What the West Has To Learn from the Ongoing Transformation of China
Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Founder and president of the international Schiller Institute, reported on her recent trip to China in a webcast on Sept. 11, 2014 (in German, at bueso.de). We excerpt here that portion of her overall strategic briefing:
…We were just on a very interesting trip to China. We first visited western China, along the ancient Silk Road, where we conducted a kind of fact-finding tour. We traveled to some of the hubs of the ancient Silk Road, which gave us an incredibly good, sensuous impression of what a tremendous breakthrough the ancient Silk Road was, because the obstacles that had to be overcome at that time—2,000 years ago, during the Han Dynasty—were so gigantic, such as crossing the Gobi Desert, and even more so the Taklamakan Desert, where there are sand dunes 200 meters high and sandstorms that then blow everythng away again.
We visited not only some of the sites of China’s cultural heritage, but also saw films about the ancient Silk Road. We visited the famous caves of Dunhuang and several places along the Great Wall, including its furthest northwestern point, almost on the border of Xinjiang, which dates back 2,000 years.
It reminded me a bit of the poem “Ozymandias” [by Percy Shelley], where statues and buildings in the desert sand were blown away; and then, after 2,000 years, the question is: What remains of what a person did with his life?
It had a very profound effect on me. In any case, it was all very, very inspiring and instructive, because the Chinese government is obviously making extraordinary efforts to keep alive and strengthen in the population the awareness of its heritage.
A Giant Construction Program
We also, of course, were extremely enthusiastic to see the Lanzhou-Dunhuang railroad being built, which will reach Urumqui—i.e., it is really the ancient Silk Road to Xinjiang, but now connected by a high-speed rail system.
On the way from Lanzhou Airport to the city, a bus ride of about an hour, we saw the frenzied pace at which the railroad is being built. You can see bridges, then a few kilometers further there are embankments for the railway, then just marked-out routes or fortifications—everything going up at an incredible pace, in complete contrast to the way our projects are built [in Germany]. For example, it took ten years to build the ICE railroad from Cologne to Frankfurt, while China is obviously pushing ahead the development of its interior regions, and also the upgrading of the Silk Road, at a rapid tempo and also with high quality.
In the second week, we had many meetings and attended conferences in Beijing itself, and I will summarize my impressions.
The West’s Geopolitical Thinking
This is very important: We must get people in Germany and the rest of Europe and America to have a really correct understanding of what’s going on in China with the Silk Road and the space program. In a few days, there will be a big conference on space in Beijing, with all the astronauts, cosmonauts, and taikonauts who were ever in space, and who were invited by China to take part in the future Chinese space station.
But if you listen to the think-tanks in the West, from America and Europe, they all say: “Yes, China wants to increase its influence now: It wants imperialist expansion.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Because the think-tanks’ characterization of the Chinese policy of the New Silk Road, or other Chinese initiatives such as the space policy, show that everything is being judged from the standpoint of projecting their own geostrategic interests, such as the EU’s desire to expand. Now, the Balkan countries are also supposed to join. I believe it was [Javier] Solana [former NATO General-Secretary], and later also [European Commission President José Manuel] Barroso, who said that there is no limit to the expansion of the EU.
The EU is a neo-imperial entity pursuing geopolitical interests, which it sees in a blatant contradiction to the supposed geopolitical interests of other countries such as the United States, Russia, China, the BRICS. And that’s simply wrong.
China’s Development Perspective
Thus we encounter the question of what Chinese policy actually is, a policy which has now really become the beacon for the BRICS and many other countries that are joining this new combination. This is not geopolitics at all! People in the West cannot imagine that there are nations that don’t operate on the basis of neo-liberalism, monetarism, positivism, and geopolitics, but rather on axioms that may not be quite identical to, but are yet very similar to the ideas and principles that Gottfried Leibniz upheld at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries—namely a true development perspective for the universal history of mankind. This was comparable to the policy of the American Revolution or John Quincy Adams, one of the first Presidents, who said: We need an alliance of sovereign republics, which jointly work for the common aims of mankind.
And that is emphatically what China is doing today.
I know that many people don’t understand or believe that, nowadays. But I can really say, to my best of my knowledge and conscience: China is operating at the moment on the basis of 5,000 years of Chinese history. One must realize that China is the only culture that has survived as a continuum for such a long period, without interruption and without major territorial shifts.
This is noticeable, among other things, in the crucial role of Confucianism for China’s identity. It is noticeable in such nice things as the excellent, world-famous cuisine. In China you can eat thousands of dishes, which are all excellent, and which are always new, and with hundreds of regional differences.
This is, to put it simply, a cultured nation, which is not imperialistic, but which has an interest in the development of mankind. And this concept of the New Silk Road is something that China has in a sense experienced itself, in its development since the Cultural Revolution, or overall, since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. There were of course some initial problems, such as the Cultural Revolution. But at the latest since the reforms of Deng Xiaoping, China has applied correct scientific principles to bring about the largest economic transformation that has taken place anywhere on this planet.
They are now at the point where they say: We are going to transform the remaining underdeveloped regions of China, so that the standard of living of the population is increased, but we are also going to make this model of development available all over the world, in the form of the New Silk Road, in the tradition of the ancient Silk Road. And that is an open concept: that anyone can work with them, because everyone is invited to join. It is explicitly included and not directed against the alleged geostrategic interests of other nations or groups of nations.
That is a very important distinction. It is just not geopolitics, but a dynamic concept of the upward development of the human species. And I challenge all of our viewers who do not believe me: Send me your questions! I am eager for a dialogue, because it is really a question of existential importance for Germany, that we understand this.