Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘China’

It’s Always Funny Until Someone Gets Hurt – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on October 11, 2019

Wokeness is funny when you are poking those who cannot fight back (hint: straight white Christian males).

Bionic Mosquito

Daryl Morey sent, then deleted what is likely the most expensive tweet in history:

Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong

Why so expensive?  Morey is general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets.  The NBA is big business in China.  Several NBA stars make big money in China.  Several NBA teams are currently in China playing exhibition games.

Suffice it to say, the government of China is not happy. Sponsorships are being pulled, events are being cancelled, billboards are being taken down. This could cost the league billions…unless the NBA bows low to the wishes of the communist government.

The poor NBA. They have gone further than any other pro sports league in the US in allowing all employees – players and management – to speak out on social issues, politics, etc.

It seems “wokeness” is not something China wants to import from the United States. The NBA has no good way out of this. Maybe one: put a lid on players and management from commenting on social issues anywhere. The players might go along, given how many hundreds of millions of dollars accrue to them via relationships in China. That would really be funny.

It’s always funny until someone gets hurt. Wokeness is funny when you are poking those who cannot fight back (hint: straight white Christian males).

But watching this self-inflicted circus from hell really is hilarious.

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Business will be the unifier for NBA and China



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China TV drops NBA exhibition games, escalating pressure amid tweet uproar

Posted by M. C. on October 8, 2019

Normally I wouldn’t care but I have to ask: is this NBA owner really this stupid? What did he expect?

Maybe NBA owners have a concussion problem.

I know Beijing has a problem-messing up the best thing they have going.
by Reuters

* CCTV says it won’t air NBA exhibition games in China this week

* NBA under pressure after GM tweet supporting Hong Kong protests (Updates with comment from Silver, Chinese ministry)

By Chris Gallagher and Se Young Lee

BEIJING/TOKYO, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Chinese state television said on Tuesday it would not air NBA exhibition games played in the country this week, heaping pressure on the U.S. basketball league after a tweet by a Houston Rockets executive backing protests in Hong Kong.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey apologised on Monday for any hurt caused by the tweet, which he quickly deleted over the weekend.

But China’s government, fans and the team’s partners have not been assuaged, resulting in loss of sponsors and broadcasts in the world’s second-largest economy and an important National Basketball Association (NBA) market.

“We strongly oppose Silver’s support of Morey on the basis of freedom of speech and we think any comments that challenge a country’s sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” CCTV said Tuesday in a statement in Chinese, adding that it would review its relationship with the NBA.

The NBA issued a statement saying it regretted Morey’s remarks, drawing criticism from U.S. lawmakers.

But commissioner Adam Silver said it was not up to the NBA to regulate what players, employees and team owners said.

“It is inevitable that people around the world – including from America and China – will have different viewpoints over different issues,” Silver said in a statement. “It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.”…

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Concussion | Compel Visuals

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Trapped, alone and ‘desperate to come home.’ American siblings barred from leaving China

Posted by M. C. on September 16, 2019

“We don’t have firm numbers in terms of exactly how many people, on either the Chinese side or the international side, have been subjected to exit bans … but we know that the number is quite large,”
“We don’t know’ but that doesn’t keep us from telling you the “facts”.
The fact is coercion is universal and works both ways.

WASHINGTON – Two young Americans, Victor and Cynthia Liu, are “trapped” in China, increasingly desperate and despondent because Chinese authorities have blocked them from leaving for more than a year.

“They are trapped. They are alone. They are desperate to come home,” David Pressman, the siblings’ New York-based attorney, told USA TODAY. “They are literally breaking down.”

The Lius are subject to a so-called “exit ban,” and they’re not they only ones.

Another American citizen, Huang Wan, says Chinese officials are using a “fake” legal case to prevent her from returning to the United States. An Australian resident, Yuan Xiaoliang, has been barred from leaving China for more than eight months, and her husband, an Australian citizen, has been arrested on suspicion of spying, according to Australia’s foreign minister.

The State Department has warned Americans about China’s growing use of exit bans – stating in a Jan. 3 travel advisory that Chinese authorities have sometimes used exit bans to keep Americans in China for years.

“China uses exit bans coercively,” the State Department cautioned, “to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.”…

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Collaboration, Cooperation and Coercion




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Fool’s War Over Trade – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on September 7, 2019

This fool’s war of big egos will inevitably end in a face-saving compromise between Washington and Beijing. Get on with it.


According to the great military thinker, Maj. Gen. J.F.C. Fuller, ‘the object of war is not victory. It is to achieve political goals.’…

Trump’s wars are economic. They deploy the huge economic and financial might of the United States to steamroll other nations that fail to comply with orders from Washington. Washington’s motto is ‘obey me or else!’ Economic wars are not bloodless. Imperial Germany and the Central Powers were starved into surrender in 1918 by a crushing British naval blockade.

Trade sanctions are not making America great, as Trump claims. They are making America detested around the globe as a crude bully. Trump’s efforts to undermine the European Union and intimidate Canada add to this ugly, brutal image…

Trump and his advisors are right about China’s often questionable trade practices. I did 15 years of business in China and saw a kaleidoscope of chicanery, double-dealing, and corruption. A favorite Chinese trick was to leave imports baking in the sun on the docks, or long delaying them by ‘losing’ paperwork.

I saw every kind of craziness in the Wild East Chinese market. But remember that it’s a ‘new’ market in which western-style capitalism is only one generation old. Besides, China learned many of its fishy trade practices from France, that mother of mercantilism.

China indeed steals technical and military information on a mass scale. But so does the US, whose spy agencies suck up information across the world. America’s claims to be a victim are pretty rich…

In China’s view, the US is repeating what Great Britain did in the 19th century by declaring war to force opium grown in British-ruled Burma onto China’s increasingly addicted people.  Today the trade crop is soya beans and wretched pigs.

Trump’s ultimate objective, as China clearly knows, is to whip up a world crisis over trade, then dramatically end it – of course, before next year’s elections.  Trump has become a master dictator of US financial markets, rising or lowering them by surprise tweets…

It staggers the imagination to believe that Trump and his minions actually believe that they can intimidate China into bending the knee. China withstood mass devastation and at least 14 million deaths in World War II in order to fight off Japanese domination. Does the White House really think Beijing will cave in over soya beans and semi-conductors in a daft war directed by a former beauty contest and casino operator?…

Trade wars rarely produce any benefits for either side. They are the equivalent of sending tens of thousands of soldiers to be mowed down by machine guns on the blood-soaked Somme battlefield in WWI. Glory for the stupid generals; death and misery for the common soldiers

This fool’s war of big egos will inevitably end in a face-saving compromise between Washington and Beijing. Get on with it.

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Hong Kong in US’ crosshairs? No matter where there’s revolution, we’re there, Ron Paul says — RT World News

Posted by M. C. on August 17, 2019

The United States has a habit of involving itself in political unrest all over the world, Ron Paul said, noting that Washington lacks the moral authority to lecture China about the unrest in Hong Kong.

The former Texas congressman and presidential candidate said that he wasn’t surprised by reports of US involvement in demonstrations that have rocked Kong Hong since March.

“No matter where there’s a revolution starting or stirring, we’re there, because we have a lot at stake,” he told Politicking host Larry King.

Paul sharply criticized statements made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other US lawmakers warning China of consequences if the crisis in Hong Kong wasn’t settled to Washington’s liking.

He argued that using political unrest in the semi-autonomous territory to “attack” China is “foolish.”

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Black Bats: CIA spy flights over China from Taiwan 1951-1969

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We’re All Currency Manipulators Now – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on August 9, 2019


David Stockman’s Contra Corner

Call it the monetary theater of the absurd. After all, here is what a determined currency manipulator did between September 2002 and July 2008.

To wit, it pumped about $200 billion of new dollar liabilities into the world financial system, thereby expanding the Fed’s balance sheet by 26%. Clearly, global traders and US trading partners didn’t welcome that flood of freshly minted fiat currency because during the same period, the traded-weighted dollar exchange rate plunged by 25%.

Moreover, there can be little doubt that the severe slump in the US dollar shown below was deliberate. During much of that period, the Fed conducted an aggressive campaign to slash interest rates, goose domestic growth and perk-up the inflation rate. The last objective in particular was the brain child of newly appointed Fedhead Ben Bernanke, who falsely warned Greenspan & Co. about the dangers of an imminent “deflation” that never remotely happened.

Needless to say, the impolite word for a policy of suppressing domestic interest rates and goosing inflation is trashing your own currency. All things being equal, foreigners will lighten their dollar holdings and trade the dollar down when authorities promise to reduce its purchasing power and to push yields lower relative to alternatives abroad.

The truth is, the U.S. Federal Reserve is the all-time champion of currency manipulation, and has been ever since Nixon severed the dollar’s tie to gold in August 1971.

That’s because in a fiat currency world, domestic monetary policy is inherently an exercise in currency manipulation: The effects of Fed policy changes (or those of any other significant central bank) are transmitted instantly into external FX and related global financial markets – once the protective moat of a fixed exchange rate is removed

If we deem China a currency manipulator, what about the other 729 rate cuts in the past 10 years? What about our central bank taking rates down to 0% for 8 years and printing $4-5 trillion?

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Thread by @VMRConstancio: "FT: “ US Treasury added Ireland ...





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An “AI Race” Between U.S. and China Is a Terrible Idea

Posted by M. C. on August 6, 2019

The space race didn’t bother China much. They spent their time figuring out how to defend themselves from space. They can blow up satellites. They have few carriers but a reportedly fine carrier killer cruise missile.

Perhaps because it lies at the perfect nexus of genuinely-very-complicated and impossibly-confounded-by-marketing-buzzword-speak, the term “AI” has become a catchall for anything algorithmic and sufficiently technologically impressive. AI, which is supposed to stand for “artificial intelligence,” now spans applications from cameras to the military to medicine.

One thing we can be sure about AI — because we are told it so often and at so increasingly high a pitch — is that whatever it actually is, the national interest demands more of it. And we need it now, or else China will beat us there, and we certainly wouldn’t want that, would we? What is “there,” exactly? What does it look like, how would it work, and how would it change our society? Irrelevant! The race is on, and if America doesn’t start taking AI seriously, we’re going to find ourselves the losers in an ever-widening Dystopia Gap.

piece on Politico this week by Luiza Ch. Savage and Nancy Scola exemplifies the mix of maximum alarm and minimum meaning that’s become so typical in our national (and nationalist) discussion around artificial intelligence. “Is America ceding the future of AI to China?” the article asks.

We’re meant to take this possibility as not only very real but as an unquestionably bad thing. One only needs to tell the public that the country risks “ceding” control of something — literally anything — to the great foreign unknown for our national eyes to grow wide.

“The last time a rival power tried to out-innovate the U.S. and marshaled a whole-of-government approach to doing it, the Soviet Union startled Americans by deploying the first man-made satellite into orbit,” the article says. “The Sputnik surprise in 1957 shook American confidence, galvanized its government and set off a space race culminating with the creation of NASA and the moon landing 50 years ago this month.”

Our new national dread, the article continues, is “whether another Sputnik moment is around the corner” — in the form of an AI-breakthrough from the keyboards of Red China instead of Palo Alto.

Forget that Sputnik was not actually a “surprise” for the powers that be, or that Sputnik itself was basically a beeping aluminum beach ball — “barely more than a radio transmitter with batteries,” the magazine Air & Space once said. There’s a bigger problem here: Framing the Cold War as a battle of innovators conveniently avoids mentioning that the chief innovation in question wasn’t Sputnik or the Space Shuttle or any peacetime venture, but the creation of an arsenal for instant global nuclear holocaust at the press of a button.

Sure, yes, it’s doubtful we could have “marshaled a whole-of-government approach” to space travel without having first “marshaled a whole-of-government approach” to rocket-borne atomic genocide, but to highlight the eventual accomplishments of NASA without acknowledging that it entailed a very close dance with a worldwide apocalypse is ahistoric and absurd. To use this comparison to goad us into another nationalist tech race with a global military power is outright dangerous — if only because the victory remains completely undefined. How would we “beat” China, exactly? Beat them at what, exactly? Which specific problems do we hope to use AI to fix? At a point in history when cities are beginning to scrutinize and outright ban “AI” technologies like facial recognition, are we sure the fixes aren’t even worse than the problems? Nationalists caught in an arms race have no time to answer questions like these or any others; they’ve got a race to win!

All anyone can manage to do is bark that we need more, more, more AI, more investments, more R&D, more collaborations, more ventures, more breakthroughs, simply more AI. Maybe we’ll worry about what we needed all of this for in the first place once we’ve beaten China there. Or maybe an algorithm will explain it to us, along with the locations of all our family members and a corresponding score that quantifies their social utility and biometric trustworthiness.

The Politico piece is full of worried voices cautioning that we can’t let Americans fall behind in the global invasive-surveillance race, completely unable to explain why this would be a bad thing. “The city of Tianjin alone plans to spend $16 billion on AI — and the U.S. government investment still totals several billion and counting,” despairs Elsa Kania of the technology and national security program at the Center for a New American Security. “That’s still lower by an order of magnitude.” Amy Webb, a New York University business school professor, told Politico, “We are being outspent. We are being out-researched. We are being outpaced. We are being out-staffed.”

Of course, it’s not just these researchers, nor is it just Politico: The necessity of absolute American dominance in an extremely unpredictable, deeply hazardous, and altogether hard to comprehend field has made the great leap from think-tank anxiety nightmare to political talking point…

Given the deceptive, reckless, and at times downright vampiric way the likes of Facebook and Google already behave, who could possibly think that the “many legal and ethical issues” Sherman worries about could be properly addressed in the middle of a race? Are we really ready to grapple with Amazon once it’s been handed the mantle of Sputnik and Apollo 11?

Careful consideration demands a slower pace — and a slower pace means, yes, potentially losing a race to the bottom against a national adversary that clearly has no qualms making the bottom as technologically impressive as possible. Rather than clamoring for a dead sprint toward some sort of national AI supremacy, defined however and by whomever, our time might be better spent worrying in earnest about what lies at the finish line.

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now what

Go To Mars…I Guess.



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Bombs vs Bridges – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 23, 2019

By Brandon Turbeville
The Organic Prepper

There is a crisis in the Western world. Both in terms of domestic affairs and foreign policy, Western nations are showing all signs of impending collapse. This is despite the fact that the flagship of the Western world, the United States, continues to expand its empire across the globe. At the same time, the world is witnessing the “rise of China,” an empire in its own right though no one seems to have any interest in calling it what it is.

The American empire has come to terms with itself to some extent. Through all the claims of support for “democracy” and “freedom,” the United States has transitioned to an authoritarian state at home and a rampaging military of conquest abroad. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Egypt, Somalia, Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria, Venezuela, Chad and Mali all serve as hot battles for the American military (in cooperation with other Western militaries, including Australia) in service of forcing governments into accepting the rule of private central banksbig biotechnology firms, pharmaceutical and industrial corporations and forcing those nations into providing raw materials for major industry centered in the Western world…

But the US is definitely not alone in this.

China is also an empire and it is also marching across the globe attempting to expand its influence and control. However, most Westerners do not recognize it as such and even those anti-imperialist journalists in the alternative media find it difficult if not impossible to call China what it is; an expanding empire. Like the United States, China’s empire is one based on authoritarianism and control, though placing the collective in an even higher priority than its American competitor. Domestically, it has surpassed America in totalitarianism though the US is running as quickly as it can to the Marxist slaughterhouse.

The main reason China is still seen as a victim of American aggression rather than a mutual purveyor of imperialism is the fact that the boots of Chinese empire march much softer than the American version. While the US offers sticks, China offers carrots, albeit tainted ones. The US offers threats of overthrow and chaos, China offers roads and industry. The US offers bombs, China offers bridges…

The Chinese Strategy

With the exception of its domestic oppression, China’s expansion of empire has been largely bloodless. It has focused on the maintenance of its status as a “developing nation” as well as benefiting from Free Trade globalism, the intentional de-industrialization of the West (particularly the United States) and the tyrannical repression of individual rights at home. China’s slave labor industrial model [see here also] has made it the number one dumping spot for jobs that once provided high wages and high living standards to workers in America and, though raising some Chinese out of the poverty of rural areas, has simply moved them to the poverty of the city. With its excessively long hours, authoritarian work culture, extreme pollution, and low living standards, China has made the Chinese people into the collective Mao slaughtered so many to bring about, a mass able to be molded and adapted to serve the whims of the ruling class.

China has used the designation of “developing nation” to its greatest benefit, allowing it to skirt virtually all environmental regulations, turning the country into a toxic cesspit of pollution, chemical pools, and fake food. Its “developing nation” status allows it to avoid the obnoxious “climate change” regulations that have hastened the de-industrialization of the West and heralds the low living standards that have already begun to make themselves manifest wherever climate hysteria takes hold.

Likewise, China has willingly acted as a depository for the Free Trade system, allowing it to soak up jobs and industry that should have remained in the West providing high wages and high living standards for Americans. Unfortunately, however, both the left and the right, as well as the well-meaning but uninformed middle have supported this transition under the name of Free Trade. But the result is not just the weakening of American economic might, it is the growth of China’s economic and, hence, political power…

The Strategy Of Bridges

While the US bombs its way across the world, threatening to overthrow uncooperative governments at the slightest sign of resistance, China has chosen to play the long game, armed with centralized economic control and captured American industry at its command, by using its economic might and promised (often real) guarantees of economic growth to the third and “developing” world. What China offers is development, infrastructure, and economic growth but what it takes in return is influence and control over sovereign affairs. Much like its position of holding America’s debt, China holds critical infrastructure and the purse strings of investment and growth. If one decides to balk at Chinese wishes, they will not face a color revolution or bombs, they will face having the financial spigot cut off. What happens after that is a natural flow of events that will most likely benefit the Chinese, as whoever is able to manage to get that spigot on is likely to be the next one holding the seat of power.

One such example of the rapid expansion of Chinese influence in world affairs is the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. OBOR is a global “development initiative” launched publicly by the Chinese government in 152 countries and “international organizations” spanning the globe in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The “Belt” aspect of OBOR refers to overland routes as well as road and rail routes (aka “Silk Road Economic Belt”) and the “road” aspect involves the sea routes, the 21st Century “Maritime Silk Road.” Interestingly enough, the plan involves the improvement of infrastructure on land routes that equate to the old Silk Road. It is essentially the creation of a trading network controlled and owned by the Chinese government.

But the Chinese initiative is about much more than mere trade routes. It is a neo-colonial project that is using the carrots of trade and infrastructure held in front of the third world as bait, while the subservience of the recipient nations is what is paid in return. Not all third world countries see sovereignty as a willing trade for infrastructure crumbs, however. In 2018, for instance, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad canceled a number of Chinese-funded projects warning that “there is a new version of Colonialism happening.”…

China is going after other countries with “debt traps”

Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Zambia have already suffered such consequences from China and Sri Lanka also has a story tell. To get an idea of how the Chinese “debt trap” works, examine the article “How China Got Sri Lanka To Cough Up A Port,” written by Maria Abi-Habib published in the New York Times on June 25, 2018.” Habib writes,

Every time Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, turned to his Chinese allies for loans and assistance with an ambitious port project, the answer was yes.

Yes, though feasibility studies said the port wouldn’t work. Yes, though other frequent lenders like India had refused. Yes, though Sri Lanka’s debt was ballooning rapidly under Mr. Rajapaksa.

Over years of construction and renegotiation with China Harbor Engineering Company, one of Beijing’s largest state-owned enterprises, the Hambantota Port Development Project distinguished itself mostly by failing, as predicted. With tens of thousands of ships passing by along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the port drew only 34 ships in 2012.

And then the port became China’s.

Mr. Rajapaksa was voted out of office in 2015, but Sri Lanka’s new government struggled to make payments on the debt he had taken on. Under heavy pressure and after months of negotiations with the Chinese, the government handed over the port and 15,000 acres of land around it for 99 years in December.

The transfer gave China control of territory just a few hundred miles off the shores of a rival, India, and a strategic foothold along a critical commercial and military waterway.

The case is one of the most vivid examples of China’s ambitious use of loans and aid to gain influence around the world — and of its willingness to play hardball to collect.

The debt deal also intensified some of the harshest accusations about President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative: that the global investment and lending program amounts to a debt trap for vulnerable countries around the world, fueling corruption and autocratic behavior in struggling democracies.

It should be noted that a sizeable portion of Chinese money was also funneled directly to the Sri Lankan President and his aides, ensuring that he and his administration would be more willing to agree to the ridiculous Chinese terms.

As far what lies ahead for Djibouti, ‘The debt with China increases exponentially. They are going to take this port, just like they did in Sri Lanka,’ Doualeh Egueh Ofleh, a deputy in the National Assembly with the opposition Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development told ISS Today.

This is what lies ahead for all the nations who take part in China’s OBOR initiative.

OBOR Is About Free Trade

With China expected to invest around $1.3 trillion in infrastructure projects across the globe, it should be remembered that what China is promoting is not even a plan designed to protect the Chinese economy, it is a Free Trade network that will see China at the helm of the exploitation of workers, worker’s rights, and the environment.

OBOR is not about fighting against Free Trade with the cooperation of third world countries, it is about expanding exploitation to those countries with a Chinese flavor instead of the Western Anglo version.

That, in a nutshell, is what Free Trade is all about. Indeed, Free Trade and colonialism have always existed side by side. The two are virtually inseparable…

How Could The US Turn It Around?

If the United States wishes to maintain its influence on the world stage, it must abandon its desires for an empire and it must cease attempting to force systems of government upon sovereign nations, particularly the Anglo-financier system. If the United States does not wish to see its influence eroded and eliminated in the coming decades, it must focus on providing tangible improvement in the lives of the citizens of the countries it wishes to influence and it must do so through an open and honest channel, unlike the Chinese debt trap and unlike and most unlike the carpet bombing American version. America has done everything in its power to squander the enormous good will many of the world’s people had in the past and still continue to have for it today. However, that need not be the case. America could once again establish good will for generations to come if it decides to influence the world by improving the living standards of its people. America’s legacy must cease to be war and destabilization and instead must become clean water, clean air, industry, infrastructure, and freedom…

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America's sport

Government’s favorite sport-War




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Debunking the Indo-Pacific Myth – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 13, 2019

Debunking the Indo-Pacific Myth



Pepe Escobar

July 9, 2019

The Trump administration is obsessively spinning the concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. Apart from a small coterie of scholars, very few people around the world, especially across the Global South, know what that means since the then incipient strategy was first unveiled at the 2017 APEC forum in Vietnam.

Now everything one needs to know – and especially not know – about the Indo-Pacific is contained in a detailed Pentagon report.

Still: is this an act, or the real deal? After all, the strategy was unveiled by “acting” Pentagon head Patrick Shanahan (the Boeing guy), who latter committed hara-kiri, just to be replaced by another, revolving door, “acting” secretary, Mark Espel (the Raytheon guy).

Shanahan made a big deal of Indo-Pacific when he hit the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore last month, picking up on his introduction to the Pentagon report to stress the “geopolitical rivalry between free and repressive world order visions” and demonizing China for seeking to “reorder the region to its advantage”.

In contrast, all the benign Pentagon yearns for is just “freedom” and “openness” for a “networked region”; calling it the New Pentagon Silk Road wouldn’t be far fetched.

Anyone remotely familiar with “Indo-Pacific” knows that’s code for demonization of China; actually, the Trump administration’s version of Obama’s “pivot to Asia”, which was in itself a State Dept. concoction, via Kurt Campbell, fully appropriated by then Secretary Hillary Clinton.

“Indo-Pacific” congregates the Quad – US, Japan, India and Australia – in a “free” and “open” God-given mission. Yet this conception of freedom and openness blocks the possibility of China turning the mechanism into a Quintet.

Add to it what hawkish actor Esper told the Senate Armed Services Committee way back in 2017:

“My first priority will be readiness – ensuring the total Army is prepared to fight across the full spectrum of conflict. With the Army engaged in over 140 countries around the world, to include combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, training rotations to Europe to deter Russia, and forward deployed units in the Pacific defending against a bellicose North Korea, readiness must be our top priority.”

That was 2017. Esper didn’t even talk about China – which at the time was not the demonized “existential threat” of today. The Pentagon continues to be all about Full Spectrum Dominance.

Beijing harbors no illusions about the new Indo-Pacific chief they will be dealing with.

Surfing FONOP

“Indo-Pacific” is a hard nut to sell to ASEAN. As much as selected members may allow themselves to profit from some “protection” by the US military, Southeast Asia as a whole maintains top trade relations with China; most nations are participants of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB); and they will not shrink from enjoying the benefits of Huawei’s 5G future.

Actually even the other three in the Quad, as much as they are not linked to BRI, are having second thoughts on playing supportive roles in an all-American super production. They are very careful about their geoeconomic relations with China. “Indo-Pacific”, a club of four, is a de facto late response to BRI – which is indeed open, to over 65 nations so far.

The Pentagon’s favorite mantra concerns the enforcement of “freedom of navigation operations” (FONOP) – as if China, juggling the countless tentacles of global supply chains, would have any interest in provoking naval insecurity anywhere.

So far, “Indo-Pacific” has made sure that the US Pacific Command was renamed US Indo-Pacific Command. And that’s about it. Everything remains the same in terms of those FONOPs – in fact a carefully deceptive euphemism for the US Navy to be on 24/7 patrol anywhere across Asian seas, from the Indian to the Pacific, and especially the South China Sea. No ASEAN nation though will be caught dead performing FONOPS in South China Sea waters within 12 nautical miles of rocks and reefs claimed by Beijing.

The rampant demonization of China, now a bipartisan sport across the Beltway, on occasion even more hysterical than the demonization of Russia, also features proverbial reports by the Council on Foreign Relations – the establishment’s think tank by definition – on China as a serial aggressor, politically, economically and militarily, and BRI as a geoeconomic tool to coerce China’s neighbors.

So it’s no wonder this state of affairs has led Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on a recent, frenetic Indo-Pacific related tour, including Quad members India and Japan and possible associates Saudi Arabia, UAE and South Korea.

Geopoliticians of the realist school do fear that Pompeo, a fanatic Christian Zionist, may be enjoying under Trump a virtual monopoly on US foreign policy; a former CIA director playing warmongering top “diplomat” while also “acting” as Pentagon head trampling other second string actors who are not under full employment.

His Indo-Pacific roving was a de facto tour de force emphasizing the containment/demonization not only of China but also Iran, which should be seen as the major US target in the Indo/Southwest Asia part of the club. Iran is not only about strategic positioning and being a major BRI hub; it’s about immense reserves of natural gas to be traded bypassing the US dollar.

The fact that the non-stop demonization of Iran and/or China “aggression” comes from a hyperpower with over 800 military bases or lily pads spread out across every latitude plus a FONOP armada patrolling the seven seas is enough to send the hardest cynic into a paroxysm of laughter.

The high-speed train has left the station

In the end, everything under “Indo-Pacific” goes back to what game India is playing.

New Delhi meekly opted for not buying oil from Iran after the Trump administration lifted its sanctions waiver. New Delhi had promised earlier, on the record, to only respect UN Security Council sanctions, not unilateral – and illegal – US sanctions.

This decision is set to jeopardize India’s dream of extending its new mini-Silk Road to Afghanistan and Central Asia based on the Iranian port of Chabahar. That was certainly part of the discussions during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek, when full members Putin, Xi and Modi, plus Rouhani – as the head of an observer nation – were sitting at the same table.

New Delhi’s priority – embedded deep in the Indian establishment – may be containment of China. Yet Putin and Xi – fellow BRICS and SCO members – are very much aware that Modi cannot at the same time antagonize China and lose Iran as partner, and are deftly working on it.

On the Eurasian chessboard, the Pentagon and the Trump administration, together, only think Divide and Rule. India must become a naval power capable of containing China in the Indian Ocean while Japan must contain China economically and militarily all across East Asia.

Japan and India do meet – again – when it comes to another more geoeconomically specific anti-BRI scheme; the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), which so far has had a minimal impact and stands no chance of luring dozens of nations across the Global South away from BRI-related projects.

The chessboard now clearly shows Indo-Pacific pitted against the three key hubs of Eurasia integration – Russia-China-Iran. The definitive unraveling of Indo-Pacific – even before it starts gaining ground – would be a clear commitment by New Delhi to break apart the US sanctions regime by restarting purchases of much-needed Iran oil and gas.

It won’t take much for Modi to figure out that taking a second role in a Made in USA production will leave him stranded at the station eating dust just as the high-speed Eurasia integration train passes him by.

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Trump’s Trade War is Already Over — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on May 14, 2019

After that the real energy war starts as Russia completes Power of Siberia and begins pumping natural gas to China. And China directs its state oil companies to buy more oil from Iran while lowering its purchases from Saudi Arabia unless the Saudis accept Yuan for it.

That’s where the real leverage in this whole fiasco lies.

Tom Luongo

May 12, 2019

I hate to break the news to China bashers, but the trade war with the US is over. I’ve maintained for months that Trump has no leverage in trade talks with China. If he did China would have done a deal by now.

They haven’t and they likely won’t unless you are talking some form of deal which allows Trump to save face here. But to be honest I’m beginning to doubt whether anyone in the White House cares. This is about the Great Powers Game and the simpleton idea that for one country to win in trade another has to lose.

This is, of course, nonsense.

Trade is not a zero-sum game. Ideally, all voluntary trade is a win-win scenario for both the buyer and the seller. If it wasn’t the trade would not be made. Lost in the numbers is the comparative perceived value of the exchange.

China is still running a massive trade surplus and that is true. But from the perspective of US trade, that is as much a function of Trump’s own profligate spending habits as any structural inequalities.

Trump is running a $1 trillion budget deficit. This is money that is conjured up out of thin air by the miracle of selling bonds. $1 trillion in bonds. Where do you think those $1 trillion in government expenditures goes to?

The moon? Laos?

No. It goes to China. It also finds its way into the US equity market Trump is so in love with and other places that produce goods that we Americans buy with that money. If Trump wants to win the trade war with China he should consider spending a little less money allow consumer prices here in the States to fall and let his tax cuts continue to attract capital for the right reasons – the value the American work force is capable of generating…


Over at my blog recently I noted:

China’s not going to implode over these tariffs. It will give Xi and his central bank the opportunity to devalue the yuan in response to the slower flow of dollars. It has to protect the lion’s share of its trade with Southeast Asia and Europe whose currencies are already in trouble.

And it will bail out the most strategically-sensitive banks and businesses over-exposed to them. It’s what they did last year in response to the 10% tariff and it is what will happen this time.

Lastly, however, is the part no one actually wants to discuss which is that China has to protect its trade with Southeast Asia and Europe. The Yuan didn’t devalue in a vacuum. The euro is down 13% from its high as are currencies like the Indonesian Rupiah, the Malaysian Ringgit and Thai Baht.

What Trump and his team are arguing for in trade negotiation is no different than what they’ve offered Iran and Lebanon, surrender your sovereignty or face punishment.

So, China reciprocates and cuts off US soybeans and other food exports. Now, a year later, Midwest banks are facing surging bankruptcies from farmers hit with the double whammy of no exports to China (who now buys them from Brazil) and massive flooding from an abnormally vicious winter and spring.

They have Trump to thank for this. He didn’t help them by not thinking through how we could be hurt by China’s reaction to his belligerence…

Let’s shift gears now and talk about what’s really going on.

Trump’s team would be fine with a trade deficit if China was still recycling that trade surplus into US Treasury bonds. They aren’t. The Chinese have held their stock of US debt between $1.1 and $1.25 trillion for two years now.

They are sending a lot of those dollars back out into the world to fund their massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). They are also using them to power swap arrangements with countries feeling the bite of Trump’s sanctions. Countries like Turkey, Pakistan and Iran, for examples.

To the paranoid schizophrenics who run his White House can only see China rising as a threat not a complement to the US.

Again, these are people with a zero-sum view on trade.

They, like Trump, only see things in terms of power. And if China is running a surplus they are gaining it and we are losing it.

The push to sanction the world and stop the unapproved use of the dollar is beginning to have catastrophic effects on the world economy. People like John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo don’t care about those things. In fact, the more our ‘enemies,’ as they see them, suffer, the better it is for us. Such is their reductionist view of the world.

In no way do I believe China is somehow blameless or anything. They have taken egregious advantage of the US’s terrible policies for decades. But they are also shifting away from their mercantilist policies as Xi shifts the economy away from exports and towards a domestic consumption model…

After that the real energy war starts as Russia completes Power of Siberia and begins pumping natural gas to China. And China directs its state oil companies to buy more oil from Iran while lowering its purchases from Saudi Arabia unless the Saudis accept Yuan for it.

That’s where the real leverage in this whole fiasco lies…






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