The World-Land Bridge:
A New Apollo Project For Mankind
Saturday, December 10th, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Beacon Hotel, Beacon Room
2130 Broadway at 75th St.
New York City
Presentation by Dr. Patrick Ho, MD
Dennis Speed: The world now stands on the threshold of its greatest prospect for progress ever. The continent-size nations, China, India, Russia, and the United States, must work together for this end. China, the world’s most powerful economy and the nation with the most advanced orientation to space exploration, is offering to work closely with the United States, which used to have the world’s most powerful economy, and the world’s most advanced space program. Changes now occurring in the United States, including in its Presidency, make this possible. Just this past week, an indirect exchange between economist Lyndon LaRouche and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, regarding China’s One Belt, One Road policy, acknowledged that the United States can and should cooperate with the Chinese in this new direction for the world. We can see a return by the United States to Alexander Hamilton’s economics, promoting the development of the productive powers of labor, and not the mere harvesting of so-called “natural resources.” Human creativity is the only true source of wealth for mankind.
The One Belt, One Road policy that has been pursued by the Chinese government, particularly since September 2013, and that government’s collaboration with Russia, India, and well over 70 nations worldwide, has always been advocated by the Schiller Institute. The founder of the Schiller Institute, Helga LaRouche, has been known as the “Silk Road Lady” since she spoke at a conference in Beijing in June of 1996. She will be speaking with us a bit later.
In January 1997, 20 years ago, Executive Intelligence Review published the report, The Eurasian Land-Bridge: The New Silk Road—The Locomotive for Worldwide Development. In November 2014, a new report, , was released. Two days ago, I received a gift from our first speaker. It’s called The ‘Belt and Road’ Monograph, 2016; it is published by the China Energy Fund Committee. This beautiful 111-page report was edited by him and he wrote the preface, entitled, “One Belt, One Road, a New Model of Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainable Development.”
It is my honor to present to you Dr. Patrick Ho, violinist, eye surgeon, and international activist of the China Energy Fund Committee.
Dr. Patrick Ho: Thank you Dennis for a very generous introduction, and I feel very humble. I’m Patrick Ho. I’m sorry, I don’t have my bios on me, but you can Google me, just go on to Google and see all my previous lives.
Right now in this fourth reincarnation, the first incarnation, I was a concert violinist. I was a musician. I came to the United States on a music scholarship and stayed for 16 years in the United States. But then after a while I got bored with music, so I pursued other things. Music gives me beauty, but I need something more; I need truth, so I pursued science. And I became a doctor. I graduated with an MD degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. And I became an eye surgeon, trained in Boston, at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and afterwards I went back to Hong Kong and took up the chair as a Professor of Ophthalmology in the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1984, a position I occupied until 1994, for ten years.
Then, I got bored with surgery, doing the same thing day in and day out. After you do 5,000 cases of retinal detachment surgery, it’s not challenging any more. So, I wanted to do something better, I wanted to do something that’s faster and more immediate, that can bring sight, vision, and happiness to people. And being a doctor, I only have two hands. I can operate day in and day out until my face turns blue, and I will still be treating a dozen people.
So I took to teaching, thinking I can teach more people to do that, but then I realized that took many years for them to reach a mature stage to be able to perform the type of surgery that I was performing. So, too slow.
So the fastest way to really bring changes in this society, is through politics, public policy. So I opted for politics. At that time, Hong Kong was undergoing a change, of switching of sovereignty back to Hong Kong, in 1997. So, one thing led to another, I was called upon to join the cabinet in the Hong Kong government, and I was the Home Secretary for the first two terms. The home secretary in Hong Kong is equivalent to a home secretary here, too: Internal affairs, domestic affairs, except for foreign relationships and financial matters, I took care of everything that happened in Hong Kong.
Then I got fed up with politics, because I cannot do the right thing and lie at the same time. [laughter] And so, retired from the cabinet, I was trying to do something that I had not done before, but I had not decided what I wanted to do when I grow up. [laughter] But finally I was called by Beijing to organize this China Energy Fund Committee, which was very well supported, and it was registered in Hong Kong as a nonprofit think tank, a charitable organization. It’s devoted to doing research works and issues related to energy diplomacy, energy strategy, and energy safety.
We chose energy, because if we talk politics, people get very tense and defensive. But if we have a medium of something like energy, it’s easier to engage people. But energy to us, is taken in its broadest sense: Energy is anything that propels human civilization to progress, anything that drives society to advances in energy. So it’s not only fuel, renewable energy, and fossil fuel energy. It also pertains to spiritual energy, cultural energy, and community energy as well. So, in Chinese this is néngyuán, it’s a broad word. Néngyuán. And we are given a special consultative status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2011. and I’ve been working very closely with the United Nations, and that’s what brought me to New York City almost every other month, or every three months, because we have a lot of things going on with United Nations. We are also registered in the United States, in Arlington, Virginia; we are a 501(c)3 organization. So in a nutshell, that’s what we do.
I. A China Story: The Beginning
I brought only about 10 copies of the monograph, because they’re very heavy to travel with, and it costs a lot to mail. And I donated ten copies to the Schiller Institute, and those of you who do not have a chance to read a copy of them, you can go to this and you can download the pdf copy of that free of charge. But we would be very gratified if you could make some donation to our 501(c)3 organization.
Towering over the East of the world for 5,000 years has been a unique and time-honored ancient civilization with a continuous history and culture—China.
I was very grateful to Bill Jones who attended one of our Belt and Road Forum events last week in Washington. After that we had a very friendly chat, and when he realized I was spending this week in New York City, and one thing led to the other, he got me in touch with Dennis, so I was invited to speak to you this afternoon on One Belt, One Road.
One Belt, One Road is a hot topic. Everyone wants to know a lot more about it. But One Belt, One Road is something that’s very Chinese and to understand One Belt, One Road is to understand the “Chineseness,” what becomes Chinese, what it takes to be China. So one cannot just talk about One Belt, One Road totally separate from Chinese history and Chinese culture, and actually, in order to really understand China, you have to be a Chinese.
Who said that? John Fairbanks. John Fairbanks—that’s what he said! He wrote it in his book, too: The only way to understand China is to become Chinese, to get into the Chinese mind. But you’re born what you are, how can you understand Chinese? But what he really meant is: To be Chinese is to understand and appreciate the history and the cultural legacy of China. And if you do that, you understand how the whole thing comes about, in other words, the legacy of what it really takes to become a Chinese.
It’s not a face, it’s not the color of the skin, it’s not the language that you speak: It’s the perspective of the world. It’s the Chinese outlook on the universe, on various things, on values, on culture, and on heritage.
So to begin with, before I touch on the topic of One Belt, One Road, I will give you a 20 minute capsulated—OK, digested version of “A China Story.”
Towering over the East of the world for 5,000 years has been a unique and time-honored, ancient civilization with a continuous history and culture: China.
The industrious and brave Chinese people have made contributions such as the compass, papermaking, gunpowder, and printing to the development and progress of human civilization.
In those five millennia, the Chinese have recorded at least four periods of prosperity.
The first was in the Zhou Dynasty (B.C. 1042-996) in which the Chinese feudal system of administration was introduced.
The second was in the Han Dynasty (B.C. 180-141) when Emperors governed with non-interference, farming, peaceful development, and dispatched envoys to forge the first contacts with the West, opening up the Silk Road for trade.
The third was in the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 627-649) when China’s GDP was about one-third of the world’s, and students came from Japan and neighboring countries to study in China.
The fourth rise of China occurred in the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1403-1435) when Admiral Zheng He and his powerful fleets were sent to sail from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, to Africa and, arguably, even to America, some 71 years before Columbus.
On the contrary, when the West came to China in the 18th Century to “open it up for trade” at gun-point, the peace-loving Chinese suffered almost ceaseless humiliation from foreign invaders for two centuries.
The Chinese people are a peace loving people. Whereas Julius Caesar said “I came, I saw, I conquered,” the Chinese said “I came, I saw, I made friends, and I went home.” [laughter]
Not one battle was fought, not one colony seized, and nobody was enslaved. On the contrary, when the West came to China in the 18th Century, to open it up for trade at gunpoint, the peace-loving Chinese suffered almost ceaseless humiliation from foreign invaders for two centuries.
In the 14th Century, the Renaissance delivered Europe from the darkness of the Middle Ages, freed minds, stimulated innovation and creativity in literature, art, science and technology, and hastened the birth of individualism, capitalism, and colonialism.
At the end of the 15th Century, European voyagers set out across the oceans to discover and conquer what lay beyond while colonizing whatever they discovered.
In the later period of the 18th century, Britain’s Industrial Revolution, America’s War of Independence and the French Revolution dramatically changed the progress of human civilization. Modernization of human society became an unstoppable historical trend, but the Chinese—still complacent at the time with national peace and splendor—were completely unaware of the misfortune about to befall them. Western countries, aiming to enrich themselves with natural resources through their military supremacy, forcibly expanded colonialism to the East. A turbulent situation unimagined ever before, and the most painful period in its history, was about to be forced upon this nation of peace-lovers.
For a long time, China’s foreign trade had focused on exporting tea and agricultural products, fine silks and porcelain, which the West purchased with silver dollars. Following the Industrial Revolution and the booming productivity it brought, Britain’s most urgent desire was to enlarge its global markets—and, in particular, find a way of getting back the huge amounts it had paid China in silver dollars. British colonists flooded China with opium and so were able to plunder over one and half million kilograms of silver dollars in the following four decades.
In response, and painfully aware of the hazards of opium, the Chinese Government decided to prohibit opium smoking, forced the Western merchants to surrender their stocks of the drug, and destroyed it. In 1840, the opium merchants, nearly all British, together with the British men-of-war, invaded China and launched the First Opium War. China then, as the main power in the East, enjoyed about one-third of global GDP, and had military forces of 800,000. The British had just 7,000 men in their expeditionary force, and fewer than 20,000 at the end of the war. Yet China lost the war. Hardly had the Qing government negotiated grossly unequal treaties with Britain and the other invaders when the Second Opium War broke out in 1860. By then China’s GDP was 1.6 times that of Britain. Yet China lost again.
So as you can see, having a big GDP does not mean anything! You can still lose any war. So a big GDP is nothing. So everybody said, China’s big GDP is going to save us. No! Big GDP meaning, a big country, doesn’t mean a strong country. A big GDP is a big country; a strong GDP means military supremacy. But the great country comes from its attractiveness, comes from its soft power, it comes from its cultural legacy.
Accordingly, the Chinese Emperor in 1860 ordered that the advanced technologies of the West must be learned. They must catch up.
The first Westernization Movement saw the initiation of new industries to improve military hardware. New naval and land forces were established. More schools were built and the students were sent overseas for higher education.
The disastrous Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1894 when China’s GDP was five times that of Japan. China’s newly equipped forces lost once again, to Japan.
The Westernization Movement was deficient because China’s GDP represented prosperity, but not proportionate national strength. In 1895, a batch of scholars attempted to organize a coup to install a constitutional monarchy; but this Hundred Days’ Reform was terminated forcefully 103 days later by the court.
A battle cry became louder in China in the beginning of the 20th century—revolution—with Dr. Sun Yat-sen in the forefront. The revolution broke out in China in 1911 and took down the Qing Dynasty, ending 2,000 years of feudal monarchies, and replacing it with the first Chinese Republic.
The emperor was gone and the pig-tail braid was cut. The Congress, the Provisional Constitution, and many political parties existed, but in reality political power was controlled by Yuan Shih-kai and the Northern Warlords.
China, right after the revolution that overthrew the imperial dynasty, and barely organized enough to stand on its feet, joined the First World War in 1917 and declared war on Germany. It was thousands of miles away from the European theater but the Allies wanted China, perhaps, to stop Germany from siphoning off its resources and assets in the Qingdao (Tsingtao) colony in Shandong, China, to help finance its war in Europe.
Germany was defeated, and in the Paris peace conference in 1918, China participated as an equal for the first time, but only to be humiliated by the allies when the former German colony of Qingdao in China was returned not to China but to Japan. That resulted in the May Fourth Movement in 1919. It started as a student movement, and then developed into a youth movement and ultimately a movement among the Chinese intelligentsia in a quest for an ideological basis for China’s future development.
At around that time, the October Revolution succeeded in Russia. The world’s first socialist country emerged. Intellectuals in China at that time opted for Marxism over other political models.
The first National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was held in July 1921. With the death of Sun Yat-sen and an attempt by Kuomintang (KMT) to purge Chinese Communist Party (CPC) elements, the two parties’ collaboration was ruptured in 1927 and civil war broke out.
In the same year, the Communist Party of China launched its Land Revolution and armed uprising.
Japan invaded China in 1937, leading to the setting up of the anti-Japanese united front of the two parties, the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China. Chinese people, then united, defeated Japan the invader.
After the wars, the peace which the Chinese people had craved for so long did not arrive. Between the two parties in China, KMT and CPC, civil war broke out in June 1946. It was a hard and bitter struggle, but with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army occupation of Nanjing in April 1949, Kuomintang’s administration in mainland China came to an end.
The People’s Republic of China was established on October 1st, 1949 and, led by Chairman Mao Zedong, immediately set about its strength and prosperity, and to spread the wealth among the common people.
It took only half a year for the new nation to stabilize the price of commodities and tackle other serious national issues that had plagued China since ancient times. Land reform was carried out continuously in rural areas, so that more than 300 million peasants obtained about 700 million acres of land. There was great optimism to build a better new China despite many obstacles.
The Korean War broke out in 1950, and China joined the war. Relations between China and Western countries collapsed, China was isolated and sanctioned by them and forced to face a painstakingly long period of total self-reliance.
In 1957, China had just finished its First Five-Year Plan when some of its leaders decided to launch the Great Leap Forward in the misguided belief that it was a shortcut to strengthening the country. This was followed by the tragic Great Chinese Famine which almost crippled the country.
The national economy recovered gradually between 1962 and 1965. However, the country was weakened and power was excessively concentrated in a few individuals.
The Cultural Revolution was initiated officially on May 16th, 1966, which created considerable turmoil and was exploited by counter-revolutionary groups. This resulted in the most destructive upheavals to the country, and injustice to countless people. The national economy was seriously disrupted, social, cultural, and legal institutions were trampled, and the gap in modernization with advanced countries was further widened.
However, in the 1960s and 1970s friendships with other countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America were continuously expanded, winning China more room for international development. Four months before U.S. President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, China regained its seat in the United Nations.
The Gang of Four responsible for the Cultural Revolution was smashed in October 1976. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping delivered a speech saying: “A party, a country, a nation . . . if it only abides by the books, then thinking rigidifies, superstition prevails, progress stops, vitality wanes, and the death of the party and nation would be in sight. If reform doesn’t proceed now, modernization and socialism would collapse.” The speech was described as emancipating the mind, seeking truth from facts, uniting as one and looking forward. The reform and opening up of China officially began.
While meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan, Deng Xiaoping further specified the four modernizations proposed by Premier Zhou Enlai in the 1960s, namely to develop China in the 20th Century as a socialist power with modern agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology. He also indicated that the aim was for China to reach about $1,000 per capita by the end of the 20th Century.
Following the creation of four Special Economic Zones, 14 coastal port cities were opened in succession. A more prosperous lifestyle was enjoyed by many ordinary families. Greater creativity and innovation along with respect for knowledge contributed to an upsurge in entrepreneurship and economic success, which benefited even more people through gainful employment.
In 1988, unrest and buying of commodities swept like a tidal wave across China, and the savings of depositors decreased by 30 billion RMB in three months. The critical situation was caused by seismic shifts in the market economy which in turn was triggered by the collapse of old financial systems.
Political turmoil rocked Beijing between May and June of 1989 due to dissatisfaction over certain domestic issues, compounded by international political pressures.
In the face of such internal and external pressures, Deng Xiaoping said the basic route of the reform and opening up will last for a century and cannot be changed. He also dismissed opposition to new things and new ideas and maintained that development was the absolute principle. In 1992, 88-year-old Deng Xiaoping made his famous southern tour and delivered several landmark speeches. “China faces a dead-end if it gives up socialism, refuses reform and opening up, economic development, and improving people’s lives gradually,” he said. His words continue to exert their influence to this day. The way of reform and opening up was practically institutionalized for China.
From 1989, President Jiang Zemin led China’s reform and opening up efforts. In the ensuing 13 years, the world witnessed dramatic changes in China brought about by the success of its socialist market economy.
China’s flag was hoisted in Hong Kong in 1997, indicating that the land ceded forcefully over 150 years earlier had been returned to its rightful owner. Two years later, Macao also rejoined the Motherland.
In 2001 China became a member of the World Trade Organization, affording it a major stepping stone to a higher level of economic growth.
That same year, President Jiang Zemin initiated the “Three Represents” theory—namely, that the Party must always represent the development of China’s advanced productive forces (economy), the development of China’s advanced culture (culture), and the fundamental interests of the masses (politics).
In 2003, President Hu Jintao declared a manifesto of putting people’s interest first, pursuing a sustainable outlook on development, and promoting an all-around development of the individual (social development).
The government committed itself to building a harmonious socialist society, attaching importance to democracy, the rule of law, and harmonious coexistence between human and nature. These social core values were to complement economic, political, and cultural developments.
In 2012, the newly elected Party chief Xi Jinping introduced the “China Dream.” He said “Realizing the great renewal of China is the greatest dream for the Chinese people in modern history.”
President Xi initiated a campaign to curb extravagance with an all-out effort to tackle corruption. He introduced the dimension of ecological civilization by emphasizing the building of a “Beautiful China,” thus completing the five pillars of China’s future overall development: political, economic, social, cultural, and ecological considerations.
With these new developments in mind, the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC) organized a series of forums called “A China Story” at the United Nations to introduce the latest thinking and developments in China to the international community each year in spring after the National People’s Congress.
In 2013, A China Story I focused on “Sustainable Development and Governance.” The seminar told the story of sustainable growth in China which involves a delicate balancing act that takes into account multiple competing forces and needs.
In 2014, the Chinese State Council further announced the New Pathways to Urbanization as an overarching theme of future development embracing all of the five pillars of sustainability, the five pillars being: political, economic, social, cultural, and ecological.
A China Story II in 2014 told the story of how A China Dream could be realized through this New Pathway to Urbanization.
Under President Xi’s blueprint for China’s future, or the “Four Comprehensives,” fulfilling the task of building a moderately prosperous society is a crucial step toward the realization of the “China Dream.”
Beginning in 2013, President Xi put forward his strategic vision of building regional connectivity through the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
With the huge opportunities created by the “Belt and Road Initiative” for sustainable development and regional cooperation, the China Energy Fund Committee hosted the last round of A China Story entitled “From Diversity, Tolerance to a Community of Common Destiny: The One Belt and One Road Initiative and A New Model of International Cooperation,” to tell the story of how countries along the “Belt and Road” can forge stronger diplomatic, strategic and economic ties in building a “community of common destiny.” The initiative has organically linked the “China Dream” to the “World Dream,” promoting peace and development with far-reaching strategic significance and global impact.
This year, A China Story IV is themed on the country’s much anticipated 13th Five-Year Plan (FYP) for National Economic and Social Development—the road-map for the nation’s economic and social development from 2016 to 2020. This will be a crucial period of transition for China as it steers from a manufacturing, investment and supply-led economy toward a consumer, service, and demand-driven growth.
Guiding the implementation of the current FYP is a philosophy that calls for (1) innovation-driven, (2) balanced, (3) green, (4) open, and (5) inclusive development—the five development concepts.
In terms of targets, over the next five years China aims to (1) maintain a medium to high rate of economic growth; (2) improve living standards and quality of life; (3) raise its level of civilization and improve the social quality of its citizens; (4) significantly improve the quality of its eco-environment; and (5) improve mechanisms and systems for different fields and enable the basic systems of city governance to take shape.
More importantly, during this period, the country will seek to achieve, in President Xi’s words, the goals of “(1) completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2021 and (2) building China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious by the centenary of the People’s Republic of China in 2049, so as to realize the Chinese Dream of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
Chinese people love peace and pursue harmony. Such inclinations not only serve its interests, but also that of others they come into contact with. This is the desire of the people, and bespeaks the path of development that China pursues and follows.
So, Ladies and Gentleman, that’s China’s Story [applause] or 5,000 years of Chinese history in 20 minutes.
Now, going to the substance, let’s go on. I can go on and on; if you want to take a break, you can stand up and stretch and do whatever you want, and I’ll do likewise.
The year 2014 is of landmark significance for both China and the world. The world celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and began work for a post-2015 development agenda that serves the interests of all countries.
Peace and Development
China will continue with the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, known shortly as the Belt and Road Initiative. Originally it was called One Belt, One Road. But then very soon, we understand that there are more than just One Belt, One Road—there are now six of them! And that might be 60 in the very near future. So, we just call it “Belt and Road Initiative” to just give room to future development. As China will continue to build this Belt and Road Initiative, peace and development are the themes of our times.
And also in 2014, President of the United Nations General Assembly, in conjunction with the Secretary-General and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, convened a High-Level General Assembly Thematic Debate on “Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation: Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism.”
The world is experiencing profound and complex challenges, including the rise of radicalization and violent extremism, against a backdrop of identity-based conflicts, and cultural and religious tensions. Countering these challenges and the threats they pose to populations around the world call for the use of a wide range of approaches to promote tolerance and reconciliation, respect for cultural diversity and freedom of belief, thought and expression. That is to say, we need a new paradigm of development to overcome the zero-sum mentality, to generate collective, inclusive approaches that build on trust, dialogue, and collaboration among countries.
In this context, China’s “Belt and Road” initiative does not just symbolize a global vision promoting tolerance and reconciliation among civilizations in Asia, Europe, and Africa. It also represents the global effort of promoting peace and development through international cooperation in the post-2015 development agenda. And that is why the China Energy Fund Committee decided to host these rounds of A China Story and also to go around the world, especially to the United States, preaching the content and the virtue of the Belt and Road Initiatives.
‘One Belt and One Road’—A New Model of Connectivity
The Belt and Road Initiative is a new model of connectivity, and in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward his strategic conception of building the “One Belt and One Road” initiatives. This involves constructing an economic and cultural corridor along the ancient Silk Road that extends from the Pacific coast in the East to the Baltic Sea in the West. It is a grand vision of peace, development, cooperation, and a win-win outcome.
This vision aims to create the most promising economic corridor in the world, directly benefiting a population of 4.4 billion people or 63% of the global population, with a collective GDP of $2.1 trillion that accounts for 29% of the world’s wealth. Indeed, it is a grand vision for international cooperation!
Since the initiative was first proposed in 2013, it has been enthusiastically received both at home and abroad. More than 60 states have responded positively for the initiative. Nearly all the major states around the world had agreed or applied to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), to finance and facilitate infrastructure constructions for Asian countries. And the $40 billion Silk Road Fund will soon start investment.
This initiative aims to promote connectivity of the continents and adjacent areas. It is expected in the coming years, that new roads and new railways will be built, new sea lanes and new flight paths will be opened, and oil pipelines and electric grids will be connected. It is a new model of connectivity among peoples! However, connectivity is “not merely about building roads and bridges or making a linear connection of different places on surface. More importantly, it should be a three-dimensional combination of infrastructure, institutions, and people-to-people exchanges and a five-way multi-faceted progress in policy communication, infrastructure connectivity, trade links, capital flows, and understanding among peoples,” and may be even more! And should be so!
People-to-People: The Heart of the New Silk Roads
Perhaps “people” is the most crucial, central element. Why is this new initiative for regional cooperation named the “Belt” and “Road” instead of the “Group” and “Plan”? Like the G7 and the Marshall Plan?
The answer is “people.” The new initiative is not just a government-to-government or G2G platform, but people-to-people (P2P) exchanges. True, the process is underpinned by government bodies. But the materialization of this grand vision revolves around people. And it was the many ordinary people across the continent that actually connected the East and the West by interactions, exchanges and trade.
Good Will: The Spirit of the New Silk Roads
The second characteristic of this new model of connectivity is “good will.”
This initiative is open to all countries and peoples interested in being connected for mutual development, regardless of their forms of government, cultural and religious backgrounds, or geographic location. It is meant to be inclusive, no one is left out.
“Common development” was once the super-glue which bonded different countries along the ancient Silk Roads together, and “equal footing” is what made this “win-win” situation possible. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, black, white, and yellow peoples were benefited equally from trades and exchanges along the Silk Roads.
So the new initiative should not be construed as China’s ambition to become a regional hegemon, but China’s “reaching out” offering friendship and peace. More accurately, it is also about China’s “bringing in.” Motivated by good will, China is inviting peoples and countries along the Silk Roads to build a community of shared interest and common destiny.
We all have different pasts, but we also have a common future to face.
Unlimited Potential: The Vision of the New Silk Roads
Yes, the overall vision of the “One Belt and One Road” initiative is expected to bring about shared economic, cultural and social prosperity. But unlike other regional cooperation projects which have a fixed policy agenda and set mechanism, the “One Belt and One Road” initiative is but a grand vision, providing ample and infinite room for creative solutions and possibilities. It is more ambitious and farsighted, and at the same time more flexible, accommodating, and adaptable to new conditions and challenges, than the ancient Silk Roads. It provides an overarching theme and umbrella under which all sorts of possibilities of cooperation can be made possible.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, as we embark on this third year after the Belt and Road Initiative, we have to ask: How to identify matching points of economic interest and cooperation opportunities along the “Belt and Road”? What measures should be taken to promote regional trade and economic cooperation? What bottlenecks and weaknesses constrain interconnection? What are the challenges to infrastructure development? Where does the money come from? What sort of roadmaps and institutions should be established to secure common investment, construction, operation and sharing? What areas are important to foster cultural exchanges and mutual understanding between peoples? Is there any new developmental model which can cope with challenges posed by climate change and other environmental problems? And many, many, many more questions will be asked.
We will not be able to answer all these questions today, or even tomorrow, but I hope that our discussions can pave the groundwork of understanding the many implications, significances, and possibilities of this grand vision called the Belt and Road Initiative.
III. Opening Remarks
Now Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let’s go to the meat of this Belt and Road, and why China is doing this.
We live in an increasingly thriving world. Standards of living have been improving almost everywhere. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, becoming members of societies that are increasingly diverse and inclusive. Human ingenuity, technological advancement, and open markets have given us a world of increasing abundance.
We have made remarkable gains over the course of the last century, and economic measurements evidence this progress. Our increasing prosperity shows us that there are, in fact, enough resources to go around for all of us, including our children.
Looking around the world today, however, we must also acknowledge serious challenges.
Despite the impressive economic growth of recent decades, 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty, in conditions that are a far cry from those of the most developed countries. As many as 2.8 billion people lack access to modern energy services. Eight hundred million people remain chronically undernourished. Hundreds of millions still have no access to regular supplies of clean water, while billions live without basic sanitation facilities.
On the other side of the globe, one-third of the food produced globally for human consumption—1.3 billion tons per year—is wasted. Developed countries produce dozens and even hundreds of times the emissions and consumption footprints per capita of developing countries. The United States, for example, consumes up to 25% of the world’s energy, even though it comprises less than 5% of the world’s population.
In 2013, the top 85 multi-billionaires in the world had amassed wealth equivalent to that of the poorest half of the world’s population—3.5 billion people.
The top 10% of earners in most advanced economies have fared exceedingly well, while the bottom 10% have continued to fall further, further, and further behind.
These trends repeat themselves not just globally, but also within nations and within cities. Even where there is healthy GDP growth, wealth accumulates primarily at the top. In the United States, despite a doubling of GDP over 30 years, income for low-skilled workers has been stagnant.
The pie has gotten bigger, but apportioned increasingly unfairly: across the globe, across generations, and within nations. This unfair distribution of abundant resources has real and significant consequences. Those who have been left behind, finding no recourse to address systematic unfairness within society, resort to extreme measures to make their voices heard. Ultimately, everyone is harmed by inequality.
What is the origin of these challenges, and how can they be addressed?
These interconnected challenges can be traced back to a broken system of economic development. Since the last millennium, the world’s international order has largely been dictated by the disposition of natural resources. Many of the challenges we face today still stem from a zero-sum game of capturing resources for the security and interest of individual countries.
Countries appraising their national security will naturally seek to secure strategic commodities for their internal development, and this concern is only heightened when growth exceeds the local supply of available resources. When confronted with this situation, countries have traditionally expanded their territories overseas, looking for new markets and increased access to resources.
For most of human history, this involved violence, slaves, colonies, and war—with some countries soliciting alliances and annexing territories in the name of religion, civilization, and progress, and others blatantly plundering in search of spoil. Empires and imperialism reigned.
Things changed after the two World Wars. When imperialism and colonialism gave way to democracy and human rights, the answer emerged as “globalization.” This new strategy for economic development came to center stage as the default for nations seeking a place at the table of influence.
Globalization deploys capital and investments, trade and goods, people and services, and information across national barriers, as well as reorganizing these entities, to maximize profits. It has proven to be a very effective scheme for amassing great fortune, and it has accelerated growth in the global economy.
Free trade has, however, also come with its share of disadvantages. Most notably, it has disproportionately benefited the capitalist class, while leaving lower-skilled workers struggling to make ends meet. This inequality has not only become a source of social strife and resentment, but also a real obstacle to continued economic growth.
In the developed world, workers now rail against free trade, vilifying offshore workers and foreign investors rather than failing or absent redistribution policies at home.
In the developing world, a failure to share the fruits of progress has resulted in even greater hopelessness and despair. The absence of a future to look forward to, coupled with economic and political uncertainty, has given birth to violent extremism. Today’s youth, in particular, are resorting to desperate measures and joining extremist groups.
In either case, the end result is conflict, discord, and instability, within and among nations—all of which tragically have undercut and undermined the drivers of human progress.
Today, globalization is a system in crisis.
The combination of economic downturn, disintegrating social cohesion due to inequality, and environmental woes, have all together led to increasing recognition, around the world, that globalization is a broken system—no longer able to effectively and sustainably advance human progress. An exclusive focus on profits and economic efficiency has failed to translate into the actual well-being of individuals and society. Too many have been left behind.
Our world is now desperately searching for a new model of growth that can replace globalization—one that is inclusive, far-sighted, holistic, and ready to address the challenges of the 21st century. We yearn for a new system that will, in one go, address global and local inequality, and which will bring people together, creating a common identity through a shared narrative of progress.
China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative is an answer to this need.
If we aspire to live on this planet happily and peacefully, we must shift towards a more sustainable and inclusive model of development. And those of us on Earth today must share and utilize resources responsibly and sparingly, so that we can grow and develop together. This is the only way that we can achieve long-lasting, peaceful development.
In today’s world, it is not possible for one country alone, or one section of society alone, to have and hold all wealth and enjoy the fruits of prosperity. This only leads to resentment from neighbors, who rightfully seek their own path to fulfillment. Inequality leads only to insecurity and instability, ultimately harming both those who have too much, and those who have too little.
What we need today, instead, is a strategy for development anchored in a principle of inclusiveness and sharing. By sharing growth, and securing one another’s growth, we can ensure development that is long-lasting and sustainable.
This is the underlying spirit and intention of the One Belt, One Road Initiative: exclusivity and sharing.
Ever since the “reform and opening up” initiated in 1978, China has pursued rapid development by embracing the open market economy. The country’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001 ushered in a spell of sky-rocketing development. By 2015, China’s GDP had multiplied 7-fold since 2000, and 184-fold since 1978. It is now the second largest economic aggregate in the world, after the United States.
But economic prosperity in China, too, came with a heavy toll on the environment and on income equality. With rising wages and escalating land premiums, came renewed public concern for social justice, inequality, and the environment, China has now reached a bottleneck in economic development, just like other maturing economies.
Facing these costs and challenges, China has realized that the current approach to economic growth, with its exclusive focus on profits and returns, is unsustainable. The country understands that only a new mode of growth and development will be able to address fundamental issues such as inequality, lack of natural resources, and excess manufacturing capacities all in one go.
History is full of stories of nations that have opted for colonization or war as answers to faltering growth. China will do neither. It has chosen a third pathway, a road of peaceful co-development driven by a strategy of sharing with its neighbors, and founded on the characteristics of goodwill, sharing, inclusiveness, and people-to-people exchange.
Unlike traditional models of economic development, the Belt and Road Initiative is neither about seeking spheres of influence nor striving for hegemony. It is, instead, about connecting countries and peoples, accommodating differences, embracing diversity, realizing potential, and enabling various goals and prospects.
This is a radical change from business-as-usual under the model of globalization. Under the Belt and Road Initiative, if China has excess capacity and a surplus of funds, it will not leverage them to gain further economic advantages against neighbors. Instead, the country’s surpluses will be shared. By helping neighbors grow, and making them into friends that are just as developed as herself, China recognizes that it too will in turn become more stable, more secure, and more prosperous.
The initiative is open to all countries and people interested in being connected for mutual development—regardless of form of government, cultural and religious background, or geographic location. It is guided by a desire to build communities and bring people in, to see others prosper and succeed—just as China has in recent decades. Most of all, it recognizes the potential of everyday people to drive economic growth and serve as a glue for better relations.
This model, which promotes common experience, will ultimately lead to relationships that are meaningful and long-lasting, based on a sense of community rather than competition. In so doing, the Belt and Road Initiative addresses not only economic challenges, but also cultural and social ones—promoting values of sharing and solidarity with all people. The Belt and Road Initiative strengthens the foundations for peace.
How will the Belt and Road Initiative achieve these characteristics?
In its formative stages, the Belt and Road Initiative will rely on major investments in infrastructure-building, putting a call out to the entire world to start steering the global economy back to the basics—real assets, and gradually away from virtual derivatives.
Investing in infrastructure is a proven way to invest in our future, providing a foundation and an impetus for growth and development. It is the bedrock of connectivity, for sustainable development and for poverty eradication.
Fortunately, infrastructure comes in many forms—for the conveyance of goods and people, water, fuel, electricity, and information. All of these are opportunities that the Belt and Road will pursue.
Experts predict that globally, infrastructure demand to 2030 amounts to more than $90 trillion—almost double the $50 trillion worth of today’s stock. This means the world needs an investment of $7.7 trillion annually over the next 15 years, to pay not only for infrastructure but also to make it sustainable—which adds a $14 trillion premium. That’s a lot of money!
Initial projects will, therefore, likely be state-led, with state enterprises in the forefront, laying down a foundation and launch pad for future growth and development. Privately run medium and small enterprises will, in tandem, start formulating alliances and collaborations with other nations, opening up markets and galvanizing innovation.
The process is kick-started by government organizations only at the beginning. The true materialization of the Belt and Road Initiative’s grand vision, however, revolves around people.
So, the infrastructure is really the backbone, forming the skeleton of the Belt and Road Initiative. But the meat, the flesh and the blood comes from the people-to-people interaction; it comes through individual, small and medium businesses.
The first Silk Roads were founded on the interactions of ordinary people across Eurasia, who connected the East and West through dialogue, exchange, and trade. The Belt and Road Initiative, too, will rely on people-to-people networks with neighboring countries, which will be mobilized to forge steadfast bonding and enhance trade.
Business, academic, and social institutions, including cultural and youth organizations, will be key elements of the Belt and Road Initiative. Tourism, too, will be promoted to enhance the sharing of heritage, traditions, and lifestyles, so as to fortify a common experience among peoples.
Individual, small, and medium enterprises, called the ISMEs, will also play a prominent role under the Belt and Road Initiative. Recognizing the new trends of the modern economy, the Belt and Road Initiative will develop an economic environment in which entrepreneurs can thrive—where people can create jobs for themselves as well as others. The Belt and Road Initiative will accomplish this by establishing the foundations for ISMEs—including infrastructure and connectivity backbones, but also socioeconomic policies, and the nurturing of people-to-people networks (such as through conferences and forums).
The success of ISMEs will itself help to advance the Belt and Road Initiative vision. Globalization has largely favored giant international enterprises—which concentrate profits at the top, often at the cost of workers and society. ISMEs, on the other hand, largely tend to be people-based and more intertwined with their workers and communities. They promise to even out income disparities and promote a new distribution of resources—in line with the aims of the Belt and Road Initiative.
A Grand Vision
Finally, unlike other regional cooperation projects which have a fixed policy agenda and a set mechanism, the Belt and Road Initiative is rather a grand vision, providing infinite room for creative solutions and possibilities in implementation.
The Belt and Road Initiative is ambitious and farsighted, but at the same time also flexible, accommodating and adaptable to new conditions and challenges. It provides an overarching theme and umbrella under which any form of cooperation can be made possible. Governments, businesses, think-tanks, and people can contribute continuously to the initiative, adding to its interpretation, enriching its content, and exploring alternative facets to further cooperation and share benefits.
We all have different pasts, but we also have a common future to face.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a visionary strategy for sustainable growth and development that is inclusive of all mankind. It is not just for China, but a model for all countries and all peoples. Motivated by good will, China is inviting peoples and countries along the Belt and Road Initiative to build a community of shared interest and common destiny—a community where no one is left behind, and where no one has to take second place.
The modern Silk Road teaches us to learn mutual respect and to recognize that despite our different backgrounds and upbringings, there are fundamental values we all hold dear, basic principles we all respect, and core understandings we all embrace. By “reaching out” and “bringing in,” we can create a world of peace, friendship, and prosperity.
Ultimately, the Belt and Road Initiative is about building roads and bridges, connecting peoples and communities, linking faiths and cultures, joining lifestyles and vocations, and communicating aspirations and imaginations, in one glorious celebration of diversity of values and accommodation with harmony.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Belt and Road Initiative is a global challenge, calling for global participation. Through this initiative, China is sending out a most sincere message, loud and clear, of collaboration and partnership, to all our friends and foes from near and afar, to work together to find solutions for sustainable growth for all of humanity. In sharing, we become better partners in advancing our respective goals and achieving our common dreams.
We invite you to be part of this vision and commitment. We want you to be our partner.
IV. Closing Remarks
Centuries ago, John Donne, the English poet, wrote that “No man is an island . . . Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” This is more true today, than it ever has been, for all of human history. Our vision for sustainable development should match this reality.
If we aspire to live on this planet happily and peacefully, we must shift towards a more sustainable and inclusive model of development. All must live and pursue growth in ways that are consistent with the needs of future generations. And those of us on Earth today must share and utilize resources responsibly and sparingly, so that we can grow and develop together. This is the only way that we can achieve long-lasting, peaceful development.
The Age of Hegemony Is Gone
In today’s world, it is not possible for one country alone, or one section of society alone, to have and hold all wealth and enjoy the fruits of prosperity. This only leads to resentment from neighbors, who rightfully seek their own path to fulfillment. Inequality leads only to insecurity and instability, ultimately harming both those who have too much, and those who have too little.
What we need today, instead, is a strategy for development anchored in a principle of inclusiveness and sharing. By sharing growth, and securing one another’s growth, we can ensure development that is long lasting and sustainable.
This is the underlying spirit and intention of the Belt and Road Initiative.
At the opening of the Boao Forum last year, President Xi reaffirmed that China would follow the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits in promoting the initiative. The programs of development will be open and inclusive, not exclusive. They will be a real chorus comprising all countries along the routes, not a solo performance by China itself. Only through win-win cooperation can we make significant sustainable achievements that are beneficial to all. And China welcomes all countries, including the United States and Japan, to take part in the new initiative as well as in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Simply put, the Belt and Road Initiative is neither about seeking spheres of influence nor striving for hegemony. It is about connecting countries and peoples, accommodating differences, embracing diversities, realizing potentials, sharing capacities, and enabling various goals and prospects.
It is a positive endeavor to seek new models of international cooperation and global governance, and will inject new positive energy into world peace and development. It paves the way for building a community of common destiny for all mankind!
The Three ‘Knocks’: The World Tries to Understand China
However, mutual understanding is the most difficult task in international cooperation. In fact, it might take hundreds of years for the West to understand what constitutes “China” and “Chinese-ness.” In the past, starting in the 13th century, the West has “knocked” on the ancient door of China at least three times.
The First Knock
In ancient history, the first-ever attempt by the West to understand and open up China began in the Yuan dynasty with Marco Polo (13th Century) and then in late Ming dynasty (16th Century), during which Jesuit priests Matteo Ricci and Joachim Bouvet came to China—Joachim Bouvet was a good friend of Leibniz. And he was the one who corresponded with Leibniz and told him everything about what China has invented, including I Ching. And that just accidentally followed in the same way of thinking as Leibniz expressed in the digital binary theory of calculus.
So, that’s Bouvet. And they visited China, as priests, bringing with them religion, philosophy, and Western science. This was the first attempt by the Western civilization to come into contact with China. This dialogue was held in the field of philosophy and science between the two giant civilizations of East and West. The late Kangxi era (17th century), however, marked the beginning of years of uncertainty on the grounds of the dispute over religious protocol between China and the Roman Catholic Church. The door for cultural exchange was callously closed, leading to a state of mutual disconnection.
The Second Knock
Modernization of human society became an irresistible historical trend, but the Chinese—still complacent at that time in national peace and splendor—were completely unaware of the misfortune about to befall them. Aiming to enrich themselves with natural resources through their military supremacy, Western countries forcibly expanded colonialism to the East. The second “knock” came in 1840, when Britain invaded China and launched the First Opium War. China’s doors were pried ajar against her will.
Throughout the recent 2,000 years of Chinese history, GDP of China ranked first globally. Even following the two Opium Wars, in 1840 and 1860, when China lost to the British, China’s GDP managed to constitute one-third of the world’s total volume. When China lost the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894, China’s GDP was five times higher than that of Japan. China then realized that its GDP represented prosperity and not proportionate national strength. China was big and prosperous, but not strong and healthy.
Ever since 1840, for more than 100 years, after being brought to its knees by the guns and warships of the West, China was awakened, suddenly realizing that it had to catch up with the Western world, and has since striven successively to strengthen its military, economy and politics, with a steadfast goal of rejuvenation of the Chinese people.
The Third Knock
The third “knock” on the door of China came in the midst of the Cold War in 1972, when Richard Nixon from the U.S.A. visited China, offering an olive branch to China to integrate into the global economic system of the era.
When Deng Xiaoping came into power, China began walking down the path of development of a socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics. With rapid economic advancement, China moved towards a moderately well-off society.
This was perceived as the third attempt of opening up China by the West. Unlike the previous two attempts, China was introduced to Western social systems and concepts of market economy and international trade. Nixon’s visit kicked off a string of multifaceted social contacts between China and the West. This was of vital importance to China’s modernization as it was conducive to integrating such an ancient giant civilization into the modernized international system.
The Third Knock by China: A New Silk Road to the World Dream
Looking back in recent history, the West had knocked on China’s door three times. But China has also knocked on the door of the West at least twice: first, during the Han Dynasty (Second Century B.C.) when Emperors governed with non-interference, peaceful development, and dispatched envoys to forge the first contacts with the West, and opened up the Silk Road on land led by Zhang Qian (beginning 139 B.C.), offering trade and peace.
The second knock came from the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1403-1435) when Admiral Zheng He and his powerful fleets were sent to sail from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, to Africa and, arguably, even to America, some 71 years before Christopher Columbus.
The Chinese people are a peace-loving people. Whereas Julius Caesar said what he said, the Chinese people said what they want to say! “We make friends. We don’t conquer, we make friends and go home. No colonies. China never had colonies, through 5,000 years of history, China never had colonies, nobody was enslaved.
The 21st Century will see us embarking on the third Silk Road. The grand vision of the “Belt and Road” is the third “Knock” on the door of the West by China. Indeed, it is a Big Bang on our neighbor’s door.
When Belt and Road Initiative was launched in 2013, we knocked on the American doors,—which did not open. [laughter] And today, we are banging on Mr. Trump’s doors, and chanting “Open Sesame.” [laughter, applause]
After today’s discussion, I must say that our “open sesame” is a big yell to the new American administration to reconsider the Belt and Road Initiative as an impetus to rethink and realign the U.S. foreign policy for the new century.
I can summarize the salient points and outline the areas for the new administration in America to consider, as follows.
1. Consider using Belt and Road Initiative as a platform to spearhead initiatives and programs conducive to a closer cooperation and fostering of good will between China and the United States. You know, actually, China and the United States have very little against one another. We have no territorial conflicts. We are on the east and on the west, we are separated by oceans and fish [laughter]—and there is no reason why we should be enemies. So, there are always reasons we should work together. And in the past, it’s always been a platform about democracy, then “human rights”; then trade, then climate change. And after climate change, then what? Belt and Road Initiative.
2. Realign trade agreements with Pacific countries and Atlantic countries to accommodate the Belt and Road Initiative. Especially nowadays, when the TPP has been shelved, and it’s time that we know we should come up with some alternative to the TPP and the TTIP as well, considering trade.
3. Adjust the U.S. position on development banks—especially the IMF and World Bank, and Asia Development Bank as well—and promote their capacities to assist in financial arrangements to support infrastructure development along the Belt and Road.
4. Provide leadership to ensure security on land and at sea for Belt and Road Initiative infrastructures and related projects; and
5. Leverage U.S. roles in international organizations to support and promote the spirit and effort of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The two previous Silk Roads traded tea, silk, spices, exotic fruits, jewelry and gold. The 21st Century Silk Road trades for, apart from creative ideas, it trades views and perspectives, traditions and legacies; it trades values. It exchanges kindness. It offers peace.
This modern Silk Road travels not only by sea or by land, or goes from one place to another, but travels through the inner workings of the human hearts and minds, connecting lives and souls, and driven by a desire to capture the advantages of peaceful cooperation and competition.
This modern Silk Road is a visionary strategy for sustainable growth and development that is inclusive of all mankind. It is not just for China or for the U.S.A., but a model for all countries and all peoples. Motivated by goodwill, China is inviting the American people, and U.S.A. the country, to build a community of shared interest and common destiny—a community where no one is left behind, and where no one has to take second place.
This modern Silk Road teaches us to learn mutual respect and to recognize that despite our different backgrounds and upbringings, there are fundamental values we all hold dear, basic principles we all respect, and core understandings we all embrace. By “reaching out” and “bringing in,” we can create a world of peace, friendship, and prosperity.
Ultimately, the Belt and Road Initiative is about building dreams and realizing them. The Belt and Road Initiative is an affirmative answer to questions over civilization’s future, setting out a path to a world where everyone can live spiritually fulfilling lives: free of want, free of fear, in harmony with nature, and in long-lasting times of peace.
Because, Ladies and Gentlemen, for thousands of years, Chinese had a dream.
In 2012, China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, laid out his vision of the “the China Dream” with these words: “Realizing the great renewal of China is the greatest dream for the Chinese people in modern history.”
And to achieve it, China must adhere to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. This path is hard-earned, with impressive progress over the past 30 years of reform and opening-up; through the continuous exploration over 60 years since the establishment of a new China; in the often painful 170 years of the development process of the Chinese nation in modern times; and against a backdrop of the 5,000 years’ legacy of an ancient civilization.
Significantly, the path to the China Dream is anchored in China’s deep cultural heritage and ancient historical roots.
The China Dream
In every dynasty, leaders and heroes had had their respective China dreams. Throughout Chinese history, the golden eras in the Han, Tang, Ming and Qing Dynasties all brought progress and prosperity, taking Chinese civilization to new heights as we chased that brilliant but elusive Chinese dragon.
And so it was beginning with the pain of the Opium Wars, moving into the Self-Strengthening Movement of 1860, the Hundred Days’ Reform of 1898, the 1911 Revolution of Sun Yat-sen, the May Fourth Movement in 1919, the establishment of the Communist Party of China in 1921, to the founding of New China in 1949, through a series of modernization movements in the ’50s and ’60s, the “two bombs and one satellite” goal, to the reform and opening up, and the space dream, the World Trade Organization dream, the Olympic dream, the World Expo dream.
Mao Zedong’s “Serving the People,” Deng Xiaoping’s “Xiaokang Society,” President Jiang Zemin’s “Three Represents,” President Hu Jintao’s “Scientific Development Concept,” President Xi Jinping’s “Five Pillars of Development” and the “Four Comprehensives,” have been all about the dreams of modernization, after this ancient civilization had been repeatedly challenged by the achievements and mightiness of the West.
Yes, we Chinese never ceased dreaming! And we have realized many of our dreams through the ages! But this is a self-renewal process for Chinese culture over five millennia, with the Chinese people always wishing to better our lot, through hard work and commitment to our traditional values. To heal old wounds, stand up from where we fell, rejuvenate and renew our outlook on our collective destiny, are the innate qualities of our culture and the built-in quality of this civilization.
The China Dream is a national dream, and also a very personal one to every Chinese. However, no personal dream is fulfilled by oneself alone. Every dream must ultimately involve the country and society in some way. Thus, your dream affects mine, and vice versa. But “the China Dream” represents the Chinese people’s collective desire, and encompasses the essence of many individuals’ visions and expectations.
The grandest dreams, at the level of the nation and state, are peace, security and prosperity. Dreams of much smaller scale, reflecting those of the man in the street, are food, housing, education, a decent standard of living, old age security, and personal respect and dignity. Such dreams of China’s 1.3 billion people have interwoven themselves to form a grand dream—the modern dream of China.
That Dream is for China’s prosperity and strength, national rejuvenation, economic development, political integrity, cultural vibrancy, happiness for all, a harmonious society, and ecological wellbeing. It is a national calling to a common purpose and for a collective approach in our pursuits.
A World Dream
Indeed, the China Dream is an inseparable part of the World Dream. China is an important member of the international community. China cannot develop itself in isolation from the rest of the world. And vice versa, the rest the world cannot enjoy prosperity and stability without China’s participation.
To promote connectivity of the Asian, European and African continents, President Xi put forward the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road during his foreign visits in 2013, and won broad support from neighboring countries.
However, closer ties among neighbors of unequal sizes often spark suspicions of intentions of geopolitics. It is not surprising that some commentators labeled the Belt and Road Initiative a Chinese version of the Marshall Plan, which seeks to establish its spheres of influence in the “Eurasian Heartland.”
Such misunderstandings and prejudice are normally rooted in the rigid and old-fashioned patterns of zero-sum thinking. As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier this year,
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is both much older and much younger than the Marshall Plan. Comparing one to the other is like comparing apples to oranges. The initiative is older because it embodies the spirit of the ancient Silk Road, which had a history of more than 2,000 years. The initiative is younger because it is born in the age of globalization. It is the product of inclusive cooperation, not a tool of geopolitics, and must not be viewed with the outdated Cold War mentality.
At the opening of the Boao Forum three weeks ago, President Xi has reaffirmed that China would follow the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits in promoting the initiative. The programs of development will be open and inclusive, not exclusive.
Simply put, the Belt and Road Initiative is neither about seeking for spheres of influence nor striving for hegemony. It is about connecting countries and peoples.
It is a positive endeavor to seek new models of international cooperation and global governance, and will inject new positive energy into world peace and development.
The Belt and Road Initiative is all about building dreams, sharing dreams and realizing them. This dream is not only the dream of 1.3 billion Chinese over 5,000 years, it is also a world dream. It is a dream of peace under heaven, and the world as one.
This dream belongs to all of us. It belongs to you, and it belongs to me.
Thank you. [applause]