Helga Zepp-LaRouche Discusses China-EU Meeting on CGTN ‘Dialogue’By Christopher Sare
April 1—Helga Zepp-LaRouche was interviewed on CGTN’s broadcast “The Dialogue” this morning with host Xu Qinduo and a second guest Prof. John Gong, who frequently appears on CGTN’s shows. The discussion was on the EU-China meeting by videoconference today, which included President Xi Jinping (in what Xinhua dubbed “Xiplomacy”) and EU Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The CGTN interview is available here on Dialogue at 7:30. Here is the transcript:
XU QINDUO: Welcome to this edition of Dialogue Weekend. I’m Xu Qinduo. High-level talks between China and the European Union started on Friday. The trade agreement, along with the Russia-Ukraine conflict, is expected to dominate the current agenda. What are their expectations for each other on the ongoing conflicts between Russia and Ukraine? And how can China and the EU continue their cooperation in multiple areas, so as to provide more stability and certainty to the world? To discuss these issues and more, I’m glad to be joined in this part by Professor John Gong from the University of International Business and Economics, and Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and President of the Schiller Institute. Welcome to the show.
John, I will start with you. Obviously, the Ukraine crisis is a big deal for the EU, because they are more or less like a direct involvement of the crisis. For the EU, they have their expectations for China, and China stresses very much about dialogue, about diplomacy, about peace, about a sooner end to the conflict. But still, it’s very important to understand how they see each other, or their role in this crisis. John, how does the EU side view the Chinese role in this crisis, vis-à-vis their relationship probably?
PROF. JOHN GONG: I think you’re absolutely right that this Ukraine crisis is extremely important to the Europeans at this point. I would expect that the leaders of the European Union would go into the summit with the expectation that China would at least stand in a neutral position. China would also hopefully exert some pressure on the Russians to wrap up this war, or seek a peaceful solution for Ukraine.
But in terms of sanctions, I think the Europeans understand very well that China is not in the camp of imposing sanctions, together with a lot of countries. All the BRICS members, I would say the entire of South America, the entire African continent, the Middle East, Many, many countries are in the same position as China—staying neutral with respect to this situation.
But I think that the European position is probably a little bit different from Washington’s position in that even though China doesn’t impose sanctions, we still like to maintain a normal trading relationship with both Russia and Ukraine, but I think what differs is that the European side has never thought about, or at least never seriously talked about, imposing secondary sanctions. Provided some conditions like material support to Russia as Biden has said in the summit meeting with President Xi. So, I think that’s a quite big difference. And I don’t think that it has to be made that way, because I don’t think China ever would get into a position on the Russian side, of being in a de facto alliance position with Russia. No, that’s not China’s current policy at this point.
XU: Well, John, I know a lot of people, I think on the Chinese side, have talked repeatedly about their position on this Ukraine crisis. Help us understand in your own way, what’s the Chinese position, exactly? Because you see pressure from Washington, a little bit from Brussels, too, probably. Go ahead.
GONG: So, my assessment is that the Chinese government’s position is definitely on a neutrality side. I delivered a speech a few days ago at the Doha Forum, and I proposed this concept called “Principled Neutrality.” In other words, neutrality is basically reminiscent for example of the Splendid Isolation policy in the 19th century, heralded by the British side with respect to the conflicts on the European continent. But certainly, this is a very realist kind of strategy. I think today in the 21st century, we need to rise above that, to rise above the 19th-century British realists, with those of 21st-century moralism, I guess.
So, my position is that we ask for a neutrality position, but we need to talk about a principled neutrality position. What that means is that, for example, I would suggest restraint from sending arms, restraint from contributing anything to the military fight in Ukraine. That’s the first principle I would say. The second thing is that China should have a more proactive role in mediating a truce, in mediating a political solution in Ukraine. And third, I would say, still stick with this maintaining normal trade positions. Because this is very important. Historically, over the long run, sanctions actually kill more people than war. And in this case, we can already see the prospect of people dying, and not just in Ukraine.
I have this hypothesis that if the international community does not take actions, probably the largest toll in this war will be people outside of Ukraine. In other words, we look at the prices of grain, the prices of food in the Middle East, in North Africa, in Africa countries. And these high prices, due to the war, obviously, do have consequences and implications for a lot of developing countries. I think it’s extremely important to maintain these normal trade relationships. And lastly, of course, we should really care about the people in Ukraine, people who are suffering from this in terms of providing more humanitarian aid.
XU: That’s a good point, John. Helga, what do you think about this Ukraine issue somehow playing a part in the relationship between China and the European Union? Is there a way they can deal with the issue that will enhance or bring the two sides together? Is that affecting their relationship?
HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Obviously. The EU had on their website beforehand that they wanted to have the Ukraine issue practically the only issue. They want China to mediate and influence Russia. But I think it is very clear that China did not want to take a side. However, given the fact that EU economy is in free fall; as a matter of fact, the accumulation of COVID, the sanctions, Europe is not in a strong position at all. And I think China has a conception which I think lends itself to a mediation role, and that is President Xi Jinping’s idea of a shared future for a joint humanity. I think that is the most important conception right now, given the fact that we are in a situation strategically which is more dangerous than during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Therefore, what we really need, and I think China would be uniquely in a position to do that, is to propose a new international security architecture which would take into account the interests of every single country on the planet. Because the reason why we have the Ukraine crisis is because NATO expansion to the East for 30 years, which the West does not want to even discuss anymore. But the question is, how do we get out of it? We need a new security architecture, and I have proposed it to be in the tradition of the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the 150 years of religious wars in Europe. The situation today in face of the danger of nuclear war is much more dangerous than even then.
I think the Europeans, they totally are ignoring the fact that a new system is emerging, based on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the BRICS, the Russia-India-China combination. India refused to be drawn into the camp of the United States, but wants to stay neutral, also. I think the only way how we will get out of this is if the Europeans—and finally also the United States—would understand that it is in their best interest to cooperate with the Belt and Road Initiative, in addressing the real issues which concern all of humanity: Which is, the pandemic is not over, we have a hunger crisis. I think one Chinese economist recently said that as a result of the sanctions against Russia, 1 billion people are in danger of dying of hunger this year. So, I think if China would play a mediating role, and say that all of these issues have to be addressed simultaneously. And then, Ukraine could become a bridge rather than being a geopolitical tool between the EU and Russia, it could become a bridge in the cooperation on the Eurasian continent.
XU: That’s a good point, Helga. China stressed very much cooperation, win-win cooperation. China also takes pride in being the source of peace and stability. When it comes to China-EU cooperation, we know the two sides are great civilizations, they are two of the largest economies. They represent the two largest markets. So, if you look at their cooperation against this background with emerging ascendity, even an emerging Cold War. How important it is, Helga, for the EU and China to further cooperate in multiple fields?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think for the EU it is much more existential than they admit, because there are two possibilities. Either the EU finds a way of cooperating with China, and that way the conflict can be solved; or, there are some people in the West—especially in Great Britain and in the United States—who want a complete decoupling of the West and the so-called authoritarian regimes. In this case, I think the West would suffer, because their values are much more based on monetarist values, as let’s say China and the countries cooperating with the BRI, because they are putting much more focus on physical economy. So, if they would go for a complete decoupling, the West would suffer. Hopefully, the European Union understands that it is not in their own interest to go this way, even if Victoria Nuland was just there and told Europe to side with the U.S. completely.
So, I think that a lot depends on the initiatives proposed by China, because China right now has the only policy which is a way out: And that is the shared community of the one future of humanity. And I think more and more people realize that.
XU: Right. John, Helga mentioned about the value-based policy. I’m personally disapproving of that kind of practice, because if you pay too much attention to value differences, that is a zero-sum. People are different; cultures are different; civilizations are different. If you say because they are different, we cannot cooperate somehow, that’s a recipe for disaster for a lot of countries. Also, you see some of the influences from Washington on Brussels, like Huawei. Huawei provides top technology and also quality service with competitive price. But they have to somehow leave some of the European market, because of the pressure from Washington on the European capitals.
GONG: My assessment, based on what you said, is that first of all, the whole idea of a value-based approach in itself entails a sense of prejudice, a sense of superiority. What do you mean by a “value-based approach”? Basically, it’s saying that my value is better than your value. When people talk about a European value, what does that mean? That sounds very racist to me.
The second thing is, even when it comes to issues of democracy versus so-called authoritarian regimes, I think the British side and American side are very hypocritical when it comes to that. They go to, for example, those oil-producing countries in the Middle East trying to persuade them to ramp up production. They immediately talk to Iran about this new nuclear deal; they talk to Venezuela. None of these countries I would say qualify as democracies. In the Middle East, for example, the only country that probably can be called a democracy is the country where I’m staying right now—it’s Israel. The rest of the oil countries are not like that. And I don’t think the British policy, the American policy, have any problem at all dealing with these countries. So, in short, this whole theory about diplomacy based on value, first of all, it’s discriminatory and condescending. Second, it’s totally hypocritical in my view. So, I totally don’t buy into that.
XU: Helga, to further cooperation, we know there is a very important trade agreement, a comprehensive investment agreement between China and the EU. So, are we going to see any headway during the summit, or after the summit? Should we probably re-energize that kind of cooperation?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think obviously it is an agreement which would benefit both sides, so it should be pushed. But I’m not so hopeful that, given the geopolitical tension right now that that will be accomplished at this summit. However, I think the fact that the trans-Atlantic financial system is collapsing—look at the hyperinflation; this was there long before the Ukraine crisis erupted. So, the question of a new financial system, a new credit system maybe in the tradition of the New Bretton Woods system, should be put on the agenda; because there is the danger of a repetition of the 2008 crisis, but much larger. The Federal Reserve does not dare to increase the interest rate much to fight the inflation, because of the indebtedness of the whole system. So, a new credit policy should be put on the agenda, and in that context, then you can increase the EU-China trade agreement, and that will all be beneficial. But I think the problem is much more fundamental than it even can be addressed through that agreement.
XU: Well, many thanks to you, Helga.