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″:
“Figure 1: The global wealth pyramid 2018”
Wealth%, Wealth$, %/World, Wealth-range
8.7%=$124.7T=39.3%=$100,000 — $1M
26.6%=$44.2T=14.0%=$10,000 — $100,000
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
Washington- Pyongyang: A third attempt?
During a recent meeting with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the White House, US President Donald Trump said that while a step-by-step agreement with North Korea concerning that country’s nuclear program remained on the table, his administration was still focused on “the big deal.” Trump announced plans for his third meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but added that this would require “lengthy preparation.” The South Korean president likewise spoke about the need for the US and North Korean leaders meeting again shortly and underscored the need to maintain the current pace of negotiations.
The response from Pyongyang did not take too long in coming. In a keynote address on April 12 to the Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang, which had earlier officially named him “the supreme representative of all Koreans,” Kim Jong-un said: “If the United States finds a solution acceptable to us, and proposes a meeting between the DPRK and US leaders, we are ready to agree to this once again. I won’t hesitate to sign an agreement, but only if it is written in a way that meets the interests of the DPRK and the United States, is fair and mutually acceptable.”
The April 12 session of the North Korean parliament was attended by a large delegation of the Russian State Duma deputies. Immediately after that, it became known that President Vladimir Putin would meet Kim later this month during a stopover in Vladivostok on his way to Beijing. The North Korean leader’s increasingly frequent political contacts with his Russian and Chinese counterparts reflect a desire to coordinate positions ahead of the next round of the US-North Korean talks.
Well, is there any reason for optimism about the outcome of the forthcoming parley? If so, then it must be extremely cautious. Indeed, in the span of just a few months, Washington and Pyongyang have gone from general promises of denuclearization in exchange for security guarantees made during the June 2018 summit in Singapore, to a failed attempt to agree a roadmap for this process at the Hanoi summit in late February 2019.
Past experience shows that Washington’s attempts to make Pyongyang agree on everything at once were in principle doomed to failure for obvious political and technical reasons.
First off, it has been the factor of time. While Donald Trump hurried to clinch a “big deal” before his first term in office runs out (and not being sure about a second one), his North Korean counterpart was not interested in making this happen for exactly the same reason: as the most recent history shows, a new occupant of the White House often finds it easy to undo what his predecessor has achieved.
Equally obvious are technical reasons why there is no way to fast-track denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The deal on the Iranian nuclear program took years of negotiations and was the result of a mutual compromise (meaning that it is highly unlikely that a deal like this can be achieved in full, much less at once).
Under the present circumstances, any further US-North Korean negotiations would look like a walk across a minefield. If it were up to me, I would suggest the following way to go.
During the third Trump-Kim summit (which, if unsuccessful, will most likely be the last), to adopt a mutually accepted denuclearization roadmap that would say exactly which nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles are to be eliminated, above all, those capable (albeit hypothetically) of reaching US territory.
The sides should also draw up an exhaustive list of facilities of North Korea’s nuclear (and, possibly, missile) programs that would be stopped or eliminated based on the principle of “proving the existence” there of nuclear elements, rather than “proving their absence.” The latter verification path will take us nowhere because, to meet this requirement, Pyongyang would be forced to eliminate all of its engineering and other modern industries. In other words, to return to the pre-industrial era – something it will hardly ever agree to.
And, most importantly, there should be a compulsory and phased implementation of the stated goals. Pyongyang’s next move towards abandoning its nuclear technology should be accompanied by a partial and phased lifting of sanctions imposed on it by the UN Security Council, primarily those, which are damaging the peaceful sectors of the North Korean economy and are hampering the inter-Korean dialogue.
Each of these UN sanctions contains a concrete procedure for their suspension of lifting. At this stage the Security Council is already entering the game as all further negotiations on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will depend on the agreed position of its permanent members (including the five officially recognized nuclear states).
Here it would be highly advisable to consider the proposal made by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at a special session of the UN Security Council on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in January 2018, whereby the official five nuclear states could offer North Korea security guarantees within the framework of the UN Security Council as an important condition for creating an atmosphere of trust and ensuring successful progress towards denuclearization.
By the way, the third US-North Korean summit (if it happens at all) could be held in a trilateral format, as President Moon Jae-in has previously suggested. This would reduce the likelihood of yet another failure and would help ensure speedy security assurances for North Korea in exchange for the country’s nuclear disarmament.
First published in our partner International Affairs
BRI: Shared Future for Humanity
The terrestrial and maritime connectivity proposed by the Chinese government back in 2013 with six connectivity corridors reflects the vision of shared future for humanity. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an omen of modern transformation of the globe. The journey of transition from geo-politics to geo-economics is itself a huge achievement. As geo-economics brought in the partnership and collaboration for mutual gains whereas geo-politics reflects competition, for instance, arm race.
BRI a network of terrestrial and maritime passages encompassing (1) the New Eurasian Land Bridge connects Western China to Western Russia; (2) the China-Mongolia-Russia Corridor, from Northern China to Eastern Russia; (3)the China-Central Asia-Western Asia Corridor, links China to Turkey; (4) the Corridor from Southern China to the Indochinese peninsula up to Singapore; (5) the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor; and (6) the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Corridor. In other words BRI is one of the longest connectivity route from the Chinese coast to Singapore to Gwadar up to the Mediterranean. Among all the above mentioned projects, CPEC is a model project with so much in its credit.
CPEC is the flagship project of the Belt & Road Initiative. CPEC is a mutually agreed initiative including 4 key areas of cooperation i.e. energy projects, infrastructure development, Gwadar Port, and industrial cooperation. This cooperation has further strengthened the time tested friendship. China – Pakistan strategic cooperation is an essential ingredient for the South Asian peace recipe. CPEC, not merely focus on commerce and trade but also include social development projects as well. Pak-China Friendship Hospital, Pak-China School, Gwadar Airport, and many more are prominent examples of this initiative. The first phase of CPEC is almost complete and is all ready to enter into the second phase. The first phase was comprised of energy and road projects whereas the second phase might also entails agriculture, education, health, water and much more. Here in our case, when there is an atmosphere of non-kinetic threats, development is the only option. Internal harmony and peace can only be achieved when there is no sense of deprivation. In addition, inclusion of third party in CPEC project, and also connecting it with the Central Asian Republics and Russia is also a progressive move. Opening it for the private business sector and creating 80,000 jobs, all are signs of social uplifting and gradual development. CPEC is an inclusive project for Pakistan and for the region.
China is focusing on and playing a key role in connecting the continents. Being an emerging power, China, considers the role of regional connections vital for the global peace and prosperity. Hence, BRI is a positive-sum cooperation. It’s a platform for dialogue, and developing new paths of cooperation encompassing government to government, people to people, business to business and media to media relations. BRI is the, opening up and connectivity, with an aim on promoting global peace and cooperation, and building a global community with a bright future for mankind. Moreover, it promotes connectivity through passages of commerce and trade. There is also a shift in the international balance, leaning towards east from west, considering it a breath of fresh air. Belt and Road Initiative is turning the myth “21st Century is the Asian Century” into reality.
BRI is a network of exchange, exchange of happiness and prosperity, exchange of knowledge and technology, exchange of expertise to perform well for mutual interests. It is the beginning of the inclusive global future. Hence, it is the time for profound change and reforms. For growth, for being dynamic, change is normal. So, reforms, propel states to accomplish goals not only at national level but international level too. The way BRI brought countries and regions together, enhancing trade, developing state of the art infrastructure, boosting investment, strengthening cultural ties, and people to people exchanges, all making BRI, the Central Nervous System of the world.
The true essence of BRI is regional integration, a horizontal, non-vertical integration with no hegemonic designs with an aim to limit the world recession damage. Furthermore, as the second BRI forum is scheduled in late April this year, there is much more to come. As mentioned, BRI is a pie, having share for all; it’s not a debt trap. In order to win the confidence of all the partnering states, and to lessen the suspicion, China is trying to avoid the ‘debt traps’. Though, there is no such state in unsustainable Chinese government debt pressure. It basically provides equality based cooperation, and a green & sustainable development. Second BRI forum is the right time to kickstart the “Second Phase” of Belt & Road. Many foreign heads of state and government, and thousands of delegates will be attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, or BRF. As mentioned by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, “it will include a series of events, such as leaders’ round table, high-level meeting, and thematic forum, CEO conference, under the theme of Belt and Road cooperation shaping a brighter shared future. There will also be more side events, including 12 thematic forums focusing on practical cooperation, and for the first time a conference organized specifically for the business community”.
The globe has already been struck by two major economic depressions. Asian continent also faced one in 1997 when East and Southeast Asia was crippled economically. The world direly needs a remedy in order to sustain the global economy which can only be done through economic and cultural interconnectivity.BRI aims to be a torch bearer in order to bring the financial benefits to the globe. The global prosperity is need of an hour in modern world order but this can be achieved through collective efforts.
China: Via Portugal into Africa and Latin America
Portugal is a major geographical link in the European leg of China’s New Silk Road project (NSR). A visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Lisbon on December 4-5, 2018 produced seventeen cooperation agreements thereby reaffirming the two parties’ readiness to expand economic partnership.
China is Portugal’s top trading partner in Asia, with bilateral trade steadily on the rise amounting to $5.6 billion in 2017. The volume of Chinese investment in the Portuguese economy has reached $ 10.2 billion. Simultaneously, the influx of tourists from China to Portugal has gone up by 40% and from Portugal to China by 16%. The Chinese Embassy in Lisbon has described the current state of Sino-Portuguese relations as the best since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979.
The livening up of Sino-Portuguese relations is key to Beijing’s comprehensive strategy of boosting cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries. Adopted fifteen years ago, this strategy has brought about an increase in the volume of trade between the PRC and the Portuguese-speaking nations by more than 19 times – from $ 6 billion in 2002 to $ 117.6 billion in 2017.
In this context, an economic union with Lisbon is designed to geographically complete the European sector of the New Silk Road project (NSR) given the location of Portugal as the western tip of the European continent. Also, such an alliance is set to project Chinese economic influence through Portugal to countries of Africa and Latin America.
China is number one trading partner of three Portuguese-speaking countries: Brazil (trade turnover in 2018 at $ 29.5 billion), Angola ($ 26 billion) and Mozambique ($ 168 million).
The port of Sines – Portugal’s sea gate to the Atlantic and Africa – carries a particular importance with its well-developed infrastructure and all the facilities to be used as a transit point for Chinese products bound for America and Africa. Another important point is the Azores, a part of Portuguese territory stretching deep into the Atlantic. Lisbon has consented to Beijing’s participation in the construction of scientific and logistics infrastructure in the archipelago, which is tantamount to a stronger Chinese economic presence in the region.
Lisbon favors joint participation with Beijing in investment projects in Portuguese-speaking Africa. African countries have expressed a similar intention. In January 2019, the Angolan Parliament ruled to abolish double taxation with Portugal, China and the United Arab Emirates.
Lisbon-mediated cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries will enable Beijing to guarantee food security. According to UN reports, Angola is among the top five countries with the greatest agricultural potential (58 million hectares of arable land), Mozambique has 36 million hectares, of which less than six are cultivated, while Brazil is the main supplier of soybean, a popular food product for China (14 million tons in 2018).
In relation to China and within the NSR project, Portugal plays the role of an infrastructure and logistics counterweight to France, which is trying to shift the focus of French-Chinese cooperation in the direction of the Mediterranean and North Africa – to fight against terrorism in the Sahel region and provide investment support of the French-speaking Sahel “Five” (Chad, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali).
Beijing is interested in moving via the Atlantic westward. From the geographical point of view, Portugal is a good partner here – cooperation with it takes China beyond the Mediterranean. According to the Chinese leader, for Beijing, Lisbon is a point of linking the land and sea segments of the NSR and a promising partner in the development of the “sea wave economy”.
The position of Paris regarding the NSR project is characterized as cautiously positive, envisaged by the Franco-German Aachen agreement of January 22, 2019 and affected by competition with Italy (Italian Trieste and French Marseille compete for the main port of the NSR in the Mediterranean).
The Aachen agreement diplomatically outlines the geopolitical axis Paris-Berlin, endowing the French-German relations with a special status. Against export-oriented German economy (in 2018, exports went up 3% against 2017, reaching $ 1.318 billion), Beijing’s economic activity in Europe is seen as a challenge.
Negotiations between French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker and China’s Xi Jinping on March 25-26 demonstrated the EU’s consolidated position and marked a successful attempt to secure common gains from building up cooperation between the EU (without Italy) and the PRC.
While France readily signed multibillion-dollar contracts with China and agreed to the opening of the Chinese market for French goods, it refrained from actively assisting the Chinese in pursuing transcontinental infrastructure projects as unwelcome for the economic health of the Franco-German duumvirate.
First published in our partner International Affairs
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