Flying Dragon, Crashing Eagle

Flying Dragon, Crashing Eagle

November 23, 2020

by Pepe Escobar and first posted at Asia Times

Four geoeconomic summits compressed in one week tell the story of where we stand in these supremely dystopian times.

The (virtual) signing of RCEP in Vietnam was followed by the equally virtual BRICS meeting hosted by Moscow, the APEC meeting hosted by Malaysia, and the G20 this past weekend hosted by Saudi Arabia.

Cynics have not failed to note the spectacular theater of the absurd of having the Top 20 – at least in theory – economies discussing what is arguably the turning point in the world-system linked to a beheading-friendly desert oil hacienda with a 7th century mentality.

The Riyadh declaration did its best to lift the somber planetary mood, vowing to deploy “all available policy tools” (no precise details) to contain Covid-19 and heroically “save” the global economy by “advancing” global pandemic preparedness, vaccine development and distribution – in tandem with debt relief – for the Global South.

Not a peep about The Great Reset – the Brave New World scheme concocted by Herr Schwab of Davos and fully supported by the IMF, Big Tech, transnational Big Capital interests and the oh so benign Prince Charles. Meanwhile, off the record, G20 sherpas moaned about the lack of real global governance and multiple attacks on multilateralism.

And not a peep as well about the real life vaccine war between the expensive Western candidates – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca – and the much cheaper Russia-China versions – Sputnik V and Sinovac.

What seems to be the case is that any agenda – sinister or otherwise – fits the one-size-fits-all vow by the G20 to provide “opportunities of the 21st century for all by empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers.”

The House of Xi

At the G20, President Xi Jinping did not waste the chance – after RCEP, BRICS and APEC – to once again emphasize China’s priorities: multilateralism, support for WTO reform, ample international cooperation on vaccine research and production.

But then, in tandem with reducing tariffs and facilitating the trade of crucial medical supplies, Xi proposed a global health QR code – a sound way to restore global travel and trade: “While containing the virus, we need to restore the secure and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains.”

Predictably, there were howls about neo-Orwellian intrusion, comparing the QR code with the exceptionally misunderstood Chinese credit system. Herr Schwab’s Great Reset in fact proposes something similar, with even more neo-Orwellian overtones, disguised under an innocent “Covid Pass” app, or highly secure “health passport”.

What Xi has proposed amounts to just a mutual recognition of health certificates, issued by different nations, based on nucleic acid tests. No gene altering vaccines coupled with nanochips. These QR codes, incorporated to health apps, are already used for domestic travel in China.

Chinese officials have made it very clear that Beijing has been working as the representative of the Global South inside the G20. That’s multilateralism in action. And the multilateralist drive extends from RCEP – signed between 15 nations – to the brilliant Sun Tzu maneuver of China now accepting even the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the successor of the Obama-promoted and Trump-detonated TPP.

This revival – a case of Make TPP Chinese Again – can be envisaged because Beijing not only has mastered how to contain Covid-19 but is also recovering in lightning speed. China will be the only major economy growing in 2020 – de facto leading the world to a tentative post-Covid paradigm.

What the APEC meeting made crystal clear is that with East Asia graphically hitting the economic limelight, as seen with RCEP, much vaunted US “leadership” inevitably diminishes.

APEC promoted a so-called Putrajaya Vision 2040, condensing an “open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful” Asia-Pacific all the way to 2040. That neatly ties in with the three accumulated five-year Chinese plans all the way to 2035, approved last month at the CCP plenum in Beijing.

The emphasis, once again, is on multilateralism and an open global economy.

Few are more capable to capture the moment than Professor Wang Yiwei at the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University, who wrote the best Chinese book on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Wang stresses how China is in a period of “strategic opportunity” and is now “the most powerful leader of globalization”. China’s emphasis on multilateralism will “activate the connectivity and vitality of a trade platform like RCEP”.

Stranger than fiction

Now compare all of the above with Trump at the G20 tweeting about the election dystopia and privileging golfing instead of discussing Covid-19 containment.

And then there’s

The Elements of the China Challenge, the new 74-page delusional epic concocted by the office of secretary Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo.

Diplomatic howls comparing it with the notorious George Kennan “long telegram” that codified the containment of the USSR in the Cold War are nonsense. Chinese Foreign Ministry reaction was more to the point: this was concocted by some “living fossils of the Cold War” and is doomed to end up “being consigned to the dustbin of history”.

President Xi Jinping, at RCEP, BRICS, APEC and the G20, concisely laid out the Chinese case: multilateralism, international cooperation on multiple fields, an open global economy, due representation of Global South’s interests.

As we wait for a set of imponderables all the way to January 20, 2021, perhaps an angular approach to what may lie ahead for the world economy is best offered by fiction.

Enter Billions, season 5, episode 2, dialogue written by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Axe: “You know they call us traders ‘gamblers’. The world’s economy is one big casino, fueled by a giant debt bubble and computer driven derivatives. And there’s only one thing better than being a gambler at a casino.”

Wags: “That’s being the house.”

Axe: “That’s right. There’s a systemized machine out there, sucking capital from localities and injecting it into the global markets, where it can be used to speculate and manipulate. And if something goes wrong there are bailouts and bail-ins, federal aid and easing. Where the government doesn’t hunt you down, but instead gives you a nice soft net to land in.”

Wags: “That’s your answer to the fireside chat: You want to become a bank.”

Axe: “I want to become a bank.”

Wags: “In order to rob it?”

Axe: “In order that I don’t have to.”

The World is Changing: China Launches Campaign for Superpower Status

October 23, 2020

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

By Ramzy Baroud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

New role for China and Russia – and how after a Biden victory?

New role for China and Russia – and how after a Biden victory?

October 25, 2020

Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog

On the world stage, profound changes are under way. Obviously, China and Russia have lost the confidence that the West will contribute to the solution of the world’s problems in some constructive manner. China and Russia have now accepted their role as the leading forces with the responsibility of holding the world together. The West held this role for centuries, but this time is over. The West has essentially become destructive. The West has lost the power of solving problems and now use her resources mainly for creating problems. In my eyes, this is the central evolution of the last months and it is an epochal change.

China and Russia did not easily decide to go ahead without the West. They have hesitated for a long time. They are quite aware of the burden they will have to bear. Other countries have led the way. In particular, Iran and North Korea have come to the conviction already some time ago that they cannot count on the West. The same is true for Hezbollah, for Syria, for Cuba, or for Venezuela. But apparently, China and Russia did not intend to „blindly“ follow these countries. However, not only the moment has come to take a decision, but China and Russia now also feel strong enough to advance without the West, or, may-be more precisely, despite the West.

The new role for China and Russia includes a lot of functions. They have to defend some kind of international order and law; they have to maintain and even strengthen important international organizations, in particular the UNO; they have to try to contain regional conflicts; they have to propose possible solutions for the world’s problems. Of course, this cannot and will not be done in a dictatorial manner. China and Russia always insist that the decisions must be taken in a much more democratic spirit than that which was – and is – practiced by the West.

It is a fact that the West does more and more undermine any kind of international law and order. Their international politics is destructive.There are countless sanctions against other countries, there are murders, conspiracies, and lies. In recent times, there is no conflict in the world where the West has tried to support a peaceful solution, may-be with the exception of Afghanistan and – at least for some time – of the two Koreas. And during the current pandemic, the West has made no effort in order to propose a common reaction of the world; countries like China, Russia, and Cuba did much more in this direction.

It is not a simple coincidence that China and Russia used the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II, the 3 September, in order to clarify their new role. Namely, during this war, Russia and China already bore the principal responsibility for the victory over the fascist aggressors.

In this context, Xin Jinping wrote to Vladimir Putin: „China and Russia both shoulder important responsibilities for the cause of world peace and development. I am ready to work with you to take the 75th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War as an opportunity to lead China and Russia towards deeper comprehensive strategic coordination. Together with the international community, we should firmly protect our victory in World War II and international fairness and justice, actively uphold and practice multilateralism, promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, in a bid to allow future generations to enjoy a world featuring lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.“

Vladimir Putin, on the same occasion (3 September), wrote to Xi Jinping that „it is a common responsibility of Russia and China to safeguard the truth of WWII history“ and called on the two countries to resolutely oppose any attempt to deny the outcomes of the war. Russia is ready “to continue active efforts jointly with its ally China in order to prevent wars and conflicts in the world and ensure global stability and security.”

In his speech at the Valdai Discussion Club (22 October), Putin has very much developed the new role of Russia (and China). This is an absolutely crucial speech, including the questions and answers. In particular, Putin explains that a strong state which has the confidence of the citizens is „a basic condition for Russia’s development“. Putin underlines that „genuine democracy and civil society cannot be ‚imported‘ … only the citizens of a particular country can determine their public interest“.

* * * * *

Now let us come to the other side, the West. The upcoming US elections will determine the official Western leadership, that is, the Trump team or the Biden team. It is of course an important decision, even if the differences between the two teams are may-be more in style than in the content. Nevertheless, the outcome will have a big influence on the whole West. So, let us try to consider the consequences.

For me, the first question is, which side is less destructive? This question is still quite difficult to answer. The Trump team has more and more developed a destructive foreign politics, in particular against Iran and China. The Biden team on the other hand has concentrated the campaign essentially on the destruction of the Trump team, without mentioning constructive projects. So both sides are basically and intrinsically destructive.

The second question is, citing Putin’s formula, which team may gain more confidence of the citizens? The (numerical) outcome of the elections is by far not the unique measure for this. The particulate and egoistic interests of some powerful and very rich groups have an enormous influence – leaving aside corruption and manipulation of the elections.

All what I hear from the USA hints to my feeling that the Biden team is utmost arrogant and completely detached from the people and, as a consequence, is more subdued to the particulate and egoistic interests of these powerful and very rich groups. This does not mean that the Trump team is close to the citizens, but at least it is tendentiously closer than the other team; therefore, the Trump team is somewhat more autonomous.

Concerning the West, a victory of the Trump team would probably not change much. This would be a small advantage for the world since the West will – partly – remain blocked by internal divisions, and new aggressive wars will be quite difficult. On the other hand, a victory of Biden’s team bears the risk that both leading political parties in the USA will unit in order to plan new wars.

How big is this danger? It should not be underestimated. The power of the Trump team is basically one which comes from direct popular support. If this popular support becomes negligible, then the particulate egoistic groups will try to eliminate the Trump team and all its supporters. Moreover, in the whole West, the „moral“ and „ideological“ imperialism will obtain a big push.

However, these „hopes“ created in the West by the perspective of a Biden’s victory are a pure illusion. There are based on nothing, just on nostalgia. It is plain nonsense to think that the problems of the West were created by the Trump team and its supporters. A Biden’s victory cannot solve the inner problems of the West, and the former strength of the West cannot be regained.

The „moral“ imperialism intends to punish all countries which do not have an, often imported, Western liberal system. But this is impossible. The world has become too diversified. So, the push towards this pathological feeling of superiority of the West will probably be a straw fire. Nevertheless, it can be quite dangerous.

What is my prognosis? We should expect a victory of Biden’s team. As I explained, this is not what I would wish. However, elections have some own laws. Often, the central subject of the election battle is of crucial importance. When the central subject was the social unrest in the US cities, then the Trump team had a clear advantage. But now, the central subject seems to be have shifted to the pandemic. This favors Biden’s team. Of course, I do not think that Biden would have better managed the pandemic. But it was Trump who was the president during the pandemic. Therefore, in some sense, he will be taken responsible for the pandemic, justified or not.

Of course, it is possible that the Trump team wins. It is also possible that after the elections, there will be chaos. But still, I would not count on such a result. More probable is some kind of which hunt against the supporters of the Trump team. This could also affect everybody who is not a declared Trump hater. But this foreseeable extremism, provoked by a Biden’s victory, will again alienate the USA inside the West.

* * * * *

National elections are not isolated events. They take place in a global context. This global context has to be considered for a correct assessment of the results. These elections are the first US elections in the new epoch, characterized by the new role of China and Russia. The elections will be affected by this fundamental change, in some way or another. It can be supposed that they will give important hints how the world will proceed in the new epoch.

Will Confucius marry Marx?

Will Confucius marry Marx?

October 10, 2020

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

Chinese scholar Lanxin Xiang has written a book, The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics, that is arguably the most extraordinary effort in decades trying to bridge the East-West politico-historical divide.

It’s impossible in a brief column to do justice to the relevance of the discussions this book inspires. Here we will highlight some of the key issues – hoping they will appeal to an informed readership especially across the Beltway, now convulsed by varying degrees of Sinophobia.

Xiang delves right into the fundamental contradiction: China is widely accused by the West of lack of democratic legitimacy exactly as it enjoys a four-decade, sustainable, history-making economic boom.

He identifies two key sources for the Chinese problem: “On the one hand, there is the project of cultural restoration through which Chinese leader Xi Jinping attempts to restore ‘Confucian legitimacy’ or the traditional ‘Mandate of Heaven’; on the other hand, Xi refuses to start any political reforms, because it is his top priority to preserve the existing political system, i.e., a ruling system derived mainly from an alien source, Bolshevik Russia.”

Ay, there’s the rub: “The two objectives are totally incompatible”.

Xiang contends that for the majority of Chinese – the apparatus and the population at large – this “alien system” cannot be preserved forever, especially now that a cultural revival focuses on the Chinese Dream.

Needless to add, scholarship in the West is missing the plot completely – because of the insistence on interpreting China under Western political science and “Eurocentric historiography”. What Xiang attempts in his book is to “navigate carefully the conceptual and logical traps created by post-Enlightenment terminologies”.

Thus his emphasis on deconstructing “master keywords” – a wonderful concept straight out of ideography. The four master keywords are legitimacy, republic, economy and foreign policy. This volume concentrates on legitimacy (hefa, in Chinese).

When law is about morality

It’s a joy to follow how Xiang debunks Max Weber – “the original thinker of the question of political legitimacy”. Weber is blasted for his “rather perfunctory study of the Confucian system”. He insisted that Confucianism – emphasizing only equality, harmony, decency, virtue and pacifism – could not possibly develop a competitive capitalist spirit.

Xiang shows how since the beginning of the Greco-Roman tradition, politics was always about a spatial conception – as reflected in polis (a city or city-state). The Confucian concept of politics, on the other hand, is “entirely temporal, based on the dynamic idea that legitimacy is determined by a ruler’s daily moral behavior.”

Xiang shows how hefa contains in fact two concepts: “fit” and “law” – with “law” giving priority to morality.

In China, the legitimacy of a ruler is derived from a Mandate of Heaven (Tian Ming). Unjust rulers inevitably lose the mandate – and the right to rule. This, argues Xiang, is “a dynamic ‘deeds-based’ rather than ‘procedure-based’ argument.”

Essentially, the Mandate of Heaven is “an ancient Chinese belief that tian [ heaven, but not the Christian heaven, complete with an omniscient God] grants the emperor the right to rule based on their moral quality and ability to govern well and fairly.”

The beauty of it is that the mandate does not require a divine connection or noble bloodline, and has no time limit. Chinese scholars have always interpreted the mandate as a way to fight abuse of power.

The overall crucial point is that, unlike in the West, the Chinese view of history is cyclical, not linear: “Legitimacy is in fact a never-ending process of moral self-adjustment.”

Xiang then compares it with the Western understanding of legitimacy. He refers to Locke, for whom political legitimacy derives from explicit and implicit popular consent of the governed. The difference is that without institutionalized religion, as in Christianity, the Chinese created “a dynamic conception of legitimacy through the secular authority of general will of the populace, arriving at this idea without the help of any fictional political theory such as divine rights of humanity and ‘social contract’’.

Xiang cannot but remind us that Leibniz described it as “Chinese natal theology”, which happened not to clash with the basic tenets of Christianity.

Xiang also explains how the Mandate of Heaven has nothing to do with Empire: “Acquiring overseas territories for population resettlement never occurred in Chinese history, and it does little to enhance legitimacy of the ruler.”

In the end it was the Enlightenment, mostly because of Montesquieu, that started to dismiss the Mandate of Heaven as “nothing but apology for ‘Oriental Despotism’”. Xiang notes how “pre-modern Europe’s rich interactions with the non-Western world” were “deliberately ignored by post-Enlightenment historians.”

Which brings us to a bitter irony: “While modern ‘democratic legitimacy’ as a concept can only work with the act of delegitimizing other types of political system, the Mandate of Heaven never contains an element of disparaging other models of governance.” So much for “the end of history.”

Why no Industrial Revolution?

Xiang asks a fundamental question: “Is China’s success indebted more to the West-led world economic system or to its own cultural resources?”

And then he proceeds to meticulously debunk the myth that economic growth is only possible under Western liberal democracy – a heritage, once again, of the Enlightenment, which ruled that Confucianism was not up to the task.

We already had an inkling that was not the case with the ascension of the East Asian tigers – Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea – in the 1980s and 1990s. That even moved a bunch of social scientists and historians to admit that Confucianism could be a stimulus to economic growth.

Yet they only focused on the surface, the alleged “core” Confucian values of hard work and thrift, argues Xiang: “The real ‘core’ value, the Confucian vision of state and its relations to economy, is often neglected.”

Virtually everyone in the West, apart from a few non-Eurocentric scholars, completely ignores that China was the world’s dominant economic superpower from the 12th century to the second decade of the 19th century.

Xiang reminds us that a market economy – including private ownership, free land transactions, and highly specialized mobile labor – was established in China as early as in 300 B.C. Moreover, “as early as in the Ming dynasty, China had acquired all the major elements that were essential for the British Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.”

Which brings us to a persistent historical enigma: why the Industrial Revolution did not start in China?

Xiang turns the question upside down: “Why traditional China needed an industrial revolution at all?”

Once again, Xiang reminds us that the “Chinese economic model was very influential during the early period of the Enlightenment. Confucian economic thinking was introduced by the Jesuits to Europe, and some Chinese ideas such as the laisser-faire principle led to free-trade philosophy.”

Xiang shows not only how external economic relations were not important for Chinese politics and economy but also that “the traditional Chinese view of state is against the basic rationale of the industrial revolution, for its mass production method is aimed at conquering not just the domestic market but outside territories.”

Xiang also shows how the ideological foundation for Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations began to veer towards individualist liberalism while “Confucius never wavered from a position against individualism, for the role of the economy is to ‘enrich people’ as a whole, not specific individuals.”

All that leads to the fact that “in modern economics, the genuine conversation between the West and China hardly exists from the outset, since the post-Enlightenment West has been absolutely confident about its sole possession of the ‘universal truth’ and secret in economic development, which allegedly has been denied to the rest of the world.”

An extra clue can be found when we see what ‘economy” (jingji) means in China: Jingji is “an abbreviate term of two characters describing neither pure economic nor even commercial activities. It simply means ‘managing everyday life of the society and providing sufficient resources for the state”. In this conception, politics and economy can never be separated into two mechanical spheres. The body politic and the body economic are organically connected.”

And that’s why external trade, even when China was very active in the Ancient Silk Road, “was never considered capable of playing a key role for the health of the overall economy and the well-being of the people.”

Wu Wei and the invisible hand

Xiang needs to go back to the basics: the West did not invent the free market. The laisser-faire principle was first conceptualized by Francois Quesnay, the forerunner of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”. Quesnay, curiously, was known at the time as the “European Confucius”.

In Le Despotisme de la Chine (1767), written 9 years before The Wealth of Nations, Quesnay was frankly in favor of the meritocratic concept of giving political power to scholars and praised the “enlightened” Chinese imperial system.

An extra delicious historical irony is that laisser-faire, as Xiang reminds us, was directly inspired by the Taoist concept of wu wei – which we may loosely translate as “non-action”.

Xiang notes how “Adam Smith, deeply influenced by Quesnay whom he had met in Paris for learning this laisser-faire philosophy, may have got right the meaning of wu wei with his invention of “invisible hand”, suggesting a proactive rather than passive economic system, and keeping the Christian theological dimension aside.”

Xiang reviews everyone from Locke and Montesquieu to Stuart Mill, Hegel and Wallerstein’s “world system” theory to arrive at a startling conclusion: “The conception of China as a typical ‘backward’ economic model was a 20th century invention built upon the imagination of Western cultural and racial superiority, rather than historical reality.”

Moreover, the idea of ‘backward-looking’ was actually not established in Europe until the French revolution: “Before that, the concept of ‘revolution’ had always retained a dimension of cyclical, rather than ‘progressive’ – i.e., linear, historical perspective. The original meaning of revolution (from the Latin word revolutio, a “turn-around”) contains no element of social progress, for it refers to a fundamental change in political power or organizational structures that takes place when the population rises up in revolt against the current authorities.”

Will Confucius marry Marx?

And that brings us to post-modern China. Xiang stress how a popular consensus in China is that the Communist Party is “neither Marxist nor capitalist, and its moral standard has little to do with the Confucian value system”. Consequently, the Mandate of Heaven is “seriously damaged”.

The problem is that “marrying Marxism and Confucianism is too dangerous”.

Xiang identifies the fundamental flaw of the Chinese wealth distribution “in a system that guarantees a structural process of unfair (and illegal) wealth transfer, from the people who contribute labor to the production of wealth to the people who do not.”

He argues that, “deviation from Confucian traditional values explains the roots of the income distribution problem in China better than the Weberian theories which tried to establish a clear linkage between democracy and fair income distribution”.

So what is to be done?

Xiang is extremely critical of how the West approached China in the 19th century, “through the path of Westphalian power politics and the show of violence and Western military superiority.”

Well, we all know how it backfired. It led to a genuine modern revolution – and Maoism. The problem, as Xiang interprets it, is that the revolution “transformed the traditional Confucian society of peace and harmony into a virulent Westphalian state.”

So only through a social revolution inspired by October 1917 the Chinese state “begun the real process of approaching the West” and what we all define as “modernization”. What would Deng say?

Xiang argues that the current Chinese hybrid system, “dominated by a cancerous alien organ of Russian Bolshevism, is not sustainable without drastic reforms to create a pluralist republican system. Yet these reforms should not be conditioned upon eliminating traditional political values.”

So is the CCP capable of successfully merging Confucianism and Marxism-Leninism? Forging a unique, Chinese, Third Way? That’s not only the major theme for Xiang’s subsequent books: that’s a question for the ages.

The limits of Chinese power

October 08, 2020

The limits of Chinese power

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

Everything about US-China hinges on the result of the upcoming US presidential election.

Trump 2.0 essentially would turbo-charge its bet on decoupling, aiming to squeeze “malign” China on a multiple Hybrid War front, undermine the Chinese trade surplus, co-opt large swathes of Asia, while always insisting on characterizing China as evil incarnate.

Team Biden, even as it professes no desire to fall into the trap of a new Cold War, according to the Dem official platform, would be only slightly less confrontational, ostensibly “saving” the “rules-based order” while keeping Trump-enacted sanctions.

Very few Chinese analysts are better positioned to survey the geopolitical and geoeconomic chessboard than Lanxin Xiang: expert on relations between China, US and Europe, professor of History and International Relations at the IHEID in Geneva and director of the Center for One Belt, One Road Studies in Shanghai.

Xiang got his PhD at SAIS at Johns Hopkins, and is as well respected in the US as in China. During a recent webinar he laid out the lineaments of an analysis the West ignores at its own peril.

Xiang has been focusing on the Trump administration’s push to “redefine an external target”: a process he brands, “risky, dangerous, and highly ideological”. Not because of Trump – who is “not interested in ideological issues” – but due to the fact that the “China policy was hijacked by the real Cold Warriors”. The objective: “regime change. But that was not Trump’s original plan.”

Xiang blasts the rationale behind these Cold Warriors: “We made a huge mistake in the past 40 years”. That is, he insists, “absurd – reading back into History, and denying the entire history of US-China relations since Nixon.” And Xiang fears the “lack of overall strategy. That creates enormous strategic uncertainty – and leads to miscalculations.”

Compounding the problem, “China is not really sure what the US wants to do.” Because it goes way beyond containment – which Xiang defines as a “very well thought of strategy by George Kennan, the father of the Cold War.” Xiang only detects a pattern of “Western civilization versus a non-Caucasian culture. That language is very dangerous. It’s a direct rehash of Samuel Huntington, and shows very little room for compromise.”

In a nutshell, that’s the “American way of stumbling into a Cold War.”

An October Surprise?

All of the above directly connects with Xiang’s great concern about a possible October Surprise: “It could probably be over Taiwan. Or a limited engagement in the South China Sea.” He stresses, “Chinese military people are terribly worried. October Surprise as a military engagement is not unthinkable, because Trump may want to re-establish a war presidency.”

For Xiang, “if Biden wins, the danger of a Cold War turning Hot War will be reduced dramatically.” He is very much aware of shifts in the bipartisan consensus in Washington: “Historically, Republicans don’t care about human rights and ideology. Chinese always preferred to deal with Republicans. They can’t deal with Democrats – human rights, values issues. Now the situation is reversed.”

Xiang, incidentally, “invited a top Biden adviser to Beijing. Very pragmatic. Not too ideological.” But in case of a possible Trump 2.0 administration, everything could change: “My hunch is he will be totally relaxed, may even reverse China policy 180 degrees. I would not be surprised. He would turn back to being Xi Jinping’s best friend.”

As it stands, the problem is “a chief diplomat that behaves as a chief propagandist, taking advantage of an erratic president.”

And that’s why Xiang never rules out even an invasion of Taiwan by Chinese troops. He games the scenario of a Taiwanese government announcing, “We are independent” coupled with a visit by the Secretary of State: “That would provoke a limited military action, and could turn into an escalation. Think about Sarajevo. That worries me. If Taiwan declares independence, Chinese invade in less than 24 hours. “

How Beijing miscalculates

Unlike most Chinese scholars, Xiang is refreshingly frank about Beijing’s own shortcomings: “Several things should have been better controlled. Like abandoning Deng Xiaoping’s original advice that China should bide its time and keep a low profile. Deng, in his last will, had set a timeline for that, at least 50 years.”

The problem is “the speed of China’s economic development led to hot headed, and premature, calculations. And a not well thought of strategy. ‘Wolf warrior’ diplomacy is an extremely assertive posture – and language. China began to upset the US – and even the Europeans. That was a geostrategic miscalculation.”

And that brings us to what Xiang characterizes as “the overextension of Chinese power: geopolitical and geoconomic.” He’s fond of quoting Paul Kennedy: “Any great superpower, if overstretched, becomes vulnerable.”

Xiang goes as far as stating that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – whose concept he enthusiastically praises – may be overstretched: “They thought it was a purely economic project. But with such wide global reach?”

So is BRI a case of overstretching or a source of destabilization? Xiang notes how, “Chinese are never really interested in other countries’ domestic policies. Not interested in exporting a model. Chinese have no real model. A model has to be mature – with a structure. Unless you’re talking about export of traditional Chinese culture.”

The problem, once again, is that China thought it was possible to “sneak into geographical areas that the US never paid too much attention to, Africa, Central Asia, without necessarily provoking a geopolitical setback. But that is naiveté.”

Xiang is fond of reminding Western analysts that, “the infrastructure investment model was invented by Europeans. Railways. The Trans-Siberian. Canals, like in Panama. Behind these projects there was always a colonial competition. We pursue similar projects – minus colonialism.”

Still, “Chinese planners buried their head in the sand. They never use that word – geopolitics.” Thus his constant jokes with Chinese policy makers: “You may not like geopolitics, but geopolitics likes you.”

Ask Confucius

The crucial aspect of the “post-pandemic situation”, according to Xiang, is to forget about “that wolf warrior stuff. China may be able to re-start the economy before anyone else. Develop a really working vaccine. China should not politicize it. It should show a universal value about it, pursue multilateralism to help the world, and improve its image.”

On domestic politics, Xiang is adamant that “during the last decade the atmosphere at home, on minority issues, freedom of speech, has been tightening to the extent that it does not help China’s image as a global power.”

Compare it, for instance, with “unfavorable views of China” in a survey of nations in the industrialized West that includes only two Asians: Japan and South Korea.

And that brings us to Xiang’s The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics – arguably the most important contemporary study by a Chinese scholar capable of explaining and bridging the East-West political divide.

This book is such a major breakthrough that its main conceptual analyses will be the subject of a follow-up column.

Xiang’s main thesis is that “legitimacy in Chinese tradition political philosophy is a dynamic question. To transplant Western political values to the Chinese system does not work.”

Yet even as the Chinese concept of legitimacy is dynamic, Xiang stresses, “the Chinese government is facing a legitimacy crisis.” He refers to the anti-corruption campaign of the past four years: “Widespread official corruption, that is a side-effect of economic development, bringing out the bad side of the system. Credit to Xi Jinping, who understood that if we allow this to continue, the CCP will lose all legitimacy.”

Xiang stresses how, in China, “legitimacy is based on the concept of morality – since Confucius. The communists can’t escape the logic.

Nobody before Xi dared to tackle corruption. He had the guts to root it out, arrested hundreds of corrupt generals. Some even attempted two or three coups d’état.”

At the same time, Xiang is adamantly against the “tightening of the atmosphere” in China in terms of freedom of speech. He mentions the example of Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew, an “enlightened authoritarian system”. The problem is” China has no rule of law. There are a lot of legal aspects though. Singapore is a little city-state. Like Hong Kong. They just took over the British legal system. It’s working very well for that size.”

And that brings Xiang to quote Aristotle: “Democracy can never work in bigger countries. In city-states, it does.” And armed with Aristotle, we step into Hong Kong: “Hong Kong had rule of law – but never a democracy. The government was directly appointed by London. That’s how Hong Kong actually worked – as an economic dynamo. Neoliberal economists consider Hong Kong as a model. It’s a unique political arrangement. Tycoon politics. No democracy – even as the colonial government did not rule like an authoritarian figure. Market economy was unleashed. Hong Kong was ruled by the Jockey Club, HSBC, Jardine Matheson, with the colonial government as coordinator. They never cared about people in the bottom.”

Xiang notes how, “the richest man in Hong Kong only pays 15% of income tax. China wanted to keep that pattern, with a colonial government appointed by Beijing. Still tycoon politics. But now there’s a new generation. People born after the handover – who know nothing about the colonial history. Chinese elite ruling since 1997 did not pay attention to the grassroots and neglected younger generation sentiment. For a whole year the Chinese didn’t do anything. Law and order collapsed. This is the reason why mainland Chinese decided to step in. That’s what the new security law is all about.”

And what about that other favorite “malign” actor across the Beltway – Russia? “Putin would love to have a Trump win. The Chinese as well, up to three months ago. The Cold War was a great strategic triangle. After Nixon went to China, the US sat in the middle manipulating Moscow and Beijing. Now everything has changed.”

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

September 23, 2020

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

It took one minute for President Trump to introduce a virus at the virtual 75th UN General Assembly, blasting “the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world”.

And then it all went downhill.

Even as Trump was essentially delivering a campaign speech and could not care less about the multilateral UN, at least the picture was clear enough for all the socially distant “international community” to see.

Here is President Xi’s full statement. And here is President Putin’s full statement. And here’s the geopolitical chessboard, once again; it’s the “indispensable nation” versus the Russia-China strategic partnership.

As he stressed the importance of the UN, Xi could not be more explicit that no nation has the right to control the destiny of others: “Even less should one be allowed to do whatever it likes and be the hegemon, bully, or boss of the world .”

The US ruling class obviously won’t take this act of defiance lying down. The full spectrum of Hybrid War techniques will continue to be relentlessly turbo-charged against China, coupled with rampant Sinophobia, even as it dawns on many Dr. Strangelove quarters that the only way to really “deter” China would be Hot War.

Alas, the Pentagon is overstretched – Syria, Iran, Venezuela, South China Sea. And every analyst knows about China’s cyber warfare capabilities, integrated aerial defense systems, and carrier-killer Dongfeng missiles.

For perspective, it’s always very instructive to compare military expenditure. Last year, China spent $261 billion while the US spent $732 billion (38% of the global total).

Rhetoric, at least for the moment, prevails. The key talking point, incessantly hammered, is always about China as an existential threat to the “free world”, even as the myriad declinations of what was once Obama’s “pivot to Asia” not so subtly accrue the manufacture of consent for a future war.

This report by the Qiao Collective neatly identifies the process: “We call it Sinophobia, Inc. – an information industrial complex where Western state funding, billion dollar weapons manufacturers, and right-wing think tanks coalesce and operate in sync to flood the media with messages that China is public enemy number one. Armed with state funding and weapons industry sponsors, this handful of influential think tanks are setting the terms of the New Cold War on China. The same media ecosystem that greased the wheels of perpetual war towards disastrous intervention in the Middle East is now busy manufacturing consent for conflict with China.”

That “US military edge”

The demonization of China, infused with blatant racism and rabid anti-communism, is displayed across a full, multicolored palette: Hong Kong, Xinjiang (“concentration camps), Tibet (“forced labor”), Taiwan, “China virus”; the Belt and Road’s “debt trap”.

The trade war runs in parallel – glaring evidence of how “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is beating Western capitalism at its own high-tech game. Thus the sanctioning of over 150 companies that manufacture chips for Huawei and ZTE, or the attempt to ruin TikTok’s business in the US (“But you can’t rob it and turn it into a US baby”, as Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin tweeted).

Still, SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation), China’s top chip company, which recently profited from a $7.5 billion IPO in Shanghai, sooner or later may jump ahead of US chip manufacturers.

On the military front, “maximum pressure” on China’s eastern rim proceeds unabated – from the revival of the Quad to a scramble to boost the Indo-Pacific strategy.

Think Tankland is essential in coordinating the whole process, via for instance the Center for Strategic & International Studies, with “corporation and trade association donors” featuring usual suspects such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman.

So here we have what Ray McGovern brilliantly describes as MICIMATT – the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex – as the comptrollers of Sinophobia Inc.

Assuming there would be a Dem victory in November, nothing will change. The next Pentagon head will probably be Michele Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (2009-2012) and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, which is big on both the “China challenge” and the “North Korean threat”. Flournoy is all about boosting the “U.S. military’s edge” in Asia.

So what is China doing?

China’s top foreign policy principle is to advance a “community of shared future for mankind”. That is written in the constitution, and implies that Cold War 2.0 is an imposition from foreign actors.

China’s top three priorities post-Covid-19 are to finally eradicate poverty; solidify the vast domestic market; and be back in full force to trade/investment across the Global South.

China’s “existential threat” is also symbolized by the drive to implement a non-Western trade and investment system, including everything from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund to trade bypassing the US dollar.

Harvard Kennedy School report at least tried to understand how Chinese “authoritarian resilience” appeals domestically. The report found out that the CCP actually benefitted from increased popular support from 2003 to 2016, reaching an astonishing 93%, essentially due to social welfare programs and the battle against corruption.

By contrast, when we have a MICCIMAT investing in Perpetual War – or “Long War” (Pentagon terminology since 2001) – instead of health, education and infrastructure upgrading, what’s left is a classic wag the dog. Sinophobia is perfect to blame the abysmal response to Covid-19, the extinction of small businesses and the looming New Great Depression on the Chinese “existential threat”.

The whole process has nothing to do with “moral defeat” and complaining that “we risk losing the competition and endangering the world”.

The world is not “endangered” because at least vast swathes of the Global South are fully aware that the much-ballyhooed “rules-based international order” is nothing but a quite appealing euphemism for Pax Americana – or Exceptionalism. What was designed by Washington for post-WWII, the Cold War and the “unilateral moment” does not apply anymore.

Bye, bye Mackinder

As President Putin has made it very clear over and over again, the US is no longer “agreement capable” . As for the “rules-based international order”, at best is a euphemism for privately controlled financial capitalism on a global scale.

The Russia-China strategic partnership has made it very clear, over and over again, that against NATO and Quad expansion their project hinges on Eurasia-wide trade, development and diplomatic integration.

Unlike the case from the 16th century to the last decades of the 20th century, now the initiative is not coming from the West, but from East Asia (that’s the beauty of “initiative” incorporated to the BRI acronym).

Enter continental corridors and axes of development traversing Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Indian Ocean, Southwest Asia and Russia all the way to Europe, coupled with a Maritime Silk Road across the South Asian rimland.

For the very first time in its millenary history, China is able to match ultra-dynamic political and economic expansion both overland and across the seas. This reaches way beyond the short era of the Zheng He maritime expeditions during the Ming dynasty in the early 15th century.

No wonder the West, and especially the Hegemon, simply cannot comprehend the geopolitical enormity of it all. And that’s why we have so much Sinophobia, so many Hybrid War techniques deployed to snuff out the “threat”.

Eurasia, in the recent past, was either a Western colony, or a Soviet domain. Now, it stands on the verge of finally getting rid of Mackinder, Mahan and Spykman scenarios, as the heartland and the rimland progressively and inexorably integrate, on their own terms, all the way to the middle of the 21st century.

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

Source

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

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

Editorial Comments

Now that the excitement of all the major Heads of Countries virtually speaking at the UNGA is over, we can come to initial conclusions.  The theme of this gathering was to investigate the UN itself, and to position it to be a better global gathering place where internal relations can be discussed, problems solved and the work of multi-polarity between nations can continue.  President Putin gave a serious statesman speech without any fireworks, stating why the UN is important and calmly outlining the conditions in our world today, which actions should take priority and what the Russian focus is in the medium and long terms.  His gift to the UN and staff is a free SputnikV Vaccine.  Chairman Xi did the same and also came bearing gifts, putting some money where their mouth’s are in essence.  Here is the transcript and this quote stands out:  (Note my bolded sentence).

“Since the start of this year, we, the 1.4 billion Chinese, undaunted by the strike of COVID-19, and with the government and the people united as one, have made all-out efforts to control the virus and speedily restore life and economy to normalcy. We have every confidence to achieve our goals within the set time frame, that is, to finish the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, lift out of poverty all rural residents living below the current poverty line, and meet ten years ahead of schedule the poverty eradication target set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

China is the largest developing country in the world, a country that is committed to peaceful, open, cooperative and common development.  We will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence. We have no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot war with any country.  We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation. We do not seek to develop only ourselves or engage in a zero-sum game. We will not pursue development behind closed doors. Rather, we aim to foster, over time, a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. This will create more space for China’s economic development and add impetus to global economic recovery and growth.

China will continue to work as a builder of global peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. To support the UN in playing its central role in international affairs, I hereby announce the following steps to be taken by China:

— China will provide another US$50 million to the UN COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

— China will provide US$50 million to the China-FAO South-South Cooperation Trust Fund (Phase III).

— China will extend the Peace and Development Trust Fund between the UN and China by five years after it expires in 2025.

— China will set up a UN Global Geospatial Knowledge and Innovation Center and an International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals to facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

So why is it that the Chinese government seemingly fails to convince the western public that China is not their enemy? Alternatively stated, why is it that the western countries are successful in portraying China as their enemy?  The answer is non-complicated at a first look.

At present, 90% of Americans learn about China through Western media, so it’s hard for the Chinese Government to convince Americans of anything.

American media are even more tightly controlled than Chinese media and far less trustworthy, says the American Press Institute, “Just six percent of Americans say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public’s view of other institutions”.

Americans don’t trust what their media tell them, but they don’t have other sources of information, either.

Joey Yu says: (February 22) —”The average American also has never left the United States. Never seen another country unless it’s through the media, and what the media shows them is probably outdated.”  • And nearly all Western media has the constant anti-Chinese political refrain which has brainwashed many even highly educated American and British professionals. I have given up trying to correct such people because I would lose their friendship if I continue to do that. But that brainwashing rankles.

First we had President Trump’s speech at the UNGA, which can only be categorized as a blistering and outright attack on China, well outside of the theme set for this meeting, while pretending to be the ‘Peaceful Nation’.  The Chinese commentary was immediate and devastating. I pulled these few comments describing President Trump’s speech out of just one of the Chinese commentaries:

Discriminatory, did the US President come to the UN for a quarrel, vulgar, full of loopholes, fooling only the American public, undisguised attempt at a new cold war, a destroyer, a creator of tensions, a hysterical attack that violated the diplomatic etiquette a top leader is supposed to have, pays no heed to diplomacy, they believe power is everything, they want the agenda of the international community to serve US politics, and the UN General Assembly be turned into Trump’s presidential campaign, the US has performed so poorly in handling domestic affairs that reforms could barely be advanced, it has to pass the buck to digest the domestic anger.

And then finally:  “This is the sign of stagnation and the decline of a major power. It’s hoped the US government will not go further in this direction, which will only end up deceiving itself.”

With that as a backdrop, this selection from Godfree’s Here Comes China Newsletter focuses on

  • vaccines,
  • how the ‘scary social credit system’ actually works,
  • a purported whistle blower,
  • Pakistan and Belt and Road
  • Chinese foreign investment.

While in the western countries there is a concerted effort against vaccines, and a tremendous amount of backlash from citizens against vaccines for Covid-19 (and I don’t blame them at all given who is developing these for the western world), in China the situation is completely different:

China will not need a sweeping coronavirus vaccination programme because the pathogen is effectively under control in the country – at least for now. Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC), said that large-scale vaccination would only be needed if there was a major outbreak, like the one in Wuhan in February. “This is an issue of balancing risk and return”.[MORE]


We’ve seen endless propaganda with visions of brutal control of the citizens via the so-called Social Credit System in China.  Let’s take a look at how it really works.

The chairman of China’s embattled HNA Group Co. Ltd. was restricted from excessive spending on travel, golf and other activities by a court as debt woes continue rattling the once high-flying conglomerate. A district court in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, issued orders to limit spending by HNA and its 67-year-old co-founder and Chairman Chen Feng, a court document database showed Wednesday. As the legal representative of HNA, Chen will be restricted from taking flights, buying train tickets that are pricier than economy class, accommodations in luxury hotels, spending on entertainment such as golf and leisure trips, buying property and nonessential vehicles, and investing in high-yield wealth management products, according to the orders. The Xi’an court said it issued the orders in a debt dispute filed against HNA in August. [MORE]

It seems absolutely fine to me that if someone mismanaged his large business and lived a luxury life, that he should be brought back to a normal lifestyle while fixing his business.


We`ve all heard of the Chinese Virologist that is being trotted out on most western mainstream media, saying that China developed the Covid-19 virus in a lab and she was told to stay silent.   Yet, I bet very few have seen the Chinese commentary on this:

Chinese defector’s shocking virus claim: Dr Li, a formerly a specialist at Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, said her supervisor first asked her to investigate a new “SARS-like” virus in Wuhan – but that her efforts were later stifled. She said she reported back that cases appeared to be rising exponentially but was told to “keep silent and be careful”. “’We will get in trouble and we’ll be disappeared’,” her supervisor reportedly said.  Dr Li travelled to the US in late April before speaking out, saying she had to leave Hong Kong because she “knows how [China] treat whistleblowers”. [MORE]

A press release from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) denied her claim and stated that: “Dr Yan never conducted any research on human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus at HKU during December 2019 and January 2020. We further observe that what she might have emphasised in the reported interview has no scientific basis but resembles hearsay.” The director of HKU’s School of Public Health, Keiji Fukuda, said in an internal memo to staff that none of the researchers named by Yan were involved in any cover-up or “secret research”.[MORE]


Pakistan and China signed the Development Agreement for the first China Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Monday. Chairman Atif R. Bokhari said sufficient headway has been made on this front and the zones are now gearing up for business. “Pakistan’s proximity with China will allow these SEZs to foster economic interdependence for mutual economic advantage,” he added. [MORE]

In Pakistan, the Belt and Road project is everywhere. A dinner at the Islamabad Club quickly turns into a reminiscence of different visits to China. After a lecture in Lahore, a group of young men from Baluchistan want to know if China’s monumental economic initiative will develop their region — or cause it to lose its identity. The acronym for the corridor linking China and Pakistan, CPEC, can be heard in hotel lobbies and restaurants; it stands out for those who cannot understand Urdu. There are young people who have come of age since the beginning of the initiative and for whom it constitutes the only possible horizon for professional advancement. Earlier this year, I spent three weeks traveling in Pakistan, the crown jewel of the Belt and Road project, the country where the initiative first took root and therefore the most plausible candidate for the place where its future can be surmised and understood.

So central is the Belt and Road to Pakistani politics that it should not be thought of as a specific enterprise. Rather, it provides the overarching framework for every economic policy and project. In short, the initiative is something that should feel very familiar to policymakers in Brussels and other European capitals.

In my discussions with economic authorities and think tanks, it quickly became obvious that the main debate in Pakistan today is about the best way to adapt policy decisions and reforms to the Belt and Road framework. The Belt and Road can thus be compared to the European Union and the role it played for countries in Central and Eastern Europe after the 2004 and 2007 enlargements. Which decisions should these countries make in order to better occupy their place within the given political and economic order?

That many in the West still think of the Belt and Road purely in terms of infrastructure is something I find deeply perplexing. In the project’s inaugural speech that Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered in Astana in 2013, infrastructure was no more than one of the five pillars of the Belt and Road — and very obviously not more than an ancillary one. The real action was clearly elsewhere.

At the time of Xi was giving his speech in Astana, it was common to hear from different officials and intellectuals in Beijing that the Belt and Road was meant to be completed in 2049, around the time of the first centennial of the new China. Last year, while living in Beijing, I started hearing that the temporal horizon was even longer. Many spoke openly of a 100-year project. This is not the time-scale of an infrastructure plan. The Marshall Plan was concluded in just a few years. Interestingly, in Pakistan this idea — that the Belt and Road is a project of economic and technological development, culminating in a new global political and economic order — is clearly understood.  By Bruno Maçães, a former Europe minister for Portugal, is a senior adviser at Flint Global in London and the author most recently of “History Has Begun: The Birth of a New America” (Hurst, 2020). The paperback edition of his “Belt and Road: a Chinese World Order” will be published this month.  [MORE]


Over 80% of the World’s Na­tions received Chi­nese For­eign In­vest­ment in 2019. Chi­na’s out­bound for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment to­talled USD$136.91 bil­lion, for a YoY de­cline of 4.3%. The in­vest­ment sum nonethe­less made China the world’s sec­ond biggest source of for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment af­ter Japan ($226.65 bil­lion). As of the end of 2019 Chi­na’s to­tal for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments were $2.2 tril­lion, third be­hind the United States ($7.7 tril­lion) and the Nether­lands ($2.6 tril­lion). Chi­na’s out­bound for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment com­prised 10.4% of the global to­tal in 2019 – the fourth con­sec­u­tive year that this fig­ure was above 10%. Chi­na’s to­tal for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments were 6.4% of the to­tal, on par with 2018. 80% of Chi­na’s for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments in 2019 were in the ser­vices sec­tor, with key ar­eas in­clud­ing leas­ing and com­mer­cial ser­vices, whole­sale and re­tail, fi­nance, in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tions/ soft­ware, real es­tate, and tran­sit/ ware­hous­ing. [MORE]


Selections and editorial comments by Amarynth.  (Go Get that newsletter – it is again packed with detail).

How Xinjiang “interferes” with the EU-China deal

How Xinjiang “interferes” with the EU-China deal

September 15, 2020

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

A Beijing-Brussels-Berlin special: that was quite the video-summit.

From Beijing, we had President Xi Jinping. From Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel. And from Brussels, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. The Chinese billed it as the first summit “of its kind in history”.

It was actually the second high-level meeting of the Chinese and European leadership in two months. And it took place only a few days after a high-level tour by Foreign Minister Wang Yi encompassing France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway, and the visit by the powerful “Yoda” of the State Council, Yang Jiechi, to Spain and Greece.

The Holy Grail at the end of all these meetings – face-to-face and virtual – is the China-EU investment treaty. Germany currently heads the EU presidency for six months. Berlin wanted the treaty to be signed at a summit in Leipzig this month uniting the EU-27 and Beijing. But Covid-19 had other plans.

So the summit was metastasized into this mini videoconference. The treaty is still supposed to be signed before the end of 2020.

Adding an intriguing note, the mini-summit also happened one day before Premier Li Keqiang attended a Special Virtual Dialogue with Business Leaders, promoted by the World Economic Forum (WEF). It’s unclear whether Li will discuss the intricacies of the Great Reset with Klaus Schwab – not to mention whether China subscribes to it.

We are “still committed”

The mini EU-China video summit was quite remarkable for its very discreet spin. The UE, officially, now considers China as both an essential partner and a “strategic rival”. Brussels is adamant on its will to “cooperate” while defending is notorious human rights “values”.

As for the investment treaty, the business Holy Grail which has been under negotiation for seven years now, Ursula von der Leyen said “there’s still much to be done”.

What the EU essentially wants is equal treatment for their companies in China, similar to how Chinese companies are treated inside the EU. Diplomats confirmed the key areas are telecoms, the automobile market – which should be totally open – and the end of unfair competition by Chinese steel.

Last week, the head of Siemens, Joe Kaeser, threw an extra spanner in the works, telling Die Zeit that “we categorically condemn every form of oppression, forced labor and threat to human rights”, referring to Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

That caused quite a stir. At least 10% of Siemens business is generated in China, where the company is present since 1872 and employs over 35,000 people. Siemens was forced to publicly state that it is “still committed” to China.

China has been Germany’s top trade partner since 2017 – ahead of France and the US. So it’s no wonder alarm bells started to ring, on and off. It was in January last year that the BDI – the Federation of German Industries – first defined China as a “systemic competitor”, and not only as a “partner”. The concern was centered on market “distortions” and the barriers against German competition inside China.

The mini video-summit took place as the trade war unleashed by Washington against Beijing has reached Cold War 2.0 proportions. EU diplomats, uncomfortably, and off the record, admit that the Europeans are caught in the middle and the only possible strategy is to try to advance their economic interests while insisting on the same panacea of human rights.

Thus the official EU demand this Monday – unreported in Chinese media: allow us to send “independent observers” to Xinjiang.

Those Uighur jihadis

So we’re back, inevitably, to the hyper-incandescent issue of Xinjiang “concentration camps”.

The Atlanticist establishment has unleashed a ferocious, no holds barred campaign to shape the narrative that Beijing is conducting no less than cultural genocide in Xinjiang.

Apart from United States government rhetoric, the campaign is mostly conducted by “influencer” US thinks tanks such as this one, which issue reports that turn viral on Western corporate media.

One of these reports quotes “numerous firsthand accounts from Uighurs” who are defined as “employed” to perform forced labor. As a result, the global supply chain, according to the report, is “likely tainted with forced labor”.

The operative word is “likely”. As in Russia is “likely” interfering in US elections and “likely” poisoning opponents of the Kremlin. There’s no way to verify the accuracy of the sources quoted in these reports – which happen to be conveniently financed by “multiple donors interested in commerce in Asia.” Who are these donors? What is their agenda? Who will profit from the kind of “commerce in Asia” they are pushing?

On a personal level, Xinjiang was at the top of my travel priorities this year – then laid to rest by Covid-19 – because I want to check by myself all aspects of what’s really goin’ on in China’s Far West.

As it stands, US copycat “influencers” in the EU are having free reign to impose the narrative about Uighur forced labor, stressing that the clothes Europeans are wearing “could” – and the operative word is “could” – be made by forced laborers.

Don’t expect the Atlanticist network to even bother to offer context in terms of China fighting terrorism in Xinjiang.

In the old al-Qaeda days, I visited and interviewed Uighur jihadis locked up in a sprawling prison set up by the mujahideen under commander Masoud in the Panjshir valley. They had all been indoctrinated by imams preaching in Saudi-financed madrassas across Xinjiang.

More recently, Uighur Salafi-jihadis have been very active in Syria: at least 5,000, according to the Syrian embassy in Beijing.

Beijing knows exactly what would happen if they return to Xinjiang, as much as Moscow knows what would happen if Chechen jihadis return to the Caucasus.

So it’s no wonder that China has to act. That includes closing madrassas, detaining imams and arresting – and “re-“educating” – possible jihadis and their families.

Forget about the West offering context about the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), which declared an Islamic Emirate, ISIS/Daesh-style, in November 2019 in Idlib, northwest Syria. TIP was founded in Xinjiang 12 years ago and has been very active in Syria since 2011 – exactly the same year when they claimed to be responsible for a terror operation in Kashgar which killed 23 people.

It’s beyond pathetic that the West killed and displaced Muslim multitudes – directly and indirectly – with the “war on terror” just to become oh so worried with the plight of the Uighurs.

It’s more enlightening to remember history. As in the autumn of 821, when princess Taihe, sister of a Tang dynasty emperor, rode in a Bactrian camel, her female attendants following her in treasured Ferghana horses, all the way from the imperial palace in Chang’an to the land of the Uighurs.

Princess Taihe had been chosen as a living tribute – and was on her way to wed the Uighur kaghan to cement their peoples’ friendship. She came from the east, but her dress and ornaments were from the west, from the Central Asian steppes and deserts where she would live her new life.

And by the way, the Uighurs and the Tang dynasty were allies.

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.

Interview: Iran’s former ambassador to China, Mehdi Safari on 25-year historic agreement with China.

Source

Interview: Iran’s former ambassador to China, Mehdi Safari on 25-year historic agreement with China.

July 23, 2020

Interview with the Al-Alam News channel, Iran’s former ambassador to China, Mehdi Safari, revealed his thoughts and important details about the comprehensive 25-year historic agreement currently being finalised between Iran and China.

From: http://middleeastobserver.net/irans-fmr-beijing-envoy-on-comprehensive-25-year-long-deal-with-china/

Description:

In an in-depth interview with the Al-Alam News channel, Iran’s former ambassador to China, Mehdi Safari, revealed his thoughts and important details about the comprehensive 25-year historic agreement currently being finalised between Iran and China.

Al-Alam News

Transcript:

Interviewer:

What is the nature of the policy pursued by Tehran with regards to the East, and is it related to the current situation in Iran?

Safari:

Look. To answer your question, I would say, after the success of the Islamic Revolution, the motto of the (foreign) policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran was “Neither East, nor West”. However, the Islamic Republic had and still has diplomatic relations with all states except Israel and America, which we consider to be our enemies; or if we felt that a side is showing hostile behavior (towards Iran).

You used the slogan “Neither East, nor West”. The part “Neither East” existed when the Soviet Union was still a part of the global system and had its own policies, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation changed its policies. You also saw how our relations with our neighboring countries in the north have developed and become stronger.

First of all, China is neither western nor eastern, as it is located in east Asia. Well, this applies to Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and India. All of these countries are located in East Asia. We had and will always foster diplomatic relations with the aforementioned countries. Therefore, our policy did not change. All the relationships that existed between us and these countries were mutual and equal. But why did this desire for a relationship with China rise to the surface and why did this relationship become strategic? I would like to give you a clarification. To start with, this relationship is needed by both China and us. After the Americans began to besiege China from the east… If you go back in memory, you would remember the issue of the three islands that were the subject of a dispute between China and Japan. Americans wanted to create a disputed area. Then, after the South China Sea issue (the disputed islands), another issue came up with Vietnam and the Philippines regarding Chinese oil reserves. The Chinese also felt that Obama had revived their closed base in northern Australia. They also felt that if they do not find another path across the sea, they might encounter problems that they don’t have the time to deal with, especially with their current trade situation, and the energy-related crisis in general.

Well, China brought up Mr. XI Jinping’s idea about ​​the west, the west of the country, and revived the principle of “One Belt, One Road”, i.e. the Silk Road. In other words, it is turning towards the East. China could have started (its project) from three routes: (1) through Russia to northern Europe, (2) through the Islamic Republic of Iran towards the central and southern European states, or (3) crossing the ocean to head to the continent of Africa.

China launched this project (for many reasons). (First,) in the past, this country used to import only one million barrels of oil in the past. Six years ago, it imported five million barrels. While today, it imports 11, 500, 000 barrels of oil, 5, 500, 000 barrels of which passes through the Persian Gulf. Well, now let us see. Which country has 2, 200 kilometers of maritime borders? The Islamic Republic of Iran. Which country has oil and gas here (in this region)? The Islamic Republic of Iran also. This is the main factor that enables us (Iran) to become China ‘s strategic partner. From the Chinese perspective, energy security is more important than the provision of energy. If energy provision is important, energy security is even more important. Well, who can provide all of these (services)? In this region, we are the ones who can do that.

Second, China is the world’s top trader, to say the least. I personally believe that China enjoys the world’s number one economy. The reason (for this success) is that Americans, who say “we are number one”, print $600 billion or $700 billion four or five times a year and inject them in the market. Now, China wants to guarantee the security of its trading operations in our region, in the Indian Ocean and in the Gulf of Oman. It sees that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the only country fighting terrorism (ISIS) and drug trafficking. So what have these factors succeeded to achieve? It made our country a strategic partner of China.

Interviewer:

Did this policy come after you (Iranians) lost hope in the West? And how is it consistent with the policy of “Neither East, nor West”?

Safari:

First of all, our relationship with China did not begin recently. We have enjoyed strong relations and ties with this country for many years. However, it is a well-known fact that today’s China is significantly different from the China of 10 or 20 years ago. Today’s China is completely different in terms of technology, trade, its construction of power stations, etc. So we can see that China can fulfill our needs. Instead of turning towards Europe and America that are imposing limitations and restrictions on us, we can now get our needs (from China). And when I say now, this does not mean just today. This project was launched 15 or 20 years ago. Take a close look. The Chinese have been working hard and actively in Iran for 20 years. Check the number of dams, power stations, steel plants, mines and petrochemicals (built in Iran by China). Therefore, this relationship did not begin yesterday nor today.

Perhaps China’s political view of the West and America has changed during the past five or six years. Now, it is turning more towards us, to its west – as I’ve mentioned before. The need of the two parties (for this relationship) became bilateral and mutual, which led to setting up a cooperation project that would last for 25 years. Therefore, I can say that this matter (the cooperation) is not related to recent developments. China has been importing our oil for years. We have also been exchanging economic cooperation, finance, and projects in various fields. Why is this subject being discussed now? Regarding our view of the West or East, if we take a look at the comprehensive partnership project with China, we will find that it paves the way for relations with most European states – with Austria, Germany, France, Romania, the former Yugoslavia, or even Sweden – in addition to our neighboring states. I honestly do not know the reason for this great sensitivity over our cooperation with China. Go and take a look at our cooperation and agreements with Austria and Germany. All of these (cooperation) offers were raised in the various specialized joint committees. Therefore, these steps are not new. The motto of the (foreign) policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, “Neither East, nor West”, hasn’t changed. Our view of the former Soviet Union or the West is still the same. However, when the Soviet Union changed its policies and came to the negotiating table, we came to a balanced agreement and started dealing with the Union.

Interviewer:

Does China’s historic anti-colonial policy play a role in Tehran’s decision to turn to the East?

Safari:

Of course. If you noticed, China never had any conflicts with us, nor did it wage any wars against us. There were no border skirmishes or disputes between us. China is a very rich country in terms of culture, and as you mentioned, it is not opportunistic. These factors were important in (our choice) to deal with China. On the other hand, this country (China) had some needs that led it to turn towards our country. Therefore, these needs from both sides were complementary, which led to the crystallization of this comprehensive partnership.

Interviewer:

Do you feel like you were obliged to turn to China, or is this plan a part of Iran’s foreign policy in general?

Safari:

No, I personally think that this is a real strategy that we have been following for almost 20 years. Today, the cooperation project has reached a state of maturity. This project was brought up six years ago during the visit of Mr. Xi Jinping to Iran, but there was a delay from our end. Now I say that this project shouldn’t be delayed any further. We have to begin this project sooner rather than later.

At the time, we were in the midst of talks with the West, and this was, in my opinion, the reason for the delay in the comprehensive partnership project with China. We had this strategy before us 20 or 25 years ago, and we have been engaging in all kinds of cooperation with China. However, the conditions China is living under led it to conclude and sign such an agreement with us. Of course, as I’ve mentioned earlier, when it (China) was turning to the West (for cooperation), it did not sign (any agreements) with us. It rather signed (agreements) with Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, Russia, and other countries, because of the reasons I explained earlier. However, the circumstances surrounding China have changed, due to its trade, economic and political differences with America and the West in general.

Interviewer:

Can you tell us more about this agreement (with China)?

Safari:

This comprehensive partnership includes an energy component. This energy component is divided into two subsections: (1) oil and gas, and (2) the construction of power stations and the use of renewable energy. In the energy component, China pledged to buy our oil for 25 years. And (in return) what do we guarantee for 25 years? To sell our​​ oil to them. China also showed its intention to invest in and provide the necessary financing for our refineries and petrochemical plants, and we too would like this (financing) idea to be put into effect, especially on our coastlines which we use for exportation. With regards to energy and the construction of power plants, there is a willingness by both sides to build power stations in various regions jointly (in terms of financing) as it is considered a part of Iran’s infrastructure.

There is also a section regarding investment in renewable energy. Here, I would like to give an example with regards to solar (power) systems, or solar energy plants. As you know this has two implications. On the one hand, the situation of us here in the Islamic Republic of Iran is more favorable than China in this field. On the other hand, China is one of the highly developed countries and it occupies first place in renewable energies. Every year, it generates about 20 GW of these energies per day around the country. Moreover, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a very suitable place for such projects, (especially keeping in mind) the deserts (we have) and how such projects help (us) fight the problem of desertification in the country.

We would like for the Chinese to come and build solar cell (plants) in Iran, and to develop our power stations. Secondly, regarding electrical energy, you know that the Chinese also rank first in the world in (building) private and public vehicles such as buses. Therefore, we are thinking about starting joint work in this sector in Iran

There is also the subject of transportation, which includes roads and railways. Well if China actually wants to turn to the East and revive the Silk Road, then all the aforementioned is included in the project. China must prepare and start making high-speed trains for the transportation and transit of various goods through the Islamic Republic of Iran to the West, and from the North to the South and vice versa. In other words, (we are referring to) the transit of goods from Chabahar to Mashhad, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and vice versa; and from Mashhad to Tabriz, Europe, and other states neighboring Iran. Therefore, transportation offers both parties an incentive to cooperate.

With regards to tourism, China has 250 million tourists (that travel) annually, while we have two million tourists. If every year, three million Chinese citizens came (to Iran) with their rich culture, and wandered in the country, we will witness an increase in job opportunities in the field of tourism and handicrafts. You must know that the Chinese love our handicrafts. If it happened that our handicrafts found their way into the Chinese market, i.e. one billion and four hundred million people, imagine if each one of them bought only a vase! When Coca-Cola went to China, and it should not have been allowed to go there, one of the company’s managers said “if each one of them (Chinese people) drank only one can, this would mean one billion and four hundred million cans!” Our handicrafts and carpets are extremely popular in China. We are looking to create job opportunities. If the Chinese were present in the tourism sector and worked to strengthen our infrastructure, we would succeed in attracting Chinese tourists. Once that is done, you would see the significant outcomes of this project.

Interviewer:

What does China want from this agreement?

Safari:

I have already told you about China’s interests, and the conditions the US put China under. The transit of China’s goods, and having access to raw materials, whether from Iran or from the south, in addition to the provision of energy and the maintenance of energy security, are both very important for China. Any disruption that might occur along the trade route, or any difficulty that might arise in the process of obtaining raw materials, can cause the country great problems.

I have told you that we were very late to sign this agreement. Because of this delay, China has gone its own way, and has concluded agreements and treaties with other countries. China reached Europe via Russia, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Georgia and Azerbaijan. We took too long to establish this partnership. During my last interview I said frankly, we should have signed this joint cooperation agreement six years ago. China had many interests (in working with Iran). We were the ones who took too long (to sign). As for them (Chinese), they secured their interests through (agreements with) other countries.

Interviewer:

Is there any indication that Iran will grant China any concessions?

Safari:

We fought our neighboring country (Iraq) for eight years (to gain back) two inches of land. So do you believe we would give away our islands (to China)? Where was this news written? Who said that? It is these agents of the West who are creating such an atmosphere after they saw that they have failed to achieve their goals of undermining (the achievements) of the Islamic Republic. China came to invest in power stations, and the manufacture of cars and spare parts in these areas. Chabahar Port was mentioned (in the agreement) but for what? In order to transport goods. Kish and Qeshm Islands were mentioned as places for investment in power stations and construction. The news (about giving away our islands) are totally false and beyond belief.

Interviewer:

There are mixed opinions about this agreement with China. What do you have to say about that?

Safari:

Those who are against (this agreement) fell under the influence of (rumors that circulated) on cyberspace, and began to raise these false issues. They think that they can (break this agreement). If you have noticed, the US Secretary of State is against this agreement. (He said) “If this agreement is to be signed, we should not lift the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran”. This (opposition) indicates that we (Iranians) are on the right track. He (Pompeo) said “for this reason (i.e. lifting the sanctions), we (Iranian) shouldn’t do that (i.e. cooperate with China).” He also says that we and Russia have worked together to kill people in Syria, while (in fact) they (Americans) were supporting ISIS. You (Americans) are claiming that Russia is a bad country, and it kills people. If so, then how do you team up with Russia at the United Nations to maintain sanctions and ensure they are not lifted? That is why it is clear that the West is behind this atmosphere (of opposition to the agreement). Western regimes are creating this atmosphere.

This also applies to reactionary states in the region. How do these reactionary states cooperate with China in the area of ​​investment and give it their oil, but when it comes to the Islamic Republic they say that China should not work with us because (by doing that) it would be supporting terrorism, while we all know that (it is) these (very) states that support ISIS and terrorism in the region?! Therefore, in my opinion, this cooperation is beneficial to both sides. (Certain) foreign states know that such cooperation would help us overcome this impasse.

Interviewer:

Will we witness such an agreement with other states?

Safari:

Let me tell you something. I told other states that a text similar to the text (of this agreement) was presented in most joint committees (between us and these states). It would be interesting for you to know that there are some subjects (that were included in our agreement with China), but we avoided discussing with European states. However, we have signed similar agreements with most European and Asian states.

I hope that we sign the agreement (with China) and launch this project as soon as possible, which is in the interest of both countries. If we start this work (which covers the fields of) tourism, energy, environment, agriculture, health, pharmacy, road construction, and financing, then I promise you we will create more than three million jobs. If about one or three million Iranians got involved with handicrafts, their work will bring prosperity to tourism and handicrafts in our country. We are looking to create jobs. If we get the necessary finance, we will create enough jobs to push our economic wheel forward and begin exporting.

Interviewer:

Which states will oppose this agreement and how are Iran and China planning to face the upcoming obstacles – if there were any?

Safari:

I think that the countries who are against the agreement, and I mean America, Israel and the Arab states, have started to create a hostile environment (regarding this agreement) in cyberspace. I think, for the benefit of our country, we should ignore them. In order to address this issue, we must run these projects as soon as possible so that the Iranian people can witness the results, then these issues will be automatically resolved. Of course, in addition to this atmosphere (of opposition), the West may exert pressure on China to go back on this agreement, and this is an important point. Therefore, we have to further our interests, and implement this agreement in the areas that I’ve mentioned to you. This agreement, especially in (the section regarding) infrastructure projects, can be very beneficial to the Islamic Republic of Iran and to our dear (Iranian) people. Don’t forget my words. I don’t know if I’ve already mentioned this or not. Imam Khomeini (may God bless him and grant him peace), once said: “If Westerners praise you, know that you have made a mistake; and if they disparage you, know that you are on the right path, and continue what you have started.

Important note: Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing as little as $1/month here: https://www.patreon.com/MiddleEastObserver

US Loses Myanmar to China

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June 29, 2020 (Joseph Thomas – NEO) – For the Southeast Asian state of Myanmar, the decision to expand ties with China despite Western pressure was a no-brainer. Significant economic ties have been expanded and the prospect for several large-scale infrastructure projects have been firmed up.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Myanmar could be considered a victory lap of sorts; the cementing of long-standing and ever-expanding ties between Myanmar and China and the final displacement of significant US and British influence in the former British colony. 

An op-ed on China’s CGTN website titled, “Xi’s New Year visit to Myanmar: A milestone in bilateral relations,” would help frame the significance of President Xi’s visit while comparing and contrasting Myanmar’s ties with China and the US.

The op-ed would note that President Xi’s trip to Myanmar was his first major trip abroad made during 2020. It is also the first major visit by a Chinese leader to Myanmar in nearly 20 years.

Even US Proxies Can’t Deny America’s Decline 

The op-ed also noted that Myanmar’s State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, picked China for her first major visit abroad after her National League for Democracy party came to power in 2016.

To understand the significance of this it is important to understand that Suu Kyi and her rise to power was primarily driven by support from Washington.

She and her political party along with a large army of US government-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and US-funded media networks were selected and groomed for decades by Washington to seize power and serve as a vector for US special interests both in Myanmar itself and as a point of leverage versus Beijing.

However, despite America’s expertise in political meddling, what it lacks is, as the op-ed calls it, any concrete economic pillars; something China does have on offer.

No matter how much covert or overt financial and political support any client regime in Myanmar may receive from Washington it does not address the genuine need for real development within Myanmar itself. Without such development and the financial and economic incentives it brings with it, enemies and allies of the client regime alike will turn towards those who can offer such incentives.

Xi’s Visit Focused on Pragmatism, Not Politics 

The CGTN op-ed noted the focus of President Xi’s visit which centred around major political issues plaguing Myanmar including the ongoing Rohingya crisis and border conflicts with neighbouring Bangladesh resulting from the crisis.

The focus was not on feigned concerns for human rights however, but rather on establishing stability since Myanmar and Bangladesh are both partners with Beijing and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The visit also focused on pushing forward stalled infrastructure projects that have been held up by US-funded fronts hiding behind human rights and environmental concerns.

The op-ed would conclude by noting:

China is reaching out to Myanmar proactively at the start of 2020. Hopefully, Myanmar will return the favor by cooperating more closely with China and pushing forward financially bankable and locally empowering BRI projects in Myanmar more resolutely. 

Only time will tell whether or not Myanmar will follow through and reciprocate to Beijing’s overtures, but owing to the lack of alternatives offered by Washington, a US client regime or not, Myanmar’s government seems to have a very simple choice to make.

US Denial and Revisionism Ensures Continued US Decline in Asia 

A Western-centric rebuttal over the impact of President Xi’s visit to Myanmar was offered up by The Diplomat in its article, “Has the US Lost Myanmar to China? Xi’s visit bolstered China-Myanmar ties, but the West can still compete.”

The Diplomat’s piece claims (my emphasis):

Chinese leader Xi Jinping just wrapped up a two-day visit to Myanmar from January 17-18, the first trip by a Chinese head of state since Jiang Zemin traveled to Burma in 2001. Xi’s visit notably occurred in the 70th anniversary year of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations and further cemented bilateral relations, which have been in general extremely positive since the West turned away from the embattled country in light of the Rohingya migrant crisis that erupted in 2017.

The Diplomat here ignores an important reality. The Rohingya crisis was precipitated deliberately by the US and its British partners. It was meant to destabilise the very region China was building logistical hubs for the BRI.

The crisis was also meant to serve as leverage against the US client regime, ensuring it remained in line with Washington’s interests or suffered at the hands of the West’s massive industrial-scale human rights complex; a network of fronts used to manipulate, coerce and defame targeted nations and governments under the pretext of defending human rights.

The US didn’t turn away from Myanmar because of the Rohingya crisis. It attempted to leverage it after deliberately engineering it, and upon failing to materialise any tangible gains, saw its influence in Myanmar fade.

The Diplomat article also blames Myanmar’s “mixed political system” claiming that pressure has been put on an otherwise promising democratic government to pivot toward Beijing at Washington’s expense. In reality, the pivot is jointly beneficial both to Washington’s enemies in Myanmar and its allies.

The Diplomat fully acknowledges the importance of Myanmar to China’s regional and global rise, stating:

Myanmar is of special significance to Beijing’s geostrategic plans. The country provides China with access to the Indian Ocean and offers a vital hub for containing its rival rising power India, with whom it has clashed on their shared border. The Indian Ocean provides major shipping lanes for China’s imports of crude oil from the Middle East. Overland routes now in use (oil and gas pipelines in Kyaukphyu began pumping oil in 2017 and gas in 2013) across Myanmar and all the way to Kunming in southern China’s Yunnan province allow Beijing to circumvent the South China Sea and strategically vulnerable Malacca Strait, which is susceptible to maritime frictions with other major powers including Japan and the United States.

If Myanmar’s cooperation with China is this important to Beijing’s regional and global plans, then it is easy to understand why ruining Myanmar’s capacity to cooperate has taken priority amid Washington’s policy toward Myanmar.

The article openly admits that Washington’s means of regaining influence in Myanmar depends on “soft power” or what would be considered by anyone else as coercion, manipulation and political interference.

The article itself admits:

…the United States still has important policy tools and untapped reserves of soft power that it can utilize if wielded skillfully. As I’ve written before, American companies and investors still enjoy major reputational advantage over Chinese counterparts. Young Burmese people still flock to the American Center in Yangon, the cultural and educational hub sponsored by the U.S. Department of State next to the American Embassy. In fact, Washington opened a gleaming new American Center in 2018 at a busy intersection just down the street from Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence. There, Burmese can come to learn English, use computers, and access the library to study democracy and tools of civic engagement.

What’s absent from Washington’s “solution” is any tangible economic or financial incentive for the population of Myanmar to get behind US interests. America’s inability to offer genuine economic benefits to Myanmar or build essential infrastructure like the pipelines, highways, railways and ports China is currently working on across the country means that America’s decline will only continue.

Doubling down on a losing strategy should be interpreted by Myanmar’s elite as American capitulation and a detriment to Myanmar’s future. The Diplomat concludes by more or less admitting that Washington will continue to focus on a divide and conquer strategy to disrupt stability in Myanmar in order to render concessions from Myanmar’s government rather than simply and constructively outcompeting Chinese investments and infrastructure projects.

If anything, Washington’s current strategy should serve as impetus for Myanmar and other nations along China’s peripheries to fully uproot US “soft power” from within their territory and conditionally do business with US firms only if they are ready to really do business rather than substitute meddling and interference where genuine and mutually beneficial cooperation should be; a space China has consistently proven it can fill, and a space America has shown no interest in competing in.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Bridging China’s past with humanity’s future – Part 2

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June 29, 2020

Bridging China’s past with humanity’s future – Part 2

by Straight-Bat for the Saker Blog

This will be presented in 3 parts and in 3 different blog posts

PART – 1 can be found here


PART – 2

5. POST-DENG CHINA

Post-Deng China witnessed three variants of socio-economic trajectories associated with three different Leaders. Even though the economic programme of reform initiated by Deng went on unhindered, there were significantly different style of implementation of the same. A brief recapitulation is noted below:

A.  Jiang Zemin (till 2003)

In 1997, after Deng’s departure Jiang Zemin became the paramount leader of China. Both – the economic reforms and the deep-rooted problems of economy – accentuated during Jiang’s stewardship. There was marked increase in political corruption, inter-regional imbalance and inter-class imbalance in growth, rural migration into urban areas, unemployment, inequality and wealth gap, and crime rates across China. During 1998 and 1999, many SOE were privatized with massive lay-offs and asset transfer to private businessmen, many others were restructured to make them profitable. The employee welfare and social welfare system which were embedded in SOE (since the Mao era) were completely dissolved – this also created a low-income urban working class. The government followed a policy of retaining the crucial sectors within state-owned enterprises while small and medium SOW were either privatised or closed down. Crucial sectors or ‘commanding heights’ were:

  • Nation-wide service networks like railways, aviation, telecommunication, electricity etc.
  • Mining and exploration coal, oil, and natural gas
  • Basic metal processing like steel, and aluminium
  • Basic hydrocarbon processing like refinery and petrochemicals
  • Heavy industrial machinery such as machine tools, power generation equipment, rolling stock
  • Infrastructure engineering and construction – roads, railways, ports, dams
  • Significant consumer durables like automobiles
  • Military machinery

Apart from reducing the number of SOE (from 262,000 units employing 113 million in 1995-1997 period to 110,000 units employing 64 million in 2007-2008) and restructuring bigger SOEs, the government reduced tariffs, trade barriers, regulations; reformed banking system. The average return on assets in SOEs soared from 0.2% in 1998 to 5% in 2007. In the same period, the SOEs’ profits rose from 0.3% to 6.6% of GDP. Funds continued to be poured into SEZ and export-oriented manufacturing industry. As per Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, Hong Kong-Taiwan-Japan-South Korea-Singapore contributed about 71% of the FDI that flowed into China between 1990 and 2004. To sum it up cogently, it can be said that government of China pursued neoliberal economic agenda along with consulting advice from USA bankers and capitalists. China joined World Trade Organization in December’2001. During the period 1990–2004, China’s economy grew at an average rate of 10% per year.

A very interesting observation can be made related to the foreign relations during Jiang era – all foreign trips by the leadership and communication with foreign media were consciously made to revolve around China’s (the then) economic growth model and the imperatives. Incidents like USA bombing of China embassy in Belgrade, and collision with USA aircraft near Hainan Island were played down after some exchange of documents. Apparently, the top leadership aimed only at maintaining the stability of the government and the economy.

Very significant transformation took place in the CPC itself – from being a party of predominantly peasants and workers, CPC converted itself to a party with large number of middle-class petty bourgeois. This class evolved during the industrial restructuring of 1990s, who came out as the main beneficiary due to their entrepreneurship and connection with the then local and central leadership of CPC, and more importantly this class acted as a robust base of CPC in the urban regions of China.

B. Hu Jintao (2003 to 2012)

Hu Jintao had to continuously swim against the tide of domino effect from the (capitalist) economic reform and opening which was primarily initiated by Deng in 1979. During October’2003 Third Plenum, amendments to the constitution were discussed – an overarching government economic policy would be introduced to reduce unemployment rate, to re-balance income distribution, and to protect the environment. Also private property rights would be protected. Due to widespread poverty, inequality, and discontent the Chinese Government was forced to seek a balanced society above all. Using the concept of “socialist harmonious society”, balanced wealth distribution, improved education, and improved healthcare were assigned high priority.

During 1995, exports from East Asian countries to China were not very significant percentage of their total exports (Japan exported 4.95%, South Korea exported 7.0%, Taiwan exported 0.3%, Singapore exported 2.3%). In 1995, Chinese total exports were worth about 149 billion USD. However, by 2013 there was an explosive growth in exports from East Asian countries to China as a percentage of their total exports – (Japan exported 18.1%, South Korea exported 26.1%, Taiwan exported 26.8%, Singapore exported 11.8%). And, in 2013, Chinese exports to the world were worth about 2210 billion USD (a little over 30% of the value were exported by wholly foreign-owned enterprises, and 12% of the value were exported by joint ventures between foreign-owned and China-owned enterprises). Apparently, during this period China evolved as ‘core’ and East Asia as ‘periphery’ in a new sub-system within the overall world-system (with USA and west Europe as ‘core’ and rest of the world as ‘periphery’).

China’s GDP grew 10.1%, in 2004, and 10.4% in 2005 in spite of attempts by the government to cool the economy. And, in 2006 trade crossed USD 1760 billion, making China third-largest trading nation in the world. Again, in 2007 China registered 13% growth in GDP (USD 3552 billion) becoming world’s third largest economy by GDP. According to UN estimates in 2007, around 130 million people in rural areas of the backward inland provinces still lived in poverty, on consumption of less than $1 a day, while about 35% of the Chinese population lived under $2 a day. Chinese government’s official Gini index peaked at 0.49 in 2008– 2009 and thereafter declined only marginally, to 0.47 in 2014. The Global Financial Crisis in 2008 revealed the innate weakness of Chinese economy – export-oriented economy depends upon economic conditions in foreign countries much more than internal consumption. Government of China took highly effective policy decisions about economic stimulus and implemented those effectively (however, it also increased the already high debt burden). The stimulus (about US$600 billion at the then-current exchange rate) involved state investments into physical infrastructure like railway network, roads, bridges and ports, urban housing complex, easing credit restrictions and lowering tax on real estate. As per National Bureau of Statistics of China, in 2010, GDP of China was Yuan 40850 billion, which can be broken down into following expenditure categories:

  1. Household Consumption Expenditure – Yuan 14146.55 billion (34.63% of GDP)
  2. Government Consumption Expenditure – Yuan 6011.59 billion (14.71% of GDP)
  3. Gross (Fixed) capital formation – Yuan 19186.69 billion (46.96% of GDP)
  4. Net Exports of Goods and Services – Yuan 1505.71 billion (3.68% of GDP)

Household consumption has not increased substantially with economic growth – may be one of the reasons were wages and salaries of working class didn’t move upwards with same pace. Even though the reforms helped to improve the socio-economic indicators, taking into consideration the difference between coastal region and inland regions as well as between urban and rural regions, China could hardly overcome the poverty and inequality predominantly in the inland and rural regions.

By 2011, there were less than 10 out of 40 major industrial sectors in which SOE accounted for more than 20 percent of output. Another significant statistics of 2012 on industrial enterprises (as per National Bureau of Statistics, China) shows:

State-owned EnterprisesPrivate-owned EnterprisesPrivate-owned FDI Enterprises
Total Asset (billion Yuan)31,20915,25517,232
Profit (billion Yuan)1,5182,0191,397

The above statistics might suggest at the first glance that, state-owned enterprises are laggard in profitability. However, such conclusion will be clearly wrong if it is noted that there exist wide difference of asset ownership across various sectors – in mining and extraction of coal, petroleum, natural gas etc. SOE commands 93% of sector-specific assets, while in textiles sector Private enterprises commands 90% of sector-specific assets. Different sectors of industry have different profit-capital asset employed ratio.

C. Xi Jinping (2013 onwards)

Since around 2010, Chinese government and CPC has been busy implementing economic policies that will pursue ‘economic growth based on domestic consumption’ while maintaining the decades old export-oriented economy. With Xi Jinping at the top chair, a long pending but top priority task was undertaken – war against corruption and nepotism. CPC took strong measures so that corrupt among ruling party cadres and government officials were identified and punished, Marxist principles were enforced as guideline for CPC so that the society and economy can be steered towards equality and justice. CPC has also became proactive in taking actions to enhance its geopolitical and geo-economic base throughout the world. Simultaneously, Chinese government has taken concrete measures to modernize all wings of military through research and development of 5th generation stealth military aircrafts, naval ships, nuclear submarines, hypersonic missiles, anti-satellite missiles, as well as procuring most lethal S400 air defence system and electronic warfare systems from Russia.

However, China has performed extremely well in reduction of poverty. In 2015, World Bank Group estimated that only 0.7% of Chinese citizens live below extreme poverty line of $1.9 (2011 PPP) per day, while 7.0% of Chinese population live below lower-middle poverty line of $3.2 (2011 PPP) per day. Such rapid poverty-reduction is an unparalleled achievement in the history of mankind.

As per National Bureau of Statistics of China, in 2019, GDP of China was Yuan 99492.74 billion (by expenditure approach), which can be broken down into following categories:

  1. Household Consumption Expenditure – Yuan 38589.56 billion (38.78% of GDP)
  2. Government Consumption Expenditure – Yuan 16559.90 billion (16.64% of GDP)
  3. Gross (Fixed) capital formation – Yuan 42862.78 billion (43.08% of GDP)
  4. Net Exports of Goods and Services – Yuan 1480.50 billion (1.49% of GDP)

Compared to 2010 statistics, in 2019 the household consumption has moved upwards at almost 39% of GDP. However, the 2019 figures of household consumption below 50% of GDP can’t be considered as healthy neither gross capital formation more than 30% of GDP can be termed as balanced growth. This is not to say that, the period of 1970-1975 was better because household consumption component was around 60 – 65% of GDP (GDP itself was very low).

The inequality between urban and rural remained too glaring even in 2019 – as we can note in the following data as per National Bureau of Statistics of China (2019 data),

  1. Per Capita Disposable Income Nationwide – Yuan 30,733
  2. Per Capita Disposable Income of Urban Households – Yuan 42,359
  3. Per Capita Disposable Income of Rural Households – Yuan 16,021
  4. Per Capita Expenditure Nationwide – Yuan 21,559
  5. Per Capita Expenditure of Urban Households – Yuan 28,063
  6. Per Capita Expenditure of Rural Households – Yuan 13,328

The growth model chosen by Deng and reinforced by Jiang has already run out of steam. It had its own utility to provide mass employment and to build the fixed capital for the national economy. Chinese government need to pivot economic growth on domestic consumption as soon as possible without damaging the export sector much. To boost consumption, ‘demand’ for goods and services will have to be enhanced – in China, ‘purchasing power’ is the key for boosting demand and hence, domestic consumption. Income of ordinary citizens should be increased through forced regulations whereby the surplus from industrial operation (that is pocketed by the capitalists for accumulation of capital) will be distributed to the working class. Similarly for the agricultural sector, government should provide much higher procurement prices for agricultural produces. Another key area that needs government intervention is social security and welfare system, whereby housing-education-healthcare for all rural and urban people living with daily expenditure below USD 10 will be arranged by the government (against a token amount of annual insurance premium). Most of such people will be confident enough to spend instead of saving money for rainy day. The well-entrenched capitalist elites will resist because such steps would restrict their continuous capital accumulation process – however, China being a socialist peoples’ democracy, it has to give priority to the common people.

BRI – Challenge to Current World-system?

Belt and Road Initiative (formerly One Belt One Road – OBOR programme) of China actually is a framework wherein investments amounting to anything between one to two trillion USD in different countries of Asia, Europe, Africa, South America will be done in primarily government-to-government projects. When successfully implemented, may be around 2035, BRI will completely transform the economy and comfort of peoples in more than 100 countries. Investments are mainly channelled into physical infrastructure, mining and exploration, power generation, industrial production hub, agricultural production hub, and communication network. BRI, instead of moving away from existing liberal capitalist economy, predicates on existing capitalist system with more inclusive agenda compared to Zionist Capitalist dominated financial system – thus BRI projects attempt to alleviate poverty and unemployment in participating states without bothering about the government ideology.

BRI benefits China in primarily four ways:

  1. Corridors like CPEC (through Pakistan) and CMEC (through Myanmar), when fully established, will provide alternate trade routes for China-based companies to import energy and raw materials as well as export finished goods through Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal respectively; the corridors will circumvent the ‘choke point’ of Malacca Strait
  2. China-Mongolia-Russia and China-Central Asia-West Asia corridors will be channel for further Chinese investments across Asia; in the long run exports and imports among these Eurasian states will experience quantum jump
  3. ‘State capitalism’ will get a boost with most of the BRI projects being G-to-G kind; most of the participant governments will control the new projects thereby reproducing the production relations of capitalist society with the ‘state’ playing the role of capitalist who will make ‘profit’ and accumulate ‘capital’
  4. Enhance Chinese ‘image’ through socio-cultural exchange
  5. Enhance Chinese ‘influence’ through government-to-government contacts

There are more BRI corridors as well as ‘Maritime Silk Road’ planned as part of BRI. I would not get into the details of such a mammoth programme (consisting of hundreds of gigantic projects) which itself is a separate subject. However, it will be very interesting to analyse if and how BRI will pose a challenge to the existing world-system coordinated by the Deep State.

BRI follows the traditional capitalist economic model of ‘profit’, but unlike the Zionist Capitalist propelled system, BRI system aim for nominal profit margins that will create a tremendous ‘pull factor’ among the developing countries to seek BRI projects. Another key difference is: BRI system is radically different from existing capitalist system by shunning hegemony and force BRI promotes harmonious global integration. In all probability, BRI will create a ‘benign core’ and ‘exultant periphery’ in a global scale which uncannily resembles the Confucian concepts of family and state governance. The existing hegemonic world order and the Deep State will find it very hard to digest such decline of their stature and the formation of a new core-periphery. However, by no means will this new development threaten to upend the existing Zionist Capitalist world order – the new core-periphery will form a significant non-imperial sub-system within the existing world-system. USA, 5-Eyes, and Israel will have to share the hegemony with China being the BRI core and Russia as the semi-periphery (with low population count and hence limited domestic market, Russia can’t play much bigger role).

In practice, post-WW II world order has seen the working of core-periphery system with USA (and NATO) enforcing their will on the weak countries on the ‘periphery’ whenever a threat to the primacy of ‘accumulation capital’ was perceived by the Deep State cabal. The Deep State capital, through control of the media and academia, ensure that such threat to capital gets portrayed as a threat to ‘democracy and human rights’ which in turn provides a moral high ground to the Hegemonic superpower to invade any country at will. In the BRI system such supremacy of capital is not expected simply because Chinese outlook on ‘world-system’ was built typically on Confucian praxis.

Significant observations on post-Deng China:

1. CPC central committee in a conference in 2015 formulated eight principles of ‘socialist political economy with Chinese characteristics’:

  1. Sustainability Led by Science and Technology
  2. Orienting Production to Improve the Livelihood of the People
  3. Public Ownership Precedence in National Property Rights
  4. The Primacy of Labour in the Distribution of Wealth
  5. The Market Principle Steered by the State
  6. Speedy Development with High Performance
  7. Balanced Development with Structural Coordination
  8. Economic Sovereignty and Openness

Undoubtedly the above eight principles (like Buddha’s ‘asta-marga’ teaching) are very sound principles – but these are not focussed to Marxist ideology in a sense that, any other liberal democratic capitalist political party can also follow such principles for an effective management of economy and society. CPC leadership should take into account the core ideology of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Mao to explore that, the owners of capital can never reconcile with the proletariat and petty-bourgeois (as petty-bourgeois, I’m meaning only the middle-income group of rural land-holding peasants and urban professionals and self-employed people who own very little capital to earn their livelihood) – the theory of historical materialism clearly and correctly predict that, in the long-run, the capitalists will continue to accumulate capital with endless exploitation of 90% of the population, eventually they will overrun the CPC setup (as insider like CPSU in Soviet Union, or as outsider like Solidarity Movement in Poland) and create a state which will be ‘liberal capitalist’ in letter and spirit. Mao and Deng differed only on strategy to achieve Marxist economy and classless society, they never differed in the end objective – successive CPC leaders shouldn’t forget to take note of that.

Questions will be raised, ‘why then Mao didn’t create a classless society since 1950 or why Mao also tried for accumulation of capital to begin with’ or for that matter, even before Mao, ‘why in 1921 Lenin was staking on new economic policy (NEP) to introduce free market and capitalism under state control’?

To seek the answer, let’s visit the greatest leader of transformation – Lenin. Lenin considered the NEP as a strategic retreat from principles of socialism – Bolshevik party leaders had to create the “material basis” of economic development in Soviet Union before they could initiate the first stage of socialism to be followed by the second stage. This was exactly the situation for Mao and Deng in China who wanted to first create the basic building block for Chinese economy for which the forces of production were either outdated or non-existent. Interestingly, both CPSU and CPC tried to create ‘communes’ as an ideal communist construct for the rural regions and agricultural sector – primarily due to mismanagement among the party members and lack of indoctrination among the rural population, both the experiments failed. More valid question however remains, ‘why both CPSU and CPC got lost in the quagmire of ‘initial capitalistic development’ and never returned to their end objectives’ even after there was basic level of ‘fixed capital formation’ in Soviet Union by 1960 and in China by 2010! May be because geopolitical events were unsurmountable. To best of my knowledge, this question remains unanswered till date.

2. Another issue related to very high exports and some trade surplus obscures two significant points:

(a) China (with a GDP of Yuan 99,492.74 billion i.e. USD 14,140 billion) in 2019 not only exported goods and services worth USD 2,486.69 billion, but the import was also huge at USD 2,135.74 billion (as per National Bureau of Statistics of China). Even if the overall export surplus is not substantial, when the values are grouped continent-wise, large imbalance due to export surplus can be noted for Oceanic and Pacific Islands (about USD 64 billion), Europe (about USD 95 billion), North America (about USD 330 billion), while marginal imbalance of USD 5 – 10 billion export/import surplus exists in case of Asia, Africa, Latin America. Moving deeper at a country-level, one would find more imbalances. The main reason is that, the sourcing requirements of China (energy, raw materials, manufacturing components, foodstuff, etc.) and sourcing countries are, most of the time different from the nature of exported item (manufactured finished goods), quantity and destination where export opportunity exist.

(b) More often than not, the economists forget to mention that the imports of China has multiple categories including import by foreign-owned export-oriented enterprises for value addition before exporting goods, import by Chinese-owned enterprises for value addition before dispatching for export as well as for domestic selling, import of plant and machinery etc. for capital formation, and import for direct household consumption. Contrary to that, export has almost single dimension – manufactured finished goods, primarily consumer goods with some industrial goods as well. There is overwhelming dependence on exports which jeopardise Chinese economy to the extent that, without continuous growth in demand from foreign countries, Chinese economy will encounter slow growth. In future, there can be scenarios where trade partner countries (other than USA) may reduce good imports from China in order to produce within their country (to reduce unemployment).

3. Trade surplus resulting from the exports and high internal savings empowered the east Asian countries like Japan and China to accumulate largest forex reserves (together they account for more than USD 6 trillion) which were used to purchase USA Treasury bonds. USA Treasury bonds are issued by USA government to cover fiscal deficit – thus China and Japan are largest creditors of USA. With this arrangement of deficit financing successive USA government has been reckless to cut taxes (of oligarchy) and increase direct government expenditure to keep voters happy. The prices of east Asian exports into USA were kept low to keep it attractive in the USA market. Finally, more demand of east Asian goods increased trade surplus and more trade surplus meant more purchase of Treasury bonds. A two-way mutual relation between USA and China-Japan thus helped USA engage in end-less wars as well as keep inflation within USA low, hence, even if USA leaders take anti-import posture that will be only to please the constituency of nationalist voters. However, China will not only be at the receiving end if and when exports get restricted suddenly, China should be prepared for the worst scenario when, in future, USA will simply refuse to pay for their debt.

China will have to take a serious initiative on how US Dollar can be removed from world’s reserve currency status. Along with Russia, China should look into the possibility of introducing a new international currency which will be backed by gold – this action will not lead to a socialist economy, but this action will certainly work towards curbing the USA government’s undue advantage of printing as much fiat Dollar as possible using the global reserve currency without gold-backing status.

4. Indisputably China achieved incredible feats in economic growth and socio-economic indicators during past few decades. But such achievements to a large extent depended also on credit policy (apart from FDI and export). As a result, China’s total debt burden including households, government (central, regional, local), non-financial industry sector (including real estate), and financial sector has been rising over the decades albeit slowly. Apparently, in 2019 beginning, Household debt rose to more than 50% of GDP, Government debt crossed 50% of GDP, Financial sector debt rose to more than 40%, non-financial Industry sector breached 150% of GDP. As a whole, Chinese government is in a precarious position to control such huge debt (total crossing 40 trillion USD) – with strict control economic growth will be at stake. Even though the government of China have been periodically trying to deleverage the economy with control measures, economic growth trounced all such attempts till date.

The problem of bad debt first hit the Jiang government in late 1990s. The non-performing loans (NPL) caught the leadership’s eyes back then. And to address the burning issue, in 1999 asset management company was created, which absorbed Yuan 2 trillion bad loans from state-owned banks leaving the banks normal and healthy. For Chinese government NPL issue will continue to be a thorn in the flesh.

5. Maritime border disputes in South China Sea and East China Sea have historical roots when Japan displaced European powers from these two sea regions. It is also true that, after WW II most of the littoral countries (except Vietnam and North Korea) were/are backed by the Deep State and were/are armed to the teeth. However, it will be a monumental milestone for Chinese diplomacy and indeed, image, if China can resolve the maritime border issues without conflict, and if required, sharing the under-sea resources with the littoral states.

On the land border disputes, China resolved all but the dispute with India. The land border was drawn by the British colonial power who ruled most of south Asia till 1947, but Chinese government never accepted the border. Chinese government should keep no stone unturned to bring India-Pakistan-China on the same discussion table with UNO as observer. It will be beneficial for all three countries if they settle the dispute once for all through mutual concessions using give-and-take policy. A border war for a land with little economic value (but high geopolitical strategic value) makes no sense.

6. During 1700 to 1840 China was world’s biggest economy and second largest land empire. However that position didn’t deter the European powers from rampaging at their will inside Chinese territory. Chinese empire lost the edge because of inability to keep track with global technological changes. For the European powers, advancements in few industrial and military technology proved decisive. Keeping such watershed moments in view, government of China should make extraordinary arrangements (like special task force etc.) to bridge manufacturing technology gaps which have been pointed out by McKinsey Global Institute in “China and the world” report published in July 2019, some of which are:

  1. Electronic Components
    1. Display
    2. Integrated circuits
  2. Pharmaceuticals
    1. Small-molecule drugs
    2. Biomolecule drugs
  3. Genomics
    1. Gene sequencing
    2. Gene editing

The above mentioned elements are not necessarily of military in nature – the backwardness in military technology are well-known which are being addressed by Chinese government since past two decades, jet engines with thrust-vectoring control technology among the most significant ones.

6. GEOPOLITICS 1930 ONWARDS

With the setting up of Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Switzerland in 1930, the disputes and tussle among the most prominent Jewish and Anglo banker families (like Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan, Warburg, Lazard, et al.) over type of business, geographical region of influence, and share of banking sector operations got resolved. The Zionist Capitalist elites were fully united in words and deeds notwithstanding the occasional rivalry and difference of opinion between followers of two camps: Rothschild and Rockefeller. The long-term objective of the Zionist Capitalist Deep State clique (representing primarily the Jewish, Anglo, Dutch, French, German oligarch and aristocrat families who had accumulated wealth and have been engaged in business in banking-land-industry-trading) after WW I has been to establish a hegemonic world order which would:

  1. own ‘political process and power’ in every society/country on the earth
  2. own ‘economic process and wealth’ in every landmass/country/ocean on the earth
  3. control ‘socio-cultural process and population’ in every region/country on the earth

I find it difficult to consider that, ‘winning’ political power anywhere in the world, has ever been an objective of the Deep State – they want to ‘own’ the process through which any political party may be made to ‘win’ or ‘loose’ power depending on short-term and long-term interest of the Deep State.

The Zionist Capitalist Deep State crystallized in its existing form when WW II started in 1936 (with signing of anti-communist pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan). Expectations of the Zionist Capitalist Deep State were destruction of powerful societies (non- Anglo/Jewish/Dutch/French) who had potential to develop advanced economy, and expansion of Zionist Capitalist empire:

  1. combatants Fascist Germany and Communist Soviet Union decimating each other’s (i) military forces, (ii) physical infrastructure, and (iii) population across entire Eurasia;
  2. combatants Fascist Japan and Nationalist China decimating each other’s (i) military forces, (ii) physical infrastructure, and (iii) population across entire East Asia;
  3. stages (a) and (b) would be followed by occupation of whole Europe and Asia by the ‘benevolent’ Anglo-American military who would claim that they have ‘liberated’ these ancient civilizations from the ‘authoritarian dictatorships’ of fascism and communism;
  4. stage (c) would be followed by establishment of ‘liberal democratic capitalism’ version of empire (as against ‘colonial extractive capitalism’ version) in whole Europe and Asia to continue plunder of wealth in maximum possible way;

Unfortunately half of the objectives remained unfulfilled in the WW II that was over by 1945 – because of two political parties: Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU) and Communist Party of China (CPC) whose top leadership mobilised their countrymen in collective patriotic spirit, Soviet Union and China didn’t capitulate but their direct adversaries (Germany and Japan) were trounced. Phase II became a necessity for the Deep State.

WW II – Phase II:

Phase II of WW II was initiated as soon as phase I was over. ‘Operation Unthinkable’ was planned by most ardent imperialist Churchill in order to launch a surprise attack on Soviet Union to achieve the original objectives that Hitler failed to achieve, but dropped. Realising that a military block consisting of all societies that join together as Zionist Capitalist Deep State would be more effective to demolish: (a) morally and militarily supreme power like Soviet Union which recuperated economically,

(b) new power like Communist China (where by January’1949, Peoples Liberation Army already won three major campaigns in last strongholds of Kuo Mintang party in east and south regions of China), NATO was formed in April’1949.

To achieve the long-term objective of hegemonic world order as well as the four WW II objectives, the Deep State displayed creativity in designing and deploying diplomatic, political, economic, cultural tools and methods that proved to be highly durable and extremely effective:

  1. UNO and its key sister organizations were established to control the international political incidents in all regions across the globe
  2. Through WBG, IMF, ADB global banking and financial companies spread its tentacles to every region of the world to control natural resources and economy
  3. US Dollar as the foreign currency exchange basis across the globe – not only the gold backing was withdrawn from Dollar in 1971 by USA government, but the hegemon also manipulated the Arab rulers to use Dollar as currency for most crucial commodity trading (of petroleum)
  4. Trade pacts like GATT, WTO, and similar other pacts driven by USA-West Europe-Japan were implemented so that the hegemonic power maintains their hold over global trade
  5. Promotion of ‘periodic election’ plus ‘market economy’ plus ‘private ownership’ masquerading as ‘Democracy’ across the globe
  6. Promotion of literature-cinema-fine arts that revolves around sex-drug-commercial duplicity in all major languages across the globe
  7. Promotion of mainstream media for broadcasting and publishing round-the-clock propaganda on the above mentioned tools (i) to (vi) in all major languages across the globe
  8. Promotion of academic institutions and intellectual for propagating curriculum on the above mentioned tools (i) to (vi) in all major languages across the globe
  9. Promotion of religious fundamentalist groups (male chauvinists with belief in illusory past glory from society which profess religious faiths like Sunni Islam, in Catholic Christianity, in Puritan Christianity, Brahminical Hinduism etc.) as well as ethnic fundamentalist groups (believing superiority of his/her ethnicity) in all regions across the globe
  10. Development of highly complex computerised system and other industrial technology to replace human labour in every sphere of productive work as much as possible

During the ensuing four and a half decades- from 1945 to 1990- major tasks accomplished by Deep State were:

  1. The Zionist Capitalist elites located primarily on either side of the Atlantic (who were driving force for aristocratic groups like Bilderberg Club, Club of Rome, Trilateral Commission as well as think-tanks like Council for Foreign Relations) were immensely successful in mobilising most of the academic institutions and media entities across world to spread propaganda among the people world-wide about ‘failure’ of socialism/ communism/ Marxist principles in Soviet Union and east European countries as well as China. While it was true that these countries which were devastated during WW II couldn’t provide the standard of living as west European imperialist/colonialist countries could offer to their citizens, these socialist countries provided all basic amenities of life to all its citizens.
  2. In most unfortunate turn of history, in the second half of 1950s CPSU led by Khrushchev (a closet Zionist) denounced Stalin’s leadership in Soviet Union that not only defeated the most cruel war machinery ever built on earth but became the second superpower of the world by 1945 (in 22 years after Stalin got the top leader’s position). This created an unbridgeable ideological gap between CPSU and CPC that divided the entire socialist/communist movement across the globe. After removal of Khrushchev from the position of top leader in Soviet Union political situation was salvaged internally, however, China became completely blind about the changing landscape of Soviet Union. The lack of trust of Chinese leadership in Soviet leadership was utilised by the Deep State elites in the 1980s to bleed Soviet Union in Afghanistan and Angola.
  3. By 1960 most of the Asian, and African countries got freedom from the west European imperialist/ colonialist powers like UK, France, and Belgium etc. Most of these countries were ruled by nationalist party who heavily mixed socialist ideological tenets with their nationalist creed. Most of these countries, backed by Soviet Union, had highly corrupt ruling party. Such leaders easily became prey for the global capitalist-imperialist elites, and simultaneously those semi-literate societies came under the spell of ‘Hollywood’-promoted illusion and ‘drug-sex-violence’ kind of culture. The significant block led by Soviet Union and relatively small islands of Chinese sphere came to a crossroads – they were falling behind in harnessing technological progress in economic growth, which resulted in relatively low standard of living of majority population while government officials and ruling party leaders led much better life.
  4. Deep State tried hard to manipulate the policy of government and bureaucracy as well as to co-opt the key political parties across all countries so that they can create pro-USA, pro-5 Eyes, pro-Israel policies as well as anti-Soviet Union anti-China policies. Simultaneously, oligarch-aristocrat families and elite individuals with servility towards Zionist Capitalist ideology (i.e. capitalist enterprises, private ownership, European ‘liberal imperialism’) were promoted in political leadership-bureaucracy-judiciary in those countries so that they can convert the policies into actions to advance interests of global oligarchy.
  5. In many large countries across the world, the Zionist Capitalist Deep State manipulated domestic politics to overthrow patriotic and incorruptible leaders who couldn’t be co-opted by them – Congo, Iran, Indonesia, Chile, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, etc. The Deep State mainly mobilised the country’s military forces to grab state power by killing the top leader(s) and by creating a repressive environment. Sometimes that would include mass murder of leaders and members of socialist party/communist party – in Indonesia, in the 2nd half of 1960s, between one to two million members of communist party were killed by military junta. In all the above mentioned cases, soon after coming to power the military junta would create economic policies that would favour the MNC from USA, 5 Eyes, west European countries, and simultaneously reduce contacts with Soviet Union and China.
  6. Developing conventional, nuclear, biological, chemical, and other special weapons and building a military force based on land, marine, air, and space that will be able to dominate every other country in every region, and if necessary, the military force can take punitive actions against any country including carrying out ‘first strike’ against other nuclear powers like Soviet Union and China without any possibility of retaliatory strike. USA built over 700 military bases all over the world.

The Deep State operatives were very successful in their original plan of wrecking Soviet Union from within. In the beginning of 1980s two leaders got into powerful political positions in the Soviet block – Yuri Andropov became top leader of CPSU and Lech Walesa became top trade union leader in Poland, Such high-ranking anti-socialist leaders quickly made inroads into state structure and policies in Soviet Union and Poland. After Andropov handpicked Gorbachev to lead CPSU, it was only a matter of time for the Deep State to wrap-up the socialist experiment what was known as USSR. Gorbachev and his so-called reformist clique systematically incapacitated Soviet economy, and also actively promoted downfall of governments in every east European country which were led by socialist party aligned with CPSU. This clique was helped by professionals from USA and west Europe. They also pinned hope that CPC leader Zhao Ziyang will become the ‘Gorbachev of China’ to bring down the government ruled by CPC – however this was a complete failure as Zhao himself confided with Gorbachev that ‘Deng was the top leader’ in a meeting when Tiananmen Square protest was raging in Beijing in 1989. Without a single gun-shot being fired by the military wings of Zionist Capitalist cabal, the Soviet Union dissolved itself between 1990 to 1991 CE – the phase II of WW II came to an end. Instead of serious introspection and course correction among ruling party officials and government departments to design policies keeping pace with socio-economic changes and technological changes, all these ‘reformist’ leaders decided that the best way to (personal?) growth was to join hands with Zionist-Capitalist world order after bringing down the governments ruled by their own party communist/socialist party.

By 2020 whole Europe and half of Asia had been occupied by the ‘benevolent’ Anglo-American NATO military who claimed that they guarantee ‘independence’ of those ‘liberated countries’ from the clutch of ‘authoritarian’ communism, and they also ensure that ‘liberal democratic capitalism’ version of empire will suck the land and citizens dry. No wonder, Soviet WW II war memorials and monuments have been systematically destroyed in east Europe – how long the Deep State would tolerate anti-zionist anti-capitalist flag hoisted by Soviet Red Army in Europe with immense sacrifices and sufferings by Soviet leaders, soldiers and people?

Concomitant with the complete control of all political parties (across the wide spectrum of their professed ideology) on both sides of the Atlantic: North America, South America, Europe, the discerning Zionist Capitalist cabal maintains a complex cobweb connecting all key members and rotating them from one role to another. Thus a retired Director of intelligence department of USA will occupy the chair of Chairman of a big financial investment firm as well as the role of a university Professor! The cabal maintains a carefully constructed façade where professionals from different spheres of society jointly appear as a highly educated, experienced and intelligent wing – industrialists, bankers, politicians, bureaucrats, military officials, business managers, legal and media professionals, academicians, NGO managers, cinema directors and artists all walks of life are present.

[ Link: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-10/does-bilderberg-really-run-world-one-chart-help-you-decide ]

Interlude?

After Soviet Union was pulled down, the corrupt and treacherous Soviet leaders and their lackeys backed by the Zionist Capitalist oligarchy and elites ripped apart the socio-economic fabric of Russian society. The state exchequer was looted blatantly, the natural resources were divided among the Soviet elites-turned-businessmen, the industrial capital largely destroyed or privatised without any meaningful payment to state, workers were retrenched or pauperised without regular wages, and peasants were left without proper means of cultivation. Not only peoples tried to earn livelihood offering sex-drug-smuggling etc., but steep drop in birth rates across all splinter provinces of USSR made it to appear like entire Eurasian landmass will get depopulated within two generations. The Deep State also tried to split Russia (which, after the USSR dissolution, became largest state in Eurasia) into 4 – 5 regions through creating and aiding regional separatist movements with help of the 5th column elites and oligarchy within Russia. Without funding, military capabilities of Russia went into oblivion. Technological research and development as well as manufacturing of defence machinery came to a dead end. Demoralised troops and open corruption became symbolic of Russian military.

So, were the different factions of Zionist Capitalist cabal content with the successful closure of the WW II by 1991? What were they thinking about the glaring failure of destroying the CPC rule in China? Apparently, the Deep State was not only happy with their performance in destroying the CPSU and Soviet Union, they were also very confident about China becoming a ‘normal country’ with full-scale liberal democratic capitalist system of economy and periodic elections to elect governments that will be run by the Zionist Capitalist world order staying behind the curtain (as it happened for all countries in the world in 1992 except China-Vietnam-North Korea-Iran-Zimbabwe-Angola-Cuba). We need to ask ourselves, how the Deep State was so confident that China will be on board with them.

1978 onwards the drive towards industrial capitalism in China using the global finance owned by the Zionist Capitalist bankers and industrialists was initiated by Deng and followed up by Jiang Zemin in such earnestness that, the Deep State representatives like Kissinger and Financial Institutions like JP Morgan had to conclude that Chinese acumen for business and trade will transform the society into a capitalist society. Japan was anyway part of the world order triad i.e. USA-West Europe-Japan, and with China’s entry, the triad would have become USA-West Europe-East Asia. Chinese government went all-out to create a ‘happy hunting ground’ for global Zionist Capitalist interests which wanted more and more profits towards endless accumulation of capital, and hence were busy shifting their manufacturing base to China to harness low-cost labour and slack regulations. By 2008, i.e. after 30 years of reform, China became third largest economy in terms of GDP nominal (as per IMF estimates USD 4604 billion) and largest export base in the world (In 2007-2008, its Export-to-GDP ratio reached 32%, and its Exim-to-GDP ratio was 59%), but it also became a society where inequality was one of the highest in the world – China’s Gini coefficient (a measure of inequality – ‘0’ represents perfect equality, ‘1’ represents perfect inequality) rose from about 0.3 in early 1980s to 0.49 in 2008. The media, academia, multilateral institutions funded by the Deep State went all-out to woo the CPC leaders towards ushering a new era of ‘political reforms’ after such a brilliant success of ‘economic reforms’ – by ‘political reforms’ they meant introduction of multi-party election system and privatisation of the state-owned enterprises. After one and a half decades of persuasion, by middle of 2000s the Deep State cabal understood that, CPC never ever had any such plan of changing their ideology of political economy.

And about the same time in 2007 Munich Security Conference, Putin as the leader of Russia, delivered his famous Munich speech. In no uncertain terms, Putin criticized USA’s hegemonic dominance and its “almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations“. That speech came as a shocker to the Zionist Capitalist clique – it was like waking up from a slumber. All these years they thought WW II was over with Soviet Union completely decimated – after 16 years they had the ignominy of attending a conference on European soil, where a Russian leader was chastising them about use of force in settling disputes!

Actually 2000 onwards, there had been relentless sole-searching among top leadership of Russia. It was about the overall decay of Russia within a span of just 10 years – between 1985 and 1995. As a result, the Russian government and a section of ruling party led by Putin has been pushing economic policies that created new consumer goods industry and improved agricultural production, enhanced the oil-gas extraction operation. Within few years’ time Russia got on its feet and created an economy based on ‘domestic consumption’ and pushed export of oil-gas to earn foreign exchange. However, the Zionist Capitalist oligarchy led by powerful faction of the ruling party was deeply entrenched in the bureaucracy, academia and media who supported (and benefited from) their illegal amassing of wealth. Corruption, nepotism, extortion among ruling party cadres and government officials, mostly went unpunished. Outward flow of capital and tax breaks for rich businessmen were also happening albeit at a slow pace. But noticing the overall upswing in Russian society the Deep State got alarmed – ‘filthy’ Russian bear is again cooking up some curry that may prove difficult to digest in long run!

Part 1

Part 3 – pending


By profession I’m an Engineer and Consultant, but my first love was and is History and Political Science. In retired life, I’m pursuing higher study in Economics.

I’m one of the few decade-old members of The Saker blog-site. Hope that this website will continue to focus on truth and justice in public life and will support the struggle of common people across the world.

An Indian by nationality, I believe in humanity.

A Pipelineistan fable for our times

June 08, 2020

A Pipelineistan fable for our times

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Ukraine was supposed to prevent Russia from deepening energy ties with Germany; it didn’t work out that way

Once upon a time in Pipelineistan, tales of woe were the norm. Shattered dreams littered the chessboard – from IPI vs. TAPI in the AfPak realm to the neck-twisting Nabucco opera in Europe.

In sharp contrast, whenever China entered the picture, successful completion prevailed. Beijing financed a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Xinjiang, finished in 2009, and will profit from two spectacular Power of Siberia deals with Russia.

And then there’s Ukraine. Maidan was a project of the Barack Obama administration, featuring a sterling cast led by POTUS, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John McCain and last but not least, prime Kiev cookie distributor Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland.

Ukraine was also supposed to prevent Russia from deepening energy ties with Germany, as well as other European destinations.

Well, it did not exactly play like that. Nord Stream was already operational. South Stream was Gazprom’s project to southeast Europe. Relentless pressure by the Obama administration derailed it. Yet that only worked to enable a resurrection: the already completed TurkStream, with gas starting to flow in January 2020.

The battlefield then changed to Nord Stream 2. This time relentless Donald Trump administration pressure did not derail it. On the contrary: it will be completed by the end of 2020.

Richard Grennel, the US ambassador to Germany, branded a “superstar” by President Trump, was furious. True to script, he threatened Nordstream 2 partners – ENGIE, OMV, Royal Dutch Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall – with “new sanctions.”

Worse: he stressed that Germany “must stop feeding the beast at a time when it does not pay enough to NATO.”

“Feeding the beast” is not exactly subtle code for energy trade with Russia.

Peter Altmaier, German minister of economic affairs and energy, was not impressed. Berlin does not recognize any legality in extra-territorial sanctions

Grennel, on top of it, is not exactly popular in Berlin. Diplomats popped the champagne when they knew he was going back home to become the head of US national intelligence.

Trump administration sanctions delayed Nordstream 2 for around one year, at best. What really matters is that in this interval Kiev had to sign a gas transit deal with Gazprom. What no one is talking about is that by 2025 no Russian gas will be transiting across Ukraine towards Europe.

So the whole Maidan project was in fact useless.

It’s a running joke in Brussels that the EU never had and will never have a unified energy policy towards Russia. The EU came up with a gas directive to force the ownership of Nord Stream 2 to be separated from the gas flowing through the pipeline. German courts applied their own “nein.”

Nord Stream 2 is a serious matter of national energy security for Germany. And that is enough to trump whatever Brussels may concoct.

And don’t forget Siberia 

The moral of this fable is that now two key Pipelineistan nodes – Turk Stream and Nord Stream 2 – are established as umbilical steel cords linking Russia with two NATO allies.

And true to proverbial win-win scripts, now it’s also time for China to look into solidifying its European relations.

Last week, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese premier Li Keqiang had a video conference to discuss Covid-19 and China-EU economic policy.

That was a day after Merkel and President Xi had spoken, when they agreed that the China-EU summit in Leipzig on September 14 would have to be postponed.

This summit should be the climax of the German presidency of the EU, which starts on July 1. That’s when Germany would be able to present a unified policy towards China, uniting in theory the 27 EU members and not only the 17+1 from Central Europe and the Balkans – including 11 EU members – that already have a privileged relationship with Beijing and are on board for the Belt and Road Initiative.

In contrast with the Trump administration, Merkel does privilege a clear, comprehensive trade partnership with China – way beyond a mere photo op summit. Berlin is way more geoeconomically sophisticated than the vague “engagement and exigence” Paris  approach.

Merkel as well as Xi are fully aware of the imminent fragmentation of the world economy post-Lockdown. Yet as much as Beijing is ready to abandon the global circulation strategy from which it has handsomely profited for the past two decades, the emphasis is also on refining very close trade relations with Europe.

Ray McGovern has concisely detailed the current state of US-Russia relations. The heart of the whole matter, from Moscow’s point of view, was summarized by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, an extremely able diplomat:

“We don’t believe the US in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever. So our own calculations and conclusions are less related to what America is doing …. We cherish our close and friendly relations with China. We do regard this as a comprehensive strategic partnership in different areas, and we intend to develop it further.”

It’s all here. Russia-China “comprehensive strategic partnership” steadily advancing. Including “Power of Siberia” Pipelineistan. Plus Pipelineistan linking two key NATO allies. Sanctions? What sanctions?

China, the World System and Brazilian dystopia

May 22, 2020

China, the World System and Brazilian dystopia

By Fábio Reis Vianna for the Saker Blog

When Admiral Cheng Ho ordered the retreat of his naval fleet around the year 1424, he left, in the words of the anthropologist Abu-Lughod, “a huge power vacuum”. The first great Chinese expansionist project, started during the Ming Dynasty, was prematurely interrupted there.

After impressive naval expeditions that reached territories as far away as the Indian Ocean and the coast of Africa, and in a decision not yet fully clarified by scholars of the subject, China would abruptly give up the first great expansionist project on a global scale.

It would take no more than 70 years for the Europeans to occupy the great void left by the Chinese and actually begin the adventure that gave rise to what we today call world system.

Six centuries later, China led by Xi Jinping finds itself in an unprecedented crisis in its recent successful history as the undisputed leader of the globalization process. The Covid-19 pandemic that abruptly hits the entire planet, for China in particular, was a hard blow that created an imbalance in its model of political and economic stability.

In the first three months of 2020, trade between China and the rest of the world fell by 6.4%, a figure unthinkable by Chinese standards. In particular, trade with the United States, the European Union and Japan declined 18.3%, 10.4% and 8.1% respectively.

Even with the strong decrease of contagion within Chinese territory, there is a great concern to accelerate the reopening of productive activities. The concern with increasing poverty and political destabilization are evident. In his recent visit to Shaanxi province, Xi Jinping made a point of underlining in his speech the importance of the fight against poverty.

In addition to incentives to businesses, investments in infrastructure and financial aid to the population, a series of structural reforms are planned to enable the country to overcome the terrible crisis triggered by Covid-19. An important annual session of the National People’s Congress is scheduled for May 22nd, and more details can be examined there.

Meanwhile, Brazil, one of the countries that in the recent past could be considered one of the most important allies of the Eurasian integration project outside Eurasia, is experiencing the greatest political-economic crisis in its entire history and is sinking deeper and deeper into an unprecedented internal war.

Something that is being discussed internally among the Chinese establishment is precisely the creation of mechanisms to contain the risk of instability that the social tensions arising from economic difficulties could trigger.

Brazil had already been experiencing cascading crises that had accumulated year after year since June 2013, when the country was the target of a destabilization process – or hybrid war – that triggered a series of other more or less orchestrated events (such as the lawfare against specific targets) that culminated in the weakening of institutions that had been strengthened since the enactment of the 1988 Constitution.

To make matters worse, and in contrast to the Chinese stance in seeking to contain internal instability, the country is astonished at the erratic attitudes of President Bolsonaro, under the consenting silence of his military orbits.

Having been chosen to occupy the highest position in the Republic, in all probability during the fateful visit of the then American secretary of defense, James Mattis “Mad Dog”, in August 2018 (two months before the presidential elections), when in a peculiar and closed meeting between the American and the High Command of the Armed Forces the password was given, and Bolsonaro was anointed to the mission to prevent the return of the left and realign Brazil to the satellite condition of the United States.

Everything leads us to believe that the crumbling of the Brazilian institutions has lit a warning signal within the Brazilian Armed Forces, which, in a mixture of sincere concern and sense of opportunity, took advantage of the power vacuum to move forward in the resumption of a protagonism that has been dormant for over 30 years.

Many forget, but the presence of the military – and especially the army – in the Brazilian political tradition dates back to the proclamation of the Republic in 1889, which opened the series of military coups that guided the entire Republican period to this day.

It is worth remembering that the occupation of strategic positions by the military became more visible when the current Minister of Defense, Fernando Azevedo e Silva, strangely, was appointed by the president of the Supreme Court, Dias Toffoli, to the position of special advisor.

Curiously, this has been happening in the month of September 2018 (between the visit of Secretary James Mattis and the election of Bolsonaro), where Dias Toffoli said he would have invited General Azevedo e Silva after requesting a nomination to the then commander of the army, General Eduardo Villas Bôas.

General Villas Bôas is the same man who, in April 2018, wrote on Twitter a veiled threat to the ministers of the Supreme Court if they found the habeas corpus request of former President Lula to be justified. The day after the constitutional remedy was judged, former President Lula would have his arrest ordered by then-judge Sergio Moro.

As a kind of Ayatollah, General Villas Bôas reproduces a classic character of Brazilian politics until the 1950s: the military chief.

At that time, personified by the figure of Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, the military chief was a kind of “guardian of morals and good customs” of the nation and justified the political action of the military as holders of an unwritten “moderating power”. In this way, the military attributed themselves to the exercise of the “veto power” of the Republic. In the context of the Cold War, the power of veto was invoked to curb the communist threat.

After more than 60 years, and when many thought that the Brazilian Armed Forces would be totally professionalized and away from politics, we find ourselves led by an Executive Power integrated by no less than 3 thousand military personnel; not to mention the eight ministries occupied by men in uniform.

As in a trench battle, the military had been advancing day after day in the control and tutelage of state organs and institutions of the Republic, but if there was a well articulated strategy of occupation of power, with the arrival of Covid-19 the pieces definitely shuffled.

Today Brazil is moving forward to become the world epicenter of Covid-19, and as the pandemic seems to get out of control, the more the military tries to control the internal systemic chaos.

Moreover, if before Covid-19 there was some cohesion in the Brazilian establishment around the neoliberal reforms carried out by the Ministry of Economy, with the bursting of the health crisis, it is every day more evident the split between business sectors, the big media, the National Congress and the Judiciary, which are now frontally positioned in opposition to the government.

The recent meetings between the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, and the President of the Supreme Court, Dias Toffoli, with the Minister “eminence parda” of the Palácio do Planalto, General Braga Netto, were a subtle attempt at intimidation and framing of two of the most important civil authorities of the Republic by the Bolsonaro government.

At the same time that the basements of the government’s disinformation machine slanders adversaries and agitates the low ranks of the Armed Forces and the military police of the states (its faithful allies), the country sinks in what is certainly the greatest existential crisis in its history.

As if all this were not enough, the rest of the world coexists with the prospect of incurring a public debt only seen, according to the British magazine The Economist, “amid the rubble of 1945”.

Beyond the health crisis itself, the economic consequences of the post-Pandemic will be devastating from the fiscal point of view, because the compulsory closure of industry, offices and various segments of the service sector will certainly bring about a fall in government revenues.

As many analysts have already noted, the world is experiencing the exact moment of transition between what no longer exists and what is yet to be born.

Even before the pandemic, the acceleration of interstate competition is noticeable, which denotes the phenomenon of deconcentration of power that throughout the history of the world system always occurs in periods of decline in the long cycles of international politics.

Something that the Brazilian elites, especially the military elites – psychologically trapped in imaginary enemies such as Chinese communists and “cultural Marxists” – have not yet realized, is the dimension of Brazil’s importance in the geopolitical context of this new century that is beginning.

With the shattering of Bretton Woods institutions and the liberal order hegemonized by the United States, the world draws – and we are all characters – a systemic configuration that has not yet been defined. In process.

As it had happened between about 1550 and 1640, when the world, still dominated by the powerful Spain, saw the movements of contestation to the empire that had built its power in the newly discovered America flourish.

Trapped by the wealth of gold and the medieval system of government that no longer corresponded to reality, the Habsburgs – in their alliance with the papacy – fought so that their hegemony would not disintegrate amid the rise of the newest actors in the system, namely, France, Holland, Sweden and England.

At that time, Europe was swallowed up by an unprecedented escalation of wars stemming from those new realities of power whose new actors, emerging in the northwest of the old continent, were unwilling to submit to Spanish power.

The translation of that scenario was the deepening of the systemic chaos that would be pacified only with the advent of the Treaty of Westphalia. Any resemblance to the present world moment is no mere coincidence, at least for geopolitical scholars.

Going back to the year 2020, it is very likely that some aspects will prove to be clearer and bolder in the post-Pandemic. Technological competition, more visible around 5G, tends to radicalize in many other areas. And the search for natural/energy resources is already a reality and places not only Africa, but South America itself as the target of the new imperialist race that should also deepen.

For now, the Brazilian establishment is a mere spectator of the rapid changes that the world system will see in the coming years.

China, even though it has been severely hit by the Covid-19 meteor, is reinventing itself in its policy of global humanitarian aid to effectively combat the virus and is focusing its action on strengthening the Eurasian integration project; in particular the Belt and Road Initiative – BRI.

Demonstrating impressive resilience, despite the strong retraction in exports to central countries, the Chinese saw an increase of 3.2% with the New Silk Road countries. Although not comparable to previous years, it shows that BRI’s infrastructure projects have not been so strongly affected by the adverse effects of the health crisis.

Nothing more appropriate to the thought and conduct of Confucian cosmology, based beyond mere rambling, in a concrete act, an action.

Thus, the Chinese follow their journey towards the central helm of the world system, consciously absorbing the pillars of Western modernity, but without ever losing the essence of Confucian thought, the Tao-to that always seeks effectiveness beyond mere thought.

Next June marks seven years of uninterrupted political-institutional instability in Latin America’s largest country. May the history of the oldest peoples and the winds of change teach us to guide the helm of our own destiny.


Fabio Reis Vianna, lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a bachelor of laws ( LL.B), writer and geopolitical analyst. He is currently a columnist in international politics for the printed version of the centennial Brazilian newspaper Monitor Mercantil.

Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes

Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes

May 11, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

China has learned from its own rich history and is applying those lessons to re-emerge as a major 21st century power

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Jiayu Pass, a famed MIng Dynasty era part of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan City, during an inspection tour of northwest China’s Gansu Province, August 20, 2019. Photo: FacebookWith hybrid warfare 2.0 against China reaching fever pitch, the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, will continue to be demonized 24/7 as the proverbial evil communist plot for economic and geopolitical domination of the “free” world, boosted by a sinister disinformation campaign.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Jiayu Pass,
a famed MIng Dynasty era part of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan City,
during an inspection tour of northwest China’s Gansu Province,
August 20, 2019. Photo: Facebook

It’s idle to discuss with simpletons. In the interest of an informed debate, what matters is to find the deeper roots of Beijing’s strategy – what the Chinese learned from their own rich history and how they are applying these lessons as a re-emerging major power in the young 21st century.

Let’s start with how East and West used to position themselves at the center of the world.

The first Chinese historic-geographic encyclopedia, the 2nd century B.C. Classic of the Mountains and the Seas, tells us the world was what was under the sun (tienhia). Composed of “mountains and seas” (shanhai), the world was laid out between “four seas” (shihai). There’s only one thing that does not change: the center. And its name is “Middle Kingdom” (Zhongguo), that is, China.

Of course, the Europeans, in the 16th century, discovering that the earth was round, turned Chinese centrality upside down. But actually not that much (see, for instance, this 21st century Sinocentric map published in 2013).

The principle of a huge continent surrounded by seas, the “exterior ocean,” seems to have derived from Buddhist cosmology, in which the world is described as a “four-petal lotus.” But the Sinocentric spirit was powerful enough to discard and prevail over every cosmogony that might have contradicted it, such as the Buddhist, which placed India at the center.

Now compare Ancient Greece. Its center, based on reconstituted maps by Hippocrates and Herodotus, is a composite in the Aegean Sea, featuring the Delphi-Delos-Ionia triad. The major split between East and West goes back to the Roman empire in the 3rd century. And it starts with Diocletian, who made it all about geopolitics.

Here’s the sequence: In 293, he installs a tetrarchy, with two Augustuses and two Caesars, and four prefectures. Maximian Augustus is charged to defend the West (Occidens), with the “prefecture of Italy” having Milan as capital. Diocletian charges himself to defend the East (Oriens), with the “prefecture of Orient” having Nicomedia as capital.

Political religion is added to this new politico-military complex. Diocletian starts the Christian dioceses (dioikesis, in Greek, after his name), twelve in total. There is already a diocese of the Orient – basically the Levant and northern Egypt.

There’s no diocese of the Occident. But there is a diocese of Asia: basically the Western part of Mediterranean Turkey nowadays, heir to the ancient Roman provinces in Asia. That’s quite interesting: the Orient is placed east of Asia.

The historical center, Rome, is just a symbol. There’s no more center; in fact, the center is slouching towards the Orient. Nicomedia, Diocletian’s capital, is quickly replaced by neighbor Byzantium under Constantine and rechristened as Constantinople: he wants to turn it into “the new Rome.”

When the Western Roman empire falls in 476, the empire of the Orient remains.

Officially, it will become the Byzantine empire only in the year 732, while the Holy Roman Empire – which, as we know, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire – resurrects with Charlemagne in 800. From Charlemagne onwards, the Occident regards itself as “Europe,” and vice-versa: the historical center and the engine of this vast geographical space, which will eventually reach and incorporate the Americas.

Superstar admiral

We’re still immersed in a – literally – oceanic debate among historians about the myriad reasons and the context that led everyone and his neighbor to frenetically take to the seas starting in the late 15th century – from Columbus and Vasco da Gama to Magellan.

But the West usually forgets about the true pioneer: iconic Admiral Zheng He, original name Ma He, a eunuch and Muslim Hui from Yunnan province.

His father and grandfather had been pilgrims to Mecca. Zheng He grew up speaking Mandarin and Arabic and learning a lot about geography. When he was 13, he was placed in the house of a Ming prince, Zhu Di, member of the new dynasty that came to power in 1387.

Educated as a diplomat and warrior, Zheng He converted to Buddhism under his new name, although he always remained faithful to Islam. After all, as I saw for myself when I visited Hui communities in 1997 when branching out from the Silk Road, on my way to Labrang monastery in Xiahe, Hui Islam is a fascinating syncretism incorporating Buddhism, the Tao and Confucianism.

Zhu Di brought down the Emperor in 1402 and took the name Yong Le. A year later he had already commissioned Zheng He as admiral, and ordered him to supervise the construction of a large fleet to explore the seas around China. Or, to be more precise, the “Occidental ocean” (Xiyang): that is, the Indian Ocean.

Thus from 1405 to 1433, roughly three decades, Zheng He led seven expeditions across the seas all the way to Arabia and Eastern Africa, leaving from Nanjing in the Yangtze and benefiting from monsoon winds. They hit Champa, Borneo, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah/Mecca, Mogadiscio and the Eastern African coast south of the Equator.

Those were real armadas, sometimes with over 200 ships, including the 72 main ones, carrying as many as 30,000 men and vast amounts of precious merchandise for trade: silk, porcelain, silver, cotton, leather products, iron utensils. The leading vessel of the first expedition, with Zheng He as captain, was 140 meters long, 50 meters wide and carrying over 500 men.

This was the original Maritime Silk Road, now revived in the 21st century. And it was coupled with another extension of the overland Silk Road: after all the dreaded Mongols were in retreat, there were new allies all the way to Transoxiana, the Chinese managed to strike a peace deal with the successor of Tamerlane. So the Silk Roads were booming again. The Ming court sent diplomats all over Asia – Tibet, Nepal, Bengal, even Japan.

The main objective of pioneering Chinese seafaring has always puzzled Western historians. Essentially, it was a diplomatic, commercial and military mix. It was important to have Chinese suzerainty recognized – and materialized via the payment of a tribute. But most of all this was about trade; no wonder the ships had special cabins for merchants.

The armada was designated as the Treasury Fleet – but denoting more a prestige operation than a vehicle for capturing riches. Yong Le was strong on soft power and economics – as he took control of overseas trade by imposing an imperial monopoly over all transactions. So in the end this was a clever, comprehensive application of the Chinese tributary system – in the commercial, diplomatic and cultural spheres.

Yong Le was in fact following the instructions of his predecessor Hongwu, the founder of the Ming (“Lights”) dynasty. Legend rules that Hongwu ordered that one billion trees should be planted in the Nanjing region to supply the building of a navy.

Then there was the transfer of the capital from Nanjing to Beijing in 1421, and the construction of the Forbidden City. That cost a lot of money. As much as the naval expeditions were expensive, their profits, of course, were useful.

Yong Le wanted to establish Chinese – and pan-Asian – stability via a true Pax Sinica. That was not imposed by force but rather by diplomacy, coupled with a subtle demonstration of power. The Armada was the aircraft carrier of the time, with cannons on sight – but rarely used – and practicing “freedom of navigation”.

What the emperor wanted was allied local rulers, and for that he used intrigue and commerce rather than shock and awe via battles and massacres. For instance, Zheng He proclaimed Chinese suzerainty over Sumatra, Cochin and Ceylon. He privileged equitable commerce. So this was never a colonization process.

On the contrary: before each expedition, as its planning proceeded, emissaries from countries to be visited were invited to the Ming court and treated, well, royally.

Plundering Europeans

Now compare that with the European colonization led a decade later by the Portuguese across these same lands and these same seas. Between (a little) carrot and (a lot of) stick, the Europeans drove commerce mostly via massacres and forced conversions. Trading posts were soon turned into forts and military installations, something that Zheng He’s expeditions never attempted.

In fact Zheng He left so many good memories that he was divinized under his Chinese name, San Bao, which means “Three Treasures,” in such places in Southeast Asia as Malacca and Siam’s Ayutthaya.

What can only be described as Judeo-Christian sadomasochism focused on imposing suffering as virtue, the only path to reach Paradise. Zheng He would never have considered that his sailors – and the populations he made contact with – had to pay this price.

So why did it all end, and so suddenly? Essentially Yong Le run out of money because of his grandiose imperial adventures. The Grand Canal – linking the Yellow River and the Yangtze basins – cost a fortune. Same for building the Forbidden City. The revenue from the expeditions was not enough.

And just as the Forbidden City was inaugurated, it caught fire in May 1421. Bad omen. According to tradition, this means disharmony between Heaven and the sovereign, a development outside of the astral norm. Confucians used it to blame the eunuch councilors, very close to the merchants and the cosmopolitan elites around the emperor. On top of it, the southern borders were restless and the Mongol threat never really went away.

The new Ming emperor, Zhu Gaozhi, laid down the law: “China’s territory produces all goods in abundance; so why should we buy abroad trinkets without any interest?”

His successor Zhu Zanji was even more radical. Up to 1452, a series of imperial edicts prohibited foreign trade and overseas travel. Every infraction was considered piracy punished by death. Worse, studying foreign languages was banished, as was the teaching of Chinese to foreigners.

Zheng He died (in early 1433? 1435?) in true character, in the middle of the sea, north of Java, as he was returning from the seventh, and last, expedition. The documents and the charts used for the expeditions were destroyed, as well as the ships.

So the Ming ditched naval power and re-embraced old agrarian Confucianism, which privileges agriculture over trade, the earth over the seas, and the center over foreign lands.

No more naval retreat

The takeaway is that the formidable naval tributary system put in place by Yong Le and Zheng He was a victim of excess – too much state spending, peasant turbulence – as well as its own success.

In less than a century, from the Zheng He expeditions to the Ming retreat, this turned out to be a massive game changer in history and geopolitics, prefiguring what would happen immediately afterwards in the long 16th century: the era when Europe started and eventually managed to rule the world.

One image is stark. While Zheng He’s lieutenants were sailing the eastern coast of Africa all the way to the south, in 1433, the Portuguese expeditions were just starting their adventures in the Atlantic, also sailing south, little by little, along the Western coast of Africa. The mythical Cape Bojador was conquered in 1434.

After the seven Ming expeditions crisscrossed Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean from 1403 for nearly three decades, only half a century later Bartolomeu Dias would conquer the Cape of Good Hope, in 1488, and Vasco da Gama would arrive in Goa in 1498.

Imagine a historical “what if?”: the Chinese and the Portuguese bumping into each other in Swahili land. After all, in 1417 it was the turn of Hong Bao, the Muslim eunuch who was Zheng He’s lieutenant; and in 1498 it was Vasco da Gama’s turn, guided by the “Lion of the Sea” Ibn Majid, his legendary Arab master navigator.

The Ming were not obsessed with gold and spices. For them, trade should be based on equitable exchange, under the framework of the tribute. As Joseph Needham conclusively proved in works such as Science and Civilization in China, the Europeans wanted Asian products way more than Orientals wanted European products, “and the only way to pay for them was gold.”

For the Portuguese, the “discovered” lands were all potential colonization territory. And for that the few colonizers needed slaves. For the Chinese, slavery amounted to domestic chores at best. For the Europeans, it was all about the massive exploitation of a workforce in the fields and in mines, especially concerning black populations in Africa.

In Asia, in contrast to Chinese diplomacy, the Europeans went for massacre. Via torture and mutilations, Vasco da Gama and other Portuguese colonizers deployed a real war of terror against civilian populations.

This absolutely major structural difference is at the root of the world- system and the geo-historical organization of our world, as analyzed by crack geographers such as Christian Grataloup and Paul Pelletier.  Asian nations did not have to manage – or to suffer – the painful repercussions of slavery.

So in the space of only a few decades the Chinese abdicated from closer relations with Southeast Asia, India and Eastern Africa. The Ming fleet was destroyed. China abandoned overseas trade and retreated unto itself to focus on agriculture.

Once again: the direct connection between the Chinese naval retreat and the European colonial expansion is capable of explaining the development process of the two “worlds” – the West and the Chinese center – since the 15th century.

At the end of the 15th century, there were no Chinese architects left capable of building large ships. Development of weaponry also had been abandoned. In just a few decades, crucially, the Sinified world lost its vast technological advance over the West. It got weaker. And later it would pay a huge price, symbolized in the Chinese unconsciousness by the “century of humiliation.”

All of the above explains quite a few things. How Xi Jinping and the current leadership did their homework. Why China won’t pull a Ming remix and retreat again. Why and how the overland Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road are being revived. How there won’t be any more humiliations. And most of all, why the West – especially the American empire – absolutely refuses to admit the new course of history.

International Finance’s Anti-China Crusade

Source

ERIC STRIKER • APRIL 6, 2020


There is a strong anti-China current being promoted in right-wing circles and some neo-liberal ones in light of the coronavirus epidemic.

These forces are seeking to redirect real criticisms of globalization – deindustrialization, stolen intellectual property, and trade deficits – and utilize them for support for regime change operations and possibly even war against China for the financial self-interest of a few American oligarchs. It’s similar to how anti-immigration sentiment was swerved into concerns about Islam’s illiberalism in hopes of advancing Israeli interests in Europe and promoting neo-conservative wars in America.

While the Trump government’s tariffs are a welcome policy in the national interest, it also refuses to fix any of the domestic problems that allow for China to always win due to the plutocratic stranglehold American capitalists have on the US government.

The US elite is divided on China. On the one hand, there is a steadily weakening wing that seeks to continue America’s relationship with the Asian superpower in hopes of keeping a foot in the door and gradually liberalizing it.

On the other side of the debate, there are figures like George Soros, Peter Thiel, and disgraced and exiled billionaire criminal Guo Wengui who see the Chinese pseudo-National Socialist system as antifragile in the face of the passive liberal subversion that helped take down the Soviet Union.

Neither Soros, Thiel, Trump or Wengui are interested in combating globalization, but only in destroying what they perceive to be a barrier to it. For Soros, he shrouds his personal financial interest thwarted by the Chinese state in the language of “human rights” familiar to the liberal-left. Thiel has tapped a number of “alt” right-wing personalities and phony populists to try and construct a civilizational and even implicitly racial clash narrative to support his business interests in India and America. Wengui’s weapon has been Steve Bannon, who has been making his appeal to whoever will have him as a neo-con jingo, reviving silly language about “liberating” the Chinese people even though we Americans have no freedom ourselves.

Anti-China? Yes. Pro-America? No.

It’s easy to mistake the discourse of China hawks for sincere patriotism. While Donald Trump ran on a platform of bringing American industry home, the Trump administration’s actual policies in recent years have not achieved this.

The Chinese government’s international message, that its nationalistic command economy provides for superior development in comparison to liberal-capitalism, appears self-evidently true. This is a problem for American plutocracy, which tells its own citizens and those of other nations that in fact free trade and liberalization are the path to prosperity.

Rather than copying what works for the Chinese economic model (nationalizing industry, strong regulations against foreign influence, etc), American capital and the Trump administration have worked to win over Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is an advocate for mass privatization, weakening the state, and deregulation, a strategy the phony nationalist refers to as “minimum government, maximum governance.”

In Asia, economic prosperity and stable growth is more compelling than military power, and America’s elites have begun making overtures towards India in hopes of creating a counter-weight to China.

Last year, the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum announced that 200 American manufacturers were interested in moving their supply chains from China to Indianot America. The big barrier appears to be India’s low quality infrastructure and the lack of an existing free trade agreement with the US.

According to reports in Hindu press from two months ago, the Trump administration has gone into talks with the Modi government to develop a new free trade agreement that will produce $500 billion in trade between the US and India. When all these pieces are put together, the end-result will be that the US’ economically disastrous trade deficit with China will simply be shifted to benefit India.

India’s Modi is eager to turn India into a full-blown satellite of the United States. The mass privatization of the country after the fall of the Soviet Union has not significantly bettered the average Indians life and his nation is unstable and dysfunctional. The Belt and Road Initiative threatens to spread the Chinese Corporatist development model all around nations Indian oligarchs see as being rivals or subjects: Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, etc.

The Belt and Road Initiative is also an existential threat to international Jewish finance. Nations across Asia, Africa, Russia and Europe have signed on or expressed interest in the BRI due to its exclusive focus on real assets and Keynesian infrastructuve-led growth, as opposed to neo-liberal models that impose the primacy of financial “assets” and selling off your country to international corporations.

India has refused to join the BRI, but the nations around it are all on board. If successful, the Belt and Road Initiative will create a counter-weight to Manhattan high-finance, and thus a potential economic partner for nations uncomfortable with the cosmopolitan, hedonistic Jewish values Washington demands its subjects take up in the name of “democracy.”

Donald Trump is trying to curtail the potential liberation of these nation’s from Wall Streets cultural and economic influence by creating the Blue Dot Network, or U.S. Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy (FOIP), which so far only has Australia, Japan, India and America as signatories.

Safe to say, this pact will require more foreign aid and trade deficits, and nothing that will financially benefit the people of America. A national industrial policy that looks to overturn neo-liberal reforms that have turned our economy into an overfinancialized basket case is the medicine we need. Instead, we are being drafted to fight a war to save an increasingly dysfunctional and discredited economic model that benefits only a few.

George Soros: The Open Society Against China

The international Jew George Soros has made much of his fortune collapsing the Bank of England and causing the Asian financial crisis. Most Western countries fear him due to his economic power, which he uses passively through speculative attacks or directly when he finances private coups against governments that defy him, known as “color revolutions.”

China, one of the only states in the world strong enough to put billionaire criminals to death, directly threatened George Soros with harsh legal repercussions when he saw the Chinese economy was flagging and began attacking the renminbi and Hong Kong dollar. According to the South China Morning Post, he was “sent packing.”Previous inroads were attempted by Soros’ Open Society Foundation, which helped organize the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, but was heavily infiltrated by Chinese agents and driven out of the country in its aftermath.

For Soros, the Open Society (inspired by writings by the Jewish globalist Karl Popper) is an important tool for international finance to deploy in order to control nations around the world. Soros’ global octopus of “foundations” promote racial incoherence, cosmopolitanism, immigration, homosexuality, feminism and other values that undermine social order and weaken national sovereignty or ethnic majorities so that they become vulnerable to his aggressive financial moves. Any collective identity, to Soros, is a threat to the liberal-Jewish outlook, and thus its hegemony.

Ever since China knocked Soros back, he has been active in trying to undermine its interests all over the world.

At the 2019 Davos conference, Soros pegged China as the “most dangerous opponent to the open society.”

Last February, Soros wrote an op-ed demanding European governments boycott a summit scheduled for this September with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. In it, the notorious Trump-hater praised the administration’s aggressive posture towards China, and warned European nations that China’s anti-liberal values were a threat to the European Unions “open society” ideology. Nations Soros has targeted, like Poland, have shown interest in the Belt and Road Initiative, and the United Kingdom has expressed its intentions to deepen ties with China to make up for the potential loss in export markets in Europe after Brexit.

Steve Bannon and Soros are unlikely allies, but they supported the astroturfed Hong Kong protests as average Americans yawned. China has also made “global cooperation” in sanctioning and destroying Russia, Iran or other perceived enemies of liberalism impossible. Maximum pressure sanctions intended to starve the Iranian people into submission have been thwarted by Chinese investment and aid. In Venezuela, when the CIA sabotaged the country’s power grids in an attempted overthrow of Nicolas Maduro, the Chinese immediately offered to fix it.

China and Russia’s non-compliance with directives from Washington and New York have by and large brought an end to “regime-change” as default foreign policy – setting back Soros’ dream of a raceless, borderless new world order significantly. The Chinese-Russian alliance has largely neutralized America’s military dominance in the Asia-Pacific, and new blocs of different levels of resistance have become emboldened (Wisegrad Group, anti-Zionist blocs in the Middle East, etc).

This is an opportunity to charter a new foreign policy path where we capitalize on our safe geostrategic position and mind our own business or focus on developing our own country, but Washington and the Jewish goons like Soros simply cannot accept it.

Steve Bannon: “Populist” For Hire

Another figure engaging in hamfisted agitation against China is Steve Bannon, a once-interesting civic nationalist who was dismissed from the White House by Trump and Jared Kushner and now appears to be a full time special interest lobbyist.

Bannon’s anti-China crusade is financed by exiled Chinese white collar criminal Guo Wengui, who in 2014 fled to America after he was discovered to be engaging with bribery and fraud, as well as rape and kidnapping. Wengui fell afoul of the Chinese Communist Party after Xi Jinping began an anti-corruption campaign in 2012.

Initially, Donald Trump announced he would deport the billionaire fugitive back to China, but changed his mind last minute. Now Wengui has been busy using his wealth to try and mobilize professional conservatives in Washington to create popular and political interest in the overthrow of the Chinese government.

Recently, Bannon has attempted to make overtures to the anti-woke left, which is hungry for alternatives to left-liberalism. On the Red Scare podcast, Bannon blew his chance at bridging right-wing and left-wing populists by focusing almost exclusively on promoting neo-conservative talking points about “freeing the Chinese people” and spreading unfounded conspiracy theories like the idea that the coronavirus is a genetically engineered Chinese bioweapon. The latter theory was invented by a Wengui funded propaganda outfit, G News.

When asked about healthcare, Bannon refused to support a national health system for all, even though most GOP voters like the idea. After Bannon called ethno-nationalists and white nationalists “clowns,” one of the hosts of the podcast asked why he supports Israel, to which he responded with desperate and logic-free Jewish bootlicking.

When Bannon attempted to pivot back to how oppressed Chinese people are, another host questioned why Americans oppressed just as harshly by our own plutocracy should give a shit, leaving with nothing but platitudes about a liberal utopia that doesn’t exist.

Some of Bannon’s rhetoric about China’s impact on America’s economy is true. But Bannon’s ties suggest he may be merely advancing the shift from dependence on China to dependence on Indian supply-chains, which is even more absurd as India’s infrastructure is awful.

Evidence suggesting this is Bannon’s role as the co-chair of the “Republican-Hindu Coalition,” an advocacy group close to the Modi government.

Naturally, Bannon’s Hindu coalition supports Trump’s call for a “merit-based” immigration system that would be the H1-B program on steroids and would grant current H1-B holders citizenship. This program would be seen as a massive betrayal by Trump’s base and impoverish America’s tech workers as unemployment explodes, so it is unlikely to be put into effect until after the 2020 election.

This is shaping up into a cynical strategy to replace China with India as the new trade deficit recipient, rather than bringing our industries home where they belong. Both Trump and Bannon are desperate to use bait-and-switch tactics to redirect anger at the failures of globalization into simplistic and impotent anti-Chinese chauvinism in order to advance the business interests and lobbies that support them, but don’t put America first.

Peter Thiel: The Alt-Billionaire Who Has Been Locked Out of China

Peter Thiel is by far the most influential in trying to mobilize dissidents and conscript them into the China crusade.

He is close to figures like the Zionist Yoram Hazony, Mencius Moldbug, Eric Weinstein (who manages Thiel’s investment firm, Thiel Capital), Bannon, China hawk and fake populist Josh Hawley (who received $500,000 from Thiel) and Donald Trump himself.

At the Israeli Hazony’s 2019 “National Conservatism” gathering, where a liberal form of phony nationalism was presented as an alternative to ethno-nationalism (in white countries, not Israel), Thiel gave a speech attacking Silicon Valley for its work with the Chinese government. Thiel is correct in this specific instance, but why is Google privately owned instead of state-owned like Huawei is? His only solution is to investigate the company for Chinese spies.

Thiel, who now fashions himself as an “American Nationalist” and is known to have had contact with a few “alt-right” figures currently trying to advance anti-China talking points, has shady ties with foreign governments that gratuitously spy on the United States. His patriotism comes into question when one looks at his investment in Carbyne, an Israeli spying firm believed to be controlled by the IDF’s Unit 8200. Thiel,along with Jeffrey Epstein and Erik Prince, were all involved in the shady project.

“Former” officials from Unit 8200 are strongly represented among CEOs of Silicon Valley companies. The Israeli’s insolent and aggressive spying on the United States was seen recently in a quickly memory holed story, where in 2019 devices were planted by Israeli intelligence to spy on the private phone conversations of Donald Trump and other prominent people in Washington. Shockingly, the US refused to respond or address the scandal.

Thiel’s specific animosity towards China is both ideological and a question of financial self-interest. While in the past he has carefully praised China, he has also made predictions that have not come true.

As the Soviet Union teetered on collapse, Milton Friedman asserted that China must fully liberalize or fall besides the Russians. While the Chinese did promote policies to encourage private initiative in some spheres, it ultimately doubled down on its planned economy when it came to the big picture. When Trump complains that it is “unfair” for the Chinese state to control the value of its currency, the Chinese ignore him, as they know that for now the US government is not strong enough to do what it takes to rein in the selfish American capitalists China plays.

The rise of artificial intelligence has created the potential to plug the holes of traditional centrally planned economies, something libertarians like Thiel are not fond of (note that his complaint about Google and China was over an AI program they were working on). It isn’t only workers who can be replaced by automation and AI, but private economic planners, aka capitalists.

Thiel’s predictions in Zero to One about China, like resource prices making them incapable of reaching Western standards of living, have not come true. The median monthly wage of Chinese workers in its major cities is currently on par with European countries like Croatia, and unlike the stagnating West, they seemed to have the wind in their sails until the pandemic hit.

Thiel has complained on multiple occasions about the many barriers the Chinese government puts in the way of foreign investors, which is common sense for any country interested in defending its sovereignty. This has made Thiel’s chess-inspired, counter-intuitive investment strategies difficult, and it is making him upset that the Chinese government is not allowing outside capitalist interests to fully partake in its growing prosperity.

It seems to have recently dawned on libertarians and neo-liberals, that after decades of denial, China remains a nationalist and socialist country and has only been using the prospect of accessing its massive market to cock-tease Western capital into providing the initial push it needed to rise. The worldviews of shot-callers like Soros and Thiel are going to be challenged if ascendent China surpasses declining America in quality of life.

On the economic front, like Bannon, Thiel appears to have an interest in pushing America closer to India. The ridiculous “Howdy Modi” spectacle, where Trump and Modi met, was sponsored by both Walmart -eager to enter the Indian market – and OYO Homes & Hotels – an Indian start-up Thiel personally funds and supports.

On the 5G front, the Trump government appeared to be doubling down on a “free market” alternative to Huawei, but this has been fruitless. Thiel’s company, Rivada, is looking to try and enrich itself with an idea to fight the potential for “Chinese espionage” via a Department of Defense selloff that would give it “open access” to its airwaves, but historically privatization schemes like this have consistently failed.

Trump appears to contradict himself and his spokesmen. Trump is now planning to campaign on nationalizing 5G, which is the true patriotic option.

All in all, it is important to make a distinction between an accurate diagnosis of the symptoms arising from our relationship with China, and the actual problem. Moving factories from China to Vietnam, India or Taiwan will leave the American people just as poor and jobless. Wasting energy following conservatives in their idiotic crusade to change how Chinese people live in China will provide no benefit to the white worker. American liberalism is collapsing because it is an unnatural and dysfunctional system.

The real conversation should be focused on the legitimacy of money power that rules us, and whether it benefits us. The answer is that it doesn’t, which is why they would like your eyes on China, rather than them.(Republished from National Justice by permission of author or representative)

China rolls out the Health Silk Road

China rolls out the Health Silk Road

April 02, 2020

by Pepe Escobar – Posted with permission

In the Belt and Road framework, China is supplying much of the world including virus-hit Europe with medicine and healthcare items

When President Xi Jinping was on a phone call in mid-March with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti, before the arrival of a China Eastern flight from Shanghai to Milan full of medical help, the key takeaway was the Chinese pledge to develop a Health Silk Road (Jiankang Sichou Zhilu).

That was in fact already inbuilt in the Belt and Road Initiative playbook since at least 2017, under the framework of enhanced, pan-Eurasian health connectivity. The pandemic only accelerated the timeline. The Health Silk Road will run in parallel to the multiple overland Silk Road corridors and the Maritime Silk Road.

In a graphic demonstration of soft power, so far China has offered Covid-19-related equipment and medical help to no fewer than 89 nations – and counting.

That covers Africa (especially South Africa, Namibia and Kenya, with Alibaba in fact announcing it will send help to all African nations); Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru); the arc from East Asia to Southwest Asia; and Europe.Key recipients in Europe include Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Serbia and Poland. But Italy, most of all, is a very special case. Most are donations. Some are trade – like millions of masks sold to France (and the US).

Less than a year ago Italy became the first G-7 nation to sign a memorandum of understanding formally joining Belt and Road – much to the displeasure of Washington and the Atlanticist galaxy in Brussels and beyond.

Earlier this year in Sicily, I discussed these intricacies in detail with Enrico Fardella, Professor of History at Peking University  and an expert on China-Mediterranean relations.

Italy is supported on myriad fronts – not only at the highest political level but also via the Chinese Red Cross, Sino-Italian associations, tech/logistics Chinese companies and donations from Alibaba, Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo. There are three Chinese medical teams in Italy at the moment.

This all ties up with the larger Belt and Road picture, featuring investments in Genoa and Trieste, two key ports and future Belt and Road nodes.

A performance of a Puccini opera whose story focuses on the illness and death of a lovely seamstress is canceled, ironically due to coronavirus, at the Verdi theater in Trieste. China has made investments in Trieste and Genoa, two key ports and future Belt and Road nodes, and now it is providing medical aid to Italy as part of its newer, parallel Health Silk Roads scheme. Photo: AFP / Jacopo Landi / NurPhoto

This Chinese soft power offensive is carefully calibrated to offset the current paralysis of global supply chains. China is now working overtime to supply many parts of the world with medicine and related healthcare items – always with the Belt and Road framework in mind, as if doubling down on Globalization 2.0.

That spells out the interconnectivity of nations that badly need development and infrastructure along with the need for good health systems and practices.

And that prepares the terrain for, when Covid-19 is more or less tamed and the Chinese economy fully recovered, the Belt and Road reboot: an inexorable historic trend based on a new economic model that Beijing deems more equitable, and in the interests of the Global South.

‘Chinese lie

A Health Silk Road is already in effect when we see China, Russia – and Cuba with its first-class health system – sending teams of doctors and virologists as well as planes with medical equipment to Italy, and China sending drugs, test kits and supplies to illegally sanctioned Iran.

China immediately understood what was at stake as it saw Covid-19 ravage many hot points of world-famous Made in Italy. With its offer of skilled, cheaper manufacturing, China had initially lured key Italian fashion houses to outsource their production to China, and most of all to Wuhan.

The connectivity – which has been there for decades – works both ways. Chinese investors started to arrive in northern Italy in the early 1990s. They bought a string of factories; renovated them; created their own, top Made in Italy brands; and brought in tens of thousands of skilled Chinese seamstresses to work in these factories.

There are plenty of direct flights from Wuhan to Lombardy – to serve at least 300,000 Chinese who have moved permanently to Italy to work in Chinese-owned factories producing Made in Italy.

So it’s no wonder Doctor Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Pharmacology Institute in Milan, became a superstar in China.  In an interview that went viral, Remuzzi talks about his explosive findings in conversations with general practitioners in Lombardy.

Here’s Dr. Remuzzi, at 4:19:  “Do you know what happened? Certain family doctors, who have the best antennas in the territory, at least the most able and attentive ones, have told me recently that they were seeing grave cases of pneumonia, which we had never seen in other years.

These pneumonia cases had nothing to do with typical flu pneumonia, they were interstitial pneumonias, they had to do CT, radiography [to diagnose it], and this was seen in October, November, December. So this virus has been circulating a long time.”

That was indeed in parallel with or even before the first coronavirus cases in Wuhan in mid-November. It’s been already scientifically established that the virus strains in Wuhan and in Lombardy are different. Which came first, and where from, remains a matter of incendiary debate.

Inevitably the Health Silk Road would have to be dismissed by the Atlanticist gang as a disinformation ploy exploiting the pandemic to “destabilize” and weaken Europe. That’s the narrative promoted by EUvsDisinfo, an NGO whose personnel love to blast Russia and China for a living.

So for the Brussels bureaucracy, the Health Silk Road is not about saving lives; it’s about “destabilizing” the EU and improving Xi Jinping’s domestic image after China lied, lied and lied again about the extent and severity of coronavirus. That happens to be the exact same narrative of the Trump administration, US corporate media and US intelligence.

Does it matter? Not for those 89 nations that are receiving much-needed help and equipment. The dogs of demonization bark while the Health Silk Road caravan passes.

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