Xi Jinping’s Ibero-American Tour
Signals Global Strategic Shift
by Cynthia R. Rush
[Print version of this article]
Nov. 28—On the eve of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Nov. 17 arrival in Ecuador for a state visit, that country’s President Rafael Correa stated that Xi’s visit “was the most important visit by a head of state in Ecuador’s history,” adding that China’s involvement in Ecuador’s economic development had “changed Ecuador’s history” forever.
Also anticipating Xi Jinping’s arrival, Chile’s former ambassador to China, Fernando Reyes Matta, told Xinhua, “we will joyfully welcome Xi Jinping to Chile. . .We have new subjects [to discuss], new potentialities to dream, create and imagine with our feet placed in the 21st Century to develop both nations.”
These remarks are emblematic of the breathtaking shift in the global strategic situation, including in Ibero-America, away from the rotting trans-Atlantic financial system and toward the Russia- and China-led New Paradigm of “win-win” cooperation, to transform the planet with massive infrastructure development and advanced science and technology. This is what Xi Jinping has repeatedly referred to, over the past few years, and in last week’s Ibero-American tour, as building a “Community of Common Destiny.”
The optimism and enthusiasm with which the Chinese President was greeted during his Nov. 17-23 state visits to Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, during which he outlined exciting proposals for broader cooperation at all levels, and the response to his crucial intervention at the Nov. 19-20 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima, offered stunning confirmation of this shift in a region where, only three months ago, London and Wall Street financial predators were boasting they had taken back the region for “their” side, after staging a coup against Brazil’s nationalist President Dilma Rousseff. That international bankers’ coup was intended to pull Brazil out of the BRICS, of which it is a founding member, or greatly weaken its role.
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The explosive response to Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s keynote presentation at the Nov. 17-20 annual congress of the Economists Association of Peru, held in the Amazonian city of Pucallpa, was another powerful indicator of this strategic shift. Organized around the theme “The Peru-Brazil Bioceanic Train: Impact on the Economy of the Amazon Region and the Country,” the conference heard Zepp-LaRouche speak on Nov. 17, the same day that Xi Jinping began his Ibero-American tour, on the subject of “the New Silk Road Concept: Facing the Collapse of the World Financial System.”
The broad impact of her keynote—hundreds of DVDs of it are circulating widely— was such that in summarizing the results of the Pucallpa gathering, in a document sent out to 20,000 members, Roberto Vela Pinedo, the Dean of the Ucayali chapter of the Economists Association which hosted the national congress, pointedly wrote that “analyzing the keynote address presented to us by Dr. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, we share the perspective on world development that her message presented.” (See page 9.)
Center of Gravity Has Shifted
In a Nov. 20 discussion with associates, Zepp-LaRouche emphasized that these developments reflect the international shift in “the center of gravity and power” to the “new power center” located in the New Paradigm and China’s One Belt, One Road initiative—a dynamic which has also been shaped by Lyndon and Helga LaRouche’s own decades-long fight on behalf of the World Land-Bridge conception—which has evolved in accelerating fashion in a series of rapid-fire regional conferences in the past two months leading up to the APEC summit. The Sept. 2 meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok was followed by the Sept. 4-5 G-20 meeting in Hangzhou, China, the Sept. 6-7 Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Laos and the Oct. 16 BRICS summit in Goa, India—all sharply focused on integrating the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with China’s One Belt, One Road initiative.
Today’s reality, Zepp-LaRouche said, is that the “trans-Atlantic establishments are completely incapable of understanding that their model of globalization and neoliberal distribution of wealth from the poor to the rich has completely failed, and they are neither able to predict developments nor can they cope with the consequences of” such events as the June Brexit vote in Britain or the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump in the United States.
APEC: Death Knell for the TPP
The APEC summit, and the bilateral meetings and discussion that took place around it, reflected this new global reality, starting with its delivering a well-deserved burial for Barack Obama’s hideous Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the bankers’ corporate dictatorship disguised as a free trade agreement. While lame duck Obama couldn’t even be bothered with addressing the summit—he was off trying to impress young Peruvians at a “town hall” meeting at Lima’s Catholic University— Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and other regional leaders seriously debated bold new initiatives to transform the Asia-Pacific region, a centerpiece of which is China’s proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), first proposed at the 2014 APEC summit in Beijing.
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In the past, Xi has used the annual APEC summits to launch major global initiatives. In 2014, aside from proposing the FTAAP, in a press conference with the hapless Obama standing at his side, he also announced the New Silk Road initiative and urged the United States and other nations to join in. Obama refused the offer. Then in 2015, in Manila, Xi announced the formation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), again emphasizing it was open to the entire world. Obama turned his back on it. Now, in 2016, Xi is doing the same with the FTAAP.
Unlike the TPP, which was designed specifically to exclude China, the FTAAP would include all nations of the Asia-Pacific region wishing to join, including the United States, and is intended to foster the physical-economic development of the participating nations. As Xi emphasized in his Nov. 19 speech to the APEC CEO summit, the FTAAP “is a strategic initiative for the long-term prosperity of the Asia-Pacific,” which is directly linked to the Belt and Road initiative which China proposed three years ago. “We need a framework of regional cooperation of equality, joint participation, and shared benefits. Arrangements that are closed and exclusive are not the correct option,” he stressed. The “2016 Leaders’ Declaration,” issued at the end of the APEC summit, reiterates their “commitment to the eventual realization” of the FTAAP.
Xi stressed that over 100 countries and international organizations have joined in, or expressed support for, the One Belt, One Road initiative, forming “a close circle of friends brought together by the common vision, mutual trust and friendship.” The AIIB, he said, “is up and running. The Silk Road Fund is in place . . . China welcomes all parties to join this initiative to meet challenges, share opportunities and seek common development.”
As he did at the early-September G-20 summit in Hangzhou, Xi stressed that the role of science and innovation is key, in solving the global economic crisis. “We will continue to pursue the strategy of innovation-driven development and deepen R&:D structural reform to change outdated mindset and remove institutional obstacles, to fully leverage the role of science and technology in economic and social developments, and tap into all sources of innovation.”
This is exactly what thinking Ibero-Americans want to hear.
‘A Land of Vitality and Hope’
In what was clearly a coordinated move, just one day after Xi Jinping concluded his tour, on Nov. 24, China’s Foreign Ministry issued a very detailed policy paper on China, Latin America, and the Caribbean, which it describes as a “blueprint for the future,” based on “new ideas and proposals and initiatives” to deepen cooperation in a multitude of areas, including infrastructure building, technology transfer, manufacturing, science and technology, and aerospace, among others. Describing Latin American and the Caribbean as “a land full of vitality and hope,” the document states that China’s relations with Latin America and the Caribbean are in “a new stage of comprehensive cooperation” at a time when the world is undergoing “unprecedented historical changes, with multipolarity and globalization gaining momentum.”
The partnership among China, Latin America, and the Caribbean, it underscores, “is a shining example of developing countries working together to seek common development.”
It is precisely this optimistic, future-oriented perspective to which Ibero-American leaders responded in the course of Xi’s tour. In Ecuador and Chile, presidents Rafael Correa and Michelle Bachelet, respectively, signed agreements to upgrade their bilateral ties with China to the level of a “comprehensive strategic partnership,” something already done by Peru during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s May 2015 visit.
In both cases, that upgrade will mean expanded cooperation on several fronts, involving traditional areas such as mining, energy and agriculture, but also it is aimed at diversifying the relationship away from raw materials export and toward becoming partners with China, both in national industrialization plans and coordination in international affairs. Although the Obama Administration had strongly pressured Bachelet not to stray from the TPP, following her Nov. 21 meeting with Xi, during which they signed twelve cooperation agreeements, the Chilean President voiced support for the FTAAP—leaving the TPP issue hanging—and announced that her goverment wished to join the AIIB “as soon as possible.”
Ibero-America Must ‘Create Knowledge’
Science and technology are crucial components of these relationships as the Chinese Foreign Ministry document particularly emphasizes. As Chile’s former ambassador to China Fernando Reyes Matta put it in a Nov. 17 statement to Xinhua, “it’s time for Latin America and Chile to discover the meaning of the word ‘innovation.’ ” The fundamental principles of China’s development model, he said, “are related to the development of advanced science and technology.” Latin America, he asserted, must develop “the ability to create knowledge.”
President Correa was effusive in his praise for China in helping to finance his country’s high-tech “City of Knowlege” located at Yachay, which he described as Ecuador’s most important project, not because of its cost but because of its focus on the “hard sciences.” (See page 12.)
In an interview with Xinhua published Nov. 20, President Bachelet stressed that “science, technology and innovation” are top priorities in Chile’s bilateral relationship with China, and pointed to the importance of China’s offers to help build various rail and other bioceanic corridors across South America—a subject she had also emphasized to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his May 2015 visit to Chile. In this context, she pointed to the possibility of connecting the two countries via an underwater fiber-optic cable, “which would be a bridge to the rest of Latin America. . .important for both countries’ integration is what we can do in the Latin American region,” she said.
Among the twelve agreements signed by Bachelet and Xi was one to set up a China-Chile agricultural research and development center. Chile is one of South America’s premier agricultural producers, and both exports agricultural products to China and advises it on advanced agricultural techniques. Agriculture is a key component of the Peru-China relationship, as Xi mentioned. (See page 13.)
A highlight of Xi’s two-day visit to Ecuador was the inauguration ceremony of major high-tech projects made possible by Chinese financing, including the emergency 911 system China had helped develop, and the giant Coco Coda Sinclair hydroelectric dam in Ecuador’s remote Amazon region, built under Chinese engineering direction by a workforce of 7,000 Chinese and Ecuadoreans. The project, which took six years to build and is the largest energy project in Ecuador’s history, has a generating capacity of 1500 MW, and as one beaming official proudly announced, it is already exporting electricity to Colombia.
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The two Presidents were also connected by interactive video to the groundbreaking (by huge excavators) for a new hospital in the city of Chone, whose old hospital was completely destroyed in the April 2016 earthquake. The head of China’s CAMAC Engineering Co., which is in charge of the project, told the ceremony that CAMAC is committed to completing construction of the 120-bed hospital with state-of-the-art, earthquake-resistant technology.
Premier Li Keqiang’s May 19-26, 2015 trip to four Ibero-American nations—Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Chile—focused heavily on construction of bioceanic corridors and was met with great exicitement, with one Peruvian commentary at the time describing the proposed Brazil-Peru transcontinental rail project, first put forward at the July 2014 BRICS summit in Brazil, as auguring the arrival of the New Silk Road to the Americas.
In a May 25, 2015 China-Chile Business Forum attended by Li, President Bachelet said “it is important to have China’s support to attain the much-desired physical integration of South America through bioceanic corridors, in order to consolidate Chile’s role as a port and bridge-nation looking toward Asia. . .we need important infrastructure works, both in the region and in Chile.”
During Li’s visit to Peru last year, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by representatives of Brazil’s Transportation Ministry, Peru’s Transportation Ministry, and China’s National Reform and Development Commission to begin the feasility study on the Brazil-Peru transcontinental railroad.
As just occurred in Peru with her Nov. 17 address to the Economists Association congress in Pucallpa, on May 28, 2015, two days after Li Keqiang completed his tour, Zepp-LaRouche delivered a strategic briefing on “The Silk Road Becomes the World Land Bridge” to an international video-conference in Lima, entitled “The BRICS Alternative and the Development of Peru and South America,” sponsored by the Association of Alumni of Peru’s Superior War College (ADECAEM).
Joining Zepp-LaRouche as a speaker at that event was retired Chinese diplomat Dr. Liu Youfa, who emphasized the critical importance to Chinese-Ibero-American relations and their joint industrial development of building a transcontinental railroad, detailing the history of this “dream” which he said went back to South America’s forefathers.
Today, while Peru’s President and former Wall Street banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK) insists he wants to expand trade with China, and signed agreements with Xi Jinping to that effect during their state visit, he has no intention of allowing the dramatic transformation of Peru’s or South America’s interior that building the Brazil-Peru transcontinental railroad would bring about. Although the feasibility study on the project was completed by the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Co. (CREEC) and delivered to the government, PPK is refusing to release it to Congress or other interested parties.
When he appeared before the press following his hour-long meeting with Xi and accompanying cabinet ministers Nov. 21, PPK reported on a number of agreements signed by the two, but made no mention of the Brazil-Peru bioceanic rail project. Nor did anyone else. (See page 15.)
But should he try to continue with his sabotage, PPK may quickly discover that history will pass him by, just as it is doing with Brazil’s President Michel Temer or Argentina’s London-owned President Mauricio Macri, who assume their loyalty to London and Wall Street means their futures are secure. In the context of the global strategic shift and support for China’s “win-win” development cooperation, there will be no containing the repercussions of Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s intervention at the Economists Association conference in Pucallpa, and the broad interest, press coverage, and spontaneous organizing activity it has unleashed.
Just one indication of that: Carlos Tubino, one of eight congressman from the opposition “Fujimorista” Fuerza Popular party (of former presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori) who attended a parallel event in Pucallpa, coinciding with the Economists congress, denounced sabotage of the bioceanic project as treason, and announced that upon his return to Lima, he will call a hearing of the congressional transportation committee on the Brazil-Peru rail project and demand that PPK’s transportation minister appear for questioning.