China newsbrief and sitrep

Source

February 09, 2021

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

You can get it here:  https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe


Power of Siberia gas pipeline from Gazprom. com

Russia ramps up natural gas supplies to China via Power of Siberia mega-pipeline

“The export of gas to China through the Power of Siberia gas pipeline continues to grow. Supplies regularly exceed Gazprom’s daily contractual obligations,” the company said in a statement, adding that the volume of gas delivery last month “was 2.9 times higher than in January 2020.”


Next up, What the People say.

Says subscriber Frans Vandenbosch, “If I have to describe China in one word, then I would say ‘intense’. Western companies are sheltered workshops, they do not know what real competition is. They should benchmark China to know what real harsh competition looks like.”  Adds Josh Gardner, “Online retail in China is cut-throat. Comparing Taobao with Amazon is like comparing ballet to rugby.”

——————————-

This blog fairly reflects the stance of Chinese people on the long running trade war.  Although it contains some hubris, there is no question that the person in the street is convinced that China will be victorious.

China is establishing an invincible position in its trade war. It will switch many of its exports from the US to BRI countries and move the industries that produce goods for export to the US to the industrial parks in BRI countries to avoid US tariffs and reduce labor costs.

“In the long run, China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) will bring economic growth to developing countries and expand China’s market there. It will enable China to switch lots of its exports from the US to those countries. Moreover, BRI will enable China to move the industries that produce goods for export to the US to the industrial parks built by BRI in those countries to avoid US tariff hikes and reduce labor costs. China will thus establish its invincible position in its trade war with the US.”  Read more about the Plan for Long-term Victory


And where is Jack Ma? 

“Ant Group Co. is planning to turn itself into a financial holding company overseen by China’s central bank, responding to pressure to fall fully in line with financial regulations, according to people familiar with the matter.

Chinese regulators recently told Ant, which is controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, to become a financial holding company in its entirety, subjecting it to more stringent capital requirements, the people said. Ant, in response, has submitted to authorities an outline of a restructuring plan, they said.”

The video is worthwhile watching for background, even though it is from the Wall Street Journal.

Jack Ma made the unforgivable error of criticizing in public.  Rule one in China – don’t make the other guy lose face while there are methods to bring problems to the attention of the authorities.   In reality, he seemed to have been absolutely right, and Ant Group was immediately used as a case in point, where the financial regulators fixed their own errors.  This of course led to Ant Group having to disclose their real business as one of the biggest lenders in China, besides their vast technology footprint.  Given what happened in the US with behemoths such as Google and Twitter and large de-platforming, I do not blame the Chinese authorities one bit for having decided that no-one should have this much power.


Now that we’ve found Jack Ma who was busy restructuring his Ant Group, more on China’s credit market. 

China’s credit market got big fast because credit services fit traditional practices. Despite its reputation as a “nation of savers,” Chinese society has traditionally been heavily reliant on debt, facilitated through a long tradition of private and informal borrowing and lending. In this system, instead of concepts like “credit,” access to loans depended on renqing, “human sentiments.” Read full article $→


So, you want to join the CCP?  It is not that easy.

“Next year the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) turns 100. Since its founding in 1921, the CCP has grown from a small cabal of Marxist intellectuals into the world’s second-largest political party, behind only the Bharatiya Janata Party in India. One of the reasons for the CCP’s success has been its cultivation of human capital—any organization is only as good as its people.

Ahead of the Party’s centenary, understanding its longevity requires an understanding of its members. While the Party is frustratingly opaque about internal operations, its human resources division, known as the Organization Department, does publish annual data on membership. After the 2019 numbers were released in June 2020, MacroPolo scoured open source databases to compile the most complete public dataset on CCP membership.”    Read more …


Belt and Road

The Sinocentric bloc of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan could leave America’s ally India isolated and weak. The only three Muslim states with significant military capacity and economic potential participating in the $2 trillion BRI will promote Chinese influence from the Indian Ocean to the Black Sea.  Read full article $→

$10 billion for MENA (Middle-East & North Africa)’s Five BRI Projects): Egypt–Cairo’s New Administrative Capital & CBD; Turkey–The Hunutlu Thermal Power Plant; Jordan–Attarat Oil Shale Power Plant; UAE–Hassyan Clean Coal Power Plant; Lebanon–National Music Conservatory. MENA has 578 million people and 60% of world’s oil, 45% of its gas.Read full article $→


We end this week with some debunkery:

BUNK: Curbs on Mongolian Language Teaching Prompt Large Protests in China

DEBUNK: As a minority Chinese (Manchurian) with his mother side hailing from Hulun Buir, Inner Mongolia, I can say from my own experience that this is FAKE NEWS at its best. The truth is, in the Mongolian language primary education system, Mandarin has been taught and used since my mother can remember. The only change this time is to replace some locally created Mandarin language textbooks with national, official Mandarin language textbooks.

Yes, both of them are Mandarin textbooks. Yet New York Times and its FAKE journalists can’t wait to cook up new FAKE news completely distorting the truth. Shame on the New York Times and its FAKE news journalists! A bit of background for your information:

In Inner Mongolia, where half of my relatives are from, two primary education systems operate in parallel: one in Mandarin, one in Mongolian. Chinese Mongolians can opt for either one and most Chinese Mongolians so far opted for the one in Mandarin – the Mandarin system is of much better education quality due to better human recourse on teachers, and the kids won’t need another ‘prep-year’ before formal university when they attend a university program being taught in Mandarin. In contract, the ones who chose the Mongolian system, despite continuous government fundings to ensure it’s operational, still have to endure the less quality of education.

And this leads to life-long differences in career development and social mobility between two groups of students. There are law-required quota for these Mongolian-taught students in top Chinese universities, including THU and PKU. However, the truth is that these students often find their university coursework beyond their capability, and the fail rate is much higher than the Mongolian students taught in the Mandarin system.

So should the regulators allow those Mongolian-taught Chinese Mongolian students to rot and remain disadvantaged for life? Or should the regulators find ways to improve the education quality they receive? I know the US of A has chosen the former one for its Black, Latino, and Native American’ citizens’.

But this is the PEOPLE’S Republic of China. We agreed we shall advance together. Let’s never forget: Fabricating fake news to create hatred and conflicts between the native populations has always been a standard colonial conquest tactic and has been practiced by the western imperialists for centuries. Chang Wanyan

BUNK: British broadcasting regulator Ofcom has revoked China Global Television Network’s (CGTN) licence  because it is “controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and therefore disqualified from holding a broadcast licence under UK.” Ofcom criticized CGTN’s coverage of the Hong Kong protests as in “serious breach of fairness and privacy rules”. (Ofcom also banned Iran’s PressTV). Read full article →

All Posts

DEBUNK: CGTN says, “In early 2020, manipulated by extreme right-wing organizations and anti-China forces, Ofcom launched an investigation into CGTN’s broadcasting license in the UK. We provided detailed explanations to Ofcom in a proactive and cooperative manner, proposed transferring CGTN’s broadcasting license and sought a constructive solution. However, Ofcom disregarded CGTN’s reputation as a professional international media organization and its 18-year good record of broadcasting in the UK, and made a final ruling, based on the so-called political nature of CGTN and related Chinese media organizations, to refuse the transfer and to revoke CGTN’s broadcasting license.We believe that the continued broadcasting of CGTN’s television news service to a British audience is in the public interest of the UK. We comply with the laws and regulations of every country and provide news and information to an international audience with diverse and balanced perspectives, and will continue to promote understanding, communication, trust and cooperation”.  Read full article →


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: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

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.

Trump’s not-so-secret art of containing China

Trump’s not-so-secret art of containing China

January 16, 2021

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

It was hardly a secret throughout the Trump administration. Now, dying embers within sight, and with minimum fanfare, comes the declassification – virtually the whole document, minus a few redactions – of the US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific.

Why now, no less than 30 years before the usual, standard US declassification/public record protocols apply? Don’t expect an answer from Trump or from his National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.

O’Brien’s premise, presenting the declassification, is that, “Beijing is increasingly pressuring Indo-Pacific nations to subordinate their freedom and sovereignty to a ‘common destiny’ envisioned by the Chinese Communist Party.”

This is nonsense in multiple levels. The best Mandarin-English translation for China’s overarching strategy is “community with a shared future for humanity” – a Confucius/Marx crossover based on trade/connectivity and sustainable development.

No nation is pressured to surrender their “freedom and sovereignty” to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It’s a voluntary decision – otherwise over 130 nations would not go for it, including many in Europe. The strategy is not ideological; it’s based on trade. Moreover, China is already the top trade partner for the overwhelming majority of these nations.

Is Beijing trembling?

Since 2018 we were all familiar with the basic contours of the Trump administration’s “overarching strategic guidance” for the Indo-Pacific.

These are the Top 5 items – with no euphemistic softening:

– to maintain that sacrosanct US “primacy”, code for uncontested military power;

– promote the Quad (US, Japan, India, Australia);

– fully support the (failed) Hong Kong color revolution;

– demonize everything connected to BRI;

– and invest in “the rise of India”.

On the military front, things get way trickier: the imperative is to prevent Beijing, by all means necessary, from “dominating the first island chain” – that is, the island ring from the Japanese archipelago to Taiwan all the way to the northern Philippines and Borneo. Moreover, “primacy” should also be maintained in the “area beyond”.

So once again this is all about naval containment.

Chinese strategists obviously studied their Mahan and Spykman thoroughly – and understood that the US Navy would ultimately play their trump card as a naval embargo.

Thus the Chinese Heartland strategy to contain the US’s Rimland strategy: pipelines from Russia and Central Asia (energy supply chain) and BRI (trade). A neat combination of “escape from Malacca” (in terms of oil and gas supplies) and overland connectivity.

A graphic example is the importance of the southern sector of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In the long run, that offers Beijing, via Gwadar port, prime access to the Indian Ocean, bypassing Malacca. That can even be enhanced by upcoming Chinese investment in neighboring Chabahar port in Iran, in the Gulf Of Oman.

In contrast, US strategists advising the Trump administration, apart from not improving on Mahan and Spykman, completely ignored China’s economic pull all across Eurasia. They ignored the fact that scores of nations from Central to South and Southeast Asia (the ASEAN 10) would not sacrifice their trade/investment relations to the benefit of a Made in the Beltway “vision”.

The recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal all but buried the Indo-Pacific strategy.

As much as they are not reality-based, the core lineaments of the Indo-Pacific strategy are not bound to change much under Biden-Harris. They will be tweaked – in a “back to the future” manner. The Biden-Harris point man for China is bound to be none other than Kurt Campbell, the man who invented the “pivot to Asia” concept that was then embraced by Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State and Obama as President. Campbell now argues that emphasis on the sacrosanct “primacy” may be somewhat alleviated.

Is Beijing trembling? Hardly.

The 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party falls next July 23. Exactly one day before the declassification of Indo-Pacific, President Xi Jinping outlined his – and the CCP’s – vision for no less than the next three decades, culminating in the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in 2049.

So here’s Xi Top Three – in a nutshell.

– Keep calm and carry on, despite the ravaging effects of Covid-19, unrelenting Western – especially American – hostility, and the trials and tribulations of the crumbling US Empire.

– Focus on domestic development, in all areas.

– Focus on China’s priorities; then whatever happens the world outside will not be able to interfere. China’s priorities include solidifying its own “primacy” in the South China Sea while diversifying trade/development strategic options all along BRI.

It will certainly help that China’s GDP is bound to grow by almost 8% in 2021 – as estimated by IMF/World Bank. Astonishingly, if that’s the case GDP by the end of this year will reach the same level that pre-Covid Western forecasters were predicting by the end of 2019: 5% growth each year for the next two years. China may have grown roughly 2% in 2020, booming foreign trade included.

Goldman Sachs is branding the current economic environment “the Chinese phenomenon”. China remains the high-speed rail locomotive of global capitalism. It’s easy to notice which way scores of nations see the wind blowing when they compare it with what’s just been declassified.

Can You Smell What the Chinese Are Cooking?

ZENITH NEWS -Can You Smell What the Chinese Are Cooking?

Pepe Escobar

Independent geopolitical analyst, writer and journalist

October 30, 2020©

Less than a week before the game-changing U.S. presidential election, the real heart of the geopolitical and geoeconomic action is virtually invisible to the outside world.

We’re talking about the fifth plenum of the 19th Chinese Communist Party (CPC) Central Committee, which started this past Monday in Beijing.

The plenum congregates the 200 members – and another 100 alternate members – of the civilization-state’s top decision-making body: the equivalent, in Western liberal democracy terms, of the Chinese Congress.

The outline of what will be the 14th Chinese Five-Year-Plan (2021-2025) will be announced with a communiqué at the end of the plenum this Thursday. Policy details will be streaming in the next few weeks. And everything will be formally approved by the National People’s Congress (NPC) in March 2021.

For all practical purposes, this should be regarded as what China’s leadership is really thinking.

Meet “China’s system”

President Xi has been quite busy, delivering an extensive work report; a draft of the five-year plan; and a full outline of China’s top targets all the way to 2035.

Xi has been forcefully stressing a “dual circulation” strategy for China; to increase the focus on the domestic economy while balancing it with foreign trade and investment.

Actually a better definition, translated from Mandarin, is “double development dynamics”. In Xi’s own words, the aim is to “facilitate better connectivity between domestic and foreign markets for more resilient and sustainable growth”.

One spectacular achievement we already know about is that Xi’s goal for China to reach the status of a “moderately prosperous society” has been met in 2020, even under Covid-19. Extreme poverty has been eliminated.

The next step is to deal long-term with the absolutely critical issues of crisis of global trade; less demand for Chinese products; and varying degrees of volatility caused by the unstoppable rise of China.

The key priority for Beijing is the domestic economy – in tandem with reaching key tech targets to enhance China’s high-quality development. That implies building high-end, integrated supply chains. And then there’s the tortuous road of implementing necessary institutional reforms.

Crucially, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is “guiding” companies to invest in core technology; that means semiconductors, 5G applications, the Internet of Things (IoT), integrated circuits, biomedicine.

So everything is, once again, all about the Chip War – which is at the heart of AI, 5G, supercomputing, quantum computing, material science, biotechnology, new energy vehicles and space science.

China’s leadership is very much aware that the real high stakes revolve around the next generation of chip technology.

Enter the concept of China’s system: or how to fight the “U.S.-initiated cold war in high technology”.

“China’s system” has been developed by IT expert Ni Guangnan. It aims to “replace U.S. technologies in core areas including the key IT infrastructure, in which the U.S.-led IOE system, an acronym for an IT network based on major three supplies – IBM, Intel and Oracle – have the monopoly. With self-developed servers, database and storage, the system could be based on chipsets with lower performance with no need for 14-nanometer (nm) or 7-nanometer chip fabrication – prime targets of the U.S.-led crackdown.”

Various calculations in China roughly agree that by the end of this year the economy is set to be 72% the size of the U.S.’s. The State Council forecasts that the Chinese economy will overtake the EU in 2027 and the U.S. by 2032.

But if measured by PPP (purchasing power parity), as both the IMF and The Economist have already admitted, China is already the world’s largest economy.

The fifth plenum once again reiterates all the goals inbuilt in Made in China 2025. But there’s more: an emphasis on the “2035 vision” – when China should be positioned as a global tech leader.

The “2035 Vision” concerns the halfway point between where we are now and the ultimate target in 2049. By 2035 China should be a fully modernized, socialist nation and a superpower especially in science and technology and Defense.

Xi had already stressed it way back in 2017: China will “basically” realize “socialist modernization” by 2035. To get there, the Politburo is seeking an extremely ambitious synthesis of “scale, speed, quality, efficiency and safety”.

Beyond Westphalia

Considering that the Trump administration has been engaged on a relentless offensive since May 2018, it was only since last July that the CCP leadership has been consistently preparing China for what it considers a lengthy and fierce struggle with the U.S.

That has elicited quite a few comparisons with what the Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping referred about Mao Zedong in 1938. Mao at the time said that China should “be on the defensive first before gathering enough strength to fight to a strategic stand-off and eventually win the ‘protracted war’” against the Japanese invasion.

Now we have a weiqi strategy all over again. Beijing will only launch what amounts to a concerted counterpunch across the chessboard when it’s able to close the tech gap and establish its own domestic and global supply chains completely independent from the U.S.

Beijing will need a major soft power P.R. operation to show the world how its drive in science and technology is aimed as a global good, with all humanity benefiting, irrespective of nations. The Chinese Covid-19 vaccine should be setting the example.

In a recent podcast discussing one of my latest columns on Lanxin Xiang’s book The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics,

Brazilian China expert Elias Jabbour came up with a stunning formulation.

Jabbour echoed top Chinese scholars when he stressed China won’t behave as an aggressive Westphalian state: “The subversion of Westphalia by China came from the fact it incorporated the Russian Revolution to 1949. China is laying out for the future an order that may subvert Westphalia.”

So what we have here is that the foremost concept of Xi’s China – whose best English translation reads as “community with a shared future for humanity” – is actually the subversion of Westphalia. A subversion from within.

Jabbour reminds us that when Mao said that only socialism may save China, he meant save it from the treaty of Westphalia, which facilitated the dismemberment of China during the “century of humiliation.”

So in the end a strategic marriage between Marx and Confucius in Xi’s China is more than feasible, transcending geopolitics as we know it, which was born as a national ideology in France, Germany and Britain.

It’s as if Xi was trying, as Jabbour noted, to “go back to original Marxism as a leftist Hegelianism”, geared towards internationalism, and mixing it with the Confucius view of tianxa, “all under heaven”. That’s the master idea behind “community with a shared future for humanity.”

One can always dream that another world is indeed possible: think of a cultural renaissance of the overwhelming majority of the Global South, with a fruitful cross-fertilization of China and Asian economies, the evolving decolonization struggle of Latin America, and the weight of the African diaspora.

But first, the next Chinese five-year plan has got to roll.

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

September 16, 2020

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

This week’s selection includes a separate explanation on just how the Chinese Communist Party and Government operates.  For those that visit these weekly Sitreps to learn, this may put an end to the regular discussion items of just how bad the CCP is.  You did know that China has six political parties, did you?  The people that I’ve consulted say the following:  China’s system works for China.  We do not suggest you adopt our system, so, there is no reason for you to insist we adopt yours.

From a regular Twitter Feed by ShangaiPanda, here is how it actually works, by meritocracy.  What this means is that Xi Jinping for example already had 40 years experience in governing, before he was both selected, and elected to his position.

From Godfree’s newsletter which is just brimming with interesting items this week, we’ve selected items about:

  • space,
  • Islam, communism and the BRI,
  • trade war and trade deficit,
  • and a highly educational piece by ‘Chairman Rabbit’, who analyses America from a Chinese perspective.

On studying China it is good to remember that unlike many other countries, China as a country holds together from two perspectives, a long lasting civilizational unity, as well as a sovereign state.


 Space – high technology that is green technology

China has safely landed a reusable spacecraft which it claims will provide a “convenient and inexpensive” method of getting to and from space. The craft launched on September 4th and landed on September 6th after spending two days in orbit, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. Very little is known about the spacecraft, including even its basic design. There are no picture or renders of the craft, but there have been rumors it is a spaceplane similar to the Air Force’s X-37B. A Chinese military source told the South China Morning Post they could not provide details on the mission but that “maybe you can take a look at the US X-37B.”[MORE]

Islam, Communism and the BRI

The significance of having 52 Muslim countries (37.6%) that comprise 87.5 per cent of World Muslims in the BRI alliance, is not lost on the United States and its allies who are not particularly pro-Islam, which may explain their sudden interest to ‘care’ about the plight of Muslims in Xinjiang! Soon after the Bolshevik uprisings, Communism and Islam seemed destined to liberate the Muslim world from European Imperialism, but that was not to be due to their ideological differences. This presented an opportunity to the United States and its allies, where they coopted anti-Communist Jihadism to disrupt Communism.  This had the unintended consequence of being the impetus for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which presented the U.S. and its allies with new challenges.

Soon after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Communism and Islam were the impetus for revolutions against European imperialism in Egypt, Iraq, India, Caucasus and Central Asia, and the Indonesian Archipelago. However, divergent views about Communism proved divisive among Muslims (who are also quite divergent in their theological interpretations of Islam) and this quasi- ideological alliance was all over by the onset of the Cold War.  Those irrevocable divisions may have been due to the essence of Islam’s socio-economic and political system.  It is more consultative (‘Shoura’ or democratic theocracy) and entrepreneurial in nature, which is more compatible with social democracy and capitalism, than with communism’s autocratic state planned economy.

The other reason for such failure is the proactive role of the United States (and some Western Europeans, like Britain and France) in using Christian missionaries and NGOs in intelligence gathering while spreading Christianity in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America. In the 1970s, it was revealed that the CIA sponsored missionaries in Kerala and Nagaland to not only block the advance of Communism in India, but also to establish sufficient tensions between India and China and prevent any regional stability that continues to our present day.

In the 1980s, the CIA’s material support to the Afghan Mujahideen (and by default the Afghan Arabs, like Osama Bin Laden and his followers, who were rounded up from the different Arab and Muslim countries by their intelligence services and sent to Afghanistan, via Pakistan for their paramilitary training by the ISI, in the hope that they would never come back) only exacerbated extremist violence ever since. In the 1990s, the predominantly Muslim former Soviet Republics of Central Asia; Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and other Islamic countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan opened their doors to Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi Islam (probably with the ‘blessings’ of the CIA).

This resulted in an upsurge of Islamist fundamentalism and separatist movements in central Asia, like al-Qaeda affiliated Turkestan Islamic Party(TIP), Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), which have presented a challenge to China and others in the region. Since the rise of anti-Communist Jihadism in the 1980s and its coopetition by the Anglo-Americans to disrupting Communism ever since may have been the impetus for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The $8 trillion investment by China in its bold, innovative and strategic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) alliances with 138 countries comprising 51.7% of world GDP offers an infrastructure backbone of maritime, land and digital trade alliances. The BRI alliances represent 4.8 billion people (61.7%) of the world population.  Of which an estimated 1.4 billion (29.2%) identify as Muslim and are part of the 52 member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), including all 22 Arab countries.

China’s BRI strategic alliances with Arabic and Muslim countries can only help neutralise the existential threat of global Islamist fundamentalism in the long-term by spreading economic prosperity and alleviating poverty. Also, it will not only bring prosperity and stability to China’s underdeveloped north-western part (Xinjiang holds 1.33% of China’s population and contributes 1.35% to China’s GDP), but also to (its ideological partner in the new world order) Russia, and other BRI partners on its western border.

Coupled with technological innovations in global cross-border trade and finance, the BRI projects would no doubt accelerate global economic growth and revive China’s historical legacy in boosting entrepreneurships without compromising necessary protections of the weak. Those infrastructure-driven alliances are building a global community with a shared future for mankind.  This is so important at a time when our world is divided by poverty, crippling national debts and the rise of ultra-nationalism.

The clash of civilizations, anti-(Muslim)-refugees’ sentiment and Islamophobia are just symptoms of the rise in white supremacism and alt-right extremism sweeping the Anglo-American and European nations. Those groups subscribe to a conspiracy theory of cultural and population replacement or nativism, where white European populations are being replaced with non-Europeans (predominantly Muslim Arabs from Syria and elsewhere) due to the complicity of ‘replacist’ elites.

For example, the ‘Génération Identitaire’ (GI) movement in France, which considers itself a ‘defender’ of the European civilization has affiliated youth groups in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.  This heightened sense of ultra-nationalism is driving Western democratic politics away from economic concerns, in favour of issues related to culture and identity. No doubt, Anglo-American and European anxieties about China’s technological, economic and geopolitical dominance may be rooted in their innate fears about being displaced by an Asian culture and the potential spread of Socialism with Chinese characteristics to the 138 countries that joined the BRI alliances, after having spent a good part of over 70 years fighting Communism.

America’s continued rise as a world power—from the 1890s through the Cold War—and its bid to extend its hegemony deep into the twenty-first century through a fusion of cyberwar, space warfare, trade pacts, and military alliances – is now limited by the reality that it has to dismantle China’s BRI alliances as it did to the USSR. This is why the ‘five eyes’ alliance is going on the offensive with (a) sanctions and visa restrictions for Chinese officials, (b) bans on China’s technological 5G innovations (Huawei, Tik Tok and WeChat under the guise of ‘National Security’ concerns), (c) tariffs trade wars, and (d) a particular focus on ‘human rights’ in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The significance of having 52 Muslim countries (37.6%) that comprise 87.5 per cent of World Muslims in the BRI alliance, is not lost on the United States and its allies who are not particularly pro-Islam, which may explain their sudden interest to ‘care’ about the plight of Muslims in Xinjiang! Thus, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the sole purpose of those disruptive policies by the “five-eyes” alliance is to intensify the global anti-China sentiment that is already aggravated due to COVID-19, and to inflame Muslim sentiment in particular, so as to torpedo China’s largest economic and geopolitical Belt and Road alliances.[MORE] [George Mickhail is an LSE trained academic and a geopolitical risk analyst with 30 years’ experience in major global accounting firms and business schools.]

Trade War and Trade Deficit

The US trade deficit with China widened in July – an embarrassing situation for President Trump, who Taiwan’s Liberty Times said had been left  with a ‘green face’ (a crude expression that makes plain this is a bad outcome for him). When the US President campaigned four years ago, he strongly accused China of seizing American wealth in what he hailed as “the biggest theft in history.” After his election, he maintained this position against China. However, the latest data will hardly please him. The United States had a $31.6 billion trade deficit with China in July, which was an 11.5% increase from June. The paper noted that before the outbreak of the coronavirus, the US trade deficit with China was narrowing, but it has gradually expanded since the epidemic spread. Data released by the US Census Bureau on Thursday showed that the trade deficit with China in Q2 increased by 36.8% compared to Q1. The deficit in July was 4.36% larger than that in July 2016.[MORE]

‘Chairman Rabbit’ Analyzes America

Editor’s Note: Tu Zhuxi (Chairman Rabbit) is the nom de plume of Ren Yi, a Harvard-educated Chinese blogger who has amassed more than 1.6 million followers on Weibo who seek out his political commentary, much of which falls under a genre we might facetiously call “America-watching.” 

Today, I scrolled through the interview Professor Ezra Feivel Vogel gave with the Global Times: “90 year-old Professor Vogel: Unfortunately, there is a possibility of armed confrontation between the United States and China.” The veteran professor—who has researched China and East Asia all his life and promoted the development of ties between the United States and China—conveyed intense unease after witnessing two years of sharp downturn in Sino-U.S. relations under the Trump Administration. He could not bear not to air his concerns. 

This interview comes at an opportune time. As you can see, I have excerpted a short comment from the interview. This excerpt perfectly echoes the content I have wanted to expand on these last two days:

Vogel: There is a new article in the Atlantic magazine by James Fallows that gives the most comprehensive explanation of what has happened. And it clearly is the Trump administration.

Before the coronavirus, there had been plans in earlier administrations for dealing with an epidemic. We had a good overall plan. Trump did not use those plans at all. He even acted when he first heard about the coronavirus pandemic as if there was not a big problem. So things were delayed. It clearly is Trump’s responsibility.

At the time of writing, the United States has around 3.8 million confirmed cumulative cases, 140,000 deaths, and a daily increase of about 64 thousand cases. The diagnosis of experts and intellectuals around the United States: this is all due to the Trump Administration.

First of all, the United States’ so-called “good overall plan” for epidemic response was targeted towards a type of infectious disease that resembles the flu in infectiousness, hazard, and lethality. The United States after all has quite a few documentaries and special television programming about pandemics, and every year in every corner of the country drills are held about pandemics, but all of these were with the assumptions of a flu-like disease. COVID-19 was not within the expectations of an American plan for epidemic response, and indeed was beyond the response plan of every country in regard to an infectious disease with respiratory transmission. COVID-19 is an especially potent epidemic, a disease with an extraordinarily high death rate. The epidemic response plan that the United States currently had in place was entirely insufficient for COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci brought up this topic several times in the last few months, especially in the early stages of the epidemic: the American system and design is either insufficient or entirely ineffectual against COVID-19. Dr. Fauci was speaking only from the standpoint of public hygiene and healthcare system and his analysis did not broaden past these considerations.

I have been following the news, media, and commentaries of the U.S. right and left. Criticisms of the epidemic response have generally been from Democratic Party, anti-Trump, and/or liberal-aligned intellectuals. Even after several months, I have rarely encountered essays or discussions that analyze in-depth the full extent of the difficulties facing the U.S. COVID-19 response by synthesizing broader observations on the nation’s political system, society, governance, culture, and economy.

Basically, all the analyses have taken the question and subsumed it under the issue of “political leadership”—usually pointing towards the President, the White House, and state governors. The majority of these analyses lay blame onto the very person of Trump.

Basically, all the analyses have taken the question and subsumed it under the issue of “political leadership”—usually pointing towards the President, the White House, and state governors. The majority of these analyses lay blame onto the very person of Trump.

According to this logic, the reason for the U.S.’s weak response to the epidemic is Trump and Trump alone. If only there was only another person in charge, the U.S. could have defeated COVID-19.

Readers who follow me should know my methods well: I have always begun my analyses from a sociological point of view. How could the U.S. use influenza as the primary lens to understand COVID-19, and how did this understanding influence the U.S.’s subsequent responsive actions? I have since wrote many essays on this topic, for example my April 1st, 2020 essay: “Can the United States Shut Down Entire Cities and Thoroughly Practice Social Distancing Like China? A Discussion of American Exceptionalism” (link in Chinese).

In that piece, I argue that due to the U.S. political and legal system, enacting a comprehensive and stringent social distancing program, including measures such as quarantining cities, is simply not possible.

In the next few months, I will continue my analysis and extend towards the political level. Not too long ago, I collected a few writings into this listicle: “13 Reasons for the Ineffectual Response towards COVID-19 of the United States and ‘Society Construction’ During an Epidemic” (link in Chinese).

I summarized thirteen reasons for the U.S.’s weak response to the epidemic:

  1. Government system: the separation of powers between the federal, state, and local governments
  2. Government system: the separation of powers between the legislative, executive, and judiciary bodies
  3. Wide racial and class disparities
  4. A culture that understands individualism as a cardinal virtue, even to the point of opposing social or collective interests
  5. An overwhelmingly one-sided emphasis on political and civil rights
  6. “Gun culture”: the spirit of Manifest Destiny, rugged individualism, and militarism
  7. “Bible culture” and anti-intellectualism
  8. A pluralistic society without common understanding or consensuses
  9. A government and media that intensifies rather than ameliorates social tensions
  10. A values system that does not respect the elderly and does not assign elders special protections
  11. Family structures which are not suited to fighting against COVID-19
  12. The precarious economic situation of the United States’ middle and lower classes (like walking on a tightrope, i.e. living from paycheck to paycheck or credit problems)
  13. Other cultural factors, such as resistance against wearing masks

There are certainly many more reasons than the ones I have listed. But what I wish to express is that the U.S.’s weak response to the epidemic is the combined result of political, legal, social, cultural, economic, and other factors. The White House, as one of the holders of broad public authority (the executive section of the federal government), has in fact significantly limited power over this broader structural context.

The U.S. cannot manage stringent social distancing, large-scale quarantines of cities, nor restrictions on interstate travel. Health QR codes on mobile devices are entirely impossible with citizens’ insistence on privacy protections. A vast society led primarily by individualism and anti-intellectualism can hardly speak of epidemic management. These factors are not problems that can be resolved with the changing of a president. I believe that even if it were Obama, Hillary, or Biden as president, they would not be able to reverse the tide of the battle against COVID-19, even if they would be slightly more effective—for instance if they had taken the initiative and emphasized the importance of masks. This is because fighting an epidemic does not depend on the lobbying or practices of a president, but rather on the public health and prevention system of an entire country, one which from top to bottom must act in unity and move together. Public authority must comprehensively, effectively, and consistently implement policies (such that each locality will not have its own variant policies), and also cannot allow any level of the judiciary to interfere in the problems of any level of government. On the balance between citizen and society, preparations must absolutely be made to cede rights to the collective. “Political and civil rights” must in these times yield way.

The very design of U.S. political and legal institutions is meant to inhibit collective rights. Balance of powers is at the core of American governance. Political and civil rights are the bedrock of American political values. To deny these values equates to the very denial of the U.S.’s fundamental being.

The very design of U.S. political and legal institutions is meant to inhibit collective rights.

Therefore, to take the U.S.’s weak response to the epidemic and shove it at “political leadership” and at the feet of Trump is not merely skin-deep, but avoids the real problem and focuses on easy answers. It is simply not looking at the substance of the situation.

For several months I have followed U.S. political commentaries on the left and right, and I can confirm I have not seen any analysis of depth. The overwhelming majority of analyses are overly narrow and concrete, pointing at an individual perhaps. Rare is the person who can leap outside the U.S. political structure and carry out a detailed assessment from a third point-of-view. Why? I summarize two reasons:

(1) Americans are sort of like the baffled participant in a game; sometimes the onlookers see more of the game than the players. Americans honestly believe that the American system is exceptional, the best in the world. This is an earnest and steadfast faith, an authentic “self-confidence in path, self-confidence in principles, self-confidence in system, self-confidence in culture” [the “Four Self-Confidences” of Xi Jinping Thought]. They simply cannot bring themselves to doubt or oppose the American system. Since the American system is perfect, once the epidemic creates problems, by the process of elimination, Americans reason that the problem must stem only from electing the right or wrong politician. From this line of thought, pick out the one who has the most power: this is Trump’s fault. After him, perhaps we blame the governor of Florida, DeSantis. This is about as deep as the majority of Americans introspect.

(2) Criticizing the American system is a serious political error. It’s taboo. This is because it is anti-American, “unpatriotic,” “un-American.” It is a stance that doubts the very foundations of the United States. So when there is an elephant in the room in regards to the American system, everybody can see it but dare not speak up. I believe that the majority of people do not even see this elephant in the room because they have been so thoroughly brainwashed by the perfection of the American system. It is only a minority of people who can see this. These people very well could be Democrats or liberal intellectuals. This small number of people aware of reality cannot point out the elephant, however, even if they can see it. This is because pointing it out cannot change the situation on the ground, yet will still result in censure and criticism. One would rather polish a cannonball and lob it at Trump.

In summary, if we compare China with the United States, we would discover an interesting phenomenon.

When Chinese people criticize, they are accustomed to focusing criticisms on the system. “Systemic problem.” “Systemic-ism .” Even though there are indeed problems at the individual level, these problems are thoroughly rooted in the larger system. “Because the system produced this type of person,” “because the system could not restrain or check this particular person.” At any rate, any analysis fundamentally leads back to systemic problems.

When American people criticize, it is focusing the problem onto the physical body of an individual politician. It is not the system at fault, because the system is already perfect or close to perfect, so it can only be a problem birthed from the politician: this pundit’s personality is bad, their abilities did not cut it. All criticisms are of this sort. With that, if an impotent pundit is continuously elected or re-elected—for instance if Trump is re-elected, then this is a problem of the voters. But at this time, the analysis simply cannot proceed further. In the calculus of American political values, the political values of every person are equal: one cannot belittle the voters. In 2016 during the presidential race, Hillary Clinton belittled Trump’s supporters and faced an overwhelmingly negative backlash, costing her the ultimate price (this could perhaps be why she lost the presidential race). What is left then is to criticize the political influence of the media, campaign funding, and interest groups. But even here the analysis must end. Within the proscribed limits of the dialogue, it is easy to enter into another level of analysis—for example, could it be that the U.S. electoral system has fundamental faults? If one gets to this level, it touches upon the very body of U.S. democracy and its electoral system. One would be entering a live mine zone, teetering on the edge of political error.

In this sort of environment, Americans naturally will avoid hard problems and search for easy answers. They will not explore systemic problems, but rather focus their entire attention on electoral solutions.

Under this existing electoral process, one can only, perhaps, push their preferred candidate onto the political stage and wish only for their own candidate to ascend to the office, so that in the next few years that candidate can advance their own political programs and thereby protect the interests of the candidate’s supporters. In this sort of environment, Americans naturally will avoid hard problems and search for easy answers. They will not explore systemic problems, but rather focus their entire attention on electoral solutions.

Therefore, American politics are entirely driven by the short-term. They will look at long-term problems as a certainty before avoiding them, exerting only in order to resolve short-term problems. Even though there are scholars and intellectuals who can produce long-term analyses of wide historical and societal scale, this sort of analysis remains locked in the library and Ivory Towers, away from the stain of political practice.

The American “Revolution”

In the week after the conclusion of the 2016 election in the United States, Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders published his book Our Revolution. As everybody knows, 2016 was the contest between Trump and Clinton. Yet Bernie Sanders was the more extreme, more left (called a “socialist”) candidate of the Democratic Party, who was ultimately knocked out by the mainstream Clinton in the primaries. But he retains many fans among the Democratic Party’s “progressive wing”, including many youth. In his book, he introduced his thoughts as well as his explanations and analyses on all sorts of issues of the day, including the wealth gap, race relations, environmental problems, healthcare problems, the problem of media and interest groups binding politics, gender pay disparity, and the problem of Wall Street and big corporations.

Sanders’ diagnosis of American problems intersects with Trump: it is only that while Sander’s target audience was quite broad (for example, minorities, vulnerable groups, and women), Trump’s was much more parochial. On similar problems, Trump would provide right-wing resolutions to his limited audience of voters, but Sanders provided left-wing resolutions to his broad audiences—because of this, he was smeared as a “socialist”. Of course, during Sander’s entire campaign, there remained an unspeakable doubt: that is, can a big-city Jewish American ‘elite’ from Brooklyn, New York actually win the votes to be elected as President of the United States? This same problem may apply to Michael Bloomberg. To date, it seems this question answers in the negative.

But I do not wish to talk about Sanders’ propositions or ethnicity, but rather his slogan: “Our Revolution”.

“Our Revolution” has now become a left-wing action organization with roots in the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign, and it continues to organize movements within the Democratic Party and in other broader social contexts.

“Our Revolution” has three key actions: “Win on our issues,” “Transform the Democratic Party,” and “Elect progressives up and down the ballot.”

It is of note that Sanders is the most mainstream American politician to date to support the idea of a revolution. However, what I wish to point out to Chinese readers is that this concept of “revolution” is nothing more than propagating his own thoughts and policy proposals to a wider audience, in order to get his own people elected and achieve electoral success himself.

People more familiar with Chinese political discourse should know the difference between “revolution” and “reform.”

Revolution is overturning and starting over again: toppling the old system and the old order, and constructing a new system. Revolution is often violent, of great force, compelled, and refuses to abide by the present system. From the standpoint of Marxism, revolution is class struggle, a fiery worker’s movement. From the standpoint of Leninism, it is a violent movement. From the standpoint of Mao Zedong:

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

In the Chinese context, and indeed in the majority of cultural and social contexts, “revolution” is an intense action: revolution demands the overthrowing of the present system. Abiding by the present system, or moving within the current system and order, can only be reform.

But it is different in the United States. In the United States, challenging and overthrowing the system is taboo. It is simply impossible. This is because the American system is considered sacred, perfect. It is only particular individuals who have problems, only particular problems that cannot be handled well. The system itself has no problems. Therefore, all actions can only be carried out within the purview of what the system allows. The only path is by election—use a successful election to construct the starting point and foundations of societal change.

The American system is considered sacred, perfect. It is only particular individuals who have problems, only particular problems that cannot be handled well. The system itself has no problems.

Because of this, in the political rhetoric of Bernie Sanders, we see not a radical revolution or transformation, but a complete obedience to the American system. Due to the American people’s 100% approval and obedience to the system, any possibilities that people may have substantive critique or doubts vis-à-vis the system are cut off, and no action can be taken. The American system has completely limited their space for movement. Even “radicals” similarly can only raise high the banner of the American system, and can only work and influence society within designated limits: by pushing their own candidates in elections.

A few weeks ago, the police brutality case of George Floyd caused massive numbers of Americans to take to the streets and protest without ceasing.

Yet have we seen any protestor put out protest against the very structure of America’s political system, institutions, and government? Will there be any person who comes and burn the Constitution? Burn the American flag? Will there be any person who will put forth concrete plans of actions towards subversion?

There wasn’t any. The protestors could only protest a few “conditions.” Each path towards resolution is diverted back into elections.

The United States uses the separation of powers mechanism to spread the vast majority of social contradictions among the politicians of the various local jurisdictions. Through the possibility of election, in order to resolve these contradictions, the people complain while pointing at the politicians, not the institutions themselves. In the end, the people believe they hold the power and can influence politics through the vote, carrying on their lives under this sort of hope.

The most awe-inspiring politics indeed is this: one in which people believe they have the power and thus maintain steadfast hope in the future, while at the same time changing nothing about the current situation.

A few weeks ago, when riots erupted all around the United States, Secretary of State Pompeo could still proudly boast and simultaneously demean China: Wehave freedom of assembly, expression, and freedom to protest.

The American system has already developed to this point: simply give the people freedom of expression and freedom to protest so that they can feel themselves righteous and superior, after which they may do as they wish.

I have before written an essay “From ‘Moral Licensing’ and ‘black-clad warriors’ to the ‘Sick People of Hong Kong’” in which I explained the concept of moral licensing:

“People believe that if they had prior done something good, they can then possibly condone themselves (or even indulge themselves) when in the future they do something not as good (even actions that do not conform to one’s own or the public’s moral standards).”

The circumstances surrounding the system of the U.S. are such: if we allow people expression, allow them to freely scold the government, this grants the people “political and civil rights.” This itself grants the American system moral superiority; it is the ends not the means. Afterwards, the government need not do anything further: “half-heartedly listen yet decide to do nothing.” That there have been so many racial conflicts and riots in the past few decades demonstrates that this kind of “expression” does not bring any substantive political transformation. American society has not experienced any fundamental changes. The people who can bear it no more cannot help but take to the streets after many a hard years.

The U.S.’s electoral system is a systemic, national form of “moral licensing”:

First, it grants people the right to vote, grants people a few nominal political and civil rights, allowing the people to feel that they have power and agency and thereby perceive moral self-satisfaction.

Afterwards, the politicians and elites can recount the greatness and glory of the system, right and proper as it is. “We allow African Americans to go out on the streets! So our system is progressive.” “We had Obama as president, how can our society be discriminatory against African Americans?”

The first stage of American politics is taking “the right to express concerns” and equating it with “measures to resolve the problem.” I allowed you to express your opinion, so all is well.

The second stage of American politics is taking “the right to express concerns” and using it as legitimization for “tacit allowance of the bad.” I allowed you to express your opinion, and I even allowed a black president, so what are you babbling about?

As one can see, the separation of powers and electoral system in the United States has created a perfect “cognitive trap” — people believe that this system can endlessly empower individuals and provide limitless potential and possibilities, that it can change anything. This system is in fact like a black hole, taking all the potential and sucking it in and dispelling it — even if it means there will be no changes in reality.

This system is in fact like a black hole, taking all the potential and sucking it in and dispelling it — even if it means there will be no changes in reality.

I believe that there will not be an insurrection in the U.S. because there is no power in the U.S. that can overturn or transform the American system. The American system is too powerful, it can already change the meaning of words: turning “revolution” into reforms hemmed in by the limits of the electoral system. This is indeed an extraordinarily powerful system.

Only an enormous outside pressure can cause the United States to change.

China is just such a pressure currently placed on the United States. In the beginning, the pressure was indistinct, unclear, but now it grows more apparent as China continues its rise.

Why Can’t America Criticize Its Own System?

Apart from “empowering” people, giving them the fantastic illusion of grasping political power and being able to influence it, the American electoral system is also importantly related to the system’s construction of an American person’s identity.

As I have written two days prior in the essay “Why the United States Does Not Understand China — From the Original Intention of the Communist Party of China, to European Civilization, to American Politics”, the United States is an multi-national country, assimilating many people from different ethnicities, nationalities, cultures, and societies. To bind these people together, a country cannot rely on blood ties, shared ethnicity, or shared culture, but instead on shared political values—the approval of the Constitution of the United States, and the approval of the foundational political values of the United States.

Political values and the American system: these two formulate the “national identity” of the United States.

Disavowing the American system is tantamount to disavowing the American national identity, necessarily meaning being anti-American.

Every civilization must construct its own foundations for national identity.

The national identities of European countries lay upon race, blood, and land, and, after, language and culture. Denying one’s race, blood, land, and language is to go against one’s own national character, and is hardly acceptable.

China is also multi-national, its national identity based more on culture and language; one able to integrate into the Chinese nation is one who can be accepted. Land is secondary, and ethnicity and blood ties may also be factors. But in summary, the inclusiveness of the Chinese people is quite potent, with ethnicity, blood ties, and other such factors relatively weak considerations. From the point-of-view of Chinese people, disavowing Chinese culture, history, tradition, or the perception of China’s territory and borders, is what it takes to disavow or be disloyal to China.

From the standpoint of the United States, ethnicity, blood, land, language, culture, and history are not key factors; only political values are. To disavow the American system is to disavow the American “nation.”

From the standpoint of any nationality, for one to deny their own national character is very much unacceptable, no matter if it is Europe, China, or the United States. The distinction from Europe and China is that the American nationality is built on the foundation of a political system and values.

In what circumstances then does a society or a nationality go against and disavow their own nationality?

I am currently of the belief that it is only in a cross-ethnic or transnational international setting where one could find serious frustrations which could produce such a self-disavowal.

Only in facing an enormous failure can there possibly be a self-disavowal, even a “self-hatred”.

China’s concept of nationality is built on culture and civilization. In the past two hundred years or so, China has suffered foreign invasion and bullying, thoroughly fell behind and received thrashings, and as a result came to doubt much of its own system and culture. This type of self-doubt and self-disavowal has persisted onto the present day. Chinese people tend to search for their own “inherent weaknesses” among their traditional culture.

Once the Chinese economy grew, and subsequently once its global standing rose, people began to change, becoming self-confident, and more were able to see the good aspects of Chinese traditional culture and contemporary societal practices.

The U.S. is similar. The American concept of national character is its own system and political value. Nothing short of a severe frustration of the American system, perhaps by China comprehensively catching up to or surpassing the United States, perhaps even failing in a competition or struggle with China, would possibly wake up the Americans to their senses. The basis for the United States’ own “four self-confidences” is its absolute leading role in the world for the past close to a century. The U.S.’s strength made people believe that the American system must be superior, and based on this they came to believe that America’s national character must be superior. The U.S. vigilantly guards against and attacks any other country that could challenge its national might, because any challenge would undermine the supposed superiority of the U.S.’s national character.

The U.S. vigilantly guards against and attacks any other country that could challenge its national might, because any challenge would undermine the supposed superiority of the U.S.’s national character.

If China one day rises and is to enter conflict with the United States and comes to outdo the American system, then for certain it would deal a huge blow to the self-confidence of the American people.

Only in such a time may the American people perhaps engage in deeper introspections on their system and models, and thereby possibly search for and implement necessary reforms.

I believe that American politics and society have extraordinarily powerful inertia and cannot initiate any self-led, self-directed adjustments in the short-term, unless there is outside pressure.

China’s rise is by now inevitable and will come to pressure the U.S. more as time goes on. At a certain point, the U.S. will be forced to confront and rethink their own system, to seek more changes and reforms. This is precisely like the period at the end of the 70s and beginning of the 80s, in which the U.S. confronted the rise of Japan in industrial and commercial matters. Thus, the U.S. increasingly scrutinizing China is only a matter of time.

As China continues to grow stronger, its influence on international affairs will naturally grow larger as well. At the same time, the United States will experience a relative decline, its soft power and political influence around the world will face relative decline as well. China can indeed throw out or act as a challenge, check, or supplement (the terminology is not important) to the American model in the future, and proceed on a path distinct from that of the West.

The path China takes will also influence the course of human development in the future, and indeed may be a course we will get to see in our lifetimes.

Finally, if there is a lesson that China must draw from the U.S. concerning principles of political systems, it must be that we must constantly remember to remain humble. Under no circumstances can we allow ourselves to become complacent and lose our vigilance. We must constantly look at our shortcomings, search for reforms and improvements, and consistently upgrade ourselves. “Four self-confidences” of course is vitally important, but we must at the same time retain our characteristically Chinese low-key, pragmatic, cautious, modest, and moderate dispositions.

We must never emulate the Americans in their blindness, arrogance and self-importance, lack of introspection, or their coarse self-confidence.[MORE]

Translated by Sean Haoqin Kang. The original Wechat blogpost, “American ‘Revolution’: The ‘Systemic Trap’ and the Lessons China Must Draw” can be found here (link in Chinese).


Selections by Amarynth

Shadowplay revisited: how Eurasia is being reshaped

Shadowplay revisited: how Eurasia is being reshaped

AUGUST 27, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission by the author and first posted at Asia Times

We have seen how China is meticulously planning all its crucial geopolitical and geoeconomic moves all the way to 2030 and beyond.

What you are about to read next comes from a series of private, multilateral discussions among intel analysts, and may helpfully design the contours of the Big Picture.

In China, it’s clear the path ahead points to boosting internal demand, and shifting monetary policy towards the creation of credit to consolidate the building of world-class domestic industries.

In parallel, there’s a serious debate in Moscow that Russia should proceed along the same path. As an analyst puts it, “Russia should not import anything but technologies it needs until it can create them themselves and export only the oil and gas that is required to pay for imports that should be severely restricted. China still needs natural resources, which makes Russia and China unique allies. A nation should be as self-sufficient as possible.”

That happens to mirror the exact CCP strategy, as delineated by President Xi in his July 31 Central Committee meeting.

And that also goes right against a hefty neoliberal wing in the CCP – collaborationists? – who would dream of a party conversion into Western-style social democracy, on top of it subservient to the interests of Western capital.

Comparing China’s economic velocity now with the US is like comparing a Maserati Gran Turismo Sport (with a V8 Ferrari engine) with a Toyota Camry. China, proportionately, holds a larger reservoir of very well educated young generations; an accelerated rural-urban migration; increased poverty eradication; more savings; a cultural sense of deferred gratification; more – Confucianist – social discipline; and infinitely more respect for the rationally educated mind. The process of China increasingly trading with itself will be more than enough to keep the necessary sustainable development momentum going.

The hypersonic factor

Meanwhile, on the geopolitical front, the consensus in Moscow – from the Kremlin to the Foreign Ministry – is that the Trump administration is not “agreement-capable”, a diplomatic euphemism that refers to a de facto bunch of liars; and it’s also not “legal-capable”, an euphemism applied, for instance, to lobbying for snapback sanctions when Trump has already ditched the JCPOA.

President Putin has already said in the recent past that negotiating with Team Trump is like playing chess with a pigeon: the demented bird walks all over the chessboard, shits indiscriminately, knocks over pieces, declares victory, then runs away.

In contrast, serious lobbying at the highest levels of the Russian government is invested in consolidating the definitive Eurasian alliance, uniting Germany, Russia and China.

But that would only apply to Germany after Merkel. According to a US analyst, “the only thing holding back Germany is that they can expect to lose their car exports to the US and more, but I tell them that can happen right away because of the dollar-euro exchange rate, with the euro becoming more expensive.”

On the nuclear front, and reaching way beyond the current Belarus drama – as in there will be no Maidan in Minsk – Moscow has made it very clear, in no uncertain terms, that any missile attack from NATO will be interpreted as a nuclear attack.

The Russian defensive missile system – including the already tested S-500s, and soon the already designed S-600s – arguably may be 99% effective. That means Russia would still have to absorb some punishment. And this is why Russia has built an extensive network of nuclear bomb shelters in big cities to protect at least 40 million people.

Russian analysts interpret China’s defensive approach along the same lines. Beijing will want to develop – if they have not already done so – a defensive shield, and still retain the ability to strike back against a US attack with nuclear missiles.

The best Russian analysts, such as Andrei Martyanov, know that the three top weapons of a putative next war will be offensive and defensive missiles and submarines combined with cyber warfare capabilities.

The key weapon today – and the Chinese understand it very clearly – is nuclear submarines. Russians are observing how China is building their submarine fleet – carrying hypersonic missiles – faster than the US. Surface fleets are obsolete. A wolf pack of Chinese submarines can easily knock out a carrier task force. Those 11 US carrier task forces are in fact worthless.

So in the – horrifying – event of the seas becoming un-sailable in a war, with the US, Russia and China blocking all commercial traffic, that’s the key strategic reason pushing China to obtain as much of its natural resources overland from Russia.

Even if pipelines are bombed they can be fixed in no time. Thus the supreme importance for China of Power of Siberia – as well as the dizzying array of Gazprom projects.

The Hormuz factor

A closely guarded secret in Moscow is that right after German sanctions imposed in relation to Ukraine, a major global energy operator approached Russia with an offer to divert to China no less than 7 million barrels a day of oil plus natural gas. Whatever happens, the stunning proposal is still sitting on the table of Shmal Gannadiy, a top oil/gas advisor to President Putin.

In the event that would ever happen, it would secure for China all the natural resources they need from Russia. Under this hypothesis, the Russian rationale would be to bypass German sanctions by switching its oil exports to China, which from a Russian point of view is more advanced in consumer technology than Germany.

Of course this all changed with the imminent conclusion of Nord Stream 2 – despite Team Trump taking no prisoners to sanction everyone in sight.

Backdoor intel discussions made it very clear to German industrialists that if Germany would ever lose its Russian source of oil and natural gas, coupled with the Strait of Hormuz shut down by Iran in the event of an American attack, the German economy might simply collapse.

There have been serious cross-country intel discussions about the possibility of a US-sponsored October Surprise involving a false flag to be blamed on Iran. Team Trump’s “maximum pressure” on Iran has absolutely nothing to do with the JCPOA. What matters is that even indirectly, the Russia-China strategic partnership has made it very clear that Tehran will be protected as a strategic asset – and as a key node of Eurasia integration.

Cross-intel considerations center on a scenario assuming a – quite unlikely – collapse of the government in Tehran. The first thing Washington would do in this case is to pull the switch of the SWIFT clearing system. The target would be to crush the Russian economy. That’s why Russia and China are actively increasing the merger of the Russian Mir and the Chinese CHIPS payment systems, as well as bypassing the US dollar in bilateral trade.

It has already been gamed in Beijing that were that scenario ever to take place, China might lose its two key allies in one move, and then have to face Washington alone, still on a stage of not being able to assure for itself all the necessary natural resources. That would be a real existential threat. And that explains the rationale behind the increasing interconnection of the Russia-China strategic partnership plus the $400 billion, 25-year-long China-Iran deal.

Bismarck is back

Another possible secret deal already discussed at the highest intel levels is the possibility of a Bismarckian Reinsurance Treaty to be established between Germany and Russia. The inevitable consequence would be a de facto Berlin-Moscow-Beijing alliance spanning the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), alongside the creation of a new – digital? – Eurasian currency for the whole Eurasian alliance, including important yet peripheral actors such as France and Italy.

Well, Beijing-Moscow is already on. Berlin-Beijing is a work in progress. The missing link is Berlin-Moscow.

That would represent not only the ultimate nightmare for Mackinder-drenched Anglo-American elites, but in fact the definitive passing of the geopolitical torch from maritime empires back to the Eurasian heartland.

It’s not a fiction anymore. It’s on the table.

Adding to it, let’s do some little time traveling and go back to the year 1348.

The Mongols of the Golden Horde are in Crimea, laying siege to Kaffa – a trading port in the Black Sea controlled by the Genoese.

Suddenly, the Mongol army is consumed by bubonic plague.

They start catapulting contaminated corpses over the walls of the Crimean city.

So imagine what happened when ships started sailing again from Kaffa to Genoa.

They transported the plague to Italy.

By 1360, the Black Death was literally all over the place – from Lisbon to Novgorod, from Sicily to Norway. As much as 60% of Europe’s population may have been killed – over 100 million people.

A case can be made that the Renaissance, because of the plague, was delayed by a whole century.

Covid-19 is of course far from a medieval plague. But it’s fair to ask.

What Renaissance could it be possibly delaying?

Well, it might well be actually advancing the Renaissance of Eurasia. It’s happening just as the Hegemon, the former “end of history”, is internally imploding, “distracted from distraction by distraction”, to quote T.S. Eliot. Behind the fog, in prime shadowplay pastures, the vital moves to reorganize the Eurasian land mass are already on.

China: everything proceeding according to plan

China: everything proceeding according to plan

August 24, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission by the author and first posted at Asia Times

Let’s start with the story of an incredibly disappearing summit.

Every August, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) converges to the town of Beidaihe, a seaside resort some two hours away from Beijing, to discuss serious policies that then coalesce into key planning strategies to be approved at the CCP Central Committee plenary session in October.

The Beidaihe ritual was established by none other than Great Helmsman Mao, who loved the town where, not by accident, Emperor Qin, the unifier of China in the 3rd century B.C., kept a palace.

2020 being, so far, a notorious Year of Living Dangerously, it’s no surprise that in the end Beidaihe was nowhere to be seen. Yet Beidaihe’s invisibility does not mean it did not happen.

Exhibit 1 was the fact that Premier Li Keqiang simply disappeared from public view for nearly two weeks – after President Xi chaired a crucial Politburo gathering in late July where what was laid out was no less than China’s whole development strategy for the next 15 years.

Li Keqiang resurfaced by chairing a special session of the all-powerful State Council, just as the CCP’s top ideologue, Wang Huning – who happens to be number 5 in the Politburo – showed up as the special guest at a meeting of the All China Youth Federation.

What’s even more intriguing is that side by side with Wang, one would find Ding Xuexiang, none other than President Xi’s chief of staff, as well as three other Politburo members.

In this “now you see them, now you don’t” variation, the fact that they all showed up in unison after an absence of nearly two weeks led sharp Chinese observers to conclude that Beidaihe in fact had taken place. Even if no visible signs of political action by the seaside had been detected. The semi-official spin is that no get-together happened at Beidaihe because of Covid-19.

Yet it’s Exhibit 2 that may clinch the deal for good. The by now famous end of July Politburo meeting chaired by Xi in fact sealed the Central Committee plenary session in October. Translation: the contours of the strategic road map ahead had already been approved by consensus. There was no need to retreat to Beidaihe for further discussions.

Trial balloons or official policy?

The plot thickens when one takes into consideration a series of trial balloons that started to float a few days ago in select Chinese media. Here are some of the key points.

1. On the trade war front, Beijing won’t shut down US businesses already operating in China. But companies which want to enter the market in finance, information technology, healthcare and education services will not be approved.

2. Beijing won’t dump all its overwhelming mass of US Treasuries in one go, but – as it already happens – divestment will accelerate. Last year, that amounted to $100 billion. Up to the end of 2020, that could reach $300 billion.

3. The internationalization of the yuan, also predictably, will be accelerated. That will include configuring the final parameters for clearing US dollars through the CHIPS Chinese system – foreseeing the incandescent possibility Beijing might be cut off from SWIFT by the Trump administration or whoever will be in power at the White House after January 2021.

4. On what is largely interpreted across China as the “full spectrum war” front, mostly Hybrid War, the PLA has been put into Stage 3 alert – and all leaves are canceled for the rest of 2020. There will be a concerted drive to increase all-round defense spending to 4% of GDP and accelerate the development of nuclear weapons. Details are bound to emerge during the Central Committee meeting in October.

5. The overall emphasis is on a very Chinese spirit of self-reliance, and building what can be defined as a national economic “dual circulation” system: the consolidation of the Eurasian integration project running in parallel to a global yuan settlement mechanism.

Inbuilt in this drive is what has been described as “to firmly abandon all illusions about the United States and conduct war mobilization with our people. We shall vigorously promote the war to resist US aggression (…) We will use a war mindset to steer the national economy (…) Prepare for the complete interruption of relations with the US.”

It’s unclear as it stands if these are only trial balloons disseminated across Chinese public opinion or decisions reached at the “invisible” Beidaihe. So all eyes will be on what kind of language this alarming configuration will be packaged when the Central Committee presents its strategic planning in October. Significantly, that will happen only a few weeks before the US election.

It’s all about continuity

All of the above somewhat mirrors a recent debate in Amsterdam on what constitutes the Chinese “threat” to the West. Here are the key points.

1. China constantly reinforces its hybrid economic model – which is an absolute rarity, globally: neither totally publicly owned nor a market economy.

2. The level of patriotism is staggering: once the Chinese face a foreign enemy, 1.4 billion people act as one.

3. National mechanisms have tremendous force: absolutely nothing blocks the full use of China’s financial, material and manpower resources once a policy is set.

4. China has set up the most comprehensive, back to back industrial system on the planet, without foreign interference if need be (well, there’s always the matter of semiconductors to Huawei to be solved).

China plans not only in years, but in decades. Five year plans are complemented by ten year plans and as the meeting chaired by Xi showed, 15 year plans. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is in fact a nearly 40-year plan, designed in 2013 to be completed in 2049.

And continuity is the name of the game – when one thinks that the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, first developed in 1949 and then expanded by Zhou Enlai at the Bandung conference in 1955 are set in stone as China’s foreign policy guidelines.

The Qiao collective, an independent group that advances the role of qiao (“bridge”) by the strategically important huaqiao (“overseas Chinese”) is on point when they note that Beijing never proclaimed a Chinese model as a solution to global problems. What they extol is Chinese solutions to specific Chinese conditions.

A forceful point is also made that historical materialism is incompatible with capitalist liberal democracy forcing austerity and regime change on national systems, shaping them towards preconceived models.

That always comes back to the core of the CCP foreign policy: each nation must chart a course fit for its national conditions.

And that reveals the full contours of what can be reasonably described as a Centralized Meritocracy with Confucian, Socialist Characteristics: a different civilization paradigm that the “indispensable nation” still refuses to accept, and certainly won’t abolish by practicing Hybrid War.

Diplomacy is reciprocal

July 25, 2020

Diplomacy is reciprocal

Chris Faure for the Saker Blog

The US suddenly ordered China to end operations from its embassy in Houston, Texas (remember when they did the same to Russia). However, diplomacy is reciprocal and the Chinese so far refrained from a further provocative reaction. They are implementing a fair tit for tat measure, closing the US Consulate in Chengdu, keeping options open for further retaliation. They could have fanned the flames and closed the US Consulate in Hong Kong, or even a bigger one in Beijing, but kept to a fair reciprocal closure – so far.

More about the Consulate spat https://www.moonofalabama.org/

China responded to Mr Pompeo’s highly advertised ‘very important’ speech this week in short, not giving Pompeo that attention that he so craves. The Chinese stance is that Mike Pompeo maliciously attacked the Communist Party of China (CPC) and China’s socialist system, and he made remarks that ignored the facts, were full of ideological bias and turned black into white, which showed his Cold War mentality. From the Chinese Foreign Ministry: “Some US politicians have deliberately stirred up ideological disputes, talked about changing China, denied China-US relations, and provoked China’s relationships with other countries. Their purpose is to suppress China’s development and divert the public’s attention from their own country. These tricks cannot fool the Americans and international community.”

The US have stopped all basic diplomatic standards in a grab for their self-delusional rules-based international order. Just recently, Pompeo announced that they will not respect or accept any of the agreements in the South China Sea. He must be thinking that all of the ASEAN countries like him enough to drop their raft of regional negotiated agreements.

Despite Chinese accusations that the US opens their diplomatic pouches, which is in flagrant violation of all Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular relations, the most important is the following which shows that China is still keeping to fair diplomatic and pragmatic standard:

“It must be emphasized that China has no intentions to change the US in terms of its social system, and the US cannot change China either.”

https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/2511_665403/t1800221.shtml

Having followed the Russian reactions on these types of actions by the US toward Russia, we have become accustomed to the frustratingly pragmatic and clinically diplomatic methods of dealing with western bullying. The Chinese are different and they enthusiastically take part in the war of words that is reaching cold war status if one adds in the trade war announced by Mr Trump +- two years ago and which he thought would be ‘easy to win’. What we see now as reaction to the US provocation to China in the US social sphere, many ordinary Americans are deeply into the ‘crush China’ rhetoric which attempts to blame China for all of the US ills.

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/202007241079970310-us-heading-towards-quagmire-in-the-south-china-sea-by-inciting-tensions-with-beijing-activist-warns/

While it remains unclear if this can be written off completely to electioneering and election rhetoric, what does clarify is that the harm done is not easily fixed, no matter the reason. It is however quite breathtaking how far Pompeo will push this, hoping for retaliation which he can then use to prove himself and the current US administration right. It is beyond a level of comprehension that Pompeo and Co could really think that they will make war against China.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202007/24/WS5f1a5b8da31083481725be24.html

In this time of ‘rhetorical cold war of words’, Godfree Roberts who regularly writes on China for the Unz Review started a new weekly newsletter, Here Comes China, Skulduggery, Good News, Offbeat Opinions, chock-a-block full of what is happening in China.

Godfree has offered the first four newsletters free to Saker readers. From economics, to space, to China-Iran Trade and Military Partnership, to the cleanup and recovering of the Yangtze river, a Hong Kong section, the media war on Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and an in-depth look at Human rights in China, this newsletter stands unique in its scope and its presentation of Western opinions and Eastern opinions.

Godfree’s new book on China is just about ready for release. The book is called:

Why China leads the world: Democracy at the bottom, Data in the middle, Talent at the top.
A preview: https://www.herecomeschina.com/why-china-leads-the-world-the-book/

I also want to draw the readers’ attention to a two part essay written on Mao, Mao Reconsidered, and published in greanvillepost.com. Part 1Part 2

China Sitrep – 5 selected topics from the Here Comes China newsletter:

Trump Empowers CIA to Launch Cyberattacks

The secret authorization, known as a presidential finding, gives the spy agency more freedom in both the kinds of operations it conducts and who it targets–including Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, which are mentioned directly in the document. The finding allows the CIA to more easily authorize its own covert cyber operations, rather than requiring the agency to get approval from the White House. The “very aggressive” finding “gave the agency very specific authorities to really take the fight offensively to a handful of adversarial countries,” said a former U.S. government official. The Central Intelligence Agency has conducted a series of covert cyber operations against Iran and other targets since winning a secret victory in 2018 when President Trump signed what amounts to a sweeping authorization for such activities. [MORE]

Belt and Road Finds New Life in Pakistan

China and Pakistan have signed deals for two hydro-power generation projects costing $3.9 billion in the disputed Kashmir region, and another to revamp the South Asian nation’s colonial-era railways for $7.2 billion — the most expensive Chinese project yet in Pakistan. The Chinese financing has helped rid Pakistan of an electricity deficit that left exporters unable to meet orders and major cities without electricity for much of the day. [MORE]

T.P. Wilkinson: The Yemen

The West encourages dissolution of state entities that could engage in normal relations with China or any other potential competitors. The Yemen is one of those long-term victims of British imperialism. When Britain nominally withdrew from Egypt, Nasser promoted his new government’s participation in his movement for Arab unity, opposed by British clients in Riyadh (the Saud family’s Wahhabi gangsters). The Saud family would like to have annexed the Yemen but could not without war against Egypt-against which the tiny mob had no chance. So David Stirling led a counter-insurgency funded by the British and Saudis to drive Egypt out of the Yemen and leave the country as a quasi-protectorate of Britain/US. Attempts to change that have been fought for decades but until a decade ago the client regime was well protected. Clearly chaos is profitable for the empire which between Somalia and Yemen prevent any stability in opposition to its interests. Not only do Somalia and Yemen lie close to the Suez route they also form part of the ancient East African trading basin that links Asia with Africa. As part of the overall strategy of Denial, this policy is aided by the designs of the mob in Riyad which lacks the population to occupy territories it would like to annex.

Xinjiang

This section from Here Comes China is an in-depth analysis. I suggest you read it in the newsletter itself. Main points:

Islam is neither the Uyghurs’ native religion nor their only one but, in its Wahhabi form, has caused problems around the world, for which we can thank to two fervent Christians, Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski,[2] who considered a united Eurasia, “The only possible challenge to American hegemony.” In 1979, months before the Soviet entry into Afghanistan, Brzezinski drafted and Carter signed a top-secret Presidential Order authorizing the CIA to train fundamentalist Muslims to wage Jihad against the Soviet Communist infidels and all unbelievers of conservative Sunni Islam and the Mujahideen terror war against Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan became the largest covert action in CIA history.[2] Brzezinski’s ‘Arc of Crisis’ strategy inflamed Muslims in Central Asia to destabilize the USSR during its economic crisis and, when Le Nouvel Observateur later asked if he had any regrets, Brzezinski snapped, “What is most important to the history of the world? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe?”

Twenty years later, in 1999, the CIA’s Islam strategist, Graham E. Fuller, announced, “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Russians. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”[3]

Today, NED money supports the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) which calls China’s Xinjiang Province ‘East Turkistan’ and China’s administration of Xinjiang as ‘Chinese occupation of East Turkistan,’ runs articles like, “Op-ed: A Profile of Rebiya Kadeer, Fearless Uyghur Independence Activist,” and admits that Kadeer seeks Uyghur independence from China.

Faced with an armed insurrection, most states impose martial law or a state of emergency, as Britain did in Malaya from 1945 to 1957 and the US did with the Patriot Act, but China decided–despite popular outrage–to write off its losses and play the long game and founded The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO),[1] a political, economic, and security alliance, with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, who stopped funneling money and providing corridors for Uyghur terrorists to move into and out of China. The SCO has since expanded to include India and Pakistan and Iran has begun the accession process, making it world’s largest security pact in both area and population and the only one whose membership includes four nuclear powers.

Forming the SCO was easier than assuaging public outrage. An unheard-of lawsuit by victims’ relatives accused the government of reverse discrimination so they stepped up security and published their objectives:

  1. restore law and order
  2. prevent terrorists from inflicting more violence
  3. use ‘high-intensity regulation’
  4. contain the spread of terrorism beyond Xinjiang
  5. purge extremists and separatists from society.

Neighborhood community centres–labelled ‘concentration camps’ in the western press–educate rural Uyghurs about the perils of religious extremism and train them for urban jobs.
In 2013 President Xi toured Eurasia and proposed the Belt and Road Initiative for three billion people, designed to create the biggest market in the world with unparalleled development potential, and built a gas pipeline to China from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan which, like China’s other western pipelines, power lines, and rail and road networks, runs through the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Beijing then moved jobs to Xinjiang and opened vocational schools to train rural youth in literacy and job skills and swore to protect its neighbors from terrorism in exchange for their pledge to reciprocate. To create jobs in the province Xi directed investment from forty-five of China’s top companies and eighty Fortune 500 manufacturers to Urumqi. Corporate investment increased from $10 billion in 2015 to $15 billion in 2017 and infrastructure investments of $70 billion in both 2017 and 2018 lifted the annual goods shipments past 100 million tons with a goal of hourly departures to fifteen European capitals. Half a million Uyghurs have relocated from remote villages to cities and, as a result, 600,000 Uighurs were lifted out of poverty in 2016, 312,000 in 2017 and 400,000 in 2018. The last poor Uyghurs will join the cash economy in mid-2020.

The PBOC, China’s central bank, is partnering with ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing to test the use of its sovereign digital currency, AKA Central Bank Digital Currency, CBDC. The regulator is working with Didi to apply digital currency electronic payment (DCEP) to the ride-hailing app, which currently serves a total of over 550 million users and is often described as China’s Uber. According to Didi, “the government seeks to support the development of the real economy sectors with innovative financial services.” Didi has more than 30 million daily ride-sharing orders and its bike-sharing daily orders reached 10 million. Meituan and Bilibilibili are also cooperating with banks in the digital yuan project. Meituan’s service platform has over 240 million consumers and five million local merchants, and Bilibilibili is China’s largest video-sharing website.

Sign up for your free one month sub to Godfree’s very extensive newsletter here. At the Saker blog, only a fraction of all the material can be covered.

Nixon-Trump vs. the Strategy of Tension

Nixon-Trump vs. the Strategy of Tension, by Pepe Escobar - The Unz ...
Nixon-Trump vs. the Strategy of Tension
Pepe ESCOBAR
Independent geopolitical analyst, writer and journalist

Pepe Escobar June 18, 2020©

Nixon 68 is back with a vengeance, with President Trump placing himself as the guarantor/enforcer of Law & Order.

That slogan guaranteed Nixon’s election, and was coined by Kevin Phillips, then an expert in “ethnic voting patterns”.

Philips makes for a very interesting case. In 1999, he became the author of a seminal book: The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics, and the Triumph of Anglo-America, where he tracks how a “small Tudor kingdom” ended up establishing global hegemony.

The division of the English-speaking community into two great powers – “one aristocratic, ‘chosen’ and imperial; and one democratic, ‘chosen’ and manifest destiny-driven”, as Philips correctly establishes – was accomplished by, what else, a war triptych: the English Civil War, the American revolution and the U.S. Civil War.

Now, we may be at the threshold of a fourth war – with unpredictable and unforeseen consequences.

As it stands, what we have is a do-or-die clash of models: MAGA against an exclusivist Fed/Wall Street/Silicon Valley-controlled system.

MAGA – which is a rehash of the American dream – simply cannot happen when society is viciously polarized; vast sectors of the middle class are being completely erased; and mass immigration is coming from the Global South.

In contrast, the Fed as a Wall Street hedge fund meets Silicon Valley model, a supremely elitist 0.001% concoction, has ample margins to thrive.

The model is based on even more rigid corporate monopoly; the preeminence of capital markets, where a Wall Street boom is guaranteed by government debt-buybacks of its own debt; and life itself regulated by algorithms and Big Data.

This is the Brave New World dreamed by the techno-financial Masters of the Universe.

Trump’s MAGA woes have been compounded by a shoddy geopolitical move in tandem with Law and Order: his re-election campaign will be under the sign of “China, China, China.” When in trouble, blame a foreign enemy.

That comes from serially failed opportunist Steve Bannon and his Chinese billionaire sidekick Guo Wengui, or Miles Guo. Here they are in Statue of Liberty mode announcing their no holds barred infowar campaign to demonize the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to Kingdom Come and “free the Chinese people”.

Bannon’s preferred talking point is that if his infowar fails, there will be “kinetic war”. That is nonsense. Beijing’s priorities are elsewhere. Only a few neo-conned Dr. Strangeloves would envisage “kinetic war”- as in a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Chinese territory.

Alastair Crooke has masterfully shown how the geoeconomic game, as Trump sees it, is above all to preserve the power of the U.S. dollar: “His particular concern would be to see a Europe that was umbilically linked to the financial and technological heavyweight that is China. This, in itself, effectively would presage a different world financial governance.”

But then there’s The Leopard syndrome: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”. Enter Covid-19 as a particle accelerator, used by the Masters of the Universe to tweak “things” a bit so they not only stay as they are but the Master grip on the world tightens.

The problem is Covid-19 behaves as a set of – uncontrollable – free electrons. That means nobody, even the Masters of the Universe, is able to really weigh the full consequences of a runaway, compounded financial/social crisis.

Deconstructing Nixon-Trump

Russiagate, now totally debunked, has unfolded in effect as a running coup: a color non-revolution metastasizing into Ukrainegate and the impeachment fiasco. In this poorly scripted and evidence-free morality play with shades of Watergate, Trump was cast by the Democrats as Nixon.

Big mistake. Watergate had nothing to do with a Hollywood-celebrated couple of daring reporters. Watergate represented the industrial-military-security-media complex going after Nixon. Deep Throat and other sources came from inside the Deep State. And it was not by accident that they were steering the Washington Post – which, among other roles, plays the part of CIA mouthpiece to perfection.

Trump is a completely different matter. The Deep State keeps him under control. One just needs to look at the record: more funds for the Pentagon, $1 trillion in brand new nuclear weapons, perennial sanctions on Russia, non-stop threats to Russia’s western borders, (failed) efforts to derail Nord Stream 2. And this is only a partial list.

So, from a Deep State point of view, the geopolitical front – containment of Russia-China – is assured. Domestically, it’s much more complicated.

As much as Black Lives Matter does not threaten the system even remotely like the Black Panthers in the 60s, Trump believes his own Law & Order, like Nixon, will once again prevail. The key will be to attract the white women suburban vote. Republican pollsters are extremely optimistic and even talking about a “landslide”.

Yet the behavior of an extra crucial vector must be understood: what corporate America wants.

When we look at who’s supporting Black Lives Matter – and Antifa – we find, among others, Adidas, Amazon, Airbnb, American Express, Bank of America, BMW, Burger King, Citigroup, Coca Cola, DHL, Disney, eBay, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, IBM, Mastercard, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Netflix, Nike, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Sony, Starbucks, Twitter, Verizon, WalMart, Warner Brothers and YouTube.

This who’s who would suggest a completely isolated Trump. But then we have to look at what really matters; the class war dynamics in what is in fact a caste system, as Laurence Brahm argues.

Black Lives Matter, the organization and its ramifications, is essentially being instrumentalized by selected corporate interests to accelerate their own priority: to crush the U.S. working classes into a state of perpetual anomie, as a new automated economy rises.

That may always happen under Trump. But it will be faster without Trump.

What’s fascinating is how this current strategy of tension scenario is being developed as a classic CIA/NED playbook color revolution.

An undisputed, genuine grievance – over police brutality and systemic racism – has been completely manipulated, showered with lavish funds, infiltrated, and even weaponized against “the regime”.

Just to control Trump is not enough for the Deep State – due to the maximum instability and unreliability of his Demented Narcissus persona. Thus, in yet another priceless historical irony, “Assad must go” metastasized into “Trump must go”.

The cadaver in the basement

One must never lose track of the fundamental objectives of those who firmly control that assembly of bought and paid for patsies in Capitol Hill: to always privilege Divide and Rule – on class, race, identity politics.

After all, the majority of the population is considered expendable. It helps that the instrumentalized are playing their part to perfection, totally legitimized by mainstream media. No one will hear lavishly funded Black Lives Matter addressing the real heart of the matter: the reset of the predatory Restored Neoliberalism project, barely purged of its veneer of Hybrid Neofascism. The blueprint is the Great Reset to be launched by the World Economic Forum in January 2021.

It will be fascinating to watch how Trump deals with this “Summer of Love” remake of Maidan transposed to the Seattle commune. The hint from Team Trump circles is that he will do nothing: a coalition of white supremacists and motorcycle gangs might take care of the “problem” on the Fourth of July.

None of this sweetens the fact that Trump is at the heart of a crossfire hurricane: his disastrous response to Covid-19; the upcoming, devastating effects of the New Great Depression; and his intimations pointing to what could turn into martial law.

Still, the legendary Hollywood maxim – “no one knows anything” – rules. Even running with a semi-cadaver in a basement, the Democrats may win in November just by doing nothing. Yet Teflon Trump should never be underestimated. The Deep State may even realize he’s more useful than they think.

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