  The translation follows:

“All You Need To Know about the ‘World Land-Bridge'”

“Last year, on Nov. 6, the Schiller Institute, an international think tank, published the French version of its dossier ‘The New Silk Road, a World Land-Bridge To Bring Geopolitics to an End.’ The presentation, which took place in the Paris 5th arrondissement municipality, recommends countries to take 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 the winner always wins to the detriment of the loser, we try to show here that a new win-win paradigm is not only possible but indispensable.  Whereas the New Silk Roads must be known because of the major opportunity they represent for international trade, above all they must be known, explains this dossier, as a multilateral alternative to financial globalization, a true leverage to restart growth and a chance for peace. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, president and founder of the Institute, affirms that since its launching in 2013, the BRI has shaped the world. The Chinese initiative will have a growing influence over more and more countries and improve the future.”

A photo of a container ship at berth accompanies the article with a following caption: “Container ship CSCL Star, with thousands of containers onboard, sailed from Shanghai and reached France’s port of Le Havre a month later. That port plays an important role in the implementation of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.” 


Italy and China Sign Groundbreaking MOU on Belt and Road Initiative

Italy and China have signed the famous Memorandum of Understanding on Belt and Road cooperation Friday, together with 10 economic agreements and 18 institutional agreements (19 with the BRI MOU). The MOU is a milestone and is said to already be being studied by other countries that want to follow Italy.

The MOU says at the outset that

“The Parties will work together within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to translate mutual complementary strengths into advantages for practical cooperation and sustainable growth, supporting synergies between the Belt and Road Initiative and priorities identified in the Investment Plan for Europe and the Trans-European Networks, bearing in mind discussions in the EU China Connectivity Platform.”

With the MOU, Italy is the first large industrial economy to join the Belt and Road, as Chinese media proudly stress. The signature of the MOU occurred in spite of trans-Atlantic pressures and open hostility by Italy’s “partners” in the EU. Italian Minister for Economic Development Luigi Di Maio, who signed the MOU together with his counterpart He Lifeng, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, stated that

“today is for us a very important day, in which the Made in Italy is winning, Italian firms are winning. We made a step to help our economy to grow. Italy came first with China.”

The economic agreements include: a strategic partnership between the Italian Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and the Bank of China to finance Italian firms in China; a MOU between the Italian oil company ENI and the Bank of China for explorations in China; Ansaldo Energia signed two agreements, one to develop gas turbines with UGTC and another one for the supply of a turbine to Shanghai Electric and Benxi Steel; the Port Authorities of Trieste and Genoa signed an agreement with the construction giant CCCC. Cassa Depositi and the natural gas utility Snam signed a deal with the Silk Road Fund for investments along the Silk Road; the Institute for Foreign Trade signed a deal with Suning to create a platform to promote Italian lifestyle in China; and the Danieli group signed a contract with China Camc Engineering for the construction of a steel plant in Azerbaijan.

The institutional agreements, besides the MOU on the BRI cooperation, include cooperation on innovative startups and electronic trade, as well as cooperation between the two space agencies, 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 Chinese journalists, Italian President Mattarella spoke at length about the ancient bonds between Italy and China and the future perspective for cooperation. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, and this partnership is “built on solid foundations, inspired by natural convergences between two very ancient civilizations,” Mattarella was quoted by Xinhua.

Mattarella underscored the “growing and fruitful interaction between our peoples, who are so similar in terms of industriousness and creativity.”

Xi’s visit is an expression of the “solidity of the bond and the 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 both Italy and China “arouses admiration everywhere in the world,” and this heritage could be a great development driver. He referred to the mechanism of forging twinning relationships between the two countries’ World Heritage Sites.

Speaking of how the Italy-China partnership contributes to a better and more stable world, the President said that Italy is committed 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 Mattarella expressed the wish that, with the visit of President Xi, “agreements, ideas, projects can come out, in which the Italian-Chinese partnership could develop further, including for a larger benefit of the collaboration between Europe and Asia, which needs an ever bigger volume of sustainable investments in infrastructure, to ensure a future of well-being and peace for all peoples of the two continents.”


Feasibility Study for Panama High-Speed Railway Released

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.

hsr-panama

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.


Movisol Conference on BRI in Milan

The conference “Italy on the New Silk Road” organized by Movisol (LaRouche’s movement in Italy) and the Lombardy Region (state legislature) in Milan Wednesday, was a success, with Undersecretary Michele Geraci (of the Task Force China in the Italian government) opening it and emphasizing the importance of the MOU which Italy will sign with President Xi Jinping on March 22 in Rome, of the benefits for Italy of this cooperation with China, 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.

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 explained the more profound meaning of this important development for the rest of the world, the realization of the New Paradigm for which Lyndon LaRouche and the Schiller Institute have been working for the last 30 years. See a full text of Helga’s remarks below.

There was a short message from Sen. Tony Iwobi, the first Nigerian parliamentarian elected for the Lega, about the historical significance on the Transaqua project, which was then described in detail by Engineer Bocchetto of Bonifica, which is working on the feasibility study with China.

Geraci, Celani, Zepp-LaRouche and Movisol leader, Liliana Gorini.

Geraci, Celani, Zepp-LaRouche and Movisol leader, Liliana Gorini.

Liliana Gorini, chairwoman of Movisol, concluded the conference by thanking the Lombardy Region, which had helped to organize it, and dedicating it to Lyndon LaRouche, who is known in Italy not only as the “visionary” of the New Silk Road, as former Economics Minister Giulio Tremonti defined him Tuesday in Corriere della Sera, but also as the main promoter of Glass-Steagall and LaRouche’s Four Laws, and reminding people how many parliamentarians who had heard him speak at the Italian Finance Committee at the Parliament in Rome in 1998, admitted years later that he was completely right.


TRANSCRIPT OF HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE’S REMARKS

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: It is in one sense quite amusing to see what high waves the possibility of Italy signing the MOU with China is causing right now.  Because, when Xi Jinping announced the New Silk Road in 2013 and then proceeded to make treaties in the meantime, I think it’s with 112 countries, an enormous growth developed, six major industrial corridors, the Belt and Road Initiative became very quickly the largest infrastructure project in history, ever.  And the strange thing was that for about four years, 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 a series of attacks, studies, that China is causing countries to fall into a debt trap, that it’s just an effort to replace the United States as the dominant force in the world, to become Chinese imperialists, that the Belt and Road projects are not viable, that China is an authoritarian system and Xi Jinping is a dictator.  So all of a sudden, you had a barrage of attacks on this concept.

The funny thing is, if you would ask and listen to the leaders of the countries cooperating with the Belt and Road, like the Africans, the Asian countries, the Latin American countries, they would be full of praise and say that with the Chinese cooperation, they have for the first time, the opportunity to overcome the underdevelopment and poverty they had suffered as a result of Western colonialism, and 70 years of IMF conditionalities, which prevented them from having exactly that kind of development.  And they were full of praise, calling China a friend — so you get a completely opposite view.

I have come to the conclusion that everything in the Western mainstream media are saying about China is fake news, and just a lie.  And it comes from the fact that many people in the West simply have lost the ability to imagine that any country, let alone China, could promote something which is, indeed, for the common 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 that in the time of thermonuclear weapons, in international space travel, of conquering all the problems of the world, that we have to think about the one humanity first, before we talk about national interests? As a matter of fact, the concept of a win-win cooperation for the Belt and Road Initiative, it has all the economic aspects which are beneficial to all the countries that have participated.

But it is much more than that:  Because from the standpoint of the evolution of mankind, if you take a step back, and don’t take a look at the conflict between Marseille and Trieste, which I understand is obviously very important for the Italians, but if you look at the larger point of view, isn’t it natural that infrastructure development would eventually open up all continents and connect them?

So now, all of a sudden, you have this eruption of anti-China propaganda, but it comes from the fact that we are now at a  point where something is happening, which has already happened 16 times in history, namely, that the up-to-now dominant power is being surpassed by the up-to-now second largest power. And in history this has led 12 times to war, between those two competing power, and 4 times it was just that the second power surpassed the dominant power without war.  China has emphasized many times, they don’t want, obviously, to follow the 12 examples where this conflict would lead to war, but they also don’t want to simply replace the United States in the role of the leader of an unipolar world, but that they want to build a completely new system of international relations based on sovereignty, on respect for the different social system, on non-interference, and actually proposing a completely new system of international relations.

So, the big question strategically is you have the conflict between the United States and Russia, which is obvious, because of the cancellation of the ABM Treaty, then the Russian reaction to that, and now the cancellation of the INF Treaty — so there are many who think that we are actually close, in worse strategic crisis 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 the Atlantic, they easily admit that the much more dangerous conflict is actually the one between the United States and China:  Will the United States accept the rise of Asia, and the Belt and Road Initiative is just the obvious expression of that?  Or, is what was said by the RAND Corporation a couple of months ago, that it’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 I think that the best way to change it is, indeed, to bring in this reality of a new paradigm of thinking altogether:  We have to leave geopolitics.  We have to leave the idea that there can be a legitimate interest of one country, or a group of country, against another bloc of countries, because this was what led twice to world war in the 20th century.  As a matter of fact, I think the potential to overcome this conflict is absolutely there.  I know in Europe, many people are fainting when you mention the name of President Donald Trump, but President Trump is not seeking confrontation with Russia — as a matter of fact, he wants to have an improved relation with Russia, which he proved in the summit with Putin in Helsinki.  And despite the present trade tension, President Trump always talks about President Xi Jinping as his very good friend, and China being a great country and that he wants to actually have a good relationship 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 not representing the same view as Trump.  It comes from a faction of the neo-con which are unfortunately also in the Trump Administration, but the factional situation in the United States is very divided.  You have the Democrats and the neo-cons trying to get Trump out of office with Russiagate, but on the other side, I think President Trump has proven a tremendous sustainability against the efforts to drive him out of office, and his supporters are absolutely backing him, and the chances that there will be a second Trump Administration are actually very, very high.

Now one of the accusations against China and the Belt and Road Initiative is that it would divide Europe.  I think everybody knows Europe is divided already, without China:  You have the North-South conflict because of the EU austerity policy, which impoverished, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, gave no development to the East European countries, so they are now happy to cooperate with the Belt and Road initiative, because the EU did not provide these things.  Now, the second area of division is obviously the migrant issue, where you have the division between East and West — the East European countries do not want to have any part of the proposed quota system of the EU.

Now, what Italy is actually doing in this context is really a role model, because the kind of cooperation between Italian firms and Chinese firms in the development of Africa is actually the only human way to address the refugee question.

So you have right now 13 countries which have already signed the MOU with China; you have, now with Italy, the first G7 country (which is really overrated, because the G7 is no longer that important as compared to the G20, for example).  And you have many ports — Mr. Geraci said, if actually all the ports of Europe which are already wanting to be a hub between not only the New Silk Road over the land route, but also hubs to the Maritime Silk Road, Portugal and Spain becoming the hub for all the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries around the world.  So there is a completely changed attitude developing very quickly.

Now, also even in Germany and France, the two countries which are now trying to put the brakes on the most, apart from the EU Commission, there are many cities which are absolutely recognizing their self-interest to cooperate with the Belt and Road Initiative.  You have three states in Germany — Schleswig-Holstein, Bavaria, and Brandenburg — which all the time have huge delegations back and forth; you have many cities whose mayors are complete fans of cooperation with China, and it is an increasing dynamic, which is growing more rapidly than you would think.

So, if you would ask my prognosis, I think the perspective of unifying Europe, not necessarily under the EU bureaucracy, but in the conception of de Gaulle, more like a “Europe of the Fatherlands” uniting with China, with Russia, with the Belt and Road Initiative, the Eurasian Economic Union [EAEU], and European countries, to cooperate fully in this new paradigm is absolutely there.

Well, I think that that is also the only way how Europe can impact the strategic situation:  Because if you had a united Europe of the Fatherlands cooperating with the Belt and Road Initiative, including Germany and France, that would be the best way to get the United States to also give up their opposition — which I said, is not Trump himself, but these other forces — and get the United States to join the new paradigm.  And I think this is the [i]only[/i] hope we have to avoid a catastrophe where we would end in World War III with nuclear weapons, meaning the extinction of civilization. So in that sense, what Italy is doing right now, is of the greatest historical importance, because Italy, with what you are doing, with the MOU but also with the joint ventures with China in Africa, can become the role model for all the other European countries.

But the New Silk Road is not just an economic concept. Obviously, infrastructure, investment, all of this is extremely important, as the backbone, but it has a much more, and not so well-known cultural/moral dimension, which I think is best expressed in the fact that the Chinese thinking is actually based on the Confucian theory, namely, that you absolutely must have harmony among all the nations, developing all in a harmonious way.  And when some think tanks say that there is now a competition of systems between the Western liberal model and the state-guided model of the Chinese state economy, well, what they really mean is, China has developed its whole policy based on a Confucian orientation, which means that the state is also in charge of the moral improvement of its population through the aesthetical education.  As a matter of fact, Xi Jinping has said repeatedly, that he puts the highest emphasis on the aesthetical education, 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 West regard that as a competition, is because Western neo-liberal and liberal philosophy has moved away from that conception:  We are no longer humanists.  We are no longer thinking as during the Italian Renaissance or the German Classical period, but we have replaced that with a liberal thinking of “everything is allowed,” every degenerate form of culture is allowed, everything goes — I don’t want to elaborate that, but if you look at the violence, the pornography in the entertainment, we don’t have to worry.  We will lose that competition of the systems, simply because we are not taking care of our future generations, but allowing them to completely morally decay.

And that is why I think that we have to understand that the only way how Europe can persist in the coming future is not through military power — what Mr. Macron is proposing is ridiculous — but we will preserve our European culture [i]only[/i] if we return to the greatest tradition of our own history, meaning reviving the spirit and the ideas and principles of the Italian Renaissance, of the Ecole Polytechnique of France, of the German Classical music, literature, and poetry.  Only if we rise again to our best traditions can we persist in the coming world.

So I think that the cultural dimension of the New Silk Road is as important, if not more important, than the question of economics.

I would be happy to take any questions.  Thank you.


Italy’s Conte to Sign MOU on Belt and Road During Xi Jinping’s Visit

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.”


Presenting Our New “World Land-Bridge” Report in Portugal and Spain

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.


Sputnik France Covers Schiller Institute Nov 6 Paris conference

Paris, Nov. 24Maxime Perrotin from Sputnik France, authored two in-depth articles covering the ideas presented at the Schiller Institute’s November 6 conference in Paris. Our conference was 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.


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