Dealing With Demons

Dealing With Demons

April 06, 2021

By Larry Romanoff for the Saker Blog

The Lockdown

At the outbreak of the epidemic, China implemented the most comprehensive and rigorous measures ever taken. Wuhan was locked down on Jan. 23, with several other cities in Hubei Province quickly thereafter, then the entire province. (1) All public transportation was suspended. Airports, train stations, bus depots, boat and ferry docks were closed, all toll highways shut down and most roads blocked. All The subways and buses stopped running, and all people were to remain in their homes. The initial lockdown in late January involved about 20 million people, extending to about 60 million within a month, this at a time when China had only about 500 infections. The move, unprecedented in modern times and undoubtedly a difficult decision, spoke volumes about the gravity of the situation and the seriousness with which the government viewed the public health threat. China’s President Xi issued a rather stern warning at the time, that “Governments of all levels are obliged to resolutely take all preemptive measures to rein in the fast spread of the virus and be completely transparent about their local situation so that the country can unite to fight the pandemic together, and ensure that the world has a true picture of the situation. As Xi made clear, the mistakes of the past must not be repeated.”

All the evidence suggests the Chinese authorities acted effectively as soon as they realised the danger they might be facing.

Remembering the SARS troubles, they did much more. In most large centers in the country, all sports venues, theaters, museums, tourist attractions, all locations that attract crowds, were closed, as were all schools. All group tours were cancelled. Not only the city of Wuhan but virtually the entire province of Hubei was locked down, with all trains, aircraft, buses, subways, ferries, grounded and all major highways and toll booths closed. Thousands of flights and train trips were cancelled until further notice. Some cities like Shanghai and Beijing were conducting temperature tests on all roadways leading into the cities. In addition, Wuhan was building two portable hospitals of 25,000 square meters each to handle infected patients. As well, Wuhan has asked citizens to neither leave nor enter the city without a compelling reason, and all were wearing face masks.

The scale of the challenge of implementing such a blockade was immense, comparable to closing down all transport links for a city 5 times the size of Toronto or Chicago, two days before Christmas. These decisions were unprecedented, but testified to the determination of the authorities to limit the spread and damage of this new pathogen. They not only addressed the gravity of the situation but also the seriousness of consideration for the public health, unfortunate and difficult decisions since the holiday was destroyed for hundreds of millions of people. Most public entertainment was cancelled, as were tours, and many weddings as well. The damage to the economy during this most festive of all periods, was enormous. Hong Kong will suffer severely in addition to all its other troubles, since visits from Mainland Chinese typically support much of its retail economy during this period.

And already the Western media were in full China-bashing mode, (2) some claiming that lockdowns and quarantines were “a violation of human rights” and were in any case ineffective, with Mr. Pompeo of the US State Department already lamenting the “lack of transparency” in the Chinese government, and London’s Imperial College claiming infections in China were understated by a factor of ten. (3) And of course China’s friends in Langley, Virginia, were busy making posts on Weibo claiming this was “the end of the world” with everyone “on the verge of tears”, while the UK Guardian claimed “panic was spreading” in China. (4)

Within a week of Wuhan being locked down, virtually all rail and air traffic in China had been suspended, to deny the virus a means of travel. This was of course, the most awkward of times, with much of the population on the verge of traveling home for the Chinese New Year holiday. All mass-gathering areas were closed. Restaurants, shopping malls, cinemas, museums, markets, tourist resorts and many similar places were shut down to prevent gatherings, and many factories were seriously challenged by unexpected difficulties in operation due to the quarantines. The strong measures, effective though they were, inevitably inflicted pain on some parts of the Chinese economy and certainly caused inconvenience and some hardship in people’s daily lives, but the unprecedented moves yielded positive results, with new infections quickly dropping.

Using Shanghai as an example, by the end of February the city subjected all travelers from severely-affected countries to medical examination at the city’s airports to prevent imported infections. All incoming passengers who had lived or traveled in the hardest-hit countries were automatically subjected to a 14-day quarantine at home or at designated hotels. (5) (6) These passengers were not permitted to take taxis or public transport but instead were driven to designated quarantine locations by customs authorities, where community workers would be waiting for them with a team of neighborhood officials, and a doctor and a police officer would guide them to home quarantine. This large group consisted of volunteers who lived temporarily in nearby hotels, avoiding their own homes due to the risk of spreading the virus. (7)

Foreign nationals were considered in advance, and offered necessary assistance from the communities where they lived to solve their difficulties after entering the city. (8) By early March China put major restrictions on inbound air travel and effectively closed off the borders. Those without a place of residence and a permanent job in Shanghai were not permitted to enter the city by road, except for medical reasons. (9) The Central Government temporarily suspended entry into the country of foreign passport holders even with valid visas or residence permits, which was an unprecedented but necessary step to prevent imported infections. (10) (11)

Residential areas in most Chinese cities are comprised of communities that are largely self-contained, similar in some ways to gated communities in the West, making isolation and quarantine certainly easier and more effective than in the sprawling suburbs of North America. In my community in Shanghai as an example, the road leading to the community was blocked, meaning no one left and no one entered. Special permits were available for some kinds of official travel or medical needs, but in practice these were few. All businesses in the community were temporarily shuttered as were schools and gathering places. Everyone mostly remained in their homes and, when brief excursions were necessary, masks were always worn and proximity to other persons avoided.

But there was much more leadership and planning that were not visible. Immediately upon executing the community quarantine, local officials contracted with a major food supplier to continue provisions. An online mobile phone APP was designed overnight, which was used to place orders for all foods, fresh vegetables and meat. Every two or three days a delivery truck would clear the barriers and enter the community, the drivers prohibited from human contact. Each order was bagged and sealed separately and set out at the community center office where residents could collect them and pay online after delivery. A similar system was arranged for the regular supply of medications. Courier deliveries were deposited at the road barrier where residents could come one by one to collect their packages. Nothing was overlooked, and dutiful participation was more or less total. It was seen as a civic duty for community residents to remain at home, protect each other, and prevent any spreading of the virus. The local security guards proved extremely helpful. They were well-informed on all procedures, competent to take temperatures and able to make decisions. We had not a single infection.

With most residents remaining secluded in their homes, online ordering and delivery demands surged by a factor of perhaps ten, Shanghai’s supermarkets and e-commerce platforms working intensely to ensure adequate food supplies during the lockdown. (12) The surge in demand posed challenges because many food suppliers and logistics firms had already halted work during the Spring Festival, but China’s domestic supply chains are exceptional, far beyond that existing in any other nation. Each of the large suppliers quickly arranged distribution of between five and ten times their normal daily amounts, each bringing in hundreds of tonnes of food and organising community distributions. At the same time, many e-commerce platforms quickly arranged programs with manufacturers to source urgent medical supplies including masks, disinfectant and protective clothing. Most created special areas on their mobile phone APPs to enable residents to easily purchase all necessary items.

Leadership

One reason the Chinese were able to deal with the epidemic while the UK and USA stumbled in the dark is that the Chinese think, with considerable justification, that they have been under biological attack, on and off since c.1950, and were therefore prepared with well-laid plans and competent organisers to respond to such an event. As soon as the central government learned the specific nature of the outbreak, it responded massively and to a very large extent the population understood the necessity of what was asked of them and cooperated.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said “The Coronavirus is a Demon, and we cannot let this demon hide.” (13) He said China was “faced with the grave situation of an accelerating spread” of the virus, that “The Chinese people are engaging in a serious battle against the outbreak of the new coronavirus pneumonia. People’s lives and health are always the first priority for the Chinese government, and the prevention and control of the epidemic is the most important task at present, so I have been directing and deploying the works myself.”

Mr. Xi gave this battle the highest priority, personally chairing a meeting of the Standing Committee where he listened to all the reports and decided immediately to set up a CPC Central Committee group to oversee the national effort, and also to send a high-level planning group to Hubei to direct the work on the ground. (14) Soon after the outbreak occurred and the pathogen identified, a Central Guiding Group appeared in Wuhan to oversee all COVID-19 efforts, to free the medical staff from administration and planning responsibilities and to ensure they were provided with all necessities. (15)

From this leadership, Wuhan’s available hospital beds increased from 5,000 to about 25,000 within ten days. It was from this that hundreds of medical teams and about 50,000 physicians were dispatched from all across China to Hubei Province. It was from this leadership that the lockdowns and quarantines emerged, and it was from this leadership that China’s fatalities were limited to little more than 4,000, most of those in Wuhan with the entire rest of the nation of 1.4 billion people being spared.

How did China do it? It wasn’t “China”. It was the Chinese people, their civilisation and culture. All of Chinese society was mobilised, not only the Central Government or the medical officials in Hubei, but all citizens, corporations, SOEs, foundations, instantly assessed their abilities to assist, and then acted. (16) Wuhan received timely full-scale support from the entire nation, not only to fight the battle but to recover from the effects of the war. It wasn’t only lockdowns and quarantines to cut off channels of escape for the virus. Hundreds of millions of Chinese sacrificed something of their normal lives to contain the spread of the virus, acting in unison and working together in a collective response. Westerners will never understand this.

The US media were busily trashing China for a “sluggish response” to the virus (while conveniently ignoring the three wasted months in their own country), but Americans understand only dimly (if at all) the Chinese ability for rapid execution which, to the chagrin of all Americans everywhere, is due primarily to two things – China’s political system and the socialism embedded in Chinese cultural DNA. While the English-speaking West is very much an “every man for himself” culture, the Chinese are a civilisation and act in unison as such, with the result that virtually everyone is onside in things of importance to the nation. Thus, in the absence of competing private and selfish interests, a nationwide plan can be conceived, examined, discussed, approved, and executed in a much shorter time than in a country like the US – and with full public cooperation and approval.

China’s political system is much more unified than in the West, making local governments accountable to the central government whereas in Western nations the local authorities are largely autonomous, making cooperation almost impossible. Thus, in times of emergency, bureaucratic blockage simply evaporates, and the country’s massive labor force makes speed of execution possible with no sacrifice in quality. And, with the general population widely sharing the nation’s objectives, courses of action which might be resisted in the West, are widely approved in China. Due to China’s excellent organisation, the central government has the ability to rapidly mobilise any resources it needs. Building a new hospital in ten days or a new high-speed railway in one or two years is a government-led mobilisation of Chinese society. Because China has only one political party and a complete absence of partisan infighting, the government acts as a unit with the population and, once a clear and resolute course of action is determined, virtually the entire Chinese civilisation is not only eager to participate but willing to sacrifice in order to do so, something very difficult for Westerners to imagine. Many workers interviewed on CGTN were proud to say they slept only two hours in three days on construction of the new hospitals. (17)

Martin Jacques said, “The capacity of China to deal with emergencies of this kind is far more developed and far more capable than could be achieved by any Western government. The Chinese system, the Chinese government, is superior to other governments in handling big challenges like this. And there are two reasons: First of all, the Chinese state is a very effective institution, able to think strategically and mobilise society. And the other reason is that the Chinese expect the government to take leadership on these kinds of questions and they will follow that leadership.” (18)

As the numbers of infections rose beyond the capacity of local hospitals, reaching 15,000 new patients per day at the peak, the planning group directed their attention first to the provision of additional hospital capacity, (19) so they planned, designed, and built two large new hospitals. These were not “flimsy bare-bones barracks” as described in the Western media; viewed from the interior, their appearance was identical to any fully-equipped modern hospitals. (20) (21) They were modular concrete units designed for rapid assembly, in a manner similar to setting shipping containers side by side, with full accommodation for A/C, heating, ventilation, negative pressure, abundant electricity, and more. Once assembled, these units function as a whole, and are a regular hospital with all the equipment and facilities one would normally see in any hospital. The first was built in ten days by 16,000 men, the shifts working 24 hours a day. The second hospital was larger, and completed in only 6 days. (22) To clear and level the site and lay the substructure, there were 240 pieces of construction equipment working on the same site at the same time – also 24 hours per day. The Chinese media posted time-lapse videos of the construction process, which were astonishing to watch. Such hospitals were built in several cities in Hubei Province.

Immediately upon completion of the first hospital, more than 3,000 doctors and nurses from about 300 hospitals around the country were sent to staff it. The group did much more than build hospitals. A total of 16 temporary hospitals were created by converting public venues, several existing hospitals were renovated to cater exclusively to COVID-19 patients, and more than 500 hotels, training centers and sanitaria were converted into quarantine sites. (23) One makeshift hospital in Wuhan was transformed from a sports center into a TCM treatment clinic, while many exhibition centers and gymnasiums were converted into temporary hospitals for those with mild symptoms but still requiring quarantine. (24) This Central Guiding Group played an irreplaceable role in Wuhan’s anti-virus battle.

What the world apparently fails to notice is that of China’s total deaths of 4,600, 4,500 of those (98%) were in Hubei Province. If China’s leaders had not immediately locked down the city of Wuhan and then quarantined the entire province, the death toll might well have been in the hundreds of thousands. According to a paper published in late March in the journal Science, (1) co-author Christopher Dye said, “Our analysis suggests that without the Wuhan travel ban and the national emergency response there would have been more than 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of Wuhan by [February]. (25) China’s control measures appear to have worked by successfully breaking the chain of transmission.”

Most Asian countries followed China’s example, with similar results. The US refused to do so, permitting the virus to spread freely by avoiding lockdowns and quarantines and, at the time of writing appears headed for at least 100,000 (mostly) unnecessary deaths. The American way of dealing with the epidemic was to do nothing, and throw stones at China. (26) Canada was the same: Shanghai is only two hours from Wuhan and had no time to prepare or plan, yet it had only a few hundred infections and only 7 deaths. Canada, with a population similar to Shanghai, 10,000 kms from Wuhan and with months to prepare, had more infections and fatalities than all of China combined.

Of course, it wasn’t perfect. Let’s accept that a few local officials in Wuhan were reluctant to face the possibility of a major epidemic at such a crucial time and were hesitant to publicise the fact that deaths were already occurring. While that was indeed an embarrassment for China, it can be easily demonstrated that the net effect was zero because the medical detective work continued unabated and, as soon as the new pathogen was discovered, that information was made public to China and to the world. The reluctance of a few local officials to publicise a new illness caused no delay of any kind either in China or internationally, because until that point there was no information to communicate other than the fact that a few dozen people had become ill with an unusual respiratory infection. All the accusations toward China of causing the US to lose two or three months of preparation time were merely juvenile political smoke, because the Chinese authorities communicated everything they knew as soon as they knew it.

For the West, this brief hesitation was a great positive because it provided unlimited (and apparently interminable) opportunities for gleeful China-bashing, political opportunism at its finest. By contrast, the displeasure inside China was real, for both the public and the central government – who immediately fired or replaced those same local officials. As a country, China faces its mistakes openly with the public and takes immediate action. Compare this to the discovery in the US of the CIA operating the largest network of torture prisons in the history of the world. What happened? Much media whining, a fraudulent Congressional hearing, most information classified and suppressed, and the entire matter swept under the rug, removed from the media radar, and quickly forgotten. The torture prisons are still open today and only one minor person paid a trivial penalty. All involved still retained their positions, and nothing changed.

To a foreigner watching from the inside, the Chinese government and the Chinese people were courageous as they took on this formidable task. From the very beginning they put people’s lives and health first. The Central Government mobilised the entire nation, organised massive control and treatment mechanisms, and acted with openness and transparency, with most of the population making significant sacrifices without complaint.

National cohesion and coordination were admirable. All of the 50,000 front-line medical staff and many others who went to Wuhan were volunteers, 90% of them Party members who had sworn to “bear the people’s burden first and enjoy their pleasures last”. To a Western ear, that sounds suspiciously like idle propaganda, but many of these front-line staff died in that battle. It wasn’t propaganda to them. Zhang Wenhong, a prominent Party member and Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Shanghai’s Huashan Hospital, said, “When we joined the Party, we vowed that we would always prioritise people’s interests and press forward in the face of difficulties. This is the moment we live up to the pledge. All CPC members must rush to the front line. I don’t care what you were actually thinking when you joined the party. Now it’s time to live up to what you promised. I don’t care if you personally agree or not: it’s non-negotiable.” (1) That may sound harshly authoritarian to a Westerner, but there was much compassion behind the words. Zhang said later, “The first-aid team put themselves in great danger. They are tired and need to rest. We shouldn’t take advantage of good people.” At that point, he replaced almost all the front-line medics with members from different sectors.

We Westerners cannot understand that China’s society and culture are much more compassionate than ours. The Chinese place a much higher value on the elderly than do we. In China (as in Italy), grandparents and the elderly live with the family, never tossed out into nursing homes to live and die more or less alone. When it was realised that the elderly primarily were threatened with premature and painful deaths, the Chinese put their entire economy on hold to save these people.

Dr Bruce Aylward, head of the WHO International Mission said, “In the face of a previously unknown disease, China has taken one of the most ancient approaches for infectious disease control and rolled out probably the most ambitious, and I would say, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history. China took old-fashioned measures like the national approach to hand-washing, the mask-wearing, the social distancing, the universal temperature monitoring. But then very quickly, as it started to evolve, the response started to change . . . So they refined the strategy as they moved forward, and this is an important aspect as we look to how we might use this going forward. WHO has been here from the start of this crisis, an epidemic, working every single day with the government of China… WHO was here from the beginning and never left.” He said further, “What struck me most was that every Chinese had a strong sense of responsibility and dedication to contribute to the fight against the epidemic.” WHO Director-General Tan Desai commented, “China’s speed and scale of action is rare … This is the advantage of China’s system, and the relevant experience is worthy of other countries to learn from.”

The Global Times published an editorial titled: “China’s miracles are beyond biased Western understanding”, from which I will quote here:

“The rhetoric accusing China of hiding the truth has already become a cliché. These so-called experts in the US always presume that China is wrong or unreliable, and then try hard to prove the presupposed conclusion with ambiguous evidence and perverted logic. They are used to pinning their eyes on fictional stories about China, but few are willing to learn about what is really happening in the country. For a country which has let the epidemic spin out of control despite clear warnings sent by China, China’s anti-virus fight is indeed a miracle. But for China itself, the outcome appears absolutely normal and deserved in view of the government’s strong sense of responsibility for people’s lives, the governing system’s great ability of mobilization and the Chinese people’s firm willingness to support all containment measures. Nowhere could this work as it works in China and so applying any country’s models to China makes no sense. China has been working miracles over the past decades thanks to the tremendous efforts of both the government and the people. Since reform and opening-up, China has grown to become the world’s second largest economy rapidly and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty. (27)

The Lancet published an article stating that “China deserves gratitude, not criticism over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic”. Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, said Chinese researchers were providing crucial information but no one in the West was listening, and they failed to prepare. In January, The Lancet published five papers that “tell the story of what has unfolded in the Western world in the recent months. They showed a deadly virus had emerged that had no treatment and could be passed between people. We knew all of this in the last week of January but most Western countries and the United States of America wasted the whole of February and early March before they acted. That is the human tragedy of COVID-19. Thanks to the work of Chinese doctors and scientists working in international collaborations, all of this info was known in January but for reasons that are difficult to understand, the world did not pay attention. Thousands died unnecessarily as a result.” (28) Horton said further that the attacks on China made by [American] politicians were unwarranted. “I want to be on the record and thank my friends and colleagues who work in medicine and medical science in China for what they have done. As I have said, I think we owe them a great deal… they do not deserve criticism, they deserve our gratitude.” And there was more: On May 15, 2020, the Lancet published a scathing assessment of the Trump administration’s handling of the virus epidemic in which it urged all Americans to vote President Trump out of office [for his incompetence]. “Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics. (29)

The main objective of China’s Government is the rejuvenation of China, in part demonstrably evidenced by the determined efforts made for the betterment and the well-being of its population, which is reflected in the credibility and high level of trust the Chinese people place in their government. These concepts don’t exist in the west. In the US, the “world’s model for everything”, a virus epidemic is seen through lenses of profiteering by large corporations, sick people not being humans in need of assistance but merely a new lucrative “market” – for those with money to pay. An American hospital is not a place for healing the sick but a kind of barnyard filled with cash cows to milk. This is one fundamental reason underlying America’s chaotic and hopeless approach to dealing with the epidemic. The Trump administration failed to help itself and refused to help even its friends, on the one hand ignoring the suffering and extreme difficulties in China and wasting its time scoring cheap political points on the world stage, happy with the loss of life and the economic damage China was suffering.

Socialism at its Finest

On April 4, China held a three-minute nationwide moment of reflection to honor those who died in the coronavirus outbreak, especially the medical staff now seen as “martyrs” who fell while fighting what has become a global pandemic. (30) Commemorations took place in all major cities, but were particularly poignant in Wuhan, and occurring on the traditional Qingming festival, when Chinese visit the graves of their ancestors. China’s State Council ordered that national flags be flown at half-staff around the country and at Chinese embassies and consulates abroad.

It was heartwarming that during the epidemic, privately-owned Chinese hotels in Wuhan voluntarily provided free rooms for medical staff needing rest. Xiao Yaxing, the private owner of a four-star hotel in the city, opened a discussion group on WeChat where he appealed to his peers from more than 40 hotels to offer rooms for doctors and nurses who were working day and night to save lives. He said that since nearly all transportation had ceased in the large city, it was difficult for the medical staff to get to hospitals from home and needed rest places and, as he said, “Many hotels in Wuhan are shut down for travelers, leaving a lot of empty rooms that we can offer for free.” (31) Yi Qingyan, a regional manager of Feizhu’s hotel business in Central China’s Hubei province, said when she heard about Xiao’s group, she asked hotel managers she knew to provide rooms for medical staff. (32)

In March, the Communist Party of China donated 5.3 billion RMB (US$750 million) to be used to “extend solicitude” to the frontline medics, those serving the worst-hit Hubei Province to be favored. (33) The money was delivered to the Ministry of Finance which was entrusted with distribution, with a stipulation that families of medical workers who died on the front line would be eligible recipients, and also that some grassroots-level officials, public security officers, community workers, volunteers and frontline journalists could have access to the funds. Further, nearly 80 million Communist Party of China members across the country donated more than 8 billion RMB for the coronavirus effort, and donations were still arriving at the time of writing. Wouldn’t it have been nice if the Republican or Democrat parties and party members had done that for New York?

Being a socially-oriented society, China also has charities but these are very different animals than those existing in the West, most especially those in North America. Chinese charities don’t spend 80% of collected funds on operating expenses and executive perquisites. In fact they normally don’t collect money at all, but instead real goods that are distributed to the beneficiaries. As one example, when Wuhan hospitals put out a call for help, the Hubei Charity Federation received more than 1 million masks and other medical supplies which were immediately distributed to the hospitals. (34) In this case, they also raised 30 million RMB in cash from the community and from citizens in other provinces, which money was immediately spent on the purchase of more supplies. Moreover, in China the public can supervise the distribution and usage of donated materials and, in the case of COVID-19, the provincial medical headquarters was available to unify the organisation and allocation of the materials to hospitals and medical treatment centers, as well as guaranteeing speedy transportation and delivery.

All of China, in many ways we would never expect, strove to express their gratitude to the medical workers whom they feel saved their nation from catastrophe. As one example, more than 500 tourist areas in China announced free admission for all medical workers during the remainder of 2020, as a way to express local citizens’ sincere gratitude to medical workers’ commitment during the outbreak. (35) Given that the virus epidemic severely damaged China’s internal tourism industry, at least for the short term, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences conducted a poll asking citizens about their travel intentions for the remainder of 2020. According to their report, Wuhan was at the top of the list for Chinese travelers, all of whom said they wanted to contribute to the economic recovery of Wuhan and Hubei following the epidemic. (36)

From late January until April, the streets of Wuhan were deserted with the entire Province of Hubei not much better, but by late May the story was very different, with people around the country emptying supermarket shelves of everything Hubei had to offer – local delicacies, noodles, ducks, crayfish, fruits, manufactured goods of every kind – all with the intention of lifting Hubei’s economy to its former level. “Buying Hubei” became a nationwide campaign with participation from ordinary citizens, officials, celebrities and corporations. (37) Hundreds of companies began live-streaming online broadcasts of Hubei products and hundreds of millions of Chinese were spending money, “not for self-indulgence, but to extend a helping hand to their fellow countrymen in hardship. The result: Tens of millions of dollars were added to the local economy; tens of thousands of businesses and jobs were saved.”

In one instance, a popular live-streaming hostess sold 150,000 lipstick sets within five minutes. In another, two TV celebrities attracted 122 million viewers and sold more than 40 million RMB of Hubei products in a two-hour program. In another session, two celebrities drew 127 million viewers and sold 61 million RMB of Hubei goods, the province’s entire supply of popular duck snacks emptied within seconds. In another livestreaming instance, 6,000 tons of crayfish, worth 220 million yuan, disappeared within minutes, and one company manager said his daily production of 20,000 packages of crayfish snacks cleared out within seconds every day. He said, “The orders just exploded”, adding that he’d never seen anything like it. (38) Alibaba sold 20 million Kgs of Hubei agricultural products to date and reportedly procured 1 billion yuan worth of crayfish and 50 million yuan worth of local oranges to sell on its platforms. (39) JD.com sold 1,400 tonnes in the first week of April alone and vowed to sell 6 billion yuan worth of Hubei products. Boosting consumption became a primary cure to resurrect the virus-hit economy in Hubei.

Many Chinese citizens said they hadn’t any medical skills to help Wuhan during the epidemic, but they could at least show their support by placing orders. That sentiment resonated so broadly across China that millions promised to “gain three jin (1.5 Kg.) of weight” for Hubei. (40) One online hostess said, “Many have described our cooperation as a show of our moral principles and sense of duty. But that is over the top. I am just doing what I’m good at to help Wuhan, to help local companies open the market with livestreaming promotion and to help them resume work quickly.”

A local Party Chief in Hubei said, “I was completely moved and warmed by the active response from consumers all over the country in placing orders for Hubei products to support us, which fully reflects our valued Chinese tradition: When one falls into difficulty, all other parties come to help.” Unfortunately, no other country could replicate this economic model since they haven’t the infrastructure or the market for something of this magnitude, and few nations have the sense of civilisation and the deep social and cultural cohesion which is the enabling force.

As well, many of China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) mobilised to combat the epidemic, from emergency communications installations to providing funds to the hardest-hit areas. (41) These massive Chinese corporations are exemplary in their sense of social responsibility, some constructing low-cost housing apartment communities which they sell at cost or below, many building and supporting local schools and universities, and some providing cash to help eliminate the last traces of poverty in the country. In 2020, these firms are providing more than 3 billion RMB (about $500 million) to the poorest places and many have donated massive medical supplies and funds to these same areas. (42)

Medical Supply

When China experiences a serious public health or similar emergency, the framework exists for immediate supply for all necessities that include personnel, goods and materials, transport vehicles, to be delivered to the site. The Ministry of Transport arranged an absolute prioritisation of the transport of emergency supplies and medical staff to Wuhan, while national medical authorities coordinated the efforts of all medical supply manufacturers to identify and increase the supply of the most urgent and necessary items. (43) When Wuhan appealed to the central government for assistance and supplies, hundreds of tonnes of medical supplies were delivered each week, as were tens of thousands of additional medical staff during the crisis. (44)

Well before the end of January, extensive planning had been done to greatly increase the number of hospital beds for patients with either mild or severe symptoms and for those requiring quarantine and intensive care. The local medical authorities requisitioned and transformed 24 local hospitals into COVID-19 units. Seven hospitals were designated exclusively for COVID-19 patients with fevers higher than 37°C. The National Health Commission said, “Wuhan is actually a city with rich medical resources, having many public hospitals each with more than 3,000 beds. When we requisitioned those hospitals, they complied unconditionally.” (45) Also, the Chinese government requisitioned exhibition centers and stadiums and quickly turned them into temporary hospitals for COVID-19 patients with light symptoms, quarantining them separately from patients in more severe condition. At the same time, the planning and oversight group prepared and released a medical guide to help physicians quickly diagnose conditions and design treatments, this designed specifically to contain the virus locally and prevent spreading to other parts of China or overseas. (46)

At the same time, the Ministry of Commerce was occupied in coordinating the production and supply of all other daily necessities for the residents of Wuhan and Hubei. Many food items like eggs, fish, beef and pork, were released from national reserves and arrangements were made for the increased production and distribution of fresh vegetables specifically for Wuhan, along with oversight to ensure prices remained stable or dropping rather than increasing. (47) Profiteering was virtually absent in China, with the notable exception of a few foreign firms. The MOC also ensured top priority for all vehicles carrying supplies to Wuhan, and all supply firms including even restaurants were encouraged to provide home delivery to help maintain the quarantine with a minimum of inconvenience.

The latter part of January was the most difficult time for the hospitals and medical staff in Wuhan, receiving some 15,000 new fever patients per day, with all resources stretched to the limit and overworked medical staff struggling to save patients’ lives when the mortality rate was initially around 10%, truly a dark moment. “It was only when the entire country mobilised all possible medical resources to aid Wuhan that the grim situation was turned and the mortality rate began to drop.” (48) But, unlike most other nations, China “has unique institutional advantages when it comes to social mobilization”. One of these advantages enabled the national health authorities to organise, collect, and send altogether nearly 50,000 medical staff from all over the country to Wuhan, while other medical officials oversaw the organisational tasks of converting public hospitals into designated COVID-19 units to greatly expand the availability of necessary hospital beds. (49)

The pressure for urgent treatment was such that it was only on February 15 that the world’s first autopsy on a COVID-19 patient was conducted, six weeks after the pathogen was first identified. It was then that the doctors discovered that the virus attacked not only the lungs, but also other organs such as the heart and kidneys as well as the circulatory system, thus altering the treatment methods but also inflicting even more pressure on the overworked medical staff. Still, it was then that Chinese physicians began the use of blood plasma from recovered patients as well as the nearly universal application of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It was these discoveries and treatments that almost instantly halved the mortality rate, especially from the more severe infections, and speeded up the recovery time. The Western media completely ignored this aspect, but it was widely proven that TCM was perhaps the primary factor in reducing the mortality rate by boosting the patients’ immune systems.

By the end of March, the crisis in Wuhan was abating while the demand for medical supplies was increasing exponentially worldwide, with most relevant factories in China running 24 hours a day while simultaneously trying to maintain quality and source raw materials internationally. There was a great deal of organisation behind the scenes to coordinate the manufacture as well as to expand domestic and international transport channels which were greatly suffering due to the collapse of the airline transport industry and the resultant lack of cargo space. The logistical hurdles were enormous in all categories, and a great part of China’s commercial society leaped into the fray in a sincere effort to assist what was now a worldwide pandemic. Chinese auto manufacturers, idle due to the pandemic, retooled within a week and began manufacturing masks, hazmat suits and other supplies by the billions. The international demand was such that more than 12,000 companies in China began producing masks and ventilators, bringing the total to well over 50,000 such firms with about one-third of them being certified exporters. (50)

Thanks to their media who were too busy bashing China to understand the events unfolding, Westerners hadn’t a clue about either the overwhelming demand for medical supplies nor the urgency of those demands. One company alone, Beijing Aeonmed, which makes ventilators, were kept running 24\7 but were overwhelmed by tens of thousands of simultaneous overseas orders from nearly 50 countries. (51) And they weren’t alone, which accounts for the large number of other manufacturers retooling in an attempt to assist other nations then living Wuhan’s experience, in many cases, such as the US, with little or no central government support.

The situation was so dire that many countries, notably Italy, and many cities, notably New York, were so lacking in supplies they were openly stating their medical staff were every day being forced to decide who would live and who would die. It was in this context that Chinese firms, entirely on their own initiative, absorbed the expense of retooling, of arranging specially-chartered aircraft and trains to bring back their staff, of sourcing raw materials, then diving head-first into a new industry to help combat a worldwide pandemic the extent and mortality of which were still largely unknown. And it was in this context that the US media spent all their time denigrating “China” for “sluggish and insufficient” effort, for the usual “lack of transparency”, and blowing out of all proportion the few complaints of unsatisfactory quality. In this context where auto manufacturers and packagers of canned salmon are suddenly manufacturing surgical masks and hazmat suits, we can be genuinely astonished the quality was as good as it was.

While China was still not out of the woods, the Chinese government was doing its best to donate supplies to needy countries all around the world, but local demand was still high and commercial export demand was rising exponentially, far more than China’s combined potential supply. As an example, on one weekend alone, France ordered one billion masks which required 56 cargo flights to transport them, to say nothing of the manufacturing logistics. Part of the problem was that the majority of air cargo is carried in scheduled flights on passenger planes but, with the collapse of the airline industry, there were no passenger planes. In order to accommodate the dire international need, China Eastern Airlines stripped overnight all the seats from their passenger aircraft and loaded them with N95 masks for France – as they did for other nations.

This kind of adjustment to circumstances, to my best knowledge, occurs in no other country on earth. The Chinese, being faced with apparently impossible demands, simply rise to the challenge, find a solution, and immediately execute it. “Just like the response to the epidemic itself, China is really making a nationwide effort to ensure medical supplies to support in the global battle against the coronavirus pandemic.” SF Express, one of China’s prominent express firms, opened new routes including to New York, and delivered nearly 1,000 tonnes of medical supplies to more than 50 countries, with many other Chinese airlines and express firms doing about the same. (52)

There was yet more to the leadership, planning and organising that were not apparent to anyone in the West. The Chinese government, while dealing with all other domestic and international pressures from the pandemic, also remembered its students who were studying abroad and distributed over 11 million face masks and 500,000 health kits with disinfection supplies and health protection manuals, to Chinese students studying abroad. (53) These shipments bypassed the local governments, being delivered to the Chinese embassies and consulates for distribution directly to the students.

It wasn’t only medical supplies but also medical staff transfers that were arranged by China’s central government, to help the country deal with the epidemic. One of the government’s first acts was to select about 500 of the top experts from the military’s medical universities, those with prior experience with SARS and MERS, and with Ebola, and send them to Wuhan to help lead the battle. There were many other such teams, composed of experts in respiratory health, infectious diseases, hospital infection control and the establishing and managing of intensive care units, who were dispatched to the Wuhan hospitals with large numbers of virus-related pneumonia patients. Zhou Xianzhi, President of Air Force Medical University, said “We sent our best staff in various clinical departments. They have rich experience in battling contagious diseases. Some of them took part in major missions such as the battle against SARS and the fight against Ebola in Africa, as well as earthquake rescues.” These were volunteers who canceled their plan to spend the Chinese Lunar New Year with their families, most saying they felt “extremely honored” to join this national mission. (54) As well, immediately upon the discovery of the effectiveness of TCM’s ability to moderate serious infections, a team of 122 TCM specialists was sent to Wuhan from Shanghai with treatment plans already prepared for the combined application of Western and Chinese medicines. (55)

Quality Concerns

“As China mounted a nationwide effort to produce desperately needed medical supplies, concerns over the quality of some Chinese-made equipment have been raised, and some foreign media outlets and politicians have even attempted to hype up recent incidents to smear China’s manufacturing sector and its intention to help other countries.” (56) The Financial Times cited examples of the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey “rejecting” Chinese-made face masks and testing kits, others going so far as to claim Chinese masks could make people sick and even kill them.

There were a few instances of unsuitable products having been sold but, on examination of the eventual details, it appears the media reports were consciously hyped and much overblown, in every case blaming “China” for the products of one manufacturer and the actions a few incompetent or unscrupulous agents, most of whom were not Chinese. The overall quality environment was actually much too complicated to permit understanding within the scope of brief media sound bytes. While there were risks of quality issues in manufacturing, the use of improper procurement channels and fluctuating foreign regulations and standards were responsible for much of the trouble. A further issue was that in two or three prominent cases the purchasers had no experience in applying delicate medical tests or even in the storage and handling of such. To compound the problem even further, the virus proved to lend itself more readily to testing at later stages of progression.

China’s Global Times did a creditable job of investigating the entire medical supply process, interviewing manufacturers and distributors, industry insiders and end users, and concluded that the vast majority of Chinese-made medical equipment was well up to standard, with most of the noise resulting primarily from the US heavily politicising China’s role in the supply process and secondly from much deliberate misinformation on the part of the American media.

In one publicised case, Dutch authorities ordered a recall of 600,000 face masks (57) for lack of ability to filter out a full 95% of airborne particles. An executive at the Chinese manufacturer stated that the world experienced such a shortage of appropriate meltblown fabric that it had become increasingly difficult to exceed 70% (instead of 95%), almost all of this fabric being imported from Switzerland and Turkey. The fault, such as it was, was not due to low-quality manufacturing in China but to degraded production ability of companies in Switzerland and Turkey who provided the raw materials. Nevertheless, “China” took the full blame on the chin. The mask quality issue became even more preposterous since the Netherlands and Belgium had already made clear that those China-made masks obtained by local agents were “commercial products made for non-medical use”, in other words sanding or paint-spraying masks and such. (58)

Having said that, it is true Chinese authorities discovered some companies engaged in the illegal production and sale of masks and other medical products and, though they did respond with an immediate and aggressive crack-down, some of that product did indeed reach foreign markets. The government conducted more than a dozen sweeps throughout the nation and heavily publicised the product confiscations and fines issued to deter such practices.

But the issues were much wider-ranging than this. China’s national government established lists of companies qualified to manufacture various medical supplies for use against the coronavirus, and strongly recommended purchases be made from only those firms and only through officially-recommended channels. However, from the urgency of need and occasional panic, many agents, buyers, and foreign end users ignored the Chinese government with predictable results in quality standards. As well, the EU generally was so eager for supplies they waived formal requirements and permitted the importation of products prior to those gaining regulatory approval. As the Global Times noted in their report, the Dutch officials in the above example “refused to disclose the source or channel” of the masks they later deemed unsuitable, many such purchases having been made through channels unauthorised and unverified by the Chinese government. But “China” still took the blame.

The Global Times reported, “Though local medical authorities and Chinese embassies have explained the misunderstanding and misuse of the test kits, media coverage of life-saving Chinese products has turned a blind eye to these clarifications, revealing some countries’ unfriendly motives. I think the quality issue reported by some media has been politicized. They can’t prove the reported testing kits have quality issues, because the use and transport [of the kits] may influence their stability and sensitivity,” an employee at test kit provider Beijing Beier Bioengineering told the Global Times. Medical workers unfamiliar with the products may have some difficulties, which could affect the accuracy of their results. The Beier employee added that Chinese medical staff also had issues when using the test kits in the early stages of the outbreak and any confusion was resolved after technical training.” (59)

There were also instances of testing kits facing claims of insensitivity or inaccuracy. Spain withdrew about 8,000 such tests, and the Western media created much noise about claims from the Czech Republic of inaccurate or insensitive tests. However, in the Czech case, their officials simply had no understanding of proper methods of application. The manufacturer finally prepared instruction videos illustrating and explaining the precise methods of administering the tests, after which the results were perfectly acceptable. This occurred more than once, and even test kits manufactured by companies not yet on the approved list had the same successful result when proper methods were employed. It occurred surprisingly often in Western countries that the medical staff eventually admitted they had never administered such tests and had no clear idea of proper procedure, and in many cases simply did not follow the instructions.

A major part of the overall quality problem was that foreign companies and governments were too eager to fill their large and increasing demand for supplies and, rather than wait in a queue at a recognised factory, would hire their own private agents in attempts to short-circuit the process, agents who, to satisfy their anxious customers, would often resort to unapproved manufacturers in the hope their actions would not later be discovered. The result was that “China” took this blame on the chin as well, with the great assistance of the politicised Western media.

As one illustrative example of the media presentation of issues with medical supplies, a UK Telegraph article said “Government seeks refund for millions of coronavirus antibody tests”, (60) stating they were “too unreliable to be used by the public.” According to the Telegraph, the UK government ordered 3.5 million such tests “mainly from Chinese manufacturers”, then noting that an additional 17.5 million had been purchased from firms in the US and UK, with none being found sufficiently reliable. But by that time, China’s 10% of the purchases had taken the media hit for the entire lot. But once the media smoke cleared and “China” had sufficiently been tarred and denigrated yet again, the UK government health officials admitted that the tests developed in China were created and designed primarily for use with patients “with a very large viral load”, in other words those more severely infected, and not intended for patients suffering only mild symptoms from minor infections. The difficulty with the UK tests was not a quality problem from “China” but UK physicians hoping for tests with a wider detection range. This was a bit like purchasing a “vehicle” then being disappointed it was unable to function as both sports car and dump truck, hardly the fault of the manufacturer. And finally, in the article’s penultimate paragraph, the Telegraph remembered to report that the UK government was not actually demanding refunds but was negotiating with the manufacturers to increase the sensitivity of the tests. In the end, much ado about nothing.

Fox News joined the parade by yelling “CHINA CASHES IN OFF CORONAVIRUS, SELLING SPAIN $467 MILLION IN SUPPLIES, SOME OF THEM SUBSTANDARD”. Spain purchased 950 ventilators, 5.5 million test kits, 11 million gloves and 500 million masks. The ‘substandard’ part was 9,000 quick-test kits (out of 5.5 million) that lacked the sensitivity Spain wanted. (61)

White House trade advisor Peter Navarro accused China of shipping “low-quality and even counterfeit” antibody testing kits to the US and of “profiteering” from the outbreak. (62) The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded that Navarro’s remarks were “groundless and extremely irresponsible,” stating that China had exported tens of millions of COVID-19 tests, which had won wide acclaim from the international community, and the country had not received any feedback from the US purchasers and users on quality problems. (63) (64)

By the end of April of 2020, Chinese firms had exported tens of millions of testing kits in addition to billions of masks and thousands of tonnes of other supplies to nearly 200 countries, all of which were widely praised by the international community. Barbara Woodward, British ambassador to China, expressed her deep appreciation and satisfaction with the products and speed of response, and many other nations were effuse in their gratitude for both commercial shipments and donations from China. (65) Chinese firms shipped enormous volumes of all nature of medical supplies to the US with not a word of complaint from US purchasers or users regarding the quality of test kits and other products. But also not a single word of praise or appreciation from the Americans. Instead, the US hospitals were silent while the US government and the media were replete with non-stop smears for months.

In all the confusion, the US media failed to notice that the US itself led the world competition for defective medical products. As of the middle of February, 2020, AFP was reporting that even small countries like South Korea had performed hundreds of thousands of tests while the US was below about 8,000, the reason being that all the tests produced by the CDC and American companies were flawed and useless. (66) (67) (68) The kits would produce opposite results on the same patient at the same time, or clearly miss serious infections while declaring infections in clean patients. The CDC eventually had to instruct all hospitals and clinics to discard the tests as unusable. (69) Again, in early to mid-April, the US media were reporting the CDC was still unable to produce usable tests, this time because the test kits themselves were contaminated with the coronavirus for which they were to be testing. This was attributed to “a glaring scientific breakdown” at the CDC’s central lab. (70) (71)

To make matters worse, the CDC shipped those faulty tests not only across the country but sold them to 34 countries around the world, and no evidence emerged anywhere to suggest the CDC informed those other nations of the uselessness of their tests. To my knowledge, the UK was the only nation to discover this – at their own expense. (72) To say that the exported CDC tests were unusable would be quite an understatement. President John Magufuli of Tanzania complained that various fruits, a goat and a quail tested positive for coronavirus using the American tests. (73)

It appears the US ‘national stockpile’ was not an improvement on the CDC. (74) In early April, the media were reporting that many states received medical masks that were rotten, with an expiry date in 2010, and that 150 ventilators (at $30,000 each) sent to Los Angeles were broken, defective, and missing parts. (75) (76) (77) But, no problem. ABC News and other US media including US military channels ran dozens of articles titled, “Have a clean T-shirt? That’s all you need to make this mask.” (78)

And in late April, the UK Telegraph was reporting that the UK NHS staff “had been given flawed coronavirus tests” but, kindly, no mention that the US CDC had supplied them. (79) And even the criticism was muted: the tests were described as “less reliable than first thought because of ‘degraded’ performance”, and that they produced “discordant results”, and “have been found to be flawed and should no longer be relied on”. (80) Health Minister Helen Whately admitted “Some of the early tests were evaluated and the evaluation was that they weren’t effective enough” saying that all patients would be called in for a second test, and that this was a “normal process” when testing for a new illness. (81) No slander, no vitriol, no condemnation. Instead, the Brits and their media were quick to note that all tests have a margin of error accuracy which depends on the skill with which they are administered – among other factors. If only they had been so kind and understanding to China.

Shanghai Dasheng is one of the world’s largest manufacturers (and the world gold standard) of N95 face masks and one of the few certified to make US NIOSH-approved N95s. The company deals directly with medical purchasers only, and states on its website: “We do not have any distributors, dealers or branch factories. Beware of counterfeits.” But some masks (that were clearly fake since they were models the company did not export) bearing this company’s name appeared in the US, apparently purchased through unknown third parties. (82) This was interesting. When someone illegally copies an American product, the culprits (usually purported to be Chinese) are roundly condemned for violating a chastely innocent American company and at least six of the Ten Commandments. But then this is China and things are apparently different here. In the above news report, the American Press wrote: “AP could not independently verify if [Dasheng] are making their own counterfeits”. Charming.

Let’s Look at Death Rates

At the end of the epidemic, China reported 4,645 coronavirus deaths while the US total of 90,000 fatalities was still climbing rapidly. The death rates per 100,000 of population were 26.0 for the US and 0.33 for China. We can legitimately ask why China’s numbers appear so much lower than those of the US and of much of Europe, but we don’t need to follow US President Trump’s approach to repeatedly ask on national television, “Does anybody really believe these figures?”, (83) insinuating that China deliberately underreported its fatalities.

There are many reasons for China’s relatively low infection and death rates. First, if two countries have the same death toll, the death per 100,000 people for the country with a larger population will be lower; China’s population is nearly four times that of the US. Secondly, due to the immediate lockdown of Wuhan and Hubei, almost all of China’s fatalities were restricted to that one area: of China’s 4,645 deaths, 4512 (97%) were in Hubei with the entire remainder of the country having little more than 100 deaths. The statistical result was that Wuhan’s rate was 35.2, Hubei’s 7.6, and China’s 0.33, comparable to 26 for the US. Further, all provinces and major cities executed their own version of lockdown and quarantine, literally preventing the virus from entering even if it should escape Hubei. China’s measures broke the transmission chain and contained the contagion within Hubei Province. The tough measures in Wuhan bought the rest of China time to prepare and execute their own restrictions, and China bought the rest of the world at least two and probably three months in which to prepare for the epidemic. Looking at the statistics below, you can see which countries followed China’s example and which did not.

Still on the above scale for the US, New York was at 140.0, New Jersey at 107.0, Connecticut at 85 and Massachusetts at 75, while some states were near zero. (84) Comparably within China, and due to the aggressive quarantines, Shanghai was at 0.02 and Beijing similar. Turning to Europe (on the same scale of death rate per 100,000), Belgium was hit very hard with 76, with Spain, Italy, the UK, France, Sweden and the Netherlands ranging down from around 60.0 to about 35.0. (85)

The TV presentation made by Mr. Trump and Dr. Brix selected a metric that placed the US well down on the fatality list and displayed a carefully-selected list of countries that appeared to place China on Mars. A lie of omission is still a lie, but this disparity requires context for understanding, so let’s look at Asia.

First, here is the original list presented by Trump and Brix, updated to the date of writing:

COVID-USA Mortality per 100,000 population

Belgium – 76.2

Spain – 59.7

UK – 51.2

Italy – 49.9

France – 42.3

Sweden – 37.7

Netherlands – 32.7

USA – 27.8

Switzerland – 21.9

Canada – 16.1

China – 0.33

Now, let’s look at Asia:

Philippines – 0.83

Japan – 0.61

South Korea – 0.52

Indonesia – 0.44

Australia – 0.40

Malaysia – 0.40

Singapore – 0.38

China – 0.33

Hong Kong – 0.06

Taiwan – 0.03

Macao – 0.00

India – 0.23

Bangladesh – 0.21

Thailand – 0.08

Myanmar – 0.01

Vietnam – 0.00

It should be clear from this that there is nothing unusual in China’s numbers, and thus it would seem if China were lying as Mr. Trump suggested, that would mean all of Asia was lying. In fact, there was no evidence of any sort to suggest countries were deliberately understating infections or fatalities – except for the US itself.

Foreign Help

When COVID-19 first erupted in China, several countries immediately came to China’s aid with scarce and badly-needed medical supplies. South Korea was one example, and in return, as the situation worsened in South Korea, the Chinese government sent large amounts of medical supplies and more than 20 local governments in China donated masks, protective clothing, goggles, test kits, thermometers and other materials. The situation was similar with Pakistan, who sent aircraft loaded with medical supplies, the Chinese government later returning the favor with large volumes of supplies and assistance in building a quarantine hospital. (86) Many provinces and cities in China independently donated masks to Islamabad and Karachi.

China was sending supplies and assistance to other countries long before it fully recovered from its own difficulties. President Xi Jinping stressed on multiple occasions that public health security was a common challenge faced by humanity, and all countries should join hands to tackle it. China saw itself as perhaps the only country in the world able to help smaller nations in various states of medical emergency. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed her gratitude in a videotaped speech broadcast throughout Europe, and Chinese citizens abroad had sound reason to be proud of their nation. Zhang Yujie, a Chinese student in France, said, “The rescue efforts of our motherland make me want to cry”. (87)

As soon as circumstances at home permitted, China began shipping its medical supplies all over the world. This was not so easy as might appear, since much global air cargo is carried on scheduled passenger flights but, since the airline industry collapsed due to the virus, these flights all but disappeared. (88) China Southern Airlines, the country’s largest air carrier, quickly converted hundreds of passenger aircraft to freight usage and, by late April, was sending nearly 200 international cargo flights weekly to support the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. (89)

China also shared hundreds of documents on the prevention and control of COVID-19 and its diagnosis and treatment, with groups in more than 100 countries, followed by multiple technical exchanges that included personal discussions and teleconferencing. (90) In a short space of time, China released seven different editions of a guideline on diagnosis and treatment of the disease and six editions of a prevention and control plan for the disease, both of which have been translated into dozens of languages.

China’s telecom giant Huawei donated countless millions of masks and other items to most countries where it has staff and does business. When the US cancelled all medical supply exports to Canada in April, the country’s supply shortage became desperate so Huawei quietly shipped millions of masks, plus goggles, gloves, and other protective equipment to Canada to help front-line medical workers to cope. (91) But Canada refused to publicly acknowledge the gifts. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau merely told the media that Canada would be receiving a shipment of millions of masks from “unnamed countries and companies”, and the British Columbia government who were the prime beneficiary of the supplies were so mean-spirited as to tell the Canadian media, “The province has many supply sources . . . We don’t share details about our suppliers.” Others in Canada went so far as to accuse Huawei of “political generosity”, and Trudeau even made a point of saying that donations of medical supplies from foreign companies “will not change how the government views those companies going forward”. Touching.

China’s Fosun Group donated a large batch of medical supplies to Portugal, including 1 million face masks and 200,000 test kits, as did many other Chinese companies. The Fosun Foundation in Shanghai donated large batches of face masks hospitals in Italy, and coordinated with other companies and foundations in more than 10 shipments of medical supplies to countries that included Italy, Japan, Britain and France. (92) The Chinese automaker Geely donated large amounts of medical supplies to 14 countries including Sweden, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belarus and Britain. Chinese privately-owned firms and SOEs built and supplied complete COVID-19 testing labs, constructed or renovated hospitals in many countries. China’s BGI Group built two testing labs in Serbia – in 12 days, and donated all the core equipment and instruments. (93) China State Construction Engineering offered free renovation service for a hospital in Ethiopia, transforming regular wards into virus facilities. (94) (95)

Many Chinese foundations donated medical supplies to support smaller countries. The Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation donated 7.5 million face masks, 485,000 test kits and 100,000 sets of protective clothing, as well as ventilators and thermometers to 23 countries that included Azerbaijan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. (96) The Jack Ma Foundation also donated a large amount of medical supplies to 54 African countries. (97) China’s northwest Gansu Province, probably China’s poorest province, donated two consignments including tens of thousands of face masks and protective suits to Zimbabwe, added to large donations of medical supplies from other Chinese foundations. (98) Various entities in China, including corporations, social agencies and the Chinese government, donated many air shipments of supplies to Iran, including test kits and respirators, these being especially important since US economic sanctions prevented Iran from possessing the foreign currency to purchase medical supplies abroad. (99) China also sent several teams of medical experts to Iran, to help assess the situation and provide guidance and assistance.

Even small Chinese associations were active in their assistance. Chinese Community Groups in the UK raised money and collected medical supplies from more than 100 local Chinese communities and Chinese people in the UK, donating tens of thousands of medical gowns, surgical masks, and other items. The China Chamber of Commerce in the UK and the Bank of China donated 20 ventilators and nearly 2 million pieces of PPE to local English hospitals. (100) (101)

In March, when the virus was abating in China but increasing in Italy, China sent large teams of medical experts from many provinces and hospitals as well as China’s CDC on specially-chartered flights, with specialists in respiratory, intensive care, infectious disease, hospital infection control, traditional Chinese medicine and nursing. (102) Donated medical supplies included test kits, masks, protective clothing and ventilators. Chinese medical specialists shared China’s diagnosis and treatment plans with countries around the world, held video conferences with health experts from many countries and international organisations, and dispatched medical expert groups to Iran, Iraq, and Italy. (103) By early April, China had already sent more than 300 charter flights carrying medical professionals and emergency supplies to support global anti-epidemic efforts, the flights carrying more than 110 medical specialists, and nearly 5,000 tonnes of medical supplies to about 50 countries, as well as a special flight to Ghana carrying nearly 40 tonnes of medical supplies for Africa. (104) These supplies include ventilators, N95 face masks, protective clothing, gloves and other medical devices and protective equipment.

Altogether, the Chinese government and various states, local governments, corporations and foundations made many hundreds of chartered mercy flights. Several dozen countries after declaring a state of emergency, contacted China with urgent requests for medical supplies, testing equipment and protective gear, China responding in each case even when it was still under immense pressure to contain the epidemic at home and medical materials were still in short supply. These nations included the Philippines, (105) Greece, (106) (107) (108) Serbia, Iran, Kuwait and Cambodia, Japan, South Korea, Italy, (109) the Philippines, Serbia, France, Spain (110), Greece, Peru, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Bosnian Serb Republic, Iran, Spain, Britain, Hungary, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic. (111) The EU President and their European Commissioner for Crisis Management said, The EU and China have been working together since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. We are grateful for China’s support and we need each other’s support in times of need.” In many cases, smaller nations had no idea of the procurement process for medical supplies, and the Chinese national government lent assistance to assure proper purchase and timely delivery.

China also provided an enormous amount of assistance to the US, all of which also went unnoticed by the America press. Zhong Nanshan, China’s top respiratory scientist, held multiple video-link teaching sessions with intensive care specialists from Harvard’s Medical School, explaining the clinical manifestations and difficulties involved in treating severe and critical novel coronavirus patients. (112) As well, the nation’s leading Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) experts shared with US counterparts their diagnosis and treatment experience that proved effective in Wuhan. (113) The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said Chinese experts “spared no effort to share their experience”.

In response to a US government cry for assistance in March, China airlifted a massive amount of vital medical supplies from Shanghai to the US, including 12 million gloves, 130,000 N-95 masks, 1.7 million surgical masks, 50,000 gowns, 130,000 hand sanitizer units and 36,000 thermometers. (114) The assistance increased rapidly. In one week of April alone, there were 75 cargo flights from Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen to New York and Los Angeles, each carrying around 80 tonnes of supplies. By the middle of April, China had provided the US with more than 2.5 billion masks plus nearly 5,000 ventilators and many other needed items. While the US government and media were busy stigmatising China with unreasonable and unjustified accusations, Beijing was taking practical steps to help the US fight its epidemic. (115)

There were also a great many private donations made directly to US hospitals or states by various Chinese companies, foundations, provinces, and social groups. The Wanxiang Group, a Chinese multinational manufacturer in Hangzhou, donated 1.1 million face masks and 50,000 protective masks to 12 US states. (116) China’s Fujian Province, which was Oregon’s sister state, donated 50,000 medical face masks for distribution to frontline workers, in addition to 12,000 masks provided personally by Ambassador Wang Donghua, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco, as a gift to the people of Oregon. (117)

However, the treatment of China in the US Media was nothing short of reprehensible, the press and airwaves filled for months with a ceaseless flood of denigrating rubbish with the result that Pew polls showed that more than two-thirds of Americans held a negative or strongly negative view of China – which was unquestionably the intent of the media assault. Martin Jacques said in a live interview in Beijing that the American behavior was “Absolutely disgraceful.” He said, “Too many Western politicians and the Western media responded to what was a grave medical health crisis in China in a way that was completely lacking in compassion and simply used as a stick to beat China. And in doing so also explicitly or implicitly, they encouraged a certain kind of racism against the Chinese, not just the Chinese in China, but Chinese everywhere.” (118)

Some in the West, led by the US, heavily politicised China’s assistance to other nations, claiming China’s acts were done with murky motives and sinister geopolitical intent. The efforts of the Chinese government to help others were categorised as attempts to vie for global influence by vacuuming up America’s allies with bribes. And, since the global pandemic was “all China’s fault”, those donations were merely gestures of atonement camouflaged as charity, and thus should be taken “without appreciation or even acknowledgement” – which is what the US and Canada managed to do. “Unfortunately, even as COVID-19 accelerates inside our country, the Trump administration seems to view diplomacy as a bludgeon to score points against adversaries and alienate friends rather than an essential tool for helping to protect Americans,” wrote Brett McGurk, a senior diplomat. (119)

The Chinese people generally were not very sympathetic to the US, many comparing America’s confused and corrupted efforts with China’s leadership. One post that received hundreds of millions of views said, “It took China two months to defeat the coronavirus, while it took the coronavirus two months to defeat the US.” Another comment read, “US President Donald Trump said the number will go down to zero. Trump is right. The number will go down to zero when all people die.” (120) Similar topics equally drew 250 or 300 million views. One Weibo post received 150 million views almost immediately when suggesting President Trump responded only after 1 million citizens became infected.

Today’s urban Chinese are much less naive about international affairs, and were quite aware of the Zionist-American hate propaganda that was filling Western airwaves and sheets of print, and of the resulting racism and hatred being generated toward China and the Chinese people, many of them having been victims of abuse in the US. They were also aware of the vast efforts made by their own nation to not only protect the lives of Chinese citizens but of the truly enormous contributions their government, corporations and societies had made to helping other nations while the US helped no one and even denied vital supplies to other countries. (121)

From this, Chinese public sentiment toward the US was by no means as light-hearted or gentle as the comments above might suggest. The enormity of anti-China hate literature during the past decade was producing sentiments suggesting, “Send the supplies to Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, and let the Americans learn a lesson.” I had a long conversation with a senior Chinese executive who told me of operating his factory 24/7 and pushing his staff to work 12-hour days to produce vital medical supplies for the US while partially sacrificing his commitments to China. After being exposed to the outrageous denigration of China in the US media, he said he would never again take any action to assist Americans. His final comment to me: “After this, I wouldn’t cross the road to piss on the US if it were on fire.”


Notes

(1) https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202001/24/WS5e2a0374a310128217273141.html

(2)https://guardian.ng/news/china-locks-down-two-cities-to-curb-virus-outbreak/

(3) https://news.yahoo.com/china-warns-virus-could-mutate-spread-death-toll-030352863.html

(4) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/23/coronavirus-panic-spreads-in-china-with-three-cities-in-lockdown

(5) https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202003/10/WS5e66fd23a31012821727dcaf.html

(6) https://www.shine.cn/news/nation/2003043372/

(7) https://www.shine.cn/news/metro/2001260649/

(8) https://www.shine.cn/news/metro/2003124131/

(9) https://www.shine.cn/news/metro/2002192363/

(10) http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202003/28/WS5e7e9310a310128217282a28.html

(11) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1183923.shtml

(12) https://www.shine.cn/biz/economy/2001300922/

(13) https://www.rt.com/news/479403-china-xi-coronavirus-demon/

(14) http://www.qstheory.cn/zhuanqu/bkjx/2020-04/28/c_1125917119.htm

(15) https://www.shine.cn/news/nation/2004297248/

(16) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0420/c90000-9681452.html

(17) https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-01-23/Wuhan-to-build-special-hospital-in-six-days-to-receive-patients-NuQ9ulvAo8/index.html

(18) http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202003/19/WS5e72d148a31012821728052b.html

(19) https://www.chinadailyhk.com/article/129477#Medical-leader-calls-makeshift-hospitals-a-success

(20) https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/24/chinese-city-wuhan-plans-to-build-coronavirus-hospital-in-six-days

(21) https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/china-s-coronavirus-hospital-built-10-days-opens-its-doors-n1128531

(22)https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-china-can-build-a-coronavirus-hospital-in-10-days-11580397751

(23) https://www.shine.cn/news/nation/2004287119/

(24) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0311/c90000-9666866.html

(25) http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-04/25/c_139005866.htm

(26) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0428/c90000-9684857.html

(27) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1185403.shtml

(28) https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2020-05-02/West-suffering-because-it-failed-to-listen-to-China-Lancet-editor-Q9g3yHGFfq/index.html

(29) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/15/medical-journal-lancet-urges-americans-vote-trump-coronavirus/

(30) https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/china-honors-virus-victims-minutes-reflection-69972806

(31) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0125/c90000-9651777.html

(32) http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202001/25/WS5e2bb430a310128217273341.html

(33) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1184030.shtml

(34) https://www.chinadailyhk.com/article/119530

(35) http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202002/17/WS5e4a3f38a3101282172781a9.html

(36) https://www.chinadailyhk.com/article/129138#Wuhan-tops-travelers’-wish-lists-in-2020

(37) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1185879.shtml

(38) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1185879.shtml

(39) http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1185533.shtml

(40) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1185879.shtml

(41) http://english.www.gov.cn/news/topnews/202003/07/content_WS5e6338a8c6d0c201c2cbdbce.html

(42) http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202001/25/WS5e2b76faa3101282172732ab.html

(43) http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-01/26/c_138733811.htm

(44) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1177867.shtml

(45) http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-01/26/c_138734351.htm

(46) https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202001/24/WS5e2a0374a310128217273141.html

(47) https://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202001/25/WS5e2b8102a3101282172732c0.html

(48) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0506/c90000-9687191.html

(49) http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-02/16/c_138789227.htm

(50) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1184127.shtml

(51) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1184127.shtml

(52) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1184127.shtml

(53) http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-04/02/c_138941573.htm

(54) https://www.shine.cn/news/nation/2001250569/

(55)https://www.shine.cn/news/metro/2002152114/

(56) http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1184245.shtml

(57) http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1184245.shtml

(58) https://www.chinadailyhk.com/article/126796#China-bashing-syndrome-makes-coronavirus-pandemic-deadlier

(59) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1184530.shtml

(60) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/06/government-seeks-refund-millions-coronavirus-antibody-tests/

(61) https://www.foxnews.com/world/netherlands-becomes-latest-country-to-reject-china-made-coronavirus-test-kits-gear

(62) http://www.china.org.cn/china/Off_the_Wire/2020-04/29/content_75987996.htm

(63) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-china-idUSKCN2292S8

(64) https://www.chinadailyhk.com/article/129146

(65) https://peoplesdaily.pdnews.cn/2020/04/30/world/washington-rebuked-for-smear-over-testing-kits-148227.html

(66) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/12/health/coronavirus-test-kits-cdc.html

(67) https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/coronavirus-tests-new-york-us-cases-kits-trump-cdc-results-a9365921.html

(68) https://news.yahoo.com/us-health-authority-shipped-faulty-coronavirus-test-kits-205948746.html

(69) https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-health-authority-shipped-faulty-coronavirus-test-kits-across-country-official/5703909

(70) https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/18/coronavirus-tests-delayed-by-covid-19-contamination-at-cdc-lab.html

(71) https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/contamination-at-cdc-lab-delayed-rollout-of-coronavirus-tests/2020/04/18/fd7d3824-7139-11ea-aa80-c2470c6b2034_story.html

(72) https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/covid19-coronavirus-united-states-faulty-test-kits-12429566

(73) https://www.msn.com/en-za/news/africa/covid-19-pawpaw-and-goat-test-positive-for-virus-president-magufuli/ar-BB13AJWO

(74) https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/governors-plead-for-medical-equipment-from-federal-stockpile-plagued-by-shortages-and-confusion/2020/03/31/18aadda0-728d-11ea-87da-77a8136c1a6d_story.html

(75) https://nypost.com/2020/04/04/states-receive-masks-with-dry-rot-broken-ventilators/

(76) https://apnews.com/2b1c7d508dbee187aba31b675f8c5685

(77) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-received-broken-ventilators-from-federal-government-governor-gavin-newsom-says/

(78) https://abcnews.go.com/

(79) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/21/public-health-england-admits-coronavirus-tests-used-send-nhs/

(80) https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/coronavirus/nhs-staff-offered-new-covid-19-tests-after-initial-checks-found-to-be-flawed/ar-BB131rbF

(81) https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/breaking-coronavirus-nhs-staff-called-21905571

(82) https://apnews.com/850d9e6834fc71967af6d3dda65ad874

(83) http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-04/25/c_139005866.htm

(84) https://www.statista.com/statistics/1109011/coronavirus-covid19-death-rates-us-by-state/

(85) https://www.shine.cn/news/world/2003124144/

(86) https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-03-20/China-announces-to-help-82-countries-fight-COVID-19-P1hcQcQKe4/index.html

(87) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0325/c90000-9672307.html

(88) https://www.msn.com/en-xl/news/other/update-china-southern-sends-185-cargo-flights-weekly-to-support-global-covid-19-fight/ar-BB13df1B

(89) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1186745.shtml

(90) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0325/c90000-9672307.html

(91) http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202004/09/WS5e8e772ba310e232631a4e08.html

(92) http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202005/08/WS5eb4d906a310a8b24115437d.html

(93) https://www.globalsecurity.org/security/library/news/2020/04/sec-200422-pdo07.htm

(94) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0428/c90000-9684957.html

(95) https://newsghana.com.gh/chinese-enterprises-lend-a-big-hand-to-africa-to-combat-covid-19/

(96) https://www.shine.cn/news/world/2003295304/

(97) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0325/c90000-9672307.html

(98) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0507/c90000-9687490.html

(99) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0321/c90000-9670897.html

(100) http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1186348.shtml

(101) https://times-publications.com/2020/04/22/2333/uk-trade-and-business/

(102) https://www.shine.cn/news/nation/2003255022/

(103) https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-03-20/China-announces-to-help-82-countries-fight-COVID-19-P1hcQcQKe4/index.html

(104) http://www.china.org.cn/china/Off_the_Wire/2020-04/07/content_75903130.htm

(105) http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-03/21/c_138901763.htm

(106) http://china.org.cn/world/2020-03/22/content_75844594.htm

(107) http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-03/22/c_138904576.htm

(108) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1183326.shtml

(109) http://www.ecns.cn/news/society/2020-04-07/detail-ifzvcazm8251455.shtml

(110) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0504/c90000-9686744.html

(111) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0325/c90000-9672307.html

(112) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0325/c90000-9672307.html

(113) http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202003/20/WS5e740a2ca31012821728094e.html

(114) https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-03-30/First-aircraft-carrying-medical-supplies-from-China-arrives-in-U-S–Ph2wcnA0Ok/index.html

(115) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1186786.shtml

(116) http://www.china.org.cn/world/2020-05/06/content_76010588.htm

(117) http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0429/c90000-9685576.html

(118) http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202003/19/WS5e72d148a31012821728052b.html

(119) https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/calls-global-cooperation-us-china-fight-leading-coronavirus/story?id=69898820

(120) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1187121.shtml

(121) The US government (primarily FEMA and/or the CIA, in conjunction with Israel’s Mossad) were widely accused by France, Germany, and other nations of repeatedly hijacking – on airport tarmacs – shipments of medical supplies destined for other countries. These actions were simultaneous with FEMA’s seizures of medical supplies from hospitals and importers all across the US, and there appeared to be substantial evidence much of these supplies were sent to Israel – while US hospitals were bleeding. There isn’t space to follow the story here, but you can follow this set of links below to research the subject.


(1) https://www.rt.com/news/484743-cuba-covid19-us-blockade/

(2) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/17/opinion/cuba-coronavirus-trump.html

(3) https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/cuba-u-s-embargo-blocks-coronavirus-aid-shipment-from-asia-1.4881479

(4) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/02/global-battle-coronavirus-equipment-masks-tests

(5) https://germany.timesofnews.com/breaking-news/us-accused-of-seizing-face-mask-shipments-bound-for-europe-canada

(6) https://dnyuz.com/2020/04/03/us-accused-of-seizing-face-mask-shipments-bound-for-europe-canada/

(7) https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-works-assure-allies-deny-allegations-seizing-supplies/story?id=70019576

(8) https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/04/europe/coronavirus-masks-war-intl/index.html

(9) https://www.rtl.fr/actu/debats-societe/masques-detournes-les-americains-sortent-le-cash-il-faut-se-battre-dit-jean-rottner-sur-rtl-7800346680

(10) https://www.lefigaro.fr/international/coronavirus-l-amerique-relance-la-guerre-des-masques-20200402

(11) https://www.huffingtonpost.fr/entry/coronavirus-des-masques-commandes-par-la-france-detournes-par-des-americains-des-masques-commandes-par-la-france-detournes-par-des-americains_fr_5e84eb13c5b6f55ebf47271a

(12)https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/coronavirus-medical-supplies-countries_in_5e873034c5b63e06281ccebd

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-works-assure-allies-deny-allegations-seizing-supplies/story?id=70019576

(13) https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/04/europe/coronavirus-masks-war-intl/index.html

(14) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1185063.shtml

(15) https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1186406.shtml

(16) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-huawei-tech-fedex-exclusive-idUSKCN1SX1RZ

(17) https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2020/04/03/des-masques-pour-le-quebec-detournes

(18) https://nationalpost.com/news/what-happened-when-five-million-medical-masks-for-canadas-covid-19-fight-were-hijacked-at-an-airport-in-china?video_autoplay=true

(19)https://dnyuz.com/2020/04/03/us-accused-of-seizing-face-mask-shipments-bound-for-europe-canada/

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-works-assure-allies-deny-allegations-seizing-supplies/story?id=70019576

(20) https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/04/europe/coronavirus-masks-war-intl/index.html

(21) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/19/flight-carrying-vital-ppe-supplies-nhs-delayed-turkey/

(22) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/04/18/ministers-plead-overseas-counterparts-allow-shipments-ppe-shortage/

(23) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/06/exclusive-gowns-delayed-ppe-shipment-turkey-impounded-failing/

(24) https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/04/turkey-aid-covid19-coronavirus-erdogan-satterfield-sweden.html

(25) https://apnews.com/b940aca2ab2d0c31af2826da9c30d222

(26) https://www.opednews.com/articles/Are-the-Face-Masks-Stolen-by-Meryl-Ann-Butler-Corona-Virus-Coronavirus-Covid-19-200410-528.html

(27) https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/not-an-ideal-solution-maryland-national-guard-members-advised-to-make-their-own-cloth-masks/ar-BB12eKEL

(28) https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2020/04/24/army-researchers-say-this-is-the-best-material-for-a-homemade-face-mask-theyve-found-so-far/

(29) https://twitter.com/TsahiDabush/status/1247601103006502914

(30) https://urmedium.com/c/presstv/12226

(31) While American health workers beg for PPE, Trump just shipped a million masks to the Israeli army. https://t.co/2sVFLMteo9 — Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) April 8, 2020

(32) https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/US-Department-of-Defense-give-1-million-masks-to-IDF-for-coronavirus-use-623976

(33) https://www.globalsecurity.org/security/library/news/2020/04/sec-200408-presstv01.htm

(34) https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Mossad-bought-10-million-coronavirus-masks-last-week-622890

(35) https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/fema-relied-inexperienced-volunteers-find-coronavirus-protective-equipment/story?id=70519484

(36) https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/kushner-coronavirus-effort-said-to-be-hampered-by-inexperienced-volunteers/2020/05/05/6166ef0c-8e1c-11ea-9e23-6914ee410a5f_story.html

(37) https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/fema-relied-inexperienced-volunteers-find-coronavirus-protective-equipment/story?id=70519484

(38) https://abcnews.go.com/Health/us-short-ppe/story?id=70093430

(39) https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/kushner-backed-program-charters-flights-medical-supplies-behalf/story?id=70291872

(40) https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/white-house-wind-coronavirus-task-force-trump-shifts/story?id=70518706

(41)https://apnews.com/8cd84c260cb6d951ac57a6248542a44f


PT — PT — LARRY ROMANOFF — LIDAR COM DEMÓNIOS — April 03, 2021 (bluemoonofshanghai.com)SP — SP — LARRY ROMANOFF — TRATAR CON DEMONIOS — December 03, 2020 (bluemoonofshanghai.com)

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Source

April 02, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview given to Channel One’s Bolshaya Igra (Great Game) talk show, Moscow, April 1, 2021

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The word “war” has been heard increasingly more often lately. US and NATO politicians, even more so the Ukrainian military, have no trouble saying it. Do you have more reasons to be concerned now than ever before?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes and no. On the one hand, the confrontation has hit bottom. On the other, deep down, there’s still hope that we are adults and understand the risks associated with escalating tensions further. However, our Western colleagues introduced the word “war” into the diplomatic and international usage. “The hybrid war unleashed by Russia” is a very popular description of what the West perceives as the main event in international life. I still believe that good judgment will prevail.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Recently, the United States has ratcheted the degree of confrontation up to never-before-seen proportions. President Joe Biden said President Vladimir Putin is a “killer.” We have recalled Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov.

Sergey Lavrov: He was invited for consultations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Hence, the question: How do we go about our relations now? How long will this pause last? When will Mr Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: What we heard President Biden say in his interview with ABC is outrageous and unprecedented. However, one should always see the real actions behind the rhetoric, and they began long before this interview back during the Barack Obama administration. They continued under the Trump administration, despite the fact that the 45th US President publicly spoke in favour of maintaining good relations with Russia, with which he was willing to “get along,” but was not allowed to do so. I’m talking about the consistent degradation of the deterrent infrastructure in the military-political and strategic spheres.

The ABM Treaty has long since been dropped. President Putin has more than once mentioned how, in response to his remark that George W. Bush was making a mistake and there was no need to aggravate relations, the then US President said that it was not directed against Russia. Allegedly, we can take any steps that we deem necessary in response to the US withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. Allegedly, the Americans will not take these actions as directed against them, either. But then they started establishing anti-missile systems in Europe which is the third missile defence position area. It was announced that it was built exclusively with Iran in mind. Our attempts to agree on a transparency format received support during the visit to Moscow by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, but were later rejected. We now have a missile defence area in Europe. Nobody is saying that this is against Iran now. This is clearly being positioned as a global project designed to contain Russia and China. The same processes are underway in the Asia-Pacific region. No one is trying to pretend that this is being done against North Korea.

This is a global system designed to back US claims to absolute dominance, including in the military-strategic and nuclear spheres.

Dimitri Simes can also share his assessment of what is said and written in the United States on that account. A steadfast course has now been taken towards deploying intermediate and shorter-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.

The INF Treaty was discarded by the Americans on far-fetched pretexts. This was not our choice. In his special messages, President Vladimir Putin suggested agreeing, on a voluntary basis and even in the absence of the INF Treaty, on a mutual moratorium with corresponding verification measures in the Kaliningrad Region, where the Americans suspected our Iskander missiles of violating restrictions imposed by the now defunct treaty, and at US bases in Poland and Romania, where the MK-41 units are promoted by the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, as dual-purpose equipment.

To reiterate, this rhetoric is outrageous and unacceptable. However, President Putin has reacted to it diplomatically and politely. Unfortunately, there was no response to our offer to talk live and to dot the dottable letters in the Russian and English alphabets. All of that has long since gone hand-in-hand with a material build-up in the confrontational infrastructure, which also includes the reckless eastward advance of NATO military facilities, the transformation of a rotational presence into a permanent presence on our borders, in the Baltic States, in Norway, and Poland. So everything is much more serious than mere rhetoric.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: When will Ambassador Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s up to President Putin to decide. Ambassador Antonov is currently holding consultations at the Foreign Ministry. He has met with the members of the committees on international affairs at the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly. He has had conversations at the Presidential Executive Office as well.

It is important for us to analyse the current state of our relations, which did not get to this point overnight, and are not just because of this interview, but have been going this way for years now. The fact that inappropriate language was used during President Biden’s interview with ABC shows the urgency of conducting a comprehensive analysis. This does not mean that we have just been observers and have not drawn any conclusions over the past years. But now the time has come for generalisations.

Dimitri Simes: Now that I am in Moscow, after a year in Washington, I see a striking contrast between statements by the leaders of the two countries. I think you will agree that when officials in Washington talk about relations with Russia, their pattern is simple and understandable: “Russia is an opponent.” Sometimes, Congressmen are more abrupt and call it “an enemy.” However, political leaders from the administration still call it “an opponent.” They allow cooperation with Russia on some issues that are important to the US, but generally it is emphasised that militarily Russia is “the number one opponent,” while politically it is not just a country with objectionable views but a state that “tries to spread authoritarian regimes throughout the world,” that “opposes democracy” and “undermines the foundations of the US as such.”

When I listen to you and President of Russia Vladimir Putin, I have the impression that in Moscow the picture is more complicated and has more nuances. Do you think the US is Russia’s opponent today?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not go into analysing the lexicon of “opponent,” “enemy,” “competitor” or “rival.” All these words are juggled in both official and unofficial statements. I read the other day that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that for all the differences with Russia and China, the US does not have anything against these countries. As for what the US is doing, it is simply “promoting democracy” and “upholding human rights.” I don’t know how seriously one can take this description of US policy towards Moscow and Beijing. However, if they are promoting democracy, practice must justify theory.

George W. Bush announced that democracy was established in Iraq in May 2003. Aboard an aircraft carrier, he declared that Iraq’s liberation from its totalitarian regime was completed and democracy was established in the country. There is no point in elaborating. It is enough to mention the toll of the US-unleashed war – hundreds of thousands of people. We should also remember that the “rule” of the notorious Paul Bremer resulted in the birth of ISIS, which was rapidly joined by members of the Baath Party, employees of Saddam Hussein’s secret services, who had lost their jobs. They simply needed to provide for their families. ISIS emerged not because of ideological differences. Relying on US mistakes, the radicals actively used this fact. This is what democracy in Iraq is all about.

“Democracy” in Libya was established by bombs, strikes and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi which was accompanied by Hillary Clinton’s cry of admiration. This is the result: Libya is a black hole; refugee flows bound for the north are creating problems for the EU that does not know what to do about them; illegal arms and terrorists are being smuggled through Libya to the south, bringing suffering to the Sahara-Sahel Region.

I do not wish to describe what the Americans feel towards the Russian Federation. If their statements about us being their “opponent,” “enemy,” “rival” or “competitor” are based on the desire to accuse us of the consequences of their reckless policy, we can hardly have a serious conversation with them.

Dmitri Simes: When officials in Washington, the Joseph Biden administration or Congress, call Russia an opponent and emphasise this, I think they would not agree that it is simply rhetoric. Nor would they agree that it is designed solely for domestic consumption. The Biden administration is saying that the US did not have a consistent policy towards Russia and that former US President Donald Trump let Russia “do everything the Russian Government of Vladimir Putin wanted.” Now a new sheriff has come in and is willing to talk in a way he sees fit without paying much attention to how Moscow will interpret it; and if Moscow doesn’t like it, this is good. This is being done not to evoke discontent, of course, but to show that Russia is finally realising that it cannot behave like this anymore. Is there any chance that this new Biden administration policy will compel Russia to show some new flexibility?

Sergey Lavrov: The policy you mentioned, which is promoted in the forms we are now seeing, has no chance to succeed. This is nothing new: Joseph Biden has come in, started using sanctions against Russia, toughening rhetoric and in general exerting pressure all along the line. This has been going on for many years. The sanctions started with the Barack Obama administration and, historically, even earlier. Like many other restrictions, they have simply become hypertrophied and ideology-based starting in 2013, before the events in Ukraine.

Dimitri Simes: They will tell you, and you know this better than I do, that this policy has not been pursued sufficiently consistently, that it was not energetic enough, and that now they and their NATO allies will get down to dealing with Russia seriously so as to show us that we must change our behaviour fundamentally not just when it comes to foreign policy but also our domestic policy.

Sergey Lavrov: Dimitri, you are an experienced person, you know the United States better than Vyacheslav Nikonov or I do. What else can they do to us? Which of the analysts has decided to prove the practicability of any further pressure on Russia? How well do they know history? This question is for you.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, you probably know that I am not a fervent supporter of the policy of the Biden administration.

Sergey Lavrov: I am asking you as an observer and an independent expert.

Dimitri Simes: In my opinion, the Biden administration still has a sufficient set of tools it can apply against Russia, including new sanctions, the promotion of NATO infrastructure in Europe, a more “harmonised” pressure on Russia together with its allies, the advance of the US policy not closer to the traditional Old Europe (I am referring to Britain and especially to France and Germany) but to Poland, and lastly, the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine. It is now believed in Washington that it is very important to show Russia that its current policy in Ukraine has no future and that unless Russia changes its behaviour it “will pay a price.”

Sergey Lavrov: My views on the current developments range from an exercise in absurdity to a dangerous play with matches. You may know that it has become trendy to use examples from ordinary life to describe current developments. All of us played outdoors when we were children. Kids of different ages and with different kinds of family upbringing played in the same places. In fact, we all lived as one big family then. There were two or three bad boys on every street; they humiliated other kids, disciplined them, forced them to clean their boots and took their money, the few kopecks our mothers gave us to buy a pie or breakfast at school. Two, three or four years later, these small kids grew up and could fight back. We don’t even have to grow up. We do not want confrontation.

President Putin has said more than once, including after President Biden’s infamous interview with ABC that we are ready to work with the United States in the interests of our people and the interests of international security. If the United States is willing to endanger the interests of global stability and global – and so far peaceful – coexistence, I don’t think it will find many allies for this endeavour. It is true that the EU has quickly towed the line and pledged allegiance. I regard the statements made during the virtual EU summit with Joe Biden as unprecedented. I don’t remember ever hearing such oaths of allegiance before. The things they said publicly revealed their absolute ignorance of the history of the creation of the UN and many other events. I am sure that serious politicians – there are still some left in the United States – can see not just futility but also the absurdity of this policy. As far as I know, the other day 27 political organisations in the United States publicly urged the Biden administration to change the rhetoric and the essence of the US approach to relations with Russia.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: This is unlikely to happen. I believe that your example with “tough guys” on every street is too mild. The United States has gone beyond the pale, let alone the street ethics, which have always been respected. We can see this happening in Ukraine. President Biden is one of those who created modern Ukraine, the Ukrainian policy and the war in Donbass. As I see it, he takes the situation very personally, and he will try to keep it in its current tense state. How dangerous is the situation in Ukraine in light of the ongoing US arms deliveries, the decisions adopted in the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday, and the statements made by the Ukrainian military, who are openly speaking about a war?  Where do we stand on the Ukrainian front?

Sergey Lavrov: There is much speculation about the documents that the Rada passed and that President Zelensky signed. To what extent does this reflect real politics? Is it consistent with the objective of resolving President Zelensky’s domestic problem of declining ratings? I’m not sure what this is: a bluff or concrete plans. According to the information published in the media, the military, for the most part, is aware of the damage that any action to unleash a hot conflict might bring.

I very much hope this will not be fomented by the politicians, who, in turn, will be fomented by the US-led West. Once again, we see the truth as stated by many analysts and political scientists, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, being reaffirmed. They look at Ukraine from a geopolitical perspective: as a country that is close to Russia, Ukraine makes Russia a great state; without Ukraine, Russia does not have global significance. I leave this on the conscience of those who profess these ideas, their fairness and ability to appreciate modern Russia. Like President Vladimir Putin said not long ago; but these words are still relevant, – those who try to unleash a new war in Donbass will destroy Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The US and Western diplomacy have definitely accomplished one thing: they put Russia and China in one boat. Indeed, we have already become strategic partners in deeds not just in words. You have just come back from China. You go there more often than once a year, for sure. During this trip, was there anything new that you sensed from Chinese leadership, which has recently come under unprecedented and rude attacks from the Americans? How strong are the bonds that are being established between Russia and China? How high is the bar that we can or have already reached in our relationship?

Sergey Lavrov: Like Russians, the Chinese are a proud nation. They may be more patient historically. The Chinese nation’s national and genetic code is all about being focused on a historical future. They are never limited to 4 or 5- year electoral cycles. They look further: “a big journey begins with a small step” and many other maxims coined by Chinese leaders go to show that they appreciate a goal that is not just on the horizon, but beyond the horizon. This also applies to reunifying Chinese lands – incrementally and without haste, but purposefully and persistently. Those who are talking with China and Russia without due respect or look down on us, or insult us are worthless politicians and strategists. If they do this to show how tough they are for the next parliamentary election in a couple of years, so be it.

Winston Churchill famously said that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” A big debate is underway about which one is more effective. The coronavirus infection has taken the debate up a notch. To what extent the Western democracies have shown themselves capable of opposing this absolute evil and to what extent countries with a centralised, strong and “authoritarian” government have been successful. History will be the judge. We should wait to see the results.

We want to cooperate; we have never accused anyone of anything, or mounted a media campaign against anyone, even though we are being accused of doing this. As soon as President Putin announced the creation of a vaccine, he proposed establishing international cooperation. You do remember what was being said about Sputnik V. At first, they said that it was not true, and then that this was propaganda and the only purpose was to promote Russia’s political interests in the world. We can see the ripple effect of this. On March 30, Vladimir Putin held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. We sensed a more realistic commitment to cooperate rather than try to engage in “vaccine discrimination” or “vaccine propaganda.”

Getting back to the heart of the matter, by and large, no one should be rude to other people. But what we see instead is a dialogue with a condescending tone towards great civilisations like Russia and China. We are being told what to do. If we want to say something, we are asked to “leave them alone.” This was the case in Anchorage when the discussion came to human rights. Antony Blinken said that there were many violations in the United States, but the undercurrent was clear – they would sort it out themselves and are already doing so. However, in Xinjiang Uygur, Hong Kong and Tibet, to name a few, things should be approached differently. It’s not just about a lack of diplomatic skills. It runs much deeper. In China, I sensed that this patient nation, which always upholds its interests and shows a willingness to find a compromise, was put in a stalemate. The other day, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson made a relevant comment. I don’t remember that ever happening before.

With regard to whether we are being pushed into the arms of China or China is being pushed into our arms, everyone remembers Henry Kissinger’s words that the United States should have relations with China which are better than relations between China and Russia, and vice versa. He saw this historical process and knew which way it could go. Many are writing now that the United States is committing a huge strategic mistake making efforts against Russia and China at a time, thereby catalysing our rapprochement. Moscow and Beijing are not allying against anyone. During my visit to China, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I adopted a Joint Statement on Certain Issues of Global Governance in Modern Conditions, where we emphasised the unacceptability of violating international law or substituting it by some secretly drafted rules, of interference in other countries’ internal affairs and, overall, everything that contradicts the UN Charter. There are no threats there. The documents signed by the leaders of Russia and China always emphasise the fact that bilateral strategic interaction and multifaceted partnership are not directed against anyone, but focus exclusively on the interests of our peoples and countries. They build on a clear-cut and objective foundation of overlapping interests. We look for a balance of interests, and there are many areas where it has been achieved and is being used for the benefit of all of us.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Have you noticed any change in China’s position? It is clear that Beijing is in a very tight situation. How far is China willing to go in its confrontation with the United States? It is obvious that they are now responding harshly. Sanctions are being introduced against Beijing, so it responds with tough counter-sanctions, and not only against the United States, but also against its allies, who are also joining the sanctions. Europe has joined this confrontation. Are we prepared to synchronise our policies with China, for example, our counter-sanctions, as we did with Belarus? Do we have a common strategy to counter the increasing pressure from the so-called alliance of democracies?

Sergey Lavrov: There is a general strategy, and I just mentioned it. Along with the Statement signed during my visit to China, a comprehensive Leaders’ Statement was adopted last year. Now we are preparing the next document, which will be signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. Our strategic treaty will be renewed.

These documents spell out our line of conduct. We are not planning, and will not plan, any schemes to retaliate for what they are doing to us. I do not think that we will synchronise our responses to any new sanction acts against China and Russia.

Our level of cooperation continues to grow qualitatively.

You mentioned military alliances. There is popular speculation out there that Russia and China might conclude a military alliance. First, one of the documents signed at the highest level underscored that our relations are not a military alliance, and we are not pursuing this goal. We regard NATO as an example of a military alliance in the traditional sense, and we know that we do not need such an alliance. NATO clearly breathed a sigh of relief after the Biden administration replaced Donald Trump. Everyone was happy to again have someone to tell them what to do. Emmanuel Macron still occasionally tries to vainly mention the EU’s strategic autonomy initiative, but no one else in Europe even wants to discuss it. It’s over, the boss is here.

That kind of alliance is a Cold War alliance. I would prefer thinking in terms of the modern era where multi-polarity is growing. In this sense, our relationship with China is completely different from that of a traditional military alliance. Maybe in a certain sense, it is an even closer bond.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The “alliance of democracies” will be created. This is obvious although fewer people in Russia still believe that it’s about democracy. In its election, its attitude towards freedom of the media and opportunities to express opposing views, the US has made it very clear that it has big problems with democracy. Europe also gives examples that compel us to doubt its efforts to promote a strong democratic project. After all, it still holds a position as a player under a big boss.

Vladimir Putin had a conversation with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel via videoconference on March 30 of this year. Without Vladimir Zelensky, by the way. This is the Normandy format minus Ukraine, which resulted in a bitter response from Kiev.

They discussed a broad range of issues. Meanwhile, you have said more than once that our relations with the EU are frozen or absent altogether. Do you mean that we stay in contact or that contact is possible with individual EU members but not with the EU as a whole?

Sergey Lavrov: This is exactly the case, and this was also mentioned during the March 30 talks, and during Vladimir Putin’s conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel. We are surprised that this assessment offends the EU. This is simply an objective fact.

It took years to develop relations between Moscow and the EU. By the time the state coup in Ukraine took place these relations included: summits twice a year; annual meetings of all members of the Russian Government with all members of the European Commission; about 17 sectoral dialogues on different issues, from energy to human rights; and four common spaces based on Russia-EU summit resolutions, each of which had its own roadmap.

We were holding talks on visa-free travel. It is indicative that the EU broke them off back in 2013, long before the crisis in Ukraine. As some of our colleagues told us, when it came to a decision on signing the proposed agreement, the aggressive Russophobic minority adamantly opposed it: Russia cannot receive visa-free travel status with the EU before Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova do. This is the entire background. What the EU did after that, braking all channels of systematic dialogue was a burst of emotion. They took it out on us because the putschists insulted the West by throwing out the document signed by Yanukovich and the opposition the day before, this despite the fact that Germany, France and Poland had endorsed this document. The first actions of the new authorities were to remove the Russian language from daily life and to expel Russians from Crimea. When Russian-speakers and Russians in Ukraine opposed this and asked to be left alone, a so-called “anti-terrorist operation” was launched against them.

In effect, the EU imposed sanctions on us and broke off all communication channels because we raised our voice in defence of Russian citizens and ethnic Russians in Ukraine, Donbass and Crimea. We try to discuss issues with them when they start making claims against us. They probably understand this; I hope they are still seasoned politicians. But if they understand this but don’t want to consider it in their practical policy, it means that they are being charged with Russophobia or cannot do anything about the aggressive Russophobic minority in the EU.

Dimitri Simes: I believe when we talk about the EU, it’s important to look at what the EU is and to what extent it has changed compared to what it used to be and what it was supposed to be when it was founded. The EU was primarily designed as an organisation for economic cooperation.

No political component was even envisioned at the start. It was about the EU contributing to European economic integration. The possibility was even mentioned of Russia playing some associated role in that process. But then they said the EU should also have some common values. At first, the idea was that those common values were the cement of the EU itself. Then a new idea emerged in Warsaw that it would be nice for those European values ​​(since they are actually universal) to spread to other regions, as well as for Russia to respect them, or even to obey them. When I look at the EU’s approach to Ukraine, the conflict in Donbass and the demands to return Crimea to Kiev, it seems to me that the EU is becoming a missionary organisation. When you deal with crusaders, trying to reckon with them or appealing to their logic and conscience is probably useless. Do you not think that the EU has journeyed to a place where there are limited opportunities for partnership and great potential for confrontation? Or am I being too pessimistic?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I agree with you, absolutely. This is a missionary style – lecturing others while projecting superiority. It is important to see this tendency, as it has repeatedly brought Europe to trouble.

This is actually the case. Established as the Coal and Steel Community, then the European Economic Community – if you look at the EU now, look at their values, they are already attacking their own members like Poland and Hungary, just because these countries have somewhat different cultural and religious traditions. You said it originated in Poland. I actually forget who started this…

Dimitri Simes: I first heard it from Polish delegates at a conference.

Sergey Lavrov: Now Poland itself is facing the consequences of its ideas, only not outside the EU, but within the organisation.

When anyone tries to impose any values on Russia, ​​related, as they believe, to democracy and human rights, we have this very specific response: all universal values ​​are contained in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone signed. Any values invented now, which they try to impose on us or other countries, are not universal. They have not been agreed upon by the entire international community. Even inside the EU, look at those street protests! A couple of years ago, they had protests in France in defence of the traditional family, the concepts of “mother,” “father,” and “children.” This lies deep. Playing with traditional values ​​is dangerous.

As to the EU once inviting Russia as an associate member, we never agreed to sign an association document. Now the same is being done with regard to the Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Ukraine, and Moldova. As for Russia’s relations with the EU, which Brussels destroyed, only one thing remained – the basic document on the terms of trade and investment. It was indeed the subject of negotiation between the Brussels Commission and the Russian Federation. This is a document that remains valid. We cooperate with individual countries, but not with the EU, because those were the terms agreed upon, and their practical implementation is going through bilateral channels. The only thing the EU is doing in this respect now is imposing sanctions and banning its members from fulfilling some parts of this agreement because they want to “punish Russia.” That’s it, there are no other ties.

We are being told that we are deliberately derailing our relations (although the facts are simply outrageous), trying to shift our ties with Europe to bilateral channels, wanting to “split up” the European Union. We don’t want to split anyone up. We always say that we are interested in a strong and independent European Union. But if the EU chooses a non-independent position in the international arena, as we just discussed, this is their right. We cannot do anything about it. We have always supported its independence and unity. But in the current situation, where Brussels broke off all relations, when certain European countries reach out to us (we have not tried to lure anyone) with proposals to talk, to visit any of the sides and discuss some promising projects in bilateral relations, how can we refuse our partners? It is quite unfair (even a shame) to try to present such meetings as part of a strategy to split up the EU. They have enough problems of their own that split them up.

Dimitri Simes: This is a philosophical issue in Russia’s relations with the EU. When the EU has imposed anti-China sanctions, China made a tough response. This was an unpleasant surprise for the EU and caused indignation. Meanwhile, Brussels does not expect such a response from Russia in the firm belief that Russia has no economic levers to oppose the EU. To my knowledge, Russia has not imposed any serious sanctions on the EU.

This is an interesting situation. Russia supplies Europe with 33 percent of its gas. The figures for oil are about the same. I think during all this time Russia has proved convincingly that it won’t use energy for political leverage in Europe. Understandably, Russia has been interested in this, especially when it comes to the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It seems to me that certain people in Europe have forgotten that if Russia does not do something, it doesn’t mean that it cannot do it, or won’t be compelled to do it if the EU’s pressure on Russia crosses a line. Do you think this is possible in theory? Or does Russia completely rule out such actions?

Sergey Lavrov: You are saying (metaphorically) that they either have not read (which is most likely) or have forgotten the epic about Ilya Muromets who slept on the stove while nobody paid attention? This is not a threat. We will never use energy supplies or our oil and gas routes in Europe to this end. This is a position of principle regardless of anything else.

Dimitri Simes: Even of you are disconnected from SWIFT and everything else?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not do that. This is a position of principle for President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We will not create a situation where we force EU citizens “freeze.” We will never do this. We have nothing in common with Kiev that shut down water supplies to Crimea and takes delight in it. This is a disgraceful position in the world arena. Frequently accusing us of using energy as an instrument of influence, as a weapon, the West keeps silence on what Kiev is doing with water supplies to Crimea. I believe the provision of basic needs on which the daily life of common citizens depends, should never be an object of sanctions.

Dimitri Simes: In this case, what do you mean by referring to “the phenomenon” of Ilya Muromets?

Sergey Lavrov: It is possible to respond in different ways. We have always warned that we will be ready to respond. We will respond to any malicious actions against us but not necessarily in a symmetric manner. By the way, speaking about the impact of the sanctions on civilians, look what is taking place in Syria under the Caesar Act. My colleagues in Europe and, incidentally, in the region, whisper that they are horrified by the way this act has eliminated any opportunity to do business with Syria. The goal is clear – to stifle the Syrians to make them revolt and overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

Now a few words about our and China’s responses to the European sanctions. After all, China also avoided suspending economic activity. It simply imposed sanctions on a number of individuals and companies that held certain anti-China positions. We are doing basically the same.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As we know, Ilya Muromets did not shut down oil and gas supplies. He used other methods that were often symmetrical. I think we also have a solid set of instruments.

Don’t we exaggerate the importance of the EU in the modern world? It has an identity and there are European values. I know this since I have dealt with European MPs and experts for many years.

However, I have the impression that there are two main values: the first one is the euro and the second is LGBT and 60 more letters that describe this notion linked with sexual identity, their presence, absence, or mix.

The EU is undergoing a crisis – Brexit. Britain has left the EU. The economic crisis is very bad. Probably, in Europe it is worse than elsewhere. The economy has dropped by up to 10 percent in many countries. The vaccine-related crisis has shown that Europe cannot counter the virus and adopt a common policy. These problems are emerging at all levels. It cannot draft a common economic policy, migration rules, and so on. Maybe, we are really paying too much attention to Europe? Maybe we can act without looking back at this “falling” structure?

Sergey Lavrov: But where are we paying too much attention to Europe? We have a very simple position that President of Russia Vladimir Putin has set forth many times: we do not feel hurt. As we know, hurt people get the short end of the stick, or as we say in Russia, hurt people are made to carry water, something we are short of in Crimea. We will always be willing to revive our relations, practically to raise them from the ashes, but to do this we must know what the EU is interested in. We will not knock on a locked door. They are well aware of our proposals, just as the Americans know our proposals on strategic stability, cyber security and many other things. We have said to all of them: “Our friends and colleagues, we are ready for this. We understand that you will have some reciprocal ideas but we have not yet heard them. As soon as you are ready, let’s sit down and discuss them, seeking a balance of interests.” Meanwhile, now we are being accused of neglecting policy on the EU, so I don’t think we are courting this alliance or exaggerating its importance. It determines its place in the world itself. We have already talked about this today.

As for European values, we have many ongoing debates. Some people need European price tags more than European values. They want to travel there for shopping, recreation, buy some property and return home. As I said, our common values lie in our history, the mutual influence of our cultures, literature, art and music. They are great.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As for modern European culture and art, have they really…

Sergey Lavrov: I am referring to our historical roots.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Because I think today’s Europe is pretty empty in terms of culture.

Sergey Lavrov: There are some funny songs; we can listen to them in the car sometimes.

Dimitri Simes: Speaking of relations with the United States, I would like to ask you a personal question because you lived and worked there for a long time when you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Of course, you have also been dealing with the US as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. I lived in the US for almost 50 years.

Sergey Lavrov: Why past tense?

Dimitri Simes: I am now in Moscow. When I look at the United States today, I have the impression that it is undergoing a cultural revolution. I think that if many people in the Joseph Biden administration or the Democrats in Congress are told this, they would not feel offended in any way. They will say that a cultural revolution is long overdue, that it is finally necessary to eradicate racism, give equal and not-so-equal prevailing opportunities to sexual orientation minorities because they were also discriminated against and to develop a true democracy that requires that all those who want to vote can vote. In practice, this means that millions of people will have an opportunity to vote without necessarily being US citizens at all. This is why the Democrats emphatically oppose a ban on voting on Sundays. As you know, there was never any voting in the US on Sundays. Sunday is called God’s day. The Democrats wanted Sunday elections so that buses could go to Afro-American churches and take people to the polling stations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Why take them by bus? They can vote by mail.

Dimitri Simes: Both options are available.

Sergey Lavrov: Why not put a ballot box right in a church?

Dimitri Simes: Exactly. Do you believe the United States is, in many respects, evolving into a different country and that this is not necessarily an irreversible process, though a momentous one? Also, would you agree that this process is not a purely American internal matter because it goes hand in hand with the emergence of a new revolutionary ideology that requires that American values spread around the world and that these American models should not be resisted as they are now in Russia and China? Can this lead to an existential conflict?

Sergey Lavrov: We will talk about this but, first, let me finish what I was saying about European culture. Here is, in my view, a telling illustration of the state of European culture today. If we talk about revolutions, including a cultural revolution, the Eurovision  contest speaks volumes.  What they are doing now to the Belarusians is repulsive. This is sheer censorship that goes like this: since we – nobody knows who exactly, some anonymous individuals – fancy that we heard some innuendoes in your song, we will not allow you to take part in the contest unless you have another song. But then the same fate befalls another Belarusian song. What does this have in common with art, culture or democracy?

As for a cultural revolution in the United States, I do feel that processes which deserve to be described like this are unfolding there. Everyone probably wants to eradicate racism and, as for us, we have never had any doubt regarding this. We were trailblazers behind the movement to secure equal rights for all people, regardless of the colour of their skin. However, we should beware that we do not slip into another extreme, the one we have observed during the Black Lives Matter events, and into aggression against white people, white US citizens.

The other day we marked an international day designated to increase awareness of this issue and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking at a General Assembly meeting, said that the previous year had been a year of the most serious and numerous manifestations of white supremacy. I have asked to be given the full text of his speech, as I want to understand what specifically he had in mind. If this is about having a sense of a trend you talked about and the willingness to follow this trend, it is lamentable. This is still the United Nations Organisation and not a venue for promoting US concepts, some US trends.

As for why they need this, yes, they want to spread this to the rest of the world. They have a huge potential to achieve this goal. Hollywood has also started to change its rules, so that everything reflects the diversity of contemporary society, which is also a form of censorship, art control and the way of imposing some artificial restrictions and requirements on others. I have seen black actors perform in Shakespeare’s comedies. The only thing I do not know is when a white actor will play Othello. You see, this is nothing less than absurdity. Political correctness reduced to absurdity will lead to no good.

The other tool is social networks and internet platforms, as well as servers located in the United States. The US flatly refuses to discuss ways of either making internet governance more democratic or establishing common rules regulating social networks for the sake of avoiding the recurrence of the situation with TikTok and other social networks we encountered during the recent events in Russia, including the spread of abominable information, like personal abuse, pedophilia and many other things. We have already approached TikTok and other social networks about the need to establish elementary rules of respect and propriety but the Americans are unwilling to make these types of rules universal.

In Anchorage, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken lectured the Chinese on human rights, ethnic minorities and democracy in China. Indeed, Mr Blinken said they [in the US] also had to address certain issues in this field but they would do it on their own. During talks with the Americans – the same goes for the Europeans – as soon as you start offering to discuss ways of democratising international relations or the supremacy of law on an international scale, they invariably get away from the subject. They want to replace international law with their own rules, which have nothing in common with the supremacy of law globally, on a universal scale. I already talked about large-scale rallies in France in defence of traditional family values. It appears that to secure the rights of one group of people, the rights of another group have to be infringed upon. That is, promoting these values around the world is not an end in itself, but rather a tool for ensuring their dominance.

Dimitri Simes: Richard Nixon once told Nikita Khrushchev that there would be no true harmony or true partnership between the Soviet Union and America unless the Soviet Union stops spreading its ideology. And that was a big problem in the Brezhnev era, I must say, because they discussed a détente while at the same time supporting a continued international class struggle. As I see it, Leonid Brezhnev was doing it without much conviction. But now, things have turned the other way around. Now the collective West is eager to proliferate its ideology and values. And they seem to be doing so with far greater conviction and perseverance than the Soviet Union under Leonid Brezhnev ever tried. Does this pose a risk of collision?

Sergey Lavrov: Under Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet Union saw no threat to its existence. One can argue whether that stance was far-sighted enough, but that is how it was. Today’s West senses a threat to its dominance. It is a fact. So all those wiggling moves, including the invention of some ‘rules’ – as in the rules-based international order, something the West has come up with to replace the UN Charter – they reflect precisely this tendency.

I agree that we have swapped positions, or rather the Soviet Union and the modern West have. I don’t think this will offend anyone since this is not a big secret. I spoke with Rex Tillerson when he was US Secretary of State. He is a thoughtful and experienced politician and diplomat. It was good to work with him. We disagreed on most things, but we always wanted to continue the dialogue to bring our positions just a little bit closer at least. When he first told me they were concerned about Russia’s interference in some elections, I said they had not proved anything to us yet, and all we heard was accusations. When they began to accuse us of interfering in their elections, we repeatedly proposed using the special channel we had for exchanging information about threats to information networks and organisations. They refused. We had repeatedly offered dialogue even before that, when Barack Obama was president, from October 2016 until Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. They always refused.

I pointed out to Tillerson that they had in fact directly stipulated in legislation that the US State Department should spend $20 million a year to support Russian civil society and promote democracy. That was not even a suspicion on our part as they did it openly (for example, the Ukraine Support Act). There was nothing to prove – they just announced that they would interfere. He told me that was totally different. I asked him why, and he said because we promoted authoritarianism, and they spread democracy. That was it.

Dimitri Simes: And he said it with sincere conviction, didn’t he?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, naturally, this policy leads to a drastic polarisation. The polarisation of international relations is a dangerous thing. We remember the early 19th century, and the early 20th century. It always ended in wars. The Americans, losing their global dominance, will create (they have already announced this) a new ‘alliance of democracies.’ I mean create American and pro-American alliances, compelling everyone else to make their choice. This polarisation will increase. What will this mean for the world and for the alliances where Russia is a member? I mean BRICS (which I think they will try to split up), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). How far can this go? How dangerous is it?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a deliberate policy and an extension of the agenda we are talking about – about the United States promoting democracy and spreading benefit. The Americans and Europe are very active (but the Americans are especially active) in Central Asia. They are trying to create their own formats such as C5+1. Russia is also part of a 5+1 format in Central Asia, in addition to the SCO, CIS, EAEU and CSTO – one that involves the foreign ministers of five Central Asian countries and your humble servant. That format is useful. True, the volume of economic ties that the US and the EU are now building with Central Asia is still incomparable with our economic interpenetration, but they are pursuing an unambiguous goal to weaken our ties with our allies and strategic partners in every possible way.

The numerous initiatives around the Afghan reconciliation and around the Indo-Pacific region envision Central Asia’s reorientation from its current vector to the South – to help rebuild Afghanistan and at the same time weaken its ties with the Russian Federation.

I could talk for a long time about the Indo-Pacific region and the Indo-Pacific concept. That multi-layered initiative is aimed at hindering China’s Belt and Road Initiative and limiting the Chinese influence in the region, creating constant irritants for that country. There have been some slips about creating an ‘Asian NATO.’ Although in the US interpretation the Indo-Pacific region is described as ‘free and open,’ the chances that positions will be worked out through an equal or open process there are slim. It is already obvious that it isn’t ‘open’. China has not been invited; rather, that country is declared a target for containment. We have not been invited either, which means the attitude to Russia is similar. I would say those are long-term trends. We are talking about this frankly with our neighbours and closest allies. I am confident that they understand all these threats. None of them even considers the possibility of anyone telling them who to talk or not talk to. It is their sovereign right to choose their partners.

The term ‘multi-vector’ has become semi-abusive, but we are not giving up the multi-vector approach. We are open to cooperation and friendship with everyone who is ready for relations based on equality, mutual respect, compromise and balance of interests. That our Western colleagues are clearly abusing this approach, especially in post-Soviet countries, is an obvious fact.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Is it possible to avoid the actual military scenario in these circumstances? Isn’t it time to create an alliance of free countries given the role reversal that has taken place in the modern world? An alliance, perhaps, of genuine democracies that will oppose the ongoing all-out attack?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not get involved in this kind of political engineering. Russia is committed to the United Nations. When France and Germany put forward the effective multilateralism concept, we asked them what it meant. There was silence followed by joint articles written by the foreign ministers of France and Germany stating that the European Union is an example of effective multilateralism, and everyone needs to adapt to the European processes. Our question why the readily available and universal UN multilateral platform is not a good option remained unanswered. However, the answer is there, and we mentioned it more than once today. They are making up the rules that the international order is supposed to be based on.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, we have taken up much of your time and we appreciate it. But we cannot let you go without asking you one more personal question. What is it like to be Russia’s Foreign Minister in this rapidly changing world?

You have worked in several completely different eras. When you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, it was a period of Russia’s “romantic infatuation” with the United States, though perhaps not quite on the terms that were beneficial for Russia. In the early 21st century, Russia was in search of partnerships. Well, then we got what we are witnessing now. How do you, a person who, in many ways, is the architect of this era, a witness and a participant of this process, find your work in this very complex role?

Sergey Lavrov: To put it short, I never get bored. That is if we are talking about the different eras in my career. We all lived in these eras, and we have seen these transitions. You asked me earlier whether the United States has changed. It has. A lot.

Dimitri Simes: Have you changed?

Sergey Lavrov: Probably. It’s not for me to say. A person perceives the environment as a constantly evolving process. People grow up, get smarter or dumber, but they have no way of seeing it.

Dimitri Simes: Do you think we have all become disappointed in many ways, but we have grown, too, as a result of these experiences, and, of course, in the first place, a person holding such positions as yours?

Sergey Lavrov: This is true, of course. How can this not influence the formation of a person? The personality never stops to evolve. It is something that lasts until the end of our lives. Those revolutionary developments had a strong influence on me. I believe the 9/11 attacks were the turning point in the American life. I was in Manhattan, in New York, at the time, and I felt that odour. I was having a hard time trying to make a phone call, because the phones went dead. Since then, New York has become a different city. This free city, living its own life around the clock and enjoying it, became wary and started looking over its shoulder to see if there was someone around who could hurt it.

This suspicion then spread deeply into American society. There were probably serious reasons for that. I have to commend the US intelligence services, because since then, apart from the Boston Marathon, which we had warned them about, there have been no other terrorist attacks. However, wariness and aloofness can still be felt. Perhaps, there are people who want to take advantage of this in order to do things that you just mentioned. If 11 million Americans become eligible to vote, welcome to the one-party system, Back in the USSR.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, thank you very much for the interview. Now that we are within the historic walls of the Foreign Ministry’s Mansion on Spiridonovka, a place where history and great diplomacy were made, including the diplomacy of the great powers, I would like to wish us all the return of diplomacy. If it comes back, as President Vladimir Putin is conveying to President Joe Biden, in the form of a live-stream dialogue, then The Great Game will be at your service and at the service of the two presidents.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you. President Biden has already said that diplomacy has returned to US foreign policy. Your dream has come true.

source: https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4662534

Iran-China: the 21st century Silk Road connection

Newly announced China-Iran strategic partnership deal shatters US sanctions while paving the Belt and Road from East to West

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi sign a historic partnership agreement between the two sides in Tehran on March 27, 2021. (Photo by Tasnim)
Iran-China: the 21st century Silk Road connection

March 29, 2021

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

The timing could not have been more spectacular, following what we examined in three previous columns: the virtual Quad and the 2+2 US-China summit in Alaska; the Lavrov-Wang Yi strategic partnership meeting in Guilin; and the NATO summit of Foreign Ministers in Brussels – key steps unveiling the birth of a new paradigm in international relations.

The officially named Sino-Iranian Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was first announced over five years ago, when President Xi Jinping visited Tehran. The result of plenty of closed-door discussions since 2016, Tehran now describes the agreement as “a complete roadmap with strategic political and economic clauses covering trade, economic and transportation cooperation.”

Once again, this is “win-win” in action: Iran, in close partnership with Chibrlna, shatters the glass of US sanctions and turbo-charges domestic investment in infrastructure, while China secures long-term, key energy imports that it treats as a matter of national security.

If a loser would have to be identified in the process, it’s certainly the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” drive against all things Iran.

As Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran described it to me, “It’s basically a road map. It’s especially important coming at a time when US hostility towards China altogether is increasing. The fact that this trip to Iran [by Foreign Minister Wang Yi] and the signing of the agreement took place literally days after the events in Alaska makes it even more significant, symbolically speaking.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh confirmed the deal was indeed a “roadmap” for trade, economic and transportation cooperation, with a “special focus on the private sectors of the two sides.”

Marandi also notes how this is a “comprehensive understanding of what can happen between Iran and China – Iran being rich in oil and gas and the only energy-producing country that can say ‘No’ to the Americans and can take an independent stance on its partnerships with others, especially China.”

China is Iran’s largest oil importer. And crucially, bill settlements bypass the US dollar.

Marandi hits the heart of the matter when he confirms how the strategic deal actually secures, for good, Iran’s very important role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI):

The Chinese are getting more wary about sea trade. Even the incident in the Suez Canal reinforces that, it increases Iran’s importance to China. Iran would like to use the same Belt and Road network the Chinese want to develop. For Iran, China’s economic progress is quite important, especially in high-tech fields and AI, which is something the Iranians are pursuing as well and leading the region, by far. When it comes to data technology, Iran is third in the world. This is a very appropriate time for West Asia and East Asia to move closer to one another – and since the Iranians have great influence among its allies in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Hindu Kush, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf, Iran is the ideal partner for China.

In a nutshell, from Beijing’s point of view, the astonishing Evergreen saga in the Suez Canal now more than ever reiterates the crucial importance of the overland, trade/connectivity BRI corridors across Eurasia.

JCPOA? What JCPOA?

It’s fascinating to watch how Wang Yi, as he met Ali Larijani, special adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei, framed it all in a single sentence:

“Iran decides independently on its relations with other countries and is not like some countries that change their position with one phone call.”

It’s never enough to stress the sealing of the partnership was the culmination of a five-year-long process, including frequent diplomatic and presidential trips, which started even before the Trump “maximum pressure” interregnum.

Wang Yi, who has a very close relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, once again stressed, “relations between the two countries have now reached the level of strategic partnership” and “will not be affected by the current situation, but will be permanent”.

Zarif for his part stressed that Washington should get serious about its return to the Iran nuclear deal; lift all unilateral sanctions; and be back to the JCPOA as it was clinched in Vienna in 2015. In realpolitik terms, Zarif knows that’s not going to happen – considering the prevailing mood in the Beltway. So he was left to praise China as a “reliable partner” on the dossier – as much as Russia.

Beijing is articulating a quite subtle charm offensive in Southwest Asia. Before going to Tehran, Wang Yi went to Saudi Arabia and met with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The official spin is that China, as a “pragmatic partner”, supports Riyadh’s steps to diversify its economy and “find a path of development that fits its own conditions”.

What Wang Yi meant is that something called the China-Saudi Arabia High-Level Joint Committee should be working overtime. Yet there have been no leaks on the absolutely crucial issue: the role of oil in the Beijing-Riyadh relationship, and the fateful day when China will decide to buy Saudi oil priced exclusively in yuan.

On the (Silk) road again

It’s absolutely essential to place the importance of the Iran-China deal in a historical context.

The deal goes a long way to renew the spirit of Eurasia as a geo-historic entity, or as crack French geopolitician Christian Grataloup frames it, “a system of inter-relations from one Eurasian end to another” taking place across the hard node of world history.

Via the BRI concept, China is reconnecting with the vast intermediary region between Asia and Europe through which relations between continents were woven by more or less durable empires with diverse Eurasian dimensions: the Persians, the Greco-Romans, and the Arabs.

Persians, crucially, were the first to develop a creative role in Eurasia.

Northern Iranians, during the first millennium B.C., experts on horseback nomadism, were the prime power in the steppe core of Central Eurasia.

Historically, it’s well established that the Scythians constituted the first pastoral nomadic nation. They took over the Western steppe – as a major power – while other steppe Iranians moved East as far away as China. Scythians were not only fabulous warriors – as the myth goes, but most of all very savvy traders connecting Greece, Persia and the east of Asia: something described, among others, by Herodotus.

So an ultra-dynamic, overland international trade network across Central Eurasia developed as a direct consequence of the drive, among others, by Scythians, Sogdians and the Hsiung-Nu (who were always harassing the Chinese in their northern frontier). Different powers across Central Eurasia, in different epochs, always traded with everyone on their borders – wherever they were, from Europe to East Asia.

Essentially Iranian domination of Central Eurasia may have started as early as 1,600 B.C. – when Indo-Europeans showed up in upper Mesopotamia and the Aegean Sea in Greece while others journeyed as far as India and China.

It’s fully established, among others by an unimpeachable scholarly source, Nicola di Cosmo, in his Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History (Cambridge University Press): pastoral nomadic lifestyle on horseback was developed by Iranians of the steppe early in the first millennium B.C.

Jump cut to the end of the first century B.C., when Rome was starting to collect its precious silk from East Asia via multiple intermediaries, in what is described by historians as the first Silk Road.

A fascinating story features a Macedonian, Maes Titianos, who lived in Antioch in Roman Syria, and organized a caravan for his agents to reach beyond Central Asia, all the way to Seres (China) and its imperial capital Chang’an. The trip lasted over a year and was the precursor to Marco Polo’s travels in the 13th century. Marco Polo actually followed roads and tracks that were very well known for centuries, plied by numerous caravans of Eurasian merchants.

Up to the caravan organized by Titianos, Bactria – in today’s Afghanistan– was the limes of the known world for imperial Rome, and the revolving door, in connectivity terms, between China, India and Persia under the Parthians.

And to illustrate the “people to people contacts” very dear to the concept of 21st century BRI, after the 3rd century Manicheism – persecuted by the Roman empire – fully developed in Persia along the Silk Road thanks to Sogdian merchants. From the 8th to the 9th century it even became the official religion among the Uighurs and even reached China. Marco Polo met Manicheans in the Yuan court in the 13th century.

Ruling the Heartland

The Silk Roads were a fabulous vortex of peoples, religions and cultures – something attested by the exceptional collection of Manichean, Zoroastrian, Buddhist and Christian manuscripts, written in Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit, Syriac, Sogdian, Persian and Uighur, discovered in the beginning of the 20th century in the Buddhist grottoes of Dunhuang by European orientalists Aurel Stein and Paul Pelliot, following the steps of Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang. In the Chinese unconscious, this is still very much alive.

By now it’s firmly established that the Silk Roads may have started to slowly disappear from history with the Western maritime push to the East since the late 15th century. But the death blow came in the late 17th century, when the Russians and the Manchu in China divided Central Asia. The Qing dynasty destroyed the last nomadic pastoral empire, the Junghars, while the Russians colonized most of Central Eurasia. The Silk Road economy – actually the trade-based economy of the Eurasian heartland – collapsed.

Now, the vastly ambitious Chinese BRI project is inverting the expansion and construction of a Eurasian space to East to West. Since the 15th century – with the end of the Mongol Empire of the Steppes – the process was always from West to East, and maritime, driven by Western colonialism.

The China-Iran partnership may have the capacity to become the emblem of a global phenomenon as far-reaching as the Western colonial enterprises from the 15th to the 20th centuries. Geoeconomically, China is consolidating a first step to solidify its role as builder and renovator of infrastructure. The next step is to build its role in management.

Mackinder, Mahan, Spykman – the whole conceptual “rule the waves” apparatus is being surpassed. China may have been an – exhausted – Rimland power up to the mid-20th century. Now it’s clearly positioned as a Heartland power. Side by side with “strategic partner” Russia. And side by side with another “strategic partner” that happened to be the first historical Eurasian power: Iran.

“The one Who Accuses is the One Who Is” – President Putin’s Response to Biden’s Calling him a “Killer”

“The one Who Accuses is the One Who Is” – President Putin’s Response to Biden’s Calling him a “Killer”

March 24, 2021

By Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

On March 16, 2021, ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos held an exclusive interview with President Joe Biden. In the context of the United States’ chief intelligence office releasing an unclassified report on foreign meddling in the 2020 US election, concluding that Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw sweeping efforts aimed at “denigrating” President Joe Biden’s candidacy, Biden told Stephanopoulos that he had warned Putin about a potential response during a call in late January.

This is verbatim the ABC News Report of March 17, 2021:

“He will pay a price,” Biden said. “We had a long talk, he and I, when we — I know him relatively well. And the conversation started off, I said, “I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.”

Stephanopoulos then asked: “So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer?”
“Mmm hmm, I do,” Biden replied
.

Stephanopoulos: “So, what price is he going to pay?”
Biden: “The price he is going to pay, well, you’ll see shortly.”

Stephanopoulos also asked Biden, when you met him (Putin, in the past), you told him that he didn’t have a soul… and Biden retorted: yes, I told him. And Putin responded, “we understand each other.”

When President Putin spoke later to the media in Moscow, answering a question about his reaction to Biden’s accusing him to be a “killer”, Putin just said, “I wish him good health, and I mean it without irony.”

Speaking on television, reflecting philosophically, Putin said, “I remember when we were young, playing in the playground and accusing each other of little things, we always see ourself in the mirror and project our own image of ourselves on to the other, like “the one who accuses is the one who did it”.

President Putin last Thursday (18 March) challenged Biden to talk, I invite President Biden to talk on Friday or on Monday publicly online live… to which Biden did not respond. Presumably Given Biden’s often confused mind, to put it benignly, he was advised to abstain from such a conversation with President Putin.

The tension between the US and Russia has hardly been stronger and the diplomatic relation between the two countries is at its lowest in the past decades. President Putin recalled immediately the Russian Ambassador from Washington for “consultation” – a euphemism for declaring a serious rupture in the relationship of the two countries.

Later in a small media gathering in Moscow, Mr. Putin said he would deal with America on his terms. He also philosophized about Biden’s thoughtless slandering, when he talked to ABC’s anchor Stephanopoulos. He referred to children accusing one another, the going saying is, “the one who accuses is the one who is”. This is equally valid for adults.

When later asked at a Press Conference whether Biden regretted having suggested Putin was a “killer”, the White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, replied, “No. The President gave a straight answer to a straight question.” – That reflects all too well the intellectual and diplomatic level of US Presidents and their entourage. Though Biden may be a special case of being a blind-folded bully, previous US Presidents’ track record is not much better.
——

President Putin is one of the world’s most brilliant Statesman. The other one is China’s President Xi Jinping. Together, their alliance, their vision and diplomacy, their conflict avoidance – and constant search for peaceful solutions to world disorders – have kept our planet out of a nuclear Armageddon for the last couple of decades. That’s quite an achievement, given the warmongers in Washington and by extension in Europe – and given the over two-dozen NATO bases in Europe, inching ever closer to the gates of Moscow and surrounding China – all the way through the South China Sea.

Obama once promised he would station more than half of the US Navy fleet in the South China Sea, making sure China was surrounded from everywhere. He made true on his promise. Its Obama’s infamous “Pivot to Asia”. And so, he did with Russia. That included and still includes deadly economic sanctions on countries that once-upon-a-time counted with Washington – and Europe – as partners.

How many people were killed by these sanctions in North Korea, Russia, China? How many were – and still are – being killed by the totally illegal sanctions – illegal by any standards of international law – in Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Libya, Iran, Pakistan, DPRK (North Korea) – and by extension through Israel in Palestine – and many more nations of our planet? – Let alone the “eternal war on terror” – an invention to keep killing people for the good of the United States, for their control over humanity – and not least for the enormous profit bonanza of the US military industrial complex.

Shall we mention the mass killing caused by President Clinton’s initiated NATO intervention in former Yugoslavia; or the six still ongoing wars, initiated by President father Bush with the first Gulf war in 1991, then officially expanded by son Bush in 2001 and 2003 with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, then further expanded by four more wars in the Middle East – Libya, Syria, Sudan and Yemen – under the Obama Administration. And how about the explicitly Obama-approved massive extra-judiciary drone killings around the world, with focus on the Middle East?

Aren’t we talking about tens and tens of thousands of deaths, assassinated people, a genocide by US presidents with the complicity of so-called European leaders (sic)?

Did President Putin and President Xi ever call them “killers” or murderers? – They could have, but they didn’t. However, that is what President Putin meant when he referred to Biden’s call him a “killer” – “It takes one to know one”, or rather “the one who accuses is the one who is”. The emperor and the emperor’s servants are a cabal of “killers” – a better fitting term is mass murderers.
——

Now President Biden, then VP to Obama was an intimate part of it, of clamping down on Russia and China. Biden was also part of the intensification of the Iraq war, as well as of the destruction of Libya and the brutal murder of President Qadhafi. Though Hillary’s initiative (then Obama’s Secretary of State), Biden fully supported her.

So, President Putin’s wise response was remarkable. See here https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-usa-reaction-idUSKBN2BA0S1?fbclid=IwAR2RWXH1UPWt3KhWjffR_TPbwugWlklMjf3k6UYhxdDX37NMS4b2FjS51NY “The one who accuses is the one who is” – he said, referring to a psychic wisdom that one looks in the mirror when accusing others of a crime or a sin. In other words, Biden projects his own character onto Putin. Mr. Putin, politely and diplomatically said, they were different, had different cultures and different values. He also wished President Biden good health – genuinely good health, no irony, he stressed.

Before closing on such a conciliatory note, Putin referred to some American atrocities, dating back to the very beginning of American history which started with the indiscriminate slaughter of tens of thousands of indigenous Americans, for which American Presidents were responsible.

Also mentioned should be the brutal killings in Iraq, with special focus on the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, as well as Afghanistan’s Bagram Airbase detention center and lately the infamous Pul-e-Charkhi Prison, also known as the Afghan National Detention facility, outside of Kabul – and renovated by the US Corps of Engineers to accommodate war prisoners taken by US / NATO forces. And not least, nor last, the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba.

These are just a few of the hundreds of detention camps around the world, where thousands of prisoners were tortured and executed under orders and supervision of the US / NATO. Since WWII an estimated 20 to 30 million people were killed due to direct or indirect US intervention around the world. War crimes abound.

Yet, Mr. Putin didn’t call any of the US Presidents a “killer”. But it is crystal clear what he meant, when he said, “The one who accuses is the one who is”.


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

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

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following talks with Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Guilin, March 23, 2021

March 23, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following talks with Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Guilin, March 23, 2021

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be in this wonderful place, enjoying the unique nature of this province. We really do admire these landscapes, but I can assure you that this has not prevented us from holding extremely business-like and practical talks. They were held in a traditionally friendly and trust-based manner.

We pointed out once again that Russia and China continue their close and fruitful cooperation in virtually all spheres on the international stage despite the coronavirus pandemic, in all the spheres which have been identified as our priorities during contacts between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping.

We will continue to strengthen our relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction. We have had a useful discussion on ways to boost our practical cooperation in the conditions created by the current epidemiological restrictions.

We highlighted the preparations being made for Russian-Chinese contacts at the high and highest levels. We have submitted to our partners a draft joint statement of our heads of state on the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

We discussed our positions on the main international topics and found them similar. Moscow and Beijing stand for developing interstate relations on the principles of mutual respect and a balance of each other’s interests, justice and non-interference in others’ internal affairs. We reject zero sum political games and the illegal unilateral sanctions, which our Western colleagues have been using increasingly more often.

We share the opinion that Russian-Chinese foreign policy interaction remains a vital factor in global affairs. We pointed out the destructive character of US aspiration to undermine the UN-centric international legal framework by using the military-political alliances of the Cold War period and creating similar closed alliances. We noted the growing importance of the joint activities of Russia, China and a wide range of other countries to preserve the current system of international law in the context of the increasing Western attempts to promote its concept of a rules-based international order.

We expressed our appreciation for the high level of coordination at various multilateral platforms, including the UN, the G20, the SCO, BRICS, RIC, APEC, as well as EAS and other ASEAN-based regional cooperation bodies. We spoke about the preparations for the summit of the UN Security Council permanent members, which has been proposed by President Putin and supported by President Xi Jinping.

As Minister Wang Yi said, we have signed a joint statement, which reflects the views of Russia and China on vital issues such as democracy, human rights, international law and the necessity to find collective approaches to solving global problems.

We signed an annual plan for consultations between our foreign ministries. It stipulates numerous contacts this year at the level of deputy foreign ministers and the heads of relevant departments designed to hold practical discussions on a wide range of global and regional matters.

Speaking on behalf of our delegation, I would like to once again express our deep gratitude to our Chinese friends for their hospitality and for substantive joint work.

Question: How does Russia plan on moving away from using international payment systems controlled by the West? Are there any specific agreements with China to create a common system as opposed to the Western ones? What can it be based on? Russia’s Mir card or China’s UnionPay system?

Sergey Lavrov: This work has been underway for quite a long time now in different areas. We have our own financial messaging system. The respective financial departments of Russia and China plan to expand its use.

For many years now we have been trying to transfer trade to settlements in national currencies. There’s a corresponding mechanism which is quite effective. We are switching to the national currency in our trade with other major partners.

This is the imperative of our time. The people behind the global monetary system suddenly decided they were unhappy with the way other countries, in particular China, are using this system. China is beating the West at its own game. Hence, the reaction of the United States. Wang Yi covered this in detail. You cannot do global business by means of ultimatums and sanctions, or force other countries to behave as expected of them. We have a proverb: You can’t force your love on another person. Unfortunately, the United States has not learned this and is acting from the opposite position.

I’m convinced that Russia and China will do their best to ensure their safety and protection against the threats coming from the states that are unfriendly towards our respective countries. This also applies to ways of conducting trade, mutual settlements and everything else that makes us stronger.

Question (translated from Chinese and addressed to Wang Yi): Chinese and Russian vaccines are being delivered to dozens of countries all around the world. There are unfounded speculations that China is promoting “vaccine diplomacy” and Russia is trying to increase its influence. What can you say about this?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Wang Yi): I fully support what Wang Yi said. From the outset of the pandemic, Russia and China have been showing an example of openness, cooperation and mutual assistance. This interaction continues to this day, including in the sphere of vaccine production and distribution. Our respective institutions remain in contact on these matters.

On March 22, President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting on vaccine production and distribution. He clearly spoke in favour of everyone being guided solely by considerations of humanity and the interest of saving lives rather than geopolitical or commercial approaches to overcoming competition. Everyone, including our partners in the West who are trying to portray Russia and China as vaccine diplomacy scammers, must keep this in mind. This is not true.

Question: China and Russia are under sanctions pressure from the United States and the EU. Do our countries plan to share their experience of confronting this pressure? How justified is the opinion that both countries’ tense relations with the Western powers make them move ever closer to one another?

Sergey Lavrov: We have covered Russia and China’s reaction to sanctions and the illegitimate unilateral restrictions already today. We share the understanding that these methods are unacceptable in international life. We have more than once stated our position on this score, including in the Joint Statement. I’m convinced that this approach will be reiterated in a clear and unambiguous manner in the document on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between Russia and China that our leaders will approve.

In addition to our principled approaches that are set forth in public documents, we closely cooperate with many countries at the UN in order to counter these practices. As you are aware, the UN has a Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures. This is already a fairly serious practical move to clarify the unacceptability of this policy. The United States, Europe and the West in general are, in fact, replacing diplomacy, the art which they are losing, with the steps seeking to impose their own rules on everyone else. In their opinion, these rules rather than international law must underlie the international order. Sanctions are among these rules.

Russia and China do not ally against anyone. Geographically, our country is located on the vast Eurasian continent. China is our good neighbour, as is the EU. We have always been interested in promoting our relations across all areas. Europe has severed these relations and destroyed the mechanisms that have been created over many years. There are only a few European partner countries that have a desire to act based on their national interests.

Objectively, this led to cooperation between Russia and China developing faster than what is left of relations with the European countries. Importantly, there are no relations with the EU as an organisation. The infrastructure was destroyed by unilateral decisions made by Brussels. If and when the Europeans decide to eliminate this anomaly in contacts with their largest neighbour, we will be ready to build up relations between us on the basis of equality and a search for a balance of interests. But so far, all has been quiet on the Western front, whereas the East offers a very intense agenda, which is getting more varied every single year.


Further press conferences by Mr.Lavrov during this auspicious visit to China.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi, Guilin, March 23, 2021 – https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4647593

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Chinese media, Moscow, March 22, 2021-https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4646592

Complete press conference:  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi take part in a joint press conference after holding bilateral talks in Guilin, China on Tuesday, March 23.

22.25

Sitrep: Eradicating absolute poverty in China

Sitrep: Eradicating absolute poverty in China

March 03, 2021

By Godfree Roberts – selected from his extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China plus editorial notes.

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


The Biggest News

Xi declares ‘complete victory’ in eradicating absolute poverty in China

The final 99 million poor rural Chinese are free of poverty, along with 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 villages. China met the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development  goal 10 years ahead of schedule.

(Ed…)  Xi Jingping took much credit for this and some internal commentators are already calling him a glory hog.  It was the complete Chinese nation that was involved and they say he should leave some of the joy to the rest of the Chinese society who all worked hard at this.

Read full article →

Of course, the empire cannot accept this as a truimph.  According to the Indian commentator, Maitreya Bhakal, empire is in the five stages of grief.

Western media’s five stages of grief at China’s poverty eradication success

Read full article →  


Editorial comment 1:  At the Saker Blog, we’ve noticed and have been discussing in various articles, Russia’s new hard line diplomacy vis a vis Europe, as well as the US.  We see the same trajectory from China, yet it is different.  Here are two examples of the discernable new language from China.  This seems to be a language that is changing on a basis of reciprocity.  If China is accused of human rights violations, they reciprocate exactly.  In example one, they are writing a report on US human rights violations.  In example two, they tweet examples of human rights violations.

Example 1 : China’s upcoming report on US human rights violations shows 2020 ‘a declining point’ of American democracy

Read full article →  

Example 2 –

Editorial comment 2 – The Taiwanese Pineapple Fight.

On this issue, we see an iron fist from China, very directly aimed at the western influenced Taiwanese agitators.  Taiwan grows pineapples, very many pineapples, tons of them.  And they of course sell them to China.  China quarantined Taiwanese pineapple imports into mainland China and gently told them to eat their own pineapples.  This is equal to what they did with Australian wines and now the South African winemakers have taken over this market niche.

These are small steps and in two tiny market segments, but it does look like the time that anyone could dismiss and insult China, may be brought to an end.

This is a early trend that we should take notice of, where countries and parties are going to have to take real responsibility for their very own words and actions.  Very similar to Russia’s latest stance, no?


Back to the Here Comes China Newsletter:

We have a fascinating article that is titled:  “Jack Ma is not the problem“, from the Qiau Collective.

Chinese blogger Li Xuran offers a compelling analysis of the role of capital in modern China. The halting of Ant’s bombshell IPO in November 2020, Li argues, must be seen in the context of the socialist state’s role in restraining the “wild beast” of capital for the sake of socialist development and the public good.

Read it here:  https://www.qiaocollective.com/en/articles/jack-ma-is-not-the-problem

More than taking note of this one very nuanced article, it is worth looking at the other writings on the Qiau Collective, which calls itself:  “Qiao Collective is a diaspora Chinese media collective challenging U.S. aggression on China. 


From western questioners, the general view on China is that everyone is walking around in fear that their next words are going to put them at odds with the censor and that everyone is being controlled.   Take a look at this magazine, and the specific link is interesting.  Did you know that China has New Age Hippies?

https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1006694/in-chinas-new-age-communes%2C-burned-out-millennials-go-back-to-nature#


This is but a fraction of what I gleaned from the Here Comes China newsletter.  If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

Sitrep: How Democratic is China?

February 21, 2021

Locally called Happy Grandpa

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

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

Having recently read Godfree’s latest book, Why China Rules the World, I learned about trial spots, the history of these and how basically everything that is accepted by the population, gets trialed first, by the population.

We change pace on this regular sitrep and instead of bringing together a wide selection of information, we only look at one long read that may answer many questions, at least many of those that I see so regularly on The Saker blog.  This ends with Hong Kong as a new trial spot.


By Godfree Roberts and first posted on Here Comes China

Like America, China is a republic and, like America, says it is democratic, but how democratic is China? A glance at history is always a good starting point

The People are supreme, the state is secondary and the Ruler is the least important: only those who please the people can rule. Mencius[1]

In Roman politics, citizens lost control of politicians after they elected them. It’s one of the system’s greatest weaknesses and it is no wonder that, like our Roman forebears, we regard government as our biggest problem[2]: we cannot compel them to keep their promises.

Imagine that, instead of hiring eloquent amateurs, we hired professionals–sociologists, statisticians, political scientists, economists–and told them to create solutions to our problems identified by publicly conducted surveys. Then they should support state and local governments to implement policy solutions, track public satisfaction with them for a few years and discard failed policies. California would probably try Canadian medicare and if their medical bills fell fifty percent and Californians showed a three year gain in healthy life expectancy, we’d elect a thousand volunteers and send them–all expenses paid–to Washington so they could audit the results and pass legislation.

That’s what China does and it’s why their democracy resembles Proctor & Gamble more than Pericles of Athens.

How Democratic is China–Really?

Large-scale national surveys, the Chinese Labor Dynamics Survey (Sun Yat-Sen University), the Chinese Family Panel Survey (Peking U), the Chinese General Social Survey (Renmin U), the Chinese Income Inequality Surveys (Beijing Normal U) and hundreds of polls by overseas scholars and institutions like Harvard University, Gallup, Edelman, World Values and Asian Barometer, rival the world’s best in sampling techniques, questionnaire design and quality control.

The results, all available online, are a treasure trove of democratic data that Mao created by wresting policy control from scholars and commissioning extensive surveys[3] saying, “Public opinion must guide our actions.” Today, says author Jeff J. Brown, “My Beijing neighborhood committee and town hall are constantly putting up announcements, inviting groups of people–renters, homeowners, over seventies, women under forty, those with or without medical insurance, retirees–to answer surveys. The CPC is the world’s biggest pollster for a reason: China’s democratic ‘dictatorship of the people’ is highly engaged at the day-to-day, citizen-on-the-street level. I know, because I live in a middle class Chinese community and I question them all the time. I find their government much more responsive and democratic than the dog-and-pony shows back home, and I mean that seriously.”

Mao introduced universal suffrage in 1951 (ten years before America[4]) on the basis of one person, one vote. Everyone voted to elect a legislature that would control of all legislation and approve all senior appointments. He even extended democracy to non-citizens, as Quaker William Sewell[5], a professor at Jen Dah Christian University in Szechuan recalls,

As a labor union member, I was entitled to vote. The election of a government in China is indirect. We at Jen Dah were to vote for our local People’s Congress. Then the Local Congresses would, from among their own members, elect the Duliang Congress. From these members and from the congresses of the great cities and many counties would be elected the Szechwan People’s Provincial Congress. Finally emerged the National People’s Congress, every member of which had in the first place been elected to a local body. The National Congress made the laws, elected the Chairman, and appointed the Premier and members of the State Council. In our chemistry group we discussed the sort of men and women who might best represent us; then we put forward half a dozen names.

Each group in our Jen Dah section did the same. All the names were then written on a board so that everyone might see who had been suggested. The names which several groups had listed in common were put on a short list. They amounted to over a dozen, any groups being still at liberty to put forward again any name which they considered should not have been omitted. Those whose names were on the short list had then to be persuaded to allow their names to remain. This took some time as a genuine sense of inability to cope made many of them reluctant to undertake such responsible work. Each person was discussed at length by the group. Those who were unknown were invited to visit the various groups so that they might be questioned. At length a still shorter list of candidates was obtained, which was cut down eventually, after further discussion, to the number desired.

When the day of the election came, the flags were flying and the bands with their cymbals and drums with their constant rhythm made it all pleasantly noisy. Voting slips were handed out at one end of the booth and students, all sworn to secrecy, were available to help if you couldn’t read. Then alone, or accompanied by your helper, you sat at the table and cast your votes. The list contained names which had by now become very familiar but there was a space at the bottom for additional names to be added should you so desire. A ring was to be put around those whom you wished to be elected and the paper dropped into the box. In England I had voted for a man I didn’t know, with whom I had never spoken and who asked for my vote by a circular letter and who had lost to his rival by over 14,000 votes. I had felt that my vote was entirely worthless. In China, at this one election, I had at least had the happy illusion that my vote was of real significance.

By the 1980s the electoral process had deteriorated, powerful family clans dominated local elections and villagers regularly petitioned Beijing to send ‘a capable Party Secretary to straighten things out’. So the government invited The Carter Center to supervise the process and, by 2010, voter turnout had outstripped America’s and the Prime Minister encouraged more experiments, “The experience of many villages has proven that farmers can successfully elect village committees. If people can manage a village well, they can manage a township and a county. We must encourage people to experiment boldly and test democracy in practice.” Five years later President Xi asked the Carter Center to reevaluate the fairness of election laws and to educate candidates in ethical campaigning, “Democracy is not only defined by people’s right to vote in elections but also their right to participate in political affairs on a daily basis. Democracy is not decoration, it’s for solving people’s problems.” Like Capitalism, Democracy is a tool in China, not a religion.

There are six hundred thousand villages and successful candidates, who need not be Party members, begin their five-year terms with a trial year at the end of which, if they fail to achieve their promised goals, they’re dismissed. Otherwise they spend their second year reviewing and adjusting their objectives, knowing that their successes could be propagated nationwide.

Village representatives choose peers to represent them at district level where further voting elects county representatives until, eventually, three thousand provincial congresspeople, all volunteers, convene in Beijing and strive for consensus as earnestly as they do in their villages. Congresspeople are volunteers, ordinary citizens whose progress to the national level requires prudence and common sense. Tiered voting makes it difficult to join a higher level assembly without the support from politicians below and impossible for the Party to completely control the process. As a result, one-third of National People’s Congresspeople are not Communist Party members, nor are other parties merely decorative. Parties like the China Democratic League[6], the Kuomintang[7] and the Jiusan Society[8] (whose all-PhD members campaign for climate initiatives, increased R&D budgets and data-driven health policies) regularly produce outstanding Ministers.

Is China’s Constitution Democratic?

The Constitution is clear: “The National People’s Congress and the local people’s congresses at various levels are constituted through democratic elections. They are responsible to the people and subject to their supervision. All administrative, judicial and procuratorial organs of the State are created by the People’s Congresses to which they are responsible and by which they are supervised.” Most legislation receives ninety-percent support in Congress but does this make the NPCC a mere ‘rubber stamp’ as critics claim[9]?

The ‘rubber stamp’ misunderstanding arises because policy development is managed like double-blind, randomized clinical trials, called Trial Spots, and Congress is primarily responsible for publicly evaluating data gathered on them. Europe has started universal income trial spots but China has been doing them for thirty years and has a mature system to support it and manage it.

It’s not hard to must ninety-percent support if the data is sound. Policy proposals are first tried in villages, towns or cities and the vast majority die during this phase for the same reasons that most scientific experiments fail. The process has created the most trusted government on earth but Congress is no pushover. Congresspeople visit, inspect and audit Trial Spot cashflows, calculate affordability and debate scalability and national impact.

When, after thirty years of engineering studies, the government presented its proposal to fund the Three Gorges Dam, Congress demurred. The project’s cost and scale were beyond most members’ imagination, retired engineers and foreign experts damned it and a million people who would be displaced criticized the project so vehemently that legislators demanded a similar dam be built nearby to demonstrate geological stability. The government duly built the Gezhouba Dam downstream yet, when they re-presented the funding request, just sixty-four percent of delegates supported it and, when the government decided to proceed, people loudly accused it of ‘ramming the bill through.’

Though China’s process is neither fully scientific nor totally democratic, labeling it ‘authoritarian’–a Western concept–also misses the point. China’s reliance on data for course corrections is its greatest strength, though even solid data does not guarantee smooth sailing. Fifty percent of legislation[10] is not passed within the planned period and ten percent takes more than a decade, thanks to the Peoples Consultive Congress, a gigantic lobby of special interest groups–including peasants, indigenes, professors, fishermen, manufacturers and Taiwan’s Kuomintang Party–who ensure that pending legislation does not damage their interests. Legislators must use both trial data and political tradeoffs to craft the laws which, by the time they emerge, have almost unanimous support[11]. Even then, legislation is issued ‘subject to revision’ because data collection continues after implementation, too.

Congress commissioned the Guangzhou-Shenzhen high speed rail Trial Spot in 1998 before voting to fund today’s massive HSR network. In 2016 the administration advanced legislation permitting genetically modified food crops because they had promised that GM maize and soybeans would be in commercial use by 2020. Two years later–after an intense public education campaign–a survey[12] found half the country still opposed to GM, ten percent were supportive and eleven percent considered GM ‘a bioterrorism weapon aimed at China’. Legislation was shelved. Venture capitalist Robin Daverman describes the process at the national level:

China is a giant trial portfolio with millions of trials going on everywhere. Today, innovations in everything from healthcare to poverty reduction, education, energy, trade and transportation are being trialled in different communities. Every one of China’s 662 cities is experimenting: Shanghai with free trade zones, Guizhou with poverty reduction, twenty-three cities with education reforms, Northeastern provinces with SOE reform: pilot schools, pilot cities, pilot hospitals, pilot markets, pilot everything. Mayors and governors, the Primary Investigators, share their ‘lab results’ at the Central Party School and publish them in their ‘scientific journals,’ the State-owned newspapers.

Beginning in small towns, major policies undergo ‘clinical trials’ that generate and analyze test data. If the stats look good, they’ll add test sites and do long-term follow-ups. They test and tweak for 10-30 years then ask the 3,000-member People’s Congress to review the data and authorize national trials in three major provinces. If a national trial is successful the State Council [the Brains Trust] polishes the plan and takes it back to Congress for a final vote. It’s very transparent and, if your data is better than mine, your bill gets passed and mine doesn’t. Congress’ votes are nearly unanimous because the legislation is backed by reams of data. This allows China to accomplish a great deal in a short time, because your winning solution will be quickly propagated throughout the country, you’ll be a front page hero, invited to high-level meetings in Beijing and promoted. As you can imagine, the competition to solve problems is intense. Local government has a great deal of freedom to try their own things as long as they have the support of the local people. Everything from bare-knuckled liberalism to straight communism has been tried by various villages and small towns.

Yiwu, a sleepy town in the middle of Zhejiang province, started an international trade Trial Spot in the 1980s and became the world’s center for small commodities like stuffed animals (and the subject of endless books and articles). Today, townships are running Trial Spots on smart towns, schools ran Trial Spots on academic quality, labor unions ran labor rights Trial Spots, state-owned enterprises trialed mixed compensation (cash and stock) and maverick officials tried ideas knowing that any damage would be contained and successes quickly replicated. Even the conservative Chinese Customs had ‘trade facilitation Trial Spots’ at border crossings.

The Health Ministry asked thirty-three Provincial Health Ministers–PhDs and MDs–to bring childhood obesity under control by 2030. The ministers involved a thousand County Health Directors and today hundreds of Childhood Obesity Awareness Trial Spots are running in cities and townships across the country. One billboard warns, rather dubiously, that obesity reduces children’s intelligence but wheat and chaff will be separated by 2030 and overweight children will become as rare as they were when we were young. Overall, the process keeps the government in sync with people’s wishes better than any on earth: 

Every five years since 1950, planners have readjusted the nation’s course towards the country’s ultimate goal of dàtóng, issued progress reports and gathered feedback. Results encouraged them to allow entrepreneurs to compete in non-essential industries like automobile manufacturing but showed that profits on essential services were as burdensome as taxes. Profiting from healthcare, they found, taxed every business needing healthy workers, and profits from education taxed every businesses that needs literate workers. The government now provides them at cost and even supports loss-making corporations (‘zombies’ to neoliberals) that serve a social purpose.

Are China’s Five Year Plans Democratic?

Researchers begin Five Year Plans with questionnaires and grassroots forums and, after mid-term assessments, Congress commissions scholars to evaluate and economists to budget for their recommendations. Teams then tour the country, appear on local TV, listen to local opinions and formulate proposals. One planner[13] explained, “Computers have made huge improvements in collecting and analyzing the information but still, thousands of statisticians, actuaries, database experts and technicians with degrees in urban, rural, agricultural, environmental and economic planning invest thousands of hours interpreting and analyzing this vast trove of data, statistics and information. Needless to say, for a continent-sized country with over a billion citizens, it takes hundreds of thousands of people to develop each Five-Year Plan.”

Next, the State Council publishes a draft Plan and solicits input from employees, farmers, businessmen, entrepreneurs, officials and specialists and feasibility reports from all twenty-seven levels of the bureaucracy responsible for implementing it. The Finance and Economics Committee analyzes the Plan’s budget and, after the State Council and Politburo sign off, Congress votes. Then discussion is suspended and implementation proceeds unimpeded. Here’s the cover sheet for the 12th Plan:

Over the five years, economic growth averaged 7.8%, services became the largest sector and consumption became the major growth driver, energy intensity fell eighteen percent and emissions dropped twelve percent, the urban-rural income gap narrowed, rudimentary health insurance became universal, three hundred million folk gained access to safe drinking water and one hundred million were lifted from poverty. Harvard’s Tony Saich, who conducts his own surveys, concludes that ninety per cent of people are satisfied with the government and surveys found that eighty-three percent think it runs the country for everyone’s benefit rather than for special groups. More remarkably, it’s run parsimoniously:

Legislation, once published in newspapers and posted on neighborhood bulletin boards, now blossoms online. Every draft is posted for citizens, non-citizens, national and international businesses alike to comment and critique–and they do. If there is strong pushback or resistance to proposed laws they’re sent back for amendment. And if that is too cumbersome there is the constitutional right to demonstrate publicly.

Today, smartphones, social media and streaming video to multiply the effects of public demonstrations (as 150,000 ‘mass incidents’ in 2018 testify). Rowdy protests–usually triggered by local officials’ unfairness, dishonesty or incompetence–are cheap, exciting and safe since police are unarmed. Indignant[14] citizens paint signs, alert NGOs and the media, recruit neighbors, bang drums, shout slogans and livestream their parade. Responses which once took months now take hours. Targeted officials–usually after a phone call from an angry superior–speed to the scene, bow deeply, apologize profusely, kiss babies, explain that they had no idea that such things were going on and promise brighter tomorrows. Since cell phones became ubiquitous local officials’ approval has risen from forty-five to fifty-five percent and, by 2025, should rival Americans’ seventy percent.

From land redistribution in the 1950s to communes in the 60s to the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, Reform and Opening and anti-corruption, Chinese politics are almost unrecognizable from one decade to the next yet policy support rivals Switzerland’s. Tsinghua Professor Daniel Bell[15] credits democracy at the bottom, experiments in the middle and meritocracy at the top for a string of policy successes. And The New York Times’ Tom Friedman says wistfully, “If we could just be China for one day we could actually authorize the right decisions.”

Former President Hu Jintao, who formalized Trial Spots, wisely observed that there’s more to China’s democratic process than meets the eye, “Taking from each according his ability and giving to each according to his need requires democratic rule of law, fairness and justice, honesty and fraternity, abundant energy, stability, orderliness, harmony between people and the environment and sustainable development.”

Words to ponder.

https://www.herecomeschina.com/chinas-congress-in-action/embed/#?secret=7PZudnQV7E

https://www.herecomeschina.com/hong-kong-democracy-trial-spot/embed/#?secret=IFeCAeJegO

—————————————————————————————

[1] Confucius’ most famous disciple, Mencius, lived 372 BC – 289 BC.

[2] Record High Name Government as Most Important Problem. Gallup. February 18, 2019

[3] The “Surprise” of Authoritarian Resilience in China. Wenfang Tang

[4] The Voting Rights Act of 1965

[5] William Sewell, I Stayed in China.

[6] The China Democratic League is for teachers from elementary school to universities. Since Confucius is China’s archetypal teacher and teachers are held at an high regards by the society as a whole, this is a highly influential party.

[7] The Kuomintang of China, KMT; (sometimes Guomindang) often translated as the Nationalist Party of China) is a major political party in the Republic of China on Taiwan, based in Taipei and is currently the opposition political party in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan.

[8] The Jiusan Society is for PhD scientists, mostly physicists and engineers, whose position is ‘everything should be run by science’. Very big on pushing for climate initiatives, environmental protection, more R&D budget, better health policies, etc.

[9] Wikipedia

[10] Authoritarian Gridlock? Understanding Delay in the Chinese Legislative System. Rory Truex. Journal of Comparative Political Studies, April 2018

[11] The lowest recorded legislative support is sixty-four percent for the Three Gorges Dam project, which now repays its original investment every two years. It was the biggest, most expensive single-site project in history whose lake has changed the earth’s rotation, so legislators’ caution in their generation is understandable.

[12] Public perception of genetically-modified (GM) food: A Nationwide Chinese Consumer Study. Kai Cui & Sharon P. Shoemaker. npj Science of Food volume 2, Article number: 10 (2018)

[13] Jeff J. Brown, China Rising.

[14] Tang, Populist Authoritarianism.

[15] The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy.(p. 9) Daniel . Bell


If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

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

By Andrew Korybko

Source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden Regime’s Hostile Message to China

Image result for Stephen Lendman

by Stephen Lendman

Source

In early January, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi extended an olive branch to the incoming Biden regime.

Days earlier, head of China’s Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee Yang Jiechi called on Biden/Harris to repair deteriorated bilateral relations under Trump, saying:

His government “is prepared to work with the US to move the relationship forward along the track of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation for the well-being of both countries and peoples.”

His remarks and Wang’s fell on deaf ears in Washington.

Prospects for improved bilateral relations are virtually nil.

President Xi Jinping, Yang, and other Chinese officials know that hostile policies pursued by Trump will likely continue in similar fashion under Biden/Harris.

The new regime in Washington is highly likely to continue imperial rage against China, Russia, Iran, and other nations free from US control.

In stark contrast to Sino/Russian cooperation, both nations renewing their Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation in pursuit of “ever-lasting peace and win-win cooperation,” US relations with both countries are more dismal than any time in recent decades.

On Thursday, China’s PLA said it’s tracking the provocative movements of the USS John McCain guided-missile destroyer as it unacceptably sails through the Taiwan Strait.

The message of its movements is clear. US hostility toward China under Biden/Harris is unchanged.

According to PLA Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, movements of the warship are being closely monitored, adding:

The US under Biden/Harris is up to its old tricks — willfully creating tensions, disrupting regional peace and stability.

Because of a pattern of repeated US provocations, the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command is on high alert.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the following:

“China has closely followed and grasped the situation of US warships passing through the Taiwan Strait.”

“China will continue to maintain a high level of alert at all times, respond to all threats and provocations at all times, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

“It is hoped that the United States will play a constructive role in regional peace and stability, not the other way around.”

Chances of Biden/Harris turning a page for improved relations with China are virtually nil — what its leadership and PLA understand well.

Transit of US warships near Chinese waters have nothing to do with freedom of navigation, the rule of law, and what the US navy’s seventh fleet called Washington’s “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific (sic.”

These unacceptable provocations are all about showing the flag and Washington’s aim to dominate a part of the world not its own.

Similar provocations occur in the Middle East, near Russia’s borders, and elsewhere worldwide.

Along with endless US wars by hot and other means, it’s how Washington’s hegemonic scourge operates everywhere.

While continuing the US one-China policy, Biden affirmed his regime’s support for Taiwan, calling it “rock solid.”

Last week, Beijing warned Biden that supporting Taiwan’s independence “means war.”

According to the South China Sea Probing Initiative, US warships provocatively sailed through the Taiwan Strait 13 times last year.

Pentagon military flights continue near China’s territory.

Biden/Harris support an increased US military footprint in the Indo-Pacific. 

Days after their inauguration, the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group sailed through the South China Sea.

A Pentagon Indo-Pacific Command  statement said the “7th fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of US national interests throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific area of operations to foster maritime security (sic), promote stability(sic), and prevent conflict (sic).”

US imperial aims are polar opposite the above claims.

According to Sino/US relations expert Shi Yinhong, bilateral “confrontation and arms competition will basically remain unchanged as the US will deploy more strategic weapons to the Indo-Pacific.”

While Sino/US military relations remain stabile, hostile Biden regime actions toward China could change things for the worst.

Pledges by US officials to maintain stable bilateral relations can be broken by Washington in pursuit of its hegemonic aims.

It’s why the US can never be trusted, time and again saying one thing, then going another way.

According to US war secretary Lloyd Austin, Biden regime “strategy will be arrayed against threat(s) (to the US that don’t exist), and China presents the most significant threat going forward because China is ascending (sic).”

“Russia is also a threat (sic), but it’s in decline (sic).”

Military expert Song Zhongping said Austin’s remarks indicate US hostility toward China.

The US tolerates no nations free from its control.

Its policy highlights the risk of war against an invented enemy by accident or design.

Xi and Putin make the case for win-win vs. zero-sum

Xi and Putin make the case for win-win vs. zero-sum

February 02, 2021

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

So the Davos Agenda has come and gone.

That was the virtual Great Reset preview, hosted by Kissinger acolyte cum World Economic Forum (WEF) oracle Herr Klaus Schwab.

Still, corporate/political so-called “leaders” will continue to wax lyrical about the Fourth Industrial Revolution – or its mild spin-offs such as Build Back Better, the favorite slogan of the new White House tenants.

The WEF co-sponsors – from the UN and the IMF to BlackRock, Blackstone and the Carlyle Group – will continue to expand their synchronicity with Lynn Forester de Rothschild and her corporate-heavy Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican – pop Pope Francis at the helm.

And yes, they accept Visa.

Predictably, the two really crucial events at Davos received minimal or non-existent coverage across the wobbly West: the speeches by President Xi and President Putin.

We have already highlighted Xi’s essentials. Aside from arguing a powerful case for multilateralism as the only possible road map to deal with global challenges, Xi stressed nothing substantial may be achieved if the inequality gap between North and South is not reduced.

The best in-depth analysis of Putin’s extraordinary speech , hands down, was provided by Rostislav Ishchenko, whom I had the pleasure to meet in Moscow in 2018.

Ishchenko stresses how, “in terms of scale and impact on historical processes, this is steeper than the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk combined.” The speech, he adds, was totally unexpected, as much as Putin’s stunning intervention at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, “the crushing defeat” imposed on Georgia in 2008, and the return of Crimea in 2014.

Ishchenko also reveals something that will never be acknowledged in the West: “80 people from among the most influential on the planet did not laugh in Putin’s face, as it was in 2007 in Munich, and without noise immediately after his open speech signed up for a closed conference with him.”

Putin’s very important reference to the ominous 1930s – “the inability and unwillingness to find substantive solutions to problems like this in the 20th century led to World War 2 catastrophe” – was juxtaposed with a common sense warning: the necessity of preventing the takeover of global policy by Big Tech , which “are de facto competing with states”.

Xi and Putin’s speeches were de facto complementary – emphasizing sustainable, win-win economic development for all actors, especially across the Global South, coupled with the necessity of a new socio-political contract in international relations.

This drive should be based on two pillars: sovereignty – that is, the good old Westphalian model (and not Great Reset, hyper-concentrated, one world “governance”) and sustainable development propelled by techno-scientific progress (and not techno-feudalism).

So what Putin-Xi proposed, in fact, was a concerted effort to expand the basic foundations of the Russia-China strategic partnership to the whole Global South: the crucial choice ahead is between win-win and the Exceptionalist zero-sum game.

Regime-change that commie!

The Xi-Putin road map is already being examined in excruciating detail by Michael Hudson, for instance in this essay based on the first chapter of his upcoming book Cold War 2.0: The Geopolitical Economics of Finance Capitalism vs. Industrial Capitalism. Many of these themes have been elaborated in a recent conversation/interview between Michael and myself.

The whole Global South is figuring out how the contrast could not be starker between the American model – neoliberalism redux, in the form of turbo-financialization – and East Asia’s productive investment in industrial capitalism.

Alastair Crooke has outlined the dubious “appeal” of the American model, including “asset markets…severed from any connection to economic returns”; markets that “are not free, but Treasury managed”; and “enterprise capitalism…morphed into monopolistic oligarchism”.

The glaring counterpoint to Xi-Putin at Davos has been a so-called “strategy paper” released by NATO think tank The Atlantic Council, pompously titled The Longer Telegram, as if this was as relevant as George Kennan’s 1946 Long Telegram that designed the containment of the USSR.

Well, the least one can say to the anonymous “former senior government official with deep expertise” on China is, “Mr. Anonymous, You’re No George Kennan”. At best, we’re dealing with a sub-Mike Pompeo with a massive hangover.

Amidst a tsunami of platitudes, we learn that China is a “revisionist power” that “presents a serious problem for the whole of the democratic world”; and that the Chinese leadership better get its act together and operate “within the US-led liberal international order rather than building a rival order”.

The usual toxic mix of arrogance and condescension totally gives away the game, which boils down to “deterring and preventing China from crossing US red lines”, and applying good, old Kissingerian Divide and Rule between Russia and China.

Oh, and don’t forget regime change: if the “strategy” works, “Xi will in time be replaced by the more traditional form of Communist Party leadership.”

If this is what passes for intellectual firepower in Atlanticist circles, Beijing and Moscow don’t even need enemies.

The Asian center of gravity

Martin Jacques, now a visiting professor at Tsinghua University and a senior fellow at the China Institute of Fudan University, is one of the very few Westerners who actually has real “expertise” on China.

He’s now focusing on the main battlefield in the evolving US-China clash: Europe. Jacques notes that, “the trend toward a growing distance between Europe and the US will be slow, tortuous, conflict-riddled, and painful.” We are now “in new territory. American decline means that it has increasingly less to offer Europe.”

As an example, let’s jump cut to a distinct feature of the BRI/New Silk Roads and one of its key hubs, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): the Digital Silk Road .

In partnership with Huawei, fiber optic cable is being laid out all across Pakistan – as I saw for myself when I traveled the Karakoram Highway, the northern part of CPEC. This fiber optic cable all the way from the Karakoram to Balochistan will link with the Pakistan-East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) submarine cable in the Arabian Sea.

The end result will be high-end connectivity between a host of BRI-participating nations and Europe – as the Mediterranean section is already being laid, running from Egypt to France. Before the end of 2021, the whole 15,000 km-long fiber optic cable will be online.

This shows that BRI is not as much about building roads, dams and high-speed rail networks but especially the Digital Silk Road, intimately connected with state of the art Chinese cyber-tech.

It’s no wonder Jacques fully understands how “the gravitational pull of China, and Asia more generally, is drawing Europe eastward. Nothing illustrates this phenomenon better than the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.”

In ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age, an extraordinary book published way back in 1998, the late, great Andre Gunder Frank exhaustively smashed Eurocentrism, demonstrating how the rise of the West was a mere historical blip, and a consequence of the decline of the East around 1800.

Now, only two centuries later, the planet’s center of gravity is back in Asia, as it’s been for most of recorded history. The fate of those blind to the evidence and unable to adapt is to telegram themselves to utter irrelevance.

The Biden doctrine, the return of empires and the European paradox

The Biden doctrine, the return of empires and the European paradox

February 01, 2021

By Fabio Reis Vianna for the Saker Blog

At the end of the tragic year 2020, Jake Sullivan launched a tweet urging Europeans to act together in the face of “China’s worrying economic behavior.”

Today’s National Security Advisor to the newly sworn-in Democratic administration thus gave the first signs of what the Joe Biden administration would look like to the traditional allies of the United States.

Sullivan’s words not only confirm the use of Twitter as an efficient and routine diplomatic instrument of global scope, but also inaugurate the rhetoric that should shape what some analysts already call the Biden Doctrine.

The aggressive attitude of the Trump administration, which in the end revealed itself concretely in pure rhetoric – since surprisingly Trump, in his own words, was the first president in “decades” that did not initiate “new wars” – was certainly not a point out of the curve in the impositive conduct and with imperial bias that the United States has been deepening uninterruptedly since 1991.

Having been the first demonstration of military and technological power of the new unipolar liberal order born of the iron curtain debris, the first Gulf War could be considered the inaugural staging of the U.S. path toward a global military empire.

An absolutely unnecessary war against a defenseless enemy that served only as a parameter setter; the institution of a coercive power based on the control of a feeling that paralyzes anyone who dares to challenge this power: fear.

The control of fear, or the principle of limit, represented above all a warning to the rest of the world that the winner of the cold war, who paradoxically was won without a (hot) war, will not admit to being challenged under any circumstances.

The national security strategy of 2017, as if in a written confession, only outlined and made official what in practice had been happening and deepening since that fateful war of 1991.

In practice, the 2017 national security strategy is a more forceful warning to emerging and “revisionist” powers, especially Russia and China, that the model of global governance regulated by the liberal international order – in force throughout the postwar period – is over. Welcome to the old Westphalian order.

In this new (old) scenario of permanent competition among sovereign states, the United States therefore assumes, without subterfuge, that its own national interest will guide its actions. And if necessary with the use of force.

Biden’s own economic strategy seems to imply a continuation of the nationalist line initiated in the Trump administration, even if a softer rhetoric and democratic style is being rehearsed.

Realizing where the wind is blowing – even if late and at the end of her term – Angela Merkel rushed to demonstrate to Beijing the concrete European interest in concluding the comprehensive investment agreement as soon as possible.

Sniffing the opportunity, Xi Jinping ends up facilitating the agreement by giving in to a series of very expensive concessions to the European interest, mainly the one concerning the non obligatory technology transfer by European companies that will settle in China.

Most likely the Chinese leader sought to take advantage of the transition period to anticipate the agreement before Joe Biden actually took the presidential seat.

A wake-up call to Chinese and European leaders may have been the document signed by Jake Sullivan himself entitled “Making U.S. Foreign Policy Work Better for the Middle Class.

The document published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace practically anticipates the economic bias of the strategy to be followed by the Biden administration.

It is an ode to the reconstruction of the post-Pandemic American economy with a focus on the national interest, and is in fact a continuation of Trump’s sovereignist policy, but with tones more to the left.

Thus, those who think that the Biden doctrine will be a resumption of the economic liberalism of the Democratic governments that preceded it are mistaken; on the contrary, everything leads us to believe that the erratic way in which the United States has dealt domestically in containing the pandemic – which has drastically affected its role as global leader – will lead to an aggressive reaction not only in economic terms, but especially in military terms.

It is undeniable that the leadership vacuum generated by American incompetence in fighting the pandemic has accelerated an increase in rivalries and competition in the world system.

An increase in the escalation of military tensions that has already been observed in several regions of the planet and has accelerated dramatically with the advent of the plague.

The resurgence of ancient empires such as China, India, Turkey and Russia itself – which, using the same mechanisms of the power game invented by Westerners, has shown impressive strength and resilience during the pandemic crisis – seems to have raised the alarm even from old Europe.

De facto inventors of the world system in place since their small national states began the expansive adventure about five hundred years ago, Europeans are now at a real existential crossroads.

What allowed the expansion out of these small and bellicose territories was precisely the violent internal competition between them, which even prevented Europe from becoming a unified empire.

Time and destiny ironically come to throw the weight of this new era of empires into the lap of a Europe more divided than ever.

Most likely aware of the challenges ahead, Angela Merkel affirmed last January 26 in Davos the importance of the pandemic as a test “of the resilience of our systems and societies” and that “our vulnerability has become obvious.

Europe’s paradox is that without a peaceful, strong and unified EU, it will lag behind. But the strength that has always allowed Europe to accumulate power and wealth over centuries has been precisely this chaotic machine of war, violence and internal competition.


Fabio Reis Vianna, lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a bachelor of laws (LL.B), MA student in International Relations at the University of Évora (Portugal), writer and geopolitical analyst. He currently maintains a column on international politics at the centennial Brazilian newspaper Monitor Mercantil.

Munich-esque Davos

January 31, 2021

Munich-esque Davos

Rostislav Ishchenko – Crossposted with permission from Stalker Zone

Vladimir Putin’s speech, delivered in the format of remote participation in the annual Davos forum, is already being actively compared with his Munich speech of 2007.

Well, there is something in common. It is about the same general as between Stalin’s “Brothers and Sisters!” in 1941 and the toast “To the great Russian people!” in 1945.

The Munich Speech of 2007 stated Russia’s acceptance of the challenge posed by the west. We didn’t attack, we were attacked. We offered peace, but the enemy chose war. We are not going to capitulate, we will win the war. We suggest, before it’s too late, to come to your senses and stop the aggression. The Emperor Aleksandr the Blessed conveyed similar words to Napoleon through the Adjutant-General Balashov in June 1812, adding that if necessary, he would retreat to Kamchatka, but would not lay down his weapons as long as at least one enemy was on Russian soil.

So Putin’s Munich speech is evidence of Russia’s entry into a new (hybrid, informational) Patriotic War. And here is his Davos speech – summing up the results of this war. A kind of new Yalta (the Yalta Conference also took place before Germany finally capitulated).

The people who came up with this move and worked on organising the speech of the President of Russia at the Davos Forum in 2021 should be given the hero of Russia title in full force. It’s also possible to erect a monument. Thanks to their efforts, unlike Yalta in 1945, today Russia has found itself at the origins of a new post-war world in the singular, without any allies/competitors. At the same time, the same China can not be offended — no one has removed it. Somehow it just happened. And its interests are not being violated.

Let’s look at the Davos speech from the point of view of diplomatic art.

Everyone knows that the Davos Forum is a gathering of the global financial and industrial elite, people who have a significant, and sometimes decisive, influence on the policies of their (and sometimes neighboring) states. Politicians, even the most prominent ones, serve only as a condiment there. Their presence is evidence of the importance of the non-political part of the guests. Those who speak from the stage mean much less there than those who are silent and listen on the sidelines. In addition, in terms of information, any speech will be blocked by a dozen others, blocked in a panel discussion. The journalists present at the forum are more interested in showing their own importance by interviewing at least a minor oligarch (Ukrainian, for example, from year to year discuss the colour of dumplings and the size of portions at Pinchuk‘s “Ukrainian Breakfast”, without being distracted by anything else). In general, it is almost impossible to give a speech on this platform an appropriate political and informational sound.

That is why Putin did not go to Davos for 12 years — there was no need.

It was then that the coronavirus pandemic came, which forced the forum to be held remotely. As a result, a huge number of narcissistic peacocks, who previously proudly wore their shiny tails on the sidelines of the forum, remained at home. On Skype, you can’t take a picture against the background of someone from the powerful of this world and you can’t exchange a few words with anyone during a coffee break. The forum was almost forgotten.

But it didn’t die. Its organisers did not want to chop up the chicken that lays the golden eggs, because of some pandemic. If the motley retinue that gave the picture is cut off, and there are only a few dozen people who really make serious decisions, then the problem lies only behind the topic that would captivate everyone so much that it would put the forum held on Skype at the centre of the world information agenda.

Nothing could be better than Putin’s speech to solve this problem.

Firstly, as a result of the crisis in the US, it became obvious even to the deepest skeptics that Washington had lost its leadership in the modern world. Moreover, the Biden coup made the US a pillar of the liberal left and a threat to right-wing conservative forces around the world. The right-wing conservative traditionalist Trump, considered by western conservatives as a potential leader, has been knocked out of politics for a long time, if not forever. At best, he will be able to return to American politics after some time, but he is still far from returning to global politics.

Secondly, there is also no leader among European politicians capable of leading the right-conservative resistance to the left-liberal globalists. Merkel herself is a liberal (though pragmatic), and is also retiring. Macron is ambitious, but he works in the style of “both yours and ours”, he can not be trusted — at any time he can go to the other side. The rest neither came out in caliber, nor the countries they represent can claim to be a leader.

Thirdly, Xi Jinping in China is certainly a conservative leader in Asia, but due to the huge cultural and historical differences, he cannot claim leadership in Europe.

Putin in Davos came to a popular position in the conditions of a complete absence of competitors. It is designed for the world’s financial and industrial elite, was the only offer of a “bright future”, which should come after the final demolition of the American-centric system (and for this reason it turned out to be the number one information topic of the week that no one can ignore).

Putin elegantly demonstrated the inevitability of its final disintegration with a few figures, which showed that while over the past 15-20 years the number of poor people (living on less than $5 a day) in the US has increased by 1.5-fold, in China the number of such people has decreased by 4-fold, and in Russia – 12-fold. At the same time, in Russia today the number of people living on less than $5 a day is already less than in the US.

For people who are used to buying and selling, who know well what the purchasing power of the population is, who are able to calculate processes in dynamics, these figures are a verdict for the US. Moreover, they already know that in military terms, Russia has also overtaken the west forever. The US and Europe do not have the technology to catch up with Moscow in the field of weapons, and there are no resources to develop such technologies in the next decade.

I.e., on the computer screens of about 100 of the most influential people on the planet, the president of Russia appears and offers a model of a new post-American world without an alternative (in the absence of at least some competitor). Putin points out that the loose liberal leftists pose a threat to any statehood, and gently unobtrusively hints that Russia will not just fight this, but is also ready to lead an alliance of healthy conservative forces around the world, ensuring the protection of national statehood from the encroachments of TNCs.

To the natural question in return, without waiting for it to be asked, Putin explains that no one is going to demolish the system to the ground, just in the conditions of a severe systemic crisis, the role of the state in economic life should be strengthened. The state is not going to replace a private initiative. It only plans to smooth out the rough edges and make sure that the private pursuit of profit maximisation does not conflict with public interests and conservative values. What remains behind the scenes is that it is the Russian state that should become the guarantor and leader of this process.

Another unasked question, “How to defeat the left-liberal destroyers of the state in the interests of the transnational financial oligarchy?” was answered on January 23rd and in the following days on the streets of Russian cities. Without excessive violence, without totalitarian prohibitions, but also without liberalism with outright hooliganism. Those who can be negotiated with — an agreement will be made. And those leopards who will change their spots will be jailed (but alive). In general, against the background of what is happening in the world (from Belarus to the US), Russian protective measures are indeed the softest, but at the same time the most effective.

In general, for the global money that really wants to work within the framework of a classical market economy, which doesn’t want to wait for the “golden billion” to turn into a “golden million”, then into a “golden thousand”, and then into a gang of crazy bankers fighting on the ruins of the planet, Putin proposed a way out of the crisis, drew the outline of the “post-Yalta world” (guaranteed by Russian power) and suggested that we begin discussing its final format.

And look, 80 people from among the most influential people on the planet did not laugh in Putin’s face, as it was in 2007 in Munich, and without noise and dust immediately after his open speech signed up for a closed conference with him.

Honest liberals and ordinary urban lunatics can laugh quite sincerely and free of charge at the claims (and evidence) of Russian power and global authority. This queue of those who run the global economy for a private meeting with Putin is the best evidence that what seemed incredible yesterday has become obvious today. Russia has put the terms of a new world on the table. And the world reached out to discuss these conditions.

Finally, once again, I want to draw your attention to the inconspicuous feat of the people who prepared this speech of Putin. In terms of scale and impact on historical processes, this is steeper than the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk combined. In addition, the victory was achieved with little blood and on foreign territory. The effect of the bomb explosion is achieved by surprise. This is already the corporate identity of Russia. Putin’s speech in Munich was sudden, and the crushing defeat of the presumptuous Saakashvili regime in August 2008 was sudden. The return of Crimea was sudden. And now the same sudden Davos.

The late Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin would have remarked with satisfaction: “This has never happened before, and here it is again!”

Xi reads the Multilateral Riot Act at Davos

Xi reads the Multilateral Riot Act at Davos

January 26, 2021

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

The virtual Davos Agenda is finally on, from Monday to Friday this week, promoted by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

No, this is not The Great Reset. At least not yet. The Agenda is the aperitivo towards the Great Reset apotheosis at the WEF’s Special Annual Meeting, which will take place this coming spring in Singapore.

The Agenda’s theme for 2021 is “A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust.”

Oops. Davos, we got a problem: trust is always earned, never built.

Trust, anyway, in Davos speak, must always lead towards – what else – the Great Reset, introduced here in a Tik Tok-ready clip crammed with catchy slogans such as “a new dashboard for the new economy” or “right people, right place, right time”.

The message clincher is “tune in, turn on, get involved”, borrowing shamelessly from 1960s Timothy Leary (but ditching “drop out”).

It obviously escaped the clip’s producers that their P.R. opus indirectly admits to rigged elections and blanket censorship on social media.

The Agenda’s P.R. blitz must have a hard time dismissing the predominant perception this is all about Davos Man – and Woman – losing their sleep over global wealth inequality while enthusiastically applauded by a bunch of glitterati sociopaths.

Onwards with the sessions.

Here’s your new social contract

On day one, a “Leadership Panel” examined

How to restore growth, advising the public and private sectors on how to build a “new economic agenda”. Sleep-inducing platitudes were the norm.

WEF’s Agenda sessions cannot possibly address the iron imperative: the implosion of the old economic order under a Green camouflage, conducted by self-appointed, sub-Platonic sages which belong to the world’s wealthiest, will only benefit this 0.0001%.

The Great Reset is not an organic grassroots movement coordinated and benefitting the over 99%. It will lead, inevitably, to techno-feudalism, as I previously argued. Herr Schwab, the Oracle of Ravensburg and Davos supremo, insists in his writings “you will own nothing”.

A WEF graph – Top Ten Most Likely Fall Out for the World – should in fact be interpreted as The Great Reset’s ultimate targets. This is not a warning: it’s the road map ahead.

A session on advancing the new social contract neatly merged with a discussion about “stakeholder capitalism”. That’s a clever P.R. advertisement – what else – for Herr Schwab’s new book: Stakeholder Capitalism, which advances a “more sustainable, resilient and inclusive” global economy and argues for – what else – a “clearly defined social contract” which will allow “governments, business and individuals to produce the most optimal outcomes.”

So here’s how it works. You don’t earn trust: you rebuild it (italics mine). This trust metastasizes into the social contract – which is absolutely necessary for The Great Reset. Selling this new social contract is a matter of rebranding turbo-capitalism globally as “stakeholder capitalism”, or capitalism with a human face.

Not a peep about the Great Reset as a mechanism of unbridled expansion of mega-corporate power, hermetically securing/serving the 0.0001%, which are not, and will never be, suffering The Great Depression.

Stripped to the bone, that’s also one of the key themes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: consolidating, crushing and shepherding the working class masses into the unstable gig economy, commanded by “emotionally intelligent” leaders.

The Who nailed it half a century ago: meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

A realpolitik stunner

It’s still unclear what China, Russia and Iran – the real Three Sovereigns in this Brave New World, and the key nodes of progressive Eurasia integration – will counter-propose when faced with the Great Reset.

Into this toxic mix steps in none other than President Xi Jinping, the leader of the global superpower in the making. Instead of Reset platitudes, his Davos Agenda address was quite a realpolitik stunner.

Xi stressed, “to build small circles or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate others, to willfully impose decoupling, supply disruptions or sanctions, and to create isolation or estrangement will only push the world into division and even confrontation (…) We cannot tackle common challenges in a divided world, and confrontation will lead us to a dead end.”

Xi might be interpreted as aligning with Herr Schwab. Not really. Xi stressed solutions to our current plight must be multilateral; but the key is how to implement them geopolitically.

It’s unclear how the new dispensation in the US – humanitarian imperialists, Dem oligarchs, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Media – will react to Xi’s call: “The misguided approach of antagonism and confrontation, be it in the form of a Cold War, hot war, trade war or tech war, would eventually hurt all countries’ interests (…) “Difference in itself is no cause for alarm. What is alarming are arrogance, prejudice and hatred.”

Xi emphasized a straight to the point definition of multilateralism as

“having international affairs addressed through consultation and the future of the world decided by everyone working together (…) To beggar thy neighbor, to go it alone, and to slip into arrogant isolation will always fail.”

What Xi has made it crystal clear, once again, is the acute contrast between relative Asian serenity and stability and the volcanic chaos engulfing the West’s top power centers. How this intertwines – in realpolitik terms – with Her Schwab’s Brave New World will be a work in progress. For the moment, Xi has just read the Multilateral Riot Act at Davos. The whole Global South is paying attention.

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

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

January 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Beijing trembling?

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

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

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

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

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

– demonize everything connected to BRI;

– and invest in “the rise of India”.

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

So once again this is all about naval containment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Beijing trembling? Hardly.

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

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

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

– Focus on domestic development, in all areas.

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

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

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

China’s Economy of Peace

China’s Economy of Peace

December 14, 2020

by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

In the context of China’s webinar on 14 December 2020, on the topic of “China’s New Development Paradigm and High-Quality Belt and Road Cooperation”, organized by the China Center for Contemporary World Studies, International Department of CPC Central Committee and the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, my presentation was on China’s Economy of Peace.
—–
China, about a decade ago, has deliberately embarked on an Economy of Peace. A strategy that China pursues, unimpressed by constant aggression from the west, which are mostly led by the United States. Is it perhaps this Chinese steadfast, non-aggressive way of constant forward-creation and embracing more and more allies on her way – that has made China such a success story? Overcoming violence by non-violence is engrained in 5000 years of Chinese history.

Despite relentlessly repeated assertions by the west, China’s objective is not to conquer the world or to “replace” the United States as the new empire. Quite to the contrary. The alliance China-Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is seeking a multipolar world, with more justice for all – i. e. fairer trade in the sense of “win-win”, where all parties are benefitting equally. This is also a policy pursued by the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, the 15-country trade agreement signed at the 37th ASEAN Summit – 11 November 2020, in Vietnam, as well as by President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 by the President himself.

China does not coerce cooperation – but offers peaceful cooperation. In 2014, Mr. Xi traveled to Germany to offer Madame Merkel for Germany to become – at that time – the western most link to the BRI, or the New Silk Road. This would have been an opening for all of Europe. However, Madame Merkel, having to follow Washington’s mandates – did not respond positively. President Jinping returned to Beijing, no hard feelings. And China continued her persistent course of connecting the countries of our Mother Earth with transport infrastructure, inter-country industrial ventures, education and research projects, as well as cultural exchanges to enrich the world – all the while respecting individual countries’ monetary and political sovereignty.

Many country leaders from Africa and the Global South in general express openly their contentment and satisfaction to have China as a partner and for dealing with China on the basis of equals. With the west, especially the US, there is bullying and coercion, unequal contracts, and often total disrespect for legally signed contracts.
——

Meanwhile, the west lives in a permanent state of hypocrisy. It bashes China – actually without any reason, other than that the dying Anglo-Saxon-American empire mandates it to its partners, especially the European NATO allies – under threats of sanctions. Unfortunately, spineless Europe mostly complies.

Yet, having outsourced – for economic and profit reasons – most production processes to reliable, efficient and cheaper-labor China, the west depends very much on China for its supply chains. The covid-crisis, first wave, has clearly shown how dependent the west is on goods produced in China from sophisticated electronic equipment to pharmaceuticals.

As an example: About 90% or more of antibiotics or ingredients for antibiotics are Made in China. Similar percentages apply to other vital western imports. – But China does not “punish” or sanction. China creates and moves forward offering her alliance to the rest of the world.

China has also developed a new digital international Renminbi (RMB) or Yuan that may soon be rolled out for use of monetary transactions – of all kinds, including transfers, trade and even as a reserve currency. The yuan is already an ever-stronger reserve currency. This trend will be further enhanced through the RCEP and BRI.

Of course, the US is afraid that their dollar-hegemony they have built up since WWII with Fiat money backed by nothing, may suffer as international trading currency which the Anglo-American banking cartel practically imposed on the world, will come to an end; and the US-dollar’s standing as a reserve currency may rapidly decline.

And yes, the yuan will gradually replace the US dollar as reserve currency – and this – because countries’ treasurers realize that the yuan is a stable, gold-backed currency, also supported by a solid economy – the only economy of any importance in the world that will grow in the covid-year 2020, by perhaps as much as 3.5%, while western economies will falter badly. Predictions are dire for the US and Europe, between 12% (EU predictions) and up to 30% / 35% (US FED prediction).

The US dollar and its dominion over the international transfer system through SWIFT – has been used massively for sanctioning non-compliant countries, including totally illegal confiscation of assets – even countries reserve assets – case in point is Venezuela.

Escaping this coercive dollar dominion is the dream of many countries. Therefore, trading, investing and dealing with the Chinese currency, will be a welcome opportunity for many sovereign nations.
—-
China’s economic achievements and forward-looking perspectives may be summarized in two major events or global programs, the just signed free trade agreement with 14 countries – the 10 ASEAN countries, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, altogether, including China 15 countries. The so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was in negotiations during eight years – and achieved to pull together a group of countries for free trade, of some 2.2 billion people, commanding about 30% of the world’s GDP. This is a never before reached agreement in size, value and tenor.

In addition to the largest such trade agreement in human history, it also links to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or One Belt, One Road (OBOR), which in itself comprises already more than 130 countries and more than 30 international organizations. Also, China and Russia have a longstanding strategic partnership, containing bilateral agreements that too enter into this new trade fold – plus the countries of the Central Asia Economic Union (CAEU), consisting mostly of former Soviet Republics, are also integrated into this eastern trade block.

The myriad of agreements and sub-agreements between Asian-Pacific countries that will cooperate with RCEP, is bound together by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai as an intergovernmental organization, composed of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO is little known and little talked-about in the west.

The purpose of the SCO is to ensure security and maintain stability across the vast Eurasian region, join forces to counteract emerging challenges and threats, and enhance trade, as well as cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

Much of the funding for RCEP and BRI projects may come in the form of low-interest loans from China’s Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and other Chinese and participating countries’ national funding sources. In the hard times emerging from the covid crisis, many countries may need grant assistance to be able to recover as quickly as possible from their huge socioeconomic losses, created by the pandemic. In this sense, it is likely that the new Silk Road may support a special “Health Road” across the Asian Continent.

The RCEP may, as “byproduct”, integrate the huge Continent of Eurasia that spans all the way from western Europe to what is called Asia and covering the Middle East as well as North Africa, of some 55 million square kilometers (km2), and a population of about 5.4 billion people, close to 70% of the world population – See map (Wikipedia).

The crux of the RCEP agreement’s trade deals is that they will be carried out in local currencies and in yuan – no US-dollars. The RCEP is a massive instrument for dedollarizing, primarily the Asia-Pacific Region, and gradually the rest of the world.

Much of the BRI infrastructure investments, or New Silk Road, may be funded by other currencies than the US-dollar. China’s new digital Renminbi (RMB) or yuan may soon become legal tender for international payments and transfers, and will drastically reduce the use of the US-dollar.

The US-dollar is already in massive decline. When some 20-25 years ago about 90% of all worldwide held reserve-assets were denominated in US-dollars, this proportion has shrunk by today to below 60% – and keeps declining. The emerging international RMB / yuan, together with a RCEP- and BRI-strengthened Chinese economy, may further contribute to a dedollarization, as well as dehegemonization of the United States in the world. And as said before, the international digital RMB / yuan may progressively also be replacing the US-dollar, as well as euro reserves in countries’ coffers around the globe. The US-dollar may eventually return to be just a local US-currency, as it should be.

Under China’s philosophy, the unilateral world may transform into a multi-polar world. The RCEP and New Silk Road combination are rapidly pursuing this noble objective, a goal that will bring much more equilibrium into the world.

Maybe for a few years more to come, the west, led by the US – and always backed by the Pentagon and NATO, may not shy away from threatening countries participating in China’s projects, but to no avail. Under Tao philosophy, China will move forward with her partners, like steadily flowing water, constantly creating, avoiding obstacles, in pursuit of her honorable goal – a world in Peace with a bright common future.

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

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

December 09, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hit the road with the Mongols

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nothing will fundamentally change”

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

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

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

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

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

That will include:

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

2. Massive counter-intel operations.

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

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

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

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

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

There you go: Xi is the new Hitler.

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

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

Joshua Wong and the Exodus in China

Joshua Wong and the Exodus in China

December 06, 2020

By Thorsten J. Pattberg for the Saker Blog

HONG KONG – British and American media in China for as long as we scribblers remember have empowered Chinese saboteurs and secessionists just so as to annoy Beijing. Without fail, if there ever was some corrupt princeling (local Chongqing tyrant Bo Xilai), a fugitive from the tax law (mafioso Miles Guo), or just another crackpot religious charlatan (Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi), you could draw your own square Tiananmen with a Tank-man on top there was going to be endless China-bashing.

None of those famous trouble-makers, however, is more idoneous and adaptable to the Western master narrative about the eternal battle between Good and Evil (God’s chosen people versus the godless Chinese) than “Joshua” Wong – the eternal Jewish instigator.

Forget for a moment about his Holiness the Dalai Lama, nude artist Ai Weiwei, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng or activist Liu Xiaobo, and welcome China’s most powerful spiritual leader (second only to the Republic’s true leader and president, Xi Jinping, of course): the Hong Kong teenage-hero “Joshua” Wong Chi-fung.

Metaphysics of Western Foreign Interventionism

This Carry-on-England savior, named after the key character of Jewish persecution in King James’ translation of The Old Testament, who, according to The British Sunday Times, started his anti-China activism during Middle School at the age of thirteen, is not an ethnic Jew (which is a racist construct), but a Neocolonial Christian nationalist and Cantonese identitarian. He insists, perhaps honing the influence of his devout believer mother “Grace,”  that the Wong people – the people of Hong Kong – are systematically oppressed not by Ramses and the ancient Egyptians but by Xi Jinping and the 21st Century Hans. “Joshua” wants his special fellow students to rise up against China and to lead the Wongs out of Zhongguo and into God’s holy safe space – Birmingham in England.

Imagine the bombastic hurrah at our Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong, the Jewish-run Western media complex, the Christian lobby and ultra-liberal Hollywood upon hearing that such an insanely unlikely Asiatic shepard exists. They had to make him the greatest Chinese philosopher that ever walked the planes since Saint Confucius and Catholic Bruce Lee (though the latter was not a Christian, he must have been, according to the Christian Post).

If this sounds like Hollywood claptrap and eerie dream fabric, that’s because “Joshua” was carefully staged that way:

“…the 18-year-old Wong doesn’t look like Hollywood’s idea of a charismatic rebel leader. But…” (Fortune Magazine).

…BUT he doesn’t have too, as an early opinion piece by Alex Lo in the South China Morning Post explains. It’s like trying to demonstrate that the 14th Dalai Lama is not a reincarnated Bodhisattva: We cannot prove a negative. We cannot possibly show that Joshua Wong is not a global leader – after Hollywood and Fortune magazine made him out to be one – ‘No 10’ in the world, to be precise, only four slots behind Taylor Swift, the #blessed and #flawless singer of ‘Call Me Maybe’.

And there it sailed, the propaganda ship of folly. But first, don’t get me wrong on this: It’s all gold for Chinese “Joshua.” Other Hong Kong teenagers worked and volunteered equally hard, but “Joshua” – back than he was just 16 – was perfect for the Western narrative and thus chosen by the globalist Anglo-Zionist media cartel to personify the ‘Umbrella Movement’ – yes, we are talking about as in: …for the Western history books. China bullies Christians in Hong Kong!

Virtuous Campaign for Wong Justice

To most China experts with a gun-boat mentality, the sheer audacity of Western planners to pitch Israeli spy “Joshua” against the Chinese civilization was genius. In Europe, questioning the global Jewish cause is instant career seppuku – worse than hell, the C-plague and Trump-voters combined. Countries smaller than China have been terminated because of it. How on earth could Beijing ever wiggle itself out of these horrible Western accusations of religious persecution of… well…”Joshua” himself?

Pro-Joshua Berlin immediately invited Mr. Wong over and had him address 80 million Germans via its tax-payer-funded 8.4-billion-euros state-TV. Pro-Joshua London offered social housing to half of China willing to relocate to Milton Keynes. Meanwhile, pro-Joshua Washington dispatched aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and a 20th Century Fox Christian Bale blockbuster movie to Devil’s Peak.

Mr. Wong thus earned his first multi-million dollar campaign co-sponsored by pro-Joshua media ReutersAPdpaNew York TimesLA TimesCNNBBCGuardianSpiegelEconomist and hundreds more. The viral factor was absurd, comical even, because Hong Kong students themselves didn’t know at first they were marching for “Joshua.” Fortune magazine framed the protesters’ gullible street performances as backdrop to this rising star’s fame:

“His nonviolent protest message and energetic idealism galvanized crowds that, over months, numbered in the hundreds of thousands.”

How many “hundreds of thousands” – six hundred thousands maybe? (That’s the actual number given in the Old Testament.) All the media hyperbole made the young man with glasses and asymmetric face appear to be the spiritual leader of an oppressed Hong Kong people, but was he really? Well, he clearly wasn’t, says Alex Lo. “Joshua” was not elected but selected by the Western interest groups – as in: China must never be allowed to do politics on its own terms.

Most self-respected university students in Hong Kong who participated in the protests, if they believed in freedom and self-determination, would probably resent the idea of being put into (((the brackets))) of some superimposed, manufactured Western master narrative and personality cult. But that’s all irrelevant now, because the Western media wanted Joshua Wong to be the leader of that movement, and that is what it is.

Back in 2014, “Joshua” was barely among the 50 Greatest Leaders (Fortune). By 2017, he was personifying geopolitics: “Joshua vs Superpower” (Netflix). By early 2020, German Die Welt described Mr. Wong’s cursory vision is near transcendental: “Joshua: China is Threat to World Freedom.”

So here we were at movie plaza and watching that 20h Century Fox Christian Bale blockbuster ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’. US director Ridley Scott and his writers decided to have the Lord speak through the body of “a Boy-angel” who orders Bale (Moses) to lead God’s favorite people out of Ancient Authoritarianism. Boy-angel, Israeli Joshua, God’s puppet whatever. The scriptural “Joshua,” which Wong Chi-fung goes by in Western media (they don’t care about his Chinese name, it is “Yellow”), has his own chapter in the Hebrew Bible – ‘The Book of Joshua’The titular hero leads the slaves into crossing the Jordan by dividing the South China sea, basically. Anyway, that was my reading of it. As the HK-British flagship media SCMP notes: “To make a film of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt is brave.” Yeah.

“How Joshua Wong’s faith motivates his activism” celebrated ABC News. “The Christian Spirit flows through Hong Kong protests” mused The Liberty. “Hong Kong’s Religious Revolutionaries” blasted Foreign Policy. “Joshua Wong: We long to see Hong Kong free from tyranny,” hailed the Economist.

Sacred, religious narratives are problematic for social science. Nothing good comes of them. Except of course, if they help to debilitate and collapse your enemy. US and European diplomats in Beijing and Shanghai, their intelligence services and Foreign Correspondents Clubs in cahoots, love to explore all ways of delegitimizing China’s government, including accusations of religious persecution in Shanghai (Christians), Tibet (Buddhists) and Xinjiang (Muslims).

These Western conspiracies are nonsensical. China is a pluralistic, multilingual and multi-ethnic civilization that has all kinds of beliefs, including magicians, healers and pagans. It is more diverse than any other Western nation. There are over 52 thriving minorities. China has more foreign students, including Africans, than Europe and North America. It certainly has more Muslims than France, Germany, the UK and the USA combined. It has millions of Taoists and Confucianists, a multitude of Buddhist fractions and Orthodox and Protestants and Catholics and everything. It is a difficult task to keep the harmony between them – tian ren he hi: all under Heaven. The British Empire, which collapsed, and the US Empire, which is waning, would love to stir hatred, spread misinformation and fake news. China can respect that. But it will never let foreign powers divide it.

Your author recalls fondly our desperate liberal media’s attempt – such as the Wall Street JournalCNNAtlanticSouth China Morning PostIndependent and a thousand more -, between 2005 and 2019, to elevate a cult leader in Chengdu, a certain Pater Wang Yi, of the evangelist Church of Early Rain, to the status of a Sinitic super-saint. The man was conscripted by the US state department and rushed to the White House where he met then-president George W. Bush in 2006. Pater Wang was all over the global news, yet left no lasting impression on the general American public. Years later, in early 2020, Pater Wang was shipped to Vatican City in order to meet Pope Francis. However, those CIA expert idiots couldn’t tell the difference between the Holy Roman Catholic Church and hard-core Protestantism, so naturally it was a bit awkward for everyone. The Messenger of God Francis instead sent an archbishop to greet the Messenger of God Wang, and that was that. Just for your reference, the Early Rain cult – despite its millions of dollars worth of US media press coverage, at no point had more than 600 members. Worse, Western social media users, especially young people, could not identify with this Chengdu toad. Jehova-style proselytism is not cool. Cult leaders are not cool. The Pater Wang act collapsed.

That said, even the most militant Western press soldiers could not have anticipated that one day they would be able to play “the Jewish card” against Beijing and call its leadership antisemitic. And thus we have barely survived the Trump-era (roughly the reign of US president Trump from 2016 to 2021) of associating Han Chinese with neo-Nazis (the have a Nation, they have Sozialismus) – for prosecuting “Joshua” and the Hong Kong Wongs, the Uighur Tohtis and the Tibetan monks, and all religious people under Heaven.

Now the world was hooked of course. Holocaust in China everywhere! “Genocide” and “concentration camps” and “exodus” made the global China-headlines.

So there you have it. The news of the coming of a new leader, or Chinese Boy-angel, or God’s messenger – known to Christians as the ‘Holy Trinity’ – quickly consumed our Abrahamic sense of mission to subdue Asiatic people – only the 1.4 billion mainland evil ones, not the 8 million colonial good ones -, and trickled down to second and third tier media organizations and Youtube channels. No investigation, no fact-checking. Just mindless repetition: China is really really bad.

Mass Brainfuggery and Fremdbestimmung [foreign rule]

It is now six years of “Joshua arrested,” “Joshua on bail,” “Joshua protested,” “Joshua in court again.” He barely talks sensible. His parents checked his boxes for “dyslexic” – a middle-class exculpation for being partially illiterate. He is the ultimate message board – plane as a pan. There are more Western TV stations, microphones and cameras following him than actual people. Most of his appearances are clearly montages, edited for mass (social) media consumption. He also came to adapt the lifestyle of a true übermega-celebrity – alleged private jets, five star hotels, meeting pop singer Pakho Chau Pak-ho. His finances are taboo. He may be totally dependent on foreign services. He certainly is by far the greatest asset the CIA, MI6 and BND ever had.

Yes, there are back-up dissidents, just in case: One is the female Hong Kong activist, Agnes “the real Mulan” Chow (22). She is pretty and touted as the savior of oppressed Chinese women. Another is Nathan “the Law” Luo (27) – get it? his surname sounds like Law! The West primed him for future HK politics. But, really, both real Mulan and Mr. Law can’t hold a candle to holy “Joshua.”

This drama of re-enacting the ‘Exodus’ of our ideological enemies over and over again is, I claim, brought to near perfection in the West. We call it “creativity” [a divine inspiration] and often blame the Chinese for their lack of it. To be sure, this creativity is seen by our enemies as a demonic superpower; it makes the West unpredictable to foreign governments (are they really that sadistic?); yet the unpredictability obviously has a system: The messianic creed with its biblical superpowers creates world history. Let us briefly digress:

The power of world history often surprises even our own children. They looked at Leonardo Da Vinci’s alleged master painting ‘Mona Lisa’ and asked: “Is it good? Why him?”, or Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ and went: “Really? I could have painted that!” Remember reading about Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America? That America is real. However, it was only called this way decades later and Columbus didn’t discover it, but, you know, he existed tangibly and close enough in that area (the Bahamas) in 1492 and he was Christian and European. Bam! Ownership claimed. So that counts as world history.

From Jesus “I-am-the-king-of-Jews-and-son-of-God” Christ to modern saviors like Barack Obama, Steve Jobs or Greta Thunberg: It’s all irresponsible make-belief, designed to disrupt the lives of as many humans as possible. To our enemies, our creations can be terrifying. And so is “Joshua” to Beijing.

Hong Kong was nominated a new historic figure, superimposed by Western description. The real leaders in the city state look like insignificant cunts. China’s own [attempts to create] history looks like alternative history, unauthorized history, fake history. “Joshua” wasn’t elected but selected – and certainly not by his own people. He is shamelessly exploited by a Western biblical narrative and sense of mission to civilize China. And if China doesn’t comply, according to The Book of Exodus, the country will be exposed to the Wrath of God in form of the ten plagues: economic sanctions, political assassinations, secessionist movements, a new nationalist party, pseudo-religious fundamentalism, identity politics, diversity task forces, cancel culture, and probably #BLM (Black Lives Matter) mindless terror. Good times for Western satanists: The New York Times in autumn of 2020 suggested Beijing was accusing “Joshua” of worshiping the Devil. I’m not inventing this, here are the headlines: “Chinese Propaganda Video Warns of West’s ‘Devilish Claws’.

Siege to China’s Jerusalem

Titled our all-favorite anti-China propaganda press UK Guardian: “Joshua Wong, the Student who Risked the Wrath of Beijing” and, in the opening paragraph, this: “Cometh the hour, cometh the boy,” an idiom attributed to three prophets of your choice: Moses, Shakespeare or Winston Churchill. That’s the Guardian for you. It’s a mental institution.

I’m almost done with chronicling this prophetic lunacy and suspect where the West is going with it – regime change or worse. Regardless of what we are told in the liberal press, China must promote law and order and reason and science; still: the epic sway of Western interventionism terrifies me: “Joshua” is leading his fine people away from the former British hub for human trafficking and money laundry and into the promised land – America? Canada? Germany? The United Kingdom?” How to do it? Have you asked your own citizen? Of course not. Australia wants 100,000 HK refugees, it says. The rich ones. The UK Johnson regime doubled down on its pledge to welcome 3,000,000 or so “new English” to enter Albion and settle… I don’t know… in Brighton on the cliff by the sea?

“Joshua” is 22 now. Since he is dyslexic and has no job, he wants to become a democrat. A local Hong Kong district court sentenced him to a short-term prison sentence over sedition, which he, after consulting with Western Powers Inc., now eagerly anticipates. He was told his was world history in the making. And he better believe it.


The author is a German writer, cultural critic and political commentator on Sino-Western relations. He has published ‘The East-West Dichotomy’, ‘Inside Peking University’, and ‘Shengren – Above Philosophy and Beyond Religion’. He can be reached at thorstenjpattberg.weebly.com

The Clash of Empires in Xi Jinping’s Speech and Joe Biden’s Essay صراع الإمبراطوريات في كلمة شي ومقال جو بايدن

The Clash of Empires in Xi Jinping’s Speech and Joe Biden’s Essay

First appeared In Arabic on Al-Akhbar Friday, December 4, 2020

Amro Allan

عربى 21-الرئيسية
Writer and political researcher

**Machine translation**

The Clash of Empires in Xi Jinping’s Speech and Joe Biden’s Essay

It is worthy to compare Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the recent 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit with the recently republished article by President-elect Joe Biden in Foreign Affairs Mmagazine, in which Joe Biden outlined the most important features of his policies if elected as the 46th president of the United States.

In his speech, President Xi Jinping outlined the aspects of China’s foreign policies, the most important of which was the emphasis on the idea of multipolarity in the management of world affairs under the umbrella of the international law in the face of unipolarity. The speech emphasized the importance of supporting countries in their efforts to implement their local agendas which will insure their political and social stability. He also highlighted the importance of preventing any foreign interference in the local affairs of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation members under any pretext. The Chinese President stressed in his speech that all human civilizations are equal and unique, and encouraged interrelation between nations and good neighbourly relations between countries. President Xi Jinping added that China cannot achieve development in isolation from the world, and that the world needs China to achieve prosperity, calling on all nations to build on and benefit from china’s economic growth, perhaps based on its call to benefit from the China Belt and Road Initiative and the extent to which china’s economy has reached and its growth rates have reached. Compared to the economies of other countries of the world. 

These determinants presented by the Chinese President are not fundamentally different from those presented in the final statement of the summit, which represents the policies of the Shanghai Organization countries in general.

While the most prominent idea in Joe Biden’s essay “Why America Must Lead Again” is his determination during the first year of his administration to hold an international summit, and invite to it the leaders of those countries, which are considered by America as democraciesand “free world”, these classifications, as it has become known, means in the Western dictionary the colonial powers, and American allies. Civil society organizations will also be invitedto that summit, these organizations are the preferred tool of western and American intelligence agencies to tamper with the internal affairs of sovereign states and create political instability, and this summit aims, according to the article, to confront the (autocratic regimes), promote democracy and the liberal ideology that are threatened, according to Biden. The article adds that the United States of America will take its natural seat at the head of the table to organize the affairs of the world, because otherwise the world could plunge into chaos As Biden claimed, President-elect Joe Biden vowed in the article ” As president, I will take immediate steps to renew U.S. democracy and alliances, protect the United States’ economic future, and once more have America lead the world”. 

The colonial tone in the language of Biden’s article towards the world and the cultures and civilizations of other nations can easily be observed. This language is consistent with the history of successive American administrations and the colonial West in general. The difference between the Shanghai Organization Group’s rhetoric calling on human civilizations to get to learn from each other, and a Western-American discourse seeking to impose its own ideology on the rest of the earth, while striking, is not new. But what was remarkable  was the Chinese president’s call in his speech to invest in Chinese economic opportunities, which It will help those countries achieve prosperity, he said, while Biden wanton to talk about the importance of liberal ideology and the need to confront countries that don’t embrace the liberal approachlike China  or those that he considers a threat to the liberals like Putin’s Russia, without talking about the economic temptations for those countries that will adopt the ideology of the Western concept and the democratic formula in the management of their social and economic systems, or for those countries that will join the United States in what sounds like an ideological war to spread the liberal ideology. Biden said that the United States of America, along with its democratic allies, make up half of the world’s economy, and that this is a number that China cannot ignore, alluding to economic sanctions. Biden’s article did not include mention of any economic incentives to those countries that will follow its leadership in its planned campaign against its opponents in China and Russia and those other countries that are opposing American hegemony, while American rhetoric has made such promises alongside ideological discourse in the past decades during the period of confrontation with the socialist camp and the Cold War. And this perhaps reflects the decline in the American economy in this era.

This brief comparison between the Chinese president’s speech and Joe Biden’s article could shine a light on some of the differences between the current phase and the Cold War era, and this comparison may help toconceptualize the possibilities of the confrontation outcome between America and China at the moment. However, the liberal ideology of The United States of America is still likely to be shaken by the shake-up of the American throne in the world, and as a result of the emergence of strong global movements opposing this ideology and the Western dictatorial ways to impose it on the rest of the peoples of the earth regardless of their cultural heritage and moral values. As well as a result of the emergence of the destructive effects of liberal ideology on societies and the concept of the family, dismantling the moral system of society in exchange for the freedom of the individual without any constraints. Not to mention the depletion of the natural resources of the planet because of the economic policies associated with the liberal ideology that threatens the very existence of human beings.

صراع الإمبراطوريات في كلمة شي ومقال جو بايدن

عربى 21-الرئيسية

عمرو علان  

جريدة الأخبار

الجمعة 4 كانون الأول 2020

تجدر المقارنة بين ما جاء في كلمة الرئيس الصيني شي جين بينغ التي ألقاها في قمة منظمة شانغهاي العشرين الأخيرة وبين ما جاء في مقال الرئيس الأمريكي المنتخب جو بايدن الذي أعادت نشره مؤخرا مجلة (فورن أفيرز)، والذي حدد فيه جو بايدن أهم ملامح سياساته إذا ما اُنتخب رئيسا سادسا وأربعين للولايات المتحدة الأمريكية. 

رسم الرئيس شي جين بينغ في كلمته صورة عن طبيعة السياسات الخارجية الصينية ومحدداتها، وكان أهمها التشديد على فكرة التعددية القطبية في إدارة شؤون العالم تحت مظلة المنظومة الدولية في مواجهة الأحادية القطبية، وركزت الكلمة على وجوب دعم جهود الدول لتحقيق أجنداتها المحلية بما يؤمن استقرارها السياسي والاجتماعي الداخلي، مع التشديد على رفض تدخلات القوى الخارجية في الشؤون الداخلية لدول منظمة شانغهاي تحت أي ذرائع كانت، وأكد الرئيس الصيني في كلمته على أن الحضارات الإنسانية متكافئة لا أفضلية لإحداها على الأُخرى، وأن لكل منها ما يميزها، وأكد كذلك على ضرورة تشجيع التعارف فيما بين الحضارات الإنسانية، بالإضافة إلى تدعيم علاقات حسن الجوار والصداقات فيما بين الدول، وأضاف الرئيس شي جين بينغ أن الصين لا يمكنها تحقيق التطور بمعزل عن العالم، وبأن العالم يحتاج الصين لتحقيق الرخاء داعيا الجميع إلى البناء على حركة النمو الصينية والإفادة منها، ولعله استند في دعوته تلك إلى مبادرة الحزام والطريق الصينية وإلى ما وصل إليه حجم الاقتصاد الصيني ومعدلات نموّه مقارنة باقتصادات دول العالم الأخرى، ولا تختلف هذه المحددات التي عرضها الرئيس الصيني في جوهرها عما جاء عليه البيان الختامي للقمة المنعقدة الذي يمثل سياسات دول منظمة شانغهاي عموماً.

بينما نجد أن الفكرة الأبرز التي وردت في مقال جو بايدن المُشار إليه، الذي جاء تحت عنوان “لماذا يجب على أمريكا أن تقود مجدداً”، هي عزمه خلال السنة الأولى من حكمه على عقد قمة دولية، يدعو إليها زعماء تلك الدول التي تعدها أمريكا ديموقراطيات ودول “العالم الحر”، وهذه التصنيفات حسب ما بات معروفاً تعني في القاموس الغربي الدول الاستعمارية في الأصل، وبعض الدول الأخرى التي ترتضي الدوران في الفلك الأمريكي، وسيتم أيضاً دعوة منظمات المجتمع المدني إلى تلك القمة، وهذه المنظمات تعد الأداة المفضلة لدى أجهزة الاستخبارات الغربية والأمريكية للعبث في الشؤون الداخلية للدول ذات السيادة وإثارة حالة عدم الاستقرار السياسي، وتهدف هذه القمة حسب المقال إلى مواجهة النظم “الأوتوقراطية”، وتدعيم الديموقراطية وترسيخ نشر الأفكار الليبرالية التي باتت مهددة على حد قول بايدن، ويضيف المقال بأن الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية ستأخذ مقعدها الطبيعي على رأس الطاولة لتنظيم شؤون العالم، لأن ما دون ذلك يمكن أن يغرق العالم في الفوضى على حد زعم بايدن، ويتعهد الرئيس المنتخب جو بايدن في المقال بالآتي: “كرئيس، سآخذ خطوات فورية لتجديد ديموقراطية الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية وتحالفاتها، وأحمي مستقبل الاقتصاد الأمريكي، وأعيد أمريكا لقيادة العالم مجدداً”.

يمكن بسهولة ملاحظة النبرة الاستعمارية في لغة مقال بايدن اتجاه دول العالم واتجاه ثقافات وحضارات الأمم الأخرى، وتنسجم هذه اللغة مع تاريخ تعامل الإدارات الأمريكية المتعاقبة والغرب الاستعماري عموماً مع الآخر، والفرق جلي بين خطاب مجموعة منظمة شانغهاي الذي يدعو الحضارات البشرية إلى التعارف فيما بينها، وبين خطاب أمريكي غربي يسعى إلى فرض أيدولوجيته الليبرالية على سائر شعوب الأرض، ولا جديد في هذا، لكن اللافت كان في دعوة الرئيس الصيني في كلمته الدول الأخرى إلى الاستثمار في الفرص الاقتصادية الصينية، مما سيساعد تلك الدول على تحقيق الرخاء كما قال، بينما انصرف بايدن في مقاله إلى الحديث عن أهمية الأيدولوجيا الليبرالية وضرورة مواجهة الدول التي لا تعتنق الليبرالية منهجاً كالصين أو تلك التي عدها تشكل تهديداً للبرالية كروسيا بوتين،دون أن يتحدث عن مغريات اقتصادية لتلك الدول التي ستتبنى الفكر الليبرالي والصيغة الديموقراطية بالمفهوم الغربي في إدارة نُظُمِها الاجتماعية والاقتصادية، أو تلك الدول التي ستنضم للولايات المتحدة الأمريكية في ما يشبه الحرب العقدية لنشر الفكر الليبرالي حول العالم، وقال بايدن أن الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية مع حلفائها الديموقراطيين يشكلون نصف اقتصاد العالم، وأن هذا رقم لا يمكن للصين تجاهله فيما يعد تلميحاً إلى العقوبات الاقتصادية، واللافت في هذا خلو الخطاب الأمريكي من الوعود بالرفاه الاقتصادي والرخاء للدول التي تسعى إلى قيادتها في حملتها المزمعة على خصومها في الصين وروسيا وعلى تلك الدول الأخرى التي تشق عصا الطاعة على الهيمنة الأمريكية، بينما كان يقدم الخطاب الأمريكي مثل هكذا وعود إلى جانب الخطاب الأيديولوجي في العقود الماضية خلال فترة مواجهة المعسكر الاشتراكي والحرب الباردة سابقاً، ولعل هذا يعكس حقيقة التراجع في الاقتصاد الأمريكي في هذه الحقبة. 

يمكن أن تضيء هذه المقارنة المقتضبة بين خطاب الرئيس الصيني وبين مقال جو بايدن على بعض أوجه الاختلاف بين المرحلة الحالية وبين مرحلة الحرب الباردة إبان حقبة الاتحاد السوفيتي، ولعل هذه المقارنة تساعد على رسم تصور لاحتماليات مآلات المواجهة الحاصلة بين أمريكا والصين حالياً، ولكن يظل المرجح أن يهتز النهج الليبرالي مع اهتزاز عرش الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية في العالم، ونتيجة لظهور تيارات عالمية قوية تعارض هذا النهج وتعارض دكتاتورية الغرب التي تحاول فرضه على باقي شعوب الأرض بغض النظر عن الموروث الثقافي والحضاري لتلك الشعوب، وكذلك نتيجة لظهور الآثار الهدامة لهذا النهج على المجتمَعات في ضرب مفهوم الأسرة، وتفكيك المنظومة الأخلاقية للمجتمع في مقابل حرية الفرد المنفلتة من كل الضوابط، ناهيك عن استنزاف الموارد الطبيعية لكوكب الأرض بسبب السياسات الاقتصادية المرتبطة بالنهج الليبرالي مما بات يهدد الوجود البشري ذاته.

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

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