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Succesrig Bælte & Vej-seminar i Stockholm

Succesrig Bælte & Vej-seminar i Stockholm

Successful Belt and Road Seminar in Stockholm

On Wednesday morning, May 30th, 2018, the Schiller Institute hosted a seminar together with China’s Chamber of Commerce in Sweden,  China Eastern Airlines, supported by: Embassy of China in Sweden,  China Cultural Center and in cooperation with: China Sweden  Business Council. 

It was very successful with the Chinese Ambassador speaking,  together with the Ambassador of Pakistan, and the Chargé  d´Affaires from South Africa as well as with Stephen Brawer,  Hussein Askary and other prominent speakers. Jason Ross opened  and moderated the seminar which was attended by 83 participants  from embassies, industry, institutions including from the Foreign  Ministry. Media were represented by Chinese media and a  journalist from the largest Swedish tabloid. A number Schiller  Institute contacts participated. The title of the seminar was  “The Significance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative for World  Economic Development.” 

After the Chinese Ambassador, Stephen Brawer made a  presentation including a strong attack against geopolitics and  “the modern form of the British Empire.” The topic of his speech  was: “The Strategic Significance of the BRI: Overcoming  Geopolitics.” As the seminar also had diplomats from Pakistan and  South Africa it was made clear that the Belt & Road is not only  about China but a global perspective. 

Hussein Askary opened up the second panel with a speech  about “The Potentially Transformative Impact of the Belt and Road  on Sweden, Europe and Third Parties.” He presented the work of  the Schiller Institute to promote the New Silk Road since the  early 1990s up to now. He was followed by managers of various  companies from China and Sweden. The Deputy General Manager of  Bank of China Stockholm Branch presented the impact of the B&R  policies on today´s economy. Two Swedish consultants presented  ways and means to develop business, esp. production and  infrastructure between China and Sweden. Also the head of China  Eastern Airlines, who sponsored the seminar, presented his  expanding airline network between Europe and China/Asia. 

In the first question period Ulf Sandmark called for Sweden  to join the Belt & Road bringing up the model of Swedish Chinese  industrial cooperation experience from the Volvo Cars success  story, calling for extending this model of Swedish-Chinese  innovative industrial cooperation to the BRI projects in Africa. 

The seminar was a breakthrough from two standpoints. First  that the Chinese deliberately are taking the gloves off by  inviting the Schiller Institute to speak clearly about the  British role of geopolitics as the ideology behind the hysterical  attacks against the B&R from the Swedish establishment. Secondly  the seminar was a breakthrough for the Schiller Institute in  Sweden reaching out to very productive networks as well as  establishment institutions who were present at the seminar. 

Audience members were very open about saying they learnt  something new about the B&R, which so far for most people, and  especially institutions, has  been misunderstood as some limited  trade policy with China. The global, economic, cultural and  scientific perspective in the new paradigm of B&R had been  lacking in their understanding so far. Bringing in Africa in the  focus, as the continent with an expected more than 2 billion  population 2050 and as the coming motor of world economic growth,  helped very much to widen the perspective of the audience. 

Stephen Brawer´s speech: “The Strategic Significance of the  BRI: Overcoming Geopolitics” started off with the World  Land-Bridge map followed by a picture of Helga Zepp-LaRouche at  B&R Forum in Beijing May 2017. He quoted President Xi Jinping at  Boao Forum, April 2018: In a world aspiring for peace and  development, the cold-war and zero-sum mentality looks even more  out of place. … To promote common prosperity and development in  today’s world, we have no choice but to pursue greater  connectivity and integrated development.” Contrasting that,  Brawer presented the Halford Mackinder´s Heartland theory.  Bringing geopolitics into today with the example of Zbigniew  Brzezinski who used Mackinder´s map in his book from 1997. As an  example for Sweden Brawer pointed to another neutral European  nation, Austria, who has taken a clear stand against geopolitics  and joined the B&R. Touching upon the philosophical East-West  dialogue Brawer pointed to the deep influence of Confucius on the  founder of the American republic: Benjamin Franklin. After a  quote from President Xi Jinping speech at the UN, January 2017  “Towards a Community of Shared Future for Mankind,” Brawer ended  with the quotes from Krafft Ericke from the book the  {Extraterrestrial imperative: From Closed to Open World}, 1971,  about the limitless development potential of space. 

In his speech the Pakistani Ambassador praised the  development corridor China is building in Pakistan from the  Chinese border to the Indian Ocean port of Gwadar. It will open  up the landlocked neighbor countries in Central Asia and also  provide a shortcut into China for the Maritime Silk Road, he  explained. 

The Chargé d´Affairs of South Africa rose to the occasion as  a member of BRICS and took a global perspective and not just  African. He brought up the whole historical colonial past by  referring to the Bandung conference defining the relations  between Asia and Africa. 

In the Q&A of first panel the ambassadors and Brawer  answered questions, where many of the points were sharpened. 

This seminar came at a time where a massive mobilization in  the media and think tank sector against the BRI, describing China  as a new hegemon in the world. An unprecedented number of seminar  have been and will be held around these days on the theme, and a  new state-backed think tank, New Silk Road Observatory, will be  established on June 4th, amid a lot of fanfare. The Schiller  Institute Seminar is the only one with a positive and  constructive tone. In answering questions, the Chinese Ambassador  told the audience to ask the Schiller Institute if they had  questions about the BRI, because they have the best knowledge of  it. The effect on the audience was just that, as many persons  said they wanted to invite the Schiller Institute for followups.


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