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Make Trade, Not War

June 13, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—The just-concluded 10th Arab-China Business Conference, held for the first time in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, drew more than 2,000 participants, and signified the shift of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries towards business and economic growth with China. Last year, trade between Arab countries and China had already surged 31% higher than 2021, and China is building a modern steel plant in Saudi Arabia. Over the two days of the conference, at least 30 trade deals, worth $10 billion, were signed.

The conference was capped by Dilma Rousseff, president of the New Development Bank, who delivered the closing keynote speech, saying: “China and Saudi Arabia have the potential to rewrite the rules of the global energy market, leading the way in diversifying currencies and embracing new models of economic collaboration.” Rousseff added that the China-Saudi partnership can also inspire the Global South to expand internal and external regional trade, offering great possibilities to countries currently marginalized by the traditional international financial system.

President of Honduras Xiomara Castro met with China’s Xi Jinping yesterday in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Honduras, which only a few months ago had recognized Taiwan as the real China, is now the latest country to join the Belt and Road Initiative. Castro told Xi, with great clarity, that, with Honduras having experienced the cruelty of the neoliberal system, her goal is

“to achieve real and equitable human development to obtain real independence. That’s why we’re here.... We have the possibility to define, plan and execute joint investment projects with co-financing for infrastructure, roads, ports, airports, telecommunications, energy, food security, research, science, technology, railroad construction between the Atlantic and the Pacific and a Free Trade Agreement which takes into account our asymmetries. The history of art and culture are essential in this relationship with China.”

The President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Beijing today, where he will meet with Xi on China’s April 17 peace initiative for Israel and Palestine. There have been no direct peace talks between the two for nine years now. But China’s patient, sustained, relentlessly optimistic approach worked a semi-miracle with Iran and Saudi Arabia, overcoming deep religious fracture lines.

The annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum opens on June 14. Despite all the Western pressures to isolate Russia, over 100 countries are attending—leaving the EU and the U.S. mumbling on the sidelines.

There’s an outbreak of common sense, of sanity, amongst a large part of the Global Majority (aka Global South). The moves away from the dollar to trade based upon local currencies is expanding to physical-economic projects defining the ability of countries to defend their local currencies.

And, of note, leaders of countries are beginning to learn how not to flinch before the vaunted neoliberal system of financial speculation. After U.S. Secretary of State Blinken had descended upon Riyadh last week to emphasize to the Saudis why they had to keep their distance from China, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, when asked about Western criticism of the Saudis’ diplomacy with China, simply responded: “I totally ignore it.”

When the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen went to Brazil to lecture President Lula on the laughably ridiculous “Ukraine Peace Plan,” Lula held his ground. He “reiterated that there must be a path to peace, as further escalation and the use of force carries enormous risks. There is no military solution to this conflict.” Then his punch line: “We need more diplomacy in response to invasions of Ukraine, Palestine, or Yemen. The horrors of war and the suffering of people cannot be solved in a selective way, the fundamental principles of international law must be valid for everyone.”

The consistent, systematic role of the Schiller Institute’s conferences have relentlessly kept on the road of deliberating over what is necessary, when too many went with the “what will people easily agree with” path. If the connection is not yet obvious, simply go to the latest conference, from June 10, “The World Needs JFK’s Vision of Peace!” and study how it is done. The key to peace is economic development, and the key to economic development is the creativity of the human soul and mind.

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