At a press conference in Washington Wednesday, held by the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies and the National Institute of South China Sea Studies and attended by some 70 plus Chinese and American journalists, three leading Chinese scholars and two American scholars, including EIR’s Washington Bureau Chief Bill Jones, were featured. The interest in the topic was at its height with the imminent decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague on the Philippines’ request for a decision on the matter. The decision by the arbitration court, which China refused to be a part of, and therefore, whose decision China will not abide by, is seen as a means for the U.S. to up the ante on its “freedom of navigation” gambit in the South China Sea, pushing the region closer to war.
Dr. Wu Shicun, President of the National Institute of South China Sea Studies
The Chinese scholars included Dr. Wu Shicun, the president of the National Institute of South China Sea Studies, undoubtedly the most knowledgeable person in China on the issue of the South China Sea; and Professor Huang Renwei, the vice president of the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, one of the foremost think-tanks in China.
The press conference also benefited from a significant question asked from the floor by Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche.
The Chinese side presented their position on the South China Sea, underlining their case for not accepting arbitration in a matter where there had been no negotiations between the Philippines and China because of the Philippines’ refusal to engage in discussions. Sending the case to the court was also a violation of the Declaration of Conduct signed by all the Southeast Asian Nations, including the Philippines, committing themselves to resolve the territorial disputes through negotiation. The arbitration decision is seen, therefore, as a case of collusion between one of the parties in the dispute and the referee, with, of course, the backing of the United States, which insists it is not a party in the dispute.
Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche
U.S. Naval Academy professor Brian Mulveny presented the mainstream — i.e., Obama Administration — view, namely that the U.S. can send their military vessels wherever they want in “freedom of navigation” operations and that China has to adhere to whatever the arbitration court decides.
In his comments, EIR’s Jones underlined the importance of the visit of the Chinese delegation because of the war danger posed by the concentration of military forces in the region by the U.S. and its allies, and because of the systematic distortion of Chinese position in the U.S. media.
“U.S. policy has been totally wrong-headed,” Jones said. “Instead of trying to build a comprehensive relationship with China socially, economically, politically and militarily, it treats China like an outside predator even in its own region. Instead of trying to facilitate China’s relations with its neighbors, it has strengthened its Cold War alliances and encouraged them to get tough with China,” Jones said. “And when the arbitration decision comes down next week, the U.S. will start harping that China must accept this as a tenet of international law, a position which many legal experts even in the U.S. consider as absurd.”
EIR’s Bill Jones.
“I ask myself,” Jones said, “how would the U.S. react if it had a fleet of foreign vessels belonging to an alien alliance patrolling 12 miles off of California’s coast? Well, I think we know how the U.S. would react, but China would tend to show more restraint,” he said.
“China has put forward an important ‘good neighbor policy’ with its Belt and Road Initiative, Jones said, “offering hope and development for a region that is still plagued by poverty and destruction. And the U.S. has seen this as hostile intent by China, in spite of the fact that the U.S. has been invited to take part in this major program of infrastructure development.”
“If nothing else, the South China Sea crisis has shown us most clearly that we need a new type of relationship between our two countries, perhaps in line with what President Xi envisions with his idea of a major power relationship. Because if we continue with the zero-sum game of geopolitics, it will only lead to war.”
The reaction from the audience was enthusiastic, with several questions directed to Jones.
In an intervention from the floor during the Q&A session, Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche again broached the war danger in a question directed to Mulvaney.
“There are many military experts internationally who are warning that the situation today is more dangerous than at the height of the Cold War,” she said. “Furthermore, we are about to experience another financial crash worse than 2008. I think the terrorist activities, especially of the last two weeks, in Bangladesh, Turkey, Indonesia, and European countries clearly show that terrorism is out of control. And actually with the Brexit, the European Union is in a process of disintegration, very dramatically.
“So my question is: Can Mankind not rise to a higher level of cooperation and go for a New Paradigm where geopolitics is overcome and replaced by the commons aims of mankind? I mean, the world is in dire need for the United States and China to work together, because I think without the two countries joining hands, the world is in trouble. So the question is: Can the world move to a New Paradigm of peaceful cooperation for the future tasks of all of humanity?”
In response to Mrs. LaRouche’s question, Mulvaney downplayed the danger of any serious military conflict in the South China Sea, saying foolishly that if an incident occurs in the region it won’t lead to war, but will be contained. (Perhaps on the thesis that a single bullet does not a war make. But tell that to Archduke Franz Ferdinand.) Mulvaney also tried to ridicule the need for a new paradigm, saying that he would love a world in which people lived together in harmony, but, consummate pragmatist that he was, he said that this was not the world we lived in.
Journalists and press interview Jones after the event.
After the event, many journalists came up to Jones asking many more questions on the South China Sea crisis and how China should react to the arbitration decision.
The press conference followed two days of private discussions with the Chinese delegation, one with the Carnegie Institute for World Peace (something of a misnomer) and the other with the Schiller Institute and friends, including Schiller Institute president and founder, Helga Zepp-LaRouche.
Full video proceedings of the press conference will be available soon.