Quite different from the western war drums: III Forum on the New Silk Road Project

by Karl-Jürgen Müller

Allegations of the worst kind: for some time now, western voices have been calling Russian President Vladimir Putin the new Hitler and Stalin. In addition, Chinese President Xi Jinping was the “dictator” (Annalena Baerbock) of a “totalitarian controlled unitary state” (Wikipedia). Western politicians and journalists are using the rhetoric of the Allies in the First and Second World Wars. The greatest danger threatening the “free” and “democratic” world is to be conjured up, the “enemy” is demonised beyond all measure, and one’s own policies are presented as the greatest blessing for humanity.1
  In the past, it was stated that the war entry of the US government was meant to make the world “safe for democracy” (as President Wilson put it during World War
 I), and later with containing the aggressive plague of the foreign policy of the Axis powers Japan, Italy, and Germany by means of a “quarantine” (as President Roosevelt put it in 1937).
  Now, in a speech from the Oval Office, US President Biden mentioned Hamas and the Russian president in the same breath: “Hamas and Putin have one thing in common, they want to completely destroy a neighbouring democracy.” He said the US had a responsibility as a “great nation”: “We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win.” – Biden wants tens of billions more for arms shipments to Israel and Ukraine … and he is in campaign mode.
  Eric Gujer, editor-in-chief of the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”, wrote in his editorial of 14 October, also mentioning Hamas and Russia in the same breath, that the “appetite for an overthrow of the balance of power” is “not limited to a single region. […] Western orders, whether in Eastern Europe, Africa, or the Middle East, are to be brought down.”
  Such statements do not yet mean that a total war of the West against all its “enemies” is planned. – But the war-weary citizens of the Western states are to be mobilised even more sharply mentally. Even if it is only to use the authoritarian crowbar to force total obedience and eliminate independent thought and action. The political climate in our countries is being poisoned. Who still dares speaking out freely under the impending hammer of the “good guys”?

An antidote

An antidote is to explore the facts.2 What are our Western governments doing, what have they been doing? And what are the supposed “bad guys” doing?
  “Bad guys” have met at the III New Silk Road Forum in Beijing on 17 and 18 October – ten years after the initiative was launched – among them Serbia’s President Vučić and Hungary’s Prime Minister Orbán. The German-language media commentaries were largely disparaging. The Schweizer Weltwoche, however, offered the opportunity to read the opening speech of the Chinese President Xi
 Jinping at this forum in German translation.3
  The Chinese President began by saying that the “New Silk Road” project was “focusing on enhancing connectivity, aims to enhance policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity, inject new impetus into the global economy, create new opportunities for global development, and build a new platform for international economic cooperation.”

“Planning together, building
together and benefitting together”

So far, “more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations have signed ‘Belt and Road’ cooperation documents”. The idea of cooperation was: “planning together, building together and benefitting together”.
  The project represented “humanity’s joint pursuit of development for all” and was aiming towards transcending “differences between civilizations, cultures, social systems, and stages of development”. “When countries embrace cooperation and act in concert,” Xi Jinping said, “a deep chasm can be turned into a thoroughfare, land-locked countries can become land-linked, and a place of underdevelopment can be transformed into a land of prosperity. Countries taking the lead in economic development should give a hand to their partners who are yet to catch up. We should all treat each other as friends and partners, respect and support each other, and help each other succeed. As the saying goes, when you give roses to others, their fragrance lingers on your hand. In other words, helping others is also helping oneself. Viewing others’ development as a threat or taking economic interdependence as a risk will not make one’s own life better or speed up one’s development.”
  The spirit of the Silk Road is “characterised by peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit”.

Enabling good life for all people

It seeks “to deliver a good life not only to people of just one country, but to people in other countries as well. [...] Ideological confrontation, geopolitical rivalry and bloc politics are not a choice for us.” What is opposed, however, are “unilateral sanctions, economic coercion, decoupling and supply chain disruption”.
  “Changes of the world, of our times, and of historical significance” are unfolding “like never before”. Xi Jinping listed eight major projects of the “New Silk Road” project, projects going beyond economic, technological, and scientific cooperation and aiming at human encounters and a “dialogue of civilisations”. He ends his speech with an appeal: “Let us advance modernization of all countries, build an open, inclusive and interconnected world for common development, and jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind.”
  To be sure: not everything went perfectly with the “New Silk Road” project either. Perfection does not exist any-where in political life. However: What the numerous participants from all over the world and the represented state presidents and prime ministers (see picture) got to hear from Xi Jinping was not “evil” at all. Or does it sound like “totalitarian dictatorship” and a threat to freedom and democracy? Or did the numerous state leaders present in Beijing all fall for Chinese propaganda?
  By the way: Russian President Putin was also present, also speaking out.4 There is no discernible difference of opinion to Xi Jinping. On the contrary.  •

1 One of the many examples for this is a commentary in Zeit online from 25 October 2023. The title of the text: “Joe Biden: on the right side of history”. And in the lead stated: “First in Ukraine, now in Israel: Joe Biden proves moral clarity and world political leadership – against the camp of autocrats around Xi Jinping and Putin”.
2 Those who want to find out more can be referred to two books: the book by Jacques Baud, first published in French, English edition of January 2023: “Putin. Game master?”. The book by Patrik Baab published in October 2023: “Auf beiden Seiten der Front. Meine Reisen in die Ukraine” (On both sides of the Front. My Travels in Ukraine) (ISBN 978-3-946778-41-7) is currently only available in German.
3 https://weltwoche.ch/daily/symphonie-der-freundschaft-chinas-praesident-xi-jinping-eroeffnet-das-forum-zum-10-jahrestag-der-neuen-seidenstrasse/ of 18 October 2023

4 http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/72528 f 18 October 2023

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