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

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[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.
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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.
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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.
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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

Can You Smell What the Chinese Are Cooking?

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

Pepe Escobar

Independent geopolitical analyst, writer and journalist

October 30, 2020©

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

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

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

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

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

Meet “China’s system”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond Westphalia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 25, 2020

Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

Will Confucius marry Marx?

Will Confucius marry Marx?

October 10, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When law is about morality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why no Industrial Revolution?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wu Wei and the invisible hand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Confucius marry Marx?

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

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

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

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

So what is to be done?

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

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

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

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

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

The limits of Chinese power

October 08, 2020

The limits of Chinese power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An October Surprise?

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

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

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

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

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

How Beijing miscalculates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask Confucius

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

September 23, 2020

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

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

And then it all went downhill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That “US military edge”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what is China doing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bye, bye Mackinder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

Source

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

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

Editorial Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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