S. Vieira: "Building New Bridges and Opportunities for the Korean Peninsula"

 "Building New Bridges and Opportunities for the Korean Peninsula"

Good afternoon, Your Excellency, Rev. Jean Pierre Kadima (director of FFWPU for Central Africa); Your Holiness, Bishop Afonso Nunes (spiritual leader of the Tocoist Church); dear fellow panelists, ladies and gentlemen. Many thanks to UPF-Angola for this initiative and given opportunity.

Taking into account the objective that has brought us together here today, "The Reunification of the Korean Peninsula," and the theme that I will speak about, "Building New Bridges and Opportunities for the Korean Peninsula," I will tell you that the theme itself literally has prompted me to speak about "new bridges" and “peace tunnels” (namely those of the International Highway Project), with mentions also of the situation of the African continent and naturally of the opportunities not only for the Korean Peninsula but also for the world with this reunification.

Our world is rapidly becoming virtually an integrated environment. Geographical distances are being bridged by high-tech infrastructure programs such as roads, tunnels and bridges, with huge financial contributions provided by powerful nations as facilitators. But a crucial factor is missing: namely, a clear and common value perspective for the future world, without which tensions often are caused between these facilitating powers, as well as between the beneficiary nations themselves.

Thus, the question is: How can this construction lead to a future of peace, prosperity, and broad, free exchanges between peoples and societies? One of UPF International's signature projects, the International Highway Project, also should be evaluated in this context.

About this project, UPF's founder, the late Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, said in his autobiography, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen:

The International Peace Highway is a project to unite the world as one. Becoming ONE means more than simply connecting continents by tunnels and bridges. It refers to an equalization of the world's living standards. The construction of the International Peace Highway brings more than just providing the world with a physical means of communication.

Human beings were created so that their mind and body become one. Something similar is true for the world we live in. The world can only be completely unified when there is physical communication and heart communication.

This is what we are talking about here.

In 1981, at the 10th International Conference for the Unity of the Sciences in Seoul, South Korea, the International Highway Project was championed by the founders of UPF, Rev. and Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon (today considered by many to be the "Mother of Peace") as a vision for creating a new civilization.

At the time, one of the major goals was to link the United States and Russia, two great world powers representing democracy and communism, through a bridge and tunnel across the Bering Strait (between Alaska and Russia’s Far East) and to build international roads that literally would allow overland travel across all continents. But for the past 40 years, the International Highway Project has been focused on Japan, concentrating mainly on its major component of a Japan-Korea undersea tunnel connecting the two nations (enemies in the past), which would be expected to take on significant roles after the materialization of a worldwide road network.

International Highway Foundation President Dr. Hirofumi Sato gave philosophical and civilizational perspectives recalling Europe where Roman roads were one of the crucial components for the two centuries of the Pax Romana. Thus, according to Dr. Sato, a worldwide network of high-level road infrastructure, connecting virtually every corner of the world to a global village, also would become like the arteries of humanity forming a global family of peace.

Forty years after the original proposal, it is now finally noticeable that political and economic interests have increased with regard to this type of road infrastructure connecting the world.

Wealthy and powerful nations have proposed global transportation infrastructure schemes, and since 2013 China has initiated an ambitious trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative project, formerly known as One Belt One Road.

In a clear counterproposal to this already huge advance by China, in 2021 the Group of Seven (G7) nations and the European Union separately proposed the Build Back Better World (3BW) and Global Gateway projects, aiming at structural improvements to humanity.

But considering all this global competition and dubious political and economic interests, Dr. Sato said that the fundamental problem in our society is human morality. Thus, he said, a new philosophy of civilization needs to be not only centered on economics and politics but also composed of thoughts and a spirituality that can be translated into interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values.

In the recent Think Tank 2022 Forum, the session jointly organized by the Europe-Middle East and African branches of UPF’s International Association of Academicians for Peace (IAAP) had as its topic “The International Highway Project: A Global Peace Road – Northeast Asia – Europe – Africa."

Dr. Artur Victoria, a Portuguese expert on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, explained that the BRI, like the historic Silk Road, is a transcontinental program of policy and long-term investment aimed at infrastructure development and economic integration through a network of globalized roads, railways and sea routes, with investments in about 70 countries and international organizations where it has exploited their funding gaps in infrastructure (estimated at 26 trillion dollars in Asia alone).

Apparently this Chinese policy of infrastructure coordination and connectivity, trade and financial integration is expected to boost trade, investment and connectivity among the various peoples of the world. But although China has presented the Belt and Road Initiative as an open agreement in which all interested countries are welcome to participate and has expanded it around the world, it turns out that all its aid and infrastructure provided is paid for by the countries themselves, with many of them already poor, so for this they have become increasingly indebted to China.

In other words, according to Dr. Victoria, China provides technical assistance and lends money if necessary, yet the economic sustainability, debt traps, and future sovereignty of these countries sometimes have been ignored by policymakers in these same countries, particularly in Africa and Latin America.

In that same IAAP session, another speaker, H.E. Mamadou Kone, honorary consul of the Republic of Mali in Austria, said that for governments to reach sustainable solutions, and for people to live peacefully, at least the most basic needs of the local population—their economic, political, but above all social aspirations—must be taken into consideration.

Giving examples that could be generalized, he said that although Mali has no lack of foreign-trained doctors, many people die of curable diseases due to the lack of hospitals and medical equipment. Farmers, who make up 80 percent of the population, can barely feed more than their own families due to lack of modern production tools, and even when production is high (e.g., tomatoes and mangoes), many perishable products are lost due to lack of infrastructure and transport in the cold chains, preventing export-oriented trade and thus also sustainability, growth, and profit.

As many of the conflicts in Africa result from political instability when the needs of the population are not met, it is very important that much needed international transport infrastructure projects are developed in a broader context of human development and focused on improving the quality of life of the people, H.E. Kone said.

In short, the problems of Africa are not solved by injecting of millions and millions in money from Europe (which unfortunately are not channeled to benefit the people most in need) nor only by creating infrastructures at the expense of the high indebtedness of these countries, as China has done. Such actions leave out all the most basic needs, such as providing the technical and specialized knowledge that allows these very people to empower themselves and then solve their various essential problems through a competitive development and toward a sustainable economic and social growth.

Let us now look at the many other advantages and opportunities that reunification would bring to the Korean Peninsula, but also to the world.

We all know that the division of Korea was a political decision on the map. That is, only a redrawn line separated one nation into two on a map, but in reality the Koreans are one people with one language, one culture and one set of traditions.

United, the Koreas could become a formidable country with almost 100 million people, with a booming economy and finances, and also possessing the North's nuclear weapons – so a country of enormous regional power.

Jim Rogers, a world-renowned expert in the field of investment, the chairman of Rogers Holdings, was a speaker at the recent World Summit 2022 in Korea, where he spoke of some of these key opportunities:

Currently South Korea spends millions on guns and bullets, and North Korea spends even more millions from its economy. One can then imagine how much the two nations would save and gain from peace through a peaceful reunification, he said.

According to Mr. Rogers, Korea could become one of the most exciting countries in the world after opening the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

It would join the North, with its many natural resources and its disciplined farmers and workers, to the South, with its enormous capital of expertise and technology.

In 1991, one of the most important contributions that Reverend Moon took to North Korea was the construction of an automobile factory. When the 38th Parallel is opened and a Japan-Korea Tunnel is built, it will be possible to drive overland from Tokyo to London!

On the other hand, there are railway lines that can be reactivated and later join the current Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, which we have talked about, and also the Trans-Siberian Railway system in Russia. Korea then will become globally prosperous, and this growth will be of great benefit and security to that part of Asia and from there to the world.

Over the years South Korea has been growing steadily, but with the opening of the 38th Parallel and its currency which has remained stable, that growth will be exponential.

The biggest problem, as with the United States, is that it has incurred a huge national debt during that growth. However, that is all the more reason to open the Demilitarized Zone, because North Korea has no national debt. When the two nations become one people again, the situation will be much better.

On the other hand, South Korea's population, despite its aging population, has been slowly growing but there is a lack of girls there, something that is the opposite in North Korea. Their union therefore would help solve many of these social birth problems in South Korea.

Finally, peace itself also will bring greater security and with it a greater predisposition to have more children, which will further revitalize their economy and increase hope for a long, prosperous future.

It is with these advantages and opportunities for Korea and the world of a peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula that I conclude my presentation. Thank you very much!

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