Part 5 of the Series: Why Confrontation with China Destroys the U.S.
The Belt and Road in America
EIR: And all the time, the U.S. also is criticizing China for going out to the rest of the world with their development policy, what they learned in transforming their own country from poverty to one of the greatest economies in history.
Through the Belt and Road Initiative, they are telling the rest of the world that to get out of poverty is building infrastructure and creating the conditions for a modern industrial country.
You can only think that the attacks on the Belt and Road are coming from those who want to keep the world poor and divided and to keep China down.
Dr. Koo: Right.
READ: Reality Check by Edward Segal for Forbes Magazine
EIR: Here in the U.S., our infrastructure is a disaster. We just passed a small infrastructure bill, which will barely dent the deficit we have.
What can we do to get the U.S. to accept Chinese investment in U.S. infrastructure, which they wanted to do before this hysteria began?
And even more important, how can we get the U.S. to recognize that it’s in its own interest to work with China on developing the real physical economies of nations?
Dr. Koo: I think, Mike, you made an important summary statement, which is, what can we do to convince the American people it’s in our interest to work with China? There are plenty of examples of the benefit that can accrue.
For example, the Hamilton Bridge, which is the extension of the George Washington Bridge that goes over the Harlem River. That bridge was refurbished and rebuilt by a Chinese construction company that was based in New Jersey. That came within budget and on time. It employed American workers. Some of the management came from the China side, but the workers, the employment was good employment for the American workers. And that happened a few years ago. I wrote about it maybe two years ago.
Another example? The subway cars in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are being replaced by Chinese subway cars. These are coming from China, partially in kits, and are assembled in the U.S. The U.S. plant, I think, is outside Springfield, Massachusetts, and there may be another one being built outside of Chicago.
The idea was, the state-of-the-art design and the siding and some of the important keys are being provided by China. But the inside air-conditioning, some of the other units, and so on are being provided locally, sourced in the U.S.
The content of these cars is about 60% local content, meaning U.S. content, or more than 60%. So, it does qualify, according to the rules of satisfying being made locally.
It’s a win-win situation, because these subway cars are state-of-the art. They’re quieter, they’re safer, and they’re more economical. Their prices are lower than third-party sources. In point of fact, in the United States, we no longer have the capability of making these subway cars, so we have to outsource. The other outsources are more expensive than the Chinese source.
When the first car was delivered in Boston, there was a big hullabaloo, a source of celebration. The next targets the Chinese were looking at were New York and Washington.
Then the politicians got into the act, and they said, “No, no, no, we can’t do that, because the Chinese could put in all these listening bugs in the subway car and spy on us while the cars are rolling into work.” Can you imagine you and I having a conversation? “Hey, Mike, how are the Yankees doing? You know, do you think they’re going to win the pennant this year?”
And that goes to Beijing as espionage? How about that?
The Common Good
EIR: As I think you probably know, Helga Zepp-LaRouche and former U.S. Surgeon General in the United States, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, have formed something they call the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites, an idea taken from the 15th-Century genius Nicholas of Cusa, who was largely responsible for the Renaissance in Europe.
Cusa said that to overcome conflicts between religions or ethnicities or nations, you have to think of the higher principle of the common needs and desires of mankind as a whole. This pandemic cannot be cured unless it’s cured everywhere, as we’ve seen by these variants coming back to bite us, because we refuse to build modern health care delivery systems in most countries and we’ve even hoarded vaccines from Africa and elsewhere.
This is certainly the kind of aim that the Belt and Road Initiative is targeting. Do you think this health issue is a means whereby we can overcome this division and geopolitics and get the world to come together for the common aims of mankind?
Dr. Koo: Whether we get to the point you just summarized, will require a significant change in attitude in the United States. In China, people seem to naturally understand what’s for the greater good is more important than my individual druthers, my individual “exercise of freedom.”
But that’s not the case here in the U.S. We even have people who object to vaccination because it’s an infringement on their personal freedom. If we have the inability to recognize what is the greater good in our own country, we will have even greater difficulty recognizing what is the greater good in solving the problem on a worldwide, global basis.
We’re lucky in the sense that we are richly endowed in water compared to many other places in the world. Therefore, it’s hard for us to appreciate the importance of water elsewhere, whether it’s in Africa or Asia or elsewhere.
We are so concerned and care about where we come down on these issues, we don’t even think about the fact that these issues affect all of us and not just in our little circle, our little world of the United States. So, I think the task ahead is a monumental one for the organization, unfortunately.
READ: A Survey of Benjamin Franklin’s Efforts at Drawing Positive Elements from Chinese Civilization during the Formative Age of the United States http://www.benfranklin300.org/_etc_pdf/franklinchina.pdf
Confucius in America
EIR: Maybe we should look back to Ben Franklin, who, as you probably know, was a great admirer of Confucius and the meritocracy system in China, and wanted to bring this idea of the common good—or the general welfare, as our Constitution calls it—into the U.S., in building the United States.
But as you said, this has been lost in the process of so-called libertarian individual freedom.
Dr. Koo: Right. It’s way overdone.
EIR: Do you think we can teach Confucius to the American people?
Dr. Koo: Well, we’re throwing them out. You know, these Confucius Institutes are being thrown out rather than being welcomed at this point. And again, they’re being victimized by the biases that we have here.
I mean, we have this Senator from Arkansas [Sen. Tom Cotton—ed.] who says, “Hey, we can’t let the Chinese in unless they want to come to study Shakespeare.” And I added, well, they could go to Oxford and Cambridge to study Shakespeare, not come to the University of Arkansas. Maybe they can study how to be a top football team in the AP poll in Arkansas.
READ: US Defense Law Behind Closure of Chinese Government Cultural Centers https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/01/27/us-universities-close-confucius-institutes-whats-next
EIR: Are there other issues you’d like to address to our audience and to the readers of EIR?
Dr. Koo: Well, Mike, it’s really nice having this conversation. I just feel so disappointed on the path the United States is taking at this point. We seem to be insatiable in wanting to pick fights. We seem to need a common adversary to justify our military budgets. There is only one issue that has overwhelming bipartisan support in this country, and that is increasing the military budget.
The American people need to ask: Why do we need an increased military budget? We can blow the world apart many times over with what we’ve got. What’s the point of intimidating everybody else? By intimidation, we think that we have other countries on our side. Actually, most countries fear us but do not like us, and do not admire what we’re doing.
That’s why I’m so glad we’re having this conversation. I just wish that we can help turn some people around, and encourage not just thought leaders, but politicians, to understand what’s at stake and start to speak out on what would be sensible and in the interests of our country.
EIR: Thank you very much; I appreciate this discussion. I think it should have ramifications throughout our country and hopefully around the world, that we can change America. I thank you again for doing our interview.
Dr. Koo: It’s been a pleasure. Mike, thank you for inviting me.
WATCH THE INTERVIEW GEORGE KOO IN FULL: