Make American-Chinese Cooperation
for the New Silk Road, the Heart of
a Common Destiny for Mankind
The following speech was delivered by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, on June 17, 2017, to a conference sponsored by the Schiller Institute in Detroit, Michigan.
Dear Guests of the Schiller Institute Conference in Detroit:
If you only believe the Western media, especially the mainstream media in the United States, you actually would have quite a reason to be pessimistic, because what do you see? You see an unbelievable campaign against President Trump, a color revolution. You have a special prosecutor who is supposedly investigating Russia-gate, the absurd idea that Russia stole the election from Hillary Clinton, and gave it to Trump, a special prosecutor who investigates possible obstruction of justice, and you get the impression that it’s only a question of time when the presidency of President Trump will fail.
If that would be the only reality, it would be very bad for the people of America, and the world. For the people who have voted for Trump, which Hillary Clinton called cynically “the deplorables,” it would mean that they still have one hundred million jobs lacking, because that’s the actual figure which is not in the statistics, but that is the reality of unemployment in America. They would still have a dropping life expectancy rate, which is the surest indicator for a failing economy.
But this is not the whole reality: Because what the mainstream media are not reporting, is that there is already, right now, a completely new paradigm becoming a reality.
Less than four years ago, President Xi Jinping of China announced a completely new policy which he called the “New Silk Road.” He did that in September 2013 in Kazakhstan, and in the almost four years since, this new economic cooperation policy, the so-called Belt and Road Initiative, has taken on a dynamic that is absolutely breathtaking. It is already now about twenty times as big as the Marshall Plan in the post-war reconstruction after the Second World War. And it is not limited by that, by no means: It is open-ended.
There are already six major industrial development corridors, in various parts of the Eurasian continent. You have more than one hundred ten countries cooperating, and it extends to all of Asia. It already reaches—despite the policies of the European Union, which is very hesitant, to say the least—it reaches into Eastern and Central European countries, the Balkan countries. Italy is cooperating, as are Spain and Portugal. France has a positive attitude. Switzerland wants to be a hub of the New Silk Road, and even the small country of Luxembourg now recognizes the advantages of this new policy. It reaches into Latin America.
But from my standpoint, one of the most important things is that it has changed the nature of the crisis in Africa completely. By the Chinese building railways, from Djibouti to Addis Ababa—from Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Tanzania—reaching into the heart of Africa, it has completely changed the outlook of the Africans, in terms of a real perspective of overcoming poverty and underdevelopment.
The largest infrastructure project in history is now at least under consideration, in terms of a feasibility study: It is the Transaqua Project, which is the idea to refill Lake Chad, which has only ten percent of its original water at this point, and take some of the water from the tributaries of the Congo River and bring it along a system of rivers and canals, and this way, give hydropower to 12 countries which are along the route, bring in inland waterways, and provide plenty of water for irrigation of agriculture. So, it has completely changed the self-confidence of the Africans.
The View from China
There was, in mid-May, a very, very important summit in Beijing, the “Belt and Road Forum.” There were twenty-nine heads of state, representing, together with other top leaders, one hundred ten nations. There were 1,200 international delegates. And I had the extraordinary honor to be one of the invited speakers, and I could both speak and make a commentary at the Think-Tank Summit, which was part of the Belt and Road Forum. And then, I had the opportunity to have high-level meetings, in Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai, in the following two weeks.
And from that very fresh experience, I can tell you: The world looks completely different from this perspective.
First of all, the delegates at the Forum had the very distinct feeling of participating in the shaping of history, of the creation of a new world economic order, a completely new paradigm of mankind, where geopolitics is superseded by a “win-win cooperation” among all nations which participate in this project.
Now, what is being discussed and being realized, here, is to export the Chinese economic miracle, in a win-win form of cooperation among all the nations of Eurasia, Africa, Latin America, and so forth. People from China naturally know what the Chinese economic miracle is, but I think Americans tend to underestimate it. It is really the greatest economic achievement in the history of mankind, and I think it goes even beyond the famous German economic miracle. Because in 1949, when the People’s Republic of China was founded, because of the civil war and the war against Japan, the life expectancy in China was only thirty-five years. The infant mortality was twenty percent. The illiteracy rate was eighty percent.
Since the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping, but especially in the last thirty years, these kinds of economic policies have created an economic miracle that is unlike any other development in any other country. It lifted 800 million people out of poverty. At this point, there are only four percent left in severe poverty, and it is the aim of the Chinese government to overcome and eliminate that poverty by the year 2020. The life expectancy has gone up to seventy-six years average. The illiteracy rate is only four percent; it is probably much less than that in the United States, at this point.
And China has become the world leader in many areas, but especially in the building of fast train systems, and it has already constructed more than 20,000 km of fast train systems, and it has the aim to connect every Chinese city by the year 2020 with a fast train. That will probably be 50,000 km of such fast train lines.
Now, since the Belt and Road Forum took place in mid-May, you have had, in rapid sequence, two other major international economic events. One was the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, and then the Shanghai Cooperation Organization annual meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan. What you see in these meetings is the extremely rapid economic integration of the New Silk Road, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and reaching out even beyond that.
President Putin just gave an interview, where he invited all Russian citizens to ask questions, and he got two million questions. One question referred to the cooperation between the New Silk Road and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and he stated what is very obvious: That this does not just improve the relations between Russia and China, but it is of global importance for the well-being of the entire civilization. President Xi Jinping has said the same thing many, many times, that what we are talking about is a completely new approach to world affairs, a community for a shared future of mankind.
Obviously, the key for this Belt and Road Initiative to succeed, is that the relationship between the United States and China must be going well, and they must cooperate, because they are the two largest economies of the world. And when these two countries can find a new relationship between each other, I am absolutely confident that there is no single problem on the planet which cannot be solved.
On Thursday, there was a very important high-level meeting in New York, which was addressed by, among others, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, who basically gave us the story, that in history, it has happened sixteen times that a rising power was surpassing the existing dominant power. The ambassador noted that in twelve of these sixteen times it came to a war, and that four times, the rising power superseded the existing power.
He said that we do not want to have either the example of the twelve wars, nor the other four. What we are talking about is a completely new page in history, a true win-win cooperation—not a zero-sum game, where one wins and the other one loses, but a community of shared interest. In other words, that it is the key to what even many leaders in the United States have been warning about, that the United States does not fall into the so-called “Thucydides trap,” which refers historically to the same problem between the ancient Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta, which led to the Peloponnesian War, and finally, to the destruction of the Greek state.
The Real Reason for the Attacks on President Trump
Now, fortunately, with the election of President Trump, that danger is clearly very much diminished. There was a very good meeting in Mar-a-Lago, the first summit between President Trump and President Xi Jinping, earlier this year. As a follow-up, President Trump sent his advisor Matt Pottinger to the Belt and Road Forum in May. So this is on a very good route.
President Trump (@POTUS) on Twitter
But let me just say, in parenthesis, that this very positive attitude of President Trump to China—and Russia, actually—is the real reason why there is right now the attempt of a color revolution against President Trump. It is because Trump is about to improve the relationship with Russia and China, qualitatively, way beyond anything in the past. And it is the political forces representing the old paradigm, those people who thought that when the Soviet Union had collapsed that they would build an unipolar world and keep Russia down, prevent the rise of China: It is they who have started what President Trump has called an “unprecedented witch-hunt” against his Presidency, peddling the absolutely absurd idea that it was the Russians who stole the election from Hillary Clinton and gave it to Trump. These are the same people who are now leading the charge that President Trump was involved in obstruction of justice, which is a complete lie. Even the New York Post came to the conclusion that the unbelievable hearing by the former FBI Director James Comey was really a show, which can only be characterized as “J. Edgar Comey,” in a clear reference to J. Edgar Hoover, who used to blackmail Presidents and threaten them with the distribution of lies.
We should be absolutely aware: This is a very tense situation. It is not just what people now call the so-called “deep state,” meaning the military-industrial complex, the intelligence community, in combination with the mainstream media. We should not underestimate the role of the British Empire. It was the Financial Times calling for the impeachment of Trump. It was the New York Times, which is supporting this disgusting performance of Julius Caesar in New York, where the main actor playing Julius Caesar looks like Trump, and his wife is dressed up like Melania Trump, and celebrating the death and the murder of “Caesar,” every day. So, this is a very serious matter, but it can be defeated.
Privatization Won’t Work
In order to make the collaboration among the United States, Russia and China successful, however, we cannot leave the cooperation in infrastructure on the level of private investments. The problem with private investors is, that they want to have a twelve percent return, per year, which is a completely wrong idea, in terms of the function of infrastructure. If Trump would just add it to the Federal budget, he would have the same opposition from the Democrats and the Republicans, which brought down the repeal of Obamacare.
The privatization of large infrastructure just does not work. There was an example in recent history where this was attempted and led to a complete disaster. I want to remind you of it and tell you about it, and that was when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. We—that is my husband, Lyndon LaRouche, and myself—we proposed to take the “Productive Triangle,” the region from Paris, Berlin, Vienna, which was no longer separated by the wall, beef it up through modern technologies, and then have infrastructure development corridors into Eastern Europe, to Warsaw, Kiev, and the Balkans. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, we simply extended that conception to all of Eurasia, connecting the infrastructure corridors between Asia and Europe, and in this way, have the industrial and population centers of Europe and Asia connected.
This would have been the basis for a peace plan. It would have allowed the use of the industries of the Comecon for the modernization of the infrastructure of these countries with the help of Western technology, and it would have totally changed history for the better. But at that point, this was not the geopolitical intention of Margaret Thatcher, Mitterrand, or Bush Sr., and they went for privatization instead.
When the first part of the project, the Productive Triangle, was on the agenda, the chairman of Deutsche Bank, Alfred Herrhausen, had a similar proposal for the development of Poland, where he proposed to use the famous Credit Institution for Reconstruction [Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau] which had been the financial basis for the economic miracle of Germany after the Second World War. He was assassinated, and so was Detlev Rohwedder, who was in charge of restructuring the state-owned industries of the G.D.R., East Germany. He had come to the conclusion that he wanted to reconstruct them first, and then see what was socially acceptable, in terms of privatization. He was assassinated, and then, instead, they replaced him with a woman called Birgit Breuel, who went for rapid privatization. It led to a complete clear-cutting of the industry. The results are still to be felt today, because in the eastern part of Germany, there are still some towns and villages which are almost without people, because all the young people had moved away—there were no jobs left, and only those who were too old to move would stay.
The same thing happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Jeffrey Sachs went for “shock therapy,” and was able, in the privatization of state-owned industries, to cut the industrial power of Russia, between 1991-94 down to only one-third.
This had unbelievable social consequences. It led to a complete demographic collapse. Russia lost one million people each year in the 1990s under Yeltsin, and it was clearly a form of genocide, which was only reversed by President Putin. It led to the phenomenon of the “oligarchs,” people, who all of a sudden were billionaires, without doing any work.
The same problem now exists for Africa, and the Africans are very clear: They say, this whole policy by the European Union to go for private investment in infrastructure in Africa will not work, because private investors want profit, and they are not concerned about the future for Africa.
This is why my husband recently called for the full implementation of a national credit policy, a policy in the tradition of Alexander Hamilton, Glass-Steagall, a National Bank, a credit system, and in this way only can America be integrated into the New Silk Road effort.
What has to be understood is that there are certain areas of the economy where private interests cannot play a useful role, becuse the projects create a framework for the entire economy. Infrastructure is not just measured by the cost you invest in it, or by the profit you get out of it, from toll booths and other such means, but the true value of infrastructure is obviously the entire transformation of the productivity of industry, which is made possible as a result of the productivity of labor power.
A Policy for the Future
What we are talking about is an entirely new economic platform, which is defined by a new level of technology. In this time, it must be absolutely fast train systems, it must be the maglev, and what the United States really needs, given the fact that they have only a miserable 150 km of fast trains, somewhere between New York and Boston—and these trains only go up to 150 km per hour—what is needed in the United States is about 40,000 miles of a combination of maglev and fast trains, integrated with urban metro systems to reduce the average commuting time, from presently up to four hours, to only twenty minutes.
The efficiency of infrastructure is all the more important, the more developed the level of production is. For many areas, industrial urban areas, like New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Chicago, or the greater Detroit region, or Cleveland, Ohio, I would suggest what should be taken as a model is the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei model, which is planned to be turned into a . It’s called the “Jing-Jin-Ji model,” and it is supposed to take 130 million citizens, create one integrated new city of over 212,000 sq. km, integrate a system of airports, highways, fast train systems, maglev, and metro—so that for every person, it takes no more than twenty minutes to go from his house to his job. The trains should go about 200-350 kph.
In the case of the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin model, there is a specific role for every city. Beijing is supposed to focus on technology and culture; Tianjin will be a research base for manufacturing; Hebei will have a core in minor industries. A similar approach should be taken for the United States, including both a renewal of existing urban areas, where the infrastructure is absolutely desolate, totally decrepit, but also the creation of entirely new cities, science cities, where centers for scientific and technological cooperation and international projects will be put on the agenda.
I think, the biggest problem is: Do not just get stuck in the present problems. The infrastructure discussion in New York, as we saw it in the last couple of days: they don’t have a vision for the future yet. They think about how to fix LaGuardia Airport; they don’t consider that there could be population growth, or economic growth, or that with a fast train system, as we are proposing it, the function of airports would be completely different—so, maybe, you don’t want to focus only on the airport, you should start with a fast train system as part of an integrated infrastructure system.
What we have to do, is to look at this whole question from the standpoint of the future, from the standpoint of a completely new paradigm of cooperation among nations. We have to start with the idea of one mankind, of a completely new set of relations among nations, where nations are not just looking for their own interest, but start with the interest of the other. That was the basis of the Peace of Westphalia, which has been the basis for international law and it is now the basis for the idea of win-win cooperation. Then, we can concentrate on the common aims of mankind.
What are these common aims of mankind? We can find cures for diseases, which are still incurable today. We can develop the idea of energy and raw materials security, once we think about the commercial use of thermonuclear fusion power. We can think about the benefits for every nation, in joint cooperation in science and technology, of space collaboration. And we can imagine many, many more breakthroughs, breakthroughs where we don’t even know yet what questions to ask. That is the true nature of human creativity, that there are no limits to what human beings can accomplish.
We are still in the infancy of development of the human species. And I think we are very lucky that we are alive and can shape the future at this point. But I think the most crucial aspect for this whole perspective, to succeed, is: Make the American-Chinese cooperation for the New Silk Road function in the immediate period.