Tag Archives: China

Biden Tightens the Noose Around China, by Michael T. Klare

There’s reason to suspect the old noose strategy isn’t going to work, especially when it also has to fit around Russia. From Michael T. Klare at consortiumnews.com:

The term “containment” never comes up, writes Michael T. Klare. But nonetheless, here is the new 21st century Cold War on a planet desperately in need of something else.

U.S. President Joe Biden at the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C., Feb. 10, 2021. (DoD, Lisa Ferdinando)

The word “encirclement” does not appear in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law by President Joe Biden on Dec. 27, or in other recent administration statements about its foreign and military policies. Nor does that classic Cold War era term “containment” ever come up. Still, America’s top leaders have reached a consensus on a strategy to encircle and contain the latest great power, China, with hostile military alliances, thereby thwarting its rise to full superpower status.

The gigantic 2022 defense bill — passed with overwhelming support from both parties — provides a detailed blueprint for surrounding China with a potentially suffocating network of U.S. bases, military forces, and increasingly militarized partner states. The goal is to enable Washington to barricade that country’s military inside its own territory and potentially cripple its economy in any future crisis. For China’s leaders, who surely can’t tolerate being encircled in such a fashion, it’s an open invitation to… well, there’s no point in not being blunt… fight their way out of confinement.

Like every “defense” bill before it, the $768 billion 2022 NDAA is replete with all-too-generous handouts to military contractors for favored Pentagon weaponry. That would include F-35 jet fighters, Virginia-class submarines, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, and a wide assortment of guided missiles. But as the Senate Armed Services Committee noted in a summary of the bill, it also incorporates an array of targeted appropriations and policy initiatives aimed at encircling, containing, and someday potentially overpowering China. Among these are an extra $7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, or PDI, a program initiated last year with the aim of bolstering U.S. and allied forces in the Pacific.

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China has been a failure at hegemony, so let’s just chill, by John Mueller

China may be even worse at the hegemony game than the U.S. From John Mueller at responsiblestatecraft.org:

From the foundering Belt & Road Initiative to its so-called ‘wolf warrior’ strategy, Beijing is just not the threat we make it out to be.

Many in the U.S. foreign policy establishment and elsewhere are sounding an alarm over concerns that, as China develops, it will become the dominant power in its region, a “hegemon” that will have too much “influence” there and do damage to U.S. security interests. For example, in 2017 the National Intelligence Council opined that “geopolitical competition” was on the rise and the Chinese sought “to exert more sway over their neighboring regions and promote an order in which U.S. influence does not dominate.”

Accordingly, as it is often suggested, military hardware must be deployed to somehow keep that from happening.

However, to a degree, we already know what Chinese “hegemony” looks like. Over the last decade, China has established a major military and especially economic presence, and it has tried to convert this condition into influence. These experiments in hegemony — China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which has stressed construction loans to countries across Eurasia, and its rather belligerent “wolf diplomacy” antics — have substantially foundered and have, if anything, proved to be counterproductive. The experience does not bode well for future efforts, and it does not justify alarm.

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World China Shows Its ‘Trump’ Card, by Eamon McKinney

China is massively stockpiling all sorts of “real” goods. From Eamon McKinney at strategic-culture.org:

In a world of chronic shortages China has realised that commodities hold more value than cash.

The current trade war with China began at the very outset of the Trump administration. Apparently alarmed at America’s dependence on Chinese goods, particularly the extent to which its defence industries are reliant on Chinese components and rare earths, Trump had a point but may have better served to speak softly about this vulnerability. He mentioned only two dependencies, there are thousands of products that America relies on China exclusively for.

In moves that were simply anti-competitive practices he then launched in a “tech war” with China. Banning the sale of chips and semi-conductors, along with bans on Chinese 5G and Huawei the global leader in particular. Not content with that the U.S. launched a global push to pressure its “allies’ to also ban Huawei and its state of the art 5G technology. Not to be taken in isolation, the tech war was just part of an overall strategy to damage and restrain China’s economy. “Decoupling” had arrived into the general lexicon.

To an extent the measures worked, the chip shortage caused a slowdown among many tech dependent sectors, but not for long. China has developed its domestic production at a pace not possible anywhere else. It has also convinced China that it needed to greatly accelerate its self-sufficiency across all sectors.

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Russia Is Not the Great Rival; China Is, by Patrick J. Buchanan

China is far more powerful than Russia. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

While all facts are true, not all facts are relevant.

And what are the relevant facts in this crisis where 100,000 Russian troops are now stationed along the Ukrainian border?

Fact one: There is not now and never has been a vital U.S. interest in Ukraine to justify risking a war with Russia.

History tells us that. Even as Ukraine was suffering in the Stalin-induced Holodomor, the terror-famine of 1932-33, President Franklin Roosevelt granted diplomatic recognition to the Bolshevik regime.

During four decades of Cold War, the U.S. never regarded Moscow’s control of Ukraine as any threat to the USA.

President Joe Biden was thus right to rule out military action in response to any Russian incursion or invasion of Ukraine.

Moreover, as it is declared U.S. policy not to retaliate militarily to an invasion of Ukraine, Biden should make it clear that Ukrainian membership in NATO is a closed question.

Not going to happen.

Ukraine is not going to be invited to join NATO and be given Article 5 U.S. war guarantees that are the primary benefit of membership.

Hence, with U.S. negotiations with Moscow over Ukraine impending, what is the state of play?

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Renewables’ Reckoning Is Long Overdue, by Bob Maistros

In environmentalists la-la land, solutions don’t have costs. In the real world they do, and people are finally starting to wake up to the costs of “Green.” From Bob Maistros at issuesinsights.com:

Airman 1st Class Nadine Y. Barclay

A long overdue legislative enactment and signing provides occasion for two equally long overdue observations on an I&I editorial regarding “pesky climate models.”

Citing a study on pre-carbon dioxide concentration Arctic Ocean warming, your friendly neighborhood editorialists concluded, “(W)e’re confident that eventually the (climate alarmists’) story will collapse.”

Observation No. 1 is that the case for renewables, climate alarmists’ chosen solution, is also folding like a house of cards in a Richter 9.5 earthquake.

It’s not just that renewables are so intermittent and unreliable that they must be legislated and subsidized; eat up land; will require more storage than physically possible; have nearly bankrupted and blacked out Germany with little emissions improvement; and are doing the same to California and other jurisdictions adopting mandates.

Despite these indisputable truths, the White House’s policy remains “a carbon pollution-free electricity sector” by 2035 and “net-zero emissions economy-wide” by 2050.

Yet three additional existential threats must and will lay the renewables narrative bare. The first was reflected in Joe Biden’s recent signing of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

Forty-five percent of the worldwide supply of solar-grade polysilicon stems from China’s Xinjiang region, where it is reportedly largely produced by enslaved Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Turkic Muslims. (China overall produces three-quarters of polysilicon and 95% of solar wafers.)

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Putin Speaks, by Patrick Lawrence

It is hard for Americans to believe that Putin means what he says from long experience with our own politicians who rarely mean what they say or say what the mean. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:

As the Russian president’s year-end presser helped underscore, Europe will increasingly understand itself as the western end of Eurasia rather than the eastern shore of the Atlantic.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, visiting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2019. (Kremlin)

Vladimir Putin was “defiant” during his end-of-year press conference last Thursday. The Russian president, who has held these impressive question-and-answer events for the past 20 years, was “bellicose.” He was “threatening.” So we read in the all-the-same-always American press.

Here’s a gem from one Mary Ilyushina, a CBS News correspondent in Moscow: Putin is worried about the military activities of NATO members in Ukraine, she tells us, “you know, on Russia’s doorstep, which is what Putin believes Ukraine is.”

Putin believes. Got it. Mary Ilyushina, my nominee for president of the Overseas Press Club. I have other words for Putin’s performance before 500 domestic and international journalists, and it is far more pertinent to our circumstances. Putin was confident. He was clear, well-informed per usual, and meant neither more nor less than what he said.  

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The Growing Russia-China Relationship, by Ted Snider

The U.S. can take a large measure of the credit, or blame, depending on how you want to look at it, for bringing China and Russia together. From Ted Snider at antiwar.com:

Under the pressure of US sanctions, threats, aggression and an imposed Second Cold War, the Russia-China relationship is growing closer and closer.

Personal Relationship

On December 15, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for a virtual summit. XI welcomed his “old friend,” and Putin greeted his “dear friend.”

Their greetings to each other were neither scripted nor posturing for the West. In June 2018, Putin told an interviewer that “President XI Jinping is probably the only world leader I have celebrated one of my birthdays with.” He added that XI”is a very reliable partner.” For his part, XI has called Putin “my best, most intimate friend.”

But the growing relationship is not just a friendship between the leaders of the people of the two countries. It is also a growing friendship between the people of the two countries. Relations between Russia and China were not always good. In 2016, before the intense US pressure started pushing the two countries together, only 34% of Russians viewed China favorably; in 2019, 84% saw China as “more a partner than a rival.”

International Relationship

Russia and China have also partnered as the leaders of an important new set of international organizations, like the BRICS nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Both of these organizations are intended to balance US hegemony and exceptionalism in international politics. Both of these organizations are huge, each representing nearly half the world, and both are led by Russia and China as the principal partners. Both also include India. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization represents a quarter of the world’s economy and four of its nuclear powers.

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Never a More Unsettling Strategic Landscape, by Alastair Crooke

China, Russia, and Iran are drawing nonnegotiable red lines, and they can make them stick. This is a new experience for a lot people within the U.S. government. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

It is the first time that others are dictating to the West rather than being instructed on how to conform to American red lines.

There was an almost audible sigh of relief echoing around western corridors. Though there were no breakthroughs in the Team Biden-Putin virtual meeting, the talks not surprisingly, were heavily focussed on the matter of immediate concern: Ukraine – amid widespread fears that the Ukrainian volcano might irrupt at any moment.

At the meeting: Agreed was the proposal to initiate ‘lower-level’ government-to-government discussion of Russia’s red lines and any halt to NATO expansion eastwards. Jake Sullivan, however, spilt a little cold water over that when he firmly emphasised that the U.S. had given no commitments on either issue. Biden (as advertised in advance), warned of strong economic and other measures should Russia intervene in Ukraine.

What was more notable however, was that the U.S. is ‘only’ threatening to sanction Russia, or to move more troops into the region, as opposed to posing explicit western and NATO militarily intervention in Ukraine. In earlier statements, Biden and other U.S. officials have been vague about what Washington’s response to a Russian invasion would be: warning repeatedly of ‘consequences’, even as it re-committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty.

So, should we all begin to breathe again? Actually, no. In fact, the immediacy of the Ukraine issue was always something of a red-herring: Russia has no desire to wade into the thick, cloying mud of a regional quagmire, however much some in the West would ‘love it’. And the Kiev forces are tired, bedraggled and demoralised from sitting in cold trenches along the Contact Line for months. They have little appetite to take on the Donbass militias (unless aided from the outside).

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Where is China Going? By Bill Blain

Is China killing its own golden goose? The country is becoming increasingly opaque, so it’s hard to tell. From Bill Blain at morningporridge.com:

Evergrande will default, but the Chinese economy will probably avoid a property contagion crisis as the government becomes increasingly interventionist. Longer term, how will China evolve to cope with Covid, Growth and Demographics

“When the winds of change blow, some build walls while others build windmills..”

This morning – Evergrande will default, but the Chinese economy will probably avoid a property contagion crisis as the government becomes increasingly interventionist. Longer term, how will China evolve to cope with Covid, Growth and Demographics?

I’m going to go off on something of a tangent on China this morning.. It can hardly come as much of a surprise to markets that S&P says Evergrande’s default is “inevitable”. (One of my highly coveted No Sh*t Sherlock awards is on its way to the US debt rating firm for stating the downright bleeding obvious).

Evergrande’s quietus will be a step towards China’s managed deflation of its property bubble, and it’s got massive implications for current and future investors in the economy. Let me stress I don’t believe China’s economy is about to vanish in a cloud of evaporating property dreams, or that a social revolution is around the corner on deflating consumer expectations. But, change will occur.

I expect China will successfully avoid Evergrande contagion destabilising the economy, and manage a soft-landing, but there is fundamental shift underway – a slowing economy, lethargic growth, and a shift away from capitalism towards a more interventionist state-controlled economy is underway.

Growth expectations are now around 5% – far below numbers we assumed were deemed necessary by the party just a few years ago. Even that number could be under pressure as the scale of the property effect on the economy comes into play, while China’s isolationist response to Covid means the fast spreading Omicron variant could play havoc with reopening the economy.

The Thoughts of Chairman Xi now absolutely dominate and set the internal debate – begging the question: just how will China emerge from the immediate uncertainties of a Property Wobble, Covid and Geopolitical Tension, and the long-term question of how China fits into an evolving global economy?

And, all the time, hiding in the background is the demographic reality: can China get rich before its aging demographic leaves it struggling?

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The EU’s Strategic Balance Sheet – Well, Good Luck With That…, by Alastair Crooke

Heavily indebted and socialistic Europe in not in a strong position, and has been relegated by the US to a pawn in its machinations against Russia and China. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

How on earth did the EU get into such a strategic mess? The frank answer is by being unreflective, Atlanticist ‘bots’, Alastair Crooke writes.

“The United States will be hosting the online Summit for Democracy on 9 and 10th December, 2021, empowering itself to define who is to attend the event and who is not, who is a ‘democratic country’ and who is not … this will stoke up ideological confrontation and rift in the world, creating new ‘dividing lines’”: So write (jointly) the Ambassadors of Russia and China accredited to Washington.

“China and Russia firmly reject this move … [they] call on countries: to stop using ‘value-based diplomacy’ to provoke division and confrontation”, the Ambassadors warn.

Yet, this is clearly what Biden intends (strategic polarisation). Team Biden is aiming to build a strategic pro-U.S. bloc to pull in more states as adherents, so to isolate Russia and China. Taiwan is being instrumentalised against China (and to Beijing’s fury, has become an invitee to the conference), and Ukraine is being weaponised against Russia. Both are explosive issues. But of the two, it is Ukraine that is the most volatile.

We should not forget however, that America was dabbling with General Chiang Kai-shek from as long ago as 1925. (During WW2, there about one thousand U.S. military advisers in Chiang’s army). And after the war, the U.S. handed Taiwan over to the Kuomintang (Chiang’s political movement), as the platform for instigating insurrection against ‘the communist danger’ in mainland China.

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