Xi warns against rising protectionism, unilateralism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

(ISN’T THIS A CASE OF THE POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK? PRESIDENTS XI, PUTIN AND TRUMP, THESE THREE ARE THE ‘LARRY, CURLY AND MOE’ OF PROTECTIONISM IT SEEMS TO ME BY THEIR ACTIONS.)

Xi warns against rising protectionism, unilateralism at APEC CEO summit

Xinhua

AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives to make his keynote speech for the CEO Summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby on November 17, 2018.

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against the rising trend of protectionism and unilateralism in Port Moresby on Saturday.

As he delivered a keynote speech at the APEC CEO Summit in the capital of Papua New Guinea, Xi said that only openness and cooperation can bring more opportunities and create more space for development.

He called for firm efforts to safeguard the multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core.

China announces roadmap for building stronger modern air force

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA ‘SHINE’ NEWS AGENCY)

 

China announces roadmap for building stronger modern air force

Xinhua

Xinhua

J-20 fighter jets are seen during the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as Airshow China 2018, in Zhuhai City, south China’s Guangdong Province, 11 November 2018.

The Chinese Air Force on Sunday announced a roadmap for building a stronger modern air force in three steps.

The building of a stronger modern air force is in line with the overall goal of building national defense and the armed forces, Lieutenant General Xu Anxiang, deputy commander of Chinese Air Force, said at a press conference on celebrating the 69th anniversary of the establishment of Chinese Air Force held in Zhuhai, south China’s Guangdong Province.

According to Xu, the first step is to, by 2020, build a strategic force that integrates aviation and space power, and strike and defense capabilities, in which the fourth generation of equipment serves as backbone and the third generation of equipment as mainstay. The systematic combat capabilities will be enhanced.

The second step requires the air force to improve strategic capabilities and modernize its theory, organizational structure, service personnel, and weaponry. The building of a modern and strategic air force will be basically completed by 2035, Xu said.

The third step will see the air force fully transformed into a world-class force by mid-21st century, according to Xu.

The Chinese military command monitoring Taiwan/South China Sea has been ordered war-ready

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF QUARTZ NEWS)

 

The Chinese military command monitoring Taiwan and the South China Sea has been ordered war-ready

By Annabelle Timsit 

This week Chinese president Xi Jinping ordered the Southern Theater Command, responsible for monitoring the South China Sea and Taiwan, to boost its military capabilities to prepare for a possible conflict, according to a Hong Kong newspaper.

During a visit to the region on Thursday (Oct. 25), Xi said it was necessary to “concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” reported the South China Morning Post, citing a transcript of Xi’s speech from state broadcaster China Central Television. “We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly.”

State news wire Xinhua also noted the speech, saying Xi “underlined the importance of preparing for war and combat.”

In recent years China has increasingly asserted itself in the South China Sea, building militarized islands atop reefs and fortifying other specks of land it occupies. China claims nearly the entire sea, using as justification its “nine-dash line,” which encircles most of the waterway. An international tribunal invalidated that claim in July 2016, but China disregarded its findings.

China has rapidly modernized and expanded its navy (paywall), which last year became the world’s largest, with more warships and submarines than the United States. Though the US Navy remains more advanced, admiral Philip Davidson, who leads the US’s Indo-Pacific Command, said in his Senate confirmation process (pdf) earlier this year that China “is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

On the same day of Xi’s speech, Chinese defense minister Wei Fenghe said his country would not give up “one single piece” of its territory and warned that “repeated challenges” to its sovereignty over Taiwan would result in direct military action.

Such rhetoric isn’t entirely new: In November 2017, for example, Xi told the military it should be ready to “fight and win wars.” But it does add to an already tense situation in one of the world’s geopolitical hot spots. On Sept. 30, a Chinese destroyer almost collided with a US warship in the South China Sea, after making what American military officials described as an “unsafe and unprofessional” maneuver.

Such incidents will likely continue.

Triad Of Evil: The Three Most Dangerous Men In The World

Triad Of Evil: The Three Most Dangerous Men In The World

 

American Presidents, at least since the time of old man Bush was in the Office, have liked to use slogans for about everything. Do you remember “1,000 points of light”, “Desert Shield and Desert Storm” and how about “the Axis of Evil”. The three Counties whose Leaders I will be speaking of here in a moment, I do not consider to be my enemy nor the enemy of the people of the United States, the issue is their Leaders. There are many very bad, very dangerous people in the world we live in and most are not leaders of Nations, but these three are. Unfortunately throughout history the people of a Nation tend to be known by the Leaders they keep. How many hundreds of millions or even billions of innocent people have died throughout history because they had a bad apple at the top? If you have a five gallon basket of apples that are beautiful and tasty, then you lay one rotten apple on the top of the pile, soon the whole basket will be as worthless as the one on top, rotten to the core.

 

There are people who run terrorist organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban whom I believe are very evil to the core of their souls. There are also people like the “Supreme Leader” Ali Khomeini of Iran and his hand-picked murderers within the IRGC who seem to think it is okay to murder at will, even though they officially have nothing to do with the Iranian Government, I would not consider these folks to be kind loving people either. These days we are all hearing about the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia ordering the torture death of a journalists in Turkey. The Crown Prince doesn’t sound like a Saint himself, just a Royal. Yet in my opinion none of these folks are in the position to be able to display their evil as fully as the Triad of which this article is about.

 

The three men of which this article is about are all Presidents of their Nations. First, and in my opinion the most dangerous of the three is Xi Jinping of China. The other two men are a tie for second most dangerous person in the world, they are Vladimir Putin of Russia and Don-key Trump of the United States. Obviously the “Don-key Trump” name is one I call him personally because of what I think of him personally. The following are the reasons why I feel these three men, in my opinion, are the modern-day “Triad of Evil”.

1.) Xi Jinping of China: Mr. Jinping is a devout follower of Communist China’s original founder and Mass Butcher Chairman Mao. When Chairman Mao and his Communists murderers took control of the Mainland back in the late 1940’s from the legitimate government of China they killed tens of millions of the citizens and once he had taken control he and his government then killed hundreds of millions of the citizens through enforced starvation. When Xi Jinping took Office in March of 2013 he was supposed to be President for 10 years. With the past several Presidents they have a gathering of all of the Communists Party Leadership after 5 years in which at the 5 year break the residing President gives his nod to whom he wants to be the next President when the last 5 years of his term is over, Mr. Jinping did not do this. Every indication is that Mr. Jinping has decided to be “President for life” of China. Mr. Jinping is a very smart person, this is one of the things that makes him so dangerous to the rest of the world, that and his belief that his version of China is the legitimate ruler of at least the eastern half of the globe. The Communists Leaders of this version of China play the “long game”, they always have. Here in the U.S. the politicians can’t ever think past the next election and Mr. Jinping plays them for the fools they are because of this flaw. It is my belief that as long as China does attack a U.S. military ship or plane in the (Indo-Asian Sea) also known as the “South China Sea”, nor attack another NATO vessel that Xi Jinping’s government will be able to get away with a wide range of aggression in the area. It is my personal opinion that this aggression does include attacking Taiwan as it is my total belief that the U.S. would not help the people of Taiwan if this happens. The most that I believe would happen is that the U.S. government would put heavy sanctions on China such as stopping all U.S. imports into China and of course China would do the same with U.S. imports. This would be very unpopular here in the States though because of the financial damage it would do to our economy for as you know, money is more important than blood, as long as it is someone else’s blood. Besides, wouldn’t Wal-Mart go bankrupt if they weren’t allowed to buy from China?

2.) I had to put #2 as a tie between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump. But if I had to give it a nod I probably would put Mr. Putin in as #2 because he has a rubber stamp government that will do what ever he decides he wants to do. Mr. Trump is a wanna-be Dictator who I believe would be worse than Mr. Putin except that we do have a Congress and a Senate as well as a Supreme Court that is designed to help keep him in check. Trouble is that with the jelly spine of the Republican Party Mr. Trump may well reach the level of Mr. Putin quite soon.  I believe that if in the mid-term election in a couple of weeks if the Republicans can maintain the Leadership of the Congress and the Senate, the worst of Mr. Trump’s actions are yet to come.

Simply put, President Putin is a mass murderer and he has balls of steel but he is a rather intelligent person. Mr. Trump on the other hand is an idiot, the man is simply a very ignorant, very dangerous ego-maniac that just like these other two “Leaders” care nothing about the “rule of law.” Mr. Trump only cares about his ego, having unchecked power, and how much wealth he can steal from other people. But, come to think of it, doesn’t that describe all three of these individuals?

Chinese President Meets UAE Leaders in Abu Dhabi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Chinese President Meets UAE Leaders in Abu Dhabi

Friday, 20 July, 2018 – 09:15
Chinese President Xi-Jinping arrives in the UAE on an official visit (WAM)
Abu Dhabi – Asharq Al-Awsat
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the UAE on Thursday for a three-day visit during which he will hold talks with UAE leaders.

The Chinese leader and his wife were welcomed at the airport by UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as other senior officials.

The two UAE leaders hoped that the visit would contribute to establishing a new phase of cooperation and joint action to meet the aspirations of the two countries and their peoples.

The two sides exchanged cordial talks on issues of common interest, historical ties and the continuous development of relations, WAM news agency reported.  They also pointed to the important role assumed by China in regional and international economic and political files.

For his part, the Chinese President expressed his happiness to visit the UAE, which he said shared with China friendly relations and a common vision on many issues, and wished the Emirates further growth, progress and prosperity.

On the occasion of Xi Jinping’s visit, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum said: “The historic visit of the Chinese president to the UAE establishes a new phase of strategic partnership that has brought the two countries together for decades.”

“We are delighted to welcome President Xi Jinping to the UAE on this important visit which we view as a cornerstone of wider prospects for prosperous cooperation between the two friendly countries,” he added.

He also underlined the strong economic relations and trade exchanges between the two countries, pointing out that the UAE trade with China represented about a quarter of the total volume of Arab-Chinese trade during 2017, which amounted to nearly 200 billion dirhams ($54.4 billion).

He emphasized the “active tourism movement”, saying that more than one million Chinese people visited the UAE last year alone. He added that economic cooperation extended to include many sectors such as oil and gas, renewable energy, infrastructure and advanced technology.

China pledges $15 million to Palestinians amid major push (To Buy) Mideast influence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

China pledges $15 million to Palestinians amid major push for Mideast influence

President Xi announces plan to give Arab states more than $23 billion for economic development, calls them ‘natural partners’ of China

China's President Xi Jinping gives a speech during the 8th Ministerial Meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on July 10, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO)

China’s President Xi Jinping gives a speech during the 8th Ministerial Meeting of China-Arab States Cooperation Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on July 10, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO)

China will provide Palestinians with more than $15 million in aid, President Xi Jinping told top Arab officials Tuesday, as Beijing seeks to build its influence in the Middle East and Africa.

The 100 million yuan pledge to Palestinians was made as part of a plan to give Arab states more than $23 billion in lines of credit, loans and humanitarian assistance for economic development.

The money will be earmarked for “projects that will produce good employment opportunities and positive social impact in Arab States that have reconstruction needs,” said Xi, without providing further details.

It is part of a special Chinese program for “economic reconstruction” and “industrial revitalization,” Xi told participants at a China-Arab States forum in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

Beijing is also prepared to provide another one billion yuan ($151 million) to countries in the region to “build capacity for stability maintenance,” Xi said, using a term commonly associated with policing and surveillance.

Xi said that Syria, Yemen, Jordan and Lebanon would receive $91 million in humanitarian assistance.

Since taking office, Xi has overseen a concerted effort to expand Chinese influence in the Middle East and Africa, including the construction of the country’s first military base in Arab League state Djibouti.

China has already provided vast sums to Arab countries, with Djibouti alone owing some $1.3 billion, according to estimates from the US-based China Africa Research Initiative.

The financial largess has raised concerns both at home and abroad over the vulnerability of poor nations to such massive debt.

Last year Sri Lanka was forced to hand over majority control of its Hambantota port to China after being unable to repay its loans.

Syrian President Bashar Assad addresses the newly elected parliament in Damascus, Syria, on June 7, 2016. (SANA, the Syrian official news agency, via AP)

China has also provided diplomatic support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s seven-year civil war.

At the heart of Xi’s vision is the “Belt and Road” initiative, a $1-trillion infrastructure program billed as a modern revival of the ancient Silk Road that once carried fabrics, spices and a wealth of other goods between Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

The Arab states’ position at the center of the ancient trade route makes them “natural partners” in China’s new undertaking, he said, adding he expected the summit would end with an agreement on cooperation on the initiative.

“Chinese and Arab peoples, though far apart in distance, are as close as family,” he said, describing a romanticized history of trade along the Silk Road.

The project, which has already financed ports, roads and railways across the globe, has spurred both interest and anxiety in many countries, with some seeing it as an example of Chinese expansionism.

“China welcomes opportunities to participate in the development of ports and the construction of railway networks in Arab states” as part of a “logistics network connecting Central Asia with East Africa and the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean,” said Xi.

READ MORE:

Chinese vice president pushes for closer partnership with Russia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA ‘SHINE’ NEWS AGENCY)

 

Chinese vice president pushes for closer partnership with Russia

Xinhua

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan wrapped up a productive trip on Sunday after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and addressing a plenary session of the 22nd St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

During his stay in Russia’s “northern capital,” he reaffirmed China’s readiness to strengthen cooperation with Russia, called for a global effort against trade protectionism, and suggested that all countries build mutual trust and join hands for common development.

China-Russia partnership

Wang met with Putin on Thursday shortly after arriving in St. Petersburg in his first overseas trip as vice president. The two sides agreed to further boost bilateral cooperation for the benefit of both countries and the world.

In their meeting, Wang conveyed to Putin Chinese President Xi Jinping’s sincere greetings and best wishes, saying that Xi attaches great importance to China-Russia ties and cherishes his friendship with Putin.

The Chinese president, added Wang, looks forward to meeting Putin again to jointly chart the future course of bilateral relations as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is scheduled to hold this year’s summit in June in China.

The heads of state of the two countries have made painstaking efforts for and injected robust energy into bilateral cooperation, continuously steering the China-Russia relationship forward, said Wang.

He pointed out that the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is of great significance not only to the two countries themselves but to the world at large.

The two neighbors, he said, respect each other, trust each other, cooperate on the basis of equality, and enjoy mutual understanding and support on major international affairs.

In so doing, they have set a model of major-country relations in the current world and made great contribution to safeguarding global strategic stability and building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind, added Wang.

The Chinese vice president stressed that it is a choice both of history and of the people that China and Russia steadfastly pursue development paths that suit their respective national realities.

Now the Chinese people, under Xi’s leadership, are vigorously pushing forward the building of a socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, said Wang, adding that China’s development is making rapid and remarkable progress.

Meanwhile, the Chinese side firmly believes that under Putin’s leadership, Russia will grow stronger and more prosperous, said the vice president.

China, he added, resolutely supports Russia’s development, and stands ready to carry out strategic and long-term cooperation with Russia, lift the level and quality of bilateral practical cooperation more swiftly, and achieve a deeper integration of interests, so as to bring more benefits to the two nations.

Putin, for his part, asked Wang to convey his sincere greetings and best wishes to the Chinese president, saying he is confident that Xi will lead the Chinese people to new achievements in China’s development.

The Russian leader added that he is looking forward to visiting China and meeting Xi again.

Russia-China ties continue to develop at a high level, he said, noting that political mutual trust is deepening, bilateral practical cooperation is strengthening, the structure of economic and trade relations is witnessing a sizable improvement, cooperation on large projects is speeding up, and exchanges and cooperation in people-to-people areas and at the local level are gathering steam.

Meanwhile, it serves as an important stabilizer in the world that the two countries maintain close communication and coordination as well as mutual support on major regional and global issues, said Putin.

The Russian side, he added, is willing to work with China to further deepen all-around cooperation, cement mutual understanding and support on international affairs, and keep lifting the two countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination to a higher level.

Global development

Addressing a plenary session of SPIEF 2018 on Friday, Wang urged countries around the world to build trust and boost cooperation in order to tackle international challenges and cement the foundation for sustainable global growth.

Pointing out that no single country can cope with today’s challenges alone, Wang said building a trust economy that features equality, mutual trust, mutual benefit, inclusiveness and good faith between enterprises, markets and countries is an effective way to unleash the potential of global growth.

Building trust needs mutual understanding and mutual respect, and it also needs all parties to discover and solve their own problems and consolidate their self-confidence, he said at the event, whose key theme was “Building a Trust Economy.”

The Chinese vice president stressed that politicizing economic and trade issues and picking up the stick of economic sanctions at the slightest provocations will gravely impair market certainty.

No country should blame its own problems on others, and all countries should pursue development paths that suit their own realities and strive for common development through opening up and cooperation, Wang said.

He suggested that countries around the world join forces to chart the course forward with structural economic reforms and innovative development.

He also called for global unity in resisting trade protectionism and safeguarding the stable international economic order, particularly the authority of the multilateral trading regime.

Economic and trade disputes should be handled properly through communication and consultation, and different parties need to take care of each others’ major concerns, Wang added.

China, he said, is forging ahead under Xi’s leadership toward the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation and will steadfastly stick to an opening-up policy that offers mutual benefits.

Other countries, he added, are welcome to take part in China’s economic development, share its market opportunities, and participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, which has now become a new platform for international cooperation.

Hailing Russia as a constructive player in global economic governance, Wang said China highly appreciates the socioeconomic achievements Russia has made under Putin’s leadership and firmly believes that Russia will realize its development goals over the next six years.

He added that with annual bilateral trade approaching US$100 billion, China stands ready to work with Russia to deepen their all-around cooperation, strengthen their comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, and make new contribution to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Launched in 1997, SPIEF has become one of the leading platforms for global brainstorming on key economic issues facing Russia and the world as a whole, and is now often referred to as Russia’s Davos.

Besides Wang, this year’s event was also attended by Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.

Before leaving for Minsk to continue his two-nation trip, Wang also met with Igor Sechin, CEO of leading Russian oil company Rosneft, and Dmitry Mezentsev, chairman of the Russia-China Friendship Association, among other Russian dignitaries, and inspected the Pearl of the Baltic Sea project, China’s largest non-energy investment undertaking in Russia.

US AND CHINA HEADED FOR WAR OVER TAIWAN?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST AND FROM ANDY TAI’s GOOGLE+ ACCOUNT)

 

ARE THE US AND CHINA HEADED FOR WAR OVER TAIWAN?

As Beijing and Washington position themselves for a trade war, Trump should beware playing the Taiwan card – or he may find his actions lead to a real war

BY WANG XIANGWEI

Are the Chinese mainland and Taiwan headed down an inevitable path to war – one that is likely to see the United States join the fray?

This slow-burning question came to the fore again last week when the mainland launched live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday amid fiery rhetoric from Chinese state media. On Thursday morning, Chinese state media started to post online videos of helicopters and warships firing at targets at sea but Taiwandismissed the exercises as “routine”.

This came after President Xi Jinping had presided over a massive naval parade off Hainan island a week earlier, one that involved 48 warships including China’s sole operating aircraft carrier and more than 10,000 servicemen – the largest such exercise since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.

PLA submarines, naval vessels and fighter jets accompany China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning on exercises in the South China Sea. Photo: Xinhua

The state media said Beijing was sending a loud and clear warning to Taipei and Washington amid heightened tensions caused by Taiwanese leaders’ open advocacy for independence and increased American support for the Taiwanese government.

Over the past few weeks, Chinese officials and state media have ratcheted up the rhetoric against Taipei and Washington, the largest supplier of arms to the island.

Trump’s trade war with China is just his opening gambit

Referring to Thursday’s live-fire drills, Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to US, warned in a lecture at Harvard University that China would try every possible means to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaks on the telephone to Donald Trump. Photo: EPA

Earlier this month, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office, said any outside forces that attempted to “play the Taiwan card” would find their efforts “futile” and would hurt themselves if they went “over the line”, according to the official China Daily.

The remark was clearly aimed at US President Donald Trump and his administration which in recent months has taken a number of significant steps to warm ties with Taipei. As Beijing and Washington are currently positioning themselves for a possible trade war, Trump’s intention to play the Taiwan card again is even more dangerous because this would further destabilise bilateral ties or even worse, could lead to a real war.

A nasty US-China fight is inevitable. But it needn’t be terminal

True to Trump’s unconventional and unpredictable presidency, he first started to play the Taiwan card in the transition to the White House when he took a congratulatory call from the Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, breaking a nearly 40-year-old diplomatic protocol governing China-US ties.

At that time, Trump made it clear his intention was to use Taiwan as a play to force more concessions on trade from China. His suggestion then was overwhelmingly met with criticism and cynicism almost everywhere, even in Taiwan where it raised concerns that the island could be used as a pawn and discarded easily.

China sees Taiwan as a province and usually reacts strongly to any foreign country having official contacts with the Taiwanese government or sale of arms to the island, particularly from the United States.

Now one year later, Trump’s intention to play the Taiwan card again signals a much broader agenda targeting China. Almost all the moderating voices in his administration have been forced out and replaced by more hawkish officials including the soon-to-be secretary of state Mike Pompeo and the National Security Adviser John Bolton – both of whom are known for tough stances against China and pro-Taiwan views.

Tough on China: US national security adviser John Bolton. Photo: Reuters

In recent months, his administration has approved licences for American firms to sell Taiwan technology to build submarines and signed the Taiwan Travel Act to encourage visits between American and Taiwanese officials. All these have invited protests from China.

A major test will come in June when the American Institute in Taiwan, the US de facto embassy, is slated to move into a new building. There has been growing speculation that Bolton or some other senior US official will attend the ceremony. If that happens, Beijing will regard it as a major provocation.

It is interesting to note that amid the war of words with Washington over trade, some elements in Beijing’s propaganda machine have been using warlike language to give the impression that China will not back down from the trade spat and will fight the US to the very end. That could well be a negotiation tactic, as trade issues are negotiable after all. But from the Chinese perspective, the Taiwan issue is absolutely non-negotiable. It is a clearly marked red line.

The Taiwanese leaders, encouraged by the latest warming signs from Washington, have started to openly advocate independence, which is a major taboo for Beijing and seen as breaking the status quo.

Over the past 40 years, Beijing and Taipei have tried to maintain the status quo in which both sides recognise the island as part of China, even while neither government recognises the legitimacy of the other. Taiwan agrees not to broach independence, in return mainland China does not use force to take over the island. Washington recognises this one-China principle but maintains close unofficial ties with Taiwan and provides the island with arms under the Taiwan Relations Act – a constant source of friction with Beijing.

Taiwanese Premier William Lai. Photo: EPA

This month, the Taiwanese premier William Lai publicly described himself as “a political worker for Taiwanese independence”. Although this was not the first time he has said this, Lai’s latest declaration caused serious worries in Beijing in the context of Washington’s warming ties with Taipei.

The heightened tensions over the Taiwan Strait have come as Xi embarks on his second term as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. Last month the national legislature repealed the term limits on the presidency, enabling Xi to rule as long as he likes.

With Xi trying to assert China’s power on the international stage, flexing China’s military muscle in the Taiwan Strait in the name of pushing back against the independence movement is likely to bolster Xi’s support on the mainland.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been trying to assert China’s power on the international stage. Photo: AFP

China’s official line has always been that it will seek peaceful reunification with Taiwan but not rule out using force to take it over. In the past, officials and state media have tended to emphasise the peaceful reunification part – more recently they have highlighted the bit about using force. Moreover, China has never publicly stated a timetable for reunification with Taiwan but some mainland analysts have started to preach the idea that reunification could take place by 2035 or 2050.

As China beats its war drum, who should hear its call?

These assumptions stemmed from Xi’s landmark report at the Communist Party’s 19th congress in October when he outlined a clearly defined timetable to realise what he called the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation – China would basically become a modern country by 2035 and a world power by 2050.

For an ambitious leader like Xi, reunification with Taiwan has to be an integral part of the dream.

So will the US join the fray if push comes to shove? Many people have mistakenly assumed the Taiwan Relations Act requires the US to come to Taiwan’s defence. In fact, the law contains no explicit guarantee.

Besides, there is a big question over whether the US would risk waging a full-blown war with China over Taiwan. In the short term, if the current trend continues with the US determined to play the Taiwan card – which in turn helps embolden the pro-independence movement in Taiwan – China will probably feel compelled to accelerate its military preparations and increase the frequency of military shows of strength like the one last week. All this means that tensions over the Taiwan Strait will get much worse unless Trump rethinks his plan to play the Taiwan card.

Wang Xiangwei is the former editor-in-chief of the South China Morning Post. He is now based in Beijing as editorial adviser to the paper

China applies its own maximum pressure policy on Pyongyang

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

China applies its own maximum pressure policy on Pyongyang

  • Beijing appears to have gone well beyond U.N. sanctions on its unruly neighbor, reducing its total imports from North Korea in the first two months this year by 78.5 and 86.1 percent in value — a decline that began in late 2017, according to the latest trade data from China.
  • Trade with China is absolutely crucial to North Korea’s survival.
  • Estimates vary, but it is believed that roughly half of all transactions in the North Korean economy are made in foreign currencies, with the Chinese yuan being the most common.That gives Beijing tremendous leverage, though for political and national security reasons it has generally been reluctant to exert too much pressure on Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

STR | AFP | Getty Images
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

As the U.S.-North Korea summit looms, President Donald Trump‘s maximum pressure policy on North Korea may be working — thanks to China.

Beijing appears to have gone well beyond U.N. sanctions on its unruly neighbor, reducing its total imports from North Korea in the first two months this year by 78.5 and 86.1 percent in value — a decline that began in late 2017, according to the latest trade data from China. Its exports to the North also dropped by 33 percent to 34 percent both months.

The figures suggest that instead of being sidelined while North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his surprising diplomatic overtures to Seoul and Washington, China’s sustained game of hardball on trade with Pyongyang going back at least five months may have been the decisive factor in forcing Kim’s hand.

Trade with China is absolutely crucial to North Korea’s survival.

It accounts for the largest share of the North’s dealings with the outside world and provides a lifeline to many of the necessities Pyongyang relies on to keep its nation fed and its economy from breaking down. Estimates vary, but it is believed that roughly half of all transactions in the North Korean economy are made in foreign currencies, with the Chinese yuan being the most common.

That gives Beijing tremendous leverage, though for political and national security reasons it has generally been reluctant to exert too much pressure on Pyongyang.

That reluctance is clearly wearing thin.

The statistics need to be taken with a dose of caution. Neither country is known for its commitment to transparency. Even so, more specific data reveal an even tougher, targeted crackdown, according to Alex Wolf, a senior emerging markets economist with Aberdeen Standard Investments:

— China’s exports of refined petroleum have collapsed over the past five months — to an annual rate of less than 4 percent of what it exported last year. With the pace on a downward trend, he believes, total exports could actually fall further.

— North Korean steel imports from China have also collapsed in 2018, and the same goes for cars. Wolf notes that it’s unclear if China is blocking such exports or North Korea simply can’t afford them. But either one, he wrote in a recent report for the company, would be a clear signal the North’s economy is “under a great deal of stress.”

“While China’s role over the past few months has often been overlooked or little understood, it appears a strategy could be emerging: China wants to play a central role in ‘resolving’ this crisis, but wants to do it on its own terms,” he wrote. “It’s increasingly clear that Chinese pressure is a driving force and China will play a central role in any future talks.”

Kim announced in his New Year’s address he would reach out to the South to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. He then agreed to hold a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27 and with Trump after that. But to the surprise of many, Kim suddenly showed up in Beijing first for a summit with President Xi Jinping last month, underscoring the continued primacy of China in North Korea’s foreign relationships.

Lu Chao, director of the Border Study Institute at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, noted that China accounts for almost 80 percent of the North’s total trade, meaning the onus for implementing U.N. sanctions has been mainly borne by Beijing, whose enforcement has created “huge pressure on North Korea.”

“There is no doubt China is doing more than ever when it comes to sanctions,” he said, adding restrictions on sales of textile and seafood products to North Korea imposed by China last autumn “have dealt a huge blow to the country.”

“China has played a very important role in promoting the current change of the situation,” he said.

The decrease in trade isn’t just about politics.

China’s economy is also dealing with overproduction in many industries and its demand for North Korean imports is low. Efforts at joint development projects have languished and difficulties suffered by Chinese firms in North Korea — especially problems receiving payment — have soured enthusiasm for cross-border trade.

But the deficit presents an obvious dilemma for the Kim regime: the more it depletes its foreign reserves by buying in excess of what it sells, the less money it has to buy anything at all. Normally, that would lead to inflation — and even hyperinflation — as imported necessities become scarcer and people who can afford to do so dump their holdings in the local currency to buy safer U.S. dollars or Chinese yuan.

Georgetown University economist William Brown said he believes the North’s current account deficit has risen dramatically since the strengthening last November of sanctions on North Korean exports by China, which he said are by now “certainly biting.”

“Why is Kim venturing his offer now? My impression is he is feeling very strong pressure from China’s virtual embargo on North Korea’s exports, and what he must see as a gradual ratcheting down of needed imports, even petroleum,” Brown wrote in a recent blog post. “This is an enormous economic hit of a sort the country has never had to deal with on this scale.”

Brown believes an important indicator of the North’s economic health will be movement of the unofficial but widely used exchange rate for the North Korean currency, which has been surprisingly stable at around 8,000 to the U.S. dollar for years but should now be under intense inflationary pressure.

“China is giving us the chance, and (we should) use it cleverly to get what we want out of the nuclear program and systemic reform,” he added. “It’s not so impossible if you realize everyone, even young Kim, can benefit.”

The ‘NRA’ The ‘VA’ And ‘China’

The ‘NRA’ The ‘VA’ And ‘China’

 

This article today is a ‘dig’ at two organizations that I am a member of, the Veterans Administration and the National Rifle Association. I know that there are some people who will say things like ‘well if you don’t agree with them then why stay a member’. My reasoning is simple, how many things do you belong to that you agree with %100 of what they do and or say?

 

It is the NRA that gave me the idea for this article today. About a month ago I joined the NRA and they have three or four different items that they give out to new members, the one that I chose was a little lock blade pocket knife that I got in the mail about a week ago. On one side of the blade it has a very nice ‘NRA’ inscription, the other side is clear. Well, that is except for one thing, at the butt of the blade up next to the handle there is an embossed saying that simply irritates me, it says “made in China”.

 

I am a service connected disabled Veteran who gets most of my medical needs through the VA medical system. Inside of the VA Hospitals there is always a small store where in patients can pick up some of their needs while in the hospital. These stores also always have some clothing items in them as well. Some of these clothes are just regular street clothes but they also always have hats, jackets and T-shirts with Military sayings on them such as U.S. Army Veteran, United States Marine Veteran or things like ‘Vietnam Veteran’.

 

Here is my gripe that I am basing this article on today, all of these things have tags on them that usually say “Made In China.” I have no gripe with the people of China, I am not a fan of their government nor of their President Mr. Xi Jinping as that is a separate issue. I do not have bad feelings toward the people of China doing the work that creates these objects that I have spoken of above, my irritation is with the American companies who import these articles for the VA and for the NRA. Also, as you probably know, most of the time it is American companies who have closed their factories here in the U.S. and moved their physical operations to countries like China for their cheaper labor who are responsible for much of these Chinese imports. If you remember, even the U.S. Olympic uniforms were first made in China. The NRA wouldn’t be under the same guidelines as government agencies like the VA are or should be. The U.S. Government needs to create laws requiring that anything sold in the VA’s have to be made here in America. With the NRA it is the members who must put pressure on their Board of Directors to only buy made in America products. This is sort of like with the Trump family where the President keeps touting ‘America first’ yet every single one of his companies are located in ‘third world’ countries because he doesn’t want to have to even pay the minimum wage to American workers.

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