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The Belt and Road Initiative: China’s future geostrategy

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] A [/yt_dropcap]s is also the case with Chinese traditional philosophy, present, future and past always tend to coincide in one single choice in the Chinese strategic vision.In Xi Jinping’s initial proposals for the “Belt and Road Initiative” – or, to use the official terminology, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which were outlined by him on two occasions between September and October 2013 – he starts from two evaluations, namely a strategic evaluation and another one having an immediate interest.

The Maritime Silk Road was actually outlined for the first time by the Chinese President in a speech to the Indonesian Parliament in October 2013, while the Terrestrial Silk Road was first quoted by Xi Jinping in his State visits to Central Asia in September 2013.

The first long-term strategic idea is based on the design of a Greater Eurasia, hinged around Russia, China and the great countries of the Heartland, namely the “world island” as Sir Halford Mackinder called it.

The second most immediate evaluation is that the world has not yet emerged from the great economic crisis which began in 2008.

The Thunder and the River, namely the moment of immediate concreteness and the infinite flow of Time – just to use two concepts and images of Taoism.

But where does the Terrestrial Silk Road pass and which seas are connected by the Maritime Silk Road?

Six corridors have been designed in great detail and paying specific attention to local characteristics: firstly, the New Eurasian Land Bridge, from Western China to Western Russia, which in the future will connect the city of Lyanyungang, in the Jangsu Province, with the Dutch city of Rotterdam.

It is mainly a railway line, with a link between Bulgaria and Turkey, crossing inevitably the Iranian territory.

Secondly the China-Mongolia-Russia Corridor, from Northern China to Eastern Russia; thirdly the China-Central Asia-Western Asia Corridor, from the territory of the People’s Republic of China to Turkey. Fourthly the Corridor from Southern China to the Indochinese peninsula up to Singapore; fifthly the China-Pakistan Corridor where, in the Gwadar port recently purchased by China, there will be one of the links between the Terrestrial and the Maritime Silk Roads. Sixthly the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Corridor and finally the very long Maritime Silk Road, from the Chinese coast to Singapore up to the Mediterranean.

At strategic and economic levels, the individual projects are manifold and significant. Russia, in particular, together with China, is focused on establishing economic and financial alliances allowing to reach a great geopolitical result, which is currently the same both for Russia and China: reduced EU and NATO pressure on its Western and Southern borders and the related expansion of the Eurasian area of influence, precisely the New Greater Eurasia, towards the Mediterranean and our own Eurasian Peninsula, namely Western Europe.

While the United States failed to reach the TTIP agreements with the EU, which negotiated that dossier jointly, with the two Silk Roads, Russia and China will make to the EU and the entire Mediterranean region a proposal they will not be able to refuse – otherwise the current economic recession will persist – a proposal also combined with North America’s and European Central Bank’s monetary expansion policies.

With the two Silk Roads, the United States will be cut down to size drastically.

In fact, Xi Jinping policy lines on the “Belt and Road Initiative” point to the implementation of the old Maoist project of the “Three Worlds”: the World of “global peripheries”, which will have only China as beacon and geopolitical and military representation; the First World which is marginalized also militarily and finally the Second World, the world of the old Soviet universe, that the collapse of “revisionist imperialism” – as Mao Zedong would have called it – has made a stable ally of the new Chinese geopolitics.

Moreover, as early as 2001, the Russian Federation already established a Eurasian Economic Community with Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In 2010 Belarus and Kazakhstan created a customs union and finally, in 2011, those same countries signed a Declaration on Eurasian Economic Integration and a new Treaty establishing the Eurasian Economic Commission.

Furthermore, in 2012, the decision was also taken to launch the Eurasian Economic Union.

The future integration process will be centred on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), ASEAN and hence the two Chinese “Initiatives”.

The aim is to limit the world recession damage but, above all, to mitigate the effects of Western sanctions on the Russian Federation.

Putin wants to quickly merge all strategic-economic integration initiatives into one single process, which would also optimize the anti-cyclical effects of all these initiatives and would provide the opportunity for a “Eurasian phase” of Russian politics – a phase that Vladimir Putin has already announced.

It is worth noting, however, that, by proposing the two integrated Silk Roads, China does not intend to establish binding political mechanisms or to recreate a series of military and strategic buffer zones around China.

Xi Jinping has been very clear about it.

In fact, China clearly wants a horizontal, non-vertical integration and it always clarifies that there is no hegemonic plan inherent in the Two Silk Roads.

Nor a political one in the strict sense of the term.

Quite the reverse. Indeed, the issue lies in putting an end to the US “hegemony”, not in creating others.

Moreover, macroeconomic data is already very interesting: considering the 2014 data, trade within the SCO region has increased by ten times.

It is worth recalling that in the SCO region (Russia, China, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan) 3.92 billion people live (according to 2014-2015 data), namely 54,4% of world’s population, that generates an aggregate GDP accounting for 32.2% of the global gross domestic product.

It is also worth noting that the Economic Silk Road begins in Xinjiang (hence the importance and the mortal danger represented by the Uighur jihad) and reaches the Caspian Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, Ukraine and Romania up to Europe and the Mediterranean.

The meeting of the Beijing Forum held in May was attended by over thirty Heads of State and Government, as well as experts from 110 countries, including the United States. Sixty-five countries are already directly involved in the operations, while, in recent days, many Latin American countries have adhered to the project.

South America no longer wants to have “open veins” – just to use the title of a famous book by Eduardo Galeano, Open Veins of Latin America: Five centuries of the Pillage of a Continent .

Xi Jinping has also promised additional 100 billion yuan (equivalent to 14.5 billion US dollars) of new investment in road infrastructure, while China will also provide 60 billion yuan (8.7 billion US dollars) to fund the countries and the international organizations which participate in the project by creating infrastructure.

Furthermore, with specific reference to the two Silk Roads, China has already pledged 250 billion yuan worth of loans by the China Development Bank, as well as additional 130 billion yuan of the Export-Import Bank of China, further two billion yuan in food aid and one billion US dollars for the South-South cooperation fund.

Hence the total sum amounts to 480 billion yuan, while since 2015 the Russian Federation has replaced Saudi Arabia as the first oil exporter to China, by settling payments with the two national currencies, thus avoiding recourse to the US dollar.

Over the last seven years, Russian oil exports to China have more than doubled, with 550,000 barrels per day, while the area in which the US dollar is used gets increasingly narrower: currently only in the Third World does the US currency still reign, but it is a phenomenon that is bound to last for a short lapse of time.

In a situation in which the US public debt amounts to 20 trillion dollars, the Federal Reserve tends to raise interest rates in a world of zero or even negative interest rates and public spending is expected to rise under Trump’s Presidency, the 1971 old wisecrack by John Connally, the former Head of the Federal Reserve, is still topical: “The dollar is our currency, but it is your problem”.

In recent times, the dollar value in word trade has increased by about 25%.

It is currently 40% higher than in 2011.

Goldman Sachs also claims that the dollar is largely overvalued as against the other major currencies.

And 60% of the global economy is still somehow linked to the US currency value.

Hence we are no longer faced with the “Triffin dilemma”, namely the mechanism whereby as long as the US dollar remains the global reserve currency, trade and production create an additional demand for dollars.

If that happened, however, there should be a constant deficit in the US balance of payments, thus putting pressure on that currency and making it progressively unnecessary for trade.

Now we are in a similar situation, even though Triffin made reference to a context still governed by the Bretton Woods Agreements.

Moreover, the entry of the Chinese currency into the World Bank’s Special Drawing Rights system in 2016 currently allows larger yuan fluctuations. Hence considering this yuan ability, in particular, a free yuan is an excellent way to further internationalize the Chinese economy.

The steps of this process have already been marked: in 2010, the World Bank President, Zoellnick, assumed a new global gold-based financial system – the one that Keynes called the “tribal residue” of the economy.

In 2012, Iran accepted the yuan as means of payment for its oil.

In 2013 the Chinese Central Bank stated it no longer needed to accumulate reserves in foreign currencies. In 2014 gold could be bought on the Shanghai Stock Exchange with the yuan and in 2015 Russia accepted the yuan as means of payment for its oil supplies to China.

According to official statements, the Chinese Central Bank’s gold reserves have increased by almost 56% over the last three years.

Hence, if we consider all these data and statistics and we assess their strategic relevance, we can understand how and to what extent the Silk Road, as well as the Chinese and global Belt and Road Initiative will be the geopolitical, economic and financial paradigm of the near future.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Xi Jinping’s visit to Italy and the relationship between China and the Catholic Church

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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No official meetings between President Xi Jinping and Pope Francis are officially scheduled on the agenda for the Chinese President’s next visit to Italy.

 Neither party wants to jeopardize the agreement reached last September on the appointment of bishops and, however, as is well-known, both diplomacies like silence, long processes and long time schedules.

 Whoever remembers the old diplomatic precedents, also remembers that, just ten years ago, there was the possibility of another meeting between Benedict XVI and Hu Jintao in Italy for the G8 in L’Aquila. The Chinese leader, however, had to return quickly to Beijing, for a revolt in Xinjiang which was – as usual – more dangerous than we could believe.

 From the outset, however, Cardinal Zen opposed the “parallel” appointment of bishops by China and Italy, as  envisaged by the agreement currently in force between China and the Vatican.

  It should be recalled that, from the beginning, Cardinal Zen who was Archbishop of Hong Kong until 2009, dismissed the agreement between the Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, and the Chinese regime as an “incredible betrayal of Faith”.

 The old prelate was born in Shanghai in 1932, just a year after Mao Zedong founded a sort of Soviet republic in Jiangxi.

 Nevertheless, the new strategies and opportunities or new contrasts are beginning to take shape.

 Since January 30 last, for example, Peter Jin Lugang has no longer been a clandestine bishop from Nanyang, while Cardinal Filoni has recently gone to Macao to inaugurate some new facilities of the Saint Joseph University.

 In 2018, as many as 48,365 people were baptized in the churches and parishes of the People’s Republic of China.

 Currently there are almost ten million Chinese Catholics.

  There are also 104 dioceses recognized by the government of the People’s Republic of China, with 30 national provinces.

 Currently the largest number of newly baptized people in China is found in the Hebei province, with 13,000 new people baptized in 2018, followed by Shanxi, with 4,124 new Catholics, as well as Sichuan with 3,707 new people baptized, and finally Shandong with 2,914 new Christians.

 Even in Tibet as many as 8 baptisms were celebrated. In Hainan there were 35 baptisms and in Qinghai 43. This applies even to the Islamic Xinjiang, with as many as 57 new Catholics.

 On point of law – and not only canon law – Cardinal Filoni requires that the members of the unofficial Chinese Catholic communities should not be forced to join the specific “Patriotic Association” – as is instead subtly envisaged by the Chinese government.

 Nevertheless, for the Chinese government, this Patriotic Association is still a “people’s association” and hence has no ecclesial relevance. Moreover, participation in it is always “voluntary and never imposed”.

 This is what China, not the Vatican, maintains.

 Nevertheless, the Vatican precisely knows that in the areas in which – as we have seen above – there is a greater presence of new Catholic vocations, the People’s Association puts strong pressure to make priests and bishops be nationally independent “from the Vatican and from any foreign interference”.

 Without very strong nationalism, however, there is never any Chinese ideology – and certainly not the Communist one born from the Party founded in Shanghai in 1921.

 Hence currently a political and cultural policy – and even a religious, cult and sapiential one, if I may say so – would be needed to make the Chinese regime understand that a Chinese Catholic is all the more Chinese precisely because he is truly Catholic.

  Being Catholic is precisely the moment in which, as Saint Josemaria Escrivà de Balaguer used to say, we understand that “conversion is the matter of a moment, sanctification is the work of a lifetime”.

 And the sanctification of work and daily life applies to everybody, both believers and non-believers.

 This means that the universality of Catholicism includes everything, namely being Chinese, Italian, Indian from America or anybody else.

  For a Chinese, there is not being a Catholic outside being fully and absolutely Chinese.

 Moreover, the current Chinese law does not oblige priests and bishops to join the Patriotic Association, while in all the areas in which the Catholic faith is more widespread, the Chinese government tries to push clerics to join the aforementioned Association, which not too implicitly proposes “independence” from the Holy See.

 In Chinese politics, this is the heritage of a weak and divided Catholic Church, as experienced at the time of the “Chinese Rites Controversy”, which started in the early seventeenth century under the pontificate of Gregory XV and lasted almost three centuries until 1939.

 As you may recall, on the one side there were the Jesuits, who accepted and condoned the pagan practices and beliefs relating to the traditional cult of the dead according to the ancestral Chinese local traditions, but on the other there were the Franciscans and Dominicans, who thought that those practices – essential in the Chinese symbolism and tradition (even at political level) – should be radically changed in relation to the new, but perfect and unique, Catholic faith.

 Hence currently – and here the problem of its Communism is even marginal – China still fears to lose its “soul” and its profound identity, while the Catholic Church cannot certainly afford to be turned into a sort of Protestant Church, also subjected to the political power even in its Rites.

 Obviously the penetration of the Protestant-style sects – often of American tradition – could become dangerous both for the Catholic Church and, all the more so, for the Chinese government.

 There is also the issue of the four priests of the unofficial community of Zhangjiakou, Hebei, who are still detained in a secret place by the People’s Police.

  According to Chinese Catholic sources, the issue began in late 2018.

 Local governments’ factionalism and different CPC configurations in the various regions, as well as a proxy struggle between the Centre and the Periphery, are all factors which could explain the different approach of the various regional governments to the issue of Chinese Catholicism and its official presence in present-day Chinese society (and also in its the power system).

 There is fear for a dangerous competitor in the power game, but it should be clarified – especially at political level – that the Catholic person has not his/her own State, but is defined by the side of the currency in which Caesar is engraved.

There is nothing else – and a true Catholic is not allowed to worship anything else.

 According to some Vatican sources, however, while Pope Francis did not mention the issue of the priests detained in Hebei, the Vatican’s “policy line” could currently be to consider the Patriotic Association an organization to which the adhesion of bishops and clerics is fully optional.

 Again in Hebei, a priest accused his Bishop, Monsignor Agostino Cui Tai, of wanting to “oppose” the Sino-Vatican agreement and even asked the police to arrest him.

 Once again petty internal settling of scores, old tensions, as well as the usual problematic personal relations fit into the grand design of regularization of the Catholic Church in China, as certainly happens also on the government side.

 However, all the Chinese bishops to whom Pope Francis removed excommunication are in favour of abolishing the “Church of Silence” and massively adhering, instead, to the Patriotic Association.

 While recognizing the Chinese government’s full right to control the political activity of the Chinese Church, what about thinking about a very different instrument from the Patriotic Association, which is the obvious heir to an archaic Third International logic, together with the “United Front” and the other organizations that control political, religious and cultural heterodoxy in China?

 This is a topic about which Pope Francis and President Xi Jinping could talk if they met in Italy.

 Nevertheless, also for this negotiation by which China sets great store, there is the key issue of relations with Italy.

 The Chinese media notes that currently Italy has substantially adhered to the One Belt One Road project (OBOR), but that hopefully the agreement should be officially signed during Xi Jinping’s State visit to the country.

 Should this not happen, it would be an irreparable offense for China.

 It should also be noted that the Chinese media’s attention is very much focused on the “Special Working Group on China”, a structure recently organized by the Italian Government. In particular, China underlines the fact that both Greece and Portugal have already agreed to be part of the OBOR project, without the United States having had much to say about that.

Certainly the strategic relevance of Italy in the Mediterranean is very different from Greece’s and Portugal’s geopolitical function for China only regards its Atlantic projection and its traditional ties with Western Africa.

 For the Chinese media, however, Prime Minister Conte’s position is extremely important and, in all likelihood, China will enhance on the media the success it is already expecting to have in Italy.

 According to Chinese analysts, the US nervous reaction to Italy joining the OBOR project stems from the fact that is a crucial and decisive country for the European Union, from both an economic and geopolitical viewpoint.

 China is subtly trying to make us understand that while the United States finally wants to thwart the single currency and weaken the great network of duties and protections that the EU is essentially for it, China has no interest in undermining the EU nor certainly in plunging the Euro area into a further crisis.

 Surely, according to Chinese analysts’ economic projections, the flow of goods and services going from Italy to the United States would decrease – albeit to the benefit of  China – while it is likely that, in the near future, the 5G issue will emerge again, and hence China could have some more chances.

 Hence a clear loss of US relevance in Italy, which would give rise to a long series of very harsh countermoves by the United States.

 Over 60 countries, including 12 European ones, have so far signed a Memorandum of Access to the OBOR network, in whatever manner.

 We enter here directly into the project that Xi Jinping has recently outlined in the “Two Sessions” of the National People’s Congress, which are always held in the first two weeks of March.

  In this year’s two sessions, President Xi Jinping has underlined that the limit whereby the President of the Republic and CPC Secretary, as well as the President of the Central Military Commission, shall serve no more than two consecutive terms has been removed.

 The meaning is clear: my power lasts and is stable, possibly until 2027 – hence the many factional areas of the Party and the State would do well to conform again with the Party’s policy line and not to cause too much trouble.

 President Xi Jinping emphasized once again the importance of the anti-corruption campaign, with 621 civilian officials and military officers punished in 2018 alone.

 He also highlighted the new widespread presence of the Party’s committees in Chinese private companies – a presence that has now reached 70% of companies – as well as the huge reduction of NGOs operating in China from 7000 to just 400. Finally, there was the reaffirmation of the “mistakes” made by the Western propaganda, as well as the reaffirmation of the pillars of the CPC doctrine and practice.

 Certainly this has much to do with the relationship between the Chinese government and the Catholic Church.

 With specific reference to foreign policy, after the “two sessions”, Xi Jinping currently tends to finalize as soon as possible the negotiation for a “Shared Code of Conduct” between China and the ten ASEAN countries, while the Chinese control over the Taiwan and Hong Kong seas is expanding.

 It should be made clear that China will never conquer the Kuomintang island militarily, but it will wait for its internal political transformations to lead to a de facto reunification.

 China also knows that an attack on Taiwan would enable the United States, in particular, to massively and harshly return to the Asian continental region.

 As we will also see in Italy, for President Xi Jinping, China must define – as soon as possible – a “Chinese” model to resolve all current international tensions, so as to ensure that China can become a “contributor and promoter” of both global free trade – in contrast with Trump’s US trade policy – and of multilateralism.

 In the “Two Sessions”, President Xi Jinping also proposed “Xi’s five Study Points”.

 They concern above all peaceful unity, also referring to the fact that Xi in Chinese also means “to learn, to study, to put into practice”.

 As can be easily imagined, peaceful unity is directly related to the Taiwan issue – to which the rule of “one country, two systems” will soon be applied.

  In Xinjiang, the Chinese government will soon accept a UN mission, provided it “does not interfere in domestic matters”.

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Geostrategy After the Deadlock in U.S.-North Korean Relations

Eric Zuesse

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George Friedman, the head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor, issued a report on March 5th, “After Hanoi: North Korea, the US and Japan”, and it said:

The strategy since World War II, built on the assumption that U.S. conventional forces can defeat any foe and pacify the country, is being abandoned. And in the case of the Hanoi talks, the U.S. is following a new strategy of diplomatic deadlock without recourse to the insertion of force. …

The U.S. has decided to accept that North Korea is a nuclear state, so long as none of its nuclear weapons can reach the U.S. mainland. This completely destabilizes Japan’s strategy. Under that strategy, first imposed by the U.S. and happily embraced by Japan, the U.S. guarantees Japanese national security. The U.S., in exchange, has been able to use Japan as a base from which to project force across the Korean Peninsula, threaten China and block Russia’s Vladivostok fleet from accessing the Pacific Ocean. Japan, unencumbered by defense expenditures and any responsibility in American wars, could focus on the monumental task of its dramatic post-World War II recovery. Most important, the U.S. nuclear umbrella has guaranteed that any nation that might attack Japan with nuclear weapons would face retaliation from the United States. …

The Hanoi talks subtly shift that guarantee. The new U.S. position is that it cannot accept a North Korean nuclear program that threatens the United States. Implicit in that position is that it can tolerate one that threatens Japan.

His last sentence there is false, because it excludes the following important possibility, which now actually needs to become the reality, especially after this “deadlock” that he referred to: The U.S. and North Korea can meet together in an entirely different discussion, of whether, in return for North Korea’s verifiable commitment never to possess or station any missile that can reach the United States, the U.S. will do the following three things:

1: Guarantee to Japan, and to South Korea, that any nuclear attack against Japan and/or against South Korea, will be met by a U.S. nuclear attack against the attacker (regardless of whom that attacking nation might be). The U.S. would then be taking Japan (as well as South Korea) entirely under its nuclear umbrella, so that an attack against Japan or against South Korea would be equivalent to an attack against the United States itself. No troops would need to be stationed in Japan (or South Korea) in order to be able to do this. America’s real nuclear umbrella for those two countries is precisely this (the nuclear intercontinental U.S. arsenal outside of Japan and South Korea, including the missiles at sea and including in mainland U.S.), and no stationing of either troops or weapons from the United States, inside either of those two countries, is necessary, at all, in order to achieve this. That’s the reality, notwithstanding George Friedman’s false assumption, to the exact contrary: that “Implicit in that position [“that it [[the U.S.]] cannot accept a North Korean nuclear program that threatens the United States”] is that it can tolerate one that threatens Japan.” Not at all is that presumption (America’s needing to station troops in Japan in order to protect Japan) by Friedman true. American troops there are superfluous for the protection of Japan — and also of South Korea. U.S. Troops aren’t needed in either country, for the protection of either country’s inhabitants.

2: Withdraw all U.S. troops from both Japan and South Korea. Those troops are there only for possible uses against Russia and China (as Friedman himself acknowledges by saying “The U.S. … has been able to use Japan as a base from which to project force across the Korean Peninsula, threaten China and block Russia’s Vladivostok fleet from accessing the Pacific Ocean”). The U.S. has secretly continued the old “Cold War” after the Soviet Union’s end, though no longer on an ideological basis (since Russia is no longer communist). It’s been doing this secretly ever since 24 February 1990, purely with the aim of ultimately conquering the entire world. That, too (though secret), is the reality: America has been, and is, secretly trying to take over the entire world.

3: End all sanctions against North Korea. Under the stated conditions, there would be no realistic future possibility that that country could pose a national-security threat to the United States. North Korea’s nuclear weapons would then pose no more of a national-security threat to the U.S. than do Israel’s nuclear weapons (since those are only local threats). Any further aggression (including sanctions) by the U.S. against North Korea would therefore violate Article 2 of the U.N. Charter, because North Korea would no longer even prospectively constitute a threat to America. North Korea would, of course, expect the U.S. to end all sanctions against it if North Korea would no longer be able to pose a threat to the U.S., and it wouldn’t sign the deal otherwise.  

This arrangement that’s proposed here between the United States and North Korea would end the Korean War, and it would end the major international tensions which have prevailed in the Asia-Pacific region since the end of World War II. It would bring security to North Korea, U.S., South Korea, and Japan. 

This deal would be an authentic quid-pro-quo between the United States and North Korea, which would greatly benefit the economies of the United States, Japan, and South Korea (removing the unnecessary financial burden of maintaining and arming those occupying U.S. troops — troops which are superfluous to everyone except America’s billionaires, who want to impose their corporate wills upon every nation — including upon Russia and China). It wouldn’t benefit merely North Korea (though it also would do that). It would also set the foundation upon which, ultimately, the two Koreas might finally agree to become again one nation, much as did East and West Germany; and, it would also protect both Japan and South Korea — and block any threat from North Korea against the U.S. itself. Consequently, this would also greatly serve the interests of the American people. It would serve EVERYONE’s interests (except approximately 2,153 people, as will subsequently be explained here).

Unfortunately, the world isn’t so democratic internationally, nor within the United States, for the security and welfare of the public anywhere to be actually a high priority of international policy-makers — especially not in the United States, which serves only the interests of its billionaires and extracts as much as it possibly can from its own public and from every other country on the planet. U.S. President Barack Obama even was so arrogant as to assert publicly — and he said it many times — that “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation,” which was Obama’s version of Hitler’s “Deutschland über alles,” and means (like Hitler’s German version did) that every other nation in the world is “dispensable” — only the imperial nation is not. Any other nation which allies itself with a nation such as this, is being headed by a regime that has no patriotism, no national self-respect at all — it’s a mere vassal-nation, enslaved (in this case) to the tyrannical U.S. regime: “the one indispensable nation.”

If the United States really had ended its side of the Cold war after the 1991 termination of the USSR, and of its communism, and of its Warsaw Pact military alliance that had mirrored America’s NATO alliance, then the arrangement which has been described here would have been instituted long ago, in 1991, when the other side ended the Cold War, and NATO itself would simultaneously have been dissolved when the Warsaw Pact was, instead of being expanded right up to Russia’s borders (as it since has done), but the U.S. regime in 1990 secretly ordered its allies to continue the Cold War on America’s side, and that one-sided aggression continues by the U.S. and its allies, until now

And that’s the real problem — America’s continuation of the (originally ideological) Cold War, now purely for aggressive purposes: global conquest. It’s permanent war, for permanent ‘peace’ and ‘justice’ and ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’, and other brazen lies, now against Venezuela and so many other countries.

Just a few years after the 1991 supposed end of the Cold War (when East and West Germany merged), Spokane Washington’s Spokesman-Review newspaper headlined on 2 November 1995, “U.S. Won’t Reduce Troops in Japan”, and opened: “Defense Secretary William J. Perry said here [in Tokyo] Wednesday that the United States has no plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Japan, despite a groundswell of local opposition” in Japan.

And as was reported, on 5 March 2006, from “Asahi,” by the U.S. Embassy in Japan, to the CIA, and to the Joint Chiefs, and to all top U.S. national-security officials, “Japan can expect to reduce the number of US troops in Japan and to alleviate the burden of base-hosting localities while maintaining deterrent capabilities against China and North Korea. Meanwhile, the United States can swing its reduced troops around the world with Japan’s backing. The two countries’ expectations coincided.” But it didn’t actually happen — the U.S. occupation still continues. The U.S. Government is dedicated to militarily occupying as many countries as it can. Getting rid of those occupying troops is strongly opposed by the occupying power, which continues its voraciousness to control Russia and China.

As of 2017, the U.S. had 38,818 troops in Japan, and 24,189 in South Korea. The U.S. military-industrial complex (MIC) refuses to end such military occupations in foreign countries, but the only real beneficiaries from this are the MIC itself, which controls the U.S. Government. Firms such as Lockheed Martin are 100% dependent upon the U.S. Government and its allied governments (especially the Saud family) for their sales, and selling more weapons is essential to their cancerous growth. Americans pay in taxes and many other ways, and so do the local foreign governments pay, where America’s troops are stationed. This is one of the reasons for the extreme inequality of wealth in today’s world: that inequality is enforced, by the U.S. international regime. The U.S. military enforces it around the world, in all of America’s vassal-nations. It’s supporting the local aristocracy there, but also (and above all) America’s aristocracy. The U.S. has over a thousand military bases worldwide, the vast majority of which are in foreign countries. It benefits only the billionaires, but the billionaires control the governments, and so this continues and even gets worse. George Friedman ignores that crucial fact. He needs to retain his customers, and they benefit from this barbaric status-quo. He’s not actually a free man. He (like millions of others) speaks for the billionaires; he’s one of their millions of agents. He’s a bought man, so he says “The new U.S. position is that it cannot accept a North Korean nuclear program that threatens the United States. Implicit in that position is that it can tolerate one that threatens Japan.” If this statement from him is not clearly and publicly rejected by the American Government, then all Japanese (except Japan’s billionaires, who depend so much upon America’s) must recognize that the U.S. Government is their enemy, and that Japan needs to find authentic friends, elsewhere — and kick out its existing regime. 

Friedman says, approvingly, that the U.S. “has been able to use Japan as a base from which to project force across the Korean Peninsula, threaten China and block Russia’s Vladivostok fleet from accessing the Pacific Ocean.” All of those  — against North Korea, and against China, and against Russia; and implicitly against Japan itself as an American stooge-regime — are, in fact, international-war crimes, aggressions by the U.S. military. Regardless of which country (Japan or any other) allows occupying troops, as part of some “deal” between those two nations, neither of those two nations is allowed legally to do any of those things against any third nation (such as against China, Russia, North Korea, or any other). If two people agree to threaten or rob a third person, then no matter how much both of them say it’s a ‘legal’ agreement and only a matter between themselves, it’s not. It still remains a criminal arrangement, and it’s an illegal threat to their intended victim-nations. Of course, if the U.S. is an international gangster-nation, a country that ignores any international laws (except ones that it can cite against weaker nations, such as the U.S. and its allies routinely do do, as mere PR ‘justifying’ their many coups and invasions) — if the U.S. ignores international laws simply because no entity will enforce them — then, the U.N. has already been destroyed, effectively nullified, by the U.S. gangster-regime. But in that case no argument could even possibly be made that the U.S. is a democracy. No nation can be both a dictator abroad, and a democracy in domestic (or intra-national) matters. To presume to the contrary is simply to lie — even if only to oneself.

The U.N. Charter says: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” The American regime has been violating that with impunity, ever since the end of World War II (such as in its infamous 1953 coup against Iran — a coup which enjoyed the support of Iran’s mullahs). Most recently, it did so in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Ukraine, and a number of other countries, which it and its allies have destroyed, all in the name of advancing things such as ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’, so as to cover over their authentic, actually vile, motivations, which are insatiable greed, and a craving for even more power than they already possess. All of this is barbaric, and they cover over that reality by kind-sounding words, in order to fool the rubes, who, thus — via their irresponsibility by trusting those serial international invaders and coup-perpetrators — accept the rightfulness of what those international invaders and coup-perpetrators have been doing, such as invading Iraq in 2003 on the basis of sheer lies, etc.

RT — a reliable news-source, but one which America’s very unreliable major ‘news’-media instead call a source of ‘fake news’ because it reports truths they hide — reported on March 5th:

Washington is leading a “revolution against international law and against international order,” with its calls for regime change and efforts to oust President Nicolas Maduro in favor of pro-US opposition leader Juan Guaido, former UN rapporteur to Venezuela and professor of law Alfred de Zayas told RT.

Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Gutierrez should “remind” the Lima Group of Western Hemisphere countries that US actions in Venezuela violate “articles 3, 19 and 20 of the Charter of the Organization of American States” (OAS) and that the charter should be “rigorously observed,” De Zayas said.

The OAS charter holds that no state has a right to intervene “directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State.” Neither can any member state “encourage the use of coercive measures of an economic or political character in order to force the sovereign will of another State.”

The violation of the charter has been “so crass and so obvious that you wouldn’t think that you would have to remind the Lima Group of it, but they seem to be caught in their own web,” de Zayas said.

Throughout the world, the reality is: peace, and equality of economic opportunity, are tied together and cannot survive apart from one-another, and both of them are resisted by the people in power, the few billionaires, who fund all of the real contenders for the U.S. Presidency and for Congress. And equality of economic opportunity can exist only where wealth is approximately equally distributed and where the necessities of life (such as education, adequate food, essential health care, and a safe environment) are supplied by the government equally to all, regardless of personal wealth. (The billionaires can pay extra if they want, but such basics need to be equally available to all, in order to have the most productive type of economy — one which takes the fullest advantage of each individual’s actual potential.) Making access to any of those basic things dependent upon how much wealth one already has is like pouring hydrochloric acid onto even merely the barest hope for equality of economic opportunity. The result of doing that is always a putrid mockery of ‘justice’, and any honest person would call that a dictatorship, no democracy, at all. (It certainly is  a dictatorship against the less-wealthy 90%, or even — such as in Saudi Arabia — dictatorship against the less-wealthy 99%, of the entire population.) If this corrupt aristocratic system which determines power isn’t soon replaced (stripping all billionaires of any and all types of political — i.e., governmental — influence and power that’s connected to their grossly excessive wealth), then things can (and will) only continue to go from bad to worse, throughout the world, in every way. This is out-of-control and racing inequality, but it can get even worse than it now is. The solution isn’t to have an international gangster-nation imposing its ‘democracy’ on the nations it targets for conquest. The solution is the exact opposite: a global public repudiation and rejection of that lying gangster-regime. 

George Friedman happens to be part of that corrupt and rotten system, but he didn’t create it. He exploits it, instead of attacks it, but the system is the problem, and no solution to it can be achieved without replacing that entire system — replacing it by one that no billionaire wants, and that all billionaires will employ every subterfuge in order to prevent authentic democracy from coming into existence.

As regards Japanese national security: relying upon the United States’ military occupation is complicity in a crime not only against the public in Japan, but also against the publics in North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia — and every nation. Only billionaires and their retinues benefit from it. Heeding the advices of the billionaires’ agents (such as Friedman) will advance it, instead of end it and replace it with an improved world. Only the billionaires and their retinues benefit from the prevailing system. Money is power, and they have enough of it to control the governments. That desperately needs to change. 

There is a very fundamental conflict-of-interests between the billionaires and all the rest of humanity; and the billionaires definitely control the United States and its allies. The reality is that there is no way in which billionaires, who have come to control not only their own countries but other nations, will tolerate a world which is more peaceful, more productive, more equalitarian, healthier, happier, and less polluting — a world that’s far better for the public. That wouldn’t be the type of world they control, and in which they possess obscene wealth. They not only cling to their billions but they demand to become even more obscenely wealthy. As Warren Buffett, of the U.S. aristocracy’s liberal (meaning hypocritical) wing, was quoted in the 26 November 2006 New York Times“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” And the statement is true. (Buffet’s condemnations of that class-warfare are the hypocritical part.) And it’s even more true now than it was in 2006. It needs to become false, but it becomes truer each year that passes. Here is how true it is, on a global scale, as reflected in the 

Credit Suisse “Global Wealth Report 2018″

p.20:

“Figure 1: The global wealth pyramid 2018”

Wealth%, Wealth$, %/World, Wealth-range

0.8%=$142T=44.8%=$1M+

8.7%=$124.7T=39.3%=$100,000 — $1M

26.6%=$44.2T=14.0%=$10,000 — $100,000

63.9&=$6.2T=1.9%=<$10,000

100%=$317.1T=100%

For example: The poorest 63.9% own $6.2 trillion, which is 1.9% of the total, and this is the wealth of everyone whose net worth is below $10,000.

The richest 0.8% own $142 trillion, which is 44.8% of the total, and this is the wealth of everyone whose net worth is above $1,000,000.

The richest 0.8% own 23 times more than the poorest 63.9% do.

On 5 March 2019, Forbes came out with their 2019 list of 2,153 billionaires in the world during 2018, and their combined wealth is $8.7 trillion, which is 40% more than the combined wealth of the poorest 63.9% of people in the world in 2018 as shown in the recently released Credit Suisse “Global Wealth Report 2018″. The richest 9.5% had 84.1% of the total wealth. So, since money is power, democracy can’t possibly exist, and so if you aren’t among the richest 10%, the government’s doing what you want it to do is practically impossible to achieve. This is what is meant by saying that it’s an aristocratic, not a democratic, world we live in.

And that’s why this is a world of permanent war for perpetual ‘peace’ and (in)’justice’. That’s (those lies are) the problem (both nationally and internationally), and it can’t be solved without conquering economic inequality — by ending obscene personal wealth, and by placing government under the control of the entire public, no longer under the control (if billionaires control it now) of only the richest 2,153 people divided by the current world population of 7.6 billion, or 0.000000283 of the world’s population, or in percentage terms, of only 0.0000283% of today’s population. That’s not democracy. It is aristocracy. It’s even an extreme case of that. Democracy would instead represent the other 7,599,997,847 people, the other 0.999999716 or 99.99997%. To pretend otherwise than this reality is to serve only that 0.0000283%, and to try to fool the remaining 99.99997%. It’s theft by lying. It is force that’s used against the mind (deceit), instead of force that’s used against the body (violence). Theft (either type) has enormous costs, especially when it’s the actual system, instead of violations of the actual system. And, now, it is the actual system. It’s the system itself. And that’s the real problem.

Rightfully, there is universal condemnation of bigotry — prejudice — against ethnic minorities, but there is no similar public outrage against bigotry against the poorer 99.99997%, who are the vast majority of the world’s people. This is sick, and is sustained only by constant deceits. It is a system that’s built upon deceit. Anyone who wants to know how this system functions within the U.S. itself can see that here.

Author’s note: first posted at strategic-culture.org

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East Asia

Chinese pressure tactics put countries between a rock and a hard place

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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Recent Chinese pressure on Myanmar to approve a controversial dam project and the arrest in recent days in Kazakhstan of a human rights activist suggest that China in a seemingly tone-deaf pursuit of its interests is forcing governments to choose between heeding increasingly anti-Chinese public sentiment and pleasing Beijing to ensure continued political and economic support.

Apparent Chinese disregard of public opinion, whether as a matter of policy or because of haphazard insensitivity, is compounded by the powering of anti-Chinese sentiment in several countries as a result of commercial terms of China-funded Belt and Road projects that favour the use of Chinese rather than local labour and materials.

The Chinese approach risks anti-Chinese sentiment meshed with social and economic discontent exploding into popular protests that could prove destabilizing. It potentially could complicate Chinese efforts to ensure that the Muslim world continues to refrain from criticizing China’s crackdown on Turkic Muslims in the strategic but troubled north-western province of Xinjiang.

Chinese pressure on various countries aimed at imposing its will strokes with China’s adoption of a more aggressive diplomatic posture that has seen its diplomats employ blunt, undiplomatic language and repeatedly break with diplomatic protocol.

As a result, increasing Chinese pressure on Myanmar to revive the suspended Myitsone dam project in ethnic Kachin state is putting the government between a rock and a hard place.

The government is being forced to choose between ignoring popular concerns that the dam would disrupt the traditional economy of the Kachin in a region wracked by ethnic insurgency and cost Myanmar control of the Irrawaddy River, its most important waterway, or risk the ire of China on which it depends politically and economically.

China has reportedly offered in return for the dam to support Myanmar that has been condemned by the United Nations, Western countries and some Muslim nations for its repressive campaign against the Rohingya, some 700,000 of which fled to Bangladesh in 2017.

China has invested some US$15 billion in scores of projects in Myanmar

China’s state-controlled Global Times newspaper recently quoted Xiamen University Myanmar expert Fan Hongwei as saying that “the abrupt suspension of such a significant project has blurred political trust between China and Myanmar.”

Former Myanmar President Thein Sein in 2011 suspended the US$3.6 billion dam project in response to a campaign that brought together conservationists, scholars, and political activists including Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Activists assert the dam, if built as previously designed, would flood 600 square kilometres of forestland in northern Kachin state and export 90 % of the power produced to China.

Myanmar is not the only country that has recently experienced Chinese attempts to force it to act in ways that could have unintended consequences.

Kazakh police, despite widespread public criticism of the crackdown in Xinjiang, last weekend raided the office of Atajurt Eriktileri, a group that has reportedly documented more than 10,000 cases of ethnic Kazakhs interned in China and arrested activist Serikzhan Bilash.

Activists suspect that the raid was the result of Chinese pressure aimed at squashing criticism of the crackdown in Xinjiang.

Similarly, Russian leaders are facing mounting public anger in the Lake Baikal region and the country’s Far East at their alleged connivance in perceived Chinese encroachment on the region’s natural resources including water.

A petition by prominent Russian show business personalities opposing Chinese plans to build a water bottling plant on the shores of Lake Baikal attracted more than 800,000 signatures, signalling the depth of popular resentment and pitfalls of the Russian alliance with China.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi sought to put a good face on differences with China over his country’s demand that the focus of the China Pakistan Economic Project (CPEC), a US$45 billion plus crown jewel of the Belt and Road, be shifted from infrastructure and energy, to poverty alleviation, job creation and agriculture.

China has acknowledged Pakistan’s demand but suggested that the refocussing would happen in good time.

Mr. Qureishi asserted this week had CPEC had entered its second phase but provided few details. The minister said agreements on the second phase that would involve the creation of four economic zones would be concluded at some unspecified date in the future.

China notably refrained in recent months from contributing to a financial bailout of Pakistan that was achieved instead with the help of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who have committed some US$30 billion in funding and investments.

Pakistani and Chinese officials have gone out of their way in recent months to deny any dent in what they have described as an all-weather friendship.

“There is no threat to CPEC. Our government considers it a game changer,” M. Qureishi insisted this week.

China’s deputy chief of mission in Islamabad, Lijian Zhao, insisted in an interview last year and in a series of tweets that China “always supported & stood behind @Pakistan, helping #develop it’s #infrastructure & raise #living standards while creating #job.”

Ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding. Indications so far are that China is digging in its heels on the assumption that its political and economic clout will allow it to get its way. Its an approach that ignores potential black swans and does little to garner soft power.

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