The Eurasian Landbridge: A New Silk Road --
Slide Show

Made Available Through The New Federalist, Newspaper, 1995.

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[SLIDE 1.1000 (A): Eurasia topographical]

The bringing down of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 opened up the possibility--for the first time since the period before World War I--of developing the entire Eurasian land mass. The centerpiece of that development, as proposed by Lyndon LaRouche, is the construction of a new Silk Road.

[SLIDE 1.2100 (A): Eurasia political]

What the term Silk Road signifies is the revival of the ancient routes of land travel which linked East and West, the route which linked the great civilizations of the Sung dynasty of China with the flourishing Islamic civilization of West Asia, and into Europe.

The Mongol invasion of Central Asia in the 13th century destroyed these civilizations and leveled the great cities of Central Asia. In our century, Soviet colonialism put Central Asia, previously a breadbasket, under a cotton monoculture, turning it into a grain-deficit region. The demand for ever higher cotton quotas led to the irrational exploitation of water resources resulting in the creation of nonarable salt flats. In 1989, the republics of Central Asia suffered infant mortality rates as high as those in Africa.

[SLIDE 1.2003.A.20: Topographical, Eurasia Proposed Rail]

The proposed revival of the Silk Route reopens the gateway for development across the entire Asian land mass. The proposed rail lines would enable goods and passengers to travel by rail from Tokyo to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

[SLIDE 1.2003.A.30: Political, Eurasia Proposed Rail]

Line A runs along the northern leg of the Productive Triangle from Paris through industrial areas of central Europe into Moscow, and then into the Urals, and then follows essentially the route of the present Trans-Siberian Railroad to Omsk, Novosibirsk, Chita, and Khabarovsk, where it connects to a second branch going to Vladivostok and via Manchuria to Beijing. This branch from Beijing then links up with the Sino-Indo-European line coming from up from the south. Another line branches out from Khabarovsk up along the Amur River, into the Sakhalin Island right down through Tokyo and into Osaka.

Because of the diplomatic progress made by the Clinton administration, we can also now bring the Korean peninsula into this picture. The development accords agreed upon by North and South Korea mean that South Korea is effectively no longer cut off from the Asian land mass by North Korea, but the entire peninsula is part of the continent. This also brings into play South Korea's industrial capabilities and its considerable skills in infrastructure construction.

Line B runs from the Rhine industrial belt of Germany into the Silesian industrial region to Kiev, and the Donbass mining and steel region of Ukraine, and then via Rostov-on-the-Don into the Caucasus. It runs along the east coast of the Black Sea to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, from there via the Armenian capital of Yerevan through Iran into the Afghan city of Herat.

At Herat, the line splits into two lines.

The Rail Line B1 would be the official new Silk Route--taking the northern route in Xinjiang via Alma Ata and Urumqi. At Zhenzhou in China, this line would link up with the South Asia line coming up from southern China. Already, China is working toward the total construction of this route. During the week of June 18, 1992, the first passenger trains crossed the new ``Second Eurasian land bridge,'' which links Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region of China, with Alma Alta in Kazakhstan.

Rail Line B2 runs south from Herat into Gandahar and across the Afghan border into Quetta in Pakistan into the Punjab, to New Delhi, and then runs along the great Ganga river valley, continuing into Burma and then over the old Burma road into Kunming and central China.

Line C revives the famous Orient Express as well as the Baghdad Railway project which London had once declared to be the casus belli to the British empire, and which runs out of Paris to Vienna, southward to Budapest, Hungary, and to Belgrade. There it joins with a second European line coming from Zagreb. From Belgrade, the line runs to Istanbul and Ankara and then into Jerusalem and Cairo; another line runs all the way through Baghdad and then to Basra and Kuwait; and a third line goes to Yerevan, connecting to the Sino-Indo-European line.

BACK TO [SLIDE 1.2003.A.20: Topographical Eurasia Proposed Rail]

We can see by looking at the Eurasian rail lines in their topographical setting, that the proposal accomplishes the linking together of vast regions of the Eurasian land mass, currently cut off by major physical barriers. It permits India, for example, to cut through the Himalayas into Central Asia, and into Southeast Asia and into China. It permits the linking of the populated sectors of China on the coastal plain with Central Asia and Europe. The rail lines also act as a bridge to rein in, so to speak, the island rim of the Eurasian land mass--Malaysia and Indonesia, the Korean peninsula, and even Japan.

[SLIDE 1.2003.A.30: Eurasia Railroad Political]

And even more obviously, the Eurasian rail line proposals imply cooperation among the countries of the Eurasian land mass--a community of principle among sovereign nation-states, each dedicated to developing their populations to the fullest.

It is easy to see that the regional and other ethnic conflagrations that have erupted or are on the burner to erupt represent a sabotage of the implementation of the Silk Route concept. It should not be presupposed, however, that settlement of such conflicts--whether at the Belgrade nexus for Line C--or the Herat nexus where lines B1 and B2 branch off--or the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan--must be solved as prerequisites for implementation of the Silk Route. The commitment to carry out joint projects which benefit all populations in a given region is the prerequisite to peace.

Many of the railroad lines that we are proposing already exist in some form. The Silk Route plan calls for upgrading and standardization of existing rail lines. For instance, in China China has about 33,000 route miles of railroads. Of that, only 8,788 miles are double-tracked and less than 5,478 miles have been electrified, according to Beijing Review of Oct. 10, 1994.

[SLIDE 1.2002.A1: Belgium Compared to U.S.A.]

Given that Eurasia comprises more than three-fifths of the world's population, the Silk Route concept is the physical basis for a truly developing global economy. The industrialization of Asia would be an impulse for the development of the economies of the advanced sector.

That is not how such agencies as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the General Trade and Tariffs (GATT) have viewed this region. Instead, for the derivative traders and international financiers, Asia is viewed primarily as one vast slave labor pool. In China, the Deng Xiao-ping era has hinged on creating ``Special Economic Zones'' and the foreign exploitation of cheap labor. This globaloney economic system is the basis for the huge trade deficit enjoyed in the United States and the degradation of its productive workforce--and for the futile attempt to prop up the global speculative bubble.

In terms of the actual physical economy, the low levels of productivity of labor in Asia not only represent the misery of many impoverished Asians, but act as a drag on the entire world economy.

EIR has developed comparisons of five different economies to the industrialized, and highly energy and population dense nation of Belgium, to give an idea of the deficits in the real economy between India and China and industrialized nations.

The yardstick we are using for this comparison is Belgium, which enjoys one of the highest population densities in the world and also density of infrastructure and industrial production. For this comparison of the real economy, we use the following parameters: the age relations of the entire population; population density; and the distribution of the workforce across agriculture, industry, and overhead. Overhead is those activities that are not directly related to agricultural and industrial production--this includes actual services--such as health care, education, research and development, etc.,--and also wasteful overhead, such as Madison Avenue, speculation and casino gambling. Then we take national income per capita and per household. Then we look at land usage and measure national income by unit area; and then the presence of what we call ``hard infrastructure''--usable water by unit area; power usage by unit area; and rail mileage by unit area.

The first comparison we show here is Belgium to the United States, and here we see immediately reflected the United States's far greater land area per capita--1,007% greater than that of Belgium--and all the density ratios that follow from that, water usage, power usage; and rail mileage and income per square kilometer--reflect that disparity. The age distributions of the two populations are commensurate--in this case M stands for Minor; W for workforce age adults; and S for seniors. More interesting is the comparison of the distribution of the workforce, where the percentage of workers engaged in agriculture are the same, but there is a far greater allocation of the workforce in the United States to overhead (most of it wasteful). Despite its low efficiencies in land usage, relative to Belgium, U.S. income is higher. This is in part due to higher levels of per capita output but also to the United States's increasing trade deficit--its import of cheap goods from cheap labor markets overseas.

[SLIDE 1.2002.A2: Belgium Compared to West Germany]

In the case of West Germany, we see a nearly total commensurability between densities in West Germany of 1980 and Belgium--with exceptions being power and water usage; and also distribution of the workforce. In short, we are seeing the density profile of the Productive Triangle--the engine of the reconstruction of the world economy.

[SLIDE 1.2002.A3: Belgium Compared to Japan]

Now we compare Belgium to an Asian country--the industrialized nation of Japan. In this case, Japan has a greater population density--see the figure there for land area per capita. National income per labor force is commensurate with that of Belgium, but greater per household, reflecting Japan's greater allocation in overhead activities. The lower power usage per unit area indicates that the greater energy flux density (or greater efficiency in using energy) within the Japanese economy---through high technology and increasing reliance on nuclear power.

[SLIDE 1.2002.A5: Belgium Compared to India]

Now let's shift to a major deficit country in Asia--India. Here we see a reality that shocks Indians and is ignored by the Malthusians of the World Wildlife Fund and U.N. Belgium's population density is higher than that of ``over-populated'' India--but its per capita income and wealth is far higher--in a clear violation of all Malthusian dogma. In this case, the commensurability lies not in the densities of the economies, but in the very clear correlation between the low level of India's per capita national income and the very low level of its infrastructure density--especially power usage. We also see the incommensurabilty reflected particularly in the distribution of the workforce. Whereas, in Belgium, a great majority of the work force is engaged in industrial production, in India, 70% of the workforce is engaged in agriculture. A look at the power usage per unit area tells us immediately that this agriculture must necessarily be at a very low level of technology--that is, it is taking place at what the IMF and World Bank would call ``appropriate technologies''--or, pre-industrial. In labor cost terms, the Indian economy is the far more ``expensive'' economy to maintain.

[SLIDE 1.2002.A4: Belgium Compared to China]

Now let us look at China--a key component of our plans for a new Eurasian Silk route. The profile is similar to that of India's, only more exaggerated. Belgium's population density is two and a half times greater than that of China. Yet, in this actual--non-Malthusian--universe, China's national income and all the parameters of infrastructure density show that China's economy operates on an order of magnitude below that of Belgium. And again, as in India, the great drag on this economy are the 800 million plus peasants living in China on the basis of subsistence agriculture.

Now, let us for a moment not think of an economy in terms of Gross National Product, where bets at a football game have the same scalar value as the electricity produced at a nuclear power plant, but let us think of value as the harnessed capabilities of individual human beings. That is, increases in the productivity of labor enable mankind to sustain ever-greater levels of relative population density. Such increases in the productivity of labor result from scientific breakthroughs, which translate into revolutionized machine tools and entire new arrays of technologies, and the re-education of a skilled labor force to work with those technologies. An industrialized economy produces such breakthroughs at a far more rapid rate, resulting in exponential rises in population densities, over previously, primarily agriculturally based economies. In that process then, wealth lies not in some physiocratic notion of land but in the value-added component--the individual human minds that compose the households that produce the skilled workforce, the teachers, engineers, and scientists.

From this standpoint, we see the enormous waste in the economies of India and China--millions thrown onto a scrap heap of low-level technological existence, barely able to sustain themselves, let alone anyone else. In an industrial economy, it is estimated that an individual industrial worker entering the labor force at the age of 21 pays back society's economic investment to him in those 21 years in the space of six months.

Thus we can see the enormous deficit in economic development in Asia. This deficit has been the major downward trend dragging the world economy with it over the postwar period. The failure, after World War II, of the Allied Powers to carry out the vision of President Franklin Roosevelt--to develop the former colonial nations rather than reconstituting the British empire--is the major underlying physical source of the systemic crisis facing the world economy today.

Look at it another way: if the industrialized countries were engaged in raising the productivity of labor in countries such as China and India, wouldn't this necessitate massive exports of capital goods, of high technologies from the industrialized countries? Wouldn't this require putting the American workforce back to work in high-paying high-skill jobs rebuilding the world?

Now let us look at this deficit in-depth in the case of China.

[SLIDE 1.2001(A.30.A1): China Population]

Here we see, as we have already mentioned, that the majority of the workforce is engaged in agriculture. Of course, this figure represents an increasingly escalating problem on two counts. According to China's own reports, there are at least 100 million, and more likely closer to 200 million, of what are called ``redundant'' agricultural laborers. The lack of investment in agriculture, despite the Maoist banner of the peasants' revolution, has resulted in the destitution and desperation of the agricultural workforce.

In the distribution of the population by age, we see that China's percentage of minors is relatively low compared to other underdeveloped countries due to the harsh population control policies of the government.

[SLIDE 1.2001 (A.30.A2): China National Income Figures]

Here we see China's 1980 statistics of its national income. These figures are simply not correct, and also hide the enormous disparity between the standard of living in the countryside and the standard of living of those living in cities. Chinese peasants are also not permitted to move into the cities.

[SLIDE 1.2001(A.30.A3): China Infrastructure Density]

If we look at power usage per square kilometer, consumable water usage per square kilometer, and rail miles per square kilometer, we see that China is a full order of magnitude below Western Europe in these key parameters. In China, .0492 mw/per square kilometer vs. .1064 in Western Europe; in power, 71 MTOEs (Million Tons Oil Equivalent) as opposed to 618 in Western Europe; and in rail miles--.0047 compared to 0.547 per square kilometer in Western Europe. Even these figures hide the full extent of the problem. In the case of water, for example, there is ample water in the southern part of the country, but severe water shortages--even for drinking--in the north, including in the capital of Beijing. In power usage, most of this consumption is centered down the coastline, meaning that in the interior north and southwest of China, there is virtually no power usage.

[SLIDE 1.2004(A.30): China Power Usage]

Taking a look at China's power consumption, we see the heavy reliance on thermal power, rather than nuclear. The Asian industrialized countries of South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are all at least 33% dependent upon nuclear energy. Reliance on thermal energy also results in a bad pollution problem for China.

[SLIDE 1.2007(A.30.A1): China Food Production]

Relative to other countries in volume terms, China's food production is high. However, up to 40% of this production is lost due to spoilage and lack of transport. Today in China, the low productivity of the agricultural sector has resulted in a 60% inflation of food prices in the cities this year.

[SLIDE 1.2007(A.30.A2): China Agriculture]

Given that only about 11% of its land is currently arable, China's agricultural productivity profile should be like that of Western Europe's--where productivity per hectare is higher than that of the U.S., but productivity per capita farm laborer is less than that of the United States. Chinese farmers, who are traditionally conscientious gardeners, outproduce Western European farmers per capita laborer, but are below the output of U.S. farmers. In terms of per hectare production, they are far below that of Western Europe.

[SLIDE 1.2008(A.30.A1): China Health and Science]

Lastly, in terms of the health services to its population, China falls far below the Hill-Burton standard in the United States that calls for 10 hospital beds for every of 1,000 people. Even this figure is wildly inflated for China, as categorized as ``doctors'' are the famous ``barefoot doctors'' and midwives to whom most Americans would be understandably fearful to go to.

In the scientific field, the Chinese figure of nearly 2 scientists per square kilometer--compared to half a scientist per square kilometer in Western Europe--is suspect. It should also be noted that the primary school system that had been set up under the communist regime of Mao has largely collapsed and children in the rural areas are simply not going to school.

[SLIDE 1.2006.A: China Population Centers]

How, you might ask, does putting in some rail lines address the monumental problems and deficits we are confronting in the development of China?

The answer is that the point of this Silk Route concept is not only to enable goods from Beijing to reach Paris by rail, or vice versa. As the history of the development of the United States proved, and as China's great revolutionary statesman Dr. Sun Yat-sen understood from that history, rail lines not only function as the circulatory system for a national and global economy, but are the backbone for internal development. The rail lines proposed are not simple railroad lines, no matter how they might appear on a map, but are designed to be ``infrastructure corridors''--the lines along which population and energy density reach levels critical enough to power industrialization.

The land area of a 50-kilometer corridor on each side of the lines proposed for the Silk Route Lines A, B, and C, already encompasses between 800-900 million people--about 25% of the entire population of Eurasia and more than 50% of its industrial workforce. By ``bundling'' modern transport, energy, water, and other infrastructure within the corridors with Great Projects for river control, irrigation, and power generation, the productivity of the Eurasian continent will take a gigantic leap.

Look at China, and you will see that the majority of the population lives in the eastern third of the country.

[SLIDE 1.2006.A.30.1: Existing Railroads]

Now look at the major existing rail lines. First off, we can see that the lines tend to run east-west with few north-south connectors. This shows only the major lines, not smaller ones. Vast portions of China's central and western interior, however, are virtually without any rail lines.

[SLIDE 1.2006.A.30.2: Proposed New Lines and Upgrades]

The idea of these new lines is to link China with itself--north and south and also to the west. China needs to build approximately 100,000 kilometers of rail lines, roughly 1 million kilometers of new roads, and thousands of kilometers of improved inland canals to achieve an adequate internal transport system.

A second north-south line from Beijing to Hong Kong is now under rush construction for 1995 completion.

[SLIDE 1.2005.A.20: Proposed Railroads and Existing--Topographical]

The proposed rail lines literally cut through the tremendous physical barriers to the full utilization of China's land, as proposed by Dr. Sun Yat-sen in his great book, An International Reconstruction Program for China.

[SLIDE 1.2006.A.30: Proposed and Existing Railroads for China]

The Chinese government is aware that this is one route to alleviating the economic crisis in the country. For this reason, ``The transportation technology of high speed railway as a main technological project of the Eighth Year Plan of China has been included in the 10-year planning of the national economy,'' reported Hui Yongzhen, vice minister of the State Science and Technology Commission of China, to EIR on May 27. ``Especially to build the high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai, whose speed can reach more than 200 kilometers per hour, has been approved'' as urgent.

[SLIDE 1.2005.A.30: China Link to Silk Route]

This slide shows how this expansion fits into the plan for the entire Silk Route development project, further linking China to the north to Mongolia and Russia; to the South to Indochina; and to the West to Central Asia. A couple of years ago, with the completion of a crucial, remaining gap between Sinkiang and Kazakhstan in Central Asia, the so-called Eurasian Land Bridge was formally opened.

[SLIDE 1.2006.A.31.1: China Existing Waterways]

An overview of China's navigable waterways shows the same physical problem as the railroads--with huge blanks in the north and western parts of the country.

[SLIDE 1.2006.A.31.2: Proposed Waterways]

Proposed new waterways focus on forging north-south connecting links in the eastern half of the country--bringing water from the south to the water-starved north.

[SLIDE 1.2006.A.31: Existing and Proposed Waterways]

Primarily this involves the reconstruction of the Grand Canal, and the construction of a major canal from Beijing to the Yangtze River, and then forging three different links between the Yangtze and the Yellow Rivers.

[SLIDE 1.2006.A.32: Proposed and Existing Railroads and Waterways]

Combined, the achievement of the proposed railroads and waterways would greatly facilitate China's internal trade, drastically increasing the productivity of the entire economy.

Let us now think of China's main railways and its waterways, not simply as lines linking one point to another. Let us think of them as corridors of infrastructure around which are arrayed power complexes and technologies for industrialization--around which are arrayed new cities.

[SLIDE: 150-km Development Corridor]

This drawing shows a ``cross section'' of such a corridor. Through the middle is a river and/or canal. On either side of the river/canal are rail lines. One is the main trunk line, and the other is a secondary rail line for local traffic. Arrayed on either side of the main artery are nuclear-powered urban-industrial complexes--nuplexes--surrounded by areas of intensive agriculture.

Each nuplex is in fact a nuclear-powered city, where the city center is a cultural center and place of learning and training to build a new labor force. This is not training to teach peasants how to carry out the same type of manual labor their great- great- grandfathers carried out, nor even training for a particular new, high-technology skill. These centers of learning are to teach the method of creativity, whereby the individuals are able to assimilate entire new arrays of technological skills on a continuous basis and to teach them to others.

High-input, intensive agriculture takes advantage of the nuclear technology process for irrigation and fertilizer production. And disbursed on the outer edges of the corridor are new, modernized towns.

Such an approach of laying down infrastructural corridors as the gridlines for new cities supplies the answer to the unemployment problem and, simultaneously, with on-site educational facilities, upgrades the entire work force for entry into the industrial age.

Hence, the Silk Route project is not merely a plan to shorten the land route of goods shipped from the Pacific Rim to Western Europe by 3,000 kilometers. It is a project to build human civilization, to unleash the creative capacities of millions of human beings.

Is it an impossible dream? Or, rather, is it time for humanity to wake up from its current nightmare, and get to work?

Slides for this slide show available for $35. Contact: South East Literature Sales, 6025 Granby St., Room 205, Norfolk, VA 23503, or call: 757-531-2295.

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The preceding article is a rough version of the article that appeared in The American Almanac. It is made available here with the permission of The New Federalist Newspaper. Any use of, or quotations from, this article must attribute them to The New Federalist, and The American Almanac.

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