Western Wishful Thinking – ‘Excluding Everything That Makes China What It Is’

Western Wishful Thinking – ‘Excluding Everything That Makes China What It Is’

ALASTAIR CROOKE | 02.04.2019 | FEATURED STORY

Western Wishful Thinking – ‘Excluding Everything That Makes China What It Is’

In the past few weeks, we have witnessed a mini ‘Belt & Road’ unfolding across the northern Middle East – linking Iran to Iraq, to Syria, and to Lebanon – a ‘Belt and Road’ that, it is envisaged, ultimately will be assimilated into China’s greater BRI project. And – as telling – Lebanon, the eternal weathervane for the Middle East wind direction, seems to be cutting a 500-year-old umbilical linking it to Rome and Europe, to look rather to Moscow (to protect the regions’ Christians, to get its Syrian refugees home to Syria, and to move under President Putin’s protective ‘wing’ in preventing Bolton and Netanyahu from detonating chaos on their patch) – and to China. More recently, the New Silk Road infrastructure initiative landed squarely in Italy, potentially giving some real substance (i.e. infrastructure) – especially in the case of Sicily – to the notion of a Mediterranean commonality.

Both these events are linked by a single motive: How to return autonomy to these states; how to recover at least a modicum of decision-making – and to break free from the strait-jacket of economic stagnation, and the deadweight of stale political shackles. As Christina Lin has noted: “China for one takes the view that security follows economic development, and has made it clear that reconstruction comes before political settlement. It is adopting a regional approach to the Levant and now views Lebanon as a platform for reconstruction in Syria and Iraq” (emphasis added).

The EU naturally frets about China. The EU always has assumed to itself rather, the mantle of being the ‘coming global economic behemoth’. But now, the EU has been seized by a very real apprehension at the rise of this other ‘civilisation state’, China, which eventually is likely to spell the end of the West’s dominance in every sphere: economic, political and cultural – but more especially, since demographic trends show Europe aging, shrinking and controlling a smaller, and smaller share of the world economy.

And this what has been on display in the northern tier of the Middle East and in Italy. Both Italy and the Levant are ‘civilisation-states’ in their own right. They do not need the EU ‘brand’ to reassure them of their status as ‘civilisation-states’. As Lebanon’s former Minister of Economy noted last year, China doesn’t “look at Lebanon as a small country of 4 million citizens, but as a country with huge potential given its geographical location”.

The point here is precisely that ‘the West’ is no longer the West. There is the belligerent ‘West’ of Trump, Pence, Bolton and Pompeo – and this is the ‘West’ that is incrementally losing traction across the Middle East, and beyond. And then there is ‘the West’ of the EU, but that latter ‘West’ too, is divided, and beset by forces opposed to its millenarian ethos. The West, as the ‘vision for the future’, indeed is receding.

The EU sees this. It is both gripped by China’s potential as an economic partner, in these ‘needy times’ of threatening recession, yet it cannot quite yield up to this changing world, its global ambition to impart to propagate its European ‘liberal’ values.

As a consequence, the EU presents obvious symptoms of schizophrenia. On the one hand, it cannot do without China economically and wants to ‘best friend’ to the Leviathan, yet, in the ‘other persona’ – the EU, can sound somewhat like Trump, in complaining about unfair trade practices, and standing on its high horse of European values: “Competition between China and the European Union is not fair … the EU was wrong to hope that China would respect human rights more when economic progress increases … The EU should be clear, but more firm with China”.

Juncker’s polemic reflects a certain ‘buyers’ remorse’ at the consequences to the western Orientalist consensus about China. Expectations have not been realised, writes Martin Jacques:

“There has been a tacit consensus that, if we treat China nicely, as potentially ‘one of us’, Beijing will return the compliment. The result has been very little real discussion of what a world with a dominant China would be like.

On one hand, [there are] those who believe China will rule the world, but only if it adopts ‘our’ Western way of doing things, and on the other, [there are] those who argue that Beijing’s modernisation will ultimately founder, because China’s ‘Chinese-ness’ will get in the way. The conclusion drawn by both schools, however, is the same. ‘We’ don’t need to worry. Strong or weak, China will not challenge our way of life.

There is still a widespread view in the West that China will eventually conform, by a process of natural and inevitable development, to the Western paradigm. This is wishful thinking. By concentrating on similarities, rather than recognising difference, the Western world ‘excludes everything … that makes China what it is’.

Ouch! And now that the EU acknowledges the latter point … schizophrenia (as politico.eu highlights), takes a hold:

“BILATERALISM DIES HARD: Tuesday delivered an unprecedented sight: [Macron, Merkel and Juncker] on the steps of the Elysée, welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping to their special quadripartite mini-summit on multilateralism. The image certainly sent the message the Elysée wanted: China must deal with a united European front, rather than its preferred bilateral approach, where the balance of power works in Beijing’s favour.

Macron is known for his penchant for symbolism, but is that all there is? The summit ended with a bilateral joint declaration from France and China. Seven pages of references to “the two countries,” and not a single mention of Germany or the European Commission”.

Of course, it is quite true that the EU is under severe pressure from the US. And, as former US Ambassador to China, Chas Freeman has noted:

“From the US point of view, the objection to Italian outreach to China is just part of hysteria about China that has seized Washington. The US is treating the Belt and Road as a military strategic challenge. The Europeans are treating it as an economic issue that they need to be cautious about …

“The Europeans are scrambling to come to grips with the fact that China is now a global great power, economically … the debate for them is less about Belt and Road than it is about the terms of Chinese investment and competition in the technology area. In the US, there is no debate. There is pretty much an anti-China consensus now.”

The American pendulum has swung from one extreme (China will rule the world, but only if it adopts ‘our’ Western way of doing things), to the other narrative: US ‘hysteria’ about the threat, because the West precisely has been guilty hitherto: of ‘excluding everything… that makes China what it is’.

So now we witness the problematic of America – with its own very particular, economic model – insisting that China’s economic model (the very ‘something’ which ‘makes China what it is’), be changed: i.e. that China’s economic model be modified so that American Corporations may do business in China’s economy – just as if they were doing business at home, with another American organisation.

The contradictions in this are obvious. There is no one set of ‘rules’ that fits all sizes (models of economics). The global rules were constructed around a US paradigm – and economic models change as paradigms change.

So, what does all this mean? For, Middle Eastern states, the shift to the Russian – and Chinese – sphere offers the prospect of interacting with a political and diplomatic ‘machine’ that works – and still has its all its wires connected to the realities of the region. It also opens the opportunity to acquire sophisticated weapons for defence; and comes with the added bonus of being able to acquire infrastructural investment, and trade corridors, as part of the joint, Russo-Chinese BRI.

For Italy – with its economy frozen in amber – it returns to the state, some aspect of autonomy over its economy – a touch of sovereignty. Italy has had enough foreign occupations over the centuries not to fear that somehow its ‘Italian-ness’ will be lost through accepting Chinese infrastructure investment. Also, China has a ‘love affair’ with all things ‘made in Italy’.

‘It means’ that whilst Washington fulminates, the reality is that China is quietly eroding global resistance to its rise. We shall just have to adjust to Chinese ‘otherness’ and its ways of doing business. Is that such a problem (unless Messrs Navarro, Lighthizer and Pence make it one)?

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The EU bows to ‘systemic rival’ China

ٍSourceThe EU bows to ‘systemic rival’ China

March 28, 2019

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with Consortium News) by special agreement with the author)

Let’s start with the essential background for the meeting in Paris on Tuesday between Chinese President Xi Jinping and three EU heavyweights – French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker.

As imperfect as these figures may be, economic growth for the past 10 years after the 2008 financial crisis – which was a made in the West phenomenon – do tell an enlightening story.

China’s growth: 139%. India’s growth: 96%. the US’ growth: 34%. EU growth: a negative 2%.

French mainstream media, controlled by a rarified group of oligarchs, spun a risible narrative that Macron “imposed” this four-way meeting on Xi to press on him the new EC strategy aiming to “clarify” Chinese ambiguity in relation to the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As I previously reported, the EC now brands China a “systemic rival,” and seems to have realized that Beijing is an “economic competitor in search of technological leadership.” And that may translate as a threat to European values and norms.

Xi had just come from Rome – where the populist, eurosceptic Lega, Five Stars coalition government became the first G7 nation to sign a partnership with the BRI, igniting massive sparks of Atlanticist fear.

So in the end, what did we get from Chancellor Angela Merkel as the EU faced a process French elites describe as Sino-globalization?

We had realpolitik. Merkel stressed the BRI was an “important” project: “We, as Europeans, want to play an active part and that must lead to certain reciprocity and we are still wrangling over that a bit.” She added: “We are seeing the project as a good visualization of interaction, interrelation and interdependence.”

Merkel was essentially relaying the position of German business elites – as a trade powerhouse, the future of Germany lies in turbo-charging business with Asia, especially China.

So, instead of demonizing Rome, in practice Berlin will eventually embark on the same path. After all, Duisburg, in the Ruhr valley, is already the de facto top BRI terminal in northern Europe.

Xi and his EU partners did not fail to emphasize multilateralism. There could not be a more glaring contrast to the Trump administration’s narrative that China is a threat and the BRI is all about Chinese “vanity.” Juncker even tried to defuse the “systemic” tension: “We understand that China does not like the expression ‘rivals,’ but it is a compliment describing our shared ambitions.”

Add to it that Xi also felt the need to remind the EU leadership of the obvious. China will continue to “open up,” as it managed in only 40 years to accomplish what Europe did over the course of the entire industrial revolution.

New Silk Air, anyone?

On the – embattled – Macron front, more than New Silk Roads a de facto New Silk Air seems to be in effect.

No one – apart from Boeing – argues about a 30 billion euro-plus Chinese order to buy 300 Airbuses. And that’s only the beginning. The fact that Beijing will use Airbus technology to enhance its aviation prowess under the framework of Made in China 2025 is another matter entirely.

So Paris may not have turned, like Rome, into an official partner to the New Silk Roads – at least not yet. But the promises are quite telling – on three fronts.

1) The emphasis on multilateralism – “strong and efficient.” That’s not exactly Trumpian rhetoric.

2) Common action with Beijing on climate change and biodiversity.

3) An economic-trade partnership that respects mutual interests. That is, in fact, New Silk Roads-BRI official policy since the beginning, in 2013.

So when we compare the different strategies by Rome and Paris, Xi has, in fact, come out with a win-win.

Merkel, predictably, was careful to hedge to the hilt: “The triangle between EU, China and US is very important. Without the US, we will not be able to have multilateralism.”

At the same time, she stressed, the US-China trade war was “hitting our German economy.”

As for Team Macron, with the leader obsessed with posing as the savior of the EU ahead of the European Parliament elections in May, they could not help but go after the administration in Rome.

According to a Macron acolyte: “There is this bad European habit to have 28 different policies, with countries competing against each other to attract investment. We need to speak with a common voice if we want to exist. We have the same approach on the 5G issue: avoiding 28 different decisions.”

The 5G Monaco Grand Prix

Which brings us to the case of Monaco, not exactly a shabby prize – and duly visited by Xi, who was received, literally, as royalty.

The principality is absolutely avid to gobble up the fast-growing Chinese luxury tourism market. And that explains why Monaco has already signed a deal with Huawei to be the first country to be entirely covered by 5G before the end of 2019.

Paris, by the way, has not ruled out using Huawei equipment. And as a cherry on the cake, guess which city Huawei chose to globally unveil its spectacular new P30 series of smartphones? Paris.

Make no mistake, for Beijing, in terms of trade and economic relations, Berlin is way more relevant than Paris. But these big three – Berlin, Paris and Rome – all have major roles to play.

The New Silk Roads being re-connected to Italy after half a millennium will accelerate Euro-Asia integration, and even, in the long run, more influence for both the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

EU businesses, if not political Eurocrats, are starting to realize that Europe cannot afford to become a battlefield in Cold War 2.0 between the US and Russia, cannot afford to become a hostage of Washington tearing up international law – see, for instance, the destruction of the Iran nuclear deal and recognizing the occupied Golan Heights as part of Israel – and cannot afford to become a victim of Washington’s trade whims.

It’s no wonder that slowly but surely, the EU is shifting its priorities to the East – including to its “systemic rival.”

All roads lead to Rome for Xi

Source

March 25, 2019

All roads lead to Rome for Xi

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times ) by special agreement with the author)

All (silk) roads do lead to Rome, as this Saturday Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will sign a memorandum to adhere to the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Afterward, Xi becomes a magnanimous version of The Sicilian, visiting the port of Palermo, with Beijing intent on investing in local infrastructure.

Atlanticist hysteria has been raging wildly – with the simplistic narrative focused on the fact that Italy is a G7 member, at the heart of the Mediterranean “mare nostrum”, and crammed with NATO bases. Thus, it cannot “sell out” to China.

Conte and diplomats in Rome have confirmed that this is strictly about economic cooperation, and signing a memorandum is non-binding. Italy has, in fact, been informally aligned with the Belt and Road scheme since 2015 when it became one of the founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which finances scores of BRI projects.

EU members Greece, Portugal and Malta have also signed BRI agreements. Berlin and Paris have not – at least not yet. Same with London, but post-Brexit that will inevitably happen as trade with China will become even more important for the UK.

Here, in English and Italian, is the draft text of the memorandum, although the final version may be slightly more diluted to appease the Eurocrats at the European Commission (EC), which last week defined China as a “systemic rival”.

Milan’s Corriere Della Sera published a comprehensive op-ed signed by Xi Jinping himself, even quoting legendary writer Alberto Moravia. Xi stresses the “strategic trustworthiness” between China and Italy and vows to “build a new stage of Belt and Road in aspects of the sea, the land, aviation, space and culture”. So, yes, this is not only about geoeconomics, but crucially also about the projection of geopolitical soft power.

Hoping to emulate Singapore

I have already explained how Marco Polo is back in China, again, and how the EU is struggling to position itself in a common front when dealing with its top trade partner. The ongoing geoeconomic game is essentially about the Maritime Silk Road – with  Italy positioning itself as BRI’s privileged southern European terminal.

The port of Venice is already being upgraded for a possible role as a BRI terminal. Now, the possibility opens for Genoa and the northern Adriatic ports of Trieste and Ravenna to be developed by COSCO and China Communications Construction. Conte himself has already singled out, on the record, Genoa and Trieste as “terminals for the New Silk Roads”.

COSCO is on a roll. It has operated the port of Piraeus in Greece since 2008 and holds 35% of Rotterdam and 20% of Antwerp. And it plans to build a terminal in Hamburg. In the Battle of the Super-Ports, as I defined it, between northern and southern Europe, Cosco is betting on both sides.

Zeno D’Agostino, president of the Trieste port authority, even dreams of becoming the new Singapore, profiting from Chinese investment, while not renouncing to manage its new status – as happened with Piraeus. He has perfectly understood how, for the Chinese, Trieste is “the perfect gateway to Europe.”

Palermo is an even more interesting story. It happens to be the hometown of both Italian President Sergio Mattarella and, more significantly, Michele Geraci, the undersecretary of state for economic development. Geraci was a finance professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou from 2009 to 2018. A Sinophile fluent in Mandarin, he has been Rome’s point man negotiating with Beijing.

China directly investing in the Sicilian economy is a huge deal, totally in tune with Italian national interest in terms of expanding the role of a strategic bridge between southern Europe and northern Africa.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, left, is seen with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in this photo from late last year in Brussels. Photo: AFP / Dursun Aydemir / Anadolu

On the hypersensitive telecom front, it’s certain that every direct reference to data sharing, 5G and strategic infrastructure will not be part of the Italy-China BRI memorandum.

That won’t alter the fact that both Huawei and ZTE have been experimenting for years now on installing 5G in Italy. Huawei already sponsors two “smart and safe cities” research centers in Italy. And the recent opinion piece by one of Huawei’s rotating chairmen has made a huge splash not only in Italy but across the EU; Guo Ping argues that the reason for the current demonization campaign is that Huawei equipment blocks all back-doors available for spying by the US National Security Agency.

All aboard the BRI train

Moving on, when Xi visits France early next week, his focus will be totally different. The Paris establishment has not made up its mind yet on how deep to relate with BRI. Inside the EU, France is the top power in terms of constraining Chinese investment. So Xi’s strategy when meeting President Macron will rely on stressing cooperation on climate, global governance and peacekeeping operations.

According to media reports, Macron has also invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to join the meeting.

Beijing is very much aware that France chairs the G7 this year and is the crucial co-actor along with Germany in shaping EU policies, especially after the crucial European elections in May that may translate into a huge success for far right, anti-Brussels parties.

Beijing is also focused on guaranteeing a smooth China-EU summit in Brussels on April 9, which will make things much easier for the 16+1 summit of China plus Eastern and Central Europe nations in Croatia on April 12. The inescapable fact is that the 16+1 – the majority of whom are part of the EU – as well as Greece, Portugal, Malta and now Italy are all on board of BRI.

EU dilemma: how to deal with China

Source

EU dilemma: how to deal with China

March 19, 2019

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times ) by special agreement with the author)

Facing China’s irresistible rise all across the chessboard, and under relentless US pressure, the not exactly democratic EU leadership is on a backbreaking exercise to position itself between a geopolitical/geoeconomic rock and a hard place.

The 28-member EU holds a crucial meeting next week in Brussels where it may adopt a 10-point action plan detailing, in a thesis, the terms of an equitable economic relationship with China going forward.

This will happen as Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Italy and then France – ahead of the very important, annual China-EU summit in Brussels on April 9, to be co-chaired by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

That’s the crucial context under which the European Commission (EC) has recommended what it describes as 10 concrete “actions” to the EU Heads of State for their debate at the European Council in March 21 and 22.

The full report, EU-China – A Strategic Outlook, is here.

The EC shows how in 2017 – the latest available figures – the EU was “China’s largest partner with a share of 13% of imports of goods in China and a share of 16% of exports of goods from China.” At the same time, the EC stresses that China is an “economic competitor” and “a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.”

Yet the EC’s “contribution” to the European Council debate next week is far from confrontational. It is a balancing act couched in Eurocratic terminology attempting to shape common “resolve” among the 28 member-states.

Predictable real problem

Coming from the EC/EU, support for “effective multilateralism with the United Nations at its core” is the norm – with China fully integrated.

Beijing is praised for its support for the Iran nuclear deal, its role in the denuclearization of North Korea, its upcoming role in the peace process in Afghanistan and tackling the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. The real problem, predictably, is China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea.

Virtually no one apart from Brussels Eurocrats knows about the existence of an “EU Strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia.”  That’s one of those joint communiqués that no one reads, issued late last year, “enabling the Union to seek synergies between the EU and third countries, including China, in transport, energy and digital connectivity, on the basis of international norms and standards.”

Curiously, in the EC report, there’s no mention whatsoever of the New Silk Road, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – which happens to be China’s synergy masterplan for the whole of Eurasia. We could define it as Globalization 3.0.

On the other hand, Made in China 2025 is duly referenced – and not demonized, Trump administration-style.

From the EU perspective, the key problem remains “lack of reciprocal market access.” The EU wants greater access for European companies, less Chinese subsidies for Chinese companies and curtailment of technology transfer from European firms to their state-owned joint venture partners in China.

All this should be part of a deal on investment rules to be clinched by 2020.

Action 9 in the EC report is quite revealing: “To safeguard against potential serious security implications for critical digital infrastructure, a common EU approach to the security of 5G networks is needed.” To deal with it, the EC will issue – what else – another “recommendation.”

A hefty degree of Eurocratic puzzlement seems to be in the cards; one cannot disassociate BRI from Made in China, 5G and Huawei technology; it’s all part of the same package. Yet the EU is under heavy pressure from Washington to ban Huawei and forget about joining BRI, even as nearly 20 EU member-states are already linked or interested in linking to BRI, and a majority are also interested in Chinese 5G technology.

Brussels diplomats confirmed to Asia Times that the EC report was basically authored by Berlin and Paris. And yes, they had to deal with heavy Washington pressure.

The report harbors a subtle, inbuilt element of “Chinese threat” – perhaps not as overtly as in a Pentagon report. This stance is how the Franco-German alliance believes it may influence “recalcitrants” such as the 16+1 group of Central and Eastern European nations doing business with China, as well as soon to be BRI-linked Italy.

Yet that’s already a done deal – as I detailed in the case of Italy.

‘Existential threat’

Beijing is accomplishing, little by little, something that is unbearable for the Beltway; extending its influence not only inside the EU but inside the NATO space.

The US Deep State may have lumped BRI – along with Made in China 2025 and Huawei’s 5G – as part of an “existential threat”; but that’s not the case for most EU latitudes, from Greece and Portugal to German industrialists and the new Lega/Five Stars administration in Rome.

Brussels very well knows that Washington will punish any “ally” who gets too close to Beijing. It’s never enough to be reminded that the list of economic “threats” to the US features, in that order, China, Russia and Germany. And Italy is now caught in the crossfire – because it is committed to good economic relations with both China and Russia.

Rome has already sent a clear message to Brussels; beyond any EU common “resolve” facing China, what matters is the Italian national economic interest in, for instance, linking the ports of Venice, Trieste and Genoa to the New Silk Road. Alarmed Atlanticists are essentially warning that Italians cannot cross a red line; they need to ask permission to act independently. That’s not going to happen – whatever the EC decides to “recommend.”

This Map Shows a Trillion-Dollar Reason Why US is Backing Terrorism in Western China

February 26, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – As part of a larger, concerted effort to encircle and contain China, an ongoing disinformation campaign has been waged by the Western media against Beijing’s massive global infrastructure building spree known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

A recent and particularly appalling example of this comes from a Business Insider article titled, “This map shows a trillion-dollar reason why China is oppressing more than a million Muslims.”

The article has been widely circulated by the Western-funded fronts cited in the article itself, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) whose executive director – Kenneth Roth – would claim in a social media post:

China’s mass detention of Uighur Muslims is driven [not] only by Islamophobia but also by the centrality of their Xinjiang region to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Claims that Chinese policy is “driven by Islamophobia” are particularly absurd. China’s closest ally and partner in the region is Pakistan – an undoubtedly Muslim-majority nation. Roth never explains why the BRI’s “centrality” would drive “mass detentions” in Xinjiang when Chinese infrastructure projects elsewhere – both within China and abroad – including across Muslim-majority Pakistan – do not feature nor necessitate such “detentions.” 

 


Something is clearly missing from the Business Insider’s, Human Rights Watch’s, and the rest of the Western media’s Xinjiang narrative.The Business Insider article claims:

Beijing has been cracking down on Uighur life in on Xinjiang. Officials say its repression is a necessary counter-terror operation, but experts say it’s actually to protect their BRI projects.

These “experts” never explain why Beijing officials would feel the need to “protect their BRI projects.” Nor do they explain from whom they need protection. The obvious explanation is in fact that – as Beijing has stated – Xinjiang faces a significant terrorist threat.

A minority among Xinjiang’s Uyghur population has undoubtedly been radicalized and has carried out scores of high-profile terrorist attacks across not only Xinjiang, but across all of China in recent years.

A Reuters article published by Business Insider in 2014 titled, “Knife-Wielding Attackers In Chinese Train Station Leave 27 Dead, 109 Injured,” details just one of many attacks carried out by Uyghur extremists.

2015 Reuters article also published by Business Insider confirms that the attackers were in fact Uyghur terrorists. The train station located in Kunming is over 2,000 miles from the Xinjiang region – illustrating the reach of the terrorist threat Beijing is dealing with.

Despite these previous – well-known admissions – published by Business Insider itself – the media platform as well as many others, alongside fronts like HRW unashamedly feign ignorance over China’s very real security concerns in Xijiang today.

Western Propaganda Inverts Reality  

The Business Insider article claims:

China’s government has for years blamed the Uighurs for a terror, and say they saying the group is importing Islamic extremism in Central Asia.

But there’s another reason why Beijing wants to clamp down on Uighurs in Xinjiang: The region is home to some of the most important elements of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s flagship trade project.

Here – Business Insider deliberately inverts cause and effect – claiming China is cracking down on Uyghurs simply because vital segments of its BRI project pass through Xinjiang – instead of cracking down because of very real terrorism threatening an obviously essential economic corridor.

And as Business Insider’s own map reveals, China’s BRI passes through many other regions inside China and beyond – including regions dominated by Muslim communities absent of similar tensions.


Uyghur Terrorism is Real 

It is clear that Business Insider, HRW, and others are deliberately mischaracterizing China’s policies in Xinjiang and misrepresenting the root cause of Uyghur extremism. But even the article itself admits a very real security threat, stating:

China has accused militant Uighurs of being terrorists and inciting violence across the country since at least the early 2000s, as many Uighur separatists left China for places like Afghanistan and Syria to become fighters.

US State Department-funded and directed Voice of America (VOA) in an article titled, “Analysts: Uighur Jihadis in Syria Could Pose Threat,” would admit (emphasis added):

Analysts are warning that the jihadi group Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in northwestern Syria could pose a danger to Syria’s volatile Idlib province, where efforts continue to keep a fragile Turkey-Russia-brokered cease-fire between Syrian regime forces and the various rebel groups. 

The TIP declared an Islamic emirate in Idlib in late November and has largely remained off the radar of authorities and the media thanks to its low profile. Founded in 2008 in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, the TIP has been one of the major extremist groups in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in the country in 2011. 

The TIP is primarily made up of Uighur Muslims from China, but in recent years it also has included other jihadi fighters within its ranks.

The article also admits that up to 3,000 militants may have fought for TIP in Syria and warned of the possibility that these militants might transfer their fighting skills back to China.

Such admissions – even from official US state media operations – help expose the current disinformation campaign targeting Beijing for supposed “repression,” and means that Western special interests – including the US government itself – are at the very least undermining China’s legitimate counter-terrorism efforts.

US is Intentionally Fomenting Violence in Xinjiang to Disrupt the BRI

But clues even in Business Insider’s own article reveal US support for undermining Chinese internal security goes far beyond mere disinformation.

Among the “experts” Business Insider cites includes Rushan Abbas described by the article as a “Uyghur activist in Virginia.”

What the article intentionally omits is that Abbas is actually a long-time employee and contractor of the US government – admitting in her own biography posted by a Washington DC-based consulting firm she works for, that:

[Rushan Abbas] has extensive experience working with U.S. government agencies, including Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Justice, and various U.S. intelligence agencies.

The biography also admits:

She was also employed at L-3, as a consultant at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom during 2002- 2003 and as a news reporter at Radio Free Asia. 

Ms. Abbas has also worked as a linguist and translator for several federal agencies including work for the US State Department in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and for President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush.

Her claims that family members were abducted due to her US-based “activism” fit into a pattern of fabricated human rights “outrages” used to paint targets of US coercion and aggression in the worst possible light.

Abbas is just one of many working out of Washington DC to support what is openly US-backed Uyghur separatism in Xinjiang.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) – a US government-funded organization dedicated to political interference worldwide – has an entire page dedicated to “Xinjiang/East Turkistan” – East Turkistan being the state Uyghur extremists seek to carve out of territory recognized under international law as China.

Subversive organizations openly promoting separatism such as the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) also maintain offices in Washington DC and receive money and support directly from the US government.

Also a poorly guarded secret is the extensive amount of US arms, equipment, money, and other material support provided to terrorists waging war against the Syrian government – among which include Uyghur terrorists as admitted by VOA itself.

From Washington DC, to the battlefields of northern Syria, to Xinjiang itself – the US is openly cultivating a vast terrorist threat to pose as a significant roadblock to China’s BRI.

Is the public really meant to believe a state-sponsored terrorist threat aimed at crippling a multi-trillion dollar economic corridor is not reason enough for Beijing to launch an extensive counter-terrorism campaign? Not only is Washington fomenting terrorism in western China, it is attempting to cripple Beijing’s internal security operations in response to it – all by leveraging and abusing human rights advocacy and portraying the victim of US-sponsored terrorism as a culprit.

That all of this context was intentionally omitted from Business Insider as well as by Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch proves that the West is waging war against China and its economic expansion not only on the ground from Washington to Syria to Xinjiang, but all across information space as well.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

One country, two sessions, multiple tweaks

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One country, two sessions, multiple tweaks

March 07, 2019

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

Contrary to Western doom and gloom interpretations, China’s two sessions now taking place in Beijing offer a fascinating mix of realpolitik and soft power. Every year, the two sessions involve the National People’s Congress (NPC) – the legislative body – and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) – the political advisory body – laying down the Chinese equivalent of the state of the union.

Premier Li Keqiang’s report acknowledged that Beijing foresees “graver and more complex” risks and “both predictable and unpredictable” challenges, with the conclusion that  China must be “prepared to fight tough battles” in 2019. It was undiluted realpolitik.

An economic growth target in the range of 6.0% to 6.5% is still massive in terms of the expansion of global capitalism – irrespective of the usual suspects carping on about China “stalling” or mired “in deep crisis.”

A deficit-to-GDP ratio set at 2.8% – slightly higher than the 2.6% last year – is not exactly a problem for such a huge economy.

What’s quite intriguing is how “Made in China 2025” – the full designation – simply vanished from the 2019 Government Work Report.

Yet the policy remains – transmuted in the report on the expansion of “smart plus.” By extending tax cuts for manufacturers and small-business taxpayers, Beijing will keep driving no holds barred toward what Li defined as “building up a powerful manufacturing country” – from industrial development to tech innovation.

Prosperity, Sun Tzu-style

The Sun Tzu tweak is that Beijing will tone down promoting the Made in China 2025 drive in public. Yes, the Chinese are learning soft-power techniques – fast.

Beijing’s top targets remain, well, on target; to lift 30 million rural residents from poverty and to double per capita income by next year from a decade earlier, thus arriving at the cherished status of “moderately prosperous society.” By any measure, this is a groundbreaking achievement of historic proportions.

It’s virtually impossible for the West to understand the intricacies of how decisions are made in China. First you consult – broadly, vertically and horizontally. Then you reach a – strategic – consensus. The results are firmly set in annual meetings such as the two sessions and in detailed five-year plans.

The New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), are broadly planned all the way to 2049. We are still in the planning stage – implementation, officially, has not even started.

In parallel, geopolitical and geo-economic twists and turns are addressed by constant tweaks and tactical adjustments. That’s the “prepared to fight tough battles” emphasis on Li’s report.

And here lies the challenge posed by the Deng Xiaoping–conceived Chinese system to the mud wrestling of Western democracy. Terminology is irrelevant; call it “socialist democracy” with Chinese characteristics, what matters is if it works. For China.

Terminology actually matters – but only in a Chinese context. Take for instance dixian siwei – which can be loosely translated as grassroots thinking. You hold on to what you have, and rest on a solid foundation, and you stay “sober and strategically focused” when facing new challenges, in the words of President Xi Jinping, who has been using the concept widely. The concept is actually an upgrade of Deng’s “crossing the river while feeling the stones.”

From a Western point of view, what may be open to wide debate is the basis of the concept: “To fully adhere to the party’s political line.” Well, for better or for worse, there’s no other line in the market in terms of 21st-century China. Call it “keep calm and carry on” with Chinese characteristics.

‘Smart plus’ meets BRI

The very few informed China analysts with a Western background, such as Andy Rothman, are adamant: China won’t “collapse” any time soon. Rothman makes a pretty straightforward case: China has already structurally changed, a swift process that crystalized last year.

In a nutshell, economic growth is now driven by consumption, the economy is becoming less and less dependent on exports, and there’s no more pre-eminence of state investment.

And that leads us to the external vectors – and the role of BRI.

This is to a large extent a China goes West strategy. That’s how Beijing has conceptually framed this massive connectivity drive – increased connectivity across the Global South shields emerging markets everywhere from shocks provoked by what can only be construed as Western instability.

Minxin Pei, who now holds the chair in US-China relations at the Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, is among those accusing the BRI of sliding “into obscurity.”

Yet it’s not a question of “taking money away from Chinese pensioners to build a road to nowhere in a distant land,” as Pei wrote in the Nikkei Asian Review. It’s about BRI as the international partner of Made in China 2025.

And it’s about Beijing offering a unique path, for instance to Central Asian and Southeast Asian neighbors – the BRI as a framework for long-term sustainable development, and mixing industrial, agricultural and hybrid economic models.

And that explains why Beijing is becoming responsive to reconfiguring BRI projects in Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan or Sri Lanka.

Once again, it’s dixian siwei on the move. It’s as if Team Xi have been listening, softly, to that famous closed-door speech in September last year by Deng Pufang, Deng Xiaoping’s son. He urged China to “know its place” and not be “overbearing.” That is now translating into “keep calm and carry a ‘smart plus’ strategy.”

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

With events escalating quickly in Kashmir it’s incumbent to ask the most pertinent questions in geopolitics.

Why there?

And, Why Now?

Why Kashmir?

India and Pakistan are both making serious moves to slip out from underneath the US’s external control. India has openly defied the US on buying S-400 missile defense systems, keeping up its oil trade with Iran and developing the important Iranian port at Chabahar to help complete an almost private spur of the North South Transport Corridor.

Pakistan, under new Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to square accounts with China over its massive investment for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has also been at the forefront of multiple rounds of talks spurred by the Russians and Iranians to forge some kind of peace in Afghanistan.

And the Trump administration cut off US aid to Pakistan for not being sufficiently helpful in the fight against terrorism. This opened up a war of words between Trump and Khan who reminded Trump that the little bit of money the US sent Pakistan nothing compared to the losses both economic and personal.

If there was ever the possibility of peace breaking out between India and Pakistan it would be in the context of stitching the two countries together through China’s regional plans as well as solving the thorny problem of continued US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan.

Anything that can be done to flare up tensions between these two adversaries then serves the US’s goals of sowing chaos and division to keep the things from progressing smoothly. Khan was elected to, in effect, drain the Pakistani Swamp. His, like Trump’s, is a tall order.

And at this point it looks like he’s still willing to give it a go as opposed to Trump who is simply revealing himself to be a thin-skinned version of Barack Obama, albeit with a distinctly orange hue.

But, still why right now?

Because Trump is distracted with his latest love affair with himself – taking credit for a Korean peace process that will proceed with or without him at this point. All he can do is slow it down, which is exactly what his Secretary of State has been doing since last year’s meeting in Singapore.

And that leaves people like John Bolton and the rest of the worst people in D.C. to go to work undermining an entire region of the world.

Last weekend’s terrorist attack was a planned provocation to produce the very outcome we have today. Jaish-e-Mohammed have too many direct and indirect links to Bush the Lesser era programs and Saudi Arabia to be ignored.

This attack happens just days after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes rushing in to save Pakistan’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves with promises of $10 billion to build a refinery of Saudi oil at the (now Chinese) port of Gwadar.

There are no coincidences in geopolitics. Timing is everything.

It reminds me of the flare up in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2016. Then Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev on a Wednesday and by Sunday a nearly twenty-year peace was broken.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is desperate to keep Trump from pulling half of the troops out of Afghanistan. After a disastrous “Let Make War on Iran” conference in Warsaw two weeks ago, Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were reeling from having obtained no support outside of those already committed to such a plan.

Europe roundly said no, other than willing satrap Poland, still hoping Daddy Trump will save them from the mean old Nordstream 2 pipeline.

As Alistair Crooke pointed out recently, Bolton is putting pressure on Pakistan to forge a peace agreement with the Taliban which somehow allows for the US to maintain all of its troop presence there.

Washington is now embracing Pakistan (with Saudi Arabia and UAE writing the cheques). And Washington looks to Pakistan rather, not so much to contain and disrupt the Taliban, but to co-opt it through a ‘peace accord’ into accepting to be another US military ‘hub’ to match America’s revamped military ‘hub’ in Erbil (the Kurdish part of Iraq, which borders the Kurdish provinces of Iran). As a former Indian Ambassador, MK Bhadrakumar explains:

“What the Saudis and Emiratis are expecting as follow-up in the near future is a certain “rebooting” of the traditional Afghan-Islamist ideology of the Taliban and its quintessentially nationalistic “Afghan-centric” outlook with a significant dosage of Wahhabi indoctrination … [so as to] make it possible [to] integrate the Taliban into the global jihadi network and co-habitate it with extremist organisations such as the variants of Islamic State or al-Qaeda … so that geopolitical projects can be undertaken in regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus or Iran from the Afghan soil, under a comprador Taliban leadership”.

Bolton was also able to get Trump to agree to pull most of the troops out of Syria, leave just enough behind to call in airstrikes to protect what’s left of ISIS and relocate the rest to Iraq.

Trump gets to say he fulfilled a campaign promise, and everyone’s plans for War with Iran stays on schedule.

So, if I’m right (and there’s no guarantee that I am) what purpose does poking a fight between India and Pakistan serve?

Many, unfortunately.

1. One it sells the regional chaos angle about the need to continue the War on Terror.

2. ISIS is gone but we still have to fight Iran.

3. It punishes India for daring to get off the reservation.

4. It reminds Khan just how tenuous his hold on power is.

5. It is a warning to China that the US will risk everything to not lose the Heartland.

Add in the proximity to the Trump-Kim meeting as well as the fractious trade talks with China and you have an orgy of related news all at the same time to drive the point home.

Bolton, the Brits, France and Netanyahu were willing to risk World War III in Syria to create a false flag event in which Russia attacked a NATO target – the downing of the IL-20 ELINT aircraft last September.

Do you not think these insane animals wouldn’t risk a nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India to blow up (literally) China’s plans to win the biggest prize in geopolitics?

If you don’t then you haven’t been paying attention.

Both Imran Khan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi need to keep their heads here. Modi has an election coming up later this year. I’m sure the calculus was that he would jump at the opportunity to burnish his cred with voters by lobbing a few bombs inside Pakistan. For Khan, this is the first real test of his leadership and he has to resist the siren’s call of the Saudi’s money to balance all sides of the equation while de-escalating this situation as quickly as possible.

One thing is for certain, we haven’t seen the last of this.

Photo: Flickr

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