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This article appears in the November 16, 2018 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.


It’s Now or Never for the New Silk Road!

[Print version of this article]

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World map projecting the extent of the future World Land-Bridge.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the founder and President of the international Schiller Institutes, delivered this keynote in English to a Nov. 6, 2018 conference to announce the release of Les Nouvelles Routes de la soie, Pont terrestre mondial: Pour en finir avec la géopolitique, the French edition of The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge, sponsored by the Schiller Institute in Paris, France. This is the edited transcript of her remarks. A video is available.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to say something a little bit provocative in the beginning, namely that this report, The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge, actually offers solutions to almost all major problems on this planet. Now, by that I mean that it offers a solution to the dangers of a new financial crash; it offers the solution to the refugee crisis by proposing extensive development plans for Africa and also the reconstruction of Southwest Asia. It is really a blueprint for the next economic platform for all of humanity.

This is not any longer just a plan. When my husband and I and our associates worked on the Eurasian Land-Bridge concept in 1991, this was our response to the collapse of the Soviet Union. We proposed the Eurasian Land-Bridge as a peace plan for the 21st century. And this would have been perfect, because it would have allowed the existing industrial capacities of the Comecon countries [Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, the East bloc] to be used to transform the Eurasian continent. It was a perfect, feasible idea, but at that time, strong geopolitical reasons caused it to be rejected. In France, François Mitterrand was opposed to German reunification; Madame Thatcher in Great Britain, and, George Bush, Sr., for geopolitical reasons, wanted to transform the superpower Soviet Union into a Russia reduced to just a raw materials-exporting, third world country.

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Delegates at the Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, April 1955.

So, instead of adopting our plan, which was under consideration already then, they instead went for “shock therapy” and, from 1991-1994, dismantled the industrial capacities of Russia to only 30% of what it had been. What followed was the decade of the Yeltsin genocide, in which the Russian population was decimated by 1 million per year, due to that economic shock therapy.

But the Schiller Institute continued to organize conferences and seminars on five continents, and therefore, in 2013, when Xi Jinping announced in Kazakhstan the New Silk Road, we were extremely happy. Because now the idea had added power, namely the power of the second-largest economy in the world, soon, in all likelihood, to be the largest economic power.

The Belt and Road Initiative

The Belt and Road Initiative, as it is generally called by China, in my view is the most important strategic initiative on the planet, because it is based on the idea of a win-win cooperation, not that one country has dominance, but that there is respect for the principles which come from the 1955 Bandung Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement: respect for sovereignty, respect for the social systems of other countries, mutual benefit, and non-interference in the internal political affairs of other countries.

The conception by Xi Jinping, to build a “shared community for the future of humanity,” is a conception that is really based on the thinking of Nicholas of Cusa, who developed the concept of the “coincidence of opposites,” the idea that you can conceive of the One, the one humanity, and that that One is of a higher magnitude than the Many. And that you can overcome, actually, all conflicts, once you are capable of thinking in terms of the coincidence of opposites. It is a concept to overcome geopolitics, it is the idea that no longer must the world be separated into blocs, where one country or a group of countries is pursuing its interest at the expense of the other, against the other bloc; but that there is actually a possibility to have a concept which is benefitting everybody at the same time, to overcome the zero-sum thinking, to overcome the idea that one wins and the other must lose.

During the last five years, China has been pursuing this policy, and it has completely changed the world. It has changed the dynamic among countries. More than 110 nations and international organizations are already participating in it; it has completely changed the situation in the so-called “developing sector.”

The New Silk Road conception is the precondition for any economic development anywhere in the world, namely providing infrastructure. All this happened in just four years—in Africa, Latin America, Asian countries, even some European countries. And for four years, the Western states practically pretended this was not going on. There was almost no coverage in the mainstream media. You had the largest infrastructure development program in the world capturing the imagination of so many countries—the New Silk Road Spirit catching on—and the West pretended it did not exist.

Then about one year ago, all or most of the think-tanks of Europe and the United States discovered all of a sudden an expanding New Silk Road, taking over the world, or so they thought, and they started to put out slanders, negative propaganda about what the real intentions were of the Chinese, by saying it’s China’s effort to replace the United States as the dominant power; it is neocolonialism; it is causing a “debt trap” for those countries that are receiving credit from China; China is trying to impose its “authoritarian model” over the world; and the EU, all of a sudden, said, no, we want to have our own “connectivity” because we want to control the rules, and there was a rather heavy reaction against the New Silk Road, which continues to the present day, which is why most people in the West really have no good idea of what this New Silk Road is.

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Xinhua/Pang Xinglei
Chinese President Xi Jinping (front center) and African leaders on their way to the opening ceremony of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Sept. 3, 2018.

The New Silk Road is in fact undoing the damage done to the developing countries by 500 years of colonialism and 70 years of IMF conditionalities, preventing the developing countries from achieving the goals of the Non-Aligned Movement. Not only were there IMF conditionalities, the World Wildlife Fund was also trying to impose completely ludicrous environmentalist considerations for the most part, treating snails as more important than millions of human beings. And there was, naturally, the despicable philosophy of the Club of Rome, telling all that there are limits to growth, that the resources of the planet are limited, and that therefore there can only be “sustainable” development and “appropriate technology,” a euphemism for no development. “Appropriate technology” means putting Africa and other continents in the condition they were in before the New Silk Road began.


Look at what happened at the BRICS annual summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the beginning of September. There, and also, a little bit later, at the FOCAC summit, the big Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, where all the heads of state and government of Africa said that it is not at all true that their countries are being put into a “debt trap”; to the contrary, China’s New Silk Road projects are enabling these countries for the very first time to have industrial development, and that investment in this infrastructure is paying for itself, because it is generating the wealth that will make it very easy to pay back. On top of the fact that China has granted many of the loans and just forgiven some of them. So, the African leaders themselves said that this debt trap story is a complete lie.

China is proving that all the accusations are a complete lie, not least by the China International Import Expo (CIIE) underway in Shanghai, which is a gigantic event. There are 400,000 buyers and 3,600 companies from 172 countries. Xi Jinping’s very powerful speech announced that China will import $40 trillion worth of imports in goods and services over the next fifteen years and that the whole New Silk Road is not a solo performance but rather a chorus.

At the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in October 2017, Xi Jinping announced China’s goals: by 2020 China will eliminate all poverty within China; by 2025 China will be a world leader in ten advanced categories of technology; by 2035 China will be a modern socialist country with good living standards for all of its population; and by 2050 China will be a democratic, harmonious, beautiful country. But this is a goal not only for China, but by 2050 all the countries of the world should be participating in this community of harmonious development.

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Xinhua/Chen Cheng
Mazeras Bridge of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya.

The reason I said this perspective is not only the most important initiative, but also the only initiative on the planet, is that nobody else offers a perspective for a future cooperation of all of mankind as it is being promoted by China.

In his speech at the Import Expo in Shanghai, Xi Jinping also said something very important—that innovation is the key driver of continuous economic developments, that innovation is the biggest driving force for the well-being of humanity, and that is the reason that China was able to have continuous growth rates in the beginning of 12% (now averaging somewhere close to 7%, 8%); and the reason China is not undergoing cyclical crises is that it has this continuous focus on innovation.

That is actually very close to what Lyndon LaRouche developed in terms of his economic policy, as expressed in the machine-tool principle—that the only source of wealth is the increase in the creativity of the labor force. This takes place through the discovery of new scientific principles and in the application of these principles to the production process. Those applied discoveries lead to an increase of productivity, an increase in living standards, an increase in longevity. The Chinese model is, therefore, actually successful, while the Western model of neo-liberal profit maximization for a small elite at the expense of the majority, leading to an increase of the gap between the rich and the poor, is a relatively unsuccessful model.

American System & World Land-Bridge

As we elaborate in the Land-Bridge report, the Chinese model of economy and the American System of economy are actually much, much closer than most people think. Alexander Hamilton and Friedrich List both pursued this idea. List is the most famous Western economist in China. In his discussion of the American System versus the British system, List wrote that the British system is a free trade system in which so-called wealth is accumulated from “buying cheap and selling dear,” and controlling the trade in those goods. The American System of economy, on the other hand, rejects that idea. The true concept of wealth, as expounded and promoted by the American System, is the excellence of the labor force and the education of people. That is really what produces wealth.

There is one other element necessary to understanding what China is doing, and that is that I am absolutely convinced that the Chinese leadership is drawing from Confucius, and in particular, that the person of Xi Jinping, is deeply a Confucian philosopher. The Confucian tradition has the idea that every human being has the potential of becoming a junzi, a wise person, and that it is the aesthetical education which improves the character of the people.

In a recent exchange between Xi Jinping and eight professors from the Academy of Fine Arts, they asked him, “What is the importance of aesthetical education?” Xi Jinping answered that he puts the highest priority on aesthetical education, because the goal of education is a beautiful mind. Now, that is an idea which used to be a Western idea when we still believed in humanist ideals and Classical art, but unfortunately the West has moved away from these ideals and a lot of the conflicts really come from that.

Francesco La Camera, Director General of the Italian Environment Ministry (left) and Ambassador Mamman Nuhu, Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, sign the protocol for an Italian grant of 1.5 million euros to finance a feasibility study for Transaqua.

I want to identify two other major problems the World Land-Bridge approach can solve: As I said, the refugee crisis has demonstrated that there is no European unity, there is no European solidarity, and that Europe, up to now—with the exception I would say, of the Italian, the Spanish, and the Portuguese governments, and Greece—has been relatively unwilling to correct its policies regarding Africa. Xi Jinping has offered many times—not least, at the 2017 G-20 summit in Hamburg—that China wants to join hands for joint development projects in Africa. But only the Italian government—with the Memorandum of Understanding to build the Transaqua project—is on board.

Transaqua, an enormous project, will involve bringing about 3% of the water from the tributaries of the Congo River, through a system of inland canals, to Lake Chad. It’s a gigantic project, one the Schiller Institute was instrumental in bringing about, through bringing together PowerChina, a large engineering firm, and Bonifica, the Italian engineering firm that developed this Transaqua concept. It will completely transform the heart of Africa by providing the 12 surrounding countries with hydropower, water for irrigation, and other core infrastructure for industrialization.

In this report, there is a whole section on the development of Africa: China has built railways from Djibouti to Addis Ababa and many other lines. All the European countries should be saying, “We agree with China,” together with Russia, India, Japan, Indonesia, Turkey, and the other countries that have long since discovered that the African continent is the continent of the future. The approach from Europe should be to join in, saying “Let’s go to Africa.”

By the year 2050, Africa will have 2.5 billion people. Most will be young. And contrary to the Europeans who say, “Oh, refugees, poverty, immigrants . . .,” the Chinese are saying, and Xi Jinping has said, that the African continent is the continent with the biggest development potential; there will be a lot of young people, who if skilled, will make Africa “the new China with African characteristics.” In other words, Africa can replicate the speed and the quality of the Chinese model. But naturally, it would require that the Europeans change their attitude and help to provide the kinds of infrastructure needed.

This is an ideal whose time has come, and one of our reasons for publishing this report, is to put this immediate development perspective on the table, not only in France, but also for all the French-speaking African countries. We will try to distribute this report in all of these countries in the widest possible form.

U.S. Trade Deficit Bugaboo

One last point: The entire world right now is racked by the conflict between China and the United States in terms of the trade deficit. There are some people who are thinking in terms of the so-called “Thucydides Trap,” in which a rising power threatens to surpass the dominant power—and that may lead to war. In history, there have been 16 cases where a rising power overtook the dominant power, and in twelve of those cases it led to large wars; and in four cases, the rising power just displaced the previously hegemonic power.

Now, obviously, it should be clear to everybody that in a time of thermonuclear weapons, should general war occur between the United States and Russia and China, there would be no human race left. Because it is the nature of nuclear war, that once it is started, the entirety of all arsenals will be used, and that means, with a 99.9% probability, the annihilation of civilization.

The remarks of Lt. Gen. (ret.) Ben Hodges, the former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, at a recent Warsaw Security Forum, where he said, “I think in 15 years—it’s not inevitable—but it is a very strong likelihood that we will be at war with China,” are not helpful.

There is another way.

President Trump is facing a very important vote today. When he came into office, he developed an excellent relationship with Xi Jinping, and there is the hope that he could go back to that, once the British-inspired coup against him is defeated, which could happen in the short term. There will be a summit between Xi Jinping and Trump, and maybe Putin, at the G-20 later this month. And there is a conception of how the U.S. trade deficit can be overcome, namely by large investments, joint investments between the United States and China in third countries, for example, in Latin America, in Asia, in Africa. And you could balance the trade deficit by simply making the cake much larger.

A Uniquely Creative Species

I wish to end with one idea, and that is that the human species is the only creative species. At least, we haven’t discovered any such others in the two trillion galaxies found by the Hubble Space Telescope. Given that we are a creative species, we should be able to give ourselves a joint order to live together. What this World Land-Bridge proposes, is not to look at the status quo and then project from there, beginning with all the different problems we have in the world today, but to have a vision of the future: Think about how we should live together as a human species one hundred years from now, where hopefully we have thermonuclear fusion, which will provide energy and raw materials security for the entire species; where hopefully we will have industrialized the Moon; where we look at joint, international space travel and exploration as that which unites us as one humanity.

So, while it is clear that there will be shocks and difficulties to overcome, I think if we firmly have the vision in mind of the shared future of one humanity, all problems can be solved.