The Russia-China vote

The Russia-China vote

November 03, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission and cross-posted with Asia Times

Whatever the geopolitical and geoeconomic consequences of the spectacular US dystopia, the Russia-China strategic partnership, in their own slightly different registers, have already voted on their path forward.

Here is how I framed what is at the heart of the Chinese 2021-2025 five-year plan approved at the plenum in Beijing last week.

Here is a standard Chinese think tank interpretation.

And here is some especially pertinent context examining how rampant Sinophobia is impotent when faced with an extremely efficient made in China model of governance. This study shows how China’s complex history, culture, and civilizational axioms simply cannot fit into the Western, Christian hegemonic worldview.

The not so hidden “secret” of China’s 2021-2025 five-year plan – which the Global Times described as “economic self-reliance” – is to base the civilization-state’s increasing geopolitical clout on technological breakthroughs.

Crucially, China is on a “self-driven” path – depending on little to no foreign input. Even a clear – “pragmatic” – horizon has been set: 2035, halfway between now and 2049. By this time China should be on a par or even surpassing the US in geopolitical, geoeconomic and techno power.

That is the rationale behind the Chinese leadership actively studying the convergence of quantum physics and information sciences – which is regarded as the backbone of the Made in China push towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The five-year plan makes it quite clear that the two key vectors are AI and robotics – where Chinese research is already quite advanced. Innovations in these fields will yield a matrix of applications in every area from transportation to medicine, not to mention weaponry.

Huawei is essential in this ongoing process, as it’s not a mere data behemoth, but a hardware provider, creating platforms and the physical infrastructure for a slew of companies to develop their own versions of smart cities, safe cities – or medicines.

Big Capital – from East and West – is very much in tune with where all of this is going, a process that also implicates the core hubs of the New Silk Roads. In tune with the 21st century “land of opportunity” script, Big Capital will increasingly move towards East Asia, China and these New Silk hubs.

This new geoeconomic matrix will mostly rely on spin offs of the Made in China 2025 strategy. A clear choice will be presented for most of the planet: “win win” or “zero sum”.

The failures of neoliberalism

After observing the mighty clash, enhanced by Covid-19, between the neoliberal paradigm and “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, the Global South is only beginning to draw the necessary conclusions.

No Western propaganda tsunami can favorably spin what is in effect a devastating, one-two, ideological collapse.

Neoliberalism’s abject failure in dealing with Covid-19 is manifestly evident all across the West.

The US election dystopia is now sealing the abject failure of Western liberal “democracy”: what kind of “choice” is offered by Trump-Biden?

This is happening just as the ultra-efficient, relentlessly demonized “Chinese Communist Party” rolls out the road map for the next five years. Washington cannot even plan what happens the day ahead.

Trump’s original drive, suggested by Henry Kissinger before the January 2017 inauguration, was to play – what else – Divide and Rule, seducing Russia against China.

This was absolute anathema for the Deep State and its Dem minions. Thus the subsequent, relentless demonization of Trump – with Russiagate topping the charts. And then Trump unilaterally chose to sanction and demonize China anyway.

Assuming a Dem victory, the scenario will veer towards Russia demonization on steroids even as hysterical Hybrid War on China will persist on all fronts – Uighurs, Tibet, Hong Kong, South China Sea, Taiwan.

Now compare all of the above with the Russian road map.

That was clearly stated in crucial interventions by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Putin at the recent Valdai Club discussions.

Putin has made a key assertion on the role of Capital, stressing the necessity of “abandoning the practice of unrestrained and unlimited consumption – overconsumption – in favor of judicious and reasonable sufficiency, when you do not live just for today but also think about tomorrow.”

Putin once again stressed the importance of the role of the state: “The state is a necessary fixture, there is no way […] could do without state support.”

And, in concert with the endless Chinese experimentation, he added that in fact there are no economic rules set in stone: “No model is pure or rigid, neither the market economy nor the command economy today, but we simply have to determine the level of the state’s involvement in the economy. What do we use as a baseline for this decision? Expediency. We need to avoid using any templates, and so far, we have successfully avoided that.”

Pragmatic Putin defined how to regulate the role of the state as “a form of art”.

And he offered as an example, “keeping inflation up by a bit will make it easier for Russian consumers and companies to pay back their loans. It is economically healthier than the deflationary policies of western societies.”

As a direct consequence of Putin’s pragmatic policies – which include wide-ranging social programs and vast national projects – the West ignores that Russia may well be on the way to overtake Germany as the fifth largest economy in the world.

The bottom line is that combined, the Russia-China strategic partnership is offering, especially to the Global South, two radically different approaches to the standard Western neoliberal dogma. And that, for the whole US establishment, is anathema.

So whatever the result of the Trump-Biden “choice”, the clash between the Hegemon and the Top Two Sovereigns is only bound to become more incandescent.

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

Source

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

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

The Huawei complete Google alternative is being built out – You will hear about Petal again – Maps, Docs, Search, Browser and probably every app you use.

Huawei solved its map problem with Petal Maps and has just unveiled Huawei Docs, which, supports document viewing and editing of 50 formats including PDF, PPT, and DOC. With real-time syncing enabled by cloud capabilities, Huawei Docs lets users can work on the same document on different devices logged into the same Huawei ID, enhancing the smart office experience. [MORE]

TASS wrote a decent release : Huawei Launches Petal Search, Petal Maps, HUAWEI Docs and More


Digital RMB in use in Shenzenhttps://www.youtube.com/embed/od05YfJyy1E?feature=oembed

Chinese experts see the central bank digital currency (CBDC) as a vital means of facilitating cross-border transactions and expediting the internationalisation of the renminbi. The Chinese central bank announced the commencement of trials of the CBDC in April 2020 across four cities, including Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu and Xiong’an, while in August the Hebei province government issued a notice calling for cross-border e-commerce transactions in Xiong’an to make greater use of the renminbi, as well as exploration of the use of the digital currency for cross-border payments. Pan Helin (盘和林), head of the Digital Economy Research Institute of the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, said to 21st Century Business Herald that the digital renminbi could be the solution to the current difficulties involved in making cross-border payments.

“At present the main problem with cross-border payments is that the period of time for needed funds to reach accounts is long, the speed is low, fees are high, procedures are numerous and efficiency levels are low,” said Pan. “The biggest advantages of the digital renminbi are convenience, high-efficiency, high timeliness and low cost, and for these reasons it can overcome the existing deficiencies with traditional cross-border payments methods.”

“Survey data indicates that occupation of liquidity is the biggest cost for the SWIFT cross-border payments system. Blockchain technology raises the efficiency of cross-border payments systems, reduces cross-border payments timeframes, and reduces the liquid funds used. The cost for financial institutions to conduct cross-border payments will be reduced.” Liu Bin (刘斌) a financial researcher from the Pudong Reform and Development Research Institute, said that the CBDC could also help to expedite internationalisation of the renminbi, pointing in particular to the following areas of development:

  • Driving the use of the renminbi for trade between China and ASEAN countries and China and Belt and Road countries;
  • At present free trade zones throughout China are exploring cross-border financing, and in future these free trade zones could serve as drivers for international use of the digital renminbi;
  • Overseas consumption by Chinese tourists and travellers could expedite the use and circulation of the digital renminbi abroad, in turn driving the establishment of corresponding systems and coordinating mechanisms abroad. [MORE]

Gross National Happiness

IPSOS: China the happiest nation on earth. Six in ten adults across 27 countries (63%) are happy, according to the latest Ipsos survey on global happiness. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of happiness at an aggregate level is nearly unchanged from last year. The happiest countries surveyed, i.e., those where more than three out of four adults report being very or rather happy are China, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Canada, France, Australia, Great Britain, and Sweden. Those where fewer than one in two adults say they are happy are Peru, Chile, Spain, Argentina, Hungary, and Mexico. Among 29 potential sources of happiness measured, people across the world are most likely to derive “the greatest happiness” from:

  • My health/physical well-being (cited by 55% globally)
  • My relationship with my partner/spouse (49%)
  • My children (49%)
  • Feeling my life has meaning (48%)
  • My living conditions (45%)

In comparison to the pre-pandemic survey conducted last year, the sources of happiness that have most gained in importance globally pertain to relationships, health, and safety. On the other hand, time and money have ceded some ground as drivers of happiness. Globally, happiness is as common this year as it was last year, dipping by just one percentage point from 64% to 63%. However, it has increased by five points or more in six countries, namely China, Russia, Malaysia, and Argentina, while it has decreased by five points or more in 12 countries, most of all Peru, Chile, Mexico, and India.

The happiness leader in 2020 is China, where 93% say they are happy (up 11 points from last year and moving from third place), followed by the Netherlands (newly added this year) with 87%, and Saudi Arabia with 80% (up two points). Canada and Australia, last year’s leaders in happiness, register a notable drop this year: Canada with 78% (down eight points) drops to fourth place in a tie with France (down two points) and Australia with 77% (down nine points) falls to sixth place.  [MORE]


SOCIETY

Farmer Li Zhifang is being crowned a “Food Hero” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on World Food Day, for his efforts to keep food cheap and accessible to residents of Wuhan during the worst period of the city’s lockdown during the pandemic. Li is marketing manager of the Wuhan Qiangxin Vegetable Production and Marketing Cooperative. He strived to keep food prices affordable and food supplies accessible during an unprecedented lockdown in the city where the virus began and many were forced to stay in their homes for months. Vegetable prices rocketed at the beginning of the pandemic when the situation was still developing.

Li not only persuaded farmers to sell produce at “normal” prices but also helped to increase deliveries from cooperative members to supermarkets, including Hema, also known as Freshippo, a Chinese fresh food supermarket chain owned by Alibaba. During the pandemic Li volunteered to help the local government distribute necessities to districts where there was a shortage of fresh food, including communities adjacent to the Huanan Seafood Market, thought to be the original epicenter of the pandemic, which people were scared to visit. “Someone must be brave when the battle begins,” the “Food Hero” was quoted as saying. People have praised Li for his contribution and commented that his new title on this special day shows that the UN approves of China’s anti-pandemic policies. “As a Wuhan local, I could buy vegetables at reasonable prices during the lockdown, thank you so much!” “Wuhan relied on these ordinary heroes to recover from the pandemic,” one popular comment read.  [CAIXIN].


ASEAN

US-funded agitators in Bangkok block downtown roads–like US-funded agitators in Hong Kong.

Anti-government protesters in Thailand organized by billionaire-led opposition parties and funded by the US government have openly committed themselves to the “Hong Kong model” of US-funded unrest. This includes targeting public infrastructure to create maximum instability for the vast majority of the public and undermining Thailand’s economic recovery in the wake of the global COVID-19 economic crisis. The protesters are committed to the “Hong Kong model” despite it having failed completely in Hong Kong itself with most of the leaders either sidelined, jailed, or having fled abroad. Knowing that this model is ultimately doomed to failure but committing to it and the violence, disruption, and instability it implies anyway – does not even benefit the opposition itself – because it surely did not benefit Hong Kong’s opposition but instead effectively ended it.

Instead – this campaign of violence and disruption will only benefit the protest’s US government sponsors – a US government determined to undermine China and its allies and obstruct Asia’s global rise. Overturning Thailand’s political order is one goal – but simply dividing and destroying Thailand to deny China a prosperous ally is another.  As it stands now – Thailand is benefiting from China’s regional and global rise – but should protesters have their way – the economy they claim to be upset about will be further destroyed as they seek to cut ties with China – Thailand’s largest trade partner, foreign investor, source of tourism, and a key partner in several important infrastructure projects including a high-speed rail network that will connect Thailand to China via Laos. The US and Europe have no ability now nor will in the foreseeable future to replace the ties Thailand currently enjoys and is benefiting from with China. Tony Cartalucci – ATN. [MORE]


Geopolitics

Guest Editorial by Billy Bob, who is married, 45 years old, with two young kids 8 and 6 and a full time job in the medical field that he does not want to lose:  “For several years now I have been using my facebook profile to raise awareness and engage with folks regarding the political and economic issues facing our planet”.

As the West churns out more anti-China propaganda designed to defame, malign, and facilitate the decoupling of Western industry from China, China continues to lead the world in economic growth and expansion. The problem for the Western ruling class is that China is too lucrative of an industrial base and too appealing as a perspective market for any self respecting capitalist to turn their back on such potential wealth creation. For individual Western capitalists to forgo the opportunity to profit in China, actual laws will need to be passed and it’s not clear the ruling class can get it’s act together in order to legislatively force such a decoupling. It’s not as if there exists a central authority that can simply dictate the behavior of thousands of industries and force them to sacrifice their own individual economic well being on the alter of the greater class interest. Even though Trump has attempted to tweet such demands in the past, absent some major catalyzing event, there is no way individual Western industries are going to relinquish the incredible economic opportunities that China offers. Such are the limitations of Western capitalism.

What the ruling class really needs is “a new pearl harbor”. This time however, instead of Islam, China must be declared the alleged antagonist. Only then can the ruling class force individual intransigent corporations and industries to decouple from China and move to India.

Too be sure, India is central to the West’s grand strategy. Modi and his Western backers have convinced themselves that they can emulate China’s success and that they can offer the world’s capitalists all the economic opportunities that China can but without the threatening demonstration of the superiority of social planning and a Marxist Leninist communist party.

The ruling class will never be able to pull this off. China has already won. The West will flail around in futility and watch as the inevitability of China’s economic steam engine rolls over every malign strategy and subversive plot they conceive. China has set in motion a chain of events that is impossible to curtail. The speed at which China is growing and developing and the wisdom with which it is overcoming every challenge is both astonishing and exhilarating.

If you are curious about the information which informs my statements and perspective, if you haven’t internalized and don’t honestly embrace wholeheartedly the truth about China I shared above, you are cheating yourself and missing out on the knowledge that represents the most important development of our lifetime. In 1936, Mao comprehended a faint shadow of what was to come when he wrote:

“When China finally wins her independence, then legitimate foreign trading interests will enjoy more opportunity than ever before. The power of production and consumption of 450,000,000 people is not a matter that can remain the exclusive interest of the Chinese, but one that must engage the many nations. Our millions of people, once really emancipated, with their great latent productive possibilities freed for creative activity in every field, can help improve the economy as well as raise the cultural level of the whole world.”
***

The Two Undersides to Geo-Politics: At the explicit level, today’s geo-political struggle is about the U.S. maintaining its primacy of power – with financial power being a subset to this political power. Carl Schmitt, whose thoughts had such influence on Leo Strauss and U.S. thinking generally, advocated that those who have power should ‘use it, or lose it’. The prime object of politics therefore being to preserve one’s ‘social existence’. But the prize that America truly seeks is to seize is all global standards in leading-edge technologies, and to deny them to China. Such standards might seem obscure, but they are a crucial element of modern technology. If the cold war was dominated by a race to build the most nuclear weapons, today’s contest between the U.S. and China — as well as vis à vis the EU — will at least partly be played out through a struggle to control the bureaucratic rule-setting that lies behind the most important industries of the age. And those standards are up for grabs. So where are we in this de-coupling struggle? China’s intent now is not simply to refine and improve on existing technology, but to leapfrog existing knowledge into a new tech realm– by discovering and using new materials that overcome present limits to microprocessor evolution. They may just succeed – over next the three years or so – given the huge resources China is diverting to this task (i.e. with microprocessors). This could alter the whole tech calculus – awarding China primacy over most key areas of cutting-edge technology. States will not easily be able ignore this fact – whether or not they profess to ‘like’ China, or not.

Which brings us to the second ‘underside’ to this geopolitical struggle. So far, both the U.S. and China have kept finance largely separate to the main de-coupling. But a substantive change may be underway: The U.S. and several other states are toying with Central Bank digital currencies, and FinTech internet platforms are beginning to displace traditional banking institutions. Pepe Escobar notes: “Donald Trump is mulling restrictions on Ant’s Alipay and other Chinese digital payment platforms like Tencent Holdings…and, as with Huawei, Trump’s team is alleging Ant’s digital payment platforms threaten U.S. national security. More likely is that Trump is concerned Ant threatens the global banking advantage the U.S. has long taken for granted. Team Trump is not alone. U.S. hedge fund manager Kyle Bass of Hayman Capital argues Ant and Tencent are “clear and present dangers to U.S. national security that now threaten us more than any other issue.”

The point is two-fold: China is setting the scene to challenge a fiat dollar, at a sensitive moment of dollar weakness. And secondly, China is placing ‘facts on the ground’ — shaping standards from the bottom up, through widespread overseas adoption of its technology. Just as Alipay has made huge inroads across Asia, China’s ‘Smart Cities’ project diffuses Chinese standards, precisely because they incorporate so many technologies: Facial recognition systems, big data analysis, 5G telecoms and AI cameras. All represent technologies for which standards remain up for grabs. Thus ‘smart cities’, which automate multiple municipal functions, additionally helps China’s standards drive .[MORE]


Selections and editorial comments by Amarynth.  (Go Get that newsletter – it again is packed with detail and each time I read it, it becomes clearer that a country of 1.4 billion people requires a specific kind of cohesion to make it work.  And so far, it is working.  Take a look for fun – How to take a 7,000-tonne building for a walk).

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