Bao Shixiu, Professor (Emeritus) of Military Science, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Science, gave this speech at the conference “One Belt, One Road,” held in Beijing on Sept. 5.
I would like to extend my greetings and my gratitude to Dr. Xiao Jingqiu for inviting me here. At the same time, I have to say that studies concerning the Silk Road are a very big issue, and I’m not the top-notch researcher in this field. So I’d just like to share with you my very shallow thoughts about it, and please feel free to contribute all your insights and criticisms to me.
The topic of my speech is the realization of the new Chinese Dream by the New Silk Road. Two thousand years ago: The ancient Silk Road can be dated to this era, which had started a political and economic dialogue between the East and the West. Many different objects of the arts and of technology have been promoted through the process which has attained great fame, and been transcribed in the annals of history.
Today, in the 21st Century, China is trying to build a New Silk Road. The world economic map is looking forward to some new dynamics and the realization of the new Chinese Dream. How can we make the two things promote each other? And how can we achieve the Chinese Dream? I think these are the challenges that have been put forward to all of us by the director of China Investment magazine. So taking into consideration the geopolitical situation, as well as economic conditions, as well as other factors, we do have the necessity of talking about this issue.
This is a long and very dynamic Silk Road. The concept of the New Silk Road was put forward by the Chinese leader in 2013 and now we have had one year full of the development of the dynamics, and I believe that this is a new concept that will make a great contribution to global governance, or the new world order. And it also concerns the role of China. What role does China want to play in the world?
A New Type of Thinking
I would like to talk about two points. The first is that the concept of the New Silk Road is making a contribution to global governance theory. This concept has reflected the canon of a new global governance theory, and it has provided tangible theoretical support for a new type of world order. Actually, we are looking forward to a new type of thinking mode, when we are dealing with international or global governance.
After the Second World War, we have measured almost a century, and what is the economic situation of today’s world with multipolarization and economic globalization? Countries in the world have become increasingly interconnected and dependent on one another on a daily basis. Many developing countries around the world and billions of people are working towards modernization per se. An era of cooperation, collaboration, and win-win situation is continuing to mount.
However, we still face the problem of development. The world economy has suffered from the financial crisis and stagnation in the process of recovery. There are still many potential risks in the field of international finance, and many macro-regulation organizations in many countries are facing challenges and difficulties. The global financial crisis has reflected the systematic failure of the financial system, as well as challenges and crises such as climate change, food safety, security, and many other issues, which have reflected the fact that today’s global governance system still has its weaknesses, and is in need of improvement.
In such an era of great change, we are all waiting for all sorts of upgrades, of positive reforms. So the demand for a new type of concept is very strong at the moment. Therefore, we have the “One Belt and One Road” concept, which has been welcomed and well received by many countries in the world because it is based on mutual respect, friendly relationships, a win-win situation, and cooperation. Therefore it created a new sort of atmosphere, which reflects the actual interests of the relevant countries, as well as a new dynamic in the global governance of the 21st Century. So this is a very good raw material, so to speak, for the development of the new global governance system.
In the Autumn of 2013, we had some movements from President Xi Jinping’s visit to Kazakstan and to other countries, and I think the core concept of this “One Belt, One Road” is a type of concept in which China is seeking the common interests of many countries, instead of the interests of itself alone. And President Xi Jinping has said that China will enhance its friendly relations with Central and Eastern Asian countries and work together with relevant countries to make contributions to the world. He also believes that as long as we adopt a rule of mutual respect, as well as a cooperative perspective, countries of different cultural backgrounds and ideologies can share prosperity and peace.
While visiting Indonesia, President Xi Jinping came up with the idea that the host and guest countries should become each other’s good neighbors and good partners. And work together to build a China-ASEAN common destiny, actually, the concept of a New Silk Road as regional, innovative economic cooperation, which builds a platform for such cooperation and East-West cultural integration. The development of this new concept will refine the radiance of the Silk Road and make the East Asian and Central Asian economies more integrated than ever and leave a deep influence on the world.
The Role of Helga and Lyndon LaRouche
The new concept of the Silk Road has been given very high praise by many intellectual leaders. And this new concept is trying to absorb new contributions and insights from scholars and from people in academia—actually, many people of great knowledge have made contributions. But I think it is very important for us to mention the dean of the Schiller Institute in the United States, Mrs. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, and her husband Lyndon LaRouche.
In order to change the decades-long irrational global governance system, and to make the global governance system and the global order more sound and healthy, the couple, as early as the 1990s, had come up with a new idea about building a tunnel under the Bering Strait, as well as establishing a Eurasian Land-Bridge to connect the world, so that people of all countries and continents can benefit from this new connection. So common prosperity is the basis for a new global governance system.
These two dignitaries, who have been making contributions to the establishment of a new global order and a governance system, have paid special attention to the role of China and Asia in establishing this kind of new order. Mrs. LaRouche, as early as 1997, published an article about the Eurasian Land-Bridge as the most important geopolitical issue in the world, and has made a great effort in introducing China to the world.
When, in the Fall of last year, she heard the news of President Xi Jinping’s visit in Indonesia and Kazakstan, she was thrilled. She thought this new idea promoted by President Xi Jinping would actually produce prosperity in this part of the world and improve people’s living standards. Now we have a common consensus in the world, which is that the New Silk Road is only the first step of economic integration of the world and the first light in the darkness toward a new human civilization.
Refuting the Critics
The second question is how to support this concept. It is a very important theoretical question for scholars. In the world of academia, it is very important for any idea or concept to be promoted or brought up by dignitaries of very famous names, which is quite normal. However, the problem is that out of the common interest of some political blocs or because of some ideological bias, many people hold a very critical and very arbitrary attitude to this new concept of the Silk Road, which is really hard for us to accept.
All of these theories criticizing the New Silk Road and tarnishing the New Silk Road must be clarified and corrected. The demand for actually supporting this theory is also a very important task for all the scholars in this field in China.
I just have two examples to show you. The first regards some people who wrote an article saying that this new kind of concept is very dangerous, and when the CICA [Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia] conference was initiated in Shanghai this year, people had discussions about why China was having this new policy, and a very famous magazine from Australia, The Diplomat, published an article that claimed the view that the New Silk Road is not symbolic, but rather a diplomatic approach by China to establish a new economic and political order in East Asia and in Central Asia, which meant that China was intending to establish a new economic order, instead of fostering friendly and cultural communication and cooperation. And it also illustrated that China would like to become the core of this type of cooperation so that it could reflect its geopolitical importance.
That article reflected the belief that China’s political ambition was to establish a transcontinental FTA [Free Trade Agreement] in trade.
And at that time, there were also many Western think-tanks which held a skeptical attitude toward the concept of the New Silk Road. Actually, there are also some who claim that the New Silk Road is a new form of Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine was put forward by the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe, and was a very important symbol of the United States expansion in the world. It was the United States warning the European powers not to interfere in the American continent, namely, into the affairs of Mexico and other Latin American countries. And that the United States would remain neutral in the wars and conflicts happening in Europe, and the United States would always uphold its own interests.
In recent years, with China’s increasing flexing of its muscle in terms of safeguarding its own legitimate territorial and maritime rights, many scholars have put forward the idea that China is pursuing a sort of “Monroeism.” In 2012, James Holmes, from the United States Naval College, said that China and its South China Sea is just like the United States and the Gulf of Mexico. So he said that China is trying to build a new economic and political order in the region.
Another example is the very famous professor John Mearsheimer, from the University of Chicago, who gave a lecture not long ago, in which he said that if China continues to develop, it will push the United States out of Asia and pursue its own Monroe Doctrine.
And a Japanese scholar said he believed that China is trying to play the role of a regional leader and the leader of all of Asia.
This type of China-threat theory has been accepted by many people who hold a skeptical attitude toward China. But at the CICA conference held in Shanghai this year, President Xi Jinping had made it very clear that the security and peace of Asia should be safeguarded by its own people.
According to the above-mentioned discussion, I think, it is not hard for us to see that those studies based on history and the new Asian diplomatic approach of China have nothing to do with the concept of a Monroe Doctrine, or the East Asia Prosperity Sphere promoted by the fascist Japanese Imperial Government. This is not an appropriate approach.
The new concept of the Silk Road of China has nothing to do with those old and absolute concepts. China’s approach is based on open and friendly cooperation, and China is focusing on deepening cooperation in terms of security and economic development. China is expecting the benefits of the Silk Road to be shared, so that the prosperity of the entire region can be promoted.
And this is actually far from the concept of Monroeism, which is the United States trying to be the policeman of the American continent, as well as the fascist concept of the East Asia Co-Prosperity Zone promoted by Japan. President Xi Jinping, with his new concept of the Silk Road, represents China’s image in the world and China’s attitude toward the world.
We think that we should uphold this new concept, and its status in the field of academia, so that we can promote this new concept and safeguard China’s legitimate rights, as well as promote a healthy development of the global governance system. Therefore, I say this is a very important theoretical project for all of us to accomplish.
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