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Posts Tagged ‘China’

If the US Wants to Beat China, Why Is It Copying China’s Socialism? | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 13, 2021

In conclusion, if the US wants to strengthen its economic and geostrategic position versus China, it needs to apply the same free market principles that made it prosperous and powerful in the first place. Launching a second Marshall Plan, which mirrors China’s wasteful BRI, will only consolidate big government, crony capitalism, and corruption, eroding the US economy’s capital stock and competitiveness.

https://mises.org/wire/if-us-wants-beat-china-why-it-copying-chinas-socialism

Mihai Macovei

Under the Biden administration the US continued escalating the economic and geopolitical frictions with China. At the recent G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, President Biden sought to rally a “united front” against China with traditional G7 allies and new ones such as Australia, India, South Korea, and South Africa and rebuked China on economic policies, human rights, and tensions in the East and South China Seas. The US also persuaded its G7 allies to back a massive infrastructure support package for developing countries. The so-called Build Back Better World Partnership (B3W) is a de facto rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But it is far from obvious what the West stands to gain by emulating China’s exorbitant and highly controversial modern “Silk Road” venture.

The US’s Ambitious Global Infrastructure Plan

The B3W wants to mobilize “hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment,” in order to narrow an estimated infrastructure need of $40 trillion plus in the developing world. The B3W financing is expected to come from US budgetary instruments, such as the Development Finance Corporation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); from multilateral development banks (MDBs), such as the World Bank; and from the private sector and G7 partners. As the B3W is meant to challenge China’s project, we expect it to at least match the Chinese financial envelope, most commonly estimated at more than $1 trillion in investment and lending commitments so far.1 This is more than eight times higher than the nearly $113 billion in official development assistance and $22 billion in private sector investment provided by G7 countries for foreign infrastructure projects during 2015–19 (graph 1).

Graph 1: G7 Infrastructure Development Assistance

G7 infrastructure development assistance
Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

In order to surpass China, the B3W aims at having a broader geographical coverage, a wider focus, and better project governance and standards. The BRI comprises a “Silk Road Economic Belt” trying to link China with Asia, Russia, and Europe by land, and a “Maritime Silk Road,” connecting China’s coastal regions with Asia, the South Pacific, Africa, and Europe, but its Western challenger aims at being global in scope. While the Chinese initiative is focused on traditional infrastructure projects—highways, railroads, ports, and power plants, the B3W wants to invest also in climate, health and digital technology. And because Chinese projects have been heavily criticized for lack of transparency, corruption, unsustainable debt and adverse environmental and social impacts, the B3W advertises itself as “a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership led by major democracies.”

Holes in China’s “Silk Road”

From its announcement in 2013, China’s megainfrastructure project has been met with suspicion in the West. Most important, it was feared that China had geostrategic ambitions to bring smaller BRI partners under its sphere of influence. It was also claimed that China was pursuing a “debt-trap diplomacy” in order to take over key strategic assets such as electric grids and ports, while the latter could be also used for military purposes.

With time, many analysts realized that much of this criticism was exaggerated. First, almost 140 countries have signed on to the BRI as of this writing, of which eighteen are from the EU, showing that many governments find the Chinese deal beneficial. And although China has not financed in full the promised $1 trillion in projects so far, it did make $190 billion worth of investments and $390 billion in construction work (financed by Chinese loans in general) during 2014–18. This is more than the $467 billion of development loans provided by the World Bank during 2008–19. Second, while the number of requests for debt renegotiation and relief has increased, overseas asset seizures have rarely occurred. Third, many pundits concur that the BRI ports are commercially designed and almost impossible to employ militarily.

Undeniably, China has been trying to enhance its political influence through the BRI, and is now perceived as the most influential economic actor in Southeast Asia and Africa. But resentments over some onerous projects, corruption scandals, and increasing debt burdens mean that such gains could be easily reversed, and China has started to improve its lending and investment standards. The BRI focus has been widened from traditional infrastructure to telecommunications, digital technology, and fintech. And China also expanded the BRI’s overarching goal to helping build a free trade and investment area which would accelerate economic growth for all partner countries.2

But BRI’s economic benefits are skewed in favor of Chinese construction companies at the expense of taxpayers. The BRI provided much business for China’s overstretched construction sector after the end of the domestic stimulus binge following the Great Recession. Almost 90 percent of the construction works funded under the BRI went to Chinese contractors, fueling criticism that the BRI creates unfair advantages for Chinese companies, which have become global leaders. Seven of the ten largest construction companies in the world by revenue were Chinese in 2017. At the same time, if China wanted to set a debt trap with the BRI, it seems that it is the country which has fallen into it. The pandemic has accelerated the already growing debt defaults and renegotiations and an estimated $94 billion, or a quarter of China’s overseas lending, has come under renegotiation so far (graph 2). It shows that the BRI’s most important lenders, i.e. China’s two main policy banks—the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China—have done a poor job of financing viable projects, for which the Chinese taxpayer is likely to foot the bill eventually.3 And given the sizeable amount of investments put on hold, scaled back, or cancelled, and the very low participation of private lenders, it is obvious that the BRI participating governments have made several bad investment decisions too.

Graph 2: China’s Debt Renegotiation Cases

debt rengotiation
Source: Rhodium Group Research.

Over 2013–17, the BRI looked pretty successful and was growing fast in terms of contracts signed and loans. After high-profile contracts were cancelled and debt renegotiations surged, the project ran out of steam. China’s big banks started rethinking and reducing their overseas lending and the number of construction contracts went down too (graph 3). This was also driven by the deleveraging of Chinese banks after the large credit expansion following the global financial crisis. China’s large domestic growth stimuli weakened its external competitiveness and reduced current account surpluses and outward FDI (foreign direct investment). The balance of payments crisis of 2015–16, which was accompanied by a drop in international reserves of more than $1 trillion and imposition of capital controls, reduced China’s ability to fund the massive overseas demand for infrastructure projects and investment. In addition, domestic voices started to question why Chinese people, also relatively poor, should subsidize unprofitable capital investment overseas.

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Contact Mihai Macovei

Dr. Mihai Macovei (macmih_mf@yahoo.com) is an associated researcher at the Ludwig von Mises Institute Romania and works for an international organization in Brussels, Belgium.

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Please! Someone Set Biden Straight on China ‘Squeezing’ Russia – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on June 22, 2021

What does matter is the impression President Putin got of a president highly experienced in foreign affairs, but bereft of accurate knowledge on some fundamental current realities (and the China issue is only one such questionable tack).

https://original.antiwar.com/?p=2012343150

by Ray McGovern

President Joe Biden’s words about China at the Geneva summit shows him to be woefully misinformed about the “world correlation of forces” (to borrow from an old Soviet term). He appears to be stuck in a decades-old paradigm of Sino-Russian hostility, which President Richard Nixon was able to leverage into key arms control agreements with Moscow during the early 70s.

In my first piece on the strategic backdrop for the summit, I noted that the triangular relationship had drastically changed in recent decades and that, although the triangle may still be equilateral, it is now essentially a matter of two sides against one – with Washington odd man out.

This is basic: How could any U.S. statesman be unaware? How is it that foreign policy “experts” could be telling Biden that the US can still try to play Russia and China off against each other amid the radically changed “correlation of forces” today?

Reviewing what Biden said about China, one is tempted to despair. Here’s the president at his solo, post-summit press conference:

“Without quoting him [Putin] – which I don’t think is appropriate – let me ask a rhetorical question: You got a multi-thousand-mile border with China. China is … seeking to be the most powerful economy in the world and the largest and the most powerful military in the world.

Plane-side just before departing Geneva, Biden added:

“… let me choose my words. Russia is in a very, very difficult spot right now. They are being squeezed by China. …”

How to Explain the Blather

It may be that Biden’s blather is properly attributed to his sophomore (now rising-junior) advisers, who fit the label used, back in the day, by China and Russia to excoriate each other as “great-power chauvinists” with the benighted view that the US is “exceptional” – “indispensable” – even. It may even be the case that Biden’s advisers are being influenced by similarly inexperienced pundits like those of the Washington Post.

The day after the date for the Geneva summit was announced, the Post asked “Why does everyone assume that Russia and China are friends?“:

On Monday, China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, arrived in Moscow, aiming to enhance a relationship that the Chinese Foreign Ministry this week said “has grown as solid as a rock through thick and thin.” This month, Russian President Vladimir Putin described ties between the two countries as being at the “best level in history.” He may have been reflecting on that moment in June 2019 when Chinese President Xi Jinping referred to him as “my best friend.”

As tensions rise between China and the United States, many commentators are taking this rhetoric at face value and warning about a growing kinship between the United States’ top two rivals. But it’s not so simple. To begin with, Moscow has more to fear from Beijing than Washington.

Or perhaps Biden’s team has indeed briefed him on the new realities, but the president’s long-term memory remains dominant. Recall that during the 70s, as Biden entered politics, the Russians and Chinese had been shooting at each other across that “multi-thousand-mile border,” China was claiming 1.5 million square kilometers of Siberia that had been seized and “occupied” by a handful of Cossacks and certified by centuries-old “unequal treaties” (that were, indeed, unequal). During the 70s and early 80s, it did seem as though the mutual hostility would last forever. (Full disclosure: I was CIA’s principal analyst on Sino-Soviet relations during the 60s and early 70s, and I shared that view. For commentary on how and why this all changed, please see “US-Russia Ties, from Heyday to MayDay” and “Russia-China Tandem Shifts Global Power.

So, it seems equally possible that Biden’s advisers have clued him in, and his memory remains in a kind of time-warp. Which is the more likely explanation for Biden’s benighted words on China? It doesn’t matter all that much – at least compared to what I believe to be the expected reaction on the part of Biden’s Russian interlocutors..

What does matter is the impression President Putin got of a president highly experienced in foreign affairs, but bereft of accurate knowledge on some fundamental current realities (and the China issue is only one such questionable tack). While top Chinese officials had the opportunity to brief the Putin team on the indignities they suffered at the hands of Secretary of State Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Anchorage on March 18, it seems likely, nevertheless, that Biden’s comments on China left Putin shaking his head in disbelief. This cannot be a good thing.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

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Thanks to Federal Megaspending, the Trade Deficit Has Only Gotten Worse | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 17, 2021

President Trump’s protectionist trade measures against China and other external partners have not caused a reduction of the total US trade deficit. The latter actually grew further as China’s exports found indirect ways into the US and massive domestic growth stimuli were deployed during the pandemic.

https://mises.org/wire/thanks-federal-megaspending-trade-deficit-has-only-gotten-worse

Mihai Macovei

President Trump’s protectionist trade measures against China and other external partners have not caused a reduction of the total US trade deficit. The latter actually grew further as China’s exports found indirect ways into the US and massive domestic spending schemes were expanded during the pandemic.

Almost three years after the Trump administration unleashed the trade war on China, hostilities have not ended, but only entered a truce with the Phase One trade deal signed in January 2020. The US tariff hike on more than $360 billion of Chinese goods has remained in place until today. Washington imposed four rounds of tariffs in 2018 and 2019, with the bulk of the tariffs ranging from 10 to 25 percent coming into force in September 2018 and September 2019. Beijing has gradually retaliated with tariffs ranging from 5 to 25 percent on about $110 billion of US products. The difference in the volumes of products targeted by tariffs reflects the unbalanced bilateral trade.

The covid-19 pandemic took the trade war off the headlines, but its economic disruptions prevented China from meeting the condition of the Phase One deal to purchase an additional $200 billion of US products over the 2017 level. Recently China has approached the Biden administration trying to restart trade discussions, but it seems unlikely that Biden’s policy on China would deviate significantly from his predecessor’s. As a matter of fact, Biden’s trade agenda still underlines that “China’s coercive and unfair trade practices harm American workers, threaten our technological edge, weaken our supply chain resiliency, and undermine our national interests.” In addition, the tech war continues, as top Chinese tech companies suspected to be affiliated with the military remain blacklisted and recently the US Senate passed a bill providing $250 billion in subsides to high-tech sectors competing with China. But Trump’s protectionist agenda does not seem to have reached its target, so why continue it?

The US Trade Deficit Continued Growing

The sharp increase in US tariffs on Chinese goods led to a significant decline in the bilateral trade deficit of about 25 percent, or $108 billion, from 2018 to 2020. Despite the retrenchment of the deficit with China, the US trade deficit in goods with the world has actually increased by around $35 billion from 2018 to 2020, to a record-high $915 billion (graph 1). If Trump’s protectionist measures1 appear to have worked with China, they have certainly not reduced the overall trade deficit. The situation worsened in the first quarter of 2021, when the trade deficit widened by almost 50 percent with China and by more than one-third with the world during the same period in 2020 (US Census Bureau). At the same time, the surplus in the balance of services has shrunk by about 20 percent and it seems that the US is heading for a record-high current account deficit in 2021.

Graph 1: US Trade Deficit with China and the World, 2002–20

mm
Source: US Census Bureau

Chinese Exports Found an Indirect Way to the US

While the US trade deficit with China was shrinking, its deficit with other Asian economies was expanding almost in lockstep. From 2018 to 2020, the US trade deficit in goods to China declined by around $108 billion, but expanded by about $90 billion with Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand. Many analysts interpreted this evolution as a readjustment of global value chains and offshoring of production from China to Vietnam, Taiwan, and other Asian peers. Yet the data points to something else. As US imports from other Asian countries grew by about $32 billion in 2019 and another $30 billion in 2020, China’s exports to the same Asian economies2 grew almost in lockstep (graph 2).

Graph 2: US Imports from and Chinese Exports to Asian Economies, 2018–20

mm

Source: US Census Bureau and UN Comtrade Database

This would suggest that China’s production has not been relocated to other Asian economies because of the US tariff hike, but that somehow its exports have found an indirect way into the US. During the trade war, businesses were obviously eager to find loopholes to avoid exorbitant tariffs without having to shift production, in particular by using transshipment, in which Chinese exports are minimally processed during a brief stop at a third port and then reexported as a non-Chinese product. The US authorities have recognized and tried to reduce this practice, but apparently without much success. Several arguments would support this view: (i) despite a drop in Chinese exports to the US of $87 billion in 2019 and another $16 billion in 2020, China’s total exports to the world grew by $13 billion in 2019 and another $92 billion in 2020; (ii) the structure of China’s exports in terms of main products has remained broadly unchanged from 2018 to 2019, not displaying large disruptions following the trade war (according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity [OEC]); and (iii) the reorientation of US imports from China to other Asian economies took place very quickly, in a matter of months rather than years, when it would be almost impossible to shift production facilities so quickly from one country to another. It would also be naïve to think that much smaller Asian economies such as Vietnam could replace China as the world’s manufacturing hub overnight. China still enjoys a large comparative advantage in terms of workforce size and qualification, infrastructure, business environment, and internal market capacity.

If some production offshoring from China to low-cost Asian economies took place, it was mainly for low-tech and low-value goods, and has not affected China’s production and exports much. Manufacturing output continued growing by almost 6 percent in 2019 and 4 percent in 2020, while high-tech manufacturing advanced even faster, by 9 percent in 2019 and more than 7 percent in 2020. And although China’s trade surplus with the US shrunk by $108 billion, its surplus with all its trade partners actually increased by more than $180 billion from 2018 to 2020 (graph 3). This trend strengthened further during the first four months of 2021, when China’s exports grew on average by 40 percent from a year before and the trade surplus increased almost three times, to $160 billion. The negative economic impact of strict lockdowns and massive growth stimuli in the US and other advanced economies has undoubtedly contributed to China’s brisk export recovery since the summer of 2020. This also brings us to the heart of the problem of the US’s large and persistent current account deficits.

Graph 3: Chinese Trade Surplus with the US and the World, 2000–20

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Contact Mihai Macovei

Dr. Mihai Macovei (macmih_mf@yahoo.com) is an associated researcher at the Ludwig von Mises Institute Romania and works for an international organization in Brussels, Belgium.

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The Covid BioWeapon: Made in the USA, aimed at China, by Mike Whitney and Ron Unz – The Unz Review

Posted by M. C. on June 17, 2021

https://www.unz.com/mwhitney/the-covid-bioweapon-made-in-the-usa-aimed-at-china/

Mike Whitney and Ron Unz

“…..we are left with the strong likelihood that Covid came from a laboratory (and) was designed as a bioweapon… China was the intended target (and) America seems the likely source of the attack… The most likely suspects would be rogue elements of our national security establishment… The virus and its dispersal devices might have been obtained from Ft. Detrick and CIA operatives… would have been sent to Wuhan to release it.” Ron Unz, Editor of The Unz Review; from the text

Question 1– What makes your theory about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 so controversial, is not that it suggests that the pathogen was created in a lab, but that it is, in fact, a bioweapon that was deliberately released by US agents prosecuting a secret war on presumed enemies of the United States. Here’s the “money quote” from your article titled, “American Pravda: George Orwell’s Virus Lab-Leak”:

“…..we are left with the strong likelihood that Covid came from a laboratory along with a good possibility that it was designed as a bioweapon, yet we lack serious indications that any lab-leak occurred. So if the original Wuhan outbreak was due to the deployment of a powerful bioweapon but not one that had accidentally leaked from any lab, then surely China was the intended target, the victim rather than the perpetrator….

Given our ongoing military and geopolitical confrontation with China, America seems the likely source of the attack… The most likely suspects would be rogue elements of our national security establishment, probably some of the Deep State Neocons whom Trump had placed near the top of his administration.

This small handful of high-level plotters would have then drawn upon the resources of the American national security apparatus to actually carry out the operation. The virus and its dispersal devices might have been obtained from Ft. Detrick and CIA operatives or members of special forces would have been sent to Wuhan to release it…. In effect, what happened was a Dr. Strangelove-type scenario, but brought to real life.” (“American Pravda: George Orwell’s Virus Lab-Leak”, Ron Unz, The Unz Review)

So, here’s the question: Do you think recent developments lend credibility to your explosive theory or do you now believe that Covid-19 was merely “accidentally” leaked through human error?

Ron Unz– As everyone knows, over the last month the entire “mainstream narrative” of the Covid outbreak has been completely overturned. Just a few weeks ago, anyone suggesting the virus was artificial was denounced and ridiculed as a “conspiracy theorist” and any such statements were automatically banned by Facebook.

But exactly these same prohibited ideas are now widely accepted and promoted by leading figures in the media and political establishments. The 45-year veteran of the New York Times who spearheaded its Covid coverage has now admitted that he was completely mistaken, and that the virus probably came from a lab. The three billion Facebook users can now openly discuss this possibility.

The total collapse of this “natural virus” propaganda-bubble was produced by a self-published 11,000 word article by longtime science journalist Nicholas Wade. Yet the astonishing thing is that almost none of the crucial facts he cited in his article were new. Nearly all of Wade’s important evidence had been publicly available for a full year, but was simply ignored by our entire political and media establishment, partly because Trump took that position and they all hated Trump.

So the virus probably came from a lab. But the question now becomes “which lab?” Just as the MSM had promoted the totally unsubstantiated belief that Covid was natural, the MSM has now begun promoting the equally unsubstantiated belief that Covid accidentally leaked from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology. However, the evidence of any such Wuhan lab-leak is so thin as to be almost invisible.

It’s true that Chinese researchers at that lab were experimenting with related bat viruses, but many American researchers were doing very similar experiments, and for decades bat viruses have also been the central focus of America’s huge biowarfare program.

Wuhan is an enormously large metropolis of 11 million, much larger than New York City, and the Wuhan lab is located 20 miles(!) from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which was the earliest epicenter of the Wuhan outbreak. A distance of 20 miles seems pretty far for an accidental lab-leak.

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SecDef Austin: ‘Start ACTING Like China Is Top Enemy!’

Posted by M. C. on June 14, 2021

A 100 day review of US policy toward China has determined – surprise! – that not only is China the top threat, but that the Pentagon needs to stop jawboning the threat and start acting on it…whatever that means. The policy review was conducted by a former employee of the Center for a New American Security…which is funded by weapons manufacturers and foreign governments including Taiwan! Also today: Has Fauci jumped the shark with his ‘I am Science!’ pronouncement?

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Is a “Climate Lockdown” on the horizon? – OffGuardian

Posted by M. C. on June 12, 2021

The whole article is not an argument, so much as an ultimatum. A gun held to the public’s collective head. “Obviously we don’t want to lock you up inside your homes, force you to eat processed soy cubes and take away your cars,” they’re telling us, “but we might have to, if you don’t take our advice.”

Will there be “climate lockdowns” in the future? I wouldn’t be surprised. But right now – rather than being seriously mooted – they are fulfilling a different role. A frightening hypothetical – A threat used to bully the public into accepting the hardline globalist reforms that make up the “great reset”.

https://off-guardian.org/2021/06/10/is-a-climate-lockdown-on-the-horizon/

Kit Knightly

If and when the powers-that-be decide to move on from their pandemic narrative, lockdowns won’t be going anywhere. Instead it looks like they’ll be rebranded as “climate lockdowns”, and either enforced or simply held threateningly over the public’s head.

At least, according to an article written by an employee of the WHO, and published by a mega-coporate think-tank.

Let’s dive right in.

The report’s author and backers

The report, titled “Avoiding a climate lockdown”, was written by Mariana Mazzucato, a professor of economics at University College London, and head of something called the Council on the Economics of Health for All, a division of the World Health Organization.

It was first published in October 2020 by Project Syndicate, a non-profit media organization that is (predictably) funded through grants from the Open society Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and many, many others.

After that, it was picked up and republished by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), which describes itself as “a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.”.

The WBCSD’s membership is essentially every major company in the world, including Chevron, BP, Bayer, Walmart, Google and Microsoft. Over 200 members totalling well over 8 TRILLION dollars in annual revenue.

In short: an economist who works for the WHO has written a report concerning “climate lockdowns”, which has been published by both a Gates+Soros backed NGO AND a group representing almost every bank, oil company and tech giant on the planet.

Whatever it says, it clearly has the approval of the people who run the world.

What does it say?

The text of the report itself is actually quite craftily constructed. It doesn’t outright argue for climate lockdowns, but instead discusses ways “we” can prevent them.

As COVID-19 spread […] governments introduced lockdowns in order to prevent a public-health emergency from spinning out of control. In the near future, the world may need to resort to lockdowns again – this time to tackle a climate emergency […] To avoid such a scenario, we must overhaul our economic structures and do capitalism differently.

This cleverly creates a veneer of arguing against them, whilst actually pushing the a priori assumptions that any so-called “climate lockdowns” would a) be necessary and b) be effective. Neither of which has ever been established.

Another thing the report assumes is some kind of causal link between the environment and the “pandemic”:

COVID-19 is itself a consequence of environmental degradation

I wrote an article, back in April, exploring the media’s persistent attempts to link the Covid19 “pandemic” with climate change. Everybody from the Guardian to the Harvard School of Public Health is taking the same position – “The root cause of pandemics [is] the destruction of nature”:

The razing of forests and hunting of wildlife is increasingly bringing animals and the microbes they harbour into contact with people and livestock.

There is never any scientific evidence cited to support this position. Rather, it is a fact-free scare-line used to try and force a mental connection in the public, between visceral self-preservation (fear of disease) and concern for the environment. It is as transparent as it is weak.

“Climate Lockdowns”

So, what exactly is a “climate lockdown”? And what would it entail?

The author is pretty clear:

Under a “climate lockdown,” governments would limit private-vehicle use, ban consumption of red meat, and impose extreme energy-saving measures, while fossil-fuel companies would have to stop drilling.

There you have it. A “climate lockdown” means no more red meat, the government setting limits on how and when people use their private vehicles and further (unspecified) “extreme energy-saving measures”. It would likely include previously suggested bans on air travel, too.

All in all, it is potentially far more strict than the “public health policy” we’ve all endured for the last year.

As for forcing fossil fuel companies to stop drilling, that is drenched in the sort of ignorance of practicality that only exists in the academic world. Supposing we can switch to entirely rely on renewables for energy, we still wouldn’t be able to stop drilling for fossil fuels.

Oil isn’t just used as fuel, it’s also needed to lubricate engines and manufacture chemicals and plastics. Plastics used in the manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels, for example.

Coal isn’t just needed for power stations, but also to make steel. Steel which is vital to pretty much everything humans do in the modern world.

It reminds me of a Victoria Wood sketch from the 1980s, where an upper-middle class woman remarks, upon meeting a coal miner, “I suppose we don’t really need coal, now we’ve got electricity.”

A lot of post-fossil utopian ideas are sold this way, to people who are comfortably removed from the way the world actually works. This mirrors the supposed “recovery” the environment experienced during lockdown, a mythic creation selling a silver lining of house arrest to people who think that because they’re having their annual budget meetings over Zoom, somehow China stopped manufacturing 900 million tonnes of steel a year, and the US military doesn’t produce more pollution than 140 different countries combined.

The question, really, is why would an NGO backed by – among others – Shell, BP and Chevron, possibly want to suggest a ban on drilling for fossil fuel? But that’s a discussion for another time.

Avoiding a “Climate Lockdown”

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Butting Heads With China and Russia: American Diplomats Are Outclassed — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on May 17, 2021

To cite yet another dangerous example of playing with fire that one is witnessing in Eastern Europe, the simple understanding that for Russia Belarus and Ukraine are frontline states that could pose existential threats to Moscow if they were to move closer to the west and join NATO appears to be lacking. The U.S. prefers to stand the question on its head and claims that the real issue is “spreading democracy,” which it is not.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2021/05/13/butting-heads-with-china-and-russia-american-diplomats-are-outclassed/

Philip Giraldi

United State engagement in complicated overseas quarrels should be limited to areas where genuine vital interests are at stake.

With the exception of the impending departure of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, if it occurs, the White House seems to prefer to use aggression to deter adversaries rather than finesse. The recent exchanges between Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a meeting in Alaska demonstrate how Beijing has a clear view of its interests which Washington seems to lack. Blinken initiated the acrimonious exchange when he cited “deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, economic coercion toward our allies. Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability. That’s why they’re not merely internal matters, and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today.” He then threatened “I said that the United States relationship with China will be competitive where it should be, collaborative where it can be, adversarial where it must be” before adding “I’m hearing deep satisfaction that the United States is back, that we’re reengaged with our allies and partners. I’m also hearing deep concern about some of the actions your government is taking.”

The Chinese Foreign Minister responded sharply, rejecting U.S. suggestions that it has a right to interfere in another country’s domestic policies, “I think we thought too well of the United States, we thought that the U.S. side will follow the necessary diplomatic protocols. The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength. We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image, and to stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world.” Yi had a point. Ironically, most of the world believes that the U.S. represents a greater threat to genuine democracy than does either China or Russia.

In another more recent interview Blinken has accused the Chinese of acting “more aggressively abroad” while President Biden has claimed that Beijing has a plan to replace America as the world’s leading economic and military power. U.S. United Nations envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield has also delivered the same message that Washington is preparing to take no prisoners, pledging to push back against what she called China’s “authoritarian agenda” through the various agencies that make up the UN bureaucracy. Indeed, the United States seems trapped in its own rhetoric, finding itself in the middle of a situation with China and Taiwan where warnings that Beijing is preparing to use force to recover its former province leave Washington with few options to support a de facto ally. Peter Beinart in a recent op-ed observes how the White House has been incrementally increasing its diplomatic ties with Taiwan even as it both declares itself “rock solid” on defending while also maintaining “strategic ambiguity.”

China understands its interests while the U.S. continues to be bewildered by Beijing’s successful building of trade alliances worldwide. Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin, reputedly an excellent chess player, is able to think about genuine issues in three dimensions and is always at least four moves ahead of where Biden and his advisers are at any time. Biden public and video appearances frequently seem to be improvisations as he goes along guided by his teleprompter while Putin is able to explain issues clearly, apparently even in English.

A large part of Biden’s problem vis-à-vis both China and Russia is that he has inherited a U.S. Establishment view of foreign and national security policy options. It is based on three basic principles. First, that America is the only superpower and can either ignore or comfortably overcome the objections of other nations to what it is doing. Second, an all-powerful and fully resourced United States can apply “extreme pressure” to recalcitrant foreign governments and those regimes will eventually submit and comply with Washington’s wishes. And third, America has a widely accepted leadership role of the so-called “free world” which will mean that any decision made in Washington will immediately be endorsed by a large number of other nations, giving legitimacy to U.S. actions worldwide.

What Joe Biden actually thinks is, of course, unknown though he has a history of reflexively supporting an assertive and even belligerent foreign policy during his many years in Congress. Kamala Harris, who many believe will be succeeding Biden before too long, appears to have no definitive views at all beyond the usual Democratic Party cant of spreading “democracy” and being strong on Israel. That suggests that the real shaping of policy is coming from the apparatchik and donor levels in the party, to include the neocon-lite Zionist triumvirate at the State Department consisting of Tony Blinken, Wendy Sherman and Victoria Kagan as well as the upper-level bureaucracies at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, which all support an assertive and also interventionist foreign policy to keep Americans “safe” while also increasing their budgets annually. Such thinking leaves little room for genuine national interests to surface.

Biden’s Secretary of State Tony Blinken is, for example, the perfect conformist bureaucrat, shaping his own views around established thinking and creating caveats to provide the Democratic Party leadership with some, though limited, options. Witness for example the current White House attitude towards Iran, which is regarded, along with Russia, as a permanent enemy of the United States. President Biden has expressed his interest in renegotiating a non-nuclear proliferation treaty with the Iranians, now being discussed by diplomats without direct contact in Austria. But Blinken undercuts that intention by wrapping the talks in with other issues that are intended to satisfy the Israelis and their friends in Congress that will make progress unlikely if not impossible. They include eliminating Iran’s alleged role as a regional trouble maker and also ending the ballistic missile development programs currently engaged in by the regime. The downside to all of this is that having a multilateral agreement to limit Iranian enhancement of uranium up to a bomb-making level is very much in the U.S. interest, but it appears to be secondary to other politically motivated side discussions which will derail the process.

See the rest here

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America Makes Aircraft Carriers, China Makes Money – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on May 13, 2021

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/05/fred-reed/a-dolorous-imbalance/

By Fred Reed

The Unz Review

First, America increasingly relies on strong-arm tactics instead of competence. For example, in the de facto 5G competition, Washington cannot offer Europe a better product at a better price, so it forbids European countries to buy from China. The US cannot compete with China in manufacturing, so it resorts to a trade war. The US cannot make the crucial EUV lithography equipment to make advanced semiconductors, as neither can China, but it can forbid ASML, the Dutch company, from selling to China. Similarly, the US cannot compete with Russia in the price of natural gas to Europe, so by means of sanctions it seeks to keep Europe from buying from Russia. This is not reassuring.

Second, the Chinese are a commercial people, agile, fast to market, cutthroat, known for this throughout Asia. America is a bureaucratized military empire, torpid by comparison. America has legacy control over a few important technologies, most notably the crucial semiconductor field and the international financial system. Washington is using these to try to cripple China’s advance.

A consequence has been a realization by the Chinese that America is not a competitor but an enemy, and a subsequent explosion of investment and R&D aimed at reducing dependence on American technology. There is the well-known 1.4 trillion-dollar five-year plan to this end. One now encounters a flood of stories about advances in tech “to which China has intellectual-property rights” or similar wording.

They seem deadly serious about this. Given that Biden couldn’t tell a transistor from an ox cart, I wonder whether he realizes that every time the US pushes China to become independent in x, American firms lose the Chinese market for X, and later get to compete with Chinese X in the international market. Anyway, give Trump his due. He lit this fuse.

A few snippets


Prototype of China’s 385 mph maglev train

The above beast, developed entirely in China, is the first to use high-temperature superconducting magnets to keep the train floating just above the rails. HTSC magnets are a Big Deal because they can achieve superconductivity using liquid nitrogen as coolant instead of liquid helium for classic superconductivity, this costing, say the Chinese, a fiftieth of the price of using helium. The use of HTSC is very, very slick. The train will extensively use carbon-fiber materials to keep weight down, suggesting that the Chinese cannot distinguish between a train and an airplane.

Asia Times “China’s Hydrogen Dream is taking Shape in Shandong”

“A detailed pilot plan being worked out to transform Shandong, a regional industrial powerhouse, into a “hydrogen society” holds out much hope of delivering on the green promise.”

The article, hard to summarize in a sentence, is worth reading. As so often, the Chinese do things, try things, while the US talks, riots, imposes sanctions, sucks its thumb, and spends grimly on intercontinental nuclear bombers.

Huawei is Developing Smart Roads Instead of Smart Cars”

“Multiple sensors, cameras, and radars embedded in the road, traffic lights, and street signs help the bus to drive safely, while it in turn transmits information back to this network-“

Quantum Cryptography Network Spans 4,600 Km in China”

Quantum Key Distribution, QKD, allows unhackable communications. China read Ed Snowden’s book on NSA’s snooping, realized it had a problem, and set out to correct it. If this spreads to other countries—see below—much of the world could go black to American intel agencies.

The Chinese may have thought of this.

“…colleagues will further expand the network by working with partners in Austria, Italy, Russia and Canada. The team is also developing low-cost satellites and ground stations for QKD.”

The last sentence is interesting. If China begins selling genuinely secure commo gear abroad, it is going to make a lot of intel agencies very unhappy. Did I mention that the Chinese are a commercial people?

Further:

Chinese scientists achieve quantum information masking, paving way for encrypted communication application.”

My knowledge of this might rise to the level of blank ignorance after a good night’s sleep and three cups of coffee. However, the achievement made the American technical press, and suggests Chinese seriousness about gaining privacy.

See the rest here

Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well, A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be, Curmudgeing Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle, Au Phuc Dup and Nowhere to Go: The Only Really True Book About VietNam, and A Grand Adventure: Wisdom’s Price-Along with Bits and Pieces about Mexico. Visit his blog.

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Erie Times E-Edition Article-World leaders pledge cooperation on climate

Posted by M. C. on April 23, 2021

However, Russia and China announced no specific new emissions cuts themselves.

Other speakers urged hefty taxes on climate-damaging polluters and a slashing of government programs that amount to subsidies for oil, gas and coal.

The only lines worth reading. They tell us who will bear the burden and pay the cost.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=0d6af1bec

Many set aside other rifts for virtual summit

Ellen Knickmeyer and Aamer Madhani

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden convened leaders of the world’s most powerful countries on Thursday to try to spur global efforts against climate change, drawing commitments from Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin to cooperate on cutting emissions despite their own sharp rivalries with the United States.

“Meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet,” Biden declared, speaking from a TV-style set for a virtual summit of 40 world leaders. “It’s about providing a better future for all of us,” he said, calling it “a moment of peril but a moment of opportunity.”

“The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. The cost of inaction keeps mounting,” he added.

Biden’s own new commitment, timed to the summit, is to cut U.S. fossil fuel emissions up to 52% by 2030. marking a return by the U.S. to global climate efforts after four years of withdrawal under President Donald Trump. Biden’s administration is sketching out a vision of a prosperous, clean-energy United States where factories churn out cutting- edge batteries for export, line workers re-lay an efficient national electrical grid and crews cap abandoned oil and gas rigs and coal mines.

Japan announced its own new 46% emissions reduction target Thursday, and South Korea said it would stop public financing of new coal-fired power plants, as the U.S. and its allies sought to build momentum via the summit.

The coronavirus pandemic compelled the summit to play out as a climate telethon-style livestream, limiting opportunities for spontaneous interaction and negotiation. The opening was rife with small technological glitches, including echoes, random beeps and off-screen voices.

But the U.S. summit also marshaled an impressive display of the world’s most powerful leaders speaking on the single cause of climate change.

China’s Xi, whose country is the world’s biggest emissions culprit, followed by the United States, spoke first among the other global figures. He made no reference to nonclimate disputes that had made it uncertain until Wednesday that he would even take part in the U.S. summit, and said China would work with America in cutting emissions.

“To protect the environment is to protect productivity, and to boost the environment is to boost productivity. It’s as simple as that,” Xi said.

Putin, whose government has been publicly irate over Biden’s characterization of him as a “killer” for Russia’s aggressive moves against its opponents, made no mention of his feuding with Biden in his own climate remarks.

“Russia is genuinely interested in galvanizing international cooperation so as to look further for effective solutions to climate change as well as to all other vital challenges,” Putin said. Russia by some measures is the world’s fourth-biggest emitter of climate- damaging fossil fuel fumes.

However, Russia and China announced no specific new emissions cuts themselves.

Other speakers urged hefty taxes on climate-damaging polluters and a slashing of government programs that amount to subsidies for oil, gas and coal.

President Joe Biden and John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, attend the virtual summit from the White House on Thursday. EVAN VUCCI/AP

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Joe Biden’s Demonic Phase | Kunstler

Posted by M. C. on April 17, 2021

Three weeks ago, Ol’ White Joe called Vladimir Putin “a killer.”  This week, Ol’ Joe called Vlad on the phone and suggested a friendly in-person meet-up in some “third country.” In the meantime, Ol’ Joe essayed to send a couple of US warships into the Black Sea to assert America’s interest in Ukraine, the failed state whose American-sponsored failure was engineered in 2014 by Barack Obama’s State Department. Turkey, which controls the narrow entrance to the Black Sea, was notified that two US destroyers would be steaming through its territory. Hours after the announcement, the US called off the ships. Then, hours after Ol’ Joe proffered that summit meeting, his State Department imposed new economic sanctions on Russia and tossed out a dozen or so Russian embassy staff. How’s that for a coherent foreign policy?

https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/joe-bidens-demonic-phase/

James Howard Kunstler

Joe Biden’s party must be thinking — if you call it thinking — that being psychotic isn’t enough… it’s time to go demonic! How else to explain the supernatural doings of the folks in charge of things in our nation’s capital. The casual observer might suppose that these things are spinning out of control, but you also have to wonder how much Joe Biden & Company are spinning them that way. Are they looking to start a war, for instance?

Three weeks ago, Ol’ White Joe called Vladimir Putin “a killer.”  This week, Ol’ Joe called Vlad on the phone and suggested a friendly in-person meet-up in some “third country.” In the meantime, Ol’ Joe essayed to send a couple of US warships into the Black Sea to assert America’s interest in Ukraine, the failed state whose American-sponsored failure was engineered in 2014 by Barack Obama’s State Department. Turkey, which controls the narrow entrance to the Black Sea, was notified that two US destroyers would be steaming through its territory. Hours after the announcement, the US called off the ships. Then, hours after Ol’ Joe proffered that summit meeting, his State Department imposed new economic sanctions on Russia and tossed out a dozen or so Russian embassy staff. How’s that for a coherent foreign policy?

What’s going on in Ukraine, anyway? The US and NATO have prompted Ukraine to move troops and tanks toward the ethnically-Russian breakaway Donbass region. Russia countered by massing 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border. Though supplied with Western armaments, Ukraine’s ragtag and incompetent army has no ability to control the Donbass, nor do either NATO and the US have any real will to interfere there with their own troops — the logistics are insane. Mr. Putin’s elegant solution: evacuate the three-plus million Russians stuck in Donbass into Russia — which needs labor — ceding the empty territory to foundering Ukraine — soon to be an ungovernable post-industrial frontier between East and West. For a rich rundown on these matters, read Dmitry Orlov’s mordant disquisition on the subject: Putin’s Ukrainian Judo.

The lesson there is that the US has absolutely nothing to gain from continuing to antagonize Russia, and that the mentally weak Joe Biden is merely projecting the picture of a weakened and confused USA by keeping it up. Of course, a closer read might be that these hijinks are meant to distract from the more serious and consequential breakdown in relations between the US and China, currently engineered by the blundering team of Sec’y of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who went to Alaska recently to tell the Chinese delegation that they were morally unworthy of conducting trade negotiations, thereby torpedoing the trade negotiations that they went to Alaska to conduct. Smooth move fellas.

Unlike Russia, with its eleven time zones, which actually does not want or need any more territory, China is surely making hegemonic moves all over the place, not just around Hong Kong and Taiwan but in Africa and South America, while it strives to build the world’s largest navy, exports gain-of-function viruses, replaces the US in space exploration, and excels at weaponizing computer science. China’s weaknesses are a lack of sufficient domestic oil supply and food, which its current moves aim to correct. It was on its way to turning the US into a raw materials and food-crop colony when Mr. Trump came along and tried to put a stop to that. And now Ol’ Joe has cancelled that remedial action — after being on the receiving end of Chinese financial largesse in four years out-of-office. Nothing to see there, folks, says Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice, while in possession of Hunter Biden’s laptop, with its trove of incriminating memoranda.

On the domestic front, Joe Biden’s government only seeks to turn American life inside-out and upside-down, with the move to make the politics-neutral District of Columbia into a state, strictly to furnish two more senators for the DNC, and to pack the Supreme Court strictly to advantage the same DNC. Those Bills are being rushed through the House committees but something tells me they will die in the Senate. One also must wonder what exactly the rush is all about. I’ll tell you: something is up in the shadows. Something is lurking out there that is going to bring down Ol’ Joe Biden as an illegitimate chief executive. Could be some new non-ignorable evidence of his China grifting activities, or new non-ignorable evidence about the dubious ballot-tally in last November’s election. Could be something else.

Contrary to just about everybody I communicate with, I remain convinced that former US Attorney for Connecticut, now Special Prosecutor John Durham is still putting real cases together, and I suspect that his cases exceed the narrow spotlight of the origin of the Steele dossier, and I expect that indictments will be announced soon in a way that will shock the nation. Just sayin’… though nobody else is….

Meanwhile, the Wokester branch of Joe Biden’s party makes hay with the ambiguous killings of two more criminal suspects-of-color: first, Daunte Wright of Minneapolis, busy ignoring the open warrant out for him in failing to answer a previous warrant for his role in the 2019 aggravated burglary (that is, with a firearm) of a woman. He was out on $100,000 bail, but it was revoked in July 2020 when he got caught in possession of another gun. In the commotion of his resisting arrest, he got shot, tragically for officer Kim Potter, who somehow mistook her handgun for a taser. She is now teed up on a manslaughter case, while the Wright family is teed up for an $XX-million personal injury lawsuit settlement courtesy of ambulance-chaser Ben Crump. The city of Minneapolis is teed up for a municipal auto-da-fé of lootin-burnin-and-riotin in the name of “justice” — and the Derek Chauvin trial has not even concluded.

Secondarily, out comes the chest-cam video of Chicago police officer Eric Stillman shooting thirteen-year-old junior gang-banger Adam Toledo, in possession of a handgun, in a 3 a.m. chase down a West Side alleyway. So, Officer Stillman is teed up for some sort of career-ending action and Chicago is teed up for another round of lootin-burnin-and-riotin — sure to spread to other cities all over the country as the Woke vengeance campaign moves into its Satanic phase.

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