E-paper\Across America

Trump encouraged to attend Belt-Road forum

By Wang Linyan in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-05-05 10:59

US President Donald Trump should participate in the upcoming Belt and Road Forum of International Cooperation in Beijing, said Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder of the Schiller Institute, a political and economic think tank.

"The best would be if President Trump would attend the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in person," said Zepp-LaRouche, in an interview with China Daily.

"The second best would be a second personal summit between him and President Xi Jinping immediately afterwards in China," she said.

Trump encouraged to attend Belt-Road forum

Zepp-LaRouche suggested the economic cooperation mechanism, one of the four pillars established at the first summit between the two leaders at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, could work on concrete proposals on mutual investments both bilaterally and in third countries in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative.

So far, 28 heads of state and government leaders will attend the forum in Beijing on May 14 and May 15. More than 80 leaders of international organizations are expected to attend.

The forum aims to collect the input of all parties involved, summarize the successful experiences, plan a new trajectory and create a cooperation platform, said Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Zepp-LaRouche said the US must join the initiative, which has developed "a gigantic dynamic" and is "the biggest" infrastructure program in history.

"Only if the US joins the initiative is there a way to overcome geopolitics, which was the cause of two world wars in the 20th century," she explained. "Once the institutional forces in the US recognize that it is more in the interest of American industry, jobs and society in general than to be outside of the initiative, a potential Thucydides' trap or a war over hot spots can be avoided."

Trump encouraged to attend Belt-Road forum

"Chinese cooperation in building up the infrastructure requirements of the US would help to rejuvenate the American economy," she said.

Because the economies of China and the US are complementary, Zepp-LaRouche said mutual investments could go up dramatically with the cooperation within the initiative.

Such a win-win-collaboration would not be limited to bilateral investments, but quite naturally could lead to joined ventures practically everywhere in the world, given the upswing of economic expectations caused by the initiative, she added.

Geoffrey Garrett, a political economist and dean of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said in an interview with China Daily that he doesn't believe Trump will join the initiative because the president has the view that bilaterialism is better than regionalism or multilateralism.

"If we are looking for progress in US and China, it will be within the bilateral realm, with investment liberalization probably the focal point for win-win discussions," said Garrett. "What the US can and should do, probably will do is encourage the World Bank and Asia Development Bank to work hand in hand with AIIB. And I think there's evidence that that's already happening."

Garrett said he's not surprised that American companies want to participate in the initiative because "it's in their interest too".

"My sense is that American multinationals are very sophisticated, and they know how important Asia is, how important China is and have become quite accustomed to the environment because they have been in China for so long now," he said.

Garrett described the initiative as "very smart" on multiple dimensions.

He said China's infrastructure achievement in the last 30 years is extraordinary, and it's vitally important if China takes some of that know-how to help build infrastructure in emerging markets in its region.

"My perspective is that inadequate infrastructure is the single big impediment to development in every emerging market with the single exception of China. So all of those countries can benefit from improving infrastructure," he said.

Garrett said the emerging market countries don't have enough money and indigenous technology to create their own infrastructure, so a combination of aid from the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank "plus the know-how Chinese companies have in ports, railroads, airports - that's a win-win", he said.

"It'll be good for Chinese companies because they are developing new business, it's clearly a win for other countries too because they have much better infrastructure and that will improve the growth environment more generally in them," he said.

(China Daily USA 05/05/2017 page2)

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