US Loses Myanmar to China

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

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

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

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

Even US Proxies Can’t Deny America’s Decline 

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

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

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

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

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

Xi’s Visit Focused on Pragmatism, Not Politics 

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

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

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

The op-ed would conclude by noting:

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

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

US Denial and Revisionism Ensures Continued US Decline in Asia 

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

The Diplomat’s piece claims (my emphasis):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The article itself admits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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June 29, 2020

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

by Straight-Bat for the Saker Blog

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

PART – 1 can be found here


PART – 2

5. POST-DENG CHINA

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

A.  Jiang Zemin (till 2003)

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

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

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

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

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

B. Hu Jintao (2003 to 2012)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C. Xi Jinping (2013 onwards)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRI – Challenge to Current World-system?

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

BRI benefits China in primarily four ways:

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

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

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

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

Significant observations on post-Deng China:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. GEOPOLITICS 1930 ONWARDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

WW II – Phase II:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interlude?

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1

Part 3 – pending


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

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

An Indian by nationality, I believe in humanity.

A Pipelineistan fable for our times

June 08, 2020

A Pipelineistan fable for our times

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the whole Maidan project was in fact useless.

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

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

And don’t forget Siberia 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China, the World System and Brazilian dystopia

May 22, 2020

China, the World System and Brazilian dystopia

By Fábio Reis Vianna for the Saker Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes

Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes

May 11, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Superstar admiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plundering Europeans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No more naval retreat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International Finance’s Anti-China Crusade

Source

ERIC STRIKER • APRIL 6, 2020


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George Soros: The Open Society Against China

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Bannon: “Populist” For Hire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China rolls out the Health Silk Road

China rolls out the Health Silk Road

April 02, 2020

by Pepe Escobar – Posted with permission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Chinese lie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFTER THE EXPLOSION, A PREPARATION TO RETURN TO NORMALITY AND LIVE WITH COVID-19

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

No country in the world is expecting to be spared and every country except perhaps China, South Korea, and some Asian countries, is waiting to reach the “explosion” level, the peak which represents the highest death rate of COVID-19, known as Coronavirus, after which the curve of new casualties will start sliding down. This is when world leaders will have to make the decision for most societies to regain normality even though the virus will still be around for many months to come. Precautionary procedures of high sanitation standards and social distancing will always be advised, particularly among the elderly and the most affected people. Still, the economy needs to return to its ordinary course sooner or later, notwithstanding the enormous losses.

On the 10th of March, the Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the city of Wuhan, in the province of Hubei, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak and declared that the situation was under control: “success has been achieved in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan”, he said. The Chinese President never mentioned the virus was over but that COVID-19 was under control. China has accepted its casualties and will be able to deal with the flow of new cases and will no longer be subject to a flood of severe cases being rushed to hospitals and overwhelming medical staff.

In fact, this is what European leaders will have to decide between the month of May (for some businesses most crucial to the economy) and the month of June (for all others). It will depend on which countries reach the Coronavirus explosion level and start to come down the curve to reach a much lower level of dozens of casualties per day, rather than the hundreds and thousands, happening in the US and Europe right now.

Governments cannot afford irreparable damage to their domestic economies and will have to call for a return to productivity. The population can’t afford to be at home for so many regularly prolonged two-week quarantine periods. This is the period that was initially imposed on the community at the outset, and it seems it will be renewed regularly until casualties are reduced.

The loss of income to families and individuals is so far estimated at between $860 billion and $3.4 trillion worldwide. The losses to the travel industry are estimated at between $30 to $60 billion. Failure of trade in goods and services will amount to $320 billion per quarter of trade disruption. 

Many people relied on part-time earnings with little savings and were caught by surprise in this pandemic crisis. But societies will eventually be happy to return to work with COVID-19 around and live with it. The reason is simple: no medicine will be available before the end of the year 2020. Therefore, there would be no point in imposing an endless quarantine that lasts until a solution for the Coronavirus is found- particularly when most scientists estimate that COVID-19 may infect between 80% and 85% of the population but are either unaware or only showing mild symptoms. These have an immune system capable of fighting the virus and could return to be productive in their respective societies. Having faced and dealt with the tsunami of cases rushing to hospitals, the medical staff, after the slowing down of the number of cases, will be able to offer medical support to newly infected people. 

The elderly and the young, and persons with critical medical history (obesity, heart attacks, cholesterol, pulmonary infections, high blood pressure, and inadequate immune systems) will be still asked to minimise their movements. Their families and friends will also be recommended to take the necessary precautions when meeting each other and those prone to the virus in order to avoid being the contributor transmitting the virus to them. Governments will have the time to provide enough tests for the entire population and to improve their medical systems and equipment so as to avoid future flooding of hospitals and the exhaustion of the medical personnel (which is what is happening today in many countries reaching the explosion of the virus spread).

Distance learning and working from home will be developed: the world is quite likely to be exposed to other, future viruses or the return of the COVID-19 before an antidote is found. Imposing quarantine with every new virus would mean the population spending years at home: the economy would never recover. 

During the spread of the pandemic, people acknowledged that their dear ones were dying, or would die, and that little could be done to defeat this unknown virus. Also, due to their fear for their own lives, people were forced to accept the fact that their national medical system had failed them, even in the most advanced western societies (Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States of America) or on any other continent. The population faced the possibility of not being able to be present at funerals to mourn their relatives and bury them- for fear for their own lives. And President Donald Trump believes that the prospect of 200,000 Americans deceased from Coronavirus represents “a good job” for his administration in containing the pandemic. 

Once the storm has abated, people will want to question their leaders about their performance and the failure of planning to prevent the arrival of the worst-case scenario. Societies will criticise the reasons offered during the explosion of the pandemic why not enough tests were made available to all people to rapidly prevent the deterioration of all the individual cases. No country was indeed prepared for such a Tsunami: thousands of cases with weak immune systems being rushed simultaneously to hospitals.  Also, no hospital in the world could provide enough beds to accommodate the tens of thousands of cases. There was a shortage of respiratory systems to meet the numbers involved and save lives. 

These handicaps had to be accepted during the outbreak of the virus. However, many leaders will have to be held accountable, and even disappear, once the panic dissipates. It is just unacceptable that developed countries spend hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ money on warfare, waging wars overseas or investing in sending military troops abroad, but fail to equip, maintain and dynamise their national medical system. This “economic strategy” makes them responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. 

Europe is not finally expected to stay divided, but the virus has created collateral damage. A good lesson was learned by member countries of the EU like Italy, who can no longer see China and Russia as enemies. In moments of need, these countries, including Cuba, rushed to help Rome even though the Italian government had imposed sanctions on Moscow. The “most powerful nation,” the US, failed to fulfil its role and did not respond to the needs of its supposed allies on the European continents until very late. France and Germany waited for many weeks before supporting Italy, the country that was most hit after China and was left alone in the eye of the storm when most in need. The Italian President Sergio Mattarella asked the EU to correct its behaviour before irreparable damage occurred to the EU institution because Italy was left alone to face the explosion of the pandemic.

China and Russia are both coming out winners. A few Italians recorded themselves, raising the Chinese flag and lowering the European flag, but China is not offering itself as a substitute for US hegemony but as a strategic partner. Russia also, like China, aimed at the hearts of the population and apparently has no policy of dominance comparable to that of the US. The Kremlin offered its help (100 virologists and tons of medical supplies were offered to Italy) unconditionally, and Rome was not pressured to lift its sanctions. 

In contrast, the US refused to help Europe in the first weeks of the Coronavirus outbreak, imposing new sanctions on Iran amid the pandemic, offering a reward of $15 million for Venezuelan President Maduro and threatening to wage war on Iraqi security forces Kataeb Hezbollah. There was no human compassion from the US towards its opponents, like Iran, harshly hit by a pandemic. The current US warmongering administration is unable to change or to express empathy towards other human beings. They cannot see, understand, or adapt to the fact that this enemy is global and is making no distinctions within humankind.

A COVID-19 antidote will not be available soon. But there is little doubt that governments will take a different approach to medical readiness in the future. It is equally sure that allies will be reshuffled and that world dominance will no longer be the same when governments regain control after the pandemic. The world before COVID-19 will not be the same as that after COVID-19. The virus will be living among us and within us, waiting in silence for months and years to come.

Proofread by:  Maurice Brasher and C.G.B

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The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Another Reminder of Western Barbarianism

The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Another Reminder of Western Barbarianism 

By Darko Lazar

During the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, the Western military alliance devastated the country’s civilian infrastructure. The long list of targets included 19 hospitals, 18 kindergartens, 176 cultural monuments and 44 bridges. 

Several weeks into the military campaign, which was fiercely opposed by Russia and China, a total of five satellite-guided bombs, delivered by American B-2 bombers, slammed into the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. 

The attack on the symbol of Chinese sovereignty in the heart of the Balkans killed three Chinese nationals and wounded twenty others. 

Washington and Brussels claimed the attack was a mistake. But NATO’s increasingly bloody push eastwards would have unintended consequences. 

The Belt and Road Initiative vs. Western dictates 

Just a few months after the bombing of Serbia, Russia’s President Boris Yeltsin was quietly pushed out of office and replaced by the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin.

When Putin won his first election in 2000, he is rumored to have had two inauguration ceremonies. One was held in full view of the global media and another unfolded in the Kremlin’s underground chambers. 

There he was joined by a small group of Russian military officers and operatives from the country’s security apparatus. These men understood that it was only a matter of time before NATO bombs started falling on downtown Moscow, and the decision had been made to confront Western expansionism. 

In the years that followed, China and Russia would join hands with Iran to suppress American influence though the creation of a Eurasian union made up of sovereign and independent nations. 

This ambitious scheme reached Serbia in the form of Russian military hardware and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. 

Beijing found a reliable partner in the government of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, and in less than a decade, the Chinese poured billions of dollars in investments into the Balkan state. 

The investments propped up critical industries in Serbia, including a copper mine, a steelmaker, and a thermal power plant. While safeguarding tens of thousands of jobs and driving much-needed growth, the Chinese were also building new bridges, roads, and ports. 

Meanwhile, Vucic adopted an intelligent foreign policy – one made possible by the reemergence of a multipolar world. He reached out to both east and west and then took the best deal on the table. But the West had little to offer. 

Most of the exchanges with Brussels consisted of dictates. No longer able to bomb embassies, the West demanded Belgrade introduce ‘political reforms’ and restrict Chinese investments. 

Western political elites remained convinced that China and Russia have nothing to offer countries like Serbia that could rival joining ‘democratic’ Western alliances. 

The coronavirus pandemic delivered yet another serious blow to this arrogant and abominable point of view.     

Solidarity and fairytales

As coronavirus infections spiked dramatically across Europe earlier this month, Vucic declared that “European solidarity does not exist.” 

“This was a fairytale on paper,” Vucic said as he announced a state of emergency in his country. “Today I sent a special letter to the only ones who can help, and that is China.” 

He explained that he asked Chinese President Xi Jinping “not only as a dear friend, but as a brother” to provide Serbia desperately needed assistance after the EU imposed a ban on exports of medical equipment.  

Once again, when time came for building bridges instead of destroying them, the great humanitarians of the West had nothing to offer. Meanwhile, Chinese gear and experts flooded Serbia virtually overnight.

Beijing’s assistance and strict measures imposed by the government early on helped Serbia stave off disaster.   

But Serbia isn’t the only country receiving planeloads of supplies from the east. Chinese medical equipment is being sent to Iran, Iraq, and a number of European states including Italy where over 10,000 people have thus far perished due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Italy – the first EU state to embrace the Belt and Road Initiative in 2019 – turned to China after its plea for help from its European neighbors was refused. 

Similar acts of solidarity came from the Russians and some Latin American states. The Cubans flew their doctors to Italy and were asked to return to Brazil where they were expelled in 2018 and labeled “Communist spies” by the right-wing government of Jair Bolsonaro. 

Meanwhile, Western powerhouses are looking inwards. As they cling onto stocks depleted by years of healthcare cuts, the Trump administration was reportedly caught offering piles of money for ‘exclusive rights’ to a Covid-19 vaccine.

Imprisoned by their own twisted interpretations of human rights, many of these governments were slow to react. They hesitated in following the Chinese model and imposing drastic restrictions on freedom of movement. Instead they were worried about profits and how the stock markets would react. 

And even as the U.S. becomes the new epicenter of this pandemic, President Donald Trump expressed his readiness to potentially risk millions of American lives by reopening the country in just a few weeks.

This brutal face of capitalism is also on full display for Washington’s adversaries, namely Iran and Venezuela, where unilateral sanctions are preventing the delivery of desperately needed medical supplies.  

As such, Western governments and their policies are not only endangering individual nation states. At a time when a highly infectious disease is spreading at an unprecedented speed, these policies are threatening the entire global population. 

De omnibus dubitandum est

Despite extensive global coverage of this pandemic, very little is actually known about Covid-19. We don’t know how dangerous the virus is or its concrete consequences. And we certainly don’t have tangible details about what caused the outbreak. 

This leaves plenty of room for speculation, conspiracy theories, and even talk about aliens. Whatever the truth, biological warfare involving powerful political currents can never be ruled out. 

In an op-ed published more than two years ago, Al-Ahed pointed to the existence of hundreds of American military biological laboratories across the Eurasian continent. The labs were being used by the Pentagon to gather intelligence on microorganisms – vital for the creation of highly effective biological weapons. 

There is no doubt that the coronavirus transcends borders and religions and doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor. But that doesn’t mean that the virus isn’t helping further certain political agendas. 

The coronavirus has done what “Israel’s” politicians have failed to do for over a year. It’s brought an end to the political deadlock with indicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set to form the next government. 

By bringing the global economy to a screeching halt, Covid-19 has given birth to another Great Depression and paved the way for the collapse of certain governments. 

Equally important is the fact that the virus has the potential to determine the outcome of every single election process in the Western world for some time to come, including the U.S. presidential race. 

At times like these, it would be wise to remember the words of the late Danish philosopher Soren Aabye Kierkegaard who titled one of his books, De omnibus dubitandum est or “everything must be doubted”. 

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s?

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s?

by Ramin Mazaheri exclusive for The Saker log

So when did you become an epidemiologist? You seem quite willing to shame anyone not sterilising every square inch of every square inch.

And when did you become an economist? “The economy is not important now” must have been a pretty unusual PhD thesis.

We have likely all heard of “internet tough guys” – people who make bold claims or threats online, yet would flee at the sight of conflict – but who knew social media had so many people qualified to tell entire nations what to do regarding Corona?

How much of the Corona crisis has been caused by social media virtue-signallers, hypochondriacs, communications degree-holding intellectuals, helicopter Dads, bossy cows, and sheep who generally follow whatever the herd, management or pop stars tell them to do? That’s an interesting question: would we all be in lockdown prior to the internet and Facebook?

A practical follow-up question is: which nations have leadership which are perhaps even steered by social media, and which nations have leaders who can steer the national boat through choppy waters?

As socialists know and accept, a vanguard party is essential precisely because there are so many choppy waters in life. Choppy waters are doubled for socialist-inspired countries due to imposed wars, sanctions, blockades and endless cold war.

Capitalists and libertarians once again use Orwell against us – the same old, facile “some pigs are more equal than others” of Animal Farm – conflating totalitarianism with socialism, even though the two have entirely different ends and means.

Despite their absurd claims, the vanguard party concept is not anti-democratic. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel had truly universal support from every Cuban (in Cuba) I asked because he rose level by level by repeatedly showing his competence as a civil servant. The same goes for Xi of China (as I will soon remind). Nobody expected a low-ranking cleric like Khamenei to take over for Khomeini, but he has repeatedly showed his competence and abilities; go tell the tens of millions shouting “Khamenei rahbar” (Khamenei the leader) that socialist-inspired democracy, with both direct and indirect, hasn’t worked out well. In post-1917 countries one rises to the 1% via actual competence, and not just by buying elections, as in the West.

Conversely, Hillary Clinton married the governor of Arkansas, who became president, and then America was stuck with her. Emmanuel Macron did… I don’t even know how he got so far so fast, and I really don’t want to know what went on behind closed doors with him.

Regardless, are some pigs more equal than others, to pose their question?

Certainly, what you won’t hear from such socialist detractors is that China’s President Xi spent years doing hard rural work during the days of the Cultural Revolution, and then teaching illiterate farmers how to read during his Cultural Revolution nights. Now, I suppose it is technically a possibility: none of that was earnestly heartfelt on Xi’s part, and he is secretly amassing a personal fortune because the recesses of his heart are nothing but pure bitterness and hate for the socialist ideal of equality which he was forced to display and teach; he has also spent decades duping everyone in China that he is a competent public servant; Xi has zero warm sentiment for those rural citizens he worked with, and wants only revenge; any moment now Xi will launch a surprise attack of totalitarianism designed solely for his personal benefit and revenge.

These are the very real – yet ALWAYS unsaid – logical extensions of Western arguments made against vanguard parties in general, as well as against Xi. Westerners insist that socialist vanguard parties are corrupt not just at the core but all the way to the periphery.

Another unsaid logical extension is that no vanguard parties informally exist in the West. If, however, there are, it is because such people have risen to the 1% solely on merit. Xi’s supposed “merit”, is not merit at all… unlike theirs. Don’t push Westerners to explain these points – they have no answers.

Much of this applies to Iran as well – their system is based on the idea of the “guardianship of the Islamic jurist”. “Down with those opposed to the guardianship of the Islamic jurist” is always included in the “down withs”, and even before “down with the MKO, England, the US and Israel”. The vanguard party in Iran is obviously the clergy; I have written extensively and objectively about how I believe this is being bureaucratically formalised into the “Basij”, and I have discussed how the structure of the Basij has been clearly modelled on the Chinese Communist Party.

How can that be, Ramin, when Communists are atheists? Firstly, they are not. Maybe Marx was, but to hell with him on this point. Cuba is full of Catholics, but even more prevalent are those who practice Santeria; Vietnam has always constitutionally protected religion; Confucianism and Taoism, it is rarely recognised, are two sides of the same East Asian cosmological coin, and China’s intolerance on this point is being remedied. The USSR never reconciled religion and socialism, and this is a huge reason explaining why they are no more; a reason as big as Krushchevian corruption and capitalist-roading.

However, the structural and political similarities between the Basij and the CCP arise not from cosmological agreement but from the natural similarities of two countries who have had post-1917, socialist-inspired revolutions. The similarities are not “coincidental” at all, though those who misunderstand and reject socialism would surely explain away my comparisons with such sweeping, facile, pseudo-explanations. I’m not sure that you can have a vanguard party without the structures, policies and protections – as well as many of the aims and demands – which are greatly dissimilar from the CCP and the Basij? Few examples exist, sadly, for me to study and compare. Never say never, I suppose.

The idea of a formalised vanguard party – as in Iranian Islamic Socialism and other forms of socialism – does not mean totalitarianism. I suppose it could, but why can it not also mean elite governance performance? Why must we look only at the negative aspects, and not the positive? What are we – capitalist-imperialists?

The Corona crisis is not going to validate the support of formal, socialist-inspired vanguard parties in China, Iran, Cuba and elsewhere – they need no validation among their people; their bones are made.

What it will certainly do is discredit the Western model of “non-vanguardism”, “hidden-vanguardism”, “technocratic vanguardism”, “1%er-vanguardism” or whatever else you want to term their bankocratic, aristocratic, bourgeois oligarchies which govern.

The incredible spanner Western politicians have suicidally thrown into their economies will prove this: they have none of the unity, foresight, determination and especially the political modernity of countries like China and Iran, yet they are adopting similar Corona responses. It simply can’t be done without causing Great Depressions in the Lost Decade II-embarking Eurozone for certain, and also for the US economy, which disastrously combines a finance & service & consumer-based economy with non-Trumpian evangelism for self-harming globalisation.

It will take great pain, but this is what humans often require to make serious change, sadly. It will split apart families, but that is what civil war does.

I don’t know which nation will be the first to see their lower class starting to attack their neoliberal/neoliberal-client systems – and attacking as well the reactionary selfishness of the “first responders” whom they are repeatedly told to adulate – but they will all reach the same place as China and Iran: who is in charge? Who is the vanguard party to lead and staff the bureaucracy, which organises and decides on the logistics, and who needs to spread the night soil so we all can eat?

All workers are valid and equal, of course, but a vanguard party is needed to run a government. The alleged path goes capitalism, socialism, communism, anarchism – the idea that no vanguard parties are needed is anarchism, and Cubans will also correct you when you call them communist: they know they are not that far. The amount of self-empowerment espoused in anarchism may not even be possible on a billions-level? These are questions for a later date….

Allow me to disqualify myself from the vanguard party: I have been passed up for management over and over (of course everyone claims this), so maybe they are right? I am used to being a powerless cog in a machine, and I quite like it now!

The people who deserve to be in vanguard parties are those who evince both the capability for selflessness as well as the capability for superior political thought. After all, some have capabilities for great artistic thought, or great engineering thought, or have great social skills – political policy certainly requires input from all sectors and classes but their bureaucrats do need to have a masterful grasp of modern political ideology, as well as a grasp of what not to do: i.e., the ideologies held by the enemies of modern political ideologies. These qualifications are evinced by people like Xi, Khamenei, Diaz-Canel and France’s Yellow Vests.

The roar that the Yellow Vests will make when France’s lockdown in over… that’s another article.

I don’t think you can find a journalist writing in any Western language who has stood shoulder to shoulder with them more often, and I can promise France: put the Yellow Vests in charge and you’ll have exceptional national governance immediately. Unlike the Iranian clergy, Chinese commies and Cuban socialist-Santeriaists, the Yellow Vests’ actual support is hard to gauge: polls constantly showed over 50% support, yet the Animal Rights Party won 2.2% in the 2019 European Parliament elections, double the Yellow Vests parties combined.

Who is the vanguard party in the US? That I cannot say – I do not think one is apparent. I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and their few public comrades are interesting given the limitations of the US political context, but they are still far from what’s necessary now, and especially far from what will be necessary given the trajectory of Great Depression 2.

The times make the man, as they say.

The West’s vanguard parties seem intent on making times as difficult for the lower classes as they possibly can. Time well spent would be turning of Western MSM, as well as social media, and reflecting on who you think should really be in charge.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

COVID-19: PROPAGANDA AND MANIPULATION

 A

Epidemic outbreak in China

On November 17, 2019, the first case of a person infected with Covid-19 was diagnosed in Hubei Province, China. Initially, doctors tried to communicate the seriousness of the disease, but clashed with regional authorities. It was only when the number of cases increased and the population saw the seriousness of the disease that the central government intervened.

This epidemic is not statistically significant. It kills very few people, although those it does kill experience terrible respiratory distress.

Since ancient times, in Chinese culture, Heaven has given a mandate to the Emperor to govern his subjects [1]. When he withdraws it, a disaster strikes the country: epidemic, earthquake, etc. Although we are in modern times, President XI felt threatened by the mismanagement of the Hubei regional government. The Council of State therefore took matters into its own hands. It forced the population of Hubei’s capital, Wuhan, to remain confined to their homes. Within days, it built hospitals; sent teams to each house to take the temperature of each inhabitant; took all potentially infected people to hospitals for testing; treated those infected with chloroquine phosphate and sent others home; and treated the critically ill with recombinant interferon Alfa 2B (IFNrec) for resuscitation. This vast operation had no public health necessity, other than to prove that the Communist Party still has the heavenly mandate.

Propagation in Iran

The epidemic spreads from China to Iran in mid-February 2020. These two countries have been closely linked since ancient times. They share many common cultural elements. However, the Iranian population is the world’s most lung-weakest. Almost all men over the age of sixty suffer from the after-effects of the US combat gases used by the Iraqi army during the First Gulf War (1980-88), as did the Germans and the French after the First World War. Any traveller to Iran has been struck by the number of serious lung ailments. When air pollution in Tehran increased beyond what they could bear, schools and government offices were closed and half of the families moved to the countryside with their grandparents. This has been happening several times a year for thirty-five years and seems normal. The government and parliament are almost exclusively composed of veterans of the Iraq-Iran war, that is, people who are extremely fragile in relation to Covid-19. So when these groups were infected, many personalities developed the disease.

In view of the US sanctions, no Western bank covers the transport of medicines. Iran found itself unable to treat the infected and care for the sick until the UAE broke the embargo and sent two planes of medical equipment. People who would not suffer in the other country died from the first coughs due to the wounds in their lungs. As usual, the government closed schools. In addition, it deprogrammed several cultural and sporting events, but did not ban pilgrimages. Some areas have closed hotels to prevent the movement of sick people who can no longer find hospitals close to their homes.

Quarantine in Japan

On February 4, 2020, a passenger on the US cruise ship Diamond Princess was diagnosed ill from the Covid-19 and ten passengers were infected. The Japanese Minister of Health, Katsunobu Kato, then imposed a two-week quarantine on the ship in Yokohama in order to prevent the contagion from spreading to his country. In the end, out of the 3,711 people on board, the vast majority of whom are over 70 years old, there would be 7 deaths.

The Diamond Princess is an Israeli-American ship, owned by Micky Arison, brother of Shari Arison, the richest woman in Israel. The Arisons are turning this incident into a public relations operation. The Trump administration and several other countries airlifted their nationals to be quarantined at home. The international press devoted its headlines to this story. Referring to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919, it asserts that the epidemic could spread throughout the world and potentially threaten the human species with extinction [2]. This apocalyptic hypothesis, not based on any facts, will nevertheless become the word of the Gospel.

We remember that in 1898, William Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, in order to increase the sales of their daily newspapers, published false information in order to deliberately provoke a war between the United States and the Spanish colony of Cuba. This was the beginning of “yellow journalism” (publishing anything to make money). Today it is called “fake news”.

It is not known at this time whether tycoons deliberately spread panic about Covid-19, making this vulgar epidemic seem like the “end of the world”. However, one distortion after another, governments have become involved. Of course, it is no longer a question of selling advertising screens by frightening people, but of dominating populations by exploiting this fear.

WHO intervention

The World Health Organization (WHO), which monitored the entire operation, noted the spread of the disease outside China. On February 11th and 12th, it organized a global forum on research and innovation on the epidemic in Geneva. At the forum, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called in very measured terms for global collaboration [3].

In all of its messages, the WHO stressed : the low demographic impact of the epidemic; the futility of border closures; the ineffectiveness of wearing gloves, masks (except for health care workers) and certain “barrier measures” (for example, the distance of one metre only makes sense with infected people, but not with healthy people); the need to raise the level of hygiene, including hand washing, water disinfection and increased ventilation of confined spaces. Finally, use disposable tissues or, failing that, sneeze into your elbow.

However, the WHO is not a medical organization, but a United Nations agency dealing with health issues. Its officials, even if they are doctors, are also and above all politicians. It cannot therefore denounce the abuses of certain states. Furthermore, since the controversy over the H1N1 epidemic, the WHO must publicly justify all its recommendations. In 2009, it was accused of having let itself be swayed by the interests of big pharmaceutical companies and of having hastily sounded the alarm in a disproportionate manner [4]. This time it used the word “pandemic” only as a last resort, on March 12th, four months later.

At the Franco-Italian summit in Naples on February 27, the French and Italian presidents, Giuseppe Conte and Emmanuel Macron, announced that they would react together to the pandemic.

Instrumentation in Italy and France

Modern propaganda should not be limited to the publication of false news as the United Kingdom did to convince its people to enter the First World War, but should also be used in the same way as Germany did to convince its people to fight in the Second World War. The recipe is always the same: to exert psychological pressure to induce subjects to voluntarily practice acts that they know are useless, but which will lead them to lie [5]. For example, in 2001, it was common knowledge that those accused of hijacking planes on 9/11 were not on the passenger boarding lists. Yet, in shock, most accepted without question the inane accusations made by FBI Director Robert Muller against “19 hijackers”. Or, as is well known, President Hussein’s Iraq had only old Soviet Scud launchers with a range of up to 700 kilometers, but many Americans caulked the windows and doors of their homes to protect themselves from the deadly gases with which the evil dictator was going to attack America. This time, in the case of the Covid-19, it is the voluntary confinement in the home that forces the person who accepts it to convince himself of the veracity of the threat.

Let us remember that never in history has the confinement of a healthy population been used to fight a disease. Above all, let us remember that this epidemic will have no significant consequences in terms of mortality.

In Italy, the first step was to isolate the contaminated regions according to the principle of quarantine, and then to isolate all citizens from each other, which follows a different logic.

According to the President of the Italian Council, Giuseppe Conte, and the French President, Emmanuel Macron, the aim of confining the entire population at home is not to overcome the epidemic, but to spread it out over time so that the sick do not arrive at the same time in hospitals and saturate them. In other words, it is not a medical measure, but an exclusively administrative one. It will not reduce the number of infected people, but will postpone it in time.

In order to convince the Italians and the French of the merits of their decision, Presidents Conte and Macron first enlisted the support of committees of scientific experts. While these committees had no objection to people staying at home, they had no objection to people going about their business. Then Chairs Conte and Macron made it mandatory to have an official form to go for a walk. This document on the letterheads of the respective ministries of the interior is drawn up on honour and is not subject to any checks or sanctions.

The two governments panic their populations by distributing unnecessary instructions disavowed by infectious diseases doctors: they encourage people to wear gloves and masks in all circumstances and to keep at least one metre away from any other human being.

Video from February 25, 2020 censored by the French Ministry of Health

The French “reference daily” (sic) Le Monde, Facebook France and the French Ministry of Health undertook to censor a video of Professor Didier Raoult, one of the world’s most renowned infectiologists, because by announcing the existence of a proven drug in China against Covid-19, he highlighted the lack of a medical basis for the measures taken by President Macron [6].

Presentation by Professor Didier Raoult to the General Assembly of the University Hospitals of Marseille, March 16, 2020.

It is too early to say what real goal the Conte and Macron governments are pursuing. The only thing that is certain is that it is not a question of fighting Covid-19.

Notes:

[1The Mandate of Heaven and The Great Ming Code, Jiang Yonglin, University of Washington Press (2011).

[2Human Extinction and the Pandemic Imaginary, Christos Lynteris, Routledge (2020).

[3] «Nouveau coronavirus : solidarité, collaboration et mesures d’urgence au niveau mondial s’imposent», Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Organisation mondiale de la Santé, 11 février 2020.

[4Pandemics, Science and Policy. H1N1 and the World Health Organization, Sudeepa Abeysinghe, Plagrave Macmillan (2015).

[5] “The techniques of modern military propaganda”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 18 May 2016.

[6] «“La chloroquine guérit le Covid-19” : Didier Raoult, l’infectiologue qui aurait le remède au coronavirus», Étienne Campion, Marianne, 19 mars 2020.


By Thierry Meyssan
Source: Voltaire Network

Lazy Optimism and US Capitalism’s Deaths of Despair

We are all Stoics now

Source

March 21, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

The Philosophical Silk Road as celebrated at an Italian airport: a meeting of Chinese and Greek/Latin stoicism

Stoics would approve: Following a decree issued by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on March 9, all commercial activities have been required to close after 6 pm with the exception of food shops. The squares of Italian cities have emptied; bars, restaurants, cafes and covered markets are now deserted. Movement is allowed only for business purposes and home deliveries and for close personal reasons. The streets are patrolled by police forces. This photo was taken at Piazza Capitaniato, Padua, on Monday. Photo: AFP / Roberto Silvino / NurPhoto

Earlier this week a delegation of Chinese medics arrived at Malpensa airport near Milan from Shanghai on a special China Eastern flight carrying 400,000 masks and 17 tons of equipment. The salutation banner the visitors rolled out on the tarmac, in red and white, read, “We’re waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, flowers from the same garden.”

In a stance of supreme cross-cultural elegance, this was inspired by the poetics of Seneca, a Stoic. The impact, all over Italy, where people still study the classics, was immense.

The Chinese were consulted in advance and they preferred Seneca to a Chinese saying. After all, for China, a 5,000-year-old civilization-state that has confronted perhaps more than its share of instances of luan (“chaos”), there’s nothing more rejuvenating than post-chaos.

China is donating coronavirus test kits to Cambodia. China sent planeloads of masks, ventilators – and medics – to Italy and France. China sent medics to Iran, which is under unilateral, illegal US sanctions – and to Iraq, which the Pentagon is bombing again. China is helping across the (Eurasian) board, from the Philippines to Spain.

President Xi Jinping, in a phone call with Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, pledged in the wake of Covid-19 to establish a Health Silk Road, a companion to the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative.

Thus, finally, there’s the Philosophical Silk Road celebrated at an Italian airport, a meeting of Greek/Latin stoicism with Chinese stoicism.

Slave, orator, emperor

Stoicism, in Ancient Greece, was pop culture – reaching out in a way that the sophisticated Platonic and Aristotelian schools could only dream of. Like the Epicureans and the Skeptics, the Stoics owed a lot to Socrates who always stressed that philosophy had to be practical, capable of changing our priorities in life.

The Stoics were very big on ataraxia – freedom from disturbance – as the ideal state of our mind. The wise man cannot possibly be troubled because the key to wisdom is knowing what not to care about.

So the Stoics were Socratic in the sense that they were striving to offer peace of mind to Everyman. Like a Hellenistic version of the Tao.

The great ascetic Antisthenes was a companion of Socrates and a precursor of the Stoics. The first Stoics took their name from the porch – stoa – in the Athenian market where official founder Zeno of Citium (333-262 BC) used to hang out. But the real deal was in fact Chrisippus, a philosopher specialized in logic and physics, who may have written as many as 705 books, none of which survived.

The West came to know the top Stoics as a Roman trio – Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. They are the role models of stoicism as we know it today.

Epictetus (50-120 AD) was born as a slave in Rome, then moved to Greece and spent his life examining the nature of freedom.

Seneca (5 BC-65 AD), a fabulous orator and decent dramatist, was exiled to Corsica when he was falsely accused of committing adultery with the sister of emperor Claudius. But afterward he was brought back to Rome to educate the young Nero, and ended up sort of forced by Nero to commit suicide.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (The Younger) c5 BC-65 AD. Roman Stoic philosopher, committing suicide in his bath, having antagonised Nero. Photo AFP / rom Hartmann Schedel ‘Liber chronicarum mundi’ (Nuremberg Chronicle), 1493 woodcut, Nuremberg

Marcus Aurelius, a humanist, was the prototypical reluctant emperor, living in the turbulent second century AD and configuring himself as a precursor of Schopenhauer: Marcus saw life as really a drag.

Zeno’s teachers were in fact Cynics (the nickname affixed to them came from a Greek word meaning “dog-like, currish, churlish”) whose core intuition was that nothing mattered more than virtue. So the trappings of conventional society would have to be downgraded to the status of irrelevant distractions at best. Few of today’s (lowercase) cynics would qualify.

It’s enlightening to know that the upper classes of the Roman empire, the 1%, regarded Zeno’s insights as quite solid, while predictably deriding the first punk in history, Diogenes the Cynic, who masturbated in the public square and carried a lantern trying to find a real man.

As much as for Heraclitus, for the Stoics a key element in the quest for peace of mind was learning how to live with the inevitable. This desire for serenity is one of their linkages with the Epicureans.

Stoics were adamant that most people have no clue about the universe they live in. (Imagine their reaction to social networks.) Thus they end up confused in their attitudes towards life. In contrast to Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics were hardcore materialists. They would have none of that talk of “Forms” in an ideal Platonic world. For the Stoics, these were nothing but concepts in Plato’s mind.

For the Epicureans, the world is the unplanned product of chaotic forces.

The Stoics, in contrast, thought the world was a matter of organization down to the last detail.

For the Epicureans, the course of nature is not pre-determined: Fate intervenes in the form of random swerves of atoms. Fate, in ancient Greece, actually meant Zeus.

For the Stoics, everything happens according to fate: an inexorable chain of cause and effect, developing in exactly the same way again and again in a cycle of cosmic creation and destruction – a sort of precursor of Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence.

Resigned acceptance

The Stoics were heavily influenced by Heraclitus. Stoic physics dealt with the notion of interpenetration: the physical world as a stirred concoction of intermingled substances, quite an extraordinary precursor of the equivalence of energy and matter in Einstein.

What the post-modern world retains from the Stoics is the notion of resigned acceptance – which makes total sense if the world really works according to their insights. If fate rules the world, and practically everything that happens is out of our hands, then realpolitik means to accept “everything to happen as it actually does happen,” in the immortal words of Epictetus.

Thus it’s pointless to get excited about stuff we cannot change. And it’s pointless to be attached to things that we will eventually lose. (But try selling this notion to the Masters of the Universe of financial capitalism.)

So the Way, according to the Stoics, is to own only the essentials, and to travel light. Lao Tzu would approve. After all, anything we may lose is more or less gone already – thus we are already protected from the worst blows in life.

Lao-Tzu (c.604-531 BC) on his Buffalo, Qing dynasty (ceramic) by Chinese School, (18th century); Musee Guimet, Paris. Photo: AFP

Perhaps the ultimate Stoic secret is the distinction by Epictetus between things that are under our control – our thoughts and desires – and those that are not: our bodies, our families, our property, our lot in life, all elements that the expansion of Covid-19 has now put in check.

What Epictetus tells you is that if you redirect your emotions to focus on what is in your power and ignore everything else, then “no one will ever be able to exert compulsion upon you, no one will hinder you – neither there’s any harm that can touch you.”

Epictetus the Greek Stoic philosopher. Photo: AFP / ©Costa/leemage

Power ultimately irrelevant

Seneca offered a definitive guide that we may apply to multiple strands of the 1%: “I deny that riches are a good, for if they were, they would make men good. As it is, since that which is found in the hands of the wicked cannot be called a good, I refuse to apply the term to riches.”

The Stoics taught that to enter public life means to spread virtue and fight vice. It’s a very serious business involving duty, discipline and self-control. This goes a long way to explain why over 70% of Italians now applaud the conduct of the prime minister in the fight against Covid-19. Conte did rise to the occasion, unexpectedly, as a neo-Stoic.

The Stoics regarded death as a useful reminder of one’s fate and of the ultimate insignificance of the things of the world. Marcus Aurelius found enormous consolation in the shortness of life: “In a little while you will be no one and nowhere, even as Hadrian and Augustus are no more.” When circumstances made it impossible to live up to the ideals of Stoic virtue, death was always a viable Plan B.

Epictetus also tells us we should not really be concerned about what happens to our body. Sometimes he seemed to regard death as the acceptable way out of any misfortune.

At the top of their game the Stoics made it clear that the difference between life and death was insignificant, compared with the difference between virtue and vice.

Thus the notion of a noble suicide. Stoic heroism is plain to see in the life and death of Cato The Younger as described by Plutarch. Cato was a fierce opponent of Caesar, and his integrity ruled that the only possible way out was suicide.

According to Plutarch’s legendary account, Cato, on his last night, defended a number of Stoic theses during dinner, retreated to his room to read Plato’s Phaedo – in which Socrates argues that a true philosopher sees all of life as a preparation for death – and killed himself. Of course he became a Stoic superstar for eternity.

The Stoics taught that wealth, status and power are ultimately irrelevant. Once again, Lao Tzu would approve. The only thing that can raise one man above others is superior virtue – of which everyone is capable, at least in principle. So, yes, the Stoics believed we are all brothers and sisters. Seneca: “Nature made us relatives by creating us from the same materials and for the same destiny.”

Imagine a system built on a selfless devotion to the welfare of others, and against all vanity. It’s certainly not what inequality-provoking, financial turbo-capitalism is all about.

Epictetus: “What ought one to say then as each hardship comes? ‘I was practicing for this, I was training for this.’” Will Covid-19 show to a global wave of practicing neo-Stoics that there is another way?

China locked in hybrid war with US

Photo: AFP
China locked in hybrid war with US

Via The Saker

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Fallout from Covid-19 outbreak puts Beijing and Washington on a collision course

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made his position clear. Photo: AFP

Among the myriad, earth-shattering geopolitical effects of coronavirus, one is already graphically evident. China has re-positioned itself. For the first time since the start of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in 1978, Beijing openly regards the US as a threat, as stated a month ago by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference during the peak of the fight against coronavirus.

Beijing is carefully, incrementally shaping the narrative that, from the beginning of the coronovirus attack, the leadership knew it was under a hybrid war attack. Xi’s terminology is a major clue. He said, on the record, that this was war. And, as a counter-attack, a “people’s war” had to be launched.

Moreover, he described the virus as a demon or devil. Xi is a Confucianist. Unlike some other ancient Chinese thinkers, Confucius was loath to discuss supernatural forces and judgment in the afterlife. However, in a Chinese cultural context, devil means “white devils” or “foreign devils”: guailo in Mandarin, gweilo in Cantonese. This was Xi delivering a powerful statement in code.

When Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, voiced in an incandescent tweet the possibility that “it might be US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan” – the first blast to this effect to come from a top official – Beijing was sending up a trial balloon signaliing that the gloves were finally off. Zhao Lijian made a direct connection with the Military Games in Wuhan in October 2019, which included a delegation of 300 US military.

He directly quoted US CDC director Robert Redfield who, when asked last week whether some deaths by coronavirus had been discovered posthumously in the US, replied that  “some cases have actually been diagnosed this way in the US today.”

Zhao’s explosive conclusion is that Covid-19 was already in effect in the US before being identified in Wuhan – due to the by now fully documented inability of US to test and verify differences compared with the flu.

Adding all that to the fact that coronavirus genome variations in Iran and Italy were sequenced and it was revealed they do not belong to the variety that infected Wuhan, Chinese media are now openly  asking questions and drawing a connection with the shutting down in August last year of the “unsafe” military bioweapon lab at Fort Detrick, the Military Games, and the Wuhan epidemic. Some of these questions had been asked – with no response – inside the US itself.

Extra questions linger about the opaque Event 201 in New York on October 18, 2019: a rehearsal for a worldwide pandemic caused by a deadly virus – which happened to be coronavirus. This magnificent coincidence happened one month before the outbreak in Wuhan.

Event 201 was sponsored by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the CIA, Bloomberg, John Hopkins Foundation and the UN.  The World Military Games opened in Wuhan on the exact same day.

Irrespective of its origin, which is still not conclusively established, as much as Trump tweets about the “Chinese virus,” Covid-19 already poses immensely serious questions about biopolitics (where’s Foucault when we need him?) and bio-terror.

The working hypothesis of coronavirus as a very powerful but not Armageddon-provoking bio-weapon unveils it as a perfect vehicle for widespread social control – on a global scale.

Cuba rises as a biotech power

Just as a fully masked Xi visiting the Wuhan frontline last week was a graphic demonstration to the whole planet that China, with immense sacrifice, is winning the “people‘s war” against Covid-19, Russia, in a Sun Tzu move on Riyadh whose end result was a much cheaper barrel of oil, helped for all practical purposes to kick-start the inevitable recovery of the Chinese economy. This is how a strategic partnership works.

The chessboard is changing at breakneck speed. Once Beijing identified coronavirus as a bio-weapon attack the “people’s war” was launched with the full force of the stateMethodically. On a “whatever it takes” basis. Now we are entering a new stage, which will be used by Beijing to substantially recalibrate the interaction with the West, and under very different frameworks when it comes to the US and the EU.

Soft power is paramount. Beijing sent an Air China flight to Italy carrying 2,300 big boxes full of masks bearing the script, “We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, flowers from the same garden.” China also sent a hefty humanitarian package to Iran, significantly aboard eight flights from Mahan Air – an airline under illegal, unilateral Trump administration sanctions.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic could not have been more explicit: “The only country that can help us is China. By now, you all understood that European solidarity does not exist. That was a fairy tale on paper.”

Under harsh sanctions and demonized since forever, Cuba is still able to perform breakthroughs – even on biotechnology. The anti-viral Heberon – or Interferon Alpha 2b – a therapeutic, not a vaccine, has been used with great success in the treatment of coronavirus. A joint venture in China is producing an inhalable version, and at least 15 nations are already interested in importing the therapeutic.

Now compare all of the above with the Trump administration offering $1 billion to poach German scientists working at biotech firm Curevac, based in Thuringia, on an experimental vaccine against Covid-19, to have it as a vaccine “only for the United States.”

Social engineering psy-op?

Sandro Mezzadra, co-author with Brett Neilson of the seminal The Politics of Operations: Excavating Contemporary Capitalism, is already trying to conceptualize where we stand now in terms of fighting Covid-19.

We are facing a choice between a Malthusian strand – inspired by social Darwinism – “led by the Johnson-Trump-Bolsonaro axis” and, on the other side, a strand pointing to the “requalification of public health as a fundamental tool,” exemplified by China, South Korea and Italy. There are key lessons to be learned from South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.

The stark option, Mezzadra notes, is between a “natural population selection,” with thousands of dead, and “defending society” by employing “variable degrees of authoritarianism and social control.” It’s easy to imagine who stands to benefit from this social re-engineering, a 21st century remix of Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death.

Amid so much doom and gloom, count on Italy to offer us Tiepolo-style shades of light. Italy chose the Wuhan option, with immensely serious consequences for its already fragile economy. Quarantined Italians remarkably reacted by singing on their balconies: a true act of metaphysical revolt.

Not to mention the poetic justice of the actual St. Corona (“crown” in Latin) being buried in the city of Anzu since the 9th century. St. Corona was a Christian killed under Marcus Aurelius in 165 AD, and has been for centuries one of the patron saints of pandemics.

Not even trillions of dollars raining from the sky by an act of divine Fed mercy were able to cure Covid-19. G-7 “leaders” had to resort to a videoconference to realize how clueless they are – even as China’s fight against coronavirus gave the West a head start of several weeks.

Shanghai-based Dr. Zhang Wenhongone of China’s top infectious disease experts, whose analyses have been spot on so far, now says China has emerged from the darkest days in the “people’s war” against Covid-19. But he does not think this will be over by summer. Now extrapolate what he’s saying to the Western world.

It’s not even spring yet, and we already know it takes a virus to mercilessly shatter the Goddess of the Market. Last Friday, Goldman Sachs told no fewer than 1,500 corporations that there was no systemic risk. That was false.

New York banking sources told me the truth: systemic risk became way more severe in 2020 than in 1979, 1987 or 2008 because of the hugely heightened danger that the $1.5 quadrillion derivative market would collapse.

As the sources put it, history had never before seen anything like the Fed’s intervention via its little understood elimination of commercial bank reserve requirements, unleashing a potential unlimited expansion of credit to prevent a derivative implosion stemming from a total commodity and stock market collapse of all stocks around the world.

Those bankers thought it would work, but as we know by now all the sound and fury signified nothing. The ghost of a derivative implosion – in this case not caused by the previous possibility, the shutting down of the Strait of Hormuz – remains.

We are still barely starting to understand the consequences of Covid-19 for the future of neoliberal turbo-capitalism. What’s certain is that the whole global economy has been hit by an insidious, literally invisible circuit breaker. This may be just a “coincidence.” Or this may be, as some are boldly arguing, part of a possible, massive psy-op creating the perfect geopolitlcal and social engineering environment for full-spectrum dominance.

Additionally, along the hard slog down the road, with immense, inbuilt human and economic sacrifice, with or without a reboot of the world-system, a more pressing question remains: will imperial elites still choose to keep waging full-spectrum-dominance hybrid war against China?

Xi Focus: PROTECT: Can-do China curbs COVID-19

Source

March 11, 2020

From xinhuanet.com

A review of the practice and experience of China and its people encapsulated in the acronym “PROTECT”

BEIJING, March 11 (Xinhua) — As the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has taken a foothold in over 100 countries and regions, the threat of a pandemic has become very real. Still, it would be a pandemic that could be controlled.

Questions revolving around the COVID-19 spread have been mostly about “when, where, and how.” How to contain an uneven epidemic at the global level requires different countries tailoring their responses to their scenarios.

As China pledges a continuous fight toward victory with prevention and control efforts having “turned the tide,” the effectiveness of its playbook is getting more and more worldwide attention.

Here is a review of the practice and experience of the country and its people encapsulated in the acronym “PROTECT” — Party leadership, “renmin” for the people, openness and transparency, technology and science, early treatment, cooperation with the international community, and targeted and agile approach.

Chinese President Xi Jinping sends regards to medical workers who have been fighting the epidemic on the front line day and night, by video calls at the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, March 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

PARTY LEADERSHIP

For China, the COVID-19 outbreak is a major public health emergency considered to have spread fastest, caused the most extensive infection and has been the hardest to contain over the past 70 years. Defeating an invisible enemy of such ferocity would be impossible without the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

As chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted, political commitment is needed in every country and an all-of-government and all-of-society approach should be adopted.

Under the unified and centralized leadership of the CPC Central Committee, China formed a central leading group on the epidemic, dispatched a central guiding team and demanded a State Council inter-agency task force play its full role in coordination. The country mobilized the whole of government and stayed aggressive in stemming from the virus, with the Chinese people showing a deep commitment to collective action in the face of the common threat.

With President Xi Jinping as the commander-in-chief, Party committees and governments at all levels act in a coordinated national response and follow unified command, coordination and dispatch. They unite as one like a fortress, fully implement the joint prevention and control measures, put up entrenched defense lines and build a strong synergy against the virus.

The solidarity of provinces and cities in support of the most vulnerable populations and communities has been remarkable. Despite ongoing outbreaks in their areas, governors and mayors have continued to send thousands of medical workers and tonnes of vital personal protective equipment supplies into Hubei Province and its capital city Wuhan, the epidemic epicenter.

China’s progress in containing the virus should be attributed to government leadership and the cooperation of its people at the same time, Tedros told Xinhua. “It cannot happen without the strong commitment from the government and strong cooperation by the people.”

Since the outbreak, the CPC Central Committee has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures to resolutely curb the spread of the virus in Wuhan and Hubei.

“All prevention and control measures taken by the CPC Central Committee against the virus are to prevent more people from being infected and save more patients’ lives,” said Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, on Tuesday during his inspection tour in Wuhan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping inquires about purchasing and supply of people’s daily necessities at a community in Wuhan, March 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

RENMIN: THE PEOPLE

Praising the people of Wuhan, Xi said the positive trend in epidemic control could not have been achieved without their sacrifice, devotion, perseverance and efforts. He also sent condolences to people who died in the epidemic and people who sacrificed their lives fighting on the front line on behalf of the CPC Central Committee.

The war on the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 is a people’s war in essence. The country has been closely relying on “renmin” — the people — to win the people’s war against the epidemic.

The people in Wuhan actively minimized outdoor exposure, canceled public gatherings and accepted travel restrictions, which for them meant staying at home most of the time and suspending normal routines.

Even so, they went to extra lengths to help. The city saw private business owners supplying free coffee and goggles to hospital staff while their businesses stalled, couriers offering to drive medical workers to and from hospitals and grocery store tallymen packing and delivering staples for each household to put food on the table for the city’s 10 million residents.

About 20,000 volunteers have been serving as deliverymen, drivers, coordinators and community workers in grocery stores, neighborhoods and hospitals in Wuhan, with an additional 24,000 recruited since late February to meet the delivery needs of neighborhoods in the city, official data showed.

“China’s success rests largely with a strong administrative system that it can mobilize in times of threat, combined with the ready agreement of the Chinese people to obey stringent public health procedures,” said a recent editorial by Lancet, a prestigious medical journal.

With their concrete actions, Wuhan people have demonstrated the strength and spirit of China, as well as the Chinese people’s love for family and the nation, which enables them to stick together through thick and thin, Xi said.

Photo taken on Feb. 17, 2020 shows a press conference on the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak held by the joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council in Beijing. (Xinhua/Pan Xu)

OPENNESS AND TRANSPARENCY

When it comes to stemming an epidemic, honesty is the best policy. Xi has stressed frequent release of authoritative information by relevant agencies at different levels, addressing existing problems squarely and responding to public concerns in a timely and specialist manner with a clear aim.

Since January, the State Council Information Office and the National Health Commission have regularly held live press conferences regarding the joint efforts in virus prevention and control. The inter-agency task force under the joint prevention and control mechanism of the State Council held press conferences daily. At the same time, many provincial-level regions including Hubei also hold press conferences every day.

On Feb. 25, the State Council Information Office moved the pressroom to Wuhan, so as to facilitate the release of timely, comprehensive and accurate information regarding the forefront of the epidemic battle. Besides, press conferences also frequently gave the floor to frontline personnel including medics, police officers and volunteers, whose stories of devotion to duty touched so many hearts.

By releasing the latest information about the epidemic, prevention and control measures and effects, these press conferences have taken the initiative in responding to public concerns and quashing rumors and thus have further improved the effectiveness of information disclosure.

As a responsible major country, China has also from the start acted openly and transparently in releasing relevant information to the world and seeking international cooperation to prevent the spread of the epidemic worldwide.

A staff member conducts nucleic acid tests at a laboratory in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province, Feb. 13, 2020. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)

TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE

Xi has said science and technology are humanity’s most powerful weapon against diseases. China has built a powerful arsenal by giving full play to indigenous solutions.

It has capitalized on the use of technology, big data and AI for COVID-19 preparedness, readiness and response. Authoritative and reliable information, medical guidance, access to online services, provision of educational tools and remote work tools have been developed in and used across China. These services have increased accessibility to health services, reduced misinformation and minimized the impact of fake news.

For example, it has launched a new batch of programs to develop testing products for COVID-19, including more sensitive and rapid detection kits for nucleic acid and antigen and antibody testing.

It promoted treatment with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM has been involved in treating 92.5 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide, as studies confirmed that TCM and Western medicine work better when combined than used independently in improving the recovery rate and reducing the mortality rate.

It also promptly enlisted new information technologies. Telecom enterprises use big data to analyze the people flows, and the epidemic situation in key areas during important periods, map close contacts and ensure timely supply and distribution of key medical materials.

The AI technology is applied to support COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment, no-contact delivery and drug selection as well as vaccine development, while 5G-empowered robots have been providing medical services such as remote care, body temperature tests, spraying disinfectants, cleaning and drug delivery.

Chinese researchers have also developed an AI-assisted computed tomography analysis system, offering a more accurate distinction of a patient with COVID-19 or common viral pneumonia amid the intensive clinical demands in the anti-epidemic fight.

Aerial photo taken on Feb. 2, 2020 shows the Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)

EARLY TREATMENT

Speed is everything. China’s progress in curbing the epidemic has proved the approach of early detection, reporting, isolation and treatment the most primitive yet the most effective.

Xi has reiterated the importance of the approach. He urged more efforts to resolutely curb the spread of the epidemic, hospitalize all confirmed patients, conduct thorough tests of all suspected patients and isolate all those close contacts. He demanded to track and manage every potential risk without leaving any dead corners.

To leave no COVID-19 patient unattended and snap the spread of the illness, Wuhan built two hospitals, Huoshenshan and Leishenshan, in two weeks, as well as 16 temporary hospitals converted from sports stadiums and exhibition halls. The 16 temporary hospitals have been closed by Tuesday as patients were discharged.

The country also saw factories built in six days to replenish the supply of face masks, while auto and apparel makers adapted their production lines for medical supplies.

Chinese scientists and public health experts have been refining their response in tandem with the latest clinical discoveries at what a China-WHO joint mission team on COVID-19 called a “remarkable speed,” which provided the vital evidence base for China’s strategy, gaining precious time for the response.

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with visiting World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Jan. 28, 2020. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

COOPERATION WITH INT’L COMMUNITY

Xi noted that public health security is a common challenge to human beings as a whole, and all countries need to join hands to deal with it.

Amid its no-holds-barred domestic battle against the virus, China has actively and voluntarily cooperated with and shared information with the international community, buying time for a global response to the virus and offering help when needed.

Tedros commended China’s quick moves in identifying and sequencing the novel coronavirus pathogen and sharing the sequence with the rest of the world, which has enabled the world to prepare for testing, diagnostics and other actions.

China has donated testing kits, masks, hazmat suits, thermometers and other supplies to countries including Iran, Iraq, Japan and the Republic of Korea, while doctors in Wuhan shared treatment experiences with their Italian counterparts in a teleconference.

To help fortify public health systems in developing countries, China announced a donation of 20 million U.S. dollars to the WHO in support of the global fight against COVID-19.

Chinese President Xi Jinping chairs a teleconference and delivers an important speech after the field inspection of the epidemic prevention and control work in Wuhan, March 10, 2020. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

TARGETED, AGILE APPROACH

“When Wuhan wins, Hubei wins. When Hubei wins, China wins.” In a pep talk to frontline medical staff in the epicenter of the outbreak in early February, Xi had clarified how the country would break the chains of transmission and resolutely win the people’s war against the epidemic.

The priority given to Wuhan and Hubei reflects a fundamental strategy — the country prioritized coordinated national response as well as local flexibility. Differentiated policies have been adopted for epidemic control and restoration of economic and social order in different places.

“In the face of a previously unknown virus, China has rolled out perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history,” according to a report by the China-WHO joint mission team which investigated COVID-19 in China last month.

The strategy that underpinned this containment effort was initially a national approach that promoted universal temperature monitoring, masking and hand washing. However, as the outbreak evolved and knowledge was gained, a science and risk-based approach was taken to tailor implementation. Specific containment measures were adjusted to the provincial, county and even community context, the capacity of the setting and the nature of novel coronavirus transmission there, the report said.

Hubei Province and the city of Wuhan are required to take more stringent, more targeted and more effective measures to curb the spread of the epidemic within their jurisdictions and beyond, and ensure the supply of all kinds of materials and necessities for the local people.

Local authorities also adopt the region-specific approach in terms of restoring the normal order of life and businesses, expanding business operations in light of local health risks.

In this two-front war — combating the outbreak and bolstering economic and social development — China tries to outmaneuver the difficulties with measures tailored to the local context. The recovery of China’s economy has gained momentum thanks to the approach. ■

No Weapon Left Behind: The American Hybrid War on China

Pepe Escobar February 21, 2020

The New Silk Roads – or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – were launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, first in Central Asia (Nur-Sultan) and then Southeast Asia (Jakarta).

One year later, the Chinese economy overtook the U.S. on a PPP basis. Inexorably, year after year since the start of the millennium, the U.S. share of the global economy shrinks while China’s increases.

China is already the key hub of the global economy and the leading trade partner of nearly 130 nations.

While the U.S. economy is hollowed out, and the casino financing of the U.S. government – repo markets and all – reads as a dystopian nightmare, the civilization-state steps ahead in myriad areas of technological research, not least because of Made in China 2025.

China largely beats the U.S. on patent filings and produces at least 8 times as many STEM graduates a year than the U.S., earning the status of top contributor to global science.

A vast array of nations across the Global South signed on to be part of BRI, which is planned for completion in 2049. Last year alone, Chinese companies signed contracts worth up to $128 billion in large-scale infrastructure projects in dozen of nations.

The only economic competitor to the U.S. is busy reconnecting most of the world to a 21st century, fully networked version of a trade system that was at its peak for over a millennia: the Eurasian Silk Roads.

Inevitably this state of things is something interlocking sectors of the U.S. ruling class simply would not accept.

Branding BRI as a “pandemic”

As the usual suspects fret over the “stability” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Xi Jinping administration, the fact is the Beijing leadership has had to deal with an accumulation of extremely severe issues: a swine-flu epidemic killing half the stock; the Trump-concocted trade war; Huawei accused of racketeering and about to be prevented from buying U.S. made chips; bird flu; coronavirus virtually shutting down half of China.

Add to it the incessant United States government Hybrid War propaganda barrage, trespassed by acute Sinophobia; everyone from sociopathic “officials” to self-titled councilors are either advising corporate businesses to divert global supply chains out of China or concocting outright calls for regime change – with every possible demonization in between.

There are no holds barred in the all-out offensive to kick the Chinese government while it’s down.

A Pentagon cipher at the Munich Security Conference once again declares China as the greatest threat, economically and militarily, to the U.S. – and by extension the West, forcing a wobbly EU already subordinated to NATO to be subservient to Washington on this remixed Cold War 2.0.

The whole U.S. corporate media complex repeats to exhaustion that Beijing is “lying” and losing control. Descending to sub-gutter, racist levels, hacks even accuse BRI itself of being a pandemic, with China “impossible to quarantine”.

All that is quite rich, to say the least, oozing from lavishly rewarded slaves of an unscrupulous, monopolistic, extractive, destructive, depraved, lawless oligarchy which uses debt offensively to boost their unlimited wealth and power while the lowly U.S. and global masses use debt defensively to barely survive. As Thomas Piketty has conclusively shown, inequality always relies on ideology.

We’re deep into a vicious intel war. From the point of view of Chinese intelligence, the current toxic cocktail simply cannot be attributed to just a random series of coincidences. Beijing has serial motives to piece this extraordinary chain of events as part of a coordinated Hybrid War, Full Spectrum Dominance attack on China.

Enter the Dragon Killer working hypothesis: a bio-weapon attack capable of causing immense economic damage but protected by plausible deniability. The only possible move by the “indispensable nation” on the New Great Game chessboard, considering that the U.S. cannot win a conventional war on China, and cannot win a nuclear war on China.

A biological warfare weapon?

On the surface, coronavirus is a dream bio-weapon for those fixated on wreaking havoc across China and praying for regime change.

Yet it’s complicated. This report is a decent effort trying to track the origins of coronavirus. Now compare it with the insights by Dr. Francis Boyle, international law professor at the University of Illinois and author, among others, of Biowarfare and Terrorism. He’s the man who drafted the U.S. Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 signed into law by George H. W. Bush.

Dr. Boyle is convinced coronavirus is an

“offensive biological warfare weapon” that leaped out of the Wuhan BSL-4 laboratory, although he’s “not saying it was done deliberately.”

Dr. Boyle adds, “all these BSL-4 labs by United States, Europe, Russia, China, Israel are all there to research, develop, test biological warfare agents. There’s really no legitimate scientific reason to have BSL-4 labs.” His own research led to a whopping $100 billion, by 2015, spent by the United States government on bio-warfare research: “We have well over 13,000 alleged life science scientists… testing biological weapons here in the United States. Actually this goes back and it even precedes 9/11.”

Dr. Boyle directly accuses “the Chinese government under Xi and his comrades” of a cover up “from the get-go. The first reported case was December 1, so they’d been sitting on this until they couldn’t anymore. And everything they’re telling you is a lie. It’s propaganda.”

The World Health Organization (WHO), for Dr. Boyle, is also on it: “They’ve approved many of these BSL-4 labs (…) Can’t trust anything the WHO says because they’re all bought and paid for by Big Pharma and they work in cahoots with the CDC, which is the United States government, they work in cahoots with Fort Detrick.” Fort Detrick, now a cutting-edge bio-warfare lab, previously was a notorious CIA den of mind control “experiments”.

Relying on decades of research in bio-warfare, the U.S. Deep State is totally familiar with all bio-weapon overtones. From Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Korea, Vietnam and Fallujah, the historical record shows the United States government does not blink when it comes to unleashing weapons of mass destruction on innocent civilians.

For its part, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has spent a fortune researching bats, coronaviruses and gene-editing bio-weapons. Now, conveniently – as if this was a form of divine intervention – DARPA’s “strategic allies” have been chosen to develop a genetic vaccine.

The 1996 neocon Bible, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), unambiguously stated, “advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”

There’s no question coronavirus, so far, has been a Heaven-sent politically useful tool, reaching, with minimum investment, the desired targets of maximized U.S. global power – even if fleetingly, enhanced by a non-stop propaganda offensive – and China relatively isolated with its economy semi paralyzed.

Yet perspective is in order. The CDC estimated that up to 42.9 million people got sick during the 2018-2019 flu season in the U.S. No less than 647,000 people were hospitalized. And 61,200 died.

This report details the Chinese “people’s war” against coronavirus.

It’s up to Chinese virologists to decode its arguably synthetic origin. How China reacts, depending on the findings, will have earth-shattering consequences – literally.

Setting the stage for the Raging Twenties

After managing to reroute trade supply chains across Eurasia to its own advantage and hollow out the Heartland, American – and subordinated Western – elites are now staring into a void. And the void is staring back. A “West” ruled by the U.S. is now faced with irrelevance. BRI is in the process of reversing at least two centuries of Western dominance.

There’s no way the West and especially the “system leader” U.S. will allow it. It all started with dirty ops stirring trouble across the periphery of Eurasia – from Ukraine to Syria to Myanmar.

Now it’s when the going really gets tough. The targeted assassination of Maj. Gen. Soleimani plus coronavirus – the Wuhan flu – have really set up the stage for the Raging Twenties. The designation of choice should actually be WARS – Wuhan Acute Respiratory Syndrome. That would instantly give the game away as a War against Humanity – irrespective of where it came from.The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

China’s virus response has been ‘breathtaking’

Would Mao Zedong (pictured in background at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing) be happy with China’s attempt to win a ‘People’s War’ on the coronavirus? Photo: Nicolas Asfouri / AFP

January 31, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Chinese President Xi Jinping is leading a scientific ‘People’s War’ against the coronavirus

President Xi Jinping formally told WHO head Tedros Ghebreyesus, at their meeting in Beijing earlier this week, that the coronavirus epidemic “is a devil and we cannot allow the devil to hide.”

Ghebreyesus for his part could not but praise Beijing for its extremely swift, coordinated response strategy – which includes fast identification of the genome sequence. Chinese scientists have already handed over to Russian counterparts the virus genome, with snap tests able to identify it in a human body within two hours. A Russia-China vaccine is under development.

The devil, of course, is always in the details. In a matter of a few days, at the peak of the most congested travel period of the year, China did manage to quarantine an urban environment of over 56 million people, including megalopolis Wuhan and three nearby cities. This is an absolute first in terms of public health, anytime in history.

Wuhan, with a GDP growth of 8.5% a year, is a significant business center for China. It lies at the strategic crossroads of the Yangtze and Han rivers and at a railway crossroads as well – between the north-south axis linking Guangzhou to Beijing and the east-west axis linking Shanghai to Chengdu.

As premier Li Keqiang was sent to Wuhan, President Xi visited the strategic southern province of Yunnan, where he extolled the immense government apparatus to boost control and sanitary prevention mechanisms to limit propagation of the virus.

Coronavirus catches China at an extremely sensitive juncture – after the (failed) Hybrid War tactics displayed in Hong Kong; an American pro-Taiwan offensive; the trade war far from solved by a mere “phase 1” deal while more sanctions are being plotted against Huawei; and even the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, which ultimately is about targeting the expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Southwest Asia (Iran-Iraq-Syria).

The Big Picture spells out Total Information War and non-stop weaponization of the China “threat” – now even metastasized, with racist overtones, as a bio-threat. So how vulnerable is China?

A people’s war

For almost five years now a maximum-security biolab has been operating in Wuhan dedicated to the study of highly pathogenic micro-organisms – set up in partnership with France after the SARS epidemic. In 2017, Nature magazine was warning about the risks of dispersion of pathogenic agents out of this lab. Yet there’s no evidence this might have happened.

In crisis management terms, President Xi has lived up to the occasion – ensuring that China fights coronavirus with nearly total transparency (after all, the internet wall remains in place). Beijing has warned the whole government apparatus in no uncertain terms not to attempt any cover-ups. A real-time webpage, in English, here, is available to everyone. Whoever is not doing enough will face serious consequences. One can imagine what awaits the party chief in Hubei, Jiang Chaoliang.

A post that went viral all over the mainland this past Sunday states, “We in Wuhan have truly entered the stage of people’s war against the new viral pneumonia”; and many people, “mainly Communist Party members” have been confirmed as “volunteers and observers according to street units.”

Crucially, the government directed everyone to install a “Wuhan Neighbors” applet downloaded from WeChat. That determines “our home’s quarantine address through satellite positioning, and then lock on our affiliated community organization and volunteers. Thenceforth, our social activities and information announcements would be connected to the system.”

Theoretically, this means that “anyone who develops a fever will report their condition through the network as soon as possible. The system will immediately provide an online diagnosis, and locate and register your quarantine address. If you need to see a doctor, your community will arrange a car to send you to the hospital through volunteers. At the same time, the system will track your progress: hospitalization, treatment at home, discharge, death, etc.”

So here we have millions of Chinese citizens totally mobilized in what’s routinely described as a “people’s war” using “high technology to fight against illness.” Millions are also drawing their own conclusions when comparing it with the use of app software to fight against the police in Hong Kong.

The biogenetic puzzle

Apart from crisis management, the speed of the Chinese scientific response has been breathtaking – and obviously not fully appreciated in an environment of Total Information War. Compare the Chinese performance with the American CDC, arguably the top infectious disease research agency in the world, with an $11 billion annual budget and 11,000 employees.

During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 – considered a maximum urgency, and facing a virus with a 90% fatality rate – the CDC took no less than two months from getting the first patient sample to identifying the complete genomic sequence. The Chinese did it in a few days.

During the swine flu in the US in 2009 – 55 million infected Americans, 11,000 killed – the CDC took over a month and a half to come up with identification kits.

The Chinese took only one week from the first patient sample to complete, vital identification and sequencing of coronavirus. Right away, they went for publication and deposit in the genomics library for immediate access by the whole planet. Based on this sequence, Chinese biotech companies produced validated essays within a week – also a first.

And we’re not even talking about the now notorious building of a brand new state of the art hospital in Wuhan in record time just to treat victims of coronavirus. No victims will pay for their treatment. Additionally, Healthy China 2030the reform of the health/development system, will be boosted.

Coronavirus opens a true Pandora’s box on biogenetics. Serious questions remain about experiences in vivo in which the consent of “patients” will not be required – considering the collective psychosis initially developed by Western corporate media and even the WHO around coronavirus. Coronavirus could well become a pretext for genetic experiments via vaccines.

Meanwhile, it’s always enlightening to remember Great Helmsman Mao Zedong. For Mao, the top two political variables were “independence” and “development.” That implies full sovereignty. As Xi seems determined to prove a sovereign civilization-state is able to win a scientific “people’s war,” that does not exactly spell out “vulnerability.”

واشنطن وبكين وموسكو.. لحظة محورية في تاريخ لبنان

 

تشرين ثاني 19 2019

نور الدين إسكندر

الأحداث المُستمرِّة التي يشهدها لبنان تطرح تساؤلات حول انعكاساتها ونتائجها، بالإضافة إلى أدوار القوى الفاعِلة فيها، بعد كلام مسؤولين أميركيين يتضمَّن توجيهاً للبنانيين يمسّ السِلم الداخلي ويحرِّضهم بعضهم ضدّ بعض.

السفير الأميركي السابق لدى لبنان جيفري فيلتمان

كلام السفير الأميركي السابق لدى لبنان جيفري فيلتمان أمام الكونغرس قبل أيام لم يمر مرور الكِرام في بيروت. الدعم العَلَني والتوجيهي الذي تحدَّث به فيلتمان للحراك الشعبي الذي تشهده الشوارع اللبنانية أشَّر إلى مصلحةٍ أميركيةٍ أكيدة في توجيه هذا الحراك ليستهدف المقاومة اللبنانية، وهي أحد أهم عوامِل قوَّة لبنان في مواجهة العدو الإسرائيلي الذي لم يتوقَّف يوماً عن انتهاك السيادة اللبنانية براً وبحراً وجواً، وصولاً إلى سرقة أجزاءٍ أساسيةٍ من المساحات البحرية التي تختزن كمياتٍ كبيرةٍ من الغاز الطبيعي الذي يتطلَّع لبنان إلى استخراجه، والذي يُمكن أن يشكِّل بارِقة أملٍ للبنانيين للخروج من نفق الأزمات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والمالية المُتلاحِقة.

وبعدما نَحَت الاحتجاجات اللبنانية نحو المُطالبة بمُكافَحة الفساد والإصلاح وتغيير المسؤولين في السلطة، شهد الشارع وشاشات التلفزة ظهور فاعلين، أفراداً ومجموعات، أرادوا استغلال زُخُم الحراك لتوجيهه ضد المقاومة. خلال أسابيع مرَّت كان الجَدَل قائِماً في لبنان حول مدى عفويّة هذا التحرك الشعبي، وسط تبايُن بين رأيين أساسيين. يقول الأول إن الناس نزلت إلى الشارع بعفويّة وبعيداً عن نوايا الاستهداف السياسي، فيما يقول الآخر إن الحَراك بدأ عفوياً، ثم تدخّلت فيه قوى حزبية أساسية مُتحالِفة مع واشنطن، وقامت بتوجيه التضاهرات للتصويب على المقاومة وحلفائها، وفي طليعتهم رئيس الجمهورية ميشال عون وزعيم أكبر كتلة نيابية جبران باسيل.

تصريحات مُتتابِعة خرجت من مسؤولين أميركيين، أبرزهم وزير الخارجية مايك بومبيو، أكَّدت دعم واشنطن للاحتجاجات بصورةٍ كاملةٍ، باعتباره تحرّكاً شعبياً “ضد نفوذ إيران في لبنان”، بالإضافة إلى اعتبار التظاهُرات الشعبية التي يشهدها العراق في الوقت نفسه موجَّهة أيضاً ضد “النفوذ الإيراني في العراق”.

تصريحات فيلتمان كانت أكثر وضوحاً، وأشدّ وطأةً على المُتظاهرين الصادقين في مطالبهم الإصلاحية. هؤلاء وجدوا أن تحرَّكهم ضد الفساد قد وُضِع في سياق الاستهداف الأميركي لهم ولمكامِن قوَّتهم المُتمثّلة في المقاومة، التي يحفظون لها فضل تحرير الأرض من الاحتلال الإسرائيلي، ثم تحرير وحماية البلاد من تنظيمات الإرهاب التكفيري التي وصلت إلى القرى اللبنانية الحدودية مع سوريا، واحتلَّت مساحات واسعة من الأراضي الحدودية بين البلدين، وقدَّمت المقاومة في سبيل ذلك عدداً كبيراً من الشهداء والجرحى بالإضافة إلى جهودٍ وأموالٍ كثيرة.

تهديدات بومبيو خلال زيارته إلى لبنان في آذار/ مارس الماضي، وإحاطة فيلتمان التي قدَّمها أمام الكونغرس قبل أيام، يندرجان في سياقٍ واحدٍ، وهو إرادة أميركية شَرِهة لاستهداف المقاومة في لبنان، وتعطيل نتائج الانتخابات النيابية التي أفضت إلى فوز المقاومة وحلفائها بأغلبيةٍ برلمانيةٍ وعلى أساسها تشكَّلت حكومة بأغلبيةٍ مُماثِلة.

الخارجية الأميركية تقول إنها “تقف بفخرٍ إلى جانب التظاهُرات” الشعبية في لبنان، والتي بحسب الوزارة تتحرَّك في “وجه نفوذ إيران في بيروت”. ورأس الدبوماسية الأميركية كان هدَّد اللبنانيين خلال زيارة الربيع التي قام بها إلى بيروت بدفع الثمن إذا لم يواجه مسؤولوه حزب الله.

لكن فيلتمان قدَّم شرحاً مُستفيضاً حول تطلّعات بلاده في لبنان، مؤكِّداً بدايةً ما قاله بومبيو: إما السير وفق إرادة واشنطن ومواجهة المقاومة، أو مواجهة الانهيار المالي، والاهتزازات الاجتماعية، وربما تكبّد قلاقل أمنية كنتيجةٍ لكل هذا التراجُع الاقتصادي.

وفي جلسةٍ للجنة الفرعية للشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا والإرهاب الدولي في الكونغرس بعنوان “ما هو التالي للبنان؟ دراسة الآثار المُترتِّبة على الاحتجاجات القائِمة”، عَرَضَ فيلتمان رؤيته لِما وصفه بـ”اللحظة المحورية في تاريخ لبنان”.

السفير السابق لدى لبنان، الذي اكتسب خبرةً كبيرةً في الشأن اللبناني من خلال عمله في بيروت ولاحقاً في الإدارة المعنية بشؤون الشرق الأوسط في الخارجية الأميركية، اعتبر أن لبنان قاعدة مُتقدِّمة للنفوذ الإيراني تهدِّد مصالح واشنطن هنا. وقارَب فيلتمان الملف اللبناني مُحفِّزاً أعضاء الكونغرس للوقوف بوجه احتمال احتلال روسيا والصين للفراغ الذي قد تتركه أميركا في لبنان في حال لم تدعم التظاهُرات، قائلاً إن “لبنان مكان للمُنافَسة الاستراتيجية العالمية، وإذا تنازلنا عن الأرض، سيملأ الآخرون الفراغ بسعادة”.

الرئيسان الروسي واللبناني في الكرملين (آذار/مارس 2019)

الصين وروسيا مكان أميركا في لبنان

حاجة لبنان الماسَّة إلى المساعدات الاقتصادية، خصوصاً الجزء المُتعلِّق بالبنية التحتية، رأى فيه فيلتمان مجالاً جاذِباً لقوى مُنافِسة لواشنطن تمتلك التكنولوجيا المُتطوِّرة، كالصين مثلاً، لمُساعدة لبنان على إنشاء بنيةٍ تحتيةٍ مُتطوّرةٍ في قطاع الاتصالات، عوضاً عن الدور الأميركي. ومن هنا، اعتبر أن “لبنان الصغير” يمتلك تأثيراً كبيراً على المصالح الأميركية.

وحذَّر فيلتمان أعضاء الكونغرس من خطر قدرات حزب الله على أمن الحليفة “إسرائيل”. ومن جانبٍ آخر من مُداخلته، حاول إحداث شِقاقٍ بين المقاومة والجيش اللبناني، الذي عزا له الفضل في ضرب الجماعات الإرهابية بصورةٍ “مُثيرة للإعجاب”. ووضع حزب الله في الخانة نفسها مع الجماعات الإرهابية المُتطرِّفة التي قاتلها الحزب نفسه كتفاً إلى كتف مع الجيش الذي يشكر فيلتمان دوره، في معركة شهدت تعاوناً ميدانياً بين الطرفين.

وحاول السفير الأميركي السابق إخافة النواب الأميركيين بسؤالٍ يطال مستقبل قطاع الطاقة اللبناني قائلاً: “ماذا لو استغلَّت روسيا موانئ لبنان الثلاثة ومخزونات الهيدروكربون البحرية؟ ستفوز في شرق وجنوب المتوسّط، على حسابنا”. بل ذهب أبعد من ذلك إلى التحدّث باسم دول الخليج العربية ودول الغرب الأخرى حين أشار إلى أن المُستثمرين الغربيين والخليجيين لن يأتوا إلى لبنان إذا ظلَّ اللبنانيون راضين عن كونهم جزءاً من المحور الإيراني – السوري.

محاولات فيلتمان لإقناع النواب الأميركيين بدعم الحراك في لبنان أتبعها بالتأكيد على ضرورة إبعاد بلاده عن دائرة تركيز الناشطين في الاحتجاجات، حتى لا يتحوَّل الضغط من القوى التي تريد واشنطن التصويب عليها إلى واشنطن نفسها.

تظاهرة بالقرب من السفارة الأميركية في عوكر

تصويب البوصلة: لا للتدخّل الأميركي

هذا التدخّل الأميركي كان مكشوفاً ومُتابَعاً من قِبَل مجموعات تشارك في الحراك اللبناني، والتي نظَّمت تظاهرة أمام السفارة الأميركية شمال بيروت الأحد الماضي تنديداً بدور واشنطن في تعميق الأزمة الاقتصادية، والضغط على اللبنانيين ومحاولة الإيقاع في ما بينهم، وخلق مواجهاتٍ بين أبناء الوطن الواحد. وأكَّد المُتظاهرون ضد تدخّلات واشنطن أن هذه الأخيرة تُساهِم في تعميق الأزمة الاقتصادية، وتضييق الحصار الاقتصادي والمالي على لبنان واللبنانيين، ورفعوا شعاراتٍ تُحمِّل واشنطن مسؤولية تحريض الشعب والجيش في لبنان على حزب الله في محاولة ابتزازٍ واضحةٍ بربط الدعم الأميركي للجيش والدعم الدولي لاقتصاد لبنان، بعَزْلِ الحزب ورفض سياساته داخل الحكومة، وخصوصاً المُتعلِّقة بخيار المقاومة.

لقد أعاد هؤلاء المُتظاهرون أمام السفارة تصويب بوصلة الحراك باتجاه المُسبِّب الحقيقي لمُشكلات لبنان الأمنية والاقتصادية، فواشنطن هي الداعِم الأول لـ”إسرائيل” عدو لبنان التاريخي، ومحتلة أرضه، وهي التي تنفِّذ حصاراً على اللبنانيين في الاغتراب من أجل منع أعمالهم ومشروعاتهم الاقتصادية من الازدهار، مُتذرِّعةً بمحاولتها منع وصول الأموال إلى المقاومة. ومن أجل ذلك، رَفَعَ المُتظاهرون أيضاً أمام السفارة الأميركية عَلَم فلسطين، وأحرقوا علميّ “إسرائيل” وأميركا، واضعين الأمور في نصابها الحقيقي.

وإلى جانب التحرّك الشعبي في عوكر، كانت لافِتة مشاركة ناشطين آخرين افتراضياً على مواقع التواصُل في وسومٍ أبرزها #فيلتمان_سفير_الفتنة و#tojeffreyfeltman  ليوجِّهوا رسائلهم ومواقفهم طالبين من الإدارة الأميركية الكفَّ عن استغلال تحرّكهم من أجل الإصلاح، في سياق مصالحها التي تتعارض مع مصالح اللبنانيين. وفي هذا التحرّك حماية لأهداف الحراك المُحقَّة، التي يرى هؤلاء في المقاومة طرفاً موثوقاً لتحقيقها.

واشنطن وبكين وموسكو.. لحظة محورية في تاريخ لبنان

الصين وروسيا: عين على لبنان

لم تلعب كلٌ من الصين وروسيا أدواراً كبرى في السياسة اللبنانية كما فعلت القوى الغربية الأوروبية ثم الأميركية منذ نشوء لبنان كدولة مستقلة. ويمكن هنا استثناء دور روسيا المحدود في مرحلة الحرب الباردة من خلال الأحزاب اليسارية.

غير أن السنوات الأخيرة شهدت نشاطاً لافتاً لسفيري الدولتين لدى بيروت على مختلف الصعد. فسفير موسكو ألكسندر زاسبيكن شخصية معروفة جداً عند اللبنانيين، وهو كثير الظهور عبر وسائل الإعلام المحلية، ويعطي على الدوام آراء بلاده في كل الأمور المهمة التي تحدث في لبنان. ويمكن اعتبار حركته السياسية والثقافية داخل المجتمع اللبناني فاعلة.

ويركّز زاسبيكن في حركته على تظهير موقف بلاده الداعِم لوحدة لبنان، ولعلاقات متقدّمة مع بلاده، كما يقتضي دور السفراء تماماً. وفي هذا السياق استجابت روسيا في أكثر من مناسبة لطلب اللبنانيين المساعدة، خصوصاً على المستوى العسكري لناحية تقديم مساعدات للجيش اللبناني وتوريد بعض الأسلحة له. لكن الخلافات السياسية بين اللبنانيين وما ساد في لبنان عن رفض أميركي لتعاون الحكومة اللبنانية مع موسكو، عرقلا هذا التعاون المشترك إلى حدٍ كبير.

وبموازاة ذلك، تحاول روسيا تفعيل دورها في لبنان، مُستفيدةً من وَهْج حضورها في الأزمة السورية، وتمكّنها من تحقيق مكاسب سياسية وانتصار عسكري هناك. وذلك من خلال دخولها اليوم على خط الأزمة اللبنانية ولكن بخفَر. حيث أكدت موسكو ضرورة تشكيل حكومة تستجيب لتطلّعات اللبنانيين، ولكن من خلال مشاركة الأطراف السياسية في هذه الحكومة، وليس الذهاب إلى حكومة تكنوقراط تطالب بها القوى الحليفة لأميركا، وتقف خلفهم واشنطن في مطلبهم هذا.

أما الصين التي ينشط 400 من عسكرييها في قوات حفظ السلام في جنوب لبنان “يونيفيل”، فإنها غير بعيدة عن الموقف الروسي، لكنها تركّز على الشق الاقتصادي، وتقدّم عروضاً منذ سنوات للمؤسّسات الرسمية اللبنانية في هذا الإطار، مثل إعلان استعدادها لتشييد سكك حديدية، ومشروعات بنى تحتية تفيد لبنان في التحوّل إلى مساحة انطلاق للأعمال التي ستقود إعادة إعمار سوريا.

وقد عبّرت رسالتا كل من الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، والرئيس الصيني شي جين بينغ، إلى الرئيس اللبناني ميشال عون في مناسبة عيد الاستقلال في 22 تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر المنصرم، عن إرادة الدولتين في تعزيز العلاقات مع لبنان. ففيما ركّز بوتين على “أن العلاقات الدبلوماسية الروسية– اللبنانية لطالما ارتدت طابع الصداقة البناّءة”، مؤكّداً قناعته بأن الجهود المشتركة ستواصل تطوير التعاون الثنائي في مختلف، مُجدّداً دعم بلاده المتواصل لسيادة لبنان واستقلاله ووحدة أراضيه”، ذهب الرئيس الصيني إلى التركيز على الناحية الاقتصادية، مؤكّداً “مواصلة الدعم الصيني جهود لبنان في صون سيادة الدولة والحفاظ على الاستقرار الاجتماعي ودفع التنمية الاقتصادية قدماً”.

غير أن هذين الدورين المتحفّزين لتطوير أدائهما على الساحة اللبنانية في لحظة تاريخية تشهدها البلاد، يُجابهان بتوجّسٍ أميركيٍ وصل إلى حد التعبير عن نفسه علناً في كلام فيلتمان أمام الكونغرس، الذي حسم جدلاً بين المُحتجين على الأرض حول حقيقة الدور الأميركي في توجيه الحراك الشعبي ضد حزب الله وحلفائه من جهة، ومنعاً لحلول موسكو وبكين في مساحة الفراغ التي يمكن أن تنشأ في حال أدّت التحرّكات الشعبية إلى نتيجة مُعاكِسة للرغبات الأميركية.

من هنا، فإن الحراك الشعبي اللبناني بكل فئاته يقف اليوم أمام مجموعة من المسؤوليات الكبيرة التي لا تقتصر على واجبه في تقديم رؤيته المتكاملة لمستقبل البلاد على المستويات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والسياسية والدولتية، إنما تمتد إلى واجبه في تقديم رؤى تتعلّق بأمن البلاد أمام المخاطر الخارجية المُحدِقة، والمطامع الدولية المُتناقِضة إزاء مستقبل لبنان، خصوصاً وأن ظهور الثروة الغازيّة والنفطية في المياه الإقليمية اللبنانية زاد من اهتمام القوى الدولية بهذه الدولة الصغيرة.

لذلك، فإن التسليم جدلاً بأن وزراء تكنوقراط في حكومة مستقلّة عن الأحزاب السياسية يمكن لهم أن يقدّموا أداءً مستقلاً عن ضغط التوازنات السياسية اللبنانية الدقيقة، وهي مسألة محطّ شكٍ كبير لدى كثيرين، فهل يمكن لهذا النوع من الوزراء أن يواجه إرادات خارجية لدولٍ كبرى وطاغية على المستوى الدولي؟ لا يزال قسم كبير من الشعب اللبناني يجزم بعدم إمكانية تحقّق ذلك.

المصدر : الميادين نت

EDITORIAL Henry Kissinger Gets It… US ‘Exceptionalism’ Is Over

Image result for Henry Kissinger Gets It… US ‘Exceptionalism’ Is Over
November 29, 2019

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made prudent remarks recently when he said the United States is no longer a uni-power and that it must recognize the reality of China as an equal rival.

The furor over a new law passed by the US this week regarding Hong Kong and undermining Beijing’s authority underlines Kissinger’s warning.

If the US cannot find some modus vivendi with China, then the outcome could be a catastrophic conflict worst than any previous world war, he admonished.

Speaking publicly in New York on November 14, the veteran diplomat urged the US and China to resolve their ongoing economic tensions cooperatively and mutually, adding: “It is no longer possible to think that one side can dominate the other.”

A key remark made by Kissinger was the following: “So those countries that used to be exceptional and used to be unique, have to get used to the fact that they have a rival.”

In other words, he is negating the erroneous consensus held in Washington which asserts that the US is somehow “exceptional”, a “uni-power” and the “indispensable nation”. This consensus has grown since the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the US viewed itself as the sole super-power. That morphed into a more virulent ideology of “full-spectrum dominance”. Thence, the past three decades of unrelenting US criminal wars and regime-change operations across the planet, throwing the whole world into chaos.

Kissinger’s frank assessment is a breath of fresh air amid the stale and impossibly arrogant self-regard held by too many American politicians who view their nation as an unparalleled power which brooks no other.

The seasoned statesman, who is 96-years-old and retains an admirable acumen for international politics, ended his remarks on an optimistic note by saying: “I am confident the leaders on both sides [US and China] will realize the future of the world depends on the two sides working out solutions and managing the inevitable difficulties.”

Aptly, Kissinger’s caution about danger of conflict was reiterated separately by veteran journalist John Pilger, who warned in an exclusive interview for Strategic Culture Foundation this week that, presumed “American exceptionalism is driving the world to war.”

Henry Kissinger is indeed a controversial figure. Many US scholars regard him as one of the most outstanding Secretaries of State during the post-Second World War period. He served in the Nixon and Ford administrations during the 1970s and went on to write tomes about geopolitics and international relations. Against that, his reputation was badly tarnished by the US war in Vietnam and the horrendous civilian death toll from relentless aerial bombing across Indochina, believed to have been countenanced by Kissinger.

Kissinger has also been accused of supporting the military coup in Chile in 1973 against elected President Allende, and for backing the dirty war by Argentina’s fascist generals during the 1970s against workers and leftists.

To his credit, however, Kissinger was and is a practitioner of “realpolitik” which views international relations through a pragmatic lens. Another realpolitik US state planner was the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, who died in 2017 at the age of 89. Both advocated a policy of detente with the Soviet Union and China.

President Richard Nixon’s groundbreaking visit to China in 1972 is credited to the advice given by Kissinger who was then National Security Advisor to the White House.

That same year, the US and the Soviet Union signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, also under the guidance of Kissinger on the American side. The US would later withdrew from the treaty in 2002, a move which has presaged a long deterioration in bilateral relations between the US and Russia to the present day.

For all their faults, at least people like Kissinger and Brzezinski were motivated by practical goal-orientated policy. They were willing to engage with adversaries to find some modus vivendi. Such an attitude is too often missing in recent Washington administrations which seem to be guided by an ideology of unipolar dominance by the US over the rest of the world. The current Washington consensus is one of hyper-ideological unrealism and hubris, which leads to a zero-sum mentality of antagonism towards China and Russia.

At times, President Donald Trump appears to subscribe to realpolitik pragmatism. At other times, he swings to the hyper-ideological mentality as expressed by his Vice President Mike Pence, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mike Esper. The latter has labeled China as the US’s “greatest long-term threat”.

This week President Trump signed into law “The Human Rights and Democracy Bill”, which will impose sanctions on China over alleged repression in its Hong Kong territory. Beijing has reacted furiously to the legislation, condemning it as a violation of its sovereignty.

This is exactly the kind of baleful move that Kissinger warned against in order to avoid a further poisoning in bilateral relations already tense from the past 16 months of US-China trade war.

One discerns the difference between Kissinger and more recent US politicians: the former has copious historical knowledge and appreciation of other cultures. His shrewd, wily, maybe even Machiavellian streak, informs Kissinger to acknowledge and respect other powers in a complex world. That is contrasted with the puritanical banality and ignorance manifest in Trump’s administration and in the Congress.

Greeting Kissinger last Friday, November 22, during a visit to Beijing, President Xi Jinping thanked him for his historic contribution in normalizing US-China relations during 1970s.

“At present, Sino-US relations are at a critical juncture facing some difficulties and challenges,” said Xi, calling on the two countries to deepen communication on strategic issues. It was an echo of the realpolitik views Kissinger had enunciated the week before.

While sharing a public stage with Kissinger, the Chinese leader added: “The two sides should proceed from the fundamental interests of the two peoples and the people of the world, respect each other, seek common ground while reserving differences, pursue win-win results in cooperation, and promote bilateral ties to develop in the right direction.”

Likewise, China and Russia have continually urged for a multipolar world order for cooperation and partnership in development. But the present and recent US governments refuse to contemplate any other order other than a presumed unipolar dominance. Hence the ongoing US trade strife with China and Washington’s relentless demonization of Russia.

This “exceptional” ideological mantra of the US is leading to more tensions, and ultimately is a path to the abyss.

Henry Kissinger gets it. It’s a pity America’s present crop of politicians and thinkers are so impoverished in their intellect.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

The Road Toward Greater Eurasia

Kazakhstan’s first president has road map for 21st century: global alliance of leaders for nuclear-free world

Global Research, November 26, 2019

The Astana Club is one of the most crucial annual meetings in Eurasia, alongside the Boao forum in China and the Valdai discussions in Russia. China, Russia and Kazakhstan are all at the forefront of Eurasia integration. No wonder, then, that the 5th meeting of the Astana Club had to focus on Greater Eurasia – synonymous, it may be hoped, with a “new architecture of global cooperation.”

Astana Club congregates a fascinating mix of Eurasia-wide notables with Europeans and Americans. Virtually all relevant shades of the geopolitical spectrum are represented. Panels are very well structured (I moderated two of them). Discussions are frank and non-denial denials are heavily discouraged. Here is just a taste of what was discussed in Nur-Sultan, under the spectacular shallow dome designed by Norman Foster.

Great stabilizer

Vladimir Yakunin, chairman of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute in Moscow, bets that China is “ready to prepare Eurasia for the future” even while there’s “no hint it will be treated by the West in a positive way.” Yakunin sees the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, as a “civilizational dialogue basis for China” even as Russia continues to assert itself again as a global power.

Wang Huiyao, from the Center for China and Globalization and a counselor of China’s State Council, sees China as “the biggest stabilizer” in international relations and trade as “the biggest mechanism for prosperity,” as demonstrated once again at the latest Shanghai Expo.

Senior Pakistani diplomat Iftekhar Chowdury, now at the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, argues that the “liberal world order is not universal”; now it all comes down to “liberal capitalism against China.” Huiyao, for his part, is not fazed: he stresses that China already sees a “Eurasia 3D” as a new negotiation platform.

Huiyao points out how the “wrong methodology” is being applied as a “stabilizer of the world economy.” He emphasizes the role of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank  and especially Belt & Road as “a new impetus for developing the world in the next decades,” drawing on “Chinese culture, tradition, values” – plus a hybrid economy not only featuring state-owned enterprises. Belt & Road, he insists, is a “real international development plan.” In contrast, the great danger is “unilateralism”: “Do we have only one form of history?”

Jacob Frenkel, Chairman of JP Morgan International, clear-headed and didactic unlike many bankers, actually quotes from a Chinese proverb: “The honey is sweet, but the bee stings.” He emphasizes that “words matter. When you use ‘war’ in commerce, there are consequences” – especially when there are “millions of boats” navigating “the same ocean.”

Wang lends backing to Frenkel when he underlines the unintended consequences for third countries from the US-China trade war. Frenkel sees tariffs as “the wrong instruments” and stresses that businessmen “don’t believe in IMF models.” Boris Tadic, former President of Serbia, concentrates on how “arrogant big powers are ignoring smaller countries.”

The redoubtable Li Wei, President of the Development Research Center of the State Council Chair and a sterling negotiator, stresses that under serious “anti-globalist tendencies,” the need is for “new principles of coexistence.” China and the US should “stop exchanging punches; there have been 13 meetings to discuss the trade war.” What’s needed, says Li, in a new first stage of discussion, is for Xi and Trump to sign a memorandum of understanding.

Reacting to the possibility of China and the US signing protocols, Yakunin has to come back to his main point: “The US is not willing to see China transform itself into a great power.”

Li, unfazed, has to mention that Xi Jinping actually launched Belt & Road in Kazakhstan – at the nearby Nazarbayev University, in 2013. He’s convinced that the initiative is capable of “fully answering all challenges of the present historical moment.”

From MAD to SAD

Terje Todd-Larsen, former Under Secretary General of the UN and President of the International Peace Institute, laments that with the multilateral system weakened, and no multilateral organization encompassing the Middle East and Northern Africa, there is no table capable anywhere of congregating Arabs, Iran, Israel and Turkey. The best hope lies with Kazakhstan – and there are precedents already, with Nur-Sultan hosting the Astana process for Syria.

On the nuclear weapons front, Yakunin notes how nations that subscribe to the Non Proliferation Treaty actually now expect a “formal affirmation they won’t be threatened.” He sees “lack of trust” as the greatest threat to the NPT: “The P5 members of the NPT did not live up to their promises.”

The legendary Mohamed El Baradei, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency and 2005 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, lays down the choice in stark terms: It’s either “maximum pressure, regime change and sanctions” or “dialogue, equity, cooperation, respect.” He stresses that “International institutions can’t deal with the world today – it’s way beyond them.” And the elephant in the room is, of course, nuclear weapons: “We seem frozen in place.”

El Baradei refutes the notion of the nuclear club as a model: “What is the logic and moral justification? This is an unsustainable regime.” On nuclear disarmament, it’s the nuclear states that have to start a new era. For the moment, what’s left is “to salvage the remains of nuclear arms control. We’ve gone from MAD to SAD – self-assured destruction.”

Back on the ground level, Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute introduces lethal autonomous weapons systems – as in robots with a very high degree of autonomy – into the conversation. Not that these entities would prevent, for instance, cyber-attacks, which “can be counter-productive and self-destructive, because there will be a counter-strike.”

Global alliance

The undisputed star of the show at the Astana Club is really Kazakh First President Nazarbayev. There’s a feeling among seasoned diplomats and analysts that when the history of Greater Eurasia is written, Nazarbayev will be on the front page. Global turmoil may not favor it too much at the moment, but as the Russians stress, the Eurasian Economic Union, for instance, is bound to survive sanctions and the trade war, and 2025 offers a tantalizing glimpse of the future via open market for gas and transportation. The EU and the EAEU have complementary economics, and Russia can play a major role.

Nazarbayev quotes from washed up theorist Francis Fukuyama to stress that “only three decades later,” his “anticipation did not come true.” He is keen to “critically reassess” the Eurasian model of security, now combining Europe and Asia, as most experts who prepared a detailed report on the Top Ten risks for Eurasia in 2020 agree.

Nazarbayev does have a road map for peace in the 21st century, via a manifesto he presented at the UN. That would be constituted as a global alliance of leaders for a nuclear-free world – complete with global summits dedicated to nuclear security. He can speak like that with the “moral right” of having closed one of the world’s major nuclear arsenals – Kazakhstan’s.

What’s key as much for Nazarbayev as for Xi and Putin is that Belt & Road, the Eurasian Economic Union, the European Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Association of Southeast Asian Nation – all these initiatives and institutions – should be on overdrive, together, creating multiple negotiation tracks, all geared towards Greater Eurasia. And what better platform to advance it, conceptually, than the Astana Club?

*

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This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is Asia Times

Can Russia (or Iran) survive without China?

 • NOVEMBER 21, 2019

In a recent article entitled “China, Bolivia and Venezuela are proof that social democracy cannot thrive in the global capitalist order” my China-based friend and correspondent Jeff J. Brown asked me an exceedingly interesting and important question.  He wrote:

Russia is a social democracy, with a large, successful people owned industrial sector and many social services for the 99% from the Soviet era. But, unlike Bolivia and Ukraine, it is avoiding the West’s color revolution poison pill, because since 1999, Russia has gone from strength to strength, under the inspired leadership of patriotic President Vladimir Putin. But like all social democracies, the problem is what happens if another Western whore Boris Yeltsin succeeds Putin, and returns Russia to its dystopian Wall Street rape of the 1990s? Then what? It only took Macri four short years to bring Argentina back onto its groveling knees. Without a 100% nationalized media, Russians had better be demanding that Putin & Russian Patriots Inc. work overtime to censor all the Western overthrow garbage that is put in Cyrillic ink and on the airwaves.  I would love to hear what my good friend Andrei Raevsky thinks about this at The Saker (http://thesaker.is/), because let’s be honest: without China’s, Russia’s and Iran’s continued anti-imperial independence and socialist success into the 21st century, humanity can kiss its ass goodbye!

Let’s begin by deconstructing the assumptions and implications of Jeff’s question.
China and Russia *could* be separated
The first assumptions Jeff makes are the following ones:

  1. Russia is a social democracy
  2. The Russian media is not 100% state controlled
  3. A new Eltsin might succeed Putin
  4. The West is saturating the Russian information space with garbage
  5. That western propaganda can still strongly impact Russia
  6. China and Russia *could* be separated (hence the need to prevent that as the central thesis of Jeff)

And, finally, considering the above, Jeff offers the following compelling implication for the China-Russia-Iran triangle:

  1. Considering the above, China’s independence and support for Russia and Iran are vital for the sovereignty and freedom, if not survival, of Russia and Iran

Now let’s begin by looking into Jeff’s assumptions:

Russia is a social democracy:

Yes and no.  If we define a social democracy as being a specific polity and system of laws, then Russia is a social democracy.  However, if we define social democracy as a specific polity, system of laws and social culture, then I would argue that to the extent that Russia is, indeed, a social democracy, she is a rather weird one.  What do I mean by that?

By that I mean that thanks to the nightmare of “democracy” under Eltsin and his US curators, and thanks to the recent explosion of “democracy” in the Ukraine, the Russian people have by and large come to consider the words “liberal” and “democracy” as four letter words.  For example, the word “либерал” (liberal) has now given birth to a derived word либераст which takes the first letters of the word “liberal” and adds the last letters of the word педераст (pederast – a rude word for homosexual [yes, in Russian homosexuality and pederasty are not separated!]) which results in the new word “liberast” the closest to which in English would be something like “libfag”, hardly a compliment. In some interpretations, a “liberast” is also somebody who has been “f**ked by democracy“.  Not much better…  As for the word “демократия” (democracy) for years it has already been called “дерьмократия” (using the first letters of дерьмо (der’mo or shit) and the last letter of democracy to create der’mokratia or “shitocracy”.  Finally, there is also the saying that “демократия, это власть демократов” (democracy is the rule of the democrats), which for a country which has undergone the 1990s and seen the Ukraine being comprehensively FUBARed is ominous; not funny at all.  All this is simply to show that culturally the Russian society is not at all your typical social democracy.  It is a sort of democracy in which the majority of the people do not believe in democracy.  This is very important, crucial even, and I will address this issue later.

The Russian media is not 100% state controlled:

That is absolutely true!  However, it misses an important point: the real profile of the Russian media which is much more complex than “state controlled” vs “free media”.  To make a long story short, the main TV channels, while not really “controlled” by the state at all, are mostly pro-Kremlin.  But here we need to get the cause and effect right: these channels are not pro-Kremlin only because they get state funds or because of the political power of the Kremlin, the main reason why they are pro-Kremlin is the terrible rating of those media outlets who took a strong anti-Kremlin position.

To make my point, I want to mention the rabidly anti-Kremlin TV station which is very well known in Russia (Dozhd’ – see here for the (predictably complimentary) entry in Wikipedia for this TV channel).  In fact, Dozhd’ is just the best known of a fairly extensive anti-Kremlin media but, in reality, there are many more outlets which hold an anti-Kremlin pro-Empire line.  However, as I explained in a 2016 article entitled “Counter-Propaganda, Russian Style”  and then, again, in 2017, in the article “Revisiting Russian Counter-Propaganda Methods” the Kremlin has developed a very effective counter-propaganda strategy: instead of suppressing the Empire’s propaganda (like the Soviets did, most unsuccessfully), the Kremlin now directly funds that same propaganda!  Not only does the (state-owned) Gazprom finance Dozd’ – the western and Russian liberal guests which ridicule themselves on Russian TV are also generously paid for each of their appearances.  Even hardcore Ukronazi nutcases get invited regularly (when they truly overdo it they also get into fights, or get kicked out of the studios, which is all very much fin to watch and is therefore watched by millions).  The truth is that at this point the AngloZionist propaganda in Russia has much more of a very healthy “vaccination” effect then the ability to convince anybody beyond the “traditional” 2-4% of folks in Russia who still think that the West is some kind of heaven on earth and Russia an ugly, vicious and freedom crushing “Mordor”.

This being said, there is one channel through which the worst of the western consumer-society propaganda still permeates Russia: commercials.   Russian commercials are mostly absolutely disgusting; they basically vehiculate one crude and simple message “Russians must become US Americans”.  That propaganda via commercials is, I think the single most toxic and insidious form of de-russification I can think of and it is far more dangerous than any other means of “defacing” Russia.

Finally, and to my great regret, media outlets like RT and Sputnik have decided to “go native” I suppose and they now cater to western tastes much more than to Russian ones.  The quasi constant “reporting” about MMA fights, minimally clad ladies, sex in all its shapes and forms and Hollywood gossip – all of this just goes to show that the folks in charge of these media outlets have decided that catering the the lowest possible social common denominator is the way to promote Russia abroad.  I am not so sure.  What began with “Question More” and “Telling the Untold” now seems more preoccupied with trying to copy the yellow press in the UK than to challenge the Empire.  I very much regret that state of affairs.

Unfortunately, there are also a lot of 5th columnists and russophobes in these media outlets (especially in their online, Internet-based, websites; the actual radio/TV shows are mostly better).

So all is not rosy in the Russian media scene, but its not all bad either.

A new Eltsin might succeed Putin

Here I can only completely agree, and that is very scary.  Due to the lack of space, I will present my arguments in a short, bullet-point, list:

  • “Russia” is still very much a “one man show” meaning that Putin himself, as a person,  is still absolutely vital to the current functioning of Russia.  Not only are most Russians still strongly supportive of him personally, but there are no credible candidates to replace him.  Yes, there are a few potential candidates out there (in no special order: Ivanov, Shoigu and Rogozin would be the best known, but there are others, of course), but what makes it all worse is that historically, Russia, unlike China, has a very bad record of successions.
  • The 5th column is still there and while it keeps a very low profile (current events favor the Eurasian Sovereignists), it is still there, literally in all branches of power and very much inside the Moscow elites who hate Putin for putting an end to what they saw as the “Bonanza of the 1990s”.
  • There *is* a patriotic Russian opposition to Putin, and it is slowly growing, but it is poorly organized, has a lot of clueless nostalgics of the Soviet era and a lot of its criticisms are, frankly, naive or plain silly (along with very valid points too!).  I don’t see this opposition capable of producing a strong and credible leader.  But that might change in the future.
  • Thus the cornerstone of “Putinism” is Putin himself.  With him gone, for whatever reason, Putinism could very rapidly fade too.  This might be a good or a bad thing depending on the specific circumstances, but the chances that this might be a very bad thing are higher than the opposite being true.

“Putin The Man”, urgently needs to be replaced by “Putin The System”, but that is truly a herculean task because that means reforming/purging most of the immense and powerful Russian bureaucracy and find somewhere a new generation of men and women who could be both effective and trusted.  The problem is that in most cases when one man goes against a system, the system wins.  Putin is the proverbial case of a very good man in a very bad system.  True, he has successfully reformed the two branches of government which were most needed to make it possible for both him and Russia to survive the war the Empire was waging on Russia: the armed forces and the intelligence/security forces.  Other parts of the Russian state are still in a terrible shape (the entire legal system for starters!).

I think that the risk of an Eltsin-like prostitute coming to power is real, even if the bulk of the population would not necessarily approve of it (or be divided about it).  Long-term historical stability of a huge country like Russia cannot come from a man.  It can only come from institutions.  And just as Peter I destroyed the traditional Russian monarchy, so can one man destroy the current “new Russia” (for lack of a better descriptor), especially if this “new Russia” has only one man as its cornerstone.

Finally, history teaches us that every time that Russia is weak or disunited, the western powers immediately pounce and intervene, including with military means.  The Poles are still dreaming about yet another chance to prove Churchill’s diagnosis about Poland true and pounce on both the Ukraine and Russia if given the chance.

The West is saturating the Russian information space with garbage and western propaganda can still strongly impact Russia

As we have seen above, these are both at least partially true, but they are also not that much of a big deal.  This is clearly a source of potential concern, a danger, but not a threat (a danger being vague, a threat specific).  To the extend that this is a bad thing, this is mostly due to the hyper-materialistic consumer culture which currently competes against a much more traditional, Russian culture.  It is hard to say which one will win.  The former has much, much bigger financial means, the latter one has a strong ‘home turf advantage”.  Only time will show which will prevail.  So long as many Russians will  think “western propaganda lies” (which most understand) AND are attracted to western-style commercials (which are, in so many ways, an even much more effective and insidious form of propaganda), the jury will remain out on who will prevail should instability return to Russia.

China and Russia *could* be separated

This is probably the most important assumption made by Jeff.  First, since this is completely hypothetical, and since we are not future-seeing prophets let’s first agree to never say never and not dismiss this possibility out of hand.  This being said, I would like to remind everybody that Russia and China have gradually changed the labels which they applied to the other side.  The latest (as far as I know, Chinese speakers please correct me if needed!) expression used by Xi and other Chinese officials is “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era“.  There is a lot to unpack here, but let’s just say that this does not sound like the Chinese came up with that concept lightly or that they have many misgivings about the future of the relationship with Russia.  As for the Russians, they have now openly used the term “ally” on many occasions, including Putin.  In Russian that word “ally” (союзник) is a very strong one and contrasts sharply with the cynical and disgusted way the Russians always speak about their western “partners” (which often shocks those who don’t speak Russian).

And it is not all sweet talk either.  The Russians and the Chinese have had many and major joint military maneuvers, they have practiced the Russian equivalent of the US/NATO “Combined Joint Task Force” concept (see here for details).  Thus, while not formal allies, Russia and China do all the things which close allies do.  I would even argue that the “informal symbiosis” between Russia and China is far stronger than the NATO alliance.

It is my opinion that what Putin and Xi have done is something which has no previous equivalent in history, at least as far as I know.  Even though both Russia and China have been empires in the past, I strongly believe that both of these countries have entered a “post-imperial phase” in which the trappings of empire have been replaced by an acute sense that empires are extremely bad not only for the nations which it oppresses, but also for the nation which hosts it.  Both Russia and China have paid a horrendous price for their imperial years and both Russia and China completely understand that the people of the USA are also amongst the prime victims of the (transnational) Anglo-Zionist Empire, even if that is all too often forgotten.  Not only do they not want to repeat their own mistakes, they see the USA dying in the quicksands of imperialism and the last thing they want is to jump in and join the US.

I believe that the relationship between Russia and China is a symbiosis, which is much stronger than any alliances because while the latter can be broken, the former typically cannot (at least not without extremely severe consequences).  I also believe that Putin and Xi both understand that the fact that Russia and China are so completely different is not a problem, but a tremendous asset: they fit perfectly, like Lego or puzzle pieces.  What Russia has China does not and vice-versa.  And, just to clarify for the logically challenged: both sides also understand that they will never get from the other side by war what they could get by peaceful exchange.  Yes, the silly Polish dream of having Russia invaded by China several times (an old Polish joke of sorts) is only a reflection of the ancient Polish inferiority complex, not of geostrategic realities 🙂

Of course, in theory, anything could happen.  But I personally see no chain of events which could be sufficient to threaten the Sino-Russian symbiotic relationship, not even a collapse of “New Russia Putinism” (not elegant, but functional for our purposes) or the kind of chaos which a Eltsin type of comprador regime could try to reimpose on Russia.  At the end of the day, if Russia collapses then China will hold truly immense financial and economic power over Russia and will therefore be able to impose at least a China-friendly regime.  In that extremely unlikely case, Russia would, of course, lose her sovereignty, but not to the West, but to China.  That is not quite what Jeff had in mind.

Conclusion:

Yes, Russia and China need each other.  I would argue that they need each other.  Vitally.  And yes, the “loss” of one would threaten the other.  But that is not just true for Russia, it is also very true of China (which desperately needs Russian energy, high-tech, natural resources, weapons systems but most of all, Russian experience: for most of her existence Russia was threatened, invaded, attacked, sanctioned, boycotted and disparaged by a long succession of western states, and she defeated them all.  Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but each time Russia prevailed.  The determination and ability to resist the West is something which is deeply embedded in the Russian cultural DNA (this in sharp contrast with the rest of the so-called “East European” countries).  Finally, and for all their very real recent advances, the Chinese armed forces are still far behind the Russian (or the USA for that matter) and in a one-on-one war against the USA China would definitely lose, especially if the USA goes “all out”.  Russia, on the other hand, has the means to turn the US and Europe into a post-industrial nuclear wasteland (using nuclear and, most importantly, non-nuclear munitions!).

I would also add something Jeff did not address: Iran.  I believe that both Russia and China also very much need Iran.  Okay, that is not a vital need, both Russia and China could survive without an allied Iran, but Iran offers immense advantages to both countries, if only because thanks to the truly phenomenal stupidity of the Neocons the USA’s breathtakingly stupid policies in the Middle-East (here is just the latest example) have turned Iran into a regional super-power eclipsing both Israel and the KSA.  Furthermore, if Russia has shown much more political and moral courage than China (which, lets be honest, has been pretty happy to have Russia taking the brunt of the Empire’s attacks), Iran has shown much more political and moral courage than Russia, especially concerning the slow-motion genocide perpetrated by the Zionist Entity in Palestine.

And this brings us full circle to the discussion of what kind of country Russia currently really is.  Russia is not the Soviet Union.  Neither is she pre-1917 Russia.  But what is she really?

Nobody really knows, I think.

It is a moving target, a process.  This process might lead to a new and stable “new Russia”, but that is by no means certain.  Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Article 13 of the Russian Constitution say:

  1. In the Russian Federation ideological diversity shall be recognized
  2. No ideology may be established as state or obligatory one.
  3. In the Russian Federation political diversity and multi-party system shall be recognized.

In other words, not only is there no “no official ideology” in Russia, there is an explicit recognition for a multi-party political system (itself an ideological statement, by the way).  These are all potentially very dangerous and toxic items in the Russian Constitution which already are hindering a true national, cultural, psychological and spiritual rebirth of Russia.  Iran, in contrast, has succeeded in creating an Islamic Republic which is both truly and unapologetically Islamic and truly democratic, at least in the sense that, unlike western democracies which are mostly run by minorities and for minorities (or a coalition of minorities), in Iran the majority supports the system in place.

And since the vast majority of the Russian people do not want a single-party-system or a return to Soviet times yet don’t believe in (western style) democracy, Russian intellectuals would be well advised to take a very close and careful look at what I would call the “Iranian model”, not to simply copy it, but to see what aspects of this model could be adapted to Russian realities.  Historical Russia was an Orthodox monarchy.  That time is gone and will never return.  Soviet Russia was a Marxist atheistic state.  That time is also forever gone.  Modern Russia can only find references, lessons and implications in her past, but she cannot simply resurrect Czarist or Communist Russia.  Of course, neither can she reject her entire history and declare it all “bad” (which is what Russian “liberals” always do, which explains why they are so hated).

I don’t know what the future Russia will look like.  I am not even totally sure that this new Russia will ever really happen (though my gut feeling is that it will).  I hope that it will, but whether that happens or not will not be decided in China or by China (or any other country).  To conclude on a famous quote by Karl Marx “the emancipation of the workers must be the work of the workers themselves” (in Russian: “Освобождение рабочих должно быть делом самих рабочих”) which a famous Russian 1928 book turned into “the salvation of those who are drowning has to be the action of those drowning” (in Russian: “Спасение утопающих — дело рук самих утопающих”).  Whatever version you prefer (I prefer the 2nd one), the meaning is clear: you need to solve your problems by yourself or with those who share that problem with you.  In other words, Russians are the only ones who can save or destroy the Russian nation (I mean “Russian” in the traditional, Russian, multi-ethnic and multi-religious meaning of the words руссий and российский which in traditional Russian are both interchangeable or different depending on the context).

The Saker

PS: I leave you with a photo which, imho, speaks a thousand words

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