Is Afghanistan the First Domino to Fall?

War and Conflict — Strategic Culture

August 22, 2021

Tim Kirby

It certainly looks like a domino that has been put in position poised to fall waiting for others to take their places in the line.

With America withdrawing from Afghanistan abruptly after some 20 years, one big question is being discussed throughout the strategic sphere by those both in big institutions and laying on their couches – is the American loss in Afghanistan the first domino to fall in the eventual collapse of the Global Hegemon? After all, Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires” probably because it is an expression that sounds nice and because the Soviets fell apart a few years after losing to the locals. So this must be the “beginning of the end” right?

Well, we should never be so quick as to jump onto narrow narratives without looking at the big picture. Side-by-side images of the Americans and their allies fleeing Vietnam and Afghanistan by helicopter are flooding Facebook, posted by those in the Alternative Media who take great joy in any loss by the 21st century’s “Evil Empire” but they seem to forget that just a few decades after losing in Vietnam the United States won the Cold War and took dominance over the planet.

Image: Strategic meme-of-the-year material for 2021.

No single event no matter how photogenic it is, is not going to be a sign of the grand demise of the “Sole Hyperpower”. It really took from the beginning of WWI till the end of WWII for the British to truly fall apart as a geopolitical force. The Soviet Union fell much quicker, but it is very widely believed that Perestroika (or the The Reykjavik Summit) was the real first white flag that devolved into the breakup of the union years later. The Roman Empire was a vastly slower burn than either of these two modern behemoths.

This means we should not be debating if Afghanistan is the first “domino” to fall, but instead we should really take a look at what the rest of the dominos falling would look like. At this point we can surely put together a rough picture of what the next tiles to fall would look like, i.e. what other major failures/events would really be signs of the Monopolar World meeting its demise? The following are a few humble offerings as to what these dominos could be…

Abandoning the Maidan Regime in the Ukraine

The unexpected surrender and soon to be total fall of Kabul has certainly resonated in another city that starts with the letter K. If Washington is finding it necessary to abandon a twenty-year Nation-Building project that they have invested vast sums of money and manpower into, that means that back-burner Kiev could be cut loose in the near future, putting the fate of the region in the hands of the Russians.

Image: We all know who secures Ukrainian “independence”.

The Maidan has been a major roadblock for Russia. As Brzeziński wrote, “It cannot be stressed enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire” and Washington has done an absolutely fantastic job of turning the region into an “anti-Russia” as Putin recently called it.

If the Maidan project were to be abandoned, it would become another quite massive domino. Washington giving up on Kiev, resulting in that current political entity probably being divided up, mostly going to Moscow, would symbolize either the USA’s inability to stop the rise of the Russians or their begrudging acceptance of it.

Taiwan, Hong Kong and/or South Korea

The Trump-era State Department Democracy storm that was inflicted on Hong Kong has seemed to fade away, but a total abandonment of the thorns in the side of the Chinese Dragon would also result in another domino being placed into position.

Image: Not State Department = No Professional Protest Organizers in China.

Bailing on Hong Kong activists or failing to maintain Taiwan’s independence would certainly present a strong sign of weakness and inability from the standpoint of Washington. Furthermore, although China has never had a passionate love for the North Koreans, having South Korea as essentially an American beachhead right next door has been a cause of concern for decades for Beijing. The South Korean economy on paper looks amazing and their cities dazzle with progress but what would be the effects of Ameria giving up on them? Is South Korea able to stand as a great nation, or is it really only successful thanks to the American umbrella? The answer to that would reveal itself within two weeks of an America-free Korean Peninsula.

Simply put, if Washington gives up on Hong Kong, Taiwan and/or South Korea it is another sign of the end for sure as China would be more or less rid of these weak points that have been exploited against it for decades.

A Loss of Control Over the “Bigs”

Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Agro and so on, have dutifully served Washington’s interests despite their theoretically international nature. But we should never forget that large for-profit entities are quite “whoreish” and will serve whichever master they need to. If Washington cannot control the Bigs as it used to, this would be another domino.

To a small extent this is happening in Hollywood where the Chinese market’s (and its official and unofficial) demands are having a major impact. But if it comes to a point that Hollywood is only making a chunk of the world’s blockbusters rather than nearly all of them it would be the end of the total unobstructed Soft Power dominance of this American institution. Or even worse, if Hollywood can be bought out from under America then a new global narrative could be spun quite quickly.

If the Hegemon fades, the leadership of the Bigs will feel increasing pressure from the Russians, Chinese and Arabs to give up the whole “gay thing” and portray these societies in a positive light whether through bribery or threats of force. Apple may be “designed in California” but if need be they would surely bail for greener pastures rather than living a life of poverty loyal to a failed America.

Mexico, Lakotastan and African-America

The United States has done a fantastic job of fostering independence movements within its rivals while making diverse masses “American” at home. However, as with the Soviets and the British, waves of breakaway republics and successful secessionist movements would be a very big domino indeed.

The Soviets tried to create an African workers uprising in America in the 60’s and failed miserably, but BLM could get out of control, or in the case of a dying USA, could become used by foreign powers. An Afro-American Maidan would certainly be another sign of doom.

The rise of an independent Native-American state like the Lakota Indians’ lands would be yet another tile being stood into place, opening the door for further break-away attempts.

When the Mexicans lost the Mexican-American war they lost the chance to become the dominant power on the continent. Few remember, but the destiny of this New World was not just given to the Americans wrapped in a box. If the Mexicans had won the war they would be the ones with access to the Atlantic (via the Gulf of Mexico) and the Pacific simultaneously, not Washington. It would have been very possible for them to secure the entire West Coast. A Mexico that would begin to take action as an independent actor would certainly be another sign of serious trouble for Washington. Thus far, on the North American continent “there can be only one” but perhaps that isn’t necessarily going to always remain the same “one”.

The death of the Dollar or collapse of the Federal Reserve

If the dollar were to collapse, or there were serious problems at the Federal Reserve, as have been predicted for many years due to insane national debt, this would of course be the biggest domino of all. The West has been able to accumulate bafflingly massive debt with no consequences because of the dominance of Washington. It is very hard to call in a debt from the toughest kid school surrounded by his henchmen. But when the big bully stops growing, and loses his buddies, all of a sudden getting your $5 back with a few whacks from a baseball bat becomes viable.

Image: If you are powerful enough no one can call in your debts.

No one can call in the debt of a Global Hegemon, but Regional Powers have to balance their checkbook. A decrease in power could lead to the national debt prophecy coming true in our lifetimes which would be probably the largest domino of all.

In conclusion

Is Afghanistan “the first domino to fall” in the death of the American Empire? This cannot be proven, but it certainly looks like a domino that has been put in position poised to fall waiting for others to take their places in the line. Other major defeats would be required to say for sure that this “New American Century” is over, not even making it to the one-fourth mark. It is really the other potential signs of the end that are of most concern not squabbling over Afghanistan’s domino status. So the big question is, if Washington is losing its Monopolar World Order, then where will be the next grand retreats?

Afghan Lesson For Uncle Sam’s Running Dogs

August 15, 2021

Finian Cunningham

Afghanistan is the most glaring proof of the American treachery. It’s a cautionary tale for others who incredibly still seem trusting in hitching their wagon to a U.S. alliance.

U.S. President Joe Biden said this week that he has “no regrets” about pulling American forces out of Afghanistan as the Taliban militants look set to over-run the entire Central Asian country. The lesson here is: anyone acting as a running dog for Washington does so at the peril of ultimate U.S. betrayal.

The U.S.-backed puppet regime in Kabul has done Washington’s bidding for nearly two decades. After 20 years of futile war at the cost of hundreds of thousands of Afghan lives and trillions of dollars, Uncle Sam has decided to pack up, get out and leave the Afghans to their miserable fate. As the Taliban take over one provincial capital after another, the U.S. intelligence agencies are warning that the Kabul regime could fall within a month. And callously, Biden this week told the Afghans they have to do their own fighting.

Whatever happened to lofty American vows of “nation-building”? Or “fighting terrorism”, “defending democracy”, “protecting women’s rights”?

It’s a sordid story with much historical precedent illustrating how at the drop of a hat Uncle Sam is liable to hang erstwhile “allies” out to dry. As American elder statesman Henry Kissinger once noted, the U.S. doesn’t have permanent allies, it only has interests.

Some 46 years ago, the Fall of Saigon saw the United States scurry away from a corrupt puppet regime it had propped up in South Vietnam as the North Vietnamese communists finally routed the redundant American pawns.

A more recent example of callous betrayal by Washington was the throwing of Kurdish militants to the mercy of Turkey when the latter invaded northern Syria during the Trump presidency. Anyone who accepts American patronage must know that the small print in the contract always reads: to be dumped at any time of Uncle Sam’s choosing and convenience.

Afghanistan is the most glaring proof perhaps since the Fall of Saigon in 1975 of that American treachery.

It’s a cautionary tale for others who incredibly still seem trusting in hitching their wagon to a U.S. alliance.

Ukraine, run by a venal regime in Kiev, appears slavishly willing to place all its fate under Washington’s whim. Centuries of common history with Russia are being sacrificed by the regime in Kiev all for the gain of Washington’s military benevolence. A seven-year civil war bankrolled by $2 billion in American military aid has destroyed the peace and prosperity of Ukraine as well as damage neighborly relations with Russia. We can be sure that when the imperial planners in Washington realize that their use of Ukraine as a pawn against Russia has become futile, then the people of Ukraine will be dropped to sort out the chronic mess.

Likewise the American lackeys in the Baltic states. They act as running dogs for Washington to spoil relations between Russia and the European Union. For years, the Baltic countries have objected to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, appealing instead for more expensive and environmentally dirty U.S. gas exports. Overnight, Washington has decided such a policy is untenable and not worth antagonizing Germany and the rest of the EU. And just like that, the Baltic lackeys are left out in the cold looking like fools.

They never seem to learn though. This week Lithuania did Uncle Sam’s bidding to provoke China by announcing it would recognize Taiwan. That move infuriated Beijing because it undercuts the international One China Policy of accepting Taiwan as under Beijing’s sovereignty. China recalled its envoy from Vilnius and it has threatened punitive economic measures. As the EU’s top trading partner, it is reckless and self-defeating to incur China’s wrath. Lithuania and the rest of the EU could potentially be hit with economic losses – all for the sake of following Washington’s geopolitical agenda of hostility towards China.

Currently, the biggest caution of U.S. treachery must surely go to the renegade Chinese island territory of Taiwan. Beijing has warned that Washington’s provocative arms sales are fomenting separatist factions on the island. China has declared the right to invade Taiwan militarily and take back control by force. Such a move could ignite a war between the United States and China since Washington has repeatedly vowed to “defend” Taiwan.

But as the Afghan debacle reminds us, the chances are that Washington will leave the Taiwanese to their fate in a military confrontation with mainland China. There would be Chinese blood spilled on both sides before Beijing asserts its authority.

Afghanistan demonstrates with brutal clarity that there is not an iota of principle in Washington’s foreign policy and its military interventions. The lives of ordinary U.S. citizens are as expendable as those of foreign people as long as Washington’s interests of serving its corporate profits are deemed to be met. When those interests stop then the lives lost are flushed down the toilet like a nasty turd.

Biden Regime Challenges Beijing Over Taiwan and the South China Sea

August 8, 2021

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Since usurping power by brazen election fraud, Biden regime hardliners have been pushing things for confrontation with Russia, China and other nations.

Last week, it notified Congress of its intent to sell around $750 million worth of weapons to Taiwan, taunting China with the announcement.

According to the State Department, the sale aims to strengthen Taipei’s “self-defense capabilities to meet current and future threats (sic).”

China’s Foreign Ministry denounced the sale. Vowing “countermeasures to defend its legitimate interests,” it called the sale “a wrong signal to Taiwanese independence forces,” adding:

It’s “damag(ing) Sino/US relations”more than already, along with “stability of the Taiwan Strait.”

According to a spokesman for Taiwan’s office of the president:

Taipei “continue(s) to deepen cooperation with the US and other like-minded countries.”

Days earlier, US war secretary Lloyd Austin falsely accused China of “destabilizing military activity and other forms of coercion against the people of Taiwan (sic),” adding:

“We will not flinch when our interests are threatened (sic).”

On Thursday, US Indo-Pacific Command’s Admiral John Aquilino vowed to defend Taiwan, adding:

“(W)e have to be in a position to ensure that status quo remains as it applies to Taiwan.”

INDOPACOM he heads called on Congress to spend over $27 billion by 2027 to boost US military capabilities in the region.

On August 2, INDOPACOM announced the beginning of “Large Scale Global Exercise 21 (LSGE21) to continue through August 27.

US army, navy, marines, and air force are involved, along with UK, Australian and Japanese forces.

What’s ongoing throughout most of August is the largest-scale US-led naval and amphibious drills since its Ocean Venture exercises in 1981 with NATO allies during the Cold War with Soviet Russia.

According to a US Navy statement, ongoing S. China Sea exercises signal to Washington’s invented enemies that it’s “ready at the high end of warfare expressly because of its global operational commitments.”

Operation “Large Scale Global Exercise 21” coincides in part with China’s military drills in the South China Sea.

Begun on August 6, they’ll continue through the 10th.

Flashpoint South China Sea risks US confrontation with Beijing where Pentagon forces don’t belong.

According to regional visiting professor Brad Glosserman, US-led South China Sea exercises “signal” Washington’s intent to increase its regional involvement.

Claiming the Biden regime doesn’t seek “confrontation or a conflict” with China, it “could erupt by miscalculation of US resolve and its commitment to the defense of its allies and regional security, or as the result of an accident,” he believes.

Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming doesn’t expect ongoing US military exercises to heighten tensions with China more than already, saying:

Despite “targeting China,” they’re unlikely to “to go too far and will not deliberately seek to cross China’s bottom lines.” 

“The US military presence in the Asia-Pacific recently is not sufficient, so they need to use these kinds of exercises to prove themselves.”

According to Australian international relations professor Remy Davison, US-led LSGE21’s scale shows its Indo/Pacific allies and adversaries that its regional military footprint is longterm.

Separately in response to the Biden regime’s offer of “safe haven” to Hong Kong residents in the US, China’s official People’s Daily broadsheet said the following:

Along with “unscrupulous (US) smears and sanctions on China (for) safeguard(ing) Hong Kong’s security and stability,” the Biden regime’s “safe haven” offer is all about “siding with…Hong Kong rioters” — ones the US created and supports,” adding:

For some time, Washington’s hostile-to-China ruling class has been “colluding with and even abetting rioters in Hong Kong” — calling them “fighters (and) heroes.”

Its actions are all about waging war on China by other means, aiming to undermine its development.

An agenda doomed to fail, a clash of civilizations continues and escalates toward risking direct confrontation by accident or design.

Irreconcilable differences define bilateral relations, things worsening, not improving.

US hegemonic aims are the stuff that wars are made of.

The Rand Corporation earlier called US war with China “unthinkable.”

The same goes for confronting Russia militarily.

US war against one or both countries would be ruinous for combatant countries.

According to Rand, if occurs “(t)he world economy could be rocked and international order…shattered.”

It could go on “inconclusive(ly)” because neither side has an advantage in dealing with adversaries able to give as much as they take.

The US was unable to defeat North Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Syria.

What chance would it have against powerhouse countries China and Russia?

According to Rand, “(a)s its military advantage declines, the US will be less confident that a war with China” or Russia would go as planned. 

Preparing for war defensively is one thing, waging it against powerful adversaries another entirely.

Is it possible anyway? Is the US foolhardy to think it’s militarily superior enough to defeat any adversaries?

Is unthinkable nuclear confrontation possible?

China and Russia prioritize world peace and stability in sharp contrast to belligerent USA.

If conflict occurs between these nations, most likely it would be short-lived to avoid mass-annihilation.

Even a war of weeks or a few months could be devastating for combatant countries.

Is the above incentive enough for US policymakers to avoid war with China and/or Russia at all costs?

Or will it happen anyway ahead by accident or design?

According to Rand, US “war with China (or Russia) would be so harmful that both sides should place a very high priority on avoiding one.”

Clearly the above view is shared by China and Russia.

Given its rage to dominate other countries by whatever it takes to achieve its aims, it’s very much unclear whether hegemon USA is likeminded.

Sitrep : Here comes China : Military Drills, Extortion, the ‘Religious Freedom Balkanization’ Plan for China

August 07, 2021

Sitrep : Here comes China : Military Drills, Extortion, the ‘Religious Freedom Balkanization’ Plan for China

The main news of the day is the Biden administration’s effort to sell 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery systems, 1,698 precision guidance kits for munitions, spares, training, ground stations and upgrades for previous generation of howitzers, to the island of Taiwan in a deal worth up to $750 million. China is, to say the least, livid.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202108/1230698.shtml


Military Drills: US ‘large-scale’ military exercises cannot scare China, Russia

The US has begun two “large-scale” military exercises. The first is a joint Indo-Pacific military exercise led by the US Indo-Pacific Command with the participation of Japan, Australia and the UK. The other is the “Large-Scale Exercise 2021” held by US Navy around the world and is reportedly the largest naval exercise since 1981. A US military scholar told media that it is intended to demonstrate to China and Russia that US naval forces can simultaneously meet challenges in the Black Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, South China Sea and East China Sea.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202108/1230616.shtml


More Military Drills:  Chinese, Russian militaries to hold joint drill in NW China

YINCHUAN — A joint military exercise by the Chinese and Russian armies will be held from Aug. 9 to 13 at a training base of the People’s Liberation Army in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

The exercise, named ZAPAD/INTERACTION-2021, is the first joint military exercise held inside China since the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the exercise’s leading group.

http://www.chinadailyglobal.com/a/202108/06/WS610c8415a310efa1bd667010.html


And more, an ongoing military drill from Friday to Tuesday

A large section of waters from Hainan to the Paracels has been cordoned off by China’s maritime authorities from Friday

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3144111/south-china-sea-are-carrier-killer-missiles-being-primed-pla


While we are right at the end of the Tokyo Olympics, the force is strong for canceling or otherwise interfering with the upcoming Beijing 2022 Games.

This is what Radio Free Asia (and people should recognize that for what it is), reports, and this is clearly within the human rights wars.

2021-07-27 — The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday said it had to “remain neutral” on global political issues in response to a request from the U.S. Congressional commission that asked it to postpone and relocate the 2022 Beijing Winter Games if China does not end its human rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs in its Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

The reply came in response to a letter that the bipartisan U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) sent to IOC president Thomas Bach. The commission made the letter public on July 23.”

Despite these efforts to do something to China, anything, before the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese are keeping cool:  “Off the field, observers noted that the success of the Tokyo Olympics under huge pressure is a desperately needed inspiration for the world. Tokyo’s experience in carrying out a major international event under such circumstances sets an example for next year’s Beijing Winter Olympics, experts said. ”


Let’s look at the latest Xinjiang information:

And then during the time of writing, the news broke.  Part of the Xinjiang story, is pure hard blackmail:  the US-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) blackmailed, bribed, and extorted a Chinese company and its US cooperative partner for $300,000 by threatening to hype up fabricated “forced labor” issues related to China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202108/1230759.shtml

The complete Xinjian story of forced labor, a genocide (with no dead people), prison camps et al is falling apart like an overripe watermelon that just smashed itself falling off the watermelon buggy and is not fit for eating any longer.


While we are on the topic of extortion, Alex Rubinstein did some undercover work.

He says:  “Using a friend’s company on my application and adopting a fake persona, I attended a three-day summit on religious freedom where leading figures in the Democratic Party including Nancy Pelosi, USAID Director Samantha Power and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken joined up with anti-gay Evangelicals, a slew of shady NGOs and multiple bonafide cults to ratchet up pressure against China.”:

From this ‘Davos of Religious Freedom’, we see top democrats, top republicans, the Christian far right, some clear cults, NGO’s with no history, and just about every anti-China organization in the world right across the spectrum.  The objective?  Balkanization under the guise of religious freedom as the new front in the new China cold war.  This report is incredibly detailed and would need some time to read through.  It is however recommended to understand the vast array of forces aligned in the new cold war against China.

https://realalexrubi.substack.com/p/top-democrats-unite-with-christian

And the 2nd part is out, titled: A Cult, a Fake Gov’t & US-funded NGOs Hold Panels Panning China

https://realalexrubi.substack.com/p/cult-fake-govt-ngos


And this is how medical philanthropy US to China actually operates:

https://saker.community/2021/08/02/tarnished-american-philanthropy-in-china/


So, what is happening in China?  Simply said, strong strong words. 

The recent visit of US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, despite the usual initial nice and welcoming words apparently did not go down well.  “A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that the talks were in-depth, frank, and beneficial to the relationship between the two countries.”

Days later the story changed materially.   “We will no longer make unilateral efforts to maintain the public opinion atmosphere in China-US relations. Using illegal sanctions as a pretext, the US, aided by Canada, has effectively kidnapped a high-ranking Chinese corporate official, Meng Wanzhou, and is still threatening her with possible imprisonment. No other nation behaves so brazenly in defiance of international norms.

“The basis for such changes is that Chinese society has become fed up with the bossy US and we hold no more illusion that China and the US would substantially improve ties in the foreseeable future. The Chinese public strongly supports the government to safeguard national dignity in its ties with the US and firmly push back the various provocations from the US. In the face of the malicious China containment and confrontational policy adopted by the two recent US administrations, the Chinese people are willing to form a united front, together bear the consequences of not yielding to the US, and win for the country’s future through struggles.

In other words, Chinese society would unconditionally support whatever tough counterattacks the Chinese government would launch in the face of US-initiated conflicts in all directions toward China. The US should abandon forever the idea of changing China’s system and policies through sanctions, containment, and intimidation. We hope US allies in the Asia-Pacific, especially Japan and Australia, can weigh the situation. They should not act as accomplices of the US’ China containment policy and place themselves at the forefront of confronting China, or they are betting their own future.”

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202107/1229704.shtml

And this is the message that is still prevailing in China and internal to her people.

Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou was in the dock in a Canadian court this last week but at the time of writing, I have not seen any reports.


Further detail:

Far more world leaders visit China than America: “If leadership diplomacy was an Olympic sport, Beijing beats Washington to the gold medal.” In 2019, 79 foreign leaders visited China, while only 27 called on the United States. More world leaders have visited China than the United States in every year since 2013. Many US allies visited China more often than the United States, including those of South Korea, Germany, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and New Zealand. Read full article →

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said ties with Southeast Asia are a priority for China and called for “multilateralism with Asian characteristics”, as the country seeks to counter US moves in the region.“China has always made Asean its priority for diplomacy in the region … and firmly supports Asean’s central role in regional cooperation,” Wang said, according to the Chinese foreign ministry readout on Thursday. “Both sides should conduct frequent communication on all levels, and continue with mutual understanding and support for each other’s core interests.” Read full article $→ 

US drops visa fraud charge against Chinese researcher accused of hiding ties to Chinese military. Days before trial was expected to start, US prosecutors ask judge to dismiss charge against cancer researcher Tang Juan. Federal agents said Tang allegedly sought refuge at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco after they interviewed her at her home. Read full article $→ 

The US dropped cases against five Chinese researchers accused of hiding ties to the Chinese military. The China Initiative has raised concern about racial profiling of Asians, however, and led to calls for investigation into the DOJ’s conduct. Judges had already dismissed parts of two cases after it was revealed FBI agents hadn’t properly informed them of their rights against self-incrimination. Read full article $→

U.S.-listed Chinese firms must disclose Chinese government interference risks. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday that Chinese companies listed on U.S. markets must disclose the risks of the Chinese government interfering in their business as part of their reporting obligations. Read full article $→

For the first time since 2013, China funded no overseas coal projects in H1. Last month, ICBC announced that it would begin to phase out coal project financing, and pulled out of a major $3 billion coal power plant project in Zimbabwe. Then Beijing  published fresh guidelines encouraging overseas enterprises to invest in greener projects and dump environmentally risky ones. Read full article →


Selections from Godfree Roberts’ extensive weekly newsletter: Here Comes China. You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

There are some delicious long reads in this week’s newsletter from Martin Jacques, Martin Chorzempa, Chris Lau, Rick Sterling, Yiwen Lu and Hubert Horan

Further selections and editorial and geopolitical commentary by Amarynth.

China’s Foreign Minister Meets President Assad and Syrian Officials, Signs Economic Agreement

 MIRI WOOD 

President Bashar Assad receives China Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Damascus

President Bashar al Assad welcomed China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi and his delegation, to Damascus on Saturday, 17 July. They discussed the “historic and distinguished relations binding the two friendly countries,” a relationship that dates back more than two thousand years.

Minister Wang brought felicitations from China’s President Xi Jinping on Dr. Assad winning re-election, “noting that the success of this entitlement indicates the people’s victory and their firm determination to resist all challenges and domination attempts.

President Assad thanked China for its ongoing support for the Levantine republic’s territorial integrity, support for Syria’s sovereignty in international forums, and for her support “to the Syrian people in various fields” (e.g., in 2018, the People’s Republic of China generously sent a 118 container cargo of transformers, cable, and other essentials to help the Syrian Arab Republic rebuild its electrical grid destroyed by NATO-supported terrorists; in 2019, the People’s Republic sent one-hundred public buses to enhance the transportation sector).

China Grants Syria Electrical Transformers
Gifts of transformers and buses from the People’s Republic of China, to the Syrian Arab Republic.

Syria and China discussed entering a new stage in bilateral relations, to open “wider horizons…to serve the interests of the two countries and peoples.”

President al Assad noted China’s “strong presence and its ethical policies which serve most countries around the world.” Minister Wang stated that China will continue to “support the Syrian people in the war against terrorism,” and in condemnation of the illicit sanctions imposed on the Syrian people and their inherent right to self-determination (which — of course — includes their right to elect the president of their choosing, despite NATO countries demanding the right to dictate their leader).

Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China
Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China.

As expected, the two friendly nations discussed Syria’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, sometimes referred to as The New Silk Road. The Belt and Road is the rebirth of the Ancient Silk Road, a 4,000 mile/6437 kilometer route of economic trade and cultural development ‘built’ around 139 BCE. The route lasted throughout the late 1300s, and also inspired Ibn al Nadim’s 10th century The Thousand Stories. Compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age, this work of literary art was a collection of stories and folk tales spanning the Asian continent during the period of great creativity and trade along the path of development.

The Ancient Silk Road spanned the Asian continent, with China and Syria playing key roles in economic trade and cultural development.

That sound of werewolves howling and hyenas barking is actually coming from frustrated NATO imperialists and their peons at keyboards, enraged over the meeting; we can expect the shrieks to become increasingly loud.

Minister Wang stated that China opposes “any attempt to seek regime change in Syria,” and that “blatant foreign interventions in Syria have failed in the past, and will not succeed in the future.”

President Assad stated that “Syria unconditionally supports China on Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong issues.”

The visiting Chinese Minister Mr. Yi held another meeting with his Syrian counterpart Mr. Faisal Mekdad after which the ministers attended the signing of an agreement of economic and technical cooperation between Syria and China, a step toward practical work that will see China entering the Levant, properly after it entered through some investment in Israel, and Syria entering the route of the Belt and Road initiative.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi holds takls in Damascus and signs economic agreement
Syria and China ink economic and technical agreement in Damascus

China, which vetoed a number of draft resolutions presented by NATO member states against Syria at the United Nations Security Council in a non-precedented diplomatic move in using its veto power for non-Chinese national security resolutions, and in which it was not required when the Russian veto was already there, is now challenging the US-led strangling blockade and sanctions against the Syrian people.

— Miri Wood and Arabi Souri

Postscript: Ibn al Nadim’s The Thousand Nights was the basis for the fairy tale of Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp (set in China), and Prussian Christian Maximilian Habicht and Tunisian Mordechai ibn al Najjar co-authorship of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, via Antun Yosuf Hanna Diyab, a Syrian writer, cloth merchant, and famous storyteller, living in Paris in the 1600’s.

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China’s Communist Party – A 100-Year Legacy of Success and a Forward Vision

June 30, 2021

China’s Communist Party – A 100-Year Legacy of Success and a Forward Vision

By Peter Koenig with permission and written for China’s Chongyang Institute of the Renmin University in Beijing – for the 100 Anniversary – 1 July 2021 – of China’s Communist Party.

The legendary Chinese success story goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and China’s Communist Revolution that began in 1945. The foundation of the CPC on 1 July 1921 signaled the end of some 200 years of China’s oppression by foreign powers, to western invasions and exploitation, grabbing China’s territories and especially her rich natural resources – and to gain trading advantages, including from the riches of China’s resources and crafts.

Background and History
About two centuries ago, foreign interferences were dominated by illegal Opium Trade that eventually culminated in two Opium WarsIn the 18th and 19th centuries Western countries, mostly Great Britain, exported opium grown in India to China. In turn, the Brits used the profits from opium sales largely to buy Chinese luxury goods, like porcelain, silk, and tea. These goods were in high demand in the west.

Much of this opium export was illegitimate and created widespread addiction throughout China, causing serious social and economic calamities. The wars were triggered by China’s attempting to suppress the trade, that grew tremendously from about 1820 onwards. In early 1839 the Chinese government confiscated and destroyed more than 20,000 chests of opium (chest = about 63.5 kg) — some 1,400 tons of the drug—that were warehoused at Canton, Guangzhou Province by British merchants. By 1838 imports had grown to some 40,000 chests annually.

In July 1839, British sailors killed a Chinese villager. The British government refused to turn the accused over to be judged in Chinese courts. The Brits did not wish its subjects to be tried in the Chinese legal system, and refused to turn the accused men over to the Chinese courts.

This conflict prompted the first Opium War (1839 – 1842), fought between the UK and the Qing dynasty (1644 to 1912), with the British objective to legalize the opium trade. This did not happen, which led to the Second Opium war (1856 – 1860), also called the Anglo-French war. But China did not win the wars and the nefarious addiction-causing trade continued for several more decades.

China’s British-forced war-concession to the winner, was to hand over the island of Hong Kong to British administration. In addition, China had to legalize the opium trade and concede a number of trading ports to the Brits, as well as opening travel for foreigners into China and granting residencies for Wester envoys to China. And an important concession for a predominantly Buddhist country was that China had to grant freedom of movement to Christian missionaries throughout China.

The wars and the resulting multiple concession of China, prompted an era of unequal treaties between China and foreign imperialist powers, aka, the UK, France, Germany, the United States, Russia and Japan. China was forced to concede many of her territorial and sovereignty rights. These encroachments on Chinese sovereignty weakened and eventually brought down the Qing dynasty, leading to a revolution on October 10, 1911, bringing the Kuomintang (KMT) to power. They are also referred to as the Chinese National Party and founded the Republic of China on 1 January 1912. 

The founder of the KMT and initial ruler of China after the 1911 revolution, Sun Yat-sen attempted to modernize China along western lines and values – which was not accepted by the Chinese people. The next couple of decades of KMT rule were rather chaotic times, during which Sun Tat-sen was unable to control China which fractured into many regions controlled by warlords. To strengthen its position and to gain back control of the country, the KMT was seeking alliance with the new fledgling Communist Party, forging the first United Front, but was still unable to control all of China. After Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, Chiang Kai-shek (1887–1975) took over and became the KMT strong man.

——–

The creation of the Communist Party of China on 1 July 1921, was deeply marked by the preceding history. One of the CPC’s key objective was that China would never again be dominated by wester colonial powers. The CPC became a force to be reckoned with, as it grew stronger by increased solidarity forged throughout communities and regions of China which all pursued the same goal – independence from foreign colonization and exploitation and the creation of a sovereign communist China, with a sovereign socialist economy.

With the support of the west, notably the UK and the United States, the KMT-led government of the Republic of China (ROC) entered in 1927 into a civil war with the forces of the CPC. The war was intermittent, but basically played out in two major phases, until 1949. The first phase can be described as a war of attrition. It lasted until 1937, when due to the Japanese invasion of China, KMT-CPC hostilities were put on hold. Instead, a KMT-CPC alliance fought and defeated the Japanese. This was also called the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression(1937–1945).

The KMT – CPC civil war resumed with the victory over the Japanese forces, and entered its second, but most violent and decisive final phase from 1945 to 1949. This phase is also called the beginning of the Chinese Communist Revolution, during which the CPC gained the upper hand and finally defeated the Kuomintang on the Chinese mainland.

The leader of KMT (1928 – 1975), Chiang Kai-shek, fled the mainland and established himself and the KMT in what was originally called by her Portuguese discoverers in 1542, Ilha Formosa (“beautiful island”), located north of the Philippines and the South China Sea, some 180 km off the Southeastern coast of China.

In 1895 Formosa became “Taiwan” meaning “foreigners” referring to the early Chinese settlers on the island. Today Taiwan is again integral part of China, since the Treaty of San Francisco (WWII Allied Forces Peace Agreement with Japan, signed on 8 September 1951), when Japan ceased its occupation of Taiwan, returning the island back to China.

Though an integral part of China, Taiwan is still occupied by the KMT Regime, calling it the Republic of China or ROC, the name taken over from KMT’s reign over mainland China until their defeat by the CPC in 1949, which also marked the beginning of the new communist People’s Republic of China (PRC).

This internationally illegal control of Taiwan by the KMT has been going on since 1949, but especially for the last 50 years, when on 25 October 1971, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the PRC, led by the CPC, as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations” and removed the representatives of the Chiang Kai-shek ROC regime of Taiwan from the United Nations. Nevertheless, today still 15 nations, including the Vatican, of the 193 UN member nations recognize Taiwan as the official China. Many of them would like to switch to the officially recognized CPC-led mainland China, but are coerced, predominantly by the US and the UK, not to do so.

Over the past several decades, the United States, the UK and other western allies have continually sought to destabilize China by interfering in Taiwan, meaning in China’s internal affairs. The latest such events include the US weapons sale for US$ 5 billion to Taiwan in December 2020, and earlier this year, the U.S. Ambassador to the Pacific Island of Palau (Palau being one of the states recognizing Taiwan), became the first US envoy to travel to Taiwan in an official capacity, since Washington cut formal ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing in 1979.

In addition, the US is promoting closer relations with Taiwan through the so-called Taipei Act, signed in April 2020, calling for strengthening trade relations and diplomatic ties between the US and Taiwan to bring Taiwan closer into “international space”, meaning politically distancing the island territory from the mainland.

This and other interferences of the US in China’s internal affairs, are attempts at disrupting peaceful co-existence with China. They include the US-provoked trade war with Beijing, during the last almost 4 years; the stationing of about 60% of the American Navy in the South China Sea; the Washington orchestrated interference in Honk Kong, seeking independence from Beijing; and wildly falsified accusation of Human Rights abuses of the Uyghurs in the officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in Northwestern China; as well as similar claims in Tibet. 

Thanks to the steadfast leadership of President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and of the Communist Party of China, these interferences are being dealt with carefully by Beijing, always trying to find diplomatic and non-belligerent solutions. China is a master in following the paths of non-aggression, while constantly creating and moving peacefully forward – always with the goal of achieving a multipolar world, where people of different nations, regions, races, roots, cultures and believes can prosper peacefully together.
——
Present – and Vision for the Future
Since the foundation of the Communist Party on 1 July 1921, China strove for total independence, and never surrendered to foreign invasions or attempts to influence China’s internal, as well as foreign relations policies. What the CPC has attained over the past 100 years is truly remarkable. It comprises not only maintaining internal solidarity, but also and foremost, people’s trust in the government, moving peacefully forward, becoming food, health and education-wise autonomous and self-sufficient and, not least, lifting 800 million people out of poverty. No other nation in the world has achieved such extraordinary objectives for their people’s well-being.

The CPC has today 91 million members. It is by far the largest single party in the world. In addition, thanks to her leadership, starting with Mao Tse Tung in 1949 and today by President Xi Jinping, China, with a population of 1.4 billion people, has become the second largest economy in the world in absolute terms, and since 2017 already the largest, assessed by the only real measure – the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). This is an indicator of how much people can buy for their money. Within a few years, China is expected to surpass the currently largest economy, the United States, also in absolute terms.

This is, of course, representing a threat for the country that has declared itself as THE Empire of the world, controlling all vital essentials, like energy, food supply and the international monetary system – though faltering, but still dominated by the US-dollar. The self-styled empire is already crumbling. And Washington knows it. Its strongest asset, the US-dollar, is gradually being dismantled. The US-currency has been widely used throughout the world, almost exclusively, to buy vital goods and services, like energy, food and communication services, as well as for other international trade, but it is losing its weight in the international arena.

The reasons for this are both political and economic. On the economic front, the US have created by their 1913 Federal Reserve Act, a fiat currency without any backing, a currency of which the flow and money mass can be expanded at will. This allowed and still allows Washington to “print” money as per necessities, i.e. to finance extensive wars and conflicts around the globe and to accumulate debts that the US Treasury and Federal Reserve (the totally privately owned US Central Bank), will never be able to pay back.

The US-dollar has absolutely no backing whatsoever. When Washington abandoned in 1971 their self-designed so-called gold-standard (Bretton Woods Conference, 1944), the US-dollar became de facto the “new gold standard”, since the gold standard was based on the value of the US-dollar (US$35 / troy ounce, about 31 grams), instead of on a basket of currencies. Since everybody needed US dollars for their reserves, this gave the US Treasury free range to increase its money supply almost infinitely.

When the US, also at the beginning of the 1970s, negotiated with Saudi Arabia, head of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), that all hydrocarbons, petrol gas and coal, should be traded in US-dollars, it gave the US another dollar boost – printing freely dollars in abundance, because the entire world needed US-dollars to buy hydrocarbon energy. Even today about 84% of all energy consumed worldwide consists of hydrocarbons (2019 Forbes).

As a counter-measure, the US promised the House of Saud to always protect Saudi Arabia, and proceeded almost immediately building numerous military bases in Saudi Arabia, from which they are now waging different wars in the Middle East.

Due to this phenomenon of freely generating new US-dollars, creating new debt, the US is by far the most indebted country in the world, with currently US$ 49.8 trillion debt, compared with a 2020 GDP of about US$ 21 trillion (Debt – GDP ratio 2.3 = 237% debt over GDP).

There is another important component of US debt, called by the General Accounting Office (GAO), “Unfunded Liabilities”, US$ 213 trillion (all figures 16 April 2021: US Debt Clock – https://www.usdebtclock.org/current-rates.html). These exceptionally high ratios have undoubtedly also to do with incurred covid-debt.

Unfunded liabilities are debt obligations that do not have sufficient funds or assets set aside to pay them. These liabilities generally refer to the U.S. government’s debt-service (unpaid interest on debt), or pension plans and their impact on savings and investment securities, as well as  health-insurance and social support coverage for soldiers returning from wars.

These astronomical debt figures and an unbacked fiat currency are even further reducing worldwide confidence in the US-dollar. It is clear, the US debt will never be paid-off. The Federal Reserve Chair, Allan Greenspan (1987 – 2006), once answered to a journalist’s question, when will the US pay back her debt: Never. We just print new money. So, spoken, so it was and so it is.
—–

Today and for the last about 10 years the US-dollar has no longer a hydrocarbon trade monopoly, nor are other international contracts primarily established in US-dollars as used to be the case a couple of decades ago. China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and others have stopped using the US-dollar and are trading in local currencies and increasingly in Chinese yuan.

Why? – Countries’ treasurers around the world started realizing that the dollar is a highly volatile fiat currency, based on nothing, as shown by the above figures. Equally important for the loss of trust in the US-currency is that dollar-denominated international assets and the US banking system are frequently used by Washington to impose draconian, illegal economic sanction on countries that do not follow Washington’s dictate, including blocking countries’ foreign placed reserve assets. These economic and political realities are signaling the end of the US-dollar hegemony.

The trend of diminishing trust in the US-dollar may increase when China rolls out her digital Renminbi (RMB = people’s money) or international Yuan (the terms RMB and Yuan are used interchangeably) which may be used for international trade without touching the international US-dominated SWIFT transfer and US banking system. The Chinese currency being backed by a strong and solid Chinese economy, confidence in the Chinese currency is growing rapidly. Already today, the Chinese currency’s use as an international reserve asset is increasing quickly.

While the US Federal Reserve (FED) is also contemplating a new digital currency, it is not clear to what extent it can be detached from the current dollar and its debt burden. In any case, with US international trade waning, and Chinese trade rapidly increasing, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for a declining empire to catch up with China.

For example, in the first quarter of 2021, Chinas foreign trade (exports and imports) soared by 29.2%, with Exports jumping 38.7% from the year before, while imports climbed 19.3 percent in yuan terms, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

If anything, these developments – plus the fact that China has been highly successful in overcoming the covid-crisis – within less than 6 months – and putting her industrial apparatus back on line, are testimony for a solid CPC leadership, a sound Chinese economy and fiscal policy. China is the world’s only major economy reporting economic growth in 2020, amounting to 2.3% according to the Wall Street Journal. It is what China calls “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” – a feature demonstrating a spirit of constant creation and evolution of the CPC.
These facts will further enhance international trust in the Chinese economy, as well as in the Chinese way of seeking a more equal, more egalitarian and more just multipolar world, where nations may keep their national sovereignty over their internal and external political inclinations, their culture, national resources, monetary policies and foreign relations – and live peacefully together.
—-
CPC and the Chinese Vision

The New Silk Road, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is President Xi Jinping’s brilliant brainchild. It’s based on the same ancient principles as was the original Silk Road, adjusted to the 21st Century, building bridges between peoples, exchanging goods and services, research, education, knowledge, cultural wisdom, peacefully, harmoniously and ‘win-win’ style. On 7 September 2013, President Xi presented BRI at Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University. He spoke about “People-to-People Friendship and Creating a better Future”. He referred to the Ancient Silk Road of more than 2,100 years ago, that flourished during China’s Western Han Dynasty (206 BC to 24 AD).

Referring to this epoch of more than two millenniums back, President Xi pointed to the history of exchanges under the Ancient Silk Road, saying, “they had proven that countries with differences in race, belief and cultural background can absolutely share peace and development as long as they persist in unity and mutual trust, equality and mutual benefit, mutual tolerance and learning from each other, as well as cooperation and win-win outcomes.”

President Xi’s vision may be shaping the world of the 21st Century. The Belt and Road Initiative is designed and modeled loosely according to the Ancient Silk Road. President Xi launched this ground-breaking project soon after assuming the Presidency in 2013. The endeavor’s idea is to connect the world with transport routes, infrastructure, industrial joint ventures, teaching and research institutions, cultural exchange and much more. Since 2017, enshrined in China’s Constitution, BRI has become the flagship for China’s foreign policy.

BRI is literally building bridges and connecting people of different continents and nations. The purpose of the New Silk Road is “to construct a unified large market and make full use of both international and domestic markets, through cultural exchange and integration, to enhance mutual understanding and trust of member nations, ending up in an innovative pattern with capital inflows, talent pool, and technology database”.

BRI is a global development strategy adopted by the Chinese Government. Already today BRI has investments involving more than 150 countries and international organizations – and growing – in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. Since the onset of BRI in 2013, BRI investments have exceeded US$ 5 trillion equivalent.

BRI is a long-term multi-trillion investment scheme for transport routes on land and sea, as well as construction of industrial and energy infrastructure and energy exploration – as well as trade among connected countries. Unlike WTO (World Trade Organization), BRI is encouraging nations to benefit from their comparative advantages, creating win-win situations. In essence, BRI is to develop mutual understanding and trust among member nations, allowing for free capital flows, a pool of experts and access to a BRI-based technology data base.  At present, BRI’s closing date is foreseen for 2049 which coincides with the People’s Republic of China’s 100th Anniversary. The size and likely success of the program indicates, however, already today that it will most probably be extended way beyond that date. It is worth noting, though, that only in 2019, six years after its inception, BRI has become a news item in the West. Remarkably, for six years, the west was in denial of BRI, in the hope it may go away. But away it didn’t go. To the contrary, many European Union members have already subscribed to BRI, including Greece, Italy, France, Portugal – and more will follow, as the temptation to participate in this projected socioeconomic boom is overwhelming.

The BRI, also called Belt and Road, or One Belt One Road, is not the only initiative that will enhance China’s economy and standing in the world.

After decades of western aggressions, denigrations and belligerence towards China, in a precautionary detachment from western dependence, China is focusing trade development and cooperation on her ASEAN partners. In November 2020, after 8 years of negotiations, China signed a free trade agreement with the ten ASEAN nations, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, altogether 15 countries, including China.

The so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, covers some 2.2 billion people, commanding some 30% of the world’s GDP. This is a never before reached agreement in size, value and tenor.

The RCEP’s trade deals will be carried out in local currencies and in yuan – no US dollars. The RCEP is, therefore, also an instrument for dedollarizing, primarily in the Asia-Pacific Region, and gradually moving across the globe. Moving away from the dollar-based economies may be an effective way to stem against the western “sanctions culture”. China is soon rolling-out her new digital Renminbi (RMB) or yuan, internationally, as legal tender for inter-country payments and transfers. The digital RMB is primed to become also an international reserve currency, thereby further reducing demand for the US-dollar.

Orientation towards China’s internal economic development – so-called horizontal instead of vertical growth – is a strategy to develop local Chinese internal production and infrastructure to build up and enhance Chinese internal capacities and markets and bringing about wellbeing and a better equilibrium between China’s vast hinterland and China’s prosperous eastern coastal areas.

The future belongs to China
After two thousand years of western “white supremacy”, relentless exploitation, colonization, discrimination and outright enslavement of other colored people, other cultures, throughout the world, the time has come to turn the wheel – and to veer the future of mankind into a more peaceful, more just and more egalitarian world.

During the next hundred years and under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party – China will guide the East into the era of the Rising Sun – prosperity and good health for all.

This new epoch will strive for a multi-polar world, with win-win trade relations, and bringing about new environmental, social and technological challenges, but also a new awakening for a social consciousness and solidarity. A key instrument for achieving major goals for human wellbeing is the Belt and Road Initiative, providing a steady flow of new ideas, creations, cultural exchange and mutual learning. The future focus may be on:

  • Renewable sources of energy, based mainly on hydro- and solar power, developed with cutting edge technologies, i.e. capturing solar power with a process of photosynthesis, producing high efficiency energy yields;
  • Increasing green areas in urban centers to bring about a balance of natural CO2 absorption and Oxygen production, aiming at zero pollution;
  • Protecting the world’s rain forests and water resources;
  • Keeping natural resources and public services – health, education, food supply, water and sanitation services, electricity, and public transport – in the public domain;
  • Promoting biological and multi-crop agriculture;
  • Developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help increase production and transport efficiency and to serve humanity; and
  • Adopting public banking as the primary means of socioeconomic development funding, Leading humanity to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

—–

Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals. He is also the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020).

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization and a Non-resident senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China

皮特·凯尼格(Peter Koenig),世界银行前高级经济学家、中国人民大学重阳金融研究院外籍高级研究员(瑞士)

The real B3W-NATO agenda

June 16, 2021

The real B3W-NATO agenda

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The West is the best

The West is the best

Get here and we’ll do the rest

Jim Morrison, The End

For those spared the ordeal of sifting through the NATO summit communique, here’s the concise low down: Russia is an “acute threat” and China is a “systemic challenge”.

NATO, of course, is just a bunch of innocent kids building castles in a sandbox.

Those were the days when Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay,

NATO’s first secretary-general, coined the trans-Atlantic purpose: to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

The Raging Twenties remix reads like “keep the Americans in, the EU down and Russia-China contained”.

So the North Atlantic (italics mine) organization has now relocated all across Eurasia, fighting what it describes as “threats from the East”. Well, that’s a step beyond Afghanistan – the intersection of Central and South Asia – where NATO was unceremoniously humiliated by a bunch of Pashtuns with Kalashnikovs.

Russia remains the top threat – mentioned 63 times in the communiqué. Current top NATO chihuahua Jens Stoltenberg says NATO won’t simply “mirror” Russia: it will de facto outspend it and surround it with multiple battle formations, as “we now have implemented the biggest reinforcements of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War”.

The communiqué is adamant: the only way for military spending is up. Context: the total “defense” budget of the 30 NATO members will grow by 4.1% in 2021, reaching a staggering $1.049 trillion ($726 billion from the US, $323 billion from assorted allies).

After all, “threats from the East” abound. From Russia, there are all those hypersonic weapons that baffle NATO generals; those large-scale exercises near the borders of NATO members; constant airspace violations; military integration with that “dictator” in Belarus.

As for the threats from China – South China Sea, Taiwan, the Indo-Pacific overall – it was up to the G7 to come up with a plan.

Enter “green”, “inclusive” Build Back Better World (B3W), billed as the Western “alternative” to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). B3W respects “our values” – which clownish British PM Boris Johnson could not help describing as building infrastructure in a more “gender neutral” or “feminine” way – and, further on down the road, will remove goods produced with forced labor (code for Xinjiang) from supply chains.

The White House has its own B3W spin: that’s a “values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership” which will be “mobilizing private-sector capital in four areas of focus – climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equality – with catalytic investments from our respective development institutions”

The initial “catalytic investments” for BW3 were estimated at $100 billion. No one knows how these funds will be coming from the “development institutions”.

Seasoned Global South observers already bet they will be essentially provided by IMF/World Bank “green” loans tied to private sector investment in selected emerging markets, with an eye on profit.

The White House is adamant that “B3W will be global in scope, from Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa and the Indo-Pacific”. Note the blatant attempt to match BRI’s reach.

All these “green” resources and new logistic chains financed by what will be a variant of Central Banks showering helicopter money would ultimately benefit G7 members, certainly not China.

And the “protector” of these new “green” geostrategic corridors will be – who else? – NATO. That’s the natural consequence of the “global reach” emphasized on the NATO 2030 agenda.

NATO as investment protector

“Alternative” infrastructure schemes already proliferate, geared to contain “Russia bullying” and “Chinese meddling” off from the EU. That’s the case of the Three Seas Initiative, where 12 EU member-states from Eastern Europe are supposed to better interconnect the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas.

This initiative is a pale copy of China’s 17+1 mechanism of integrating Eastern Europe as part of BRI – in this case forcing them to build very expensive infrastructure to receive very expensive American energy imports.

The offensive against “threats from the East” is bound to fail.

Dmitry Orlov has detailed how “Russia excels at building and operating huge energy, transportation and materials production systems” and, in parallel, how “the technosphere…has quietly relocated and is now busy telecommuting between Moscow and Beijing.”

As every geek knows, China is way ahead in 5G and is the world’s top market for chips. And now the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law – significantly approved right before the G7 in Cornwall – will “safeguard” Chinese companies from “unilateral and discriminatory measures imposed by foreign countries” and the US “long arm jurisdiction”, thus forcing Atlanticist capital to make a choice.

It’s China as a rising global power that in fact has proposed an “alternative” to the Global South in the first place, a counterpunch to the endless IMF/World Bank debt trap of the past decades. BRI is a highly complex sustainable development trade/investment strategy with the potential to integrate vast swathes of the Global South.

That’s a direct connection to Chairman Mao’s famous theory on the division of the Three Worlds ; the emphasis then on the post-colonial Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), of which China was a stalwart, now encompasses the whole Global South. In the end, it’s always about sovereignty against neocolonialism.

B3W is the Western, essentially American, reaction to BRI: try to scotch as many projects as possible while harassing China 24/7 in the process.

Unlike China or Germany, the US hardly manufactures products the Global South wants to buy; manufacturing accounts for only 5% of a US economy essentially propped up by the US dollar as reserve currency and the – dwindling – Pentagon’s Empire of Bases.

China churns out ten top engineers for every US “financial expert”. China has perfected what is known among bilingual tech experts as an effective system to make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) development plans – and implement them.

The notion that the Global South will be convinced to privilege B3W – a hollow PR coup at best – over BRI is ludicrous. Yet NATO will be regimented to actively protect those investments that follow “our values”. One thing is certain: there will be blood.

China and Russia Launch a ‘Global Resistance Economy’

Former British diplomat, founder and director of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum.

Alastair Crooke

Apri l 5, 2021

The U.S. will ignore the message from Anchorage. It is already testing China over Taiwan, and is preparing an escalation in Ukraine, to test Russia.

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (c. 500 BCE) advises that: “To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands; yet the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself … Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will; and does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him”. This is the essence of the Chinese resistance economy – a strategy which has been fully unveiled in the wake of the Anchorage talks; talks that silenced any lingering thoughts in Beijing that America might somehow find some modus vivendi with Beijing in its headlong pursuit of primacy over China.

Although earlier there had been tantalising glimpses of déshabillé, the full reveal to China’s tough stance and rhetoric has only been permitted now – post-Anchorage – and the talks’ confirmation that the U.S. intends to block China’s ascent.

If it is assumed that this ‘resistance’ initiative constitutes some tit-for-tat ‘jab’ at Washington – through sinking Biden’s Iran ambitions, as revenge for America loudly crying ‘war crimes’ (‘genocide’ in Xingjian) – then we miss wholly its full import. The scope of the Iran pact by far transcends trade and investment, as one commentator in the Chinese state media made plain: “As it stands, this deal (the Iran pact) will totally upend the prevailing geopolitical landscape in the West Asian region that has for so long been subject to U.S. hegemony”.

So here is the essence to ‘a clever combatant moving to impose his will’ – there is no need for China or Russia or Iran to go to war to do this; they just implement ‘it’. They can do ‘it’ – quite simply. They don’t need a revolution to do it, because they have no vested interest in fighting America.

What is ‘it’? It is not just a trade and investment pact with Tehran; neither is it simply allies helping each other. The ‘resistance’ lies precisely with the way they’re trying to help each other. It is a mode of economic development. It represents the notion that any rent-yielding resource – banking, land, natural resources and natural infrastructure monopolies – should be in the public domain to provide basic needs to everybody – freely.

The alternative way simply is to privatise these ‘public goods’ (as in the West), where they are provided at a financialized maximum cost – including interest rates, dividends, management fees, and corporate manipulations for financial gain.

‘It’ is then a truly different economic approach. To give one example: New York’s Second Avenue Subway extension cost $6 billion, or $2 billion per mile – the most expensive urban mass transit ever built. The average cost of underground subway lines outside the U.S. is $350 million a mile, or a sixth of New York’s cost.

How does this ‘it’ change everything? Well, just imagine for a moment: the biggest element in anyone’s budget today is housing at 40%, which simply reflects high house prices, based on a debt-fuelled market. Instead, imagine that proportion at 10% (as in China). Suppose too, you have low-cost public education. Well then, you are rid of education-led debt, and its interest cost. Suppose you have public healthcare, and low priced transport infrastructure. Then you would have the capacity to spend – It becomes a low-cost economy, and consequently it would grow.

Another example: The cost of hiring R&D staff in China is a third to half the comparable cost in the U.S., so China’s tech spend is closer to $1 trillion a year (in terms of purchasing power parity), whereas the U.S. spends just 0.6% of GDP, or about $130 billion, on federal R&D.

At one level therefore, this ‘it’ is a strategic challenge to the western eco-system. In one corner, the debt-driven, hyper-financialised, yet stagnant economies of Europe and the EU – in which strategic direction and economic ‘winners and losers’ are set by the Big Oligarchs, and in which the 60% struggle, and 0.1% thrive. And, in the far corner, a very mixed economy in which the Party sets a strategic course for state enterprises, whilst others are encouraged to innovate, and to be entrepreneurial in the mould of a state-directed economy (albeit, with Taoist and Confucian characteristics).

Socialism versus capitalism? No, it is a long time since the U.S. was a capitalist economy; it’s hardly even a market economy today. It has become, more and more, a rentier economy since leaving the gold standard (in 1971). This forced U.S. exit from the ‘gold window’ facilitated the U.S. via the resultant global demand for U.S. debt instruments, (Treasury bonds), to finance itself for free (from out of the entire world’s economic surplus). The Washington Consensus ensured additionally that the inflows of dollars to Wall Street from around the globe would never be subject capital controls, nor would states be able to create their own currency, but would have to borrow in dollars from the World Bank and the IMF.

And that essentially meant borrowing from the Pentagon and the State Department in U.S. dollars, who ultimately were the system ‘enforcers’, as Professor Hudson notes. The shift in the U.S. financial system to being an entity that that prioritises ‘real’ assets, such as mortgages and real estate that offer a certain ‘rent’, rather than to invest directly in speculative business ventures, also means that debt jubilees are verboten. (The Greeks can recount the experience of what that entails, in grim detail).

The point is that – at the economic plane – the U.S., hyper-financialised sphere is fast shrinking, as China, Russia and much of the ‘World Island’ turn to trading in their own currencies (and do not buy U.S. Treasuries). In a ‘war’ of economic systems, America therefore starts on the back foot.

Halford Mackinder argued a century ago that control of the ‘Heartland’, which stretched from the Volga to the Yangtze, would control the ‘World Island’, which was his term for all Europe, Asia and Africa. Over a century later, Mackinder’s theory resonates as the two leading nations behind the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) transform this into a system of inter-relations from one Eurasian end to another. It is not so new, of course. It is simply the revival of the ancient trade-based economy of the Eurasian heartland, which finally was collapsed in the 17th century.

Alastair Macleod notes that commentators usually fail to understand ‘why’ this flourishing in West Asia is happening: “It is not due to military superiority, but down to simple economics. While the U.S. economy suffers a post-lockdown inflationary outcome and an existential crisis for the dollar – China’s economy will boom on the back of increasing domestic consumption … and increasing exports, the consequence of America’s stimulation of consumer demand and a soaring budget deficit”.

There, explicitly said, is Sun Tzu’s point! “Opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself”. There is in Washington (and to an extent in Europe too), a faction entertaining a pathological emotional desire for war with Russia, largely stemming from a conviction that the Tzars (and later Stalin), were anti-Semitic. Their emotion is one of hatred and anger, yet it is they who largely are responsible for bringing Russia and China together. This, and America’s proclivity to sanction the world, has given China and Russia their opportunity.

The underlying point however, is that – even for the EU – the Rimland periphery is less important than Mackinder’s World Island. There was a time when British and then American primacy outweighed its importance – but this may no longer be true. What is actualising here is the greatest challenge yet mounted to American economic power and technological supremacy.

Yet this economic Realpolitik is but half the story to China and Russia’s launch of a ‘global resistance economy’. It has a parallel geo-political frame, too.

It is to this latter aspect, most probably, that the Chinese official referred when he said that the Iran deal would “totally upend the prevailing geopolitical landscape in the West Asian region that has for so long been subject to U.S. hegemony”. Note that he did not say that it would upend Iran’s relations with U.S. or Europe – he said the whole region. He implied too, that China’s initiatives would free West Asia from American hegemony. How so?

In an interview last week, FM Wang Yi outlined Beijing’s approach to the West Asian region:

“The Middle East was a highland of brilliant civilizations in human history. Yet, due to protracted conflicts and turmoil in the more recent history, the region descended into a security lowland … For the region to emerge from chaos and enjoy stability, it must break free from the shadows of big-power geopolitical rivalry, and independently explore development paths suited to its regional realities. It must stay impervious to external pressure and interference, and follow an inclusive and reconciliatory approach to build a security architecture that accommodates the legitimate concerns of all sides … Against this backdrop, China wishes to propose a five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in the Middle East:

“Firstly, advocating mutual respect … Both sides should uphold the international norm of non-interference in others’ internal affairs … it is particularly important for China and Arab states to stand together against slandering, defamation, interference and pressurizing in the name of human rights … [the EU should take note]

“Second, upholding equity and justice, opposing unilateralism, and defending international justice … China will encourage the Security Council to fully deliberate on the question of Palestine to reaffirm the two-state solution … We should uphold the UN-centred international system, as well as the international order underpinned by international law – and jointly promote a new type of international relations. We should share governance experience … and oppose arrogance and prejudice.

“Third, achieving non-proliferation … Parties need to … discuss and formulate the roadmap and timeframe for the United States and Iran to resume compliance with the JCPOA. The pressing task is for the U.S. to take substantive measures to lift its unilateral sanctions on Iran, and long-arm jurisdiction on third parties, and for Iran to resume reciprocal compliance with its nuclear commitments. At the same time, the international community should support efforts by regional countries in establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

“Fourth, jointly fostering collective security … We propose holding in China a multilateral dialogue conference for regional security in the Gulf (Persian Gulf) …

“And fifthly, accelerating development cooperation …”.

Well, China has spectacularly made its entrance in the Middle East, and is challenging the U.S. with a resistance agenda. FM Wang, when he met with Ali Larijani, special adviser to the Supreme Leader Khamenei, framed it all in a single sentence: “Iran decides independently on its relations with other countries, and is not like some countries that change their position with one phone call”. This single comment encapsulates the new ‘wolf warrior’ ethos: states should stick with their autonomy and sovereignty. China is advocating a sovereigntist multilateralism to shake off “the western yoke”.

Wang did not confine this political message to Iran. He had just said the same in Saudi Arabia, before arriving in Tehran. It was well received in Riyadh. In economic development terms, China earlier had linked Turkey and Pakistan into the ‘corridor’ plan – and now Iran.

How will the U.S. react? It will ignore the message from Anchorage. It will likely press on. It is already testing China over Taiwan, and is preparing an escalation in Ukraine, to test Russia.

For the EU, the Chinese entry into global politics is more problematic. It was trying to leverage its own ‘strategic autonomy’ by erecting European values as the gateway to inclusion into its market and trade partnership. China effectively is telling the world to reject any such hegemonic imposition of alien values and rights.

The EU is stranded in the midst. Unlike the U.S., it is precluded from printing the money with which to resurrect its virus-blighted economy. It desperately needs trade and investment. Its biggest trading partner, and its tech well-spring, however, has just told the EU (as the U.S.), to give up on its moralising discourse. At the same time, Europe’s ‘security partner’ has just demanded the opposite – that the EU strengthens it. What’s to be done? Sit back, and watch … (with fingers crossed that no one does something extremely stupid).

Sino-US Dialogue in Alaska: Outcomes.

Sino-US Dialogue in Alaska: Outcomes.

March 23, 2021

by Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

The first direct, high-level dialogue, under Joe Biden Administration, was held on 18-189 March 2021 in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Chinese Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the dialogue.

After welcoming the Chinese guests, Secretary of state Mr. Blinken accused China of many issues, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, and economic coercion toward our allies. Each of these actions threatens the rules-based order that maintains global stability.

Director Yang responded that “What China and the international community follow or uphold is the United Nations-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law, not what is advocated by a small number of countries of the so-called rules-based international order. And the United States has its style — United States-style democracy –and China has the Chinese-style democracy. It is not just up to the American people, but also the people of the World, to evaluate how the United States has advanced its own democracy. After decades of reform and opening up in China’s case, we have come a long way in various fields. In particular, we have engaged in tireless efforts to contribute to the peace and development of the World and to upholding the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter.”

“The wars in this World are launched by some other countries, which have resulted in massive casualties. But for China, what we have asked for, for other countries, is to follow a path of peaceful development, which is the purpose of our foreign policy. We do not believe in invading through the use of force, in toppling other regimes through various means, or massacring other countries’ people because all of those would only cause turmoil and instability in this World. And at the end of the day, all of those would not serve the United States well. So we believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image and stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the World. Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States, and they have various views regarding the government of the United States. In China, according to opinion polls, China’s leaders have the wide support of the Chinese people. So no attempt to — the opinion polls conducted in the United States show that China’s leaders have the support of the Chinese people. No attempt to smear China’s social system would get anywhere. Facts have shown that such practices would only lead the Chinese people to rally more closely around the Communist Party of China and work steadily towards the goals that we have set for ourselves.”

“Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan are an inalienable part of China’s territory. China is firmly opposed to U.S. interference in China’s internal affairs. We have expressed our staunch opposition to such interference, and we will take firm actions in response. On human rights, we hope that the United States will do better on human rights. China has made steady progress in human rights, and the fact is that there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights, which is admitted by the U.S. itself as well. The United States has also said that countries can’t rely on force in today’s World to resolve the challenges we face. And it is a failure to use various means to topple the so-called authoritarian states. And the challenges facing the United States in human rights are deep-seated. They did not just emerge over the past four years, such as Black Lives Matter. It did not come up only recently. So we do hope that for our two countries, it’s important that we manage our respective affairs well instead of deflecting the blame on somebody else in this World. We’ve had a confrontation in the past, and the result did not serve the United States well. China will pull through and has pulled through such confrontation.”

Outcomes:

China availing this opportunity has conveyed that China will not accept U.S. supremacy and will not accept dictation. China will not allow any country to interfere in its domestic issues. Generally speaking, the Chinese are well-mannered, polite, submissive, and friendly people. It seems that the U.S. has crossed all the limits where China have to take a firm and blunt stand and express their point of view so clearly. It is up to the U.S. administration to analyze the Chinese response and do their homework before meeting them again.

The World has conceived well that the U.S. can not sustain its hegemony anymore. It is no longer a unipolar world, and the U.S. is no longer a unique superpower. The U.S. needs to understand the emerging geopolitics and have to accept realities. It might need to share power with other rising nations and respect them. The U.S. must keep in mind the existence of other emerging nations’ potential while making any decision.

It is an established fact that the U.S., after enjoying the global leadership role for seven decades, may not sustain this status anymore. The U.S. is on the decline and, with every passing day, may decline further. Whereas China is a rising power and, with the passage of each day, may grow further. The time is on the Chinese side. If Americans are wise, they might give up confronting China and extend cooperation to be the beneficiary of Chinse rise. There exists enormous goodwill about America among the general public in China.

The American claim of promoting democracy and the law-based rule is no more trusted as the Americans are a supporter of all dictators in the oil-rich Gulf countries in the Middle-East. The U.S. was behind the toppling of the democratically elected legitimate Government of Mr. Adil Morsey in Egypt. Again, it was the U.S. who was among the first nations to support the dictator General Sissi in Egypt. American history is full of supporting dictators around the globe. Regarding law-based rule, it is just a joke. It was the U.S. that destroyed Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.

Under the Trump Administration, America was deteriorated in respect of human rights violations, hate among various ethnicities in America. And official discriminatory laws were introduced against Muslims; immigration laws were biased. The pandemic was mismanaged, the economy was collapsed. President Trump harmed America so severely that it might take several decades to recover such losses. President Trump has offended some of his close allies too.

President Joe Biden’s remarks about President Putin were misconceived and may spoil the geopolitics further. More tensions between Russia and the U.S. are predictable visibly. It may cement China-Russia relations further.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska

For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska

March 18, 2021

Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi will seek to make shark’s fin soup out of Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan at the Anchorage summit

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times.

Leviathan seems to be positioning itself for a geopolitical Kill Bill rampage – yet brandishing a rusty samurai high-carbon-steel sword.

Predictably, US deep state masters have not factored in that they could eventually be neutralized by a geopolitical Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.

In a searing, concise essay, Alastair Crooke pointed to the heart of the matter. These are the two key insights – including a nifty Orwellian allusion:

1. “Once control over the justifying myth of America was lost, the mask was off.”

2. “The US thinks to lead the maritime and rimland powers in imposing a searing psychological, technological and economic defeat on the Russia-China-Iran alliance. In the past, the outcome might have been predictable. This time Eurasia may very well stand solid against a weakened Oceania (and a faint-hearted Europe).”

And that brings us to two interconnected summits: the Quad and the China-US 2+2 in Alaska.

The virtual Quad last Friday came and went like a drifting cloud. When you had India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the Quad is “a force for global good,” no wonder rows of eyebrows across the Global South were raised.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi remarked last year that the Quad was part of a drive to create an “Asian NATO.”

It is. But the hegemon, lording over India, Japan and Australia, mustn’t spell it out. Thus the vague rhetoric about “free and open Indo-Pacific,” “democratic values,” “territorial integrity” – all code to characterize containment of China, especially in the South China Sea.

The exceptionalist wet dream – routinely expressed in US Thinktankland – is to position an array of missiles in the first island chain, pointing towards China like a weaponized porcupine. Beijing is very much aware of it.

Apart from a meek joint statement, the Quad promised to deliver 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines throughout the “Indo-Pacific” by the end of… 2022.

The vaccine would be produced by India and financed by the US and Japan, with the logistics of distribution coming from Australia.

That was predictably billed as “countering China’s influence in the region.” Too little, too late. The bottom line is: The hegemon is furious because China’s vaccine diplomacy is a huge success – not only across Asia but all across the Global South.

This ain’t no ‘strategic dialogue’

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken is a mere apparatchik who was an enthusiastic cheerleader for shock and awe against Iraq 18 years ago, in 2003. At the time he was staff director for the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then chaired by Senator Joe Biden.

Now Blinken is running US foreign policy for a senile cardboard entity who mutters, live, on camera, “I’ll do whatever you want me to do, Nance” – as in Nancy Pelosi; and who characterizes the Russian president as “a killer,” “without a soul,” who will “pay a price.”

Paraphrasing Pulp Fiction: “Diplomacy’s dead, baby. Diplomacy’s dead.”

With that in mind, there’s little doubt that the formidable Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, side by side with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, will make shark’s fin soup out of their interlocutors Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the 2+2 summit in Anchorage, Alaska.

Only two days before the start of the Two Sessions in Beijing, Blinken proclaimed that China is the “biggest geopolitical challenge of the 21st century.”

According to Blinken, China is the “only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system – all the rules, values and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to, because it ultimately serves the interests and reflects the values of the American people.”

So Blinken tacitly admits what really matters is how the world works “the way we want it to” – “we” being the hegemon, which made those rules in the first place. And those rules serve the interests and reflect the values of the American people. As in: It’s our way or the highway.

Blinken could be excused because he’s just a wide-eyed novice on the big stage. But it gets way more embarrassing.

Here’s his foreign policy in a nutshell (“his” because the hologram at the White House needs 24/7 instructions in his earpiece to even know what time it is):

Sanctions, sanctions everywhere; Cold War 2.0 against Russia and “killer” Putin; China guilty of “genocide” in Xinjiang; a notorious apartheid state getting a free pass to do anything; Iran must blink first or there’s no return to the JCPOA; Random Guaido recognized as President of Venezuela, with regime change still the priority.

There’s a curious kabuki in play here. Following the proverbial revolving door logic in DC, before literally crossing the street to have full access to the White House, Blinken was a founding partner of WestExec Advisorswhose main line of business is to offer “geopolitical and policy expertise” to American multinationals, the overwhelming majority of which are interested in – where else – China.

So Alaska might point to some measure of trade-off on trade. The problem, though, seems insurmountable. Beijing does not want to eschew the profitable American market, while for Washington expansion of Chinese technology across the West is anathema.

Blinken himself pre-empted Alaska, saying this is no “strategic dialogue.” So we’re back to bolstering the Indo-Pacific racket; recriminations about the “loss of freedom” in Hong Kong – whose role of US/UK Fifth Column is now definitely over; Tibet; and the “invasion” of Taiwan, now on spin overdrive, with the Pentagon stating it is “probable” before 2027.

“Strategic dialogue” it ain’t.

A junkie on a bum trip

Wang Yi, at a press conference linked to the 13th National People’s Congress and the announcement of the next Five-Year Plan, said: “We will set an example of strategic mutual trust, by firmly supporting each other in upholding core and major interests, jointly opposing ‘color revolution’ and countering disinformation, and safeguarding national sovereignty and political security.”

That’s a sharp contrast with the post-truth “highly likely” school of spin privileged by (failed) Russiagate peddlers and assorted Sinophobes.

Top Chinese scholar Wang Jisi, who used to be close to the late Ezra Vogel, author of arguably the best Deng Xiaoping biography in English, has introduced an extra measure of sanity, recalling Vogel’s emphasis on the necessity of US and East Asia understanding each other’s culture.

According to Wang Jisi, “In my own experiences, I find one difference between the two countries most illuminating. We in China like the idea of “seeking common ground while reserving our differences.” We state that the common interests between our two countries far exceed our differences. We define common ground by a set of principles like mutual respect and cooperation. Americans, in contrast, tend to focus on hard issues like tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea. It looks that the Chinese want to set up principles before trying to solve specific problems, but the Americans are eager to deal with problems before they are ready to improve the relationship.”

The real problem is that the hegemon seems congenitally incapable of trying to understand the Other. It always harks back to that notorious formulation by Zbigniew Brzezinski, with trademark imperial arrogance, in his 1997 magnum opus The Grand Chessboard:

“To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”

Dr Zbig was referring, of course, to Eurasia. “Security dependence among vassals” applied mostly to Germany and Japan, key hubs in the Rimland.  “Tributaries pliant and protected” applied mostly to the Middle East.

And crucially, “keep the barbarians from coming together” applied to Russia, China and Iran. That was Pax Americana in a nutshell. And that’s what’s totally unraveling now.

Hence the Kill Bill logic. It goes back a long way. Less than two months after the collapse of the USSR, the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance preached total global dominance and, following Dr Zbig, the absolute imperative of preventing the emergence of any future peer competitor.

Especially Russia, defined as “the only power in the world with the capacity of destroying the United States.”

Then, in 2002, at the start of the “axis of evil” era, came the full spectrum dominance doctrine as the bedrock of the US National Security Strategy. Domination, domination everywhere: terrestrial, aerial, maritime, subterranean, cosmic, psychological, biological, cyber-technological.

And, not by accident, the Indo-Pacific strategy – which guides the Quad – is all about “how to maintain US strategic primacy.”

This mindset is what enables US Think Tankland to formulate risible “analyses” in which the only “win” for the US imperatively requires a failed Chinese “regime.”

After all, Leviathan is congenitally incapable of accepting a “win-win”; it only runs on “zero-sum,” based on divide and rule.

And that’s what’s leading the Russia-China strategic partnership to progressively establish a wide-ranging, comprehensive security environment, spanning everything from high-tech weaponry to banking and finance, energy supplies and the flow of information.

To evoke yet another pop culture gem, a discombobulated Leviathan now is like Caroline, the junkie depicted in Lou Reed’s Berlin:

But she’s not afraid to die / All of her friends call her Alaska / When she takes speed / They laugh and ask her / What is in her mind / What is in her mind / She put her fist through the window pane / It was such a / funny feeling / It’s so cold / in Alaska.

Chinese Foreign Policy Outlook

Chinese Foreign Policy Outlook

March 13, 2021

By Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

China achieved miraculous progress during the last four decades, which were never seen in humankind’s known history. There must be many reasons for its rapid developments, but its foreign policy was one of the significant reasons. In simple words, China opted for a reconciliation policy and avoided any confrontation with any other nation or country. It helped China to focus only on developments and achieved the desired results.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed outlooks of Chinese foreign policy and answered questions about the country’s foreign policy and external relations at a virtual press conference on Sunday during the fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature. Some of the highlights are given below:-

Pandemic

Through innovative “cloud diplomacy,” President Xi Jinping has championed solidarity in the world’s fight against COVID-19 and pointed the way forward for the international community to jointly fight the virus.

China will continue working with other countries in ongoing efforts to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China has carried out its most extensive emergency humanitarian action, contributing to the world’s anti-coronavirus efforts.

On China-Russia relations

In the face of the once-in-a-century pandemic, China and Russia have stood shoulder to shoulder and worked closely to combat “both the coronavirus and the political virus.”

China and Russia should be each other’s strategic support, development opportunity, and global partner. It is both an experience gained from history and an imperative under the current circumstances.

On CPC leadership

Facts have proved that the Communist Party of China’s leadership is the most prominent political advantage of Chinese diplomacy. Leadership will offer fundamental support for China’s diplomatic agenda to secure more victories.

Wang said that China’s diplomacy is people-oriented diplomacy led by the CPC, and the Party set the direction for China’s diplomatic agenda. The original inspiration and mission of the CPC – to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation — determine China’s diplomacy’s responsibility.

On China-Africa relations

Helping African countries contain the COVID-19 pandemic and bringing their economies back on track is the top priority of the China-Africa cooperation. China will always support developing countries. China has started to provide COVID-19 vaccines to 35 African countries and the African Union Commission already.

On ‘patriots administering Hong Kong’

Hong Kong is a particular administrative region of China. One cannot talk about loving Hong Kong without loving its motherland, adding that love for the country and Hong Kong is entirely consistent. Hong Kong enjoyed no democracy during colonial rule. Since its return to the homeland 24 years ago, no one is more concerned about Hong Kong’s democratic development and wishes Hong Kong to remain prosperous and stable than the central government, he said.

On China-US relations

It is logical for China and the US, two countries with different social systems, to have differences and disagreements. “What matters most is to manage them effectively through candid communication to prevent strategic miscalculation and avoid conflict and confrontation.”

China hopes the US can remove its unreasonable restriction on bilateral cooperation as soon as possible and refrain from artificially creating new ones. China is willing to work with the US and set China-US relations on a new path of healthy and steady development.

On Taiwan question

The two sides of the Taiwan Strait must be and will surely be reunified, which is the trend of history and the entire Chinese nation’s collective will, Wang said, adding the one-China principle is the political foundation of the China-US relationship. It is considered a red line and should not be crossed. There is no room for compromise or concession from the Chinese government on the Taiwan question.

“We would hope to see a clear departure from the previous administration’s (Trump Administration) dangerous practice of ‘pushing the red line’ and ‘playing with fire, and we hope that the Taiwan question will be handled prudently and properly,” Wang said.

China stresses the UN’s core status

The UN is not a club for big or rich countries. All countries enjoy equal sovereignty, and no country is in a position to dictate international affairs, Wang said. He also urged efforts to enhance the representativeness and voice of developing countries in the UN to better reflect the common aspiration of most countries.

China, EU not systemic rivals

The China-Europe relationship is equal and open and not targeting any third party or is controlled by anyone else. China never intends to divide relations between Europe and the United States, Wang said, adding that the country is glad to see the European Union uphold multilateralism and remain devoted to coordination and cooperation among major countries.

China opposes ‘vaccine nationalism.’

China opposes “vaccine nationalism,” rejects any “vaccine divide” or any attempt to politicize vaccine cooperation. More than 60 countries have authorized the use of Chinese vaccines. China has provided COVID-19 vaccine aid free of charge to 69 developing countries urgently need while exporting vaccines to 43 countries.

On China-Arab relations

China will work with Arab states in solidarity, pursue expected progress, and prepare for a China-Arab States Summit.

In the past year, relations between China and the Arab States have continued to progress amid various challenges, Wang said, adding their joint fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has set an excellent example for international cooperation.

On multilateralism

Building small circles in the name of multilateralism is, in fact, “group politics,” multilateralism with one’s own interests taking precedence, is still unilateral thinking, and “selective multilateralism” is not the right choice.

Genuine multilateralism means openness and inclusiveness instead of closeness and exclusion. It means equal-footed consultation instead of supremacy over others.

China’s WTO accession

The past two decades had taught China four crucial lessons: China will stay committed to the fundamental policy of opening-up, remain committed to the principle of win-win cooperation, remain committed to the right direction of economic globalization, and we must stay committed to the central role of the WTO.

“China has injected energy into economic globalization and facilitated the optimization of global industry chains and resources,” he said.

On China-Japan relations

China and Japan should remain focused without being distracted by any single event to make the bilateral relations more mature and stable. China and Japan should support each other in hosting the upcoming Olympic Games this year and next year. China hopes the Japanese society would truly embrace an objective and rational perception of China to solidify public support for long-term progress in China-Japan relations.

‘Xinjiang genocide’ claim a thorough lie

The so-called claim of genocide in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is preposterous, a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives and a complete lie.

Some western politicians chose to believe in the lies cooked up by a few instead of listening to the voice of 25 million Xinjiang residents of various ethnic groups, Wang said, adding that they chose to dance with the clumsy dramas by a few anti-China forces instead of acknowledging the progress in Xinjiang.

On China-ASEAN relations

Wang said that China stands ready to develop an even closer community with a shared future with ASEAN as the two sides celebrate the 30th anniversary of establishing bilateral dialogue relations this year.

China will continue to prioritize efforts to meet vaccine demand from ASEAN and further consolidate beneficial cooperation and see that China’s new development paradigm is better to align with the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, he said.

On the Belt and Road Initiative

China’s commitment to supporting the Belt and Road Initiative has not changed, and the country will continue to work with stakeholders to advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, Wang Yi said.

COVID-19 may have changed the world, but the need for Belt and Road cooperation has not subsided, he said.

“As we pursue a new development paradigm, we will explore better pathways for Belt and Road cooperation and offer greater opportunities to BRI partners,” he added.

In the new development stage

China will create a better business environment, pursue opening-up at a higher level, and work with various countries to accelerate an open world economy, Wang Yi said.

China is like an express train with the greater driving force and load capacity accelerating towards a new goal in the further development stage, he said.

On China-India relations

China stands in a firm position to solve border disputes through dialogue and consultations and, at the same time, is determined to safeguard its own sovereign interests, Wang Yi said.

Border issues are not the whole of the China-India relationship, Wang said, noting that what happened again proves that initiating confrontation will not solve the problem and that returning to peaceful negation is the right way forward.

On climate change

Even though China and the US, and the European Union are in different development stages and face other challenges, they share the same mission in coping with climate change.

Wang urged enhanced communication and coordination between the three sides. They play a leading role in the international community, adding that China welcomes the US’s return to the Paris Agreement and expects that the US will shoulder its responsibility and make its due contribution.

On Iran nuclear issue

China hopes the United States will show sincerity on the Iran nuclear issue, take actions as quickly as possible, including removing unjustified unilateral sanctions and lifting the “long-arm jurisdiction” on third-party entities and individuals, Wang Yi said.

At the same time, he said, Iran should resume compliance with the Iran nuclear deal and shoulder its responsibility of nuclear non-proliferation, Wang said.

On the South China Sea

The only intention of some Western countries, including the United States, is to stir up troubles in the South China Sea in the name of so-called free navigation and undermine peace in the South China Sea and disturb regional stability, Wang said.

He called on China and ASEAN countries to continue to remove distractions and press ahead with Code of Conduct consultations, and continue with the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

On Myanmar tensions

Relevant parties in Myanmar should maintain calm and exercise restraint, address their differences through dialogue and consultation within the constitutional and legal framework, and continue to advance the democratic transition.

“The immediate priority is to prevent further bloodshed and conflict, and ease and cool down the situation as soon as possible,” Wang said.

On China and Latin America

China is providing COVID-19 vaccines to 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries. “China and Latin American and Caribbean countries have stood alongside and supported each other in COVID-19 response and economic recovery,” he said. “Our cooperation best illustrates the saying, that ‘a bosom friend afar brings a distant land near.”

On objective coverage of China

China hopes to see and welcome more journalists in Edgar Snow’s mold in this new era among foreign journalists.

Wang Yi said he hopes that foreign journalists will not apply any filter to their camera, whether beautiful or gloomy, when reporting on China.

“Truthful, objective, and fair stories will always appeal to people and can stand the scrutiny of history,” he said. “However the world changes, the media should stand by their professional ethics.”


Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

Chinese President Xi Shared His Vision Of Win-Win Ties With America

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Chinese President Xi Shared His Vision Of Win-Win Ties With America

here are two main arguments in favor of President Biden responding positively to his Chinese counterpart’s suggestions other than the most obvious one that it’s simply the right thing to do in the interests of global stability.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden had their first phone call last week since the latter was inaugurated last month. The Chinese leader used this opportunity to share his vision for win-win ties with America. He emphasized their common goals in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting the global economic recovery, combating climate change, and ensuring regional stability. President Xi also suggested reestablishing dialogue mechanisms to this end and cooperating more closely on a whole range of other issues such as financial, law enforcement, and military ones among others.

One of the most important highlights of their conversation was President Xi reminding his American counterpart that Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang are China’s internal affairs and that the US must respect them accordingly. The US has been meddling in these issues over the past few years, so it’s important that it changes its behavior for the better in order for relations with China to finally improve. Provided that President Biden listens to President Xi’s advice, then both countries can focus on the boundless possibilities for win-win cooperation between them.

There are two main arguments in favor of President Biden responding positively to these suggestions other than the most obvious one that it’s simply the right thing to do in the interests of global stability. First, America is beset with numerous domestic problems at the moment which require the new administration’s full attention. It mustn’t remain distracted by following in former President Trump’s footsteps in trying to “contain” China since that would be a serious neglect of its responsibility to address issues as urgent as the COVID-19 crisis, America’s economic recovery, and the recent disturbing rise in domestic extremism.

Second, while President Biden provocatively spoke about his expectations for a continued so-called “extreme competition” between his country and China during a recent speech, he also added that he’ll seek to focus on what he described as the “international rules of the road”. This might be a euphemism for resorting to multilateral means in pursuit of advancing his predecessor’s goal of “containing” China, but it could also suggest a much-needed and long-overdue rethinking about the present trajectory of bilateral relations. Should that be the case, then it might result in a renewed impetus to comprehensively regulate their relations.

If the US starts by respecting China’s internal interests per President Xi’s advice, then it would go a long way towards getting ties back on track. The previously discussed possibilities for expanding upon what the Chinese leader described as “the most important development in international relations over the past half century or more”, the restoration and growth of China-US relations, would then be unlocked and the entire global community would benefit as a result of them working more closely together in pursuit of shared interests. Some competition might continue to exist, but it wouldn’t be “extreme” and could therefore be managed.

For example, the US-led Quad might come to take on less of a military nature and instead focus more on economic and political cooperation, ideally in a way that doesn’t imply any negative intent towards China. In that scenario, the Quad might even become a useful platform for managing China-US relations in the region, especially if its Australian and Japanese partners help facilitate talks on the eventual incorporation of China and the US into a larger trade bloc between them all. This could come about because of Canberra and Tokyo’s joint inclusion in two regional economic organizations.

They’re members of both the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). China and the US have signaled interested in joining the first-mentioned while Beijing is already part of the second. The US also has a free trade pact with Australia and recently reached an economic deal with Japan in 2019. This creates the perfect backdrop for Australia and Japan to help bring China and the US closer on the economic front upon any rapprochement between them. That’s the most promising scenario that China and the US should work towards in the future.

The triads, the Kuomintang and Hong Kong’s “democracy riots”

February 02, 2021

The triads, the Kuomintang and Hong Kong’s “democracy riots”

By Ji Pei for the Saker Blog

To put the World in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the Family in order; to put the Family in order, we must first cultivate our personal lives by setting our hearts right. Confucius

The extent of the criminal and corrupt past of Hong Kong and Taiwan is little known in the West.

People know that Hong Kong has been a British colony and the center of the opium trade with China from the the nineteenth century on, but this often remains an abstract knowledge for most readers, who often ignore to which extent this “trade” was tied to blackmailing, corruption, money laundering, war, colonial exploitation and other criminal activities. Part of the huge growth of British banking and of the financial power of the City of London in the 19th century resulted notably from the profits from the opium sold in China. This trade grew from around 5000 crates of opium sold in 1820, to 96,000 crates sold in 1873. This took place against the fierce resistance of the Chinese imperial government, which for this reason had to suffer the three so called Opium Wars waged by Great Britain against China. Expressed in tons, the British opium exports reached very nearly ten thousand tons during the year 1873. An incredible quantity for a substance sold in grams!

Colonial exploitation and crime expanded to new heights after 1949 in Hong Kong and, for that matter, also in Taiwan. Why?

Western people interested by Chinese history usually know that the Kuomintang (KMT) came to power in China as a result of Chiang Kai-shek’s 1926 “Northern Expedition” against the northern warlords. With 6000 Whampoa cadets and 85,000 troops, Chiang took Wuhan in September, 1926, and Shanghai and Nanking in March 1927. Many also know, if only by having read the famous French Author André Malraux’s moving text on this event, that Chiang Kai-shek organized the liquidation of the communists in Shanghai in April, 1927, and that he used the help of the Shanghai criminal syndicates, the so called triads to this aim. What is much less known is the incredible high level of influence played by the triads and by crime in the history of the Kuomintang government of China until its defeat at the hands of Mao Tse-tung’s and Chu Teh’s communists in 1949. This ignorance is due to the fact that the USA, which supported the Kuomintang-based anti-communist government in China during the war with Japan and later in Taiwan after the liberation of China, did everything to let Chiang and the KMT appear clean and solid. They thus laid a coating of governmental respectability on everything that concerned Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT.

In the twenties of the twentieth century, Shanghai’s underworld was dominated by three triads: Pockmarked Huang’s (Huang Chih-jung’s) Red Gang, which would soon be the most militant anti-communist force in China after Big-eared Tu (Tu Yueh-sheng) took the gang’s operational direction, Tu’s own Green Gang, and the Blue Gang. These three triads associated under Big-eared Tu’s pressure to exercise a monopoly of opium handling in order to raise the price. Tu was soon pulling all strings in Shanghai, not only in the underworld, but also in the city’s administration (the gangsters could even read the mail and gather information on banking operations) and in the police. He also had the best connections to the Kung banking family and to the Soong finance dynasty, thus combining the resources of the Kung banking empire, the leverage of the Soong family and the mammoth clout of the green gang. With Chiang Kai-shek, Tu would soon add political power to this extraordinary pyramid of forceful means.

Chiang Kai-shek, the Kuomintang and the triads

And here comes violent-tempered Chiang Kai-shek, born around one year before Big-eared Tu left his mother’s womb in 1888. In 1906, young Chiang left for Japan to receive a military training. On arriving, he discovered that he did not own the official recommendation necessary for that. Soon, he came in contact with the Chinese expatriate community, many of which were followers of Sun Yat-sen’s republican movement. One of them, Ch’en Ch’i-mei, one of Sun’s most ardent recruiters and member of Pockmarked Huang’s Shanghai Red Gang, befriended him. Back in China where he attended the lessons of a military academy, Chiang finally obtained a permission to follow a three-year course at the famous Shimbu Gakko military academy. There in Japan, Ch’en put Chiang up for membership of Sun’s political movement and he was accepted. During one of his visits to China with Ch’en, Chiang Kai-shek was also enrolled into the Green Gang. Involving himself in the gang’s activities, he took part in extortion, armed robberies and a jail break. “His police record in the British-administered International Settlements grew over the years to include murder, extortion, numerous armed robberies, and assorted other crimes.” (Seagrave, page 156).

In 1911, now graduated from Shimbu Gakko, Chiang joined Ch’en for the revolution in October with a unit of Sun Yat-sen’s Republican army composed entirely of Green Gang personnel. After the success of the revolution, Ch’en was appointed military governor of Shanghai and Chiang was made commander of a regiment. He spent the years of WW I mostly in Shanghai (and in Japan when Yuan Shih-kai’s secret police was after him and after Ch’en), usually active in Green Gang extortions and also assisting Ch’en Ch’i-mei who was now chairman of the Kuomintantg’s Central Committee. After Ch’en’s murder by the secret police in May, 1916, Chiang found himself at the heart of a hefty realignment of power in the Kuomintang. He became senior political assistant to Sun Yat-sen and, in 1917, his military adviser in Guangzhou, at the same time always closely working with Big-eared Tu on insider dealings in Shanghai’s stock market. His Shanghai patrons (Tu, the Soongs and wealthy industrialists, bankers like Kungs and merchants) wanted him to ingratiate himself with Sun to increase their common influence upon the Kuomintang. He fulfilled the task with success and was himself made chairman of the Kuomintang’s military academy in Whampoa and chief of staff of the Kuomintang army. Following Sun Yat-sen’s death (1925), Sun’s favored successor, left of center politician Liao Chung-k’ai, was gunned by five Green Gang killers. The murder was attributed to right wing influence: this eliminated the conservative candidates to Sun’s seat, while other leftist candidates couldn’t secure enough support because the workers’ strikes called by the Communist Party scared too many. Thus in the end, it was the “middle of the road” candidate Chiang Kai-shek, Big-eared Tu’s secret candidate of choice, who was elected president of the Kuomintang, the ‘Nationalist Party’. Chiang organized immediately the election of Curio Chang (Chang Ching-chang, another Green Gang friend of Tu with wide connections) to the chairmanship of the KMT’s Central Committee. “With them in charge, the Kuomintang was finally thoroughly criminalized.” (Booth, page 143). Two years later, Chiang and the Green Gang would carry against the communists the heavy blow mentioned at the beginning of this article (the Shanghai 1927 communists’ massacre), thus opening the long civil war between KMT and CPC that would end 1949 with Chiang Kaishek’s defeat at the hands of Mao Tse-tung and Chou Teh and with the establishing of the People’s Republic of China. Chiang fled to Taiwan with his defeated army.

New Regime on Mainland China: the triads flee to Hong Kong and Taiwan

Whatever position one has on communism, one must admit that Mao’s new regime proscribed the triads with a vigor never seen before. The triads were considered a real threat: the Kuomintang had used them as they had used the Kuomintang, virtually running (and ruining) the country together. So the communists feared and abhorred triad criminality: triads had plundered China for decades and in their eyes, this had to stop. Within three years of the communists’ victory, opium got completely removed from Chinese society, the nation “clean” again after more than one century and the triads bereft of their most lucrative business. Addicts were treated sympathetically, farmers ordered to grow food crops instead of poppies. Opium-den owners were publicly humiliated and sent for political reeducation in labor camps. Dealers and traffickers were shot in public after brief trials. The triads got outlawed all over the country.

It is easy to imagine where the triad bosses and members that did not get caught by the communists would go: to Taiwan and to Hong Kong.

As a colony, Hong Kong had attracted Chinese triads almost from the beginning. The more affluent the colony became, the more worthwhile crime also grew. So by 1848, Hong Kong was already considered the nerve center for triad activity all over South China. Hundred years later, by 1949, it looked as if Hong Kong would become the biggest criminal city on earth: prostitution, protection, gambling rackets, narcotics trade, nothing was missing. It is in this situation that refugee members of the big Chinese triads (especially the Shanghainese ones) arrived to Hong Kong and Taiwan in great numbers. Big-eared Tu and his Green Gang chose Hong Kong, not Taiwan, as their mainstay. A new scourge came with them, Heroin: the first Hong Kong heroin laboratories were financed by Big-eared Tu and went into production in 1950. “With an orchestrated, vicious ruthlessness, they also started their own extortion rackets and staged armed robberies on Chinese jewelers’ and gold shops. Well organized and financed, they were soon challenging the local societies (…), coordinating vice with the efficiency of corporate managers. They opened dance halls full of ‘taxi dancers’ who, charging clients by the dance, in turn paid the Green Gang operators for the right to work in their establishments. They ran brothels and massage-parlors, and administered opium and gambling dens. Not content with this, they bribed immigration officials, then preyed upon wealthy criminal exiles, offering protection to avoid deportation or to avoid being sent back to China. Wealthy non-criminals were forced to invest in Green Gang-controlled legitimate business.” (Booth, page 264). However, not everything developed smoothly in Hong Kong for the Green Gang. They had to ward off the competition of the local triads, and the arrest of a high member of the gang, Li Choi-fat in 1952, was a serious setback.

For Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan, on the contrary, the refugee triads from the mainland were welcome. Here again one may say: ‘With them in charge, the island’s new government was now fully criminalized’. Chiang’s government itself consisted almost exclusively of triads, which could so continue their life of crime. They associated themselves into a new government sponsored society, the United Bamboo Society, which helped other triads to gain foothold in Hong Kong. They also formed an effective branch of Chiang Kai-shek’s secret service. Chiang had originally even hoped to be able to establish some political power in Hong Kong to run the colony as another KMT center of power against communist China.

After riots in Hong Kong’s refugee settlements in 1956, during which triads had supported the rioters, the British colonial government increased its fight against the secret societies. The triads had to adopt a low profile and to reconsolidate their position. At the same time, they re-oriented their criminal business to take advantage of the worldwide growing level of wellbeing. “Within four years of the riots, they were in a position to internationalize the narcotics trade. A new triad era was dawning.” (Booth, page 275).

The worldwide narcotic trade

Soon, the triads developed their infrastructure, increased their grip on Hong Kong, and organized during the Vietnam War an essentially Asian-wide, and later a worldwide Heroin trafficking. To gather the huge quantities of morphine base they needed, they set up a purchase agreement with Kuomintang general Li Wen-huan who lived in the Thai jungles in the so called ‘Golden Triangle’ ready to strike at communist China, and who paid his troops by selling Heroin. They also had agreements with Burmese insurgents, with General Rattikone, head of the Laotian army, with the Vietnamese heroin ring of air Vice-marshal Ky etc., thus controlling unlimited sources of morphine base. The CIA, Air America, Continental Air Service and Laos Development Air Service flew the narcotics for them to Thailand and to Hong Kong. In this way, the Hong Kong triads could soon control the entire heroin smuggling, processing and trade from the source to distribution. Hong Kong was the place which accommodated the Heroin labs, where the worldwide income was gathered, laundered and invested in casinos, in general and in commodity trading companies, in commercial property, cinemas, restaurants and bars. Triad bosses like the Ma brothers founded the Oriental Press Group, the main publication of which was the Oriental Daily News, one of Hong Kong’s most popular daily papers. They took part in high profile philanthropic activities, were accepted on the select Hong Kong racecourse and even in the exclusive Royal Jockey Club and lived in luxurious mansions.

After the end of the Vietnam war in 1973, the Hong Kong triads organized connections to the American Mafia (some say they even met Mafia boss Meyer Lansky), to the French Corsican crime syndicates, the French Marseilles gangsters and others. Soon, heroin addiction rose sharply in most Western countries and the triads’ income rose correspondingly. Meanwhile, the fight of the British authorities against the Hong Kong triads was most of the time rather a joke. Even the Ma brothers, if arrested, were released on appeal, or went to Taiwan if necessary. Many high level traffickers were acquitted. Why would police officers or judges risk their lives, seeing the attitude of their bosses: according to a Sunday Times report, the triad’s Oriental Press Group had donated considerable sums to the Conservative Party funds. Even Christopher Patten, sung of as the so incredibly democratic minded last governor of Hong Kong, “attended functions at the Oriental Press Group headquarters and gave his blessing to the founding of a new English-language daily newspaper, the Eastern Express. John Major, as party leader as well as prime minister, entertained [triad boss] Ma to tea at Downing Street.” (Booth, page 295). No change from the 19th century: Great Britain’s elites (if not the poor British youth addicted to Heroin!), Hong Kong’s elites ‒ and their banks! ‒ have always thrived on opium. And the USA always followed the example.

Chinese corruption and Chinese Fight against corruption

Everybody knows that in the early eighties, Deng Xiaoping told the Chinese to “Get rich” in order to launch the process of building up efficiently a market economy to strive out of underdevelopment. The Chinese people obeyed and the economy started to thrive and to boast incredible GDP growth rates never seen before. Obviously, in this process, quite a few Chinese would transgress the laws of morals, and corruption grew again in China at a rate never seen since 1949. Hong Kong triads reestablished business with the new Chinese criminal scene. Even the People’s Liberation Army, the communist party and the administration were caught in this corrupting frenzy. But because the Chinese communist party is – with more than eighty million members – the biggest people’s party worldwide, the law abiding majority of this party let their party leaders understand that they had to do something against corruption, or else… Since China had and has energetic leaders like Jiang Zemin, Zhu Rongji or now Xi Jinping, who organized a war against corruption never seen of in our parts of the world, things started to change: in the meantime, even high level officials or ministers found guilty of corruption have been condemned to heavy sentences (even death penalty) in China, whereas similar persons in the West get a few months on probation for the same level of corruption, if at all.

However, the corruption fighting leaders of the Communist Party had a problem: if criminal or corrupt members of the Chinese society and of the party could flee to Hong Kong before being arrested, they couldn’t be brought to trial in their homeland because the ex-colony had no extradition law. That was a real problem for China’s politics and for China’s justice.

In the final months of British rule under Governor Patten, Hong Kong had passed laws barring the extradition to mainland China due to claimed concerns about the quality and objectivity of the mainland’s justice. This in spite of the huge progress made in China in the field of justice, especially since the law of 2004 strongly reinforcing the position of the defending counsels in court, and in spite of the fact that colonial justice itself had always been a caricature of justice, since in Hong Kong Chinese people could never be tried by Chinese judges, but only by British ones.

Beijing formulated very early its wish to see this Patten “non-extradition” bill changed for a law allowing extradition, but displayed much patience in order to avoid doing violence to the autonomy and anti-communist feelings of part of the Hong Kong population. But the constant misuse of Hong Kong’s protection by persons menaced by the Xi Jinping government’s legal, useful and successful fight against corruption and graft led to an increase of Beijing’s pressure for a change in this field. Beijing let it know that more than 300 wanted fugitives were hiding in Hong Kong. Finally, the Hong Kong government decided in February, 2019 to amend the law and to allow for extradition on a case-by-case basis with countries not already covered by mutual agreements—and this would include mainland China and Macao, doing away with the geographical restrictions on the PRC in the existing rules.

Street war against extradition law

Opposition to this change manifested itself very soon. Aside of the old anti-communist prejudice of a part of Hong Kong’s population, this change obviously affected huge interests: the financial interests of the Hong Kong triads which earned millions with the corrupt part of mainland China’s industry, banking and import-export business, the financial interests of the Taiwan triads doing similar businesses, the financial interests of the money laundering and money manipulating British and overseas Chinese banks, the financial interests of Hong Kong’s big import-export houses, the financial and political interests of Taiwan’s Kuomintang party, the huge political and geopolitical interests of the imperialist NATO countries, especially Great Britain and the USA and their secret services and NGOs, which have been practicing the containment of China since 1949 and which dream of a weak China which could be recolonized, and finally the financial and political interests of the infamous One Percent billionaires dreaming of globalization and world power and who saw there an opportunity to sabotage China’s Belt and Road Initiative. With such interests ready to finance and support opposition against the new extradition bill, and within the framework of the anti-China business war waged by the Trump government against the Chinese government, it is clear that huge rioting activities and widespread protests were soon mobilized on a very large scale against China in the streets of Hong Kong and Kowloon during the whole of 2019 and part of 2020.

The incredibly brutal and nasty protests against the extradition law in Hong Kong thus lasted more than one year. The West has probably never before invested so much money and political influencing in a single China containment political struggle, fortunately to no avail: bar associations, chambers of commerce, law societies, so called human rights groups, journalist’s associations, dozens of colonial era officials including of course Chris Patten himself, the whole of the Western mainstream media and dozens of government representatives in the line of Great Britain, the EU, the USA, Canada, etc. have criticized the People’s Republic’s policy. A nastier intervention into the internal affairs of a country is difficult to find. The world can rest thankful to the Peoples Republic of China for having shown much patience: the units of the People’s Liberation Army established in Hong Kong never intervened except to clean up the debris of destroyed shop fronts. Having brought seven hundred million citizens out of poverty within twenty-five years, China is now a strong, proud dragon that obviously no longer needs to brawl with misled students and louts. One only feels sorry for the tens of thousands of these naïve students and other young people who believed the lies of their agitators and thought to fight for liberty and democracy, whereas they were fighting for the financial and political interests of criminals, of money launders, globalists and of corrupt politicians.

In the end, an extradition law had to be. And it is now effective in Hong Kong.


Literature:

One could fill many pages with titles of books on the Chinese triads, on the history of Kuomintang China, on the history of Hong Kong, etc. The two books mentioned in this article bring the most important facts together in attractive, easy readable texts:

SEAGRAVE, Sterling, 1985: The Soong dynasty, Corgi Books, London

BOOTH, Martin,, 1999: The dragon syndicates. Bantam Books, London

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_hong_kong_extradition_bill

Dr. Ji Pei was lecturer for Chinese history at a European University.

Pompeo’s Last Stand

Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

Source

Philip Giraldi

January 21, 2021

The neocons and the media demand tough talk and even tougher action from their candidate and Pompeo is already running hard to oblige them.

Pompeo's Last Stand - TheAltWorld
© Photo: REUTERS/POOL New

It is finally over. Joe Biden has been inaugurated President of the United States while his predecessor Donald Trump has retired to Florida. Trump intends to remain the driving force in the Republican Party but there are many in the GOP who would like to see him gone completely and the national media is obliging by depriving him of a “voice,” cutting him off from his preferred social media. The Democratic Party’s top “megadonor” Israeli film producer Haim Saban goes one step farther, recommending that all the media stop reporting on Trump and his activities, thereby taking away his platform and making him disappear politically speaking.

Prior to the inauguration, which proceeded protected by an unprecedented display of military and police, there had been so much going on in and around Washington that other serious developments worldwide were not getting the attention that they merited. President Donald Trump was impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors” relating to his alleged encouragement of the January 6th rioting at the U.S. Capitol building, but to my mind the recent travels and meetings involving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could turn out to be far more damaging to America’s long-term interests. One wonders why Pompeo was engaging in frenetic activity with the Administration that he represented being about to vanish in a few days, but the answer is perhaps obvious. Trump and Pompeo want to lay a foreign policy mine field for the Joe Biden White House, locking the new administration into policies that will prove difficult to untangle.

Pompeo has been most active in four areas: Iran, China, Cuba and Yemen. Iran, as has often been the case with the Trump Israeli-driven policy in the Middle East, has been the principal focus. The Trump Administration has consistently responded to Israeli and also Saudi perceptions of the threat from Iran to the entire region, even though those claims were generally based on self-interests and deliberately falsified intelligence. Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran signed in 2015 and has been waging incrementally expanded economic warfare against the Iranians for the past three years. It has collaborated with the Israelis on assassinations and air attacks on primarily civilian targets in Syria and Lebanon.

During Trump’s last two weeks in power there was much talk about the possibility of a U.S. attack on Iran. The Israeli military was on alert and there was a surge in attacks on Syria, frequently using Lebanese airspace. One incident in particular on January 6th used U.S. intelligence to enable multiple bombing attacks on targets inside Syria, killing 57. Pompeo reportedly dined publicly in a well-known Washington restaurant Café Milano on the day after the carnage to discuss the “success” with Israel’s head of Mossad Yossi Cohen.

The public meeting with Cohen was a sign from the Trump Administration that the U.S. supports Israel’s bombing campaign against claimed Iranian targets in Syria. If Biden wishes to change that, he will have to do so publicly, earning the ire of Israel’s friends in the Democratic Party and media. And more was to come. Last Tuesday, Pompeo gave a speech in which he accused al-Qaeda and the Iranian government of being “partners in terror” , constituting an “axis” of terrorism. He further claimed that al-Qaeda has a “new home base” and a “new operational headquarters” built for it in Tehran, an assertion that ran counter to the intelligence collected by U.S. counterterrorism officials, who said there was no evidence to support such a claim. In fact, the Intelligence Community has long asserted that al-Qaeda is fundamentally hostile to Shi’ite Iran and that the Iranians return the favor. In other words, Pompeo is either lying or making something up that will be an impediment if Biden tries to improve relations with Tehran. Pompeo also went so far as to declare that Iran is the “new Afghanistan” for al-Qaeda, which is meant to imply that Iran is now its home base and safe haven. There is also no evidence to support that claim.

The Trump Administration has also included Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, based on nothing whatsoever, apparently as something of a throw away item to shore up support from the rabid Cuban exile community in Florida. So too the decision to designate the Houthis of Yemen as terrorists to give a parting gift to the Saudis and the UAE. Yemen is suffering from famine and the terror designation will have a drastic impact on imports of food and medicine, condemning many Yemenis to death. Daniel Larison opines that the “Houthi designation is by far the worst thing that Pompeo has done as Secretary of State, because if it is not quickly reversed it will lead directly to the deaths of tens and possibly even hundreds of thousands of people. It takes severe cruelty to look at a war-torn, famine-stricken country that depends heavily on outside aid and imports and then choose to suffocate the survivors with additional economic warfare. That is what Pompeo has done, we shouldn’t forget that.”

And, incidentally, the United States gains absolutely nothing from killing thousands of people in Yemen, but that is not all. Pompeo has also opened the door to new problems with China. His easing of the longstanding restrictions on contacts between American diplomats and Taiwanese has been described by the State Department as a strong gesture of support for the democratic government and “ally” in Taipei. It overturns more than forty years of “strategic ambiguity” which has prevailed since Richard Nixon traveled to Beijing and recognized the communist People’s Republic of China as China’s only legitimate government, to include over Taiwan by implication. The so-called “One China” principle states that Taiwan and China are part of the same China with the U.S. recognizing, though not necessarily endorsing, that the PRC has a historic claim to sovereignty over Taiwan.

Apart from locking in policies that Biden will find hard to shift, Pompeo also has a secondary motive. It is widely believed that he would like to run for president in 2024. He will need the support of the Israelis and their powerful domestic lobby as well as the Cubans in Florida and it does not hurt to show him playing hardball in the Middle East and against an increasingly vilified China. The so-called neocons, who have again become influential in the Republican Party and the media, demand tough talk and even tougher action from their candidate and Pompeo is already running hard to oblige them.

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

December 09, 2020

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times.

Seven years after being launched by President Xi Jinping, first in Astana and then in Jakarta, the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) increasingly drive the American plutocratic oligarchy completely nuts.

The relentless paranoia about the Chinese “threat” has much to do with the exit ramp offered by Beijing to a Global South permanently indebted to IMF/World Bank exploitation.

In the old order, politico-military elites were routinely bribed in exchange for unfettered corporate access to their nations’ resources, coupled with go-go privatization schemes and outright austerity (“structural adjustment”).

This went on for decades until BRI became the new game in town in terms of infrastructure building – offering an alternative to the imperial footprint.

The Chinese model allows all manner of parallel taxes, sales, rents, leases – and profits. This means extra sources of income for host governments – with an important corollary: freedom from the hardcore neoliberal diktats of IMF/World Bank. This is what is at the heart of the notorious Chinese “win-win”.

Moreover, BRI’s overall strategic focus on infrastructure development not only across Eurasia but also Africa encompasses a major geopolitical game-changer. BRI is positioning vast swathes of the Global South to become completely independent from the Western-imposed debt trap. For scores of nations, this is a matter of national interest. In this sense BRI should be regarded as the ultimate post-colonialist mechanism.

BRI in fact bristles with Sun Tzu simplicity applied to geoeconomics. Never interrupt the enemy when he’s making a mistake – in this case enslaving the Global South via perpetual debt. Then use his own weapons – in this case financial “help” – to destabilize his preeminence.

Hit the road with the Mongols

None of the above, of course, is bound to serenade the paranoid volcano, which will keep spitting out a 24/7 deluge of red alerts deriding BRI as “poorly defined, badly mismanaged and visibly failing”. “Visibly”, of course, only for the exceptionalists.

Predictably, the paranoid volcano feeds on a toxic mix of arrogance and crass ignorance of Chinese history and culture.

Xue Li, director of the Department of International Strategy at the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has shown how “after the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed in 2013, China’s diplomacy has changed from maintaining a low profile to becoming more proactive in global affairs. But the policy of ‘partnership rather than alliance’ has not changed, and it is unlikely to change in the future. The indisputable fact is that the system of alliance diplomacy preferred by Western countries is the choice of a few countries in the world, and most countries choose non-aligned diplomacy. Besides, the vast majority of them are developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.”

Atlanticists are desperate because the “system of alliance diplomacy” is on the wane. The overwhelming majority of the Global South is now being reconfigured as a newly energized Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – as if Beijing had found a way to revive the Spirit of Bandung in 1955.

Chinese scholars are fond of quoting a 13th century imperial handbook, according to which policy changes should be “beneficial for the people”. If they only benefit corrupt officials, the result is luan (“chaos”). Thus the 21st century Chinese emphasis on pragmatic policy instead of ideology.

Rivaling informed parallels with the Tang and Ming dynasties, it’s actually the Yuan dynasty that offers a fascinating introduction to the inner workings of BRI.

So let’s go for a short trip back to the 13th century, when Genghis Khan’s immense empire was replaced by four khanates.

We had the Khanate of the Great Khan – which turned into the Yuan dynasty – ruling over China, Mongolia, Tibet, Korea and Manchuria.

We had the Ilkhanate, founded by Hulagu (the conqueror of Baghdad) ruling Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, parts of Anatolia and the Caucasus.

We had the Golden Horde ruling the northwestern Eurasian steppe, from eastern Hungary to Siberia, and most of all the Russian principalities.

And we had the Chaghadaid Khanate (named after Genghis Khan’s second son) ruling Central Asia, from eastern Xinjiang to Uzbekistan, until Tamerlane’s rise to power in 1370.

This era saw an enormous acceleration of trade along the Mongol Silk Roads.

All these Mongol-controlled governments privileged local and international commerce. That translated into a boom in markets, taxes, profits – and prestige. The khanates competed to get the best trading minds. They laid out the necessary infrastructure for transcontinental travel (13th century BRI, anyone?) And they opened the way for multiple East-West, trans-civilizational exchanges.

When the Mongols conquered the Song in southern China they even expanded overland Silk Roads trade into Maritime Silk Roads. The Yuan dynasty was now controlling China’s powerful southern ports. So when there was any kind of turbulence overland, trade switched to the seas.

The key axes were through the Indian Ocean, between south China and India, and between India and the Persian Gulf or the Red Sea.

Cargo was traveling overland to Iran, Iraq, Anatolia and Europe; by sea, through Egypt and the Mediterranean, to Europe; and from Aden to east Africa.

A slave trade maritime route between the Golden Horde’s ports on the Black Sea and Egypt – run by Muslim, Italian and Byzantine traders – was also in effect. The Black Sea ports transited luxury merchandise arriving overland from the East. And caravans traveled inland from the Indian coast during dangerous monsoon seasons.

This frantic commercial activity was the proto-BRI, which reached its apex in the 1320s and 1330s all the way to the collapse of the Yuan dynasty in 1368 in parallel to the Black Death in Europe and the Middle East. The key point: all the overland and maritime roads were interlinked. 21st century BRI planners benefit from a long historical memory.

“Nothing will fundamentally change”

Now compare this wealth of trade and cultural interchange with the pedestrian, provincial, anti-BRI and overall anti-China paranoia in the US. What we get is the State Dept. under exiting Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo issuing a paltry diatribe on the “China challenge”. Or the US Navy recommissioning the First Fleet, probably to be based in Perth, to “have an Indo-Pac footprint” and thus maintain “maritime dominance in an era of great power competition”.

More ominously, here is a summary of the humongous, 4,517-page, $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2021, just approved by the House by 335 to 78 (Trump threatened to veto it).

This is about funding for the Pentagon next year – to be supervised in theory by the new Raytheon General, Lloyd Austin, the last “commanding General” of the US in Iraq who run CENTCOM from 2013 to 2016 and then retired for some juicy revolving door gigs such as the board of Raytheon and crucially, the board of ultra-toxic air, water, soil polluter Nucor.

Austin is a revolving door character who supported the war on Iraq, the destruction of Libya, and supervised the training of Syrian “moderate rebels” – a.k.a. recycled al-Qaeda – who killed countless Syrian civilians.

The NDAA, predictably, is heavy on “tools to deter China”.

That will include:

1. A so-called “Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), code for containment of China in the Indo-Pacific by boosting the Quad.

2. Massive counter-intel operations.

3. An offensive against “debt diplomacy”. That’s nonsense: BRI deals are voluntary, on a win-win basis, and open to renegotiation. Global South nations privilege them because loans are low-interest and long-term.

4. Restructuring global supply chains which lead to the US. Good luck with that. Sanctions on China will remain in place.

5. Across the board pressure forcing nations not to use Huawei 5G.

6. Reinforcing Hong Kong and Taiwan as Trojan Horses to destabilize China.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has already set the tone: “Beijing intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically”. Be afraid, very much afraid of the evil Chinese Communist Party, “the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II”.

There you go: Xi is the new Hitler.

So nothing will fundamentally change after January 2021 – as officially promised by Biden-Harris: it’s gonna be Hybrid War on China all over again, deployed all over the spectrum, as Beijing has perfectly understood.

So what? China’s industrial production will continue to grow while in the US it will continue to decline. There will be more breakthroughs by Chinese scientists such as the photonic quantum computing – which performed 2.6 billion years of computation in 4 minutes. And the 13th century Yuan dynasty spirit will keep inspiring BRI.

Taiwan: A US Foothold Before a Chinese Tidal Wave

By Tony Cartalucci
Source: New Eastern Outlook

Taiwan has found itself increasingly in the middle of the growing power struggle between a waning US and a rising China.

Taiwan is recognized by both the UN and the vast majority of the world’s nations including (officially) the United States under the One China policy – but Taiwan’s pro-independence circles have nonetheless enjoyed large amounts of financial and political support from Washington and has been a point of contention in the region and between Beijing and Washington for decades.

The most recent example of this – reported by the Taipei Times in their article, “Two Washington-based pro-democracy NGOs to establish offices in Taipei,” – was the increased footprint of Washington’s notorious regime change front – the National Endowment for Democracy.

The article would claim:

Two Washington-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), are to establish offices in Taiwan after they were sanctioned by Beijing last year.

The two institutes, along with the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Freedom House and Human Rights Watch were sanctioned last year after speaking in support of Hong Kong democracy activists and as well as being part of China’s tit-for-tat reaction against US President Donald Trump signing the US’ Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. 

Of course the US NED was not simply “speaking in support” of Hong Kong opposition groups – but was a primary conduit through which US government funding passed to these opposition groups.

Making the purpose behind the US NED’s expansion in Taiwan much clearer was IRI president Daniel Twining’s comments claiming (emphasis added):

From our Taipei base, we will work with our partners to highlight Taiwan’s hard-won democratic lessons, strengthen networks of Asia’s democratic actors and build resilience against malign authoritarian influence in the region… As the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] becomes more aggressive in violating the global rules-based order, now is the time for all democracies … to invest in strengthening ties with Taiwan.

In other words, the US NED’s move in Taiwan is meant to contribute to Washington’s wider campaign of encircling and containing not only China but to fuel US-funded unrest targeting China’s closest regional allies.

Independence movements in Taiwan have identified themselves as part of the so-called “Milk Tea Alliance” – a united front of US-funded opposition groups from across the region attempting to coerce their respective governments into a confrontational posture toward Beijing. Most recently this has included the opposition in Hong Kong and anti-government protests in Thailand.

And while the US is clearly banking on its heavy investments in “soft power” – essentially region-wide political interference – China’s strategy focuses instead on economic ties underpinned by principles of non-interference.

It is no surprise that the Asian region has responded positively to the latter instead of the former.

Taiwan’s Future is Inevitable 

The US and the wider Western media have promoted narratives of an impending Chinese invasion of Taiwan. This narrative has been used to justify the sale of US weapons to Taiwan’s military including a recent arms deal worth several billion US dollars.

The Business Insider in an article titled, “A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would not be easy, and the 400 anti-ship missiles the US plans to sell to Taiwan would make it even harder,” would note:

Less than a week after it authorized a $1.8 billion arms sale to Taiwan, the US Department of State notified Congress on Monday of another possible Foreign Military Sale to Taiwan for $2.4 billion that includes hundreds of Harpoon anti-ship missiles and launchers.

The big sale, if approved by Congress, would give Taiwan 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) and 400 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Surface-Launched Missiles, very capable all-weather weapons that can search for and take out ships as far as half-way across the Taiwan Strait.

The sale of the additional missiles would later be approved.

The weapons are for a “Chinese invasion” that will likely never come and in addition to the US “soft power” networks Taiwan now serves as a base for – the US still lacks any means to confront or contain China’s influence – both in regards to Taiwan and in regards to the wider region.

The need for a “Chinese invasion” of territory already recognized as part of China by the UN makes so little sense on so many levels. But the clearest level is economically where mainland China now stands as Taiwan’s largest trade partner and investor.

Mainland China has been the key to Taiwan’s economic growth throughout recent years and had helped drive the easing of cross Strait tensions.

Because of Taiwan’s economic ties with the mainland, the most recent drive by the US to re-introduce a wedge between the two has come at high cost to Taiwan’s economy. The government fulfilling Washington’s desire to restrict mainland investment and  oppose Beijing’s decisions regarding Chinese territory has cut Taiwan off from economic inflows the US – and even the wider West – are unable to compensate for.

A look at Taiwan’s foreign investment and trade over the last two decades reveals an obvious and unavoidable trend regarding Taiwan’s near to intermediate future.  It is a trend of a shrinking Western role in Taiwan’s economy replaced by a rising mainland China – and a trend that inevitably impacts Taiwan geopolitically.

Twenty years ago only 4% of Taiwan’s exports headed to mainland China while 18% headed to the United States. Today, 34% of Taiwan’s exports head to China versus 10% to the United States. Taiwan’s imports reflect a similar shift in economic power. Both China’s economic rise and its proximity to Taiwan means that this trend will only continue.

US efforts to build up Taiwan’s independence movement is meant to deliberately disrupt this trend – and it is doing so not by providing Taiwan with economic alternatives but instead baiting the island into a growing political and even military standoff with the mainland and its regional allies. This is being done specifically at the expense of Taiwan’s economic ties to both.

Just like Australia and others being drawn into Washington’s anti-Chinese foreign policy – such a stance is not sustainable. As long as China can avoid provocations and conflict and continue offering the benefits of economic prosperity and peace as an alternative to Washington’s strategy of tension – patience and time will run out for Washington’s style of Indo-Pacific hegemony and the interests in the region abetting it will be displaced by those interested in a more constructive regional architecture.

Perhaps on a more global scale a similar process can play out within the United States itself – where current circles of power pursuing this counterproductive foreign policy are displaced by those with a more constructive vision of America’s role not only in Asia but around the globe.

China Newsbrief and Sitrep

November 25, 2020

Source

China Newsbrief and Sitrep

By Godfree Roberts – selected from his extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China

This is why we study China.

There is no point in believing we can make sense of China by a skin-deep knowledge of present-day China. We will be little the wiser. Chinese civilization is over 4,000 years old: as a political entity it is over 2,000 years old, the longest continuously existing polity in the world. Chinese history and culture is fundamentally different from that of the West: it always has been and always will be. So best to dispense with our Western-tinted spectacles and open our minds to arguably the world’s most successful civilization. China has been the most advanced country not just once but at least four times; and we are on the verge of this becoming five. A country, a culture, and a people with the most extraordinary history that is fast becoming the magnet of the future.    (This was the keynote address to the Buzz Expo China Summit.)


A small diplomatic snub

Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State and fourth in line for the presidency, requested a meeting with his opposite number in China’s six-man cabinet but, China delivered a gentle snub by sending Yang Jiechi, a member of the 35-member State Council.


Debt Forgiveness

Of course the West would want China to forgive debts and thus enhance the value of Western revenue streams. This is another aspect of the war. Just as trillions of dollars of cash injected into the banking cartel at the start of the crisis constitute a prophylactic against the damage of this closure policy, it also defends the asset values from destruction while allowing Western banks to buy up assets from the failed business sector and freeze out China, from cash flows of any kind. The extension of the crisis to the West’s debt peons means that those who participate locally in the West’s protection racket can be asked to freeze China out on the international lending stage. The nature of the Western “loansharking” business remains obscured. China should wait until the West cancels all its fraudulent debt instruments before even discussing its own loan book.


Scholarship for Sale?

Five of Washington’s most prominent think tanks have been producing policy papers urging closer U.S. ties with Taiwan — a territory locked in an uncertain legal status that threatens to be a flashpoint between Beijing and Washington. These seemingly impartial research institutions are pushing for expanded arms sales and trade agreements with Taiwan without widely disclosing their high-level funding from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), Taiwan’s equivalent to an embassy. The five think tanks — the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress*, the Center for a New American Security, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Hudson Institute — all disclose their funding from TECRO but bury it deep on their websites or annual reports. [I am shocked, shocked! to find partisan scholarship traded on the open market]

None of their researchers disclose the potential conflict of interest between Taiwanese funding and advocating for more security guarantees for and trade with Taiwan. “Taiwan is an interesting case because we know Taiwan gives a good amount of money to think tanks, and we know they have a good amount of influence around town,” said Ben Freeman, director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy. “For most people in this town, Taiwan doesn’t have the scarlet letter that funding from Saudi Arabia or China would, but it begs the question, why not just disclose at the front of a report, ‘We get funding from this government,’” said Freeman, who authored “Foreign Funding of Think Tanks in America,” a recent report. “I don’t see the reasons you’d just keep this under wraps.” And yet, while urging greater U.S. economic and security commitments to Taipei, Washington’s most influential think tanks do just that.

What Taiwan’s money buys: When Ryan Hass of the Brookings Institution wrote for the Taipei Times in December about the importance of bipartisan support in both Taiwan and the U.S., it appeared to be an impartial op-ed. Nowhere in the article was the Taiwan government’s funding for Brookings and its scholars disclosed. One would have to go to Brookings’s 2019 annual report to see that TECRO provides between $250,000 and $499,999 to the think tank. In February, Hass, again writing for the Taipei Times, urged policymakers in Washington and Taipei to counter potential economic risks to Taiwan in a U.S.-China technology competition by “pursu[ing] a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement that includes chapters covering trade in goods and services, as well as e-commerce, investment rules, and possibly other areas.”  The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the Clinton and Obama administrations, collected between $50,000 and $99,999 from TECRO in 2019. That information was only disclosed in an “annual honor roll recognizing supporters who make gifts of $5,000 or more.”It was not disclosed when CAP senior fellow Trevor Sutton published a March column in Washington Monthly, in which he posited that strengthening U.S.-Taiwan relations would assist in “defeating” the “narrative” by “illiberal movements” to portray “democratic governance” as “messy, corrupt, and ineffective.” Nor was TECRO’s funding disclosed when CAP senior fellow Michael H. Fuchs published a September 2019 report on “How to Support Democracy and Human Rights in Asia,” and offered direct recommendations about what U.S. policymakers should do to “robustly support Taiwan.” [MORE]

Footnote: Taiwan is a breakaway Chinese province, one of hundreds led astray by warlords over the centuries. Like most US protectorates, it is a stagnant, corrupt backwater whose educated elite are leaving in droves for careers in China proper.


Those Chinese Scientists Arrested by the US?

Michael Lauer, deputy director of the NIH, confessed that 93% of the 189 researchers surveyed by the NIH had undisclosed scientific research funding from China, but only 4% of them have intellectual property issues, and another 9% had hidden the establishment of companies abroad. Under the pressure of the investigation, 54 scholars were expelled or offered to resign because they did not fully disclose their cooperation with China. The vast majority of them were ethnically Chinese scholars. Some scholars have also been prosecuted and sentenced. There were no cases of theft of significant intellectual property.

This means that the researchers under investigation did not, as previously claimed by the FBI, systematically transfer intellectual property rights to China or other countries. Rao Yi, a professor at Peking University, pointed out that even among the 4% of the respondents involved with IP rights issues, it could be their personal issues, and it does not mean that China’s initial establishment of the talent plans was for stealing US intellectual property rights. Rao Yi’s letter to NIH head Francis Collins August 2018:  “Your August 20th statement is shocking because it is the first time when any government official has issued a statement restricting scientific collaborations in peacetime. If there are competitions, the Olympic Games have shown us how to compete.”  [MORE]


Who Knew?

Trump’s Chip Ban Gives Huawei and South Korea an Enormous Incentive to Strike a Grand Bargain “Chip fabricators will remove American equipment from production lines in order to maintain market share in China.”  A US ban on foreign companies’ sales of chips to Huawei Technologies if American equipment or software is involved will undermine America’s already-weakened position in the global semiconductor equipment market, industry sources say. Chip fabricators will remove American equipment from production lines in order to maintain market share in China, the world’s largest purchaser of semiconductors.  [MORE]

Huawei surpassed Samsung to become the world’s largest smartphone maker in April, a feat that was considered impossible with America’s ban in effect. Huawei now holds a 19% market share ahead of Samsung’s 17%.

Huawei’s new 54,000 sq.ft flagship store in Shanghai has more than 200 customer care consultants that can provide support in 10 languages. At the same time, it also has 19 reception counters and 12 after-sales service area.

Shanghai Micro Electronics Equipment announced that the first China-made 28nm immersion type lithography machine will be delivered in 2021-2022. Although it still has a big gap with the Dutch 7nm chip preparation process, it also marks a leap forward in China-made lithography, which is gradually reducing the gap with ASML. The Chinese market accounts for one-third of global semiconductor sales, and there is an urgent need for semiconductor import substitution.[MORE]

Yangtze Memory Technologies has unveiled its latest 3D NAND memory chip with cutting-edge 128-layer technology. The Wuhan-based company, whose work was not interrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak, said its new chip, the X2-6070, has passed sample verification with several partners, and could start mass production by end of this year or in the first half of 2021. The rollout makes it China’s first NAND chip using 128-layer technology, where the number of layers determines the density of data storage. The new chips will come in two specifications, one featuring 1.33 terabytes of storage and the other 512 gigabytes, according to a company announcement dated on Sunday. Yangtze Memory hopes the 1.33 TB product will initially be used in high-capacity USB drives, flash memory cards and solid-state hard drives, and eventually be expanded into enterprise-level servers and data centers


The Ruling in the Meng Case

On 28 January 2019, formal charges were laid by the U.S. Department of Justice, accusing Meng’s employer, Huawei, of misrepresentations about its corporate organization which had enabled it to circumvent laws that imposed economic sanctions on Iran. Huawei was also charged with stealing technology and trade secrets from T-Mobile USA. Meng, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei, was charged with fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. Huawei pled not guilty to the charges of violating the Iran sanction provisions in a New York court and not guilty to the stealing charges in a Seattle court. After a number of preliminary legal skirmishes, the extradition hearings against Meng began in 2020. Associate Justice Holmes issued her ruling on 27 May, 2020. Law takes its time.

Meng had told HSBC officials who met with her in the back of a Hong Kong restaurant in 2013 that, despite the allegations in a newspaper article, Huawei had not made improper use of a closely associated firm, named Skycom Tech, to supply U.S. materiel to Iran. The reason she had made this statement to HSBC, it was alleged, was that Huawei used HSBC as a banker when transacting business. If Huawei, as alleged, was implicated in violations of the Iran sanction laws, HSBC might well be held to be complicit in such crimes. The U.S. alleged that Meng’s representations to HSBC constituted fraud under its law.

Meng Wanzhou argued that, for a case of fraud to be made out, in both the U.S. and Canada, it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that the fraud materially contributed to a tangible loss. This could not be made out here. For Meng’s deception of HSBC to cause it a tangible loss in the U.S., it was necessary for U.S. prosecutors to invoke the impact of another law, the Iranian sanction law. Without it there would not be any harm and, therefore, no fraud in the U.S. As Canada did not have any such sanction provisions in place, Meng’s deception would not have led to any tangible loss in Canada and there would have been no fraud committed in Canada. This argument that the basic requirement for extradition–mirroring laws–had not been met, was rejected by Associate Chief Justice Holmes.

She deployed standard legal reasoning that is, she looked for previous holdings and used the imprecisions she found in them and in the wording of the legislation she was interpreting. Holmes found that previous decisions had held that, in order to determine whether the conduct in the applicant jurisdiction created an offence, it was necessary to assess the essential nature of that conduct. That meant evaluating the foreign conduct in its context, in its legal environment. Meng argued that looking at the legal environment required taking a foreign law, one distinct from the laws being compared, into account, something which should not be done under the Extradition Law.

The presiding judge responded that only some aspects of the legal environment, constituted by that other law, had to be taken into account, not all of it. It was her job to say which aspects could be so used. Holmes admitted that she was going out on a limb because the distinction between looking at some aspects of a foreign law and taking the actual law into consideration is fraught, both as a matter of logic and of established law. She wrote that “the issue is at what level of abstraction… the essence … of the conduct is to be described… there is little authority or precisely what may be included in ‘imported legal environment’.”

Undeterred by the lack of any known criteria (remember the Rule of Law!), she used what she likely calls her common sense and what Meng’s supporters probably think was her unconscious bias. Associate Justice Holmes decided that, in this case, it was appropriate, when looking for the essential nature of the foreign conduct, to look at the effects of that U.S. law, the Iran sanction law. As its effects made Meng’s deceiving conduct fraudulent in the U.S., and as deception is the core of fraud in Canada, the essential/contextualized nature of Meng’s conduct satisfied the essence of fraud as defined under Canada’s Criminal Code. Lawyers call this sort of finessing good lawyering; in the wider community it is seen as legal chicanery. Holmes ruled that Canada was free to extradite Meng. [MORE]

Canada’s government has the authority to halt the extradition of a Huawei executive and should do so as part of efforts to secure the release of two Canadian citizens detained in China, a former Supreme Court Justice has said. Former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour told Radio Canada on Tuesday that it was “high time for the [justice] minister to exercise his authority, his responsibility under the law and put an end to this process. From the beginning it was not in Canada’s interest to go ahead with this extradition request from the United States,” added Arbour, also a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She added Meng is accused by Washington of violating “unilateral American sanctions against Iran” that Ottawa has never applied. [MORE]

Harry Glasbeek comments: Everyone on earth knew why US charged Huawei and its CFO: to obtain bargaining chips in its fight with China: to persuade Americans that the government was right to deny them access to cheaper goods and a better 5G system and to make China more pliable when the US demanded better trade terms and more protection for its intellectual property. There was no attempt to hide any of this. Did the Canadian government understand this? Of course. Did it feel it had to allow the U.S. to use Canada’s supposedly neutral legal machinery to further its political project? Of course. Could the Canadian government have said “no” and simply turned a blind eye when Wanzhou Meng landed in Vancouver? Of course. Was Associate Justice Holmes, at the very least, in a position to guess all of this? Of course.

More on the Meng Case – Jeff J Brown did a fascinating expose which he recently published at Covert Action Magazine and gave us permission to post here.

Exclusive: Huawei Sting Operation Exposed

What makes Meng’s story so volatile, is that, due to her being arrested/kidnapped in Canada, her case is now a ménage-à-trois, with Ottawa being the submissive, as it has been caught in the middle. While claiming that they are only “respecting its extradition treaties,” Canada and the U.S. indicate they must defer to their “independent judiciaries” and honor the “rule of law.” Upon close examination, however, this case demonstrates gross hypocrisy, if not many inconsistencies and fault lines. At least U.S. President Trump admitted publicly what routinely goes on behind closed doors. On December 11, 2018, just days after Meng’s apprehension, Trump said he would be happy to use her as a bargaining chip to win a better trade deal with China.


Finally, a Note to China from Michael Hudson

This is from January 2020 and I’m sure it was presented to Mr.Hudson’s students.  De-dollarization is the alternative to privatization and financialization.

“The United States is not telling China or Russia or third world countries or Europe how to get rich in the way that it did, by protective tariffs, by creating its own money and by making other countries dependent on it. The United States does not want you to be independent and self-reliant. The United States wants China to let itself become dependent on U.S. finance in order to invest in its own industry. It wants Chinese corporations to borrow from the United States, and to sell its stocks to US investors just like Khodorkovsky in Russia was trying to sell Yukos oil to Standard Oil, and essentially turn Russia’s oil reserves to U.S. investors.”


This represents but a fraction of what is included in the Here Comes China newsletter.  If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here

China’s Reaction to a US Unannounced visit to Taiwan – PressTV Interview

By Peter Koenig

Global Research, November 24, 2020

Background

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is US_Taiwan-400x267.jpg

China has reacted strongly to a senior US official’s unannounced visit to Taiwan, warning that it will take legitimate and necessary action according to circumstances.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman reiterated Beijing’s firm opposition to any official ties between Taiwan and the US. The reaction came after the media cited sources, including a Taiwanese official, as saying that US Navy’s Rear-Admiral Michael Studeman was on a trip to the self-ruled island. He’s the director of an agency which oversees intelligence at the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command. The administration of US President Donald Trump has recently ramped up support for Taiwan, including with the approval of new arms sales and high-level visits. Beijing has long warned against such moves. China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and maintains its sovereignty over the region under the One-China policy.

Interview of Peter Koenig with Press TV

***

PK

China has of course every right to protest against any visit and any US intervention in Taiwan, be it weapons sales, or provoking conflict over Taiwan self-declared “sovereignty” which it clearly has not, as it is but a breakaway part of Mainland China.

By and large this looks to me like one of Trump’s last Lame Duck movements to do whatever he can to ruin relations between the US and China.

In reality, it will have no impact of significance.
In fact, China’s approach to Taiwan over the past 70 years, has been one of non-aggression. With various attempts of rapprochement – which most of the times were actually disrupted by US interference – as Taiwan is used by the US, not because Washington has an interest in Taiwan’s “democracy’ – not at all – but Taiwan is a tool for Washington to seek destabilizing China – not dissimilar to what is going on in Hong Kong, or Xinjiang, the Uyghur Autonomous Region, or Tibet.

But China’s objectives are long-term and with patience – and not with force.

Just look at China’s recently signed Trade Agreement with 14 countries – the so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. This agreement alone is the largest in significance and volume of its kind ever signed in recent history. It covers countries with some 2.2. billion people and controlling about one third of world GDP.

And the US is not part of it.
Worse, the US-dollar is not even a trading currency.
This must upset the US particularly – especially since the 2-year trade war Trump was waging against China resulted in absolutely zilch – nothing – for the US. To the contrary, it pushed China towards more independence and away from the US.

The same applied to Chinese partners, happy to have honest trading partners, not of the western, especially the Washington-type, that dish out sanctions when they please and when they don’t like sovereign countries’ behavior.

So – no worries for China, but geopolitically, of course, they must react to such acts against international rules of diplomacy.

——
PressTV:
What will change under President Biden?

PK

Most likely nothing. To the contrary, Biden’s likely Secretary of Defense, Michèle Flournoy, played an important behind the scene role in the Obama Administration. She has not changed the aggressive position of Obama’s “pivot to Asia” which essentially consisted in surrounding China with weapons systems and in particular stationing about 60% of the US navy fleet in the South China Sea.

Though at this point, it looks like China is but the target of an off-scale aggression by President Trump, in reality, China is part of a long-term policy of the US, not only to contain China, but to dominate China.

As we see, though, to no avail.

Interestingly, China does not respond with counter-aggression, instead she moves steadily forward with new creations, towards an objective that does not seek domination, but a multi-polar, multi-connected world, via, for example, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – not the type of globalization that especially the Biden camp – along with the corporatocracy behind the World Economic Forum (WEF) is seeking.

The US empire is on the decline and China, of course, is aware of it. Washington may be lashing around in its deteriorating times, to create as much damage as possible and to bring down as many nations as they can. Case in point is the constant aggression, sanctions and punishment against Iran and Venezuela – but here too, these two countries are moving gradually away from the west and into the peaceful orbit of China – pursuing after all a shared bright future for mankind.


Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.
Peter is also co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

The World is Changing: China Launches Campaign for Superpower Status

October 23, 2020

China’s President Xi Jinping (R) and US President Donald Trump. (Photo: File)

By Ramzy Baroud

The outdated notion that China ‘just wants to do business’ should be completely erased from our understanding of the rising global power’s political outlook.

Simply put, Beijing has long realized that, in order for it to sustain its economic growth unhindered, it has to develop the necessary tools to protect itself, its allies and their combined interests.

The need for a strong China is not a novel idea developed by the current Chinese President, Xi Jinping. It goes back many decades, spanning various nationalist movements and, ultimately, the Communist Party. What sets Xi apart from the rest is that, thanks to the unprecedented global influence acquired by Beijing during his incumbency (2013 – present), China is now left with no alternative but to match its ‘economic miracle’ with a military one.

US President, Donald Trump, made the trade deficit between his country and China a cornerstone in his foreign policy agenda even before his rise to power. That aside, it is the military deficit that concerns China most. While world media often focuses on China’s military encroachment in the South China Sea – often dubbed ‘provocations’ – little is dedicated to the massive US military presence all around China.

Tens of thousands of US troops are stationed in the West Pacific and in other regions, creating an encirclement, all with the aim of cutting off the possibility of any Chinese strategic expansion. Numerous US military bases dot the Asia-Pacific map, stationed mostly in Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Guam and Australia.

In response to China’s military maneuvers in the South China Sea, the US composed the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which is raising the prospects of military confrontations between the US and its Asian allies on the one hand, and China, on the other. US military expansion soon followed. On September 8, the Wall Street Journal, citing US officials, reported that the Republic of Palau has “asked the Pentagon to build ports, bases and airfields on the island nation”.

It is obvious that the Pentagon would not base such a consequential decision on the wishes of a tiny republic like Palau. The immensely strategic value of the country – spread over hundreds of islands in the Philippine Sea, with close ties to China’s arch-enemy and US ally, Taiwan – makes Palau a perfect choice for yet more US military bases.

This is not new. The rise of China, and its clear intentions to expand its military influence in the Pacific, has irked the US for years. Barack Obama’s administration’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ in 2012 was the genesis of the new American belief regarding the imminent challenges awaiting it in that region. The National Defense Strategy of two years ago was a further confirmation that the focal point of US foreign policy has largely shifted away from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific.

The compromising language that became a feature in China’s foreign policy throughout the 1980s and 90s is now being supplanted by a different discourse, one of political resolve and unprecedented military ambitions. In his speech at the historic October 2017 Communist Party Congress in Beijing, Xi declared the dawn of a “new era”, one where development and strength must synchronize.

“The Chinese nation … has stood up, grown rich, and become strong. It will be an era that sees China moving closer to center stage and making greater contributions to mankind,” he said.

Since then, Xi has tirelessly aimed to strike the balance between strength, bravery and victory with that of progress, ingenuity and wealth. For the “China dream” to be realized, “it will take more than drum beating and gong clanging to get there.”

The Chinese quest to reach its coveted ‘center stage’ has already been launched in earnest. In the economic realm, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is in full swing. Announced by Xi in 2013, the giant plan hopes to outweigh all traditional trade channels that have been put in place over the course of many years. When completed, the China-led infrastructure network will establish connectivity throughout Asia as well as the Middle East and Africa. If successful, a future China could, once more, become a world-leading hub of trade, technological renovation and, of course, political power.

In contrast, the US has solidified its global dominance largely based on military might. This is why the US counter-strategy is now intently focused on military expansionism. On October 6, US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, said that his country’s navy requires more than 500 ships to counter China. Of this number, 355 traditional warfighting vessels are needed by 2035. This future fleet is dubbed “Battle Force 2045”.

Particularly intriguing in Esper’s recent announcement is the claim that by 2045, “Beijing wants to achieve parity with the United States Navy, if not exceed our capabilities in certain areas and to offset our overmatch in several others.” In fact, Beijing already has. China currently has the largest navy in the world and, according to the Pentagon, “is the top ship-producing nation in the world by tonnage.”

By China’s own calculations, Beijing does not need 25 more years to fully change the rules of the game. On October 15, President Xi told the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Marine Corps to focus their energy on “preparing for war”. Many interpretations have already been made of his statement, some linking it to the US, others to Taiwan, to various South China Sea conflicts and even to India. Regardless, Xi’s language indicates that China does not ‘just want to do business’, but is ready to do much more to protect its interests, even if this means an all-out war.

China’s foreign policy under Xi seems to portray an entirely different country. China now wields enough wealth, economic strategic influence – thus political power – to start the process of strategic maneuvering, not only in the Asia Pacific but in the Middle East and Africa, as well.

Another central piece in Xi’s strategy is to copy the American model and to rebrand China as a stately power, a defender of international law and against global crises. The US’ growing isolationism and failed leadership at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic have been Xi’s perfect opportunity for this new China debut.

The world is changing before our eyes. In the coming years, we are likely to, once more, speak of a bipolar – or, possibly, tri-polar – world, one in which Washington and its allies no longer shape the world for their benefit. In some way, China is well on its way to reclaim its new status.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

As U.S. Tensions Soar With China, Taiwan Fears Cannon Fodder Risk

As U.S. Tensions Soar With China, Taiwan Fears Cannon Fodder Risk —  Strategic Culture

Source

Finian Cunningham October 22, 2020

After 40 years of “strategic ambiguity” in its partnership with the United States, Taiwan has taken the unprecedented move of calling Washington for “clarity” on whether it would be defended in the event of armed conflict with China.

The Washington Post reported last week a senior Taiwanese representative to the U.S. as saying: “We need some degree of clarity.” The post headlined with the question: “Would the U.S. protect Taiwan from China?”

The growing nervousness on the island territory off China’s southern coast comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. Those tensions have been fueled by the Trump administration’s sharp divergence from respecting Washington’s erstwhile One China policy.

Washington severed official relations with Taiwan in 1979 in deference to China’s claims of territorial sovereignty over the island. That move was an expedient concession by Washington to inveigle China away from alliance with the Soviet Union. Taiwan became a redoubt for nationalist forces after the 1949 victory in the civil war by Chinese communists led by Mao Zedong.

During the past four decades, the U.S. has maintained friendly relations with the separatist government in Taipei. Past American administrations have sold arms to Taiwan. However, Washington has always refrained from declaring a military defense pact with the island, even as Beijing reserves the right to take back control by use of force if necessary.

Under Trump, relations were thrown into upheaval. Washington has signed off on an unprecedented number of offensive weapons deals over the past four years with Taiwan. Just last week the Trump administration gave notice that it was moving ahead with three separate advanced-arms packages, including rocket and missile launchers. The arming of Taiwan has provoked anger in Beijing which views the U.S. moves as turning the territory into a “porcupine”, and emboldening separatist intransigence.

There has also been a step-change in American military deployment in the Taiwan Strait. Last week saw the 10th passage this year of a guided-missile destroyer through the strait which the Pentagon calls “freedom of navigation” exercises in international waters.

China has stepped up its military presence in the southern region. Earlier his month, Beijing launched maneuvers which simulated an invasion of Taiwan. Warplanes of the People’s Liberation Army have also increased flights near Taiwan. From Beijing’s point of view, these drills are legal because it holds territorial claim over Taiwan.

The Trump administration seems to be using Taiwan in its wider confrontation with China over trade and geopolitical objectives. By ramping up support for Taiwan, it is calculated to be a destabilizing jab at China.

This summer, the U.S. sent its most senior official to Taiwan since 1979. Health Secretary Alex Azar’s visit infuriated Beijing as it openly flouted the One China status of Taiwan in relation to China. It was seen as a provocative snub to Beijing’s authority.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen is being buoyed by what she sees as Washington’s moves towards restoring diplomatic relations. The Trump administration has called for Taiwan to be given full representation at the United Nations, which again is a daring insult to Beijing’s sovereignty.

It is not clear what policy a Joe Biden administration would adopt if the Democrat presidential candidate is elected to the White House on November 3. One hint comes from Michèle Flournoy who is speculated to be in the running to become Biden’s defense secretary. In June this year, Flournoy wrote a lengthly article in Foreign Affairs in which she urged tougher American military support for Taiwan to “deter China”.

On October 10, Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen delivered a strident separatist speech in she called for dialogue with Beijing “as equals”. While the proposition for dialogue might sound welcome, the presumption of “equals” would be seen in Beijing as impudent.

The dangerous tensions over Taiwan are a direct manifestation of U.S. policy to antagonize China. Taiwan is a classic pawn in a bigger game which Washington is pursuing with regard to trying to contain the rise of China as a perceived global rival to the U.S.

The Trump administration’s reckless arms sales to Taiwan have little to do with “protection” of the breakaway territory. China’s far greater military power is no match for the U.S. weapons being plied to the island. The American military-industrial complex is enjoying a surge in sales and profits, but there seems no conviction on Washington’s part to step up to the plate with regard to committing to a defense pact.

That self-serving ambiguity is putting Taiwan in a discomfiting bind. It is being caught in a geopolitical crossfire between the U.S. and China. In its antagonism with Beijing, Washington is fueling separatist tensions which could spark an armed confrontation through miscalculation or frustration.

No wonder Taiwan is belatedly demanding “clarity” from Washington as tensions reach boiling point. Nerves are fraying because, it seems, Taiwan is being assigned the role of American cannon fodder. The clarity it is seeking is unlikely to be rendered by Washington as the latter is only using Taiwan as a device against China.

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