This article appears in the June 28, 2019 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
CALIFORNIA BELT & ROAD FORUM
An Historic Opportunity for the USA
In the midst of a flare-up of tensions between the United States and China, sparked by the Anglo-American establishment’s fierce commitment to drive a wedge between the two nations, the Schiller Institute and the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles co-sponsored a forum in Glendale, California on June 15, titled “China’s Belt and Road Initiative—A Historic Opportunity for the USA,” to promote the idea of cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Helga Zepp-LaRouche addressed the forum by pre-recorded video. We present here an edited transcript of her address, followed by a report on the forum.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: I’m very happy to talk to you, because I think that the relationship between the United States and China, for the future of humanity, is the most important question. And I’m absolutely sure, based on my experience with people from both countries, that the people have no problem with each other, especially once they get to know their respective cultures.
But as people are painfully aware, in the recent period, there has been in the United States a quite nasty campaign against China: Confucius Institutes, Chinese students, Chinese scientists have been treated as being not welcome. And many think tanks and even security papers have targetted China as a systemic competitor, or even as an adversary.
This is very dangerous. If the United States and China end up in the so-called “Thucydides trap,” meaning that the rising power is regarded as a threat by the up-to-now dominant power, it will lead to war, and probably the final catastrophe for all of mankind.
Why is this all of a sudden happening?
Well, since it started its opening up and reform policy, China has accomplished the most incredible economic miracle in all of human history. The Belt and Road Initiative has not only transformed China, but now China is offering its very successful approach to other developing countries. I was very excited, just recently, when President Xi Jinping extended an offer to Brazil to join in development and research regarding the far side of the Moon—which for me, is the absolute proof that China is sharing even its most advanced technologies with developing countries. For the developing sector, this cooperation with China has really brought an incredible hope that, for the first time, these countries can overcome underdevelopment and poverty.
Why Be Upset About the BRI?
The United States and Europe should not be upset about the BRI, because they could have done the same thing. Why did the United States and Europe not develop Africa, Latin America, and most of the Asian countries?
Now there is an opportunity to remedy that, by not only cooperating with the Belt and Road Initiative in Africa, in Asia, even in Europe and Latin America, but emphatically to take the approach of the President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, who said that Panama will cooperate with the Belt and Road Initiative, while emphatically inviting the United States to be part of it. I think the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, said something similar very recently.
We want to encourage a whole chorus of countries, around the world, to issue the same message: We want to cooperate with the Belt and Road Initiative, and we emphatically insist that the United States should be part of it. I think that otherwise a solution to the urgent problems of the world will not be found. There are many urgent problems, not only the U.S.-China trade war, which has made people very upset in China, but also, as Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out at the recent St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the model of globalization is presently deteriorating.
So, we hope that at the upcoming G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan later this month, the Presidents of the United States, Russia, China, and the Prime Minister of India, will decide to implement a new credit system—a New Bretton Woods system—because it is urgent to avoid the danger of a coming financial crash of the Western financial system. If a decision is made to implement a new system, then other countries could rapidly join.
And I think we are at such an historical epoch, in which we can now envision the development of a completely new potential of civilization. We should look at what mankind can and will have to achieve 100 years from now: In 100 years, we will have, hopefully, commercial fusion energy that will give us energy security, and with fusion torch technology, we will be able to “create” new raw materials, by separating waste into its constituent isotopes and, by putting them together again, to create new resources. One of the main reasons for tensions—shortages of energy and raw materials— will be solved.
In 100 years from now, we will also have international cooperation in the colonization of space and the beginning of interstellar space travel. I think a recent example of such international cooperation is the first imaging of a black hole, which required the tightly coordinated joint effort of radio telescopes in eight different countries, spanning the entire globe, from Spain, to Chile, to the United States, to the Antarctic, and to other countries. That accomplishment also really showed not only that Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity is proven correct, but that we have to make new breakthroughs in our knowledge of the laws of the universe, new physics, and that can only be done through international cooperation.
So, I think if we focus on that, and the common aims of mankind, then the beautiful vision of President Xi Jinping, to have a shared community for the future of the one mankind, can become a reality.
Daniel Platt’s Report on the Conference
June 23—Among the eminent personalities who took part in the forum were the consuls general of Kenya and Belgium, as well as consular officials from Armenia and Malaysia, and a large delegation from the consulate of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
As is traditional at Schiller Institute events, music was first on the program, this time a movement from the Partita in E minor for unaccompanied violin by J.S. Bach, performed by a student from the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts.
Schiller Institute founder and chairperson Helga Zepp-LaRouche, followed the music, via a pre-prepared video, greeting the attendees and provided a strategic context for the meeting.
Mrs. 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 methodology of the BRI, stressing that there is extensive consultation between China and the many, many other participating nations, and that all parties participate as equals and share in the benefits. He provided examples of the projects 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.
At the end of his speech, Shi departed from his notes and became more animated as he addressed the tensions in China’s relationship with the United States, referring numerous times to Zepp-LaRouche’s remarks. He highlighted the good relations between the Chinese and American people, including the large number of American tourists going to China and the large number of Chinese students studying in U.S. universities, emphasizing that there was a place at the table for the United States.
Following Shi’s presentation, there were remarks by Richard Chen, a board member of the U.S.-China Forum, who had acted as an interpreter for Chairman Deng Xiaoping during his historic visit to the United States in 1979. Chen said that the two great accomplishments of the United States after World War II were the establishment of the United Nations and the Marshall Plan, comparing China’s BRI and current role with respect to the developing nations to the Marshall Plan.
Addressing two BRI projects that have been criticized by BRI detractors as failures—the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Sri Lanka and the proposed East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia—Chen said that China is learning from these two projects that are exceptions to the otherwise stunning success of the BRI, and that the failures were due to issues internal to Sri Lanka and Malaysia, not China.
Concluding Remarks and Discussion
Schiller Institute representative Daniel Platt illustrated his concluding presentation with two historic paintings of 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 British 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” and Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s vision of humanity entering adulthood. He discussed the historical parallels between the United States and China—Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s embrace of the economic conceptions of Abraham Lincoln and their shared approach to infrastructure development.
Platt then reviewed the history of the proposals made by Lyndon LaRouche, beginning with LaRouche’s 1988 Kempinski Hotel address in Berlin and the early plans for the Eurasian Land-Bridge, and concluded with a map of the World Land-Bridge and a discussion of the Bering Strait Tunnel proposal.
A lively discussion session followed the presentations. The PRC Deputy Consul General was very happy to be addressing a supportive American audience. Questions were asked about how to get the United States to join the BRI; China’s relationship to the Philippines; why the focus of the BRI was on railways instead of air travel; the cost of the BRI; how to use the BRI to stop the genocide in Yemen; how to involve libraries in promoting the BRI; and whether China had asked or told the United States before it launched the BRI. On this last question, the Consul General of Belgium remarked from the floor that there were no secrets: that Europe as a bloc was consulting with the BRI via the EU.
The PRC delegation was happy about the collaboration with the Schiller Institute, and more such meetings to educate the American public are expected to follow.
News coverage of the forum appeared in a short posting in ChinaDaily USA’s website on June 18 and also on the Chinese-language website, chinesenewsusa.com, which published a longer story on the forum, including pictures of the speakers and the audience.