Category: China
US Failure, Blame China
| August 16, 2017 | 8:46 pm | China, Donald Trump | No comments
President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 13, 2017.

US Failure, Blame China

© AP Photo/ Pablo Martinez Monsivais

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Finian Cunningham

America’s chronic trade deficit with the rest of the world is testimony to a failed US economy. In reality, the US has no-one else to blame but itself for such an historic failure.

But in typical chauvinist fashion, the Trump administration has found a handy scapegoat by blaming China — its top bilateral trading partner. President Donald Trump this week ordered a probe into alleged trade malpractices by China, including claims of intellectual property theft and unfair subsidies.

These supposed grievances against China formed a major part of his election campaign last year, when the tycoon-turned-politician would whip up supporters in rustbelt states with emotive claims about how China was “raping our economy”.

Now Trump says he is making good on his electoral promises to “get tough on China”. On announcing the trade crackdown this week, the president said: “We will uphold our values, we will defend our workers, and we will protect the innovations, creations and inventions that power our magnificent country.”

China has warned that if Trump follows through on threats to impose trade tariffs on Chinese exports the move will ignite a trade war, which will inflict serious damage on both economies and the rest of the world.Trump’s nationalistic depiction of trade problems with China is also feeding into the rise of xenophobic and racist politics in the US. The president has come under pressure to disavow white supremacist groups, like the KKK, after deadly protests in Virginia last weekend.

However, his jingoistic rhetoric of blaming foreigners for America’s social and economic woes is a toxic embrace of demagoguery that will fuel reactionary rightwing sentiments.

Trump has an odious habit of blaming everyone else for America’s contemporary problems. In his nasty transactional worldview, all other nations are taking advantage of “virtuous America”.

Thus, Mexico is stampeding “our border”; the Iranian nuclear deal is “the worst ever”; the Trans-Pacific Partnership was “ripping America off”; the Paris Climate Accord was another “bad deal” harming American enterprise; the Europeans need to cough up for NATO; the Germans are flooding US car markets; and so on and so on.

The New York former real estate mogul fancies himself as a business genius. (One wonders how he would have fared if he hadn’t inherited a million dollars from his rich daddy to get him started.)

In any case, Trump sounds more like a spoilt brat than an ingenious entrepreneur. His penchant is to blame everyone for failure and to offer quack solutions.

On the alleged China trade disputes, it may sound good to some people among Trump’s voter base to harangue China over alleged intellectual property infringements and technology theft. But vilifying China for America’s economic and social decline is a dangerous deception.

Trump castigates China for somehow being responsible for the US trade deficit with that country — about $350 billion in 2016. He asserts that the surplus of Chinese exports into the US is because China is stealing American technology and copyrights and flooding the market with fake goods.But what Trump conveniently omits to say is that the US had a total trade deficit with the rest of the world in 2016 amounting to $740 billion, according to its own government figures. After China, the US trade arrears with the European Union was nearly $150 billion.

Does that mean that the Europeans are also stealing American intellectual property and cheating the US economy with unfair practices?

No. It just means that the US economy has withered away to the point where it depends on the rest of the world for imports. The American manufacturing base has been wiped out. This import dependency and chronic trade imbalance in the US has been going on since at the least the late 1980s. For the past three decades, the US trade deficit has been relentlessly expanding, up from about $100 billion in 1990 to the present figure of $740 billion.

For Donald Trump to try to blame China for America’s abysmal decline is the kind of trick pulled by a con artist. It may play well with people who have prejudices about foreigners and delusional notions of American “exceptionalism” — but such a depiction is nonetheless downright false.The truth is that it’s not foreign nations who are to blame for America’s social and economic malaise, it is Americans themselves. Specifically, we are talking about corporate America and oligarchs like Trump who shut down American factories wholesale and ruthlessly downsized workforces in order to set up businesses in cheap-labor countries like China.

Trump and his daughter Ivanka are owners of global retail businesses whose cosmetics and clothing are manufactured in China and exported to the US, thereby contributing to their country’s trade deficit.

The historic failure of the American economy is the story of how capitalism is eventually bound to fail. The insatiable pursuit of financial profit as the sole objective leads inevitably to the gutting of one’s own country and compatriots if it means that profits can be maximized elsewhere.

For over 30 years, American workers and communities have been decimated by capitalists like Trump and other oligarchs who had no conscience about betraying their compatriots to make big bucks somewhere overseas.

The predatory process of offshoring American jobs to places like China is why the US economy and society has been bled dry. For Trump to blame China for this predation of Americans by corporate America is bitterly ironic.

Here’s the doubly odious thing too. In his quack remedy for American economic ills, Trump seems now willing to ignite a trade war with China.

At a time when the world is already convulsed with security tensions between the US and China, Russia, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, Ukraine, among other nations, it really is the height of recklessness by the Trump White House to escalate tensions even further with a spurious trade war.Already recriminations between Beijing and Washington are fraught over military jousting over disputed territory in the South China Sea. A trade war will only exacerbate hostilities further.

China has given notice that if Trump goes down the perilous path of a trade war, it will not sit idly by. If China were to redirect its exports to other parts of the globe in retaliation, or dump its huge American dollar holdings, the impact on the US economy will be severe. Inflation of consumer goods would soar, thereby hurting millions of low-income Americans even further.

How reprehensible is that? Trump and his family fortune are the embodiment of how American workers ended up being impoverished under decades of rapacious corporate America. Now selling the American workers a fraudulent explanation for their poverty — by scapegoating China and starting a trade war — Trump is only adding to their misery.

In real-estate scams, it’s known as “fleecing the customer twice”. Something that Donald J Trump would know all about.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Empire of Whiners
| July 24, 2017 | 8:51 pm | Analysis, China, DPRK, Iran, political struggle, Russia | No comments
People walk amongst US national flags erected by students and staff from Pepperdine University as they pay their respects to honor the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, at their campus in Malibu, California

Empire of Whiners

© AFP 2017/ Mark RALSTON

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Pepe Escobar

As a new report by the Army War College tracks the loss of “US primacy” around the world, it prescribes more of the same; propaganda, surveillance and war.

It’s public knowledge that from the point of view of the Pentagon, the United States faces five existential threats: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and terrorism, in that order. Way beyond rhetoric, all Pentagon actions should be understood and analyzed under this framework.

Now global public opinion may have access to an even more intriguing document; a new study by the Army War College titled  At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment in a Post-Primacy World. Readers are actively encouraged to download it and study the fine print.Researcher Nafeez Ahmed has proposed some helpful decoding of this “post-primacy” predicament, that took virtually ten months to be put together.

The intellectual firepower concerned involved all sections of the Pentagon scattered around the world, as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Intelligence Council, and proverbial neocon-heavy think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the RAND Corporation, and the Institute for the Study of War.

All that for what? To enounce the obvious – that the US has lost its “primacy”; and to propose more of the same, as in Orwellian surveillance; “strategic manipulation of perceptions”, a.k.a. propaganda; and a “wider and more flexible” military, as in more wars.

If this is the best US military “intelligence” can come up with, peer competitors Russia and China might as well grab a gin and tonic and relax by the pool.

Oh you damn revisionists

The study is a classic piece of myopic Exceptionalism – which might at least allow for some entertaining value if presented with some rhetorical flourish.

Russia and China are duly described as “revisionist forces” (doesn’t that sound like Mao in the 1950s?) which should be prevented from pursuing their own legitimate national interests. Why? Because that represents a threat that undermines US hegemony.

Readers of the study should desist from finding any concrete evidence that both Russia and China pose a serious threat to US national security. They should rely on US corporate media, which blares all these “threats” 24/7.It gets curioser and curioser when it comes to Iran and North Korea – both also demonized non-stop by media and US Think Tankland. The problem is not that they pose a nuclear threat; the problem is they are obstacles to the smooth expansion of the “US-led order.”

In parallel, what really irks US military intel are “murkier, less obvious forms of state-based aggression”. As in the “threat” represented by Sputnik and RT, for instance.

“Facts”, any real facts that challenge the legitimacy of the hegemon are considered by the study as a major driver of US decline. OK, the Pentagon does not do irony, so don’t expect any expert to acknowledge that these real facts simultaneously unmask the Empire’s actions and debunk its rhetoric.

The study’s circular logic is a hostage of – what else – imperial logic; US military power is essentially depicted as a key tool to coerce and force other nations into following the Empire’s diktats.

Which leads those “experts” to bomb the concept of defense to smithereens — and turn it into offense; the Empire always reserves itself the right to go heavy metal when it pleases. If any actor questions this sovereign imperial right – for instance, North Korea launching a missile or China creating facts on the South China Sea – this becomes a threat, and it must be eliminated.Even progressive US analysts still don’t get why, after a short 70 years of hegemony, American geopolitical primacy in Eurasia is at an end. As much as the internal war between Trump and the deep state may be accelerating the process, this is still all about the post-9/11 world.

The adventures of the War Party – from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria; the US government’s astonishing, unpayable debt; the steady erosion of the petrodollar; the inexorable march of Eurasia integration – reflected in US military obsession with the three key vectors, China, Russia and Iran.

These are only some of the factors involved.Beijing and Moscow don’t need to be reminded by studies like this of the real game – as in US proxy wars deployed from Ukraine to the South China Sea with the ultimate target of disrupting the 21st century’s top story; Eurasia connectivity.

Same for Tehran, which identifies very well the multiple machinations, instrumentalizing the GCC petrodollar gang, aimed at perpetuating a Sunni-Shi’ite fratricidal war.

Which brings us to “the next war” insistently monopolizing the rumor mill in the Beltway. Were the US government foolish enough to provoke a war against Iran, that would be due to the Exceptionalism mindset; an economy where endless war is the only tool to boost GDP and pay off debts; deep state hegemony; and the eternal Return of the (Neocon) Living Dead inside Think Tankland, the CIA and the Pentagon itself.

“Post-primacy”? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

America’s Death Throes
| June 29, 2017 | 8:34 pm | Analysis, China, Donald Trump, Russia | No comments
US 100 dollar banknotes and Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in this picture illustration in Beijing, China, January 21, 2016.

America’s Death Throes

© REUTERS/ Jason Lee

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Finian Cunningham

China and Russia have already ditched the US dollar in their vast energy trade. Now China is leveraging Saudi Arabia to also abandon the greenback for oil sales. No wonder, it seems, that US policies are increasingly lashing out.

US global power depends on its presumed economic prowess and military force. With its economy in long-term decline, precipitated by the teetering dollar, the US rulers are relying increasingly on militarism to project power. That tendency is pushing the world to war.The challenge is to somehow steer the American military monster into a safe berth without eliciting a world war.

The US decline is of historic proportions – on par with the demise of other past empires – and it stems from the looming collapse of the petrodollar system, which has given the US unprecedented privileges over the past decades since the Second World War

It is no coincidence that a surge in global tensions over recent years comes at a time when the American economy is staring into an abyss. The key to the survival of the US economy as we know it is the status of the American dollar as the world’s top reserve currency.

The so-called petrodollar system, in which the world’s most traded commodity oil and gas are conducted primarily through American currency, appears to be coming to an end. That decades-old system is being challenged by the rise of China, Russia, India, Iran and others. If the petrodollar and its global privileges are displaced then the United States is facing an economic apocalypse.It should be said that there is nothing illegitimate about challenging this American unipolar dominance. Why should countries be forced to conduct their international trade primarily with the US dollar owing simply to historical circumstances during the 1970s that gave rise to the petrodollar system? That system works, in effect, like a global tax that the US imposes on all other nations because they are compelled to purchase American-printed banknotes.

Perhaps no two other countries have done more to forge a multipolar global order than China and Russia. China is the biggest oil importer and Russia is the world’s biggest fuel exporter. When they announced last year that oil trade would be henceforth conducted in their own national currencies of yuan and rouble that development marked a nail in the dollar’s coffin.Now, only a few weeks ago, China and Saudi Arabia – the world’s second-biggest oil producer – reportedly launched earnest negotiations for future energy fuel trade to be conducted in yuan. Commentators say Saudi Arabia has little choice in the matter, since China has been progressively reducing the kingdom’s market share with other oil exporters, like Russia and Iran. If the Saudis want to maintain exports to the world’s biggest economy, then they will have to do their business in Chinese currency, not the US dollar as they have customarily done.

Randy Martin, an American political analyst, said the long-anticipated decline in the petrodollar is picking up pace.

“The petrodollar is in decline, and consequently the entire financial system that undergirds the western economies,” Martin said. “China and Russia have laid the global economic foundation for the new ‘Silk Road’ and the emergence of a new Eurasian economy that puts the US and its petrodollar on the outside. That leaves the US dollar and its economy in tatters as long as the US insists on trying to maintain its unipolar quest for global economic dominance. To be clear, what China and Russia have successfully done is to unravel the economic foundation of US global hegemony.”

However, that historic demise of US power is fraught with danger. That’s because the shift from an American-dominated unipolar world to a multipolar one will come at huge economic pain to the US. With a debt mountain of $20 trillion and skyrocketing inflation due to the eventual demise of the dollar, American society faces an implosion from poverty, unemployment and social breakdown.

“Consequently, the world is faced with a global superpower in mortal decline, which is now expressing its existential fears with wanton military aggression across the globe. This will result in a grave threat to humanity as the US grapples for its place in a new multipolar global economy,” Martin concluded.

The US political system is fighting for its very survival given the imminent end of its petrodollar hegemony. It is no coincidence that the US ruling elite is resorting to militarism and war as a way to stave off the feared economic turmoil. The frequency of US-led wars across the Middle East region, in particular, is all about maintaining American hegemony through imposing military might.

The proxy war in Syria is a foil for the US to subjugate perceived global rivals, Iran and Russia.

Also relevant is that the Persian Gulf gas-rich emirate of Qatar has led the way among the Arab states for doing more trade with China by replacing the dollar with the yuan. Qatar has also maintained relatively friendly relations with Iran with which it shares an enormous offshore gas field.In the midst of these tumultuous world relations, the US is seeking to militarize the context as much as possible. By stoking and prolonging conflicts, the US stands to gain from military commerce and also by maintaining its sphere of influence over subordinate nations. Primarily, this is in the form of propping up the petrodollar system in the oil-rich Middle East.

As noted, when the petrodollar system collapses through the emergence of a multipolar world then the US economy and indeed its entire society as we know it is staring into an abyss.

“The US response to its looming demise has been the wholesale underwriting of a military-based economy for Saudi Arabia,” analyst Randy Martin observes.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) presents U.S. President Donald Trump (C) with the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. Picture taken May 20, 2017
© REUTERS/ Jonathan Ernst

That was marked last month by US President Donald Trump making his first-ever overseas trip to Saudi Arabia to announce a record weapons contract worth up to $350 billion – three times what his predecessor Barack Obama sold to Saudi Arabia during his eight-year presidency.The corollary of American militarism in the Middle East is a surge in tensions and potential for all-out war in Syria with Russia and Iran.

“US meddling in the Middle East is little more than an existential bid to preserve its hegemony there through military force, as its economic dominance through the petrodollar slips away,” added Martin.

The emergence of a multipolar world seems not only inevitable. It is desirable in terms of establishing a more democratic global order. A unipolar world as seen under US hegemony is a formula for tyranny and lawlessness.

The good news is that US hegemony is crumbling. The demise of the petrodollar is the telltale sign of another empire sunsetting. But that transition to a more reasonable and sustainable world order is akin to negotiating a way out of a minefield.

Fortunately, Russia and China may have sufficient military power to deter the desperate, waning American empire from trying to incite catastrophic war. However, death throes are seldom rational events.


The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

The United States beats up on Russia – no surprise for author Dan Kovalik
| June 16, 2017 | 8:03 pm | Analysis, China, Imperialism, Russia | No comments

By W. T. Whitney Jr.

Book Review of: The Plot to Scapegoat Russia by Dan Kovalik.  New York:  Skyhorse Publishing, 2017.  Print ISBN:  978-1-5107-3032-8, Ebook ISBN: 978-1-5107-3033-5, $18.99, Pp.199.

The Cold War we are familiar with ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. In his new book “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia,” lawyer and human rights activist Dan Kovalik writes about a new Cold War against Russia – and about the peace that never came. He discusses the role of the Democratic Party and the CIA, but his book centers on exploring the cause of why hostilities are back.

The real motivations of revived confrontation are hardly the stuff of day-to-day news, and so the author relies upon the historical record for discovering the origins of a new Cold War. Along the way he explains why the old Cold War was waged.

He regards the commonly – accepted explanation as a pretext: “the Cold War, at least from the vantage point of the US, had little to do with fighting ‘Communism,’ and more to do with making the world safe for corporate plunder.” Implicitly this proposition serves to account for other U. S. wars and interventions.

Without elaborating, Kovalik casts the CIA as the lead plotter in these intrusions. It has the right skills, he suggests, because it is “a nefarious, criminal organization which often misleads the Ameri­can public and government into wars and misadventures,” In his own book, “The Devil’s Chessboard,” David Talbot traced the Cold War machinations of former CIA head Allen Dulles’ and thus was well qualified to provide an introduction for the present volume.

According to Talbot, “Russia (long with China) is the only country capable of even marginally standing in the way of Washington’s vast imperial ventures.” These two themes – the real reason for why the United States fights wars and the CIA’s role in such wars – set the tone for the history Kovalik recounts in his highly recommended book.

Readers hungry to know about the “plot” advertised in the book’s title will need patience. At the point Kovalik is discussing the current U. S. – Russia confrontation, he has already conducted a tour over time and across the world that surveyed U. S. interventions and foreign meddling. Having identified patterns of U. S. aggression, he presents a scenario that clarifies U. S. motivations for abusing Russia.

This book offers material so encompassing as to belie its small size. Kovalik’s writing is clear, evocative, and readable. Along the way, he recalls those causes and the outrage that fired up activists who were his contemporaries. That’s a side benefit.

In college Kovalik learned about CIA machinations in Central America. Revelations from former agents Philip Agee, Ray McGovern, and John Stockman astonished him. His first trip to Nicaragua exposed him to a harvest of killings and terror. He learned first-hand about the role of Contra paramilitaries, recruited and paid for by the CIA. At one point he was comforting a father burying his son, killed by the Contras, along with 50,000 other Nicaraguans.

The author recalls the four churchwomen and six Jesuit priests murdered by U. S. – trained soldiers in El Salvador, U. S. support for soldiers and paramilitaries who killed and displaced populations in Colombia, and the CIA’s Operation Condor by which South American client states murdered political enemies. He recounts U. S – instigated coups in Iran, 1953; Guatemala, 1954; and Chile, 1973. Along the way he mentions U.S. war in Vietnam, occupation and war in Korea, nuclear bombs dropped on Japan, nuclear testing and dying in the Marshall Islands, and the CIA’s recruitment of the anti-Soviet Mujahideen in Afghan­istan.

This was the justification: keeping “the world safe from the threat of Soviet totalitarianism.” Then the Soviet Union was no more and the search was on for a new pretext. Having turned to “humanitarian intervention,” the Clinton administration soon was assisting the Paul Kagame regime in Ruanda and other African nations as they assaulted the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “US mining interests” were satisfied, Kovalik says, but “nearly six million people” people died.

Clinton’s government intervened in Haiti and participated in the destruction of Yugoslavia, Europe’s last socialist state. Supposed humanitarian motivations were behind the United States role in delivering Libya into chaos. For the author, U. S. pretensions and brutality stand in contrast to the relatively benign nature of Russian misdeeds.

More recently, in Kovalik’s telling, the U. S. government settled upon the rationalization of “American exceptionalism.” This is “the belief that the US is a uniquely benign actor in the world, spreading peace and democracy.” Thus terror was exported to Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen, where Saudi Arabia acted as a U. S. proxy. The list includes the 2009 military coup in Honduras facilitated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

For the author, “The US’s outsized military exists not only to ensure the US’s quite unjust share of the world’s riches, but also to ensure that those riches are not shared with the poor huddled masses in this country.” Good relations with Russia would be “simply bad for business, in particular the business of war which so profoundly undergirds the US economy … As of 2015, the US had at least 800 military bases in over 70 nations, while Britain, France and Russia had only 30 military bases combined.” And, “under Obama alone, the US had Special Forces deployed in about 138 countries.”

Having surveyed decades worth of U.S. interventions abroad, military and otherwise, Kovalik turns to Russia. In the early 1990s that fledgling capitalist state was in crisis, he reports. Life expectancy had plummeted, the poverty rate was 75 percent, and investments in the economy were down 80 percent. National pride was in the cellar, the more so after the United States backed away from Secretary of State Baker’s 1991 promise that NATO would never move east, after the United States attacked Russia’s ally Serbia, and after the United States attacked Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011 without consulting Russia.

He regards Russia’s approach to Ukraine as defensible while reminding readers that Russia offered to cooperate with the United States in ending war in Syria. And U. S. claims about lack of democracy in Russia seem strained, especially when, as Kovalik insists, the United States abuses peoples the world over and itself suffers from a “severe democracy deficit.”

He argues that the Obama administration, particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was obsessed with Russia and that Democrats currently are fueling hostilities, backed by a compliant media. He discusses WikiLeaks revelations about the Democratic Party and hacking attributed to the Russians. He also suggests, without offering specifics, that the CIA is involved. Kovalik doesn’t comment on possible interaction between Trump campaign personnel and Russian officials.

But prior to his discussion of confrontation with Russia, Kovalik had devoted considerable attention to why and how the United States harasses other countries. The reader, therefore, already knows never to expect U.S. imperialism to give Russia a break and knows why that is so.

Kovalik’s treatment of the Soviet Union is an essential part of his narrative. For one thing, many of the U. S. military interventions he reports on wouldn’t have occurred if the Soviet Union still existed. But basically, “the Soviet Union, did wield sizable polit­ical and ideological influence in the world for some time, due to the appeal of its socialist message as well as its critical role in winning [World War] II.”

Kovalik acknowledges “periods of great repression.” He adds, however, that “the Russian Revolution and the USSR … delivered on many of their promises, and against great odds. …. In any case, the goals of the Russian Revolution—equality, worker control of the economy, universal health care and social security— were laudable ones.” And, “One of the reasons that the West continues to dance on the grave of the Soviet Union, and to emphasize the worst parts of that society and downplay its achievements, is to make sure that, as the world-wide economy worsens, and as the suffering of work­ing people around the world deepens, they don’t get any notions in their head to organize some new socialist revolution with such ideals.”

Ultimately, Kovalik sides with Martin Luther King, who remarked that, ‘The US is on the wrong side of the world-wide revolution’ – and with Daniel Ellsberg’s clarification: ‘The US is not on the wrong side; it is the wrong side.’”

PM Alexis Tsipras in China: Promoting the interests and aspirations of Greek capitalists

Saturday, May 13, 2017

PM Alexis Tsipras in China: Promoting the interests and aspirations of Greek capitalists

The role of Greece as a “bridge” between China and the EU is the major aim of the Greek government, in an effort to promote and expand the aspirations of the country’s bourgeoisie. The visit of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Beijing, on the occasion of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (May 14-15) serves this purpose.

Greece is at a crossroads of three continents, it constitutes an important hub in the economic, energy and cultural sectors and can serve as a bridge between China and Europe, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Saturday in a meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Tsipras underlined that Greece has worked hard over the last year to upgrade the relation between the two counties which is based on the two ancient civilizations. He added that Greece is overcoming the crisis, has returned to positive growth rates and will soon tap the markets. The prime minister said that Greece aims at further strengthening the cooperation with Beijing as China’s strategic vision coincides with that of Greece.

On his part, the president of China stressed the particular dynamism and vigor that is now recorded in the two countries’ relationship. Jinping added that the Greek-Chinese relationship would be further strengthened. (ANA-MPA, 13/5/2017).

The visit of PM Tsipras in Beijing coincides with agreements between Chinese and Greek monopoly groups on energy projects. Here is an example:

China’s state Shenhua Group Corp Ltd., the largest coal producer in the world and one of the largest energy producers of conventional and renewable sources in the country, and Copelouzos Group, one of the largest investment groups in Greece, signed on Friday an agreement for cooperation and development in the green energy sector and in the environmental upgrading of energy generating units in Greece and other countries.

The estimated amount of the investments will total 3 billion euros, Copelouzos Group said in a press release.

“Our Group believes in green energy and the prospects of Greece. We are confident that the cooperation with Shenhua Group will act as a catalyst for the conclusion of important investments and will promote the energy industry in Greece, with an emphasis on green energy and the environmental upgrading of energy producing units,” the head of Copelouzos Group, Dimitris Copelouzos, said on the deal. (ANA-MPA, 12/5/2017).

According to the Reuters report from Beijing:

Chinese President Xi Jinping offered the prime minister of deeply indebted Greece strong support on Saturday, saying the two countries should expand cooperation in infrastructure, energy and telecommunications. Xi told Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that Greece was an important part in China’s new Silk Road strategy.

“At present, China and Greece’s traditional friendship and cooperation continues to glow with new dynamism,” China’s Foreign Ministry cited Xi as saying. Cooperation in infrastructure, energy and telecommunications should be “deep and solid”, Xi added, without giving details. Tsipras is in Beijing to attend a summit to promote Xi’s vision of expanding links between Asia, Africa and Europe underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment called the Belt and Road initiative.

Greek infrastructure development group Copelouzos has signed a deal with China’s Shenhua Group to cooperate in green energy projects and the upgrade of power plants in Greece and other countries, the Greek company said on Friday. The deal will involve total investment of 3 billion euros ($3.28 billion), Copelouzos said in a statement, without providing further details. China has been investing heavily in Greece in recent years.

Its biggest shipping company, COSCO Shipping, bought a majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority last year under a plan to turn Greece into a transhipment hub for rapidly growing trade between Asia and Eastern Europe. Xi said China and Greece should focus their efforts on turning the Piraeus port into an important international transhipment hub and key part of the new Silk Road, the Chinese ministry said.

China State Grid also agreed last year to buy a 24 percent stake in power grid operator ADMIE for 320 million euros. Greek government borrowing costs hit their lowest level in more than five years this week as the troubled euro zone state looks close to clinching a deal with its creditors to release new loans to it. After six months of tense talks, Athens and its international lenders – the European Union and International Monetary Fund – reached a provisional deal last week on the reforms needed to release new loans. (13/5/2017)

On the sidelines of his Beijing visit, PM Tsipras met with Turkish President Tayip Erdogan earlier today, while a meeting with the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde is on the schedule.


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US House Bill on Port Controls Amounts to ‘Declaration of War’ – Russian Senator
| May 5, 2017 | 8:07 pm | Analysis, China, DPRK, political struggle, Russia | No comments
The port of the town of Nakhodka in Russia's Primorye Territory

US House Bill on Port Controls Amounts to ‘Declaration of War’ – Russian Senator

© Sputnik/ Vitaliy Ankov

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A US House of Representatives bill establishing control over the Russian Far East ports envisions a show of force and thus amounts to a declaration of war, the chairman of the Russian upper house of parliament’s international committee told Sputnik.

“This bill, I hope will never be implemented because its implementation envisions a scenario of power with forced inspections of all vessels by US warships,” Konstantin Kosachev said Friday.

His comments follow the reported passage on Thursday of a House bill enhancing sanctions against North Korea, outlining “inspection authorities” over Chinese, Iranian, Syrian and Russian ports. The latter include the ports of Nakhodka, Vanino and Vladivostok.

“Such a power scenario is beyond comprehension, because it means a declaration of war,” Kosachev underscored.

China Calls on US, North Korea to Stop ‘Reckless Provocation’
| May 3, 2017 | 8:18 pm | China, DPRK, political struggle | No comments
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson transits the South China Sea while conducting flight operations on April 9, 2017.

China Calls on US, North Korea to Stop ‘Reckless Provocation’

© REUTERS/ Z.A. Landers/Courtesy U.S. Navy
Asia & Pacific

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After North Korea threatened the US by saying their war games over the Korean Peninsula brought the region closer to the “brink of nuclear war,” Beijing advocated for all sides to “lower the temperature” in both their rhetoric and frequent displays of military prowess.

“Stop irritating each other,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the US flew B-1B strategic bombers right over the Korean mainland, which was condemned by Pyongyang as a “reckless provocation.” Meanwhile, in Washington, US President Donald Trump said he would be “honored” to meet North Korean leader Kim Jung-un.

If North Korea fails to heed diplomatic calls from China, the results could be dire. North Korea maintains that the nuclear program is needed for the county’s very “existence and development.” If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea follows through with a sixth nuclear test, the Korea Times reported, Beijing will sever economic ties, condemn its former ally and even blockade Pyongyang’s trading ports.

According to Chinese users of Weibo, a popular social media platform essentially synthesizing Facebook and Twitter, a memo has circulated in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which the DPRK was provided notice of punitive measures that would ensue following another nuclear weapons test.

Rumor has it that Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi requested one of his officers to read out a warning to DPRK official Park Myung-ho. During the exchange, the DPRK diplomat was told about the harsh steps that would be taken.

The DPRK previously balked when Beijing ceased importing North Korean coal in compliance with United Nations sanctions against North Korea. The decision to end the energy imports was made in February, but according to 38 North, a North Korean research blog, China managed to send about $219 million for its coal in the first two months of 2017, according to Chinese customs data.

Beijing has not denied the substance of the story circulating on Weibo.

“North Korea is completely surrounded by enemies now,” one social media user commented.