Category Archives: Eurasian Axis

RCEP Hops On The New Silk Roads, by Pepe Escobar

Spearheaded by the Chinese and Russian governments, new economic alliances are forming across Eurasia. From Pepe Escobar at The Asia Times via zerohedge.com:

Ho Chi Minh, in his eternal abode, will be savoring it with a heavenly smirk. Vietnam was the – virtual – host as the 10 Asean nations, plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, on the final day of the 37th Asean Summit..

RCEP, eight years in the making, binds together 30% of the global economy and 2.2 billion people. It’s the first auspicious landmark of the Raging Twenties, which started with an assassination (of Iran’s Gen. Soleimani) followed by a global pandemic and now ominous intimations of a dodgy Great Reset.

RCEP seals East Asia as the undisputed prime hub of geoeconomics. The Asian Century in fact was already in the making way back in the 1990s. Among those Asians as well as Western expats who identified it, in 1997 I published my book 21st: The Asian Century (excerpts here.)

RCEP may force the West to do some homework, and understand that the main story here is not that RCEP “excludes the US” or that it’s “designed by China”. RCEP is an East Asia-wide agreement, initiated by Asean, and debated among equals since 2012, including Japan, which for all practical purposes positions itself as part of the industrialized Global North. It’s the first-ever trade deal that unites Asian powerhouses China, Japan and South Korea.

By now it’s clear, at last in vast swathes of East Asia, that RCEP’s 20 chapters will reduce tariffs across the board; simplify customs, with at least 65% of service sectors fully open, with increased foreign shareholding limits; solidify supply chains by privileging common rules of origin; and codify new e-commerce regulations.

When it comes to the nitty gritty, companies will be saving and be able to export anywhere within the 15-nation spectrum without bothering with extra, separate requirements from each nation. That’s what an integrated market is all about.

When RCEP meets BRI

The same scratched CD will be playing non-stop on how RCEP facilitates China’s “geopolitical ambitions”. That’s not the point. The point is RCEP evolved as a natural companion to China’s role as the main trade partner of virtually every East Asian player.

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Washington’s Campaign Against China Could Lead to War, by Brian Cloughley

Mike Pompeo certainly talks like a man looking for a fight. From Brian Cloughley at strategic-culture.org:

When prominent U.S. personalities such as Secretary of State Pompeo speak critically and scornfully about leaders and other prominent figures of countries with whose policies they disagree, they ignore or even welcome the fact that such attacks are heard not only by the persons at whom they are aimed. The citizens of the country concerned are unlikely to disregard such criticism, and even if they may agree with some of it — perhaps all of it — on a purely practical or individual basis, they do not accept the premise that their countries are in the wrong because some foreign representative sounds off against their leaders.

There is a campaign of denigration being waged by Washington against Beijing, and Secretary Pompeo is brandishing the sharpest sword. His speech of July 23 at the Richard Nixon Library and Museum was a definitive indication of how the United States stands in regard to the People’s Republic of China, and its very title made it clear that Washington has no intention of engaging in reasoned dialogue that could lead to rapprochement with the Chinese government. Pompeo’s discourse on ‘Communist China and the Free World’s Future’ was a venomous diatribe aimed at persuading the world community to combine against the PRC.

Pompeo is nostalgic for the good old days of the Cold War, and warned that “If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party, whose actions are the primary challenge today in the free world. General Secretary Xi is not destined to tyrannise inside and outside of China forever, unless we allow it. Now, this isn’t about containment. Don’t buy that. It’s about a complex new challenge that we’ve never faced before.”

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More Fallout from Iran/China Deal: India Loses Farzad-B, by Tom Luongo

India is caught in the middle between the US and the Eurasian axis of China, Russia, and Iran. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

he carnage for following President Trump’s lead on ending the JCPOA continues for India.

From SputnikNews last week comes this note about the Farzad-B oil and gas field and Iran.

Close on the heels of breaking the Chabahar-Zahedan rail project agreement, Iran appears set to deny India’s state-run ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL), exploration and production rights for the key Farzad B gas field.

The granting  of rights to OVL was already delayed with New Delhi moving slowly on the issue, but came to a complete standstill after the 2018 imposition of US sanctions on Tehran.

Now that threat looks to be a reality.

Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency quoted India’s External Affairs Ministry (EAM) as saying on Thursday Tehran would develop the Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf region “on its own” and might engage India “appropriately at a later stage”.

Translation: “Stop stalling for Trump’s sake and make good on your promises or the project goes to China.”

Because that’s where this leads in light of the announced mega-deal between Iran and China worth a reported $400 billion.

I wrote last week I thought India has lost its way on the New Silk Road. Losing the contract to build the railway it pushed for to bypass Pakistan and assert independence from China’s OBOR plans should have been a clear enough signal.

But apparently it wasn’t.

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The India-China, Himalayan Puzzle, by Pepe Escobar

Pepe Escobar knows a very important of the world that most Americans know little about—Eurasia. From Escobar at consortiumnews.com:

The Indo-China border is a strategic chessboard and it’s gotten way more complex. 

Valley near Kangan, Kashmir. (Kashmir Pictures, Flickr)

It was straight from an Orientalist romantic thriller set in the Himalayas: soldiers fighting each other with stones and iron bars in the dead of night on a mountain ridge over 4,000 meters high, some plunging to their deaths into a nearly frozen river and dying of hypothermia.

In November 1996, China and India had agreed not to use guns along their 3,800 km-long border, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which sports an occasional tendency to derail into a Line Out of Control.

Yet this was not just another Himalayan scuffle. Of course there were echoes of the 1962 Sino-Indian war – which started pretty much the same way, leading Beijing to defeat New Delhi on the battlefield. But now the strategic chessboard is way more complex, part of the evolving 21st Century New Great Game.

Indian army marching in 1962 war, during which Indian Air Force was not used. (Indian Defence Review)

The situation had to be defused. Top military commanders from China and India finally met face to face this past weekend. And on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Zhao Lijian confirmed they “agreed to take necessary measures to promote a cooling of the situation.”

The Indian Army concurred: “There was mutual consensus to disengage (…) from all frictions areas in Eastern Ladakh.”

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Washington Complains: China is Doing What We Always Do! by Doug Bandow

It’s hard to believe that a refreshingly honest guy like Doug Bandow was once in the goverment’s foreign policy blob. From Bandow at theamericanconservative.com:

Beijing is using threats and aid to pressure other governments to toe the line. Wherever did they get that from?

In a new official strategy of confrontation against the People’s Republic of China, the Trump administration has announced its intention “to compel Beijing to cease or reduce actions harmful to the United States’ vital, national interests and those of our allies and partners.”

Explains the strategy paper:

Given Beijing’s increasing use of economic leverage to extract political concessions from or exact retribution against other countries, the United States judges that Beijing will attempt to convert [One Belt One Road] projects into undue political influence and military access. Beijing uses a combination of threat and inducement to pressure governments, elites, corporations, think tanks, and others—often in an opaque manner—to toe the CCP line and censor free expression. Beijing has restricted trade and tourism with Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Norway, the Philippines, and others, and has detained Canadian citizens, in an effort to interfere in these countries’ internal political and judicial processes.

All true. But which government pioneered the use of economic resources to reward and punish other nations? Hint: it was not China.

The U.S. has long used foreign aid as walking around money for the secretary of state. Countries with American bases have always gotten more cash, as have nations that have made peace with American allies, such as Egypt and Jordan.

In contrast, governments that have crossed Washington have lost money. In 1956, the Eisenhower administration punished Egypt’s Nasser government by revoking its offer to finance the Aswan High Dam. In 1990, Secretary of State James Baker told Yemen’s UN ambassador, “that was the most expensive no vote you ever cast,” after he voted against the UN Security Council resolution authorizing war against Iraq.

 

A Pipelineistan fable for our times, by Pepe Escobar

The US government has done its best to stymie pipelines it didn’t like from Russia to Europe, but the Russians and Europeans have managed to sidestep the obstacles the US has thrown in their way. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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China: one country, two sessions, three threats, by Pepe Escobar

The China-US rivalry may be the issue that shapes the 21st century. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com:

Getting back to domestic business quickly is essential for a renewed push on the grand chessboard

The annual meeting of the National People’s Congress. Photo: Xinhua

The key takeaways of the Two Sessions of the 13th National People’s Congress in Beijing are already in the public domain.

In a nutshell: no GDP target for 2020; a budget deficit of at least 3.6% of GDP; one trillion yuan in special treasury bonds; corporate fees/taxes cut by 2.5 trillion yuan; a defense budget rise of a modest 6.6%; and governments at all levels committed to “tighten their belts.”

The focus, as predicted, is to get China’s domestic economy, post-Covid-19, on track for solid growth in 2021.

Also predictably, the whole focus in the Anglo-American sphere has been on Hong Kong – as in the new legal framework, to be approved next week, engineered to prevent subversion, foreign interference “or any acts that severely endanger national security.” After all, as a Global Times editorial stresses, Hong Kong is an extremely sensitive national security matter.

This is a direct result of what the Chinese observer mission based in Shenzhen learned from the attempt by assorted fifth columnists and weaponized black blocs to nearly destroy Hong Kong last summer.

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A World No Longer Shaped by Atlantic Powers, by M. K. Bhadrakumar

The headline is somewhat inaccurate. The world has been shaped by one Atlantic power—the US—and the Atlantic countries of Europe have had to go along. Now their willingness to do so recedes as Russia and China rise and pull together the middle of the world in the Belt and Road Initiative. From M. K. Bhadrakumar at counterpunch.org:

53rd Munich Security Conference 2017 – Public Domain

The annual Munich Security Conference that took place February 14-16 this year turned out to be an iconic event, drawing comparison with the one held in the same Bavarian city on February 10, 2007, where in a prophetic speech Russian President Vladimir Putin had criticized the world order characterized by the United States’ global hegemony and its “almost uncontained hyper use of force—military force—in international relations.”

If Putin’s 2007 Munich speech was prescient about an incoming new Cold War and the surge of tensions in Russia’s relations with the West, 13 years later, at the event this year, we witnessed that the transatlantic ties that evolved through the two world wars in the last century and blossomed into a full-fledged alliance system have reached a crossroads.

Deep cracks have appeared in the transatlantic relationship. In an extraordinary opening address, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, an éminence grise in European diplomacy, accused Washington of rejecting “the very concept of an international community.”

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The Multipolar Alliance Induces Rumpelstiltskin’s Self-Destruction, by Matthew Ehret

The Rumpelstiltskin analogy may be the best way to explain what the United States is doing to itself. From Matthew Ehret at strategic-culture.org:

There are several versions of the old German folk tale of Rumpelstiltskin. The story begins with greedy king who is told by a foolish old miller that a young girl (the miller’s daughter) had the ability to spin hay into gold. When the poor girl is locked into a tower with bales of straw, a loom and orders to transform it all into gold under threat of death, a magical imp appears out of thin air and they reach an agreement: He will use his magic to spin the hay into gold on the condition that the girl gives the imp her first born child. The greedy king is pleased with the wealth that appeared from thin air, and the daughter’s neck is saved. Sadly the day eventually arrives for her to give up a child, and the imp in sadistic glee responds to her pleading tears by giving her three chances annul the contract. All she has to do is guess his name. To make a long story short, his name is discovered and Rumpelstiltskin literally tears himself to pieces in a fit of mad rage.

I think this story exemplifies the self-cannibalization of the deep state over the past several years quite nicely.

It appeared for quite some time that the oligarchy managing the world’s financial system and military-intelligence community from above was able to do magic. If they wanted a nation overthrown, or a troublesome elected official killed, a mere snap of the fingers was all it took. Gold from straw? They could do that too! Just look at the mass of $1.5 quadrillion dollars of derivatives claims which appeared as though out of thin air in the mere space of 30 years! Seriously, back in 1990, these fictitious assets (forms of bets on insurance on securitized debts) amounted to little more than $2 trillion and 10 years before that, had barely any existence whatsoever. NOW… they amount to over twenty times the world’s GDP! How was this possible when the real economy (agro-industrial/infrastructure capital which supports real life) was permitted to atrophy during that same space of time? Magic!

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Sabotaging Kabul’s Multipolar Revolution With China and Russia, by Federico Pieraccini

Afghanistan is too geopolitically important for Washington to just up and leave. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:

Nineteen years after September 11, 2001 and 17 years after launching its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the U.S. seems ready to cut a deal with the Taliban in order to freeze out its Eurasian rivals.

The central government in Kabul has in recent years granted a leading role to Moscow and Beijing in efforts to pacify the country by bringing all parties to the negotiating table. A successful outcome would allow Afghanistan to reap the benefits of its geographical position vis-a-vis Sino-Russian infrastructure projects.

The entry into Afghanistan’s dynamics of China’s economic power and Russia’s military weight promises to spark a multipolar revolution in the country and beyond that would spread to neighbors like India, Pakistan and Iran.

Moscow had even initiated historical negotiations with Taliban representatives, culminating in a visit to Moscow. U.S. sources at the time voiced doubts about the success of any peace plan and tensions between the U.S. and Iran were high, with sanctions imposed on Iran and pressure placed on U.S. allies in the region like India to boycott Iranian oil.

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