Chinese quantum satellite sends "unbreakable" code        
BEIJING - China has sent an "unbreakable" code from a satellite to the Earth, marking the first time space-to-ground quantum key distribution technology has been realised, state media said on Thursday.

China launched the world's first quantum satellite last August, to help establish "hack proof" communications, a development the Pentagon has called a "notable advance".

The official Xinhua news agency said the latest experiment was published in the journal Nature on Thursday, where reviewers called it a "milestone".

The satellite sent quantum keys to ground stations in China between 645 km (400 miles) and 1,200 km (745 miles) away at a transmission rate up to 20 orders of magnitude more efficient than an optical fibre, Xinhua cited Pan Jianwei, lead scientist on the experiment from the state-run Chinese Academy of Sciences, as saying.

"That, for instance, can meet the demand of making an absolute safe phone call or transmitting a large amount of bank data," Pan said.

Any attempt to eavesdrop on the quantum channel would introduce detectable disturbances to the system, Pan said.

"Once intercepted or measured, the quantum state of the key will change, and the information being intercepted will self-destruct," Xinhua said.

The news agency said there were "enormous prospects" for applying this new generation of communications in defence and finance.

China still lags behind the United States and Russia in space technology, although President Xi Jinping has prioritised advancing its space programme, citing national security and defence.

China insists its space programme is for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. Defense Department has highlighted its increasing space capabilities, saying it was pursuing activities aimed at preventing adversaries from using space-based assets in a crisis.

          China en VS stoppen import en export van ivoor        
Publication Date: 
september 26, 2015
China en VS stoppen import en export van ivoor

China en de Verenigde Staten gaan op korte termijn de import en export van ivoor aan banden leggen. Dat hebben de leiders van de twee landen gisteravond in Washington bekendgemaakt. In de verklaring spreken de president van China Xi Jinping en zijn Amerikaanse college Barack Obama daarnaast uit dat de landen ‘op korte termijn aanzienlijke stappen zullen zetten om de binnenlandse handel in ivoor te stoppen’.

read more

          #ChinaVsJinping : Military Reforms, PLA Trimming and New Operational Head        

 Source : NewsBharati  Date : 04-Aug-2017

 Vinay Joshi



In first two parts of China Vs Jinping, we have analysed fallouts of Jinping’s anti-corruption purge of politico-military leadership and his merciless crackdown on Military Business Empire of People’s Liberation Army including huge human organ trade and transplant industry. Both steps have created much uproar in China as those arrested and prosecuted in the sweeping campaign were powerful in their respective fields. After assuming the office, Jinping had vowed to catch “Tigers and Flies” engulfed in corruption, which was veiled reference to all ranging from “Top to Bottom” irrespective of their position, fame, persona and honour in public and party life.


In this paper (3rd in a series) we will go through Jinping’s ambitious structural reforms in Chinese armed forces on command and organizational level, integration of all services into one, cohesive, tri services integrated theatre command abolishing supremacy of PLA commanders, dominated by infantry officers. These reforms are similar to US reforms of its armed forces which were based on United States’ The Goldwater–Nichols Act-1986, to solve the problems caused by inter-service rivalry and operational failures leading caused by such rivalry. Though these reforms are going to increase the efficiency of Chinese armed forces, it has generated resentment and backlash from mighty commanders of PLA.

One more and probably most significant factor of Chinese military reforms are proposed a sharp cut in PLA strength. The containing PLA strength from 2.4 million to 1 million over a period of time is biggest and boldest step taken by Jinping immediately after taking over as Chinese President. There are many angles to this move and many theories propped up from a Western and American analyst. The most significant and logical conclusion was, fear in Jinping’s mind about PLA’s wealthy and powerful generals! We will try to find out whether the fear has anything to do with reality or not.

PLA Openly Attacked Jinping’s Military Reforms

China is the country governed by a single party. The Chinese media is only state run newspapers and TV channels pouring in information which party wants to disseminate. Every word and case is being strictly monitored and censored. Utmost care is taken not to transmit any information which is detrimental to party’s image. But, the scale of Jinping and PLA is such a high and tensions between two camps are unprecedented that PLA’s mouthpiece daily People’s Daily blatantly attacked Jinping over reforms in armed forces.

In November 2015, when structural reforms were already declared and the majority of the Chinese including PLA, were yet to judge Jinping’s capacities People’s Daily- the mouthpiece of PLA committed a serious offence. The two authors associated with PLA Academy, Mr Sun Kejia and Mr Han Xiao lashed out in clear words at proposed military reforms. They warned of serious consequences if proposed military reforms were pushed through. Later the article was pulled down from the website after much uproar.

Surprisingly, even after taking on practically omnipotent Jinping, no one could harm any one of the two authors, which launched a scathing attack on Jinping. The reason behind the immunity which both authors enjoyed is not known but it is not impossible to judge. Though publicly just two authors were visible attacking Jinping’s policies on military reforms, everyone in China knows that they were voicing the opinion of thousands of PLA ranks against the possible axing of their jobs and stripping them of various privileges which they were enjoying these days.

In China, such direct public expression of opinion was unusual and hard to believe!

The Military Reforms and Trimming PLA

Military reforms envisaged by Jinping would see the slashing of PLA strength from 2.4 million to just 1 million within next few years. It means half of the PLA troops would lose their jobs. Moreover, new theatre command structure will take down army’s supremacy within armed forces. Though these reforms; if actually executed successfully, would convert Chinese armed forces in lethal, formidable and most professional fighting machine in the world. The initial indications and structural, psychological and practical deficiencies in the system suggest that reforms are going to hit hard rock.

The central theme of military reforms is converting military from “quantitative” to “qualitative” force. But what is going actually going to be on the ground is huge cuts in infantry combat troops and a simultaneous increase in naval strength, rocket force and strategic support forces. Obviously, infantry is the biggest loser in this exercise.

The New Joint Theatre Commands consisting Eastern, Southern, Western, Northern, and Central commands will rearrange troops and resources in respective areas and merge it within the single homogeneous structure to boost mobility, pace and proficiency of the troops by integrating all resources into one cohesive unit.

The theme is based on American Goldwater–Nichols Act-1986, which would continue to appoint three services chiefs, but none of the three chiefs would have any operational power. They would cease to be the advisers of Central Military Commission and President. This whole power will be consolidated in the hands of CMC head and Commander-In-Chief.

The Unrest in Demobilized Soldiers

As an ultimate fallout of demobilized Chinese soldiers after the restructuring of PLA, the large scale unrest growing among those who lost the jobs. In October and November 2016 two protest marches were called at powerful Central Military Commission HQ in Beijing to demand compensation and penalties for snatching their jobs in new military reforms. On October 11, 2016, near about 30,000 demobilized troops took part in a protest at CMC headquarters in Beijing. Another protest on November 01, 2016 vanished under media blackout as the government imposed stringent prohibition orders on covering the protests fearing its spread.

Why Jinping Reminded Army of Party Supremacy?

Xi Jinping reviewed military exercise to mark the 90th anniversary of People’s Liberation Army this week. While addressing the troops he reminded the military of “Gutian Congress” Principle of party’s supremacy over the military. He told PLA to ‘uncompromisingly follow Communist party leadership and it shall march wherever Party points too’. Many believed that deep sense of mistrust and insecurity in Jinping’s psyche about PLA has forced the president to speak it up.

Recent aggressive steps taken by Jinping which directly or indirectly hit vested interests of military commanders has placed him at loggerheads with men in uniform.

The balance of power hangs in imbalance as uncertainty looms over Jinping’s career due to his consistent campaign against powerful party leaders and military commanders. It would be interesting to watch the events in China in next one year to wait and see which camp turns the table and whether Jinping tightens the grip or loses the game.

Jinping as Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces

In April 2016 Jinping officially took charge of the chief of newly formed Joint Operations Command Center of Chinese Armed Forces. Though, being president of China, he was chairman of Central Military Commission- CMC, the latest installation of Jinping as Head of JOCC has far reaching implications.

China is economically sharply divided into two distinct parts; wealthy, industrious and rich coastal China and poor, underdeveloped and impoverished hinterlands. The majority population in China is living in poor and underdeveloped rural China. The Great Equality Utopia assured by glossy Communism has already waned away. The wealthy coastal area has economic bonds with Europe and USA and they have nothing to do with Chinese masses. Under such circumstances, it is a difficult task for Jinping to control brewing anger among rural Chinese masses, which were the backbone of the Chinese revolution. Xi Jinping’s biggest concern is to monitor and quell any future turmoil which would come to fore either slowly or in the form of a huge outburst of public anger. Jinping wants Communist Party to control it. But biggest hurdle in quenching the fire is PLA and paramilitary troops.

After ruthless crackdown on so called tainted commanders, former security Czar, two former vice chairmen of Central Military Commission, dismantling lucrative military business empire including PLA controlled medical facilities and dismantling monopoly and dominance of PLA in Chinese Armed Forces; Jinping needs more operational control over its forces, to keep vigilant eye on day to day affairs related to troops movements.

The composition of Chinese Armed Forces is also mattered of concern for Jinping. The majority of the Chinese troops are from Chinese hinterland which is deprived rich dividends of economic boom in the country and wealthy coastal region has a very negligible presence in forces. The huge economic disparity and wealth imbalance within two regions might trigger a chain of reactions in PLA, with the majority of the troops from the largely backwards region.

The sharp reduction in a number of troops would add to Jinping’s woes. As being autocratic country; expectation of fair compensation to troops removed from forces is somewhat unrealistic and it would hardly address in a country like China.

On The Other Hand, wealthy China is a potent threat to the Communist regime for a very strange reason. China watchers believe that real motive behind anti-corruption blitzkrieg is to warn wealthy Chinese and to deliver them subtle message to refrain from indulging in party affairs with enough financial resources in hand. In near future, Jinping might think of taking control of private assets to distribute it in the regions facing financial imbalance. To achieve it, he must have full control over its armed forces for dual purpose; to monitor and thwart unrest within PLA ranks deriving from peasant class and to pressurize affluent class from becoming dominant over party and policy makers.

Jinping hit most dangerous conglomerate of influential people in China

In one more direct bold move, Jinping hit most dangerous conglomerate of influential people in China. In January 2016, he installed Discipline Inspection Commission under the direct control of Central Military Commission specifically for corruption related to PLA ranks. PLA commanders with deep pockets and cross sectional influence across all spheres of industrial, commercial and Chinese elites are real time treat for Party in general and Jinping in particular. Within just a few months of the establishment of DIC, hundreds of PLA officials are purged from top to bottom.

The message was open and out to all PLA bigwigs- “fall in line or get prosecuted”. After years of career in PLA, there would be hardly anyone in the military with Mr Clean image, especially at the time when the military was running thousands of industrial, commercial enterprises all over China.

As a Head of Joint Operations Command Center means Commander-In-Chief of Chinese armed forces; he is in a position to monitor every movement of PLA of any scale, which could threaten his regime. After unleashing terror within Communist Party and military in the name of big bang anti-corruption drive, Jinping has established his most trusted aids at all nodal positions to monitor any movement by party or military which could topple him!

Present military reforms would take years to complete but its magnitude and number of people either losing their jobs or getting sidelined in due course will mount unbelievable pressure on the party and Mr President.

Let’s see how Jinping tackles the issue and whether he softens his stand or ups his ante against his rivals within party and PLA

          Netizen Voices: Chinese Dream, the Dream of Prison        
China Business Journal’s post on the “Chinese dream, the dream of prison.” (Weibo)
President Xi Jinping’s signature slogan is the “Chinese dream.”
          MOBY DICK: PraÅ¡tit bestii po čumáku        
Indonézké řešení, rozumný strojvůdce, efektivní pes, moment pravdy a hodně moc změněný postoj

Sobota 1. dubna 2017

"Co se týče Asada, je politickou realitou, kterou musíme přijmout s tím, jak na tom teď jsme. Za minulé administrativy jsme ztratili spoustu příležitostí." (Mluvicí vovčáček Bílého domu Sean Spicer) Bílý dům tak potvrdil "výrazný posun" ve své politice vůči Sýrii. Napříště se bude v Sýrii bojovat pouze proti terorismu, aneb IS – to má být "nejpřednější prioritou".

Dnešní čtenáři už vědí, že to byl ze strany Bílého domu podařený apríl.

Neděle 2. dubna 2017

Indonézie našla cestu, jak snížit příliv připrchlíků:
a) Lodi, na nichž připluli, se do indonézských výsostých vod dostaly ilegálně, proto úřady napaří kapitánovi mastnou pokutu.
b) Tak mastnou, že ji nemůže zaplatit. Proto je loď zabavena.
c) Vláda ji pak věnuje armádě, která lodě rozstřílí jako cvičné terče.

V Evropě však nepoužitelné. Přes Středozemí invadují připrchlíci na nafukovacích člunech, které jsou použity jednorázově – včetně přídavných motorů.
"Načež si je můžete například v Řecku docela levně zakoupit. Vybrat si lze třeba na zahrádkách venkovských domků." (Žena Moby Dicka)
"Které NATO nerozstřílí." (Moby Dick)
"A proč vlastně ne?" (Mrtvá Kočka)

Pondělí 3. dubna 2017

Kolem půl třetí odpoledne místního času došlo v petrohradském metru za stanicí Sennaja ploščaď k výbuchu ve třetím voze soupravy metra. Strojvůdce nebyl tak blbý jako jeho kolegové v amerických filmech, a dovezl soupravu s mrtvými, umírajícími a raněnými až na nejbližší stanici Těchnologičeskij institut. Od začátku se tento zločin vyšetřuje jako teroristický útok, i když volání podezřelého sevevražedného musulmana Džalilova se nezachytilo.

"Viděli jsme, že je vedlejší vůz roztržený, okna rozbitá, světla nesvítila, všude krev. Vytahovali lidi ven, některé nesli, někteří šli s pomocí po svých. Bylo tam mnoho zraněných, nevím, jestli byli mrtví." (Svědkyně Polina)

Byli mrtví. Jedenáct na místě, tři podlehli zraněním v nemocnici. A desítky raněných.

Menažerie vyjadřuje ruskému lidu soustrast. Stejně jako všichni světoví i nesvětoví státníci od Izraele po Írán.

Atentátník byl Rus jménem Akbaržon Akramdžanovič. Přesněji: Uzbek s ruským pasem, jehož otec byl Rus.
"Takže se klidně mohl jmenovat Akbaržon ibn Akramdžan Džalil." (Žena Moby Dicka)

 Další nevybuchlou nálož objevili policajti v taÅ¡ce ve stanici metra Pločščaď vosstanija. Džalil mohl mít další komplice. No a s ohledem na to, že mu "byly blízké ideje Islámského státu" jde zřejmě o odvetu za angažmá Ruska v boji proti tomuto zlořádu.

"Alláh je malý." (Syrská Želva)

Úterý 4. dubna 2017

"Děti se nadýchaly plynu a zemřely." (Syrský novinář v interview pro Channel 2 News) V syrském Idlibu proběhl děsivý útok vládních sil, při kterém přišlo o život více než 100 lidí. Většina z obětí byly ženy a děti. Na otázky je připravena odpovědět agentura Muška na Zdi.

"Proč šlo o útok vládních sil?" Protože bombardovala letadla. A ta v Sýrii mají jen Rusové a Syřané (a ti mají ruská letadla Su-22, kterými byl proveden nálet).
"Jaký to byl plyn?" Podle záplavy hororových snímků na sociálních sítích šlo nejspíše o chlór, který se běžně užívá v chemickém průmyslu nebo chladírenství.
"Proč si tedy svět myslí, že šlo o použití zakázaných chemických zbraní?" Protože podle stavu přeživších určili Lékaři bez hranic použití chlóru a nějakého zakázaného neurotoxinu, nejspíše prchavého sarinu.
"Proč by Asad/Rusové ausgerechnet teď použili chemické zbraně?" Není jisté, že vládní síly použily plyn. Je možné, že vybombardovaly sklad povstaleckých chemikálií.

Ale možná ty zbraně opravdu použily. Protože je sichr, že chemické zbraně proti vlastnímu obyvatelstvu použil válečný zločinec Bašár Asad už před čtyřmi roky nejméně třikrát. Přes varování US prezidenta Baráka Obavy, že nesmí překročit "červenou čáru". Bašár ji překročil třikrát – a nositel Nobelovy ceny míru Obava zastrčil ocas mezi nohy. Psí kolega Šaman tehdy napsal článek o tom, jak je důležité praštit bestii včas po čumáku.

Bestie však praštěna včas nebyla. Všechny snahy Západu učinit tak skrze OSN vždy ztroskotaly na vetu Ruska a Číny v Radě bezpečnosti. Dokonce i humanitární organizace šly jen tam, kam jim to Asad dovolil – do některých čtvrtí Damašku. Jinak i Lékaři bez hranic zůstávali za hranicemi. (I dnešní oběti vyšetřují LbH na syrsko-tureckých hranicích…) Jedině český Člověk v tísni byl na místě, a jedině on už před čtyřmi lety varoval, že se jedná o největší humanitární krizi od druhé světové. Od té doby se krize ještě znásobila, až smrtonosně zasáhla i Evropu. A ČvT byl rovněž zasažen. Bylo zabito i pět jeho místních zaměstnanců…

Škodaže už v Sýrii nepobývá Jaromír Kohlíček, europoslanec za KSČ(M), který tam nedávno hostoval se sovětskou delegací ruských a europských poslanců. Ten by to určitě vyšetřil objektivně. Před týdnem pěl o situaci v zemi pro ruský Sputnik:
"Ruská armáda tam vydávala jídlo pro děti. Humanitární akce ruské armády, to je velmi pěkně připravený proces."

Středa 5. dubna 2017

V Petrohradě bylo v souvislosti s pondělním teroristickým útokem zadrženo šest lidí "kavkázkovo licá".
"A machometánského vyznání." (Mrtvá Kočka)

V Bruseli se schází mezinárodní konference o "pomoci a budoucnosti" Sýrie. Padají tam drsná slova.
"Pachatelé včerejšího chemického útoku musí nést zodpovědnost." (Generální tajemník OSN António Guterres) A kdo za něj může?
"Odpovědnost je nutné vyvodit na základě vyšetřování." (Tajemný tajemník OSN)
"Takže za rok, za dva budeme vědět." (Syrská Želva)

"Každý viděl to letadlo, jak bombardovalo oblast plynem. Všichni místní vědí, že tam nemáme žádné sklady zbraní ani továrnu na jejich výrobu." (Hasan Hadž Alí, přednosta hodné Svobodné idlibské armády pro agenturu Reuters) .
"Proto taky už dávno neutekli." (Syrská Želva pro agenturu MnZ)

Z rozhořčených reakcí západních politiků vybíráme slova jednoho východního, ba přímo blízkovýchodního politika, libanonského premiéra Saada Harírího:
"Do Bruselu dnes každý přijel, aby tu udělal prohlášení. Ale režim už své prohlášení udělal v Sýrii. Bohužel nikdo nemá odvahu na to, něco proti tomu režimu udělat."

V Radě bezpečnosti to zase vře, k incidentu se sejde už odpoledne. Francie, Británie a USA navrhly rezoluci, která útok chemickými zbraněmi "odsuzuje". Rusko a Čína ji zase určitě zvetí.
"Tohle je moment pravdy." (Generální António)
"Kolik dětí ještě bude muset zemřít, než na tom Rusku začne záležet?" (US velvyslankyně při OSN Nikki Haley před zasedáním RB)

"Je to hrůzná urážka lidstva. Tímto útokem byly překročeny mnohé meze." (US prezident K.D. Trump obvinil Bašára Asada z válečného zločinu)
"Žeby byla překročena tenká červená linka?" (Moby Dick)
"A přitom ještě nedávno Asad Trumpovi nevadil." (Syrská Želva)

Jenže: "Zahynuli nevinní lidé, včetně žen a dětí – a dokonce krásných malých miminek." (KDT)
"Tohle je příležitost, kterou neztratím." (KDT exkluzivně pro MnZ)
Takže: "Svůj postoj k Asadovi a k Sýrii obecně jsem hodně moc změnil." (

Jak moc?

Jistý Paleoarab vnikl se dvěma noži v rukou na území židovské osadnické farmy v oblasti hory Hebron a něco přitom křičel. Farmář Shabtai Kushelevski ho včas spatřil, a tak si běžel dovnitř pro flintu. Paleoarab běžel za ní, a dříve nežli se Shabtai dostal ke zbrani, bodl ho do zad. Tedy pokusil se ho bodnout. Protože rodinný pes jménem Sofi se na útočníka vrhl, čímž dal svému pánovi čas, aby se zbraně chopil a vetřelce zastřelil. Lze se jen hrozit toho, co by se v domácnosti dělo, kdyby byl její přednosta sám zabodnut: jeho manželka zrovna ve vedlejší místnosti kojila malé dítě…
"Alláh je malý." (Syrská Želva)

Zpráva na hovoří o potřebě, aby se Židé "vyzbrojili" (to arm)  psy, kteří se ukázali jako "nejúčinnější biologická zbraň" (the most effective biological weapon).

Samozřejmě, že nejde o "biologickou zbraň", protože pak by lidskopráchníci spustili křik o tom, že Izraelci používají zbraně hromadného ničení. Což ten psík velikosti přerostlé lišky zcela jistě není.
"Je zbraní individuální naštvanosti..." (Mrtvá Kočka)

Bílý dům zveřejnil jména členů Národní bezpečnostní rady (NSC). Překvapivě v něm chybí Stev Bannon, dosavadní hlavní poradce prezidenta Kačera Donalda T. Podle agentury MnZ byl Bannon v radě vlastně jen proto, aby "dohlížel" na Michaela Flynna, který zastával funkci hlavního bezpečnostního poradce prezidenta KDT. Flynn byl v únoru odvolán nikoli kvůli "stykům" s ruským velvyslancem, ale kvůli tomu, že o nich patřičně "neinformoval". Takže teď už není Bannona třeba v radě dále udržovat.

Nebyl odvolán – jen nebyl znovujmenován.
"Lišák Trump!" (Mrtvá Kočka)

Čtvrtek 6. dubna 2017

"V Chán Šajchúně jsme bombardovali sklad zbraní Fronty dobytí Sýrie." (Syrský ministr zahraničí Valíd Mualim si konečně přečetl rozbor agentury MnZ)
Valíd to však moc nevylepšil. Naskýtají se nejméně dvě otázky:

1) Pokud věděli, že tam je, proč bombardovali sklad chemických zbraní, který islámisté z přejmenované An-Nusrat měli v civilní oblasti? Aby došlo k úniku plynu?
2) Pokud nevěděli, co tam je, vypadá to, jako by nevěděli co vlastně bombardují.

Ale ono je to tak, že Asad už šest let vědomě bombarduje vlastní obyvatelstvo. Teprve následně vykvetly v Sýrii ozbrojené opoziční síly, včetně různých musulmanských Front i Islámského státu…
Poslední upřesnění:  Právě tyto objekty byly cílem náletu syrských letounů. Prý jsou v držení tamních rebelů.

"Je  nevyhnutelná výměna údajů a vyhodnocení informací a až potom je možné dělat závěry, ne před tím. Závěry, které se dělají před výměnou informací a před vyÅ¡etřováním, nemohou být považované za závěry odrážející realitu." (Mluvicí vovčáček ruského carprezidenta Vladimira Putina Dmitrij Peskov)

Realitou je, že Rusáci vytrvale dodávají zbraně Asadovi i přes embargo jiných států. Realitou je, že ruské zbraně, ať už v rukou nejdříve syrské armády, a nyní i přímo za účasti ozbrojených sil Ruské federace, vytrvale zabíjejí civilní obyvatelstvo.

"To už je ruská tradice." (Moby Dick)
"Što éto takóje »ruská tradice«?" (Žena Moby Dicka)
"Budapešť 1956, Praha 1968, Groznyj 1994 a 2002. Například." (Mrtvá Kočka)

Další útok autem: Jistý jednadvacetiletý terorista jménem Malak Hamed najel autem do skupinky lidí. Jestli přitom něco křičel, není známo, ale způsob útoku a pachatel to křičí více než jasně. Jeden mladík byl zabit, další byli lehce zraněni Příslušníci armády útočníka "neutralizovali". Protože se tak stalo v Izraeli na Západním břehu, světová média to nějak nezaujalo.
"Alláh je malý." (Syrská Želva)

Další zpráva ze světa financí:
ČNB dnes uposlechla minulotýdenní rady ženy Moby Dicka, která k možným dalším intervencím k udržení kurzu kačky k euru na 1:27 pravila: "Dva biliony stačí, drahoušci!"

Právě po týdnu od ukončení "tvrdého závazku", krátce po poledni, vyhlásila ČNB ukončení intervencí. Koruna odpoledne ztvrdla až na 26,56/€.

"Šestého dubna se čínský prezident Xi Jinping (Si Ťin-pching) dostal do amerického státu Floridy zvláštním letadlem a bude konat setkání s jeho americkým protějškem Donaldem Trumpem… Šestého a sedmého dubna si Xi Jinping a Trump široce a hluboce vymění názory na čínsko-amerických vztazích a mezinárodních a regionálních otázkách vzájemného zájmu. To je první setkání mezi čínským a americkým vedoucími činiteli po nástupu Trumpa do funkce." (Zpráva čínského portálu na českém jazyce)

Soudruhovi generálnímu tajemníkovi zanedlouho zhořkne podávaný mořský jazyk v ústech.

Pátek 7. dubna 2017

Tak moc Kačer Donald změnil svůj postoj k Asadovi, že vydal povel k útoku na letiště Šajrát, odkud startovalo ono podezřelé súčko. Ze dvou válečných lodí ve východním Středomoří bylo dle zpráv televize BBC ještě během noci odpáleno celkem 59 letounových střel typu Tomahawk. Bylo zabito šest lidí a další byli zraněni. Podle ruských zdrojů nebyl mezi oběťmi žádný Rus. Televize Russia 24 ukazuje škody na zařízení letiště: Mělké díry v betonu ranvejí, jeden betonový kryt nad letadlem prolomen a letadlo samo poškozeno. Vedlejší letecký úkryt nepoškozen. Syřané včas odlifrovali většinu letadel. Nakonec jich ztratili devět. Nedá se zdaleka mluvit o tom, že "základna byla srovnána se zemí." Syřané se o chystaném útoku se dozvěděli – od Rusů, kterým to Kačer předem řekl, aby náhodou nějakého Rusa netrefil.

Takže místo vojenského útoku šlo spíše o útok symbolický." (Moby Dick)
"Ale důležitý." (Žena Moby Dicka)
"Hlavněže nezemřela žádná krásná malá miminka." (Syrská Želva, která k menažerii před časem utekla ze zajetí v německé ZOO, kam ji dopravila místní policie poté, co ji objevila v kapse syrské připrchlice)

 Jestli se to dověděli včas, pak ale ruské nejmodernější protiletecké rakety neodvedly svou práci…

Vladimir Vladimirovič Putin se moc, moc zlobí, a tentokrát (poprvé během celého syrského konfliktu) hodlá svolávat Radu bezpečnosti. Okamžitě zrušil dohodu s USA, podle které se měly koordinovat útoky US a RF leteckých sil na IS, aby mezi nimi nedocházelo k "přátelské palbě".
"Takže teď bude docházet k nepřátelské palbě." (Mrtvá Kočka)

Kačer Donald vyzval "civilizované národy", aby pomohly USA ve snaze "ukončit masakr a krveprolití v Sýrii". A civilizovaný svět – světe div se – poplácává Trumpovi po křídle. Dokonce i EU!
Různí civilizovaní politici od Británie po Izrael považují americký útok za "přiměřený a spravedlivý".
Čína je opatrná, jen varuje před další eskalací.
Protestují: Rusko, Sýrie, Íránská islámská republika (jejíž Revoluční gardy se ve svém revolučním zápalu od teroristů nijak neodlišují) – a samozřejmě pohrobci Komunistické internacionály, pátá kolona Ruské federace v civilizovaných zemích, včetně KSČ(M).

"Připustit, že se budou používat zbraně chemické, biologické nebo nedej bůh jaderné, je strašná představa. Rozumím tomu, že je jasná snaha dát najevo, že tohle je něco, co se bude trestat. Útok těmi tomahawky vypadá jako úder do zubů." (Ministr zahraničí Lubomír Zaorálek (ČSSD))
"Čtyři roky opožděný úder do zubů." (Mrtvá Kočka)
"USA se vracejí na blízký Východ." (Nezachycený analytik na ČT)

Připomeňme, že útok USA na Saddáma Husajna přinesl jedno z vedlejší vítězství: Muammar Kaddáfí se zalekl a veřejně se zřekl vývoje jaderných a používání chemických zbraní.

"Jde o porušení mezinárodního práva pod smyšlenou záminkou." (Ruský prezident Uchvatitel VVP)
"Americkou reakci nelze považovat za přemrštěnou." (Český ministr obrany Martin Stropnický (ANO), který se nechce stát prezidentem)

A ten, co se chce stát znovu prezidentem?
"Já si teď snažím zjistit všechny informace a nebudu střílet od boku a nebudu říkat, že s něčím nesouhlasím, nebo ne… (Útok) je oprávněný tehdy, pokud to byl útok na základnu, z níž vzlétla letadla s chemickými zbraněmi." (Stádní prezident Mlhoš Zeman v 15:00)
Mlhoš se vyjadřuje mlhavě, protože má už v kapse pozvánku na návštěvu Bílého domu. To vloni v říjnu se v Parlamentních listech vyjadřoval poněkud rozhodněji:

"Na rozdíl od americké strany, která se domnívá, že umírněná opozice existuje, já se domnívám, že tam jsou pouze islamistické skupiny. Kromě toho nezapomeňte, že legální syrská vláda pozvala Rusy do Sýrie, zatímco žádný legální představitel Sýrie nezval do Sýrie Američany… Jestliže mise USA končí fiaskem, je to jejich vlastní vina."

Vyjádření naší menažerie: Útok byl oprávněný. Ne kvůli úterku, kde o úmyslu vládních jednotek použít chemické zbraně silně pochybujeme, ale kvůli uplynulým šesti letům Asadova teroru..

Koruna odpoledne ztvrdla až na 26,56/€.

15:11, téměř po uzávěrce: Další automobilový útok, tentokrát ve Stokholmu, takže se o něm ví. Nákladní auto vjelo v centru v jedné nákupní ulici do davu. Nejméně tři lidé přišli o život, může jich být více. Je mnoho raněných. Podle švédské televize SVT bylo slyšet i výstřely. Neví se, jestli střílel terorista, anebo jestli někdo střílel na teroristu.
"Nikdo na něj nestřílel, nejsi v Izraeli." (Mrtvá Kočka)

Policie pracuje s "předpokladem", že šlo o "akt terorismu".
"Alláh je srab." (Mrtvá Kočka)

Moby Dick a jeho menažerie se omlouvají, že pro nedostatek času a prostoru nepokrývají všechny zprávy týdne. Ale snaží se hlavně nacházet souvislosti věcí pod popvrchem.
Podněty, připomínky, upřesnění, protesty a jiné výkřiky čtenářů Deníčku Moby Dicka lze posílat na i schránku .
Všem dík!
>>:)) Moby Dick
          What they aren’t telling you behind the Great Western Firewall, about Xi Jinping’s meetings with Obama.        

By Jeff Brown [Photo: Xi Jinping and Obama at the Hague – US Embassy] Jeff Brown discusses the state meeting between Xi Jinping and Barack Obama. [You may also access this 44 Days podcast at HERE] President Xi Jinping’s official visit to Washington, and all of that one-on-one face time with Barak “I’m good at […]

The post What they aren’t telling you behind the Great Western Firewall, about Xi Jinping’s meetings with Obama. appeared first on Cyrano's Journal Today.


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          China economic reforms may result in $14.4 trillion GDP, growth at 6 percent – Asia Society report        
Sweeping economic reform initiated by China President Xi Jinping in November 2013 marked a turning point for the world's second biggest economy. If implemented fully, China's potential GDP growth can be sustained at 6 percent through 2020. One risk: Falling short of that growth rate could result in growth at half that projection, or worse, leading to a new economic crisis, according to a new study.
          Gobierno Mundial; plan secreto de Donald Trump        
El juego secreto de Donald Trump

Este hombre controvertido parece que no sabe a qué juega. Primero acusó a China de jugar chueco para posteriormente pedir disculpas y suplicar un acuerdo comercial geoestratégico de buenos amigos.

Comenzó rompiendo la regla no escrita de "una sola China", hasta entonces respetada por Washington, con su llamada a la presidenta de la provincia rebelde China de Taiwán. Pero hoy mismo, a través de una carta enviada al presidente chino, Xi Jinping, reconoce que Taiwán es parte de China. En la misma misiva pide negociar un acuerdo comercial "benéfico" para ambos países.

Eso sólo es un ejemplo de su doble juego, por un lado amenaza y por el otro negocia, claro, si se ve en ventaja presiona aún más hasta doblegarte, pero con China no pudo y tuvo que humillarse hasta el punto de pedir perdón y clemencia.

Este sujeto se cree un excelente negociador y empresario, por eso a los demás países los ve como adversarios y víctimas a quien esquilmar. Y mucha gente le compra ese cuento, pero la realidad es que no es así, este individuo NO es un buen empresario y la prueba está en que muchas de sus empresas se fueron a quiebra, incluyendo sus casinos, solo que se amparó a ciertas reglas cuestionables de la ley mercantil estadounidense, y es así como pudo salvar algunas de ellas a través de subsidios y condonación de impuestos, además de que recurrió a préstamos bancarios que aún adeuda.

Pero su doble juego va más allá de sólo negociar acuerdos comerciales y disputas territoriales de terceros pero que directamente benefician a algunos sectores de la industria estadounidense, cómo la industria del petróleo y de las armas. Donald Trump va mucho más allá, él busca beneficiar sobre todo a la gran banca internacional asentada en Wall Street y la City de Londres.

Eso queda bastante claro si consideramos su último decreto que tiene por objeto derogar la ley Dodd-Frank, un objetivo perseguido por muchos años por la élite bancaria e industrial estadounidense; Esta era una ley que impedía las prácticas especulativas financieras de los grandes bancos, así como la posibilidad de otorgar créditos a instituciones o personas de dudosa reputación crediticia. Dos situaciones que llevaron a la crisis financiera del 2008 y que propiciaron la creación de la mencionada ley, para impedir se volviese a dar una situación similar.

La quiebra de los grandes fondos de inversión fue la ruina para muchos pensionados y para el sistema de salud pública de los EEUU, pues esos fondos administraban los fondos de pensión de los trabajadores jubilados y al haber invertido ese dinero en swap, es decir, en derivados financieros que no son otra cosa que inversiones especulativas, ese dinero se perdió en muchos casos, o fue absorbida la perdida por el Estado con los famosos rescates bancarios, lo que llevo al recorte en el gasto público; y es por eso que el sistema de salud público se tuvo que privatizar, y es por eso que ahora la edad de jubilación es superior, con toda la intensión de eliminarla u obligar a la gente a trabajar casi hasta su muerte, para así no tener que pagar pensiones. Algo similar se podría decir de los demás países en el mundo. Y esas cosas pueden volver a suceder con la eliminación de la ley Dood-Frank

Pero una vez Trump haya terminado por anular la ley Dood-Frank, los grandes bancos volverán a las mismas prácticas que originaron la última gran crisis financiera, y como entonces, una vez sea imposible cobrar los préstamos otorgados a individuos y empresas financieramente insolventes, la factura se la pasarán al pueblo, es decir, su “deuda tóxica” el gobierno se las comprará y entonces sus balances financieros rojos pasaran a los balances financieros del Estado, es decir, se volverá deuda pública.

Eso quedó bastante claro al considerar que casi todo el gabinete de Trump dedicado a la planeación de la economía estadounidense son ex miembros de Goldman Sachs o ex miembros de la industria petrolera. Entre ellos tenemos a Rex Tillerson ex CEO de la petrolera Exxon Mobil nombrado como secretario de estado, Gary Cohn ex gerente general de Goldman Sachs nombrado como líder en jefe del comité ejecutivo del consejo económico nacional, Steve Mnuchin un ex directivo de Goldman Sachs nombrado secretario del tesoro, Wilbur Ross ex banquero de los Rothschild nombrado como secretario de comercio, y finalmente su funcionario estrella y asesor principal, el racista y supremacista blanco Stephen Bannon un ex Goldman Sachs nombrado como jefe del consejo de seguridad nacional.

Pero esta vez ni el mismo gobierno podrá hacer frente al problema, pues los bancos centrales están actualmente en dificultades financieras, sino que en números rojos, entonces, la única institución internacional que podrá hacer frente al problema será el Fondo Monetario Internacional, por consiguiente, ellos comprarán la deuda toxica de los bancos centrales a través de una mega “expansión cuantitativa”, es decir, una emisión masiva de dinero fiat que será prestado a los bancos centrales, ósea, todo el mundo pasará a deberle al FMI y al Banco Mundial, con lo que las condiciones estarán dadas para implantar el Gobierno Global, pues si el FMI se convierte en acreedor de todas las naciones del planeta estas estarán sujetas a sus condiciones, en otras palabras, tendrán que hacer lo que el gobierno mundial les ordene, entregando con ello su soberanía a ese gobierno planetario.

Pero el dinero del FMI no es otro que los derechos especiales de giro o DEG, que no son otra cosa que una cesta de divisas internacionales, ósea, son “billetes” respaldados por un conjunto de monedas de los países más fuertes del planeta, esas monedas son el Yuan, el Dólar, el Yen, el Euro y la Libra esterlina.

Pero si consideramos que Trump tiene entre sus objetivos devaluar al Dólar estadounidense por considerarlo “sobrevalorado” y, por consiguiente, una desventaja para los productos estadounidenses en el comercio internacional, será inevitable que su dominio en los DEG desaparezca en favor del Yuan chino. Esa es la razón del porque Trump pidió perdón a los chinos y de porque pidió hacer las paces con ellos.

Pero eso no es más que una estrategia de Trump, o de los que gobiernan detrás de él, para evitar un colapso incontrolable de la economía estadounidense; lo que él quiere es un derrumbe controlado y no explosivo. En pocas palabras, está consciente de que el fin del imperio yankee es inevitable y por eso le está pasando la batuta a China de forma ordenada y pacífica.

Pero claro, no es que China se vaya a convertir en amo y señor del mundo, en realidad el amo y señor va ser el FMI, pero el FMI será controlado por China a través del Yuan al convertirse la moneda china en la moneda predominante de la cesta de divisas internacionales de la institución.

¿Y quién controla la Reserva federal de los EEUU?, pues los grandes bancos de Wall Street; en realidad la FED son ellos mismos. ¿Y quién controla al FMI? Pues ellos también, porque al controlar casi todos los bancos centrales del mundo controlan el FMI también. ¿y quién controla el banco central chino? Pues ellos también, los Rothschild; por eso es que casi todo su oro lo están trasladando a China.

Entonces, si Trump deroga la ley Dood-Frank es para darle plena libertad de acción a sus amos, es decir, a los bancos de los Rothschild como lo son Goldman Sachs y JP Morgan, pues según él, esa ley impone muchas trabas a la inversión capitalista al impedir que se otorguen créditos fácilmente, pero en realidad lo que él quiere, y sus amos, es tener total libertad para maniobrar y provocar una nueva crisis económica y que como consecuencia de esa crisis suceda todo lo descrito anteriormente.

Ese es el doble juego de Donald Trump, ESE ES SU PLAN SECRETO.

          Economic and Geo-Political Prognosis for 2015        

Paper No. 5856                                 Dated 12-Jan-2015

Guest Column by Dr. Rajesh Tembarai Krishnamachari and Srividya Kannan Ramachandran


The re-moderation of the world economy set in place over the past few years continues apace. Notwithstanding some lasting damage on the supply side through the 2008 recessionary trough, our outlook for 2015 is bullish weighing more on optimistic data trends than on continued negative sentiment proffered from some analyst quarters.

Around the world in 80 (or more) words:

Treating the ten-year US Treasury bond yield as a proxy indicator for that nation's nominal GDP growth, we anticipate United States to grow around 3% next year.[1] While this does not mark a return to the buoyant 90s, it is better than the secular stagnation hypothesized earlier in 2014.[2] With US acting as an engine to spur growth, the world economy should also expand by more than 3%.[3] Stability across the world will be maintained – as sparks without a concomitant fury will characterize both overt (e.g. Russia-West over Ukraine) and covert (e.g. China-Japan over Senkaku) animosities.[4] European stagnation from debt and unemployment will be counterbalanced through quantitative easing by the European Central Bank.[5] Similar action in Japan will display the limits of Abe-nomics.[6] China will prepare for a structural slowdown emphasizing domestic consumption and de-leveraging an over-heated financial sector; all the while growing at a 7% rate that will amaze rivals around the world.[7] Indian reform, even if inadequate, will boost the middle classes and reinforce confidence in the Modi government.[8] African countries will find their commodity boom dissipate and ease of borrowing decline as commodity prices fall and yields rise in the developed world.[9]

Continental tectonics:

a. North America:

Economic benefits arising from the exploitation of shale gas have not only silenced the anti-fracking environmentalists, they have altered the strategic world-view of Washington politicians.[10] As US aims to overtake even Saudi Arabia in oil/NGL production in 2015 (and the Saudis pull out all stops in preventing it by driving crude prices down), it has markedly reduced its role as a global policeman.[11] Its own economy is on the mend even as a lame-duck president will be boggled down with partisan grid-lock. Markets will fret about the mid-year (or earlier?) hike in interest rates; though Main Street - aided by a strong dollar - will likely shrug it off with a continued upward movement across different sectors.[12]

Mexico and Canada will benefit from their tight coupling with the United States.[13] Enrique Pena Nieto will claim credit for reforming the Mexican economy – across sectors as diverse as energy and telecom.[14] Pemex, dear to the Mexicans, will face some competition, though nothing remotely similar to the American acquisition of Tim Hortons – dear to the Canadians – will happen.[15] Up north, the Canadian elections in 2015 will reveal whether the country has reverted to its liberal propensities or sticks with Harper's conservative agenda.[16]

b. Latin and South America:

The outlook is disappointing across much of the region. Run-away inflation hammers Argentina and Venezuela; milder ill-effects bedevil Brazil, Bolivia and Uruguay.[17] The Maduro regime in Venezuela and the Kirchner government in Argentina continue to flirt with disaster as their GDP growths slip and mass discontent builds up.[18] Dilma Rousseff has stabilized her position electorally, though her policies continue to disappoint investors and have the potential to reignite sudden protests like the 2013 bus-fare protests.[19] Dependence on commodity exports in a time of declining prices does not portend well for any of the South American states, including Brazil.[20] On a positive note, Cuba – already expected by analysts to grow by close to 4% next year – will see a boost to its fortunes accruing from a thaw in relations with US under Obama.[21]

c. Africa:

African nations had a great run in the past few years. This arose not only from the boom in commodity prices but also from the need for yield amongst DM (developed market) investors resulting in investment in both corporate and public African bonds.[22] In 2015, these factors could dissipate which will place pressure on countries like Angola where household spending has risen more than 4000% since the start of the millennium.[23] Ethiopia and Kenya are expected to continue on a robust growth path.[24] Contradictions abound within Africa, and nowhere are they more visible than in Nigeria. While the northern part struggles under the oppression of Boko Haram, the southern part booms under Goodluck Jonathan's president-ship.[25] In neighboring South Sudan, one is reminded of the risk-reward payoff as the nation widely tipped to experience spectacular growth in 2014, got mired in conflict, with the consequent dissipation of growth potential.[26]

American intervention in Libya undermined the Gaddafi-imposed order and has led to a civil war between the Islamist and secularist factions which will hold back that nation in the coming year.[27] A more benign intervention was that of the French in Mali in 2013; we expect more calls for Hollande's assistance in 2015.[28] El Sisi has stabilized Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood interlude in the post-Mubarak era. Though more brutal than Mubarak, the El Sisi regime is being propped by both the Americans and Saudis, leading us to expect the recent bull run in Egyptian markets to continue.[29] ANC rule in South Africa continues unimpeded. Though atrophied by many scandals, the rule should produce close to 3% growth in the coming year.[30]

d. Middle East:

The region continues to be a cesspool of ethno-sectarian rivalries as the century-old Sykes-Pikot agreement unravels.[31] Recep Erdogan has stabilized Turkey and should reap a growth on par with other emerging economies.[32] Erdogan's external actions driven by AKP's crypto-desire to establish a caliphate will see him prop the Islamic State (IS) just so that it can damage Shia and Kurdish interests; but not enough to threaten his own Sunni hegemonic plans.[33] The Saudi establishment has focused on the removal of the Muslim brotherhood threat; now they will focus on limiting Shia Iranian influence by keeping crude prices low.[34] Western companies made a beeline to Iran in 2014 in hope of an impending thaw; much will depend on the negotiation ability of the Rouhani establishment on the sanction front.[35] Dubai and Israel remain insulated from the turmoil around and could reap the benefit of the uptick in the world economy.[36] The risk of sudden flare-ups like the 2014 Gaza war continue to remain on the Israeli radar.

e. Asia and Australia:

The Asian political scene is remarkably stable with China, Japan and India looking inward to stabilize their economies under the leadership of Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe and Narendra Modi, respectively. Some events have gone unnoticed by world media – for example, China starts the year of the goat as the world's largest economy when measured in PPP terms and for the first time ever, Chinese outbound investments could exceed those inbound.[37] The establishment of China on the world stage has made Xi stronger than any Chinese leader in recent memory bar Chairman Mao himself. The Abe regime will continue on its reformist route of bringing Japan out of the deflationary zone, while winking at nationalist sentiment calling for a re-interpretation of the country's post-war pacifist role.[38] Down south in India, Modi has surprised both supporters and detractors alike by his middle-path approach to reforming the economy and his zealous interest in foreign policy. While reforming cautiously, he has not removed the populist schemes of the previous government. 2015 will see him act unimpeded by local elections (other than in Bihar) and will prove to be a litmus test of his claims of good governance.[39]

Afghanistan under Ashraf Ghani will face more trouble from Taliban as US adopts the Pakistani classification into good versus bad Taliban.[40] In nearby Pakistan, the wildly popular Imran Khan - with some help, perhaps, from the deep state – will challenge the established parties in their home turfs.[41] In Indonesia, Jake Widodo has come to power with Imran Khan-type support amongst the youth, and he will be hard-pressed to implement his reformist agenda – including reducing fuel subsidies – amidst persistent opposition from entrenched interests.[42] ASEAN will continue to slip on its stated intentions for closer cooperation.[43] Australia will try to balance its strategic partnership with the United States with economic dalliances with the Chinese.[44]

f. Europe and Russia:

Vladimir Putin will be emboldened by the short-term rise in domestic popularity; and hence ignore the longer-term implications of his intervention in Ukraine.[45] Tighter coupling with Kazakhstan and Belarus will not prevent what is likely to be a low-growth and high-inflation year for the Russians.[46] Europe as a whole continues to underperform, and it will be most visible in France and Italy both of whom might record less than 1% growth in GDP. With the Trierweller-Gayet saga behind his back, Francois Hollande will attempt to rein in a deficit running at close to 4% of GDP. Even with help from ECB's quantitative easing program, there is little expectation that Hollande can avoid being the most unpopular leader amongst all western democracies.[47] In Italy, high debt and unemployment – exemplified by the statistic of four-fifths of Italians between the ages of 20-31 living with parents – will hamper any efforts Matteo Renzi might take to pull the economy out of its doldrums.[48]

The Greeks might look forward to a better year, especially when juxtaposed against their recent past. On the back of painful reforms, the Greek economy is widely anticipated to commence its long journey back to health, though there might be recurrent political scares and recalcitrant rumors of a Greek exit.[49] The German government will be buffeted by opposing demands – external calls for a more interventionist role in stabilizing the world economy and internal ones for tempering the same. Cautious progress on the fiscal front will lead to modest GDP growth.[50] Ironically, the European nations with best GDP growth projections are also the ones with the highest exposure to Putin's misadventures, viz. Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.[51]

Sectors and segments:

Having dropped significantly in the past few months, the level of oil prices affects the prospects for many industry sectors in 2015.  Oil is typically expected to revert to the mean because a lower oil price has discernible impact on both supply (by discouraging investment in its production and distribution) and demand (by boosting economic activity) sides.[52] The speed of such mean-reversion remains unclear. Russia, Iran and US shale producers (esp. those who are not based at strategic locations) suffer disproportionally more than the Saudi establishment at current price levels.[53] Lower oil prices will provide a fillip to consumer discretionary industries and airlines; and have an adverse impact on railroad (benefiting from oil transportation) and petrochemical companies. The shale gas boom - apart from increasing housing activity - is also the prime driver behind growth in the US steel and construction material sectors; consequently both the steel and construction sectors will remain susceptible to crude movements.[54]

Low interest rates and low macro-growth prospects will induce companies with excess cash to acquire other companies to report earnings growth. That trend will be apparent in companies transacting in sectors as diverse as healthcare, industrials, semiconductors, software and materials.[55] On another side of investment banks, trading desks will see higher market volatility as major powers pursue divergent paths to monetary policy (e.g. US against EU/Japan).[56] In US, regulatory obligations increasing cost of capital for holding certain securities might lead to decreased broker liquidity.[57] 2015 shall see the big banks grapple with the regulations in Basel III and Volcker; one expects regulatory push towards vanilla deposit-taking and lending to continue.[58] Analysts will hope that stronger balance sheets coupled with a return to profitability lead to increased dividend payout for investors in financial stocks. China will seek to tame its overheated financial sector amidst a structural slowdown[59], and India will see RBI governor Raghuram Rajan continue his battle against political interference in corporate lending.[60] Wealth management services will perform remarkably well not only in China, but also to a lesser extent in US as a rising market creates wealth and a retiring baby-boomer crowd seeks to couple low risk with acceptable return.[61] In the arena of mobile payment, Apple Pay will try to avoid the lackluster performance of earlier attempts like Google Wallet.[62]

Lower gasoline prices and an accompanying increase in disposable income (through wealth creation at the markets, increased home values, reduced unemployment and improved economic activity) creates a positive outlook for the consumer discretionary sector. Companies dealing with organic farming benefit from increased health consciousness; the market for yoga will continue to rise as 2014 saw the UN declare a world yoga day on Modi's initiative.[63] Even as DVDs and Blue-rays fall, digital film subscriptions and on-demand internet steaming will rise to please Hollywood.[64] Bollywood will get over its obsession with INR 100 crore revenues as movies will cross that level more frequently.[65]  With supply level of hotels remaining the same as few years back, revenue per room will rise across the sector.[66] Tighter access to credit continues to hamper the rise in existing house sales, which nevertheless should improve over the past year.[67] Asian apparel manufacturers continue to improve their market share in the fast fashion market.[68]  October 2015 will see Europeans benefit from the eCall service in all their new cars, which allows a car to immediately report details to the base-stations on any accident. New carbon-emission standards also come into force in Europe; even elsewhere the move towards higher efficiency in cars will continue.[69] Widodo will be pleased at the growth in automobile sales in Indonesia, which should exceed those of other major markets.[70] Internet advertising is rising faster than television commercials, though 2015 will still see the latter dominate the former in overall revenue generated.[71] Privacy concerns continue to erode on the social media front.[72] The newspaper industry will see increased number of advertorials re-packaged as "native advertising" by which companies will pay for advertisements to be written as paid newspaper article.[73]

In India, the BJP government is yet to clarify its position on foreign direct investment in retail.[74] Irrespective of its final decision, retail sales should surge sharply upward there as the consummation of pent-up demand of past few years couples with the thriving of 'mall culture' in middle-tier cities. China will also see an increase in retail sales inspite of its investigation in to WalMart.[75] The anti-corruption campaign though will negatively impact luxury good sales as well as those of higher-end automobiles there[76]. A strong dollar will affect US companies with significant operations abroad. Wheat production might match 2014 record volumes in Europe[77]; though more newsprint will probably be devoted to higher prices of cocoa from Ivory Coast.[78] Idiosyncrasies of local markets will shine as Dubai invests in large-scale brick and mortal malls, while Manhattan gets more of its groceries delivered at home steps.[79]

Demand for energy should rise at the same pace as the world GDP next year. Analysts will point at attractive valuations of oil companies.[80] If shale price remains attractive, Sabine Pass in Louisiana will emerge as the first plant in US to export LNG.[81] Four years after the Fukushima incident, Japan will see nuclear reactors back in operation at Sendai.[82]

2014 saw the denizens of the developed world fret about Ebola, breast cancer (through a campaign by actor Angelina Jolie) and ALS (through the ice bucket challenge).[83] Overall, health spending will comfortably outpace the rate of growth of the overall economy. Long-term secular trends driving this are the aging population in the western world (with the population pyramid replaced by a population dome) and an emerging middle class elsewhere with increasing demand for improved access to healthcare.[84] Universal healthcare has been promised for all in India, which should drive up healthcare expenditure by a significant amount there.[85] In 2015, large US companies are mandated under Obama-care to provide insurance to more than 70% of their eligible workforce.[86] Uncertainty on US healthcare reform and debate thereon may cause short-term price volatility. Millennial Development Goals will reviewed by the UN later in the year with a new set of goalposts announced for countries to be met by 2030; different NGOs will campaign vigorously through media to get their pet agendas included in the final list.[87]

Transportation companies will report higher earnings from increased economic activity.[88] Apart from some airlines which have suffered reputation damage through recurring accidents, airline companies will benefit from the reduced oil prices. Defense industry will see robust growth in China, as "Chi-America" remains no more a chimera.[89] Alarmed by this increase, Vietnam with Philippines will move within the US ambit and Australia will seek to join the tripartite naval exercises in the Indian Ocean between US, Japan and India.[90] Tensions in Eastern Europe and the middle-east will favor increases in expenditure across the region. The nationalist government in India will increase defense expenditure sharply even as it moves beyond lip-service on the long-standing issue of indigenization of defense manufacturing.[91]

The mantra of social-local-mobile (SoLoMo in tech jargon) continues to drive the consumer markets division of information technology companies.[92] Expenditure on IT hardware is significantly retarded by the increasing move to cloud computing.[93] The move to cloud computing - along with increasing use of mobile commerce - bodes well for the computer security business.[94] India should see a sharp increase in smart phone adoption; elsewhere tablet computers will rise against laptop and desktops.[95] Embedded systems coupled with rudimentary networking will be marketed as an all-encompassing internet of things as the era of big data continues.[96]  Today, a single family in US places more demands on data flow than the entire planet did a decade back; and even this data rate is expected to increase by a whopping 70% over the next year. Consolidation in the cable sector (e.g Comcast with Time Warner Cable) and the convergence of content with distribution (e.g. AT&T with DirectTV) are two trends that should continue on from 2014.[97] Even as Indians will talk about 3G coverage spanning the nation; Americans will tweet about 4G price warfare and the Chinese will see ZTE unveil a 5G prototype.[98] Facebook will have more users than China has human beings.[99] Analysts will harp about impact of interest-rate hikes on high dividend paying telecom stocks.[100] Apart from the financial industry, telecom will emerge as an industry most impacted by federal regulation across the globe.

The anthropologist Edward Weyer once compared the future to being akin to a "corridor into which we can see only through the light coming from behind".  It is in that sense that we have analyzed the data of the bygone year and tried to extrapolate into the days and months ahead. And when some are falsified - and falsified, some will be - then we shall lay credit for the same at the feet of those responsible - viz. us, the people.

[The authors are based in New York City, and can be contacted through email at and The views represented above are personal and do not in any manner reflect those of the institutions affiliated with the authors.]


[1] See the graph titled "10 year bond yield: annual change and real GDP: annual % change" at

[2] "Secular stagnation: facts, causes and cures", a VoxEU eBook at

[4] A brief historical perspective on the Russia-Ukraine conflict is at

The Economist magazine summarizes the debate over Senkaku islands at

[5] “The ECB, demigods and eurozone quantitative easing” at

[6] “Bank of Japan announces more quantitative easing: the next chapter in Abenomics” at

[7] “World Bank urges China to cut economic growth target to seven percent in 2015, focus on reforms” at

[8] “Reforms by PM Narendra Modi will help India to grow 5.5% this year, 6.3% next year: ADB” at

[10] “The experts: how the US oil boom will change the markets and geopolitics”,

[13] “Economic growth patterns in USA, Canada, Mexico and China” at

[14] “Mexican president Pena Nieto's ratings slip with economic reform” at

[17] “Andres Oppenheimer: Latin America's forecast for 2015: not good” at

[18] “Maduro blames plunging oil prices on US war vs Russia, Venezuela” at and “What's in store for post-Kirchner Argentina” at

[19] “Brazil economists cut 2015 growth forecast to slowest on record” at

[20] “Economic snapshot for Latin America” at

[21] “Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico business forecast report Q1 2015” at and “Obama's Cuba move is Florida's top story for 2014” at

[24] “Ethiopia overview” at and “Kenya overview” at

[26] “Internal violence in South Sudan” at!/?marker=33.

[27] “Political instability in Libya” at!/?marker=14.

[28] “The regional impact of the armed conflict and French intervention in Mali” at

[29] “EGX head optimistic on equities as Egyptian economy recovers” at

[30] “Economy - outlook for 2015 dismal, despite boost” at

[31] “Pre-state Israel: The Sykes-Picot agreement” at

[32] “Turkey - economic forecast summary (Nov 2014)” at

[34] “Saudi-Iranian relations since the fall of Saddam” at

[36] “Dubai 2015 cross sector business outlook extremely bullish” at and “Israel - economic forecast summary (Nov 2014)” at

[37] “China's leap forward: overtaking the US as world's biggest economy” at

[38] “Understanding Shinzo Abe and Japanese nationalism” at

[39] Book: “Getting India back on track: an action agenda for reform” edited by B. Debroy, A. J. Tellis and R. Trevor.

[40] “US may not target Mullah Omar after this year" at

[41] “The rise and rise of Kaptaan” at

[42] “Widodo launches reform agenda with fuel price hike” at

[43] “ASEAN's elusive integration” at

[46] “Russia's economics ministry downgrades 2015 oil price forecast to $80 per barrel” at

[47] “Hollande popularity plumbs new low in mid-term French poll” at

          The Good News About China's New Leadership        

The seven men who will run China’s ruling party for the next five years have a tough job. Two of them, party chief Xi Jinping and premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang, have been groomed for years, but even they are little known. Are they up to it? Breakingviews has scored them on five key criteria, and found some scope for encouragement.

1. International experience. Only Wang Qishan and Zhang Dejiang have spent significant time abroad - and Zhang was in North Korea. On the plus side, Li speaks English. He and Xi have personal reasons to keep U.S. ties friendly: both reportedly have offspring studying there. Score: 6/10.

2. Crisis management. Wang, highly regarded by senior Western bankers and economists, helped clean up financial crises in Hainan and Guangdong. But his new anti-corruption role may spread him too thin. Li ran Henan in the aftermath of an AIDS epidemic, while Zhang was vice premier in charge of industry and transport during last year’s railway corruption crisis, although both took a “crack down first, ask questions later” approach. Score: 7/10.

3. Economic growth. Many of the newcomers, like Tianjin boss Zhang Gaoli, have worked in rapidly growing provinces. But growth alone isn’t what China needs, and the team lacks direct experience of disenfranchised provinces like Tibet or Xinjiang. Still, all can take some credit for the relative stability of the past decade. Score: 7/10.

4. Factional ties. Five of the seven have clear career ties to Jiang Zemin, the influential ex-president. Only two have links to Hu Jintao’s Communist Youth League. Three of the seven are “princelings” – children of former leaders -  and another is married to one. If patronage counts, expect policies that protect the rich. Score: 5/10.

5. Diversity. Seven suited men, all from China’s Han majority, aren’t exactly a mixed bunch. There are slight differences of education: it’s no longer just a collection of science graduates. But the team that purports to serve the people is still far from representative. Score: 5/10.

The party deserves some credit for changing the script a bit. Unlike his predecessor, Hu is also giving up the top army role from day one, which may signal trust in Xi. The line-up has also been changed to reflect the fact that the premier, who officially ranked third in the party hierarchy, is really number two. In such a rigid framework, any sign of change is a bonus. Overall, China’s new leadership gets 6.5 out of 10.

Read more at Reuters Breakingviews.

          Obama's Re-election is Great News for U.S.-China Relations        

The United States and China couldn’t have more different political systems. But with Barack Obama re-elected on Tuesday as U.S. president and China’s new leaders taking over next week, there is reason to hope they can see eye to eye. If Obama builds on America’s recent prudent diplomacy, the two superpowers’ rivalry can be constructive.

The U.S. president’s first challenge is to keep a cool head. The election run-up wasn’t encouraging. Obama and Mitt Romney, his Republican opponent, both rattled sabres at the People’s Republic as they campaigned for the White House. Romney even claimed that he would, on his first day as president, brand China a currency manipulator - a designation that can lead to retaliatory tariffs.

There could be more lashing out, this time from Xi Jinping, the Chinese president-in-waiting, and his officials as they try to establish credibility at home. But Obama can now afford not to retaliate. His administration has also handled past crises fairly well. Dialogue continued behind the scenes even through hiccups like the case of Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist who earlier this year fled from house arrest to the U.S. embassy in Beijing.

Another flashpoint is investment. Obama could do better, say by collaborating more freely with U.S. businesses to promote mutual interests in the Middle Kingdom, or by defusing anti-China protectionism in America and other developed countries. But his record is also reassuring in some respects. In his first two years in office, direct investment into the United States from China doubled. Xi and his politburo could help too, by increasing transparency surrounding the nation’s giant state-owned enterprises.

The China-U.S. relationship is arguably the world’s most important and, in GDP terms, the two could be economic equals within 15 years. That may bring an increase in geopolitical sparring in the coming years, especially given Obama’s foreign policy “pivot” toward Asia and China’s disputes with its neighbors over oil interests in the South China Sea.

But the two heavyweights need each other, both as trading partners and competitors to keep each other in shape. Obama is no newcomer, so he can engage right away. Romney would have taken months to get to know the men in charge of China for the next decade. Continuity and a track record count for a lot.

Read more at Reuters Breakingviews.

          U.S. Navy strike Move In A Show Of Force To Korean Peninsula        

A U.S official has said that the U.S Navy strike group will be moving to the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula in a show of force, because of recent North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un missiles weapon program.

The strike group called the  Carl Vinson, will make its way from Singapore toward the Korean peninsula. The Carl Vinson includes an aircraft carrier. In a statement by U.S Navy, the Carl Vinson will be heading North, but its destination is yet to be specified, and will operate in the Western Pacific instead of its previously planned port visits to Australia.


President Donald Trump had recently met with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, where he asked the Chinese leader to do more to curb the excesses of Kim Jong-Un, and to stop the firing of missiles, which is dangerous to its surround neighbour and allies.

The National security adviser to Donald Trump had given him different options for North Korea, and this includes military and economic sanctions. Also, the option of pre-emptive strike on North Korea is not off the table.


          US Diplomat Arrested For Taking Bribe To Sell US Secrets        

Candace Marie Claiborne, 60, US diplomat allegedly charged with taking thousands of dollars in cash and gifts from Chinese intelligence officials have been charged for lying to investigators about her contact.

The Department of Justice said that Candace knew the money that was given to her by the men was for trading US secrets, because the men were security officials of the Chinese government. She took cash given to her and a new iPhone, and also shared some of the loot with an unidentified man she stayed with in Beijing and Shanghai.


The Chinese agents also paid her fashion school tuition, sewing machine, apartment rent, vacations and other needs she demanded from the men.

In a statement by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord;

Candace Marie Claiborne is a US State Department employee who possesses a Top Secret security clearance and allegedly failed to report her contacts with Chinese foreign intelligence agents who provided her with thousands of dollars of gifts and benefits.

Claiborne used her position and her access to sensitive diplomatic data for personal profit.

Candace has been working for the department since 1999, and in recent times had financial problems. She was arrested on Wednesday, and pleaded not guilty in her first court appearance on Wednesday.

The case has been announced just days before the US President Donald Trump will meet with the Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida next week.


          Trump Administration Quietly Starts Review Of China's Trade Status        
Just days before President Trump is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the administration has made a move that has some U.S.-China experts scratching their heads. The Commerce Department has quietly put a notice into the Federal Register stating that the U.S. will review a hot-button issue between the two superpowers. What's in question is a longstanding designation of China as a "non-market economy," or a country that operates outside of the norms of developed nations when it comes to trade. The U.S. has more power to take action against China because of this so-called NME status if it believes that China is, for example, dumping steel into the U.S. at prices that are unnaturally low and that hurt U.S. industry. The U.S. can basically force Chinese companies to pay taxes that effectively raise the price of such products in the U.S. market. Escaping from this label is something China has sought for more than a decade and that Chinese leaders consider a matter of great
          CHP-180-The Earliest Years of Christianity in China        

Many people don't know that the first preaching of Christianity in China pre-dated the Jesuits by more than nine centuries.  We'll take a second cursory look at the Jesuits as part of a bigger story that includes Christianity in China during the Tang and Yuan dynasties.  We'll see that prior to the arrival of Matteo Ricci, there were two other lesser known attempts to grow Christianity in China.



Āluóběn   阿罗本 Nestorian monk who visited Chang'an in 635 CE

Dàqín Jǐngjiào liúxíng Zhōngguó bēi 大秦景教流行中国碑 "A Monument Commemorating the Propagation of the Dàqín Luminous Religion of China" or "The Story of the Coming of the Religion of Light from the West to China."

Jǐngjiào   景教 Nestorian Christianity

Tiānzhǔjiào   天主教 Roman Catholicism "the religion of the Lord of Heaven"

Dōngzhèngjiào   东正教 Eastern Orthodox “the religion of Eastern Truth”

Jīdūjiào 基督教 Protestantism

Jīdū 基督 Christ

jiào 教 religion or teaching

Xīn Jiào 新教   the New religion

Lǐ Shìmín 李世民 2nd son of Li Yuan, the Tang founder

Táng Tàizōng   唐太宗 Taizong Emperor, formerly known as Li Shimin

Fáng Xuánlíng   房玄龄   Chancellor under Taizong

Zhōu Gōng 周公 Duke of Zhou

Dù Rúhuì   杜如晦 Chancellor under Taizong, colleague of Fang Xuanling

Cháng'ān   长安 Capital of Tang Dynasty China (present day Xian)

Jǐngjìng   景淨 Christian monk who wrote the story of Alopen on the Nestorian Stele

Dàqín 大秦 Rome

Xīān 西安 Capital of Shaanxi province, location of ancient of Chang'an

Jǐngjiào bēi   景教碑 The Nestorian Stele (or Tablet)

bēi 碑 a stele or stone tablet or monument.

Fùpíng County Shaanxi   陕西富平县 Northeast of Xian, the place where the stone came from that the Nestorian Stele was made from. Also the ancestral home of President Xi Jinping.

Bēilín Bówùguǎn   碑林博物馆 The Forest of Monuments Museum in Xian

Xīān Wénchāng Gate   西安文昌门 One of the ancient gates of Xian

Táng Wǔzōng   唐武宗 Tang Emperor from 840-846

Huáng Cháo Uprising   黄巢起义 Uprising lasting 881-884, weakened the Tang Dynasty.

Khanbaliq 汗八里 Capital of Yuan Dynasty China. Present day Beijing

Dàdū   大都 Great Capital...other name for Khanbaliq

Hàn Wǔdì   汉武帝 Western Han emperor from 141-87 BCE

Xiàmén   厦门 Ancient port city in Fujian

Quánzhōu   泉州 Another ancient port city in Fujian

Zhū Yuánzhāng   朱元璋 Ming Dynasty founder, also known as the Hongwu Emperor - reigned 1368-1398

Hóngwǔ Emperor 洪武帝 Zhu Yuanzhang, who came from humble beginnings and founded a dynasty.

Xú Guāngqǐ   徐光启 Also known as Paul Hsu, a colleague of Matteo Ricci

Lǐ Zhīzǎo 李之藻 Along with Xu Guangqi and Yang Tingyun, he was one of the Three Pillars of Catholicism in China.

Yáng Tíngyún  杨廷筠 One of the Three Pillars of Catholicism in China

Dorgan   多尔衮 Prince Regent during the reign of the Shunzhi Emperor

Shùnzhì   顺治 1st Qing Emperor to rule over China 1643-1661

Kāngxī   康熙 Successor to Shunzhi, the longest reigning Chinese emperor 1661-1722

Yōngzhèng 雍正 Successor to the Kangxi Emperor

Luō Guànzhōng  罗贯中  Author of the classic novel "Romance of the Three Kingdoms




JOHN ZHU'S THREE KINGDOMS PODCAST - Click here and check it out


Click here for Laszlo's past episode CHP-098-Ricci, Schall von Bell and Verbiest


          CHP-075 Xi Jinping        
Xi JInping left U.S. soil last night after taking in the Laker game at Staples Center.  His visit this week went off without a hitch.  Today we look at Xi Jinping’s life in the context of PRC history.  This fifth generation leader is someone who has a rich background not only in Party and military continue reading >>
          Siria, Trump lancia 59 missili da navi Usa sulla base dell’attacco chimico        
Siria, Trump lancia 59 missili da navi Usa sulla base dell'attacco chimico

MILANO - Secondo quanto riporta il "New York Times", il Presidente Trump ha detto che gli Stati Uniti hanno scagliato 59 missili verso la base area siriana da cui - secondo l'intelligence americana - era partito l'attacco con armi chimiche nella provincia di Idlib. Il lancio americano ha ucciso cinque persone. L'attacco di martedì - secondo l'Osservatorio Siriano per i diritti umani - ha portato alla morte di 86 persone: tra questi 30 sono bambini e 20 sono donne. Il lancio dei missili di ieri sera (avvenuto alle 20.30 ora americana, le 2,30 in Italia) è il primo attacco diretto degli Stati Uniti alla Siria dall'insediamento di Trump.

LE RAGIONI DI TRUMP - Ieri sera Donald Trump ha cenato con il presidente cinese Xi Jinping, nel resort di Mar-a-Lago in Florida. "Martedì il dittatore siriano Bashar al-Assad ha lanciato un orribile attacco chimico contro civili innocenti. Usando un letale gas nervino, Assad ha stroncato la vite di uomini, donne, bambini senza speranza", ha detto poco più tardi alle telecamere Donald Trump. "È stata una morte lenta e brutale per molti di loro. Perfino neonati meravigliosi sono stati crudelmente assassinati in questo attacco barbarico. Nessun figlio di Dio dovrebbe mai patire un simile orrore". "Abbiamo considerato che un attacco missilistico fosse una risposta appropriata all'attacco chimico", ha detto il Segretario di Stato degli Stati Uniti Tillerson, secondo quanto riporta il "Washington Post".

L'ATTACCO AMERICANO - Secondo Talal Barazi, il governatore della provincia di Homs, i missili americani hanno portato alla morte di cinque persone nella base militare siriana di Shyrat. Tra questi tre sono soldati e due sono civili. Sette persone invece sono rimaste ferite. Un attacco che, secondo i media russi, può portare a un peggioramento dei rapporti tra Mosca e Washington. Il Presidente russo Putin ha affermato che l'azione di ieri sera "infrange la legge internazionale perché Washington ha compiuto un atto di aggressione contro uno Stato sovrano". Viktor Ozerov, presidente del comitato di Difesa e sicurezza del Consiglio federale russo, ha dichiarato che "la Russia prima di tutto chiederà una riunione urgente del Consiglio di sicurezza delle Nazioni Unite. Questo può essere considerato come un atto di aggressione da parte degli Stati Uniti contro uno Stato dell'Onu".

PHOTO CREDITS: Seaman Ford Williams/US Navy/PA

L'articolo Siria, Trump lancia 59 missili da navi Usa sulla base dell’attacco chimico sembra essere il primo su Libreriamo.

          Jordan Peele, Viola Davis, Steve Bannon Make Time’s 100 Most Influential People List        

Time Magazine has revealed its 100 Most Influential People List of 2017 — Jordan Peele, RuPaul, Riz Ahmed, Constance Wu and Steve Bannon are just a few who have made the comprehensive list.

The list is broken up into five categories: Pioneers, Artists, Leaders, Titans and Icons. In the first category, names like Samantha Bee, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Peele and Ahmed make the list, while in the Artists list, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Jones, Ava Duvernay and Sarah Paulson are listed.

In the Leaders category, we see people like Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un, Julian Assange and Elizabeth Warren, while the Titans list bears names like LeBron James, Jason Blum and Tom Brady.

Lastly, the Icons list features Simone Biles, Ashley Graham, Fan Bingbing, Colin Kaepernick and Margaret Atwood.

Each person on the list, which includes 40 women, is introduced in a profile written by a notable figure, such as Lena Dunham, Barry Jenkins, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leonardo DiCaprio, Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift, Helen Mirren, Brie Larson, Martin Scorsese, Cate Blanchett, Arianna Huffington, Kamala Harris, Paul Ryan, John McCain, John Cusack, Sheryl Sandberg, Stephen Colbert, Harvey Weinstein and Meryl Streep.

“Some years the list has the feel of a loose, lively dinner party, people who mostly don’t know each other but would get along if they did. This year is a bit more complicated,” Time editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs wrote in her essay introducing the 2017 list. “These past 12 months have sharpened our edges as political debates in the U.S. and Europe, the Middle East and Asia, turned jagged and primal and seem almost perfectly designed to divide us more deeply.”

See the full list below.

Biram Dah Abeid, Mauritanian politician, activist

David Adjaye, architect

Riz Ahmed, actor

Thelma Aldana, Attorney General of Guatemala

James Allison, immunologist

Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Natalie Batalha and Michaël Gillon, astronomers

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks

Margaret Atwood, novelist

Stephen Bannon, White House Chief Strategist

Cindy Arlette Contreras Bautista, activist

Samantha Bee, actor, comedian

Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

Simone Biles, gymnast

Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour, organizers, Women’s March

Jason Blum, director

Tom Brady, football player, New England Patriots

Gretchen Carlson, advocate for workplace equality, former Fox News anchor

Chance the Rapper, rapper

George Church, geneticist

James Comey, director, FBI

James Corden, host, The Late Late Show with James Corden

Viola Davis, actor

Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines

Ava DuVernay, director

Daniel Ek, co-founder and CEO, Spotify

Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, Chicago Cubs

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey

Fan Bingbing, actor

Bob Ferguson, Attorney General of Washington

Melinda Gates, philanthropist

Donald Glover, actor, writer, rapper

Ashley Graham, model

Glenda Gray, physician and researcher

Kirsten Green, founder, Forerunner Ventures

Gavin Grimm, activist

Demis Hassabis, artificial intelligence pioneer

LeBron James, basketball player, Cleveland Cavaliers

Barry Jenkins, director

Leslie Jones, comedian, actor

Colin Kaepernick, football player

Alicia Keys, singer

Kim Jong Un, Supreme Leader of North Korea

Jared Kushner, White House senior adviser

John Legend, singer, songwriter

John Lewis, U.S. Congressman, 5th District of Georgia

Leila de Lima, Philippine opposition senator

Jean Liu, president, Didi Chuxing

Demi Lovato, singer

Barbara Lynch, chef, restaurateur

Kerry James Marshall, artist

General James Mattis, Secretary of Defense, U.S.

Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Conor McGregor, mixed martial artist

Rebekah Mercer, Republican donor

Alessandro Michele, designer, Gucci

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

Neymar, soccer player

Sandra Day O’Connor, former Supreme Court Justice, founder, iCivics

Sarah Paulson, actor

Jordan Peele, actor, comedian, filmmaker

Tom Perez, chairman, Democratic National Committee

Ben Platt, actor

Pope Francis, Pontifex

Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia

Ryan Reynolds, actor

Margot Robbie, actor

RuPaul, television personality

Raed Saleh, head of Syria’s White Helmets

Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia

Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senator, New York

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, entrepreneur, founder, Paytm

Ed Sheeran, singer, songwriter

Cindy Sherman, photographer

Raf Simons, designer, chief creative officer, Calvin Klein

Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force

Evan Spiegel, CEO and co-founder, Snapchat

Emma Stone, actor

Donald Trump, President of the United States

Ivanka Trump, White House special assistant

Dr. Celina Turchi, infectious disease expert

Bernard J. Tyson, CEO, Kaiser Permanente

Hamdi Ulukaya, entrepreneur, CEO, Chobani

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, King of Thailand

Guus Velders, atmospheric chemist

Margrethe Vestager, antitrust czar, European Union

Jeanette Vizguerra, activist

Wang Qishan, senior leader, Communist Party, China

Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator, Massachusetts

Colson Whitehead, novelist

Constance Wu, actor

Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, General Secretary, Communist Party, China

Janet Yellen, chair, Federal Reserve

Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo

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          Trump Hits the World Stage at the G-20 Meetings        

 There’s no shortage of topics up for debate at this week’s G20 in Hamburg, but the annual summit— attended by Presidents Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Chancellor Angela Merkel and 16 other world leaders — will certainly focus on increasing threats from Russia and North Korea.

Let’s start with North Korea. As many were [...]

          LATEST POINTS TO PONDER SUNDAY 3/3        

Top World News Now                 
March 3, 2013

United States
Obama Pardons 17 Felons, First in His Second Term
DHS built domestic surveillance tech into Predator drones
'Hundreds of thousands' of documents captured with Osama bin Laden, but only 17 released
Michigan governor moves to appoint emergency manager in Detroit
Pentagon Plans to Ask for Base Closures 
Thousands of Soldiers to Leave Europe
U.S. lawmakers question military aid to Egypt, citing concerns about Israel
US factory work is returning, but the industry has changed
'Anonymous' Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US
Among Most Polluted in US, NYC Area Awaits Cleanup
US Budget Cuts Force Yellowstone to Delay Opening
Obama signs sequester bill
Obama moves a step closer to approval of Keystone pipeline
Navy Building a Drone Base in Sunny Malibu

Ukrainian leader, fresh from EU talks, to meet Putin
Russian Arms Trade Czar Says "War" Declared on Weapon Supplies to Syria
Russian demonstrators rally in support of U.S. adoption ban
Moscow Police to Probe Alleged Rally Payment Scam
Moscow Mayor says no to more mosques in the city
Opposition’s ‘Social March’ Fizzles Out in Moscow
Uzbek National Shot Dead in Moscow
Putin, Obama stress cooperation, pledge to 'avoid deterioration' in relations
Russia presses for extradition of fugitive banker
Ukrainian President: Gas contract with Russia is killing us
Putin Signals Russia Can Be More Flexible on Syria
Putin says Russia should listen to French arguments on Syria, over vodka
Russians commend Putin's performance, believe he can keep election promises

Islands Dispute: China Warns Japan Ahead Of Legislative Session
A push for change in China as new leaders take the helm
China's reform roadmap gets clearer
China "fully prepared" for currency war
China divided on TV 'execution parade': judicial resolve or crude voyeurism
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Kills 12 in Chinese Coal Mine
Spill in China Underlines Environmental Concerns
China's fourth space launch center to be in use in two years
Xi Jinping taking on corruption in China
Premier Li Keqiang, as Hu Jintao protege, may be outgunned on policy
China calls for decreased tension on Korean Peninsula
5 Tibetans, mostly Buddhist monks, arrested for inciting self-immolations
Darkness at noon as worst dust storm in months mixes with morning smog
China's First Aircraft Carrier on Way to Permanent Base at Qingdao in North

United Kingdom‎
Cameron: UK 'can transform Africa' with G8
Cameron Vows To Stay The Course
Cameron buries hatchet with Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell - and offers him £250,000 EU job
Government fights Europe over air pollution reduction
EU banker pay cap 'threatens thousands of British jobs'
Revealed: One in four of UK's top companies pay no tax
Banker Andrei Borodin granted asylum in Britain after fleeing Russia
UK Explorer: Green Campaigning Has Failed
UK commits £88m to Chilean telescope 'as big as all existing ones put together'
Paedophile ring leader, Colin Peters, linked to Barnes scandal
Cameron vows to defend UK banks

European Union
Hundreds of thousands march against austerity in Portugal
Italy paralysed as Grillo plots exit route from euro
Italian newcomer Grillo predicts collapse in six months
Italy President Napolitano calls for realism after vote
Greek military prepares for mass repression
1000s hold anti-austerity demo in Greece
At least 22 people hurt in Macedonia ethnic protests over new defense minister
Mass layoffs at Caterpillar in Belgium
Dark Rumblings Of A Coup D'État In Spain
Spain Delays Catalunya Banc Auction
Spain overturns Islamic face veil ban
Thousands march in Portugal to protest austerity

Germany Blasted for Role in Europe's Crisis
German states rail against 'stupid' wealth transfers
Italian president says Germany must give EU recovery a boost
Germany Debates Fracking as Energy Costs Rise
Bitter feud divides family of Germany's reunification leader
Racism in German military mirrors society
Germany discovers toxin in animal fodder
Angela Merkel Wishes Bulgaria's Borissov Quick Recovery
Merkel cabinet lowers bars to German labor market
Kerry praises Germany's 'exemplary leadership' in Europe
Italian president scraps meeting with German opposition leader over "clown" remarks

Hollande leads tributes to 'a great figure' and resistance fighter
As France's Mali mission grows, so does terror threat from homegrown militants inside France
France considers marijuana-based drug
France will not reach 2015 disabled access target
Paris seeks alternative to 75% tax
France-Qatar tensions rise over Mali war, Tunisia
Hollande juggles trade, human rights in Moscow
Hollande to Talk Syria Settlement With Putin
Kerry holds talks on Mali with French leadership
War For Global Energy Supremacy-World War III
Al-Qaeda leader behind Algeria gas plant hostage massacre killed in Mali
US Seeks to Confirm Report of Terror Leader's Death
Syria: Fierce Clashes in Provincial Capital Raqqa
Assad Forces Take Aleppo Village, Reopening Supply Line
Syrian President Assad Blasts British Government
Iran Says Syria’s Assad to Run for 2014 Election
How Does the U.S. Mark Unidentified Men in Pakistan and Yemen as Drone Targets?
Syrian Rebels Angry Over US Aid: ‘Only Thing We Want Is Weapons’

Insight Into Today’s News
Billionaires Continue To Dump Stocks
G20 issues empty declaration against currency wars
Norway Enters The Currency Wars
The Second-Mortgage Shell Game
The Last Liberal Branch of Government
US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan unraveling
Goodbye? We’ve Lost Who We Are?
US Schools Go Into Full Prison Mode
Hornady Addresses Ammo Shortage: We’re working 24/7
US Media Yet Again Conceals Newsworthy Government Secrets

Netanyahu secretly visited Jordan to discuss peace with Palestinians
Netanyahu gets two more weeks to form Israel coalition
3 Syrian Mortars Land in Southern Golan Heights
Gaza Border: Senior Officer's Vehicle Hit by Gunshots
New coalition will have to freeze construction outside settlement blocs
Tissue tests planned for Israelis in Gaza who want to cross border
Palestinian PM evacuated from West Bank after Israeli soldiers fire teargas at protesters
Sequestration: Israel Could ‘Gradually’ Lose $500 Million in US Aid
Netanyahu blasts Erdogan's 'dark and libelous' criticism of Zionism

Scud Missile Fired in Syria Lands Near Iraqi Village
Bombs Kill at Least 22 in Iraqi Capital
Erdoğan: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism same
Turkey's Difficult Choice in Palestine, Israel
Erdogan Calls for More Support for Syrian Opposition
Kurdish leader 'outlines' Turkey peace plan
More Military Arrests in Turkey For 'Feb. 28 Process'
Turkey Provides Schools for Syrian Refugee Children
Iraq budget stalemate deepens over Kurd oil payments
Iraq continues to allow Iranian overflights to Syria

John Kerry visits Egypt as dozens injured in violent protests
Kerry urges Egypt to take difficult economic steps; opposition figures skip meetings
Protesters Demand Armed Forces Intervention in Cairo
Ex-member: Muslim Brotherhood has secret societies in 80 nations, including U.S.
Bahrain Activist Zainab Al-Khawaja Sentenced to Jail
176 Protesters Held in Saudi Arabia
Qatar's Influence in Egypt Runs Deeper Than Its Pockets
Morsi criticized for reaction to tragedy
Parties who boycotted Morsi's national dialogue invited to send suggestions
Opposition refuse to stand in Egypt's parliamentary elections

Ahmadinejad: National dialogue only way to end Syria crisis
Ahmadinejad: West's war against Iran media doomed to failure  
Ahmadinejad to Visit Pakistan This Month to Inaugurate IP Gas Pipeline Construction
Threatening Iran Won't Help in Nuclear Talks, Envoy Says
Seized Chinese Weapons Raise Concerns on Iran
Head Of Iran's Qods Force Suggests Assad Is Vulnerable
Sanction-Hit Iran Fears Unrest as New Elections Near
Khamenei tells Zardari pipeline must advance despite US opposition
Ahmadinejad Aide’s Candidacy a Challenge to Iran’s Theocratic Status Quo
Ahmadinejad, Zardari Stress Expansion of Iran-Pakistan Ties

Hugo Chavez undergoing chemotherapy
VP Maduro: Capriles Seeks Destabilization in Venezuela
Venezuela decries "absurd" rumors over Chavez death
Maduro: Chavez ‘battling’ for his life
Rumours swirl as Chavez stays out of sight
Former envoy claims Venezuela's Chavez is dead
Venezuela government denies rumours about Chavez
Venezuelans hold demo in support of Chavez
Student demonstration dispersed by authorities in Venezuela
FARC: Colombia government to blame for coffee strike

Brazil to get its first nuclear subs
Rousseff Meets Nigerian Leader for Trade Talks
Brazil's Unemployment Rises More Than Forecast in January
Prosecutors investigate spying charges against consortium building dam in Brazil
Brazil turns to Catholic Church to quash crack epidemic
Brazil Wind Developers May Be Required to Build New Power Lines
No one is safe from Argentina's drug war
Modern Slavery Rears its Ugly Head in Chile
Chilean Navy Saves 25 Stranded Whales, 20 Die
Peru says American couple found; family wants 'proof of life'

Nieto Says Justice Will Be Done in Union Boss’s Case
Six Bodies Found in Mexico, Including Teenage Boy Earlier Arrested for Murder
Mexican Daily Hit by Third Attack This Week
Army Kills 4 Gunmen in Northern Mexico
Two Police Gunned Down in Guatemala
Fire hits big Mexico City marketplace
Pena Nieto enacts major education reform
Powerful head of Mexico teachers union is arrested
Mexico to Launch New Police Force Later This Year

Cuba Dissident’s Daughter Says Dad’s Death Was No Accident
Cuban Dissidents Hope to Build Mass Organization
A post-Castro Cuba
Chavez Congratulates Raul Castro on Re-Election
Castro Retirement News Prompts Tepid Response In Miami
Transition now seen as underway in Cuba
Cooperatives Could Save Cuban Socialism
South African medical students in Cuba may be deported
No ease for Cuba from US state sponsor of terrorism list

United Nations
U.N. Security Council asks for report on possible Mali peacekeepers
Ban Tones Down Criticism of Rwanda Over Congo Claims
UN chief says Iran should gain world confidence over its disputed atomic plan
Libya to ask U.N. to lift arms embargo
UN Removes Osama bin Laden From Sanctions List
Top World News Now                 
February 21, 2013


 Heads up from AntiMullah. Separate vacations and Obambi brings Reggie Love back with  him. If you do  not know what this is, you need to visit/view more often to keep up with latest developments.

Tone and content reflects information not normally provided by Lame Stream Media's love fest with Obambi. And worldwide events that discredit his claims and motives for anti-American, pro-Moslem Brotherhood policies and actions.
Read and become knowledgeable and stop believing the incredible lies Obama feeds us at every opportunity. Lies his own Democrats increasingly have a problem swallowing and are intentionally leading our nation into certain fiscal and political destruction.

United States
GOP Resists Obama's Push for Tax Rise to Head Off Cuts
Obama Fleshes Out Plans for Infrastructure Projects
Obama considers urging the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage
White House announces online espionage response policy
US issues final word on essential benefits under "Obamacare"
Anonymous thrown into China-US cyberwar scandal
Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilian workers
In wake of Benghazi, rapid response Marine unit heading to Europe
US issues worldwide caution to its citizens of terror threats
Body found in restaurant rubble after Kansas City explosion
Why Americans Might Be Better Off If Their Burgers Were Made Of Horsemeat
Sex-Change Surgery Available Through Many US Colleges
Majority of US citizens say illegal immigrants should be deported
Hundreds of thousands march in Puerto Rico against gay rights

Putin Invites G20 Leaders to St. Petersburg Summit
Migrant workers call on Putin for amnesty
Lavrov: Time to end the war in Syria
Moscow: N. Korea sanctions can only impact nuclear program
IMF warns of higher inflation, slower GDP growth in Russia
Russia's missing billions revealed
Russia Tries To Remove Images of New Drone From the Internet
Russian Military to Develop Anti-Meteorite Defenses
Russia investigates 25 cases of Defense Ministry fraud - Prosecutor General
MP resigns after bloggers disclose his Florida property
Russia escalating attacks on free expression a year on from Pussy Riot protest
‘Ample Evidence’ Linking Ukraine Ex-President to Journalist Murder
French Specialists Resume Work at Chernobyl Disaster Site
Ukraine: Embezzlement At State Orphanages
Belarus Phases Out Russian Warplanes, Radars

Xi Jinping's campaign to purge Communist Party 'won't be easy'
Incumbent cabinet holds final meeting
China's central banker skips retirement bar to stay on
Manila to tackle sea row 'with or without China' at UN
Attacks originating from US rank 1st among overseas hackings in China
Photos show new activity at N Korea nuclear site
Spy agencies scrounge for details on North Korean nuclear test
North Korea: A nuclear 7-Eleven?
N Korean propaganda video shows Obama in flames
US Envoy Opposes S Korean Nuclear Armament
Rise in online fan clubs extolling China's party leaders
After China's multibillion-dollar cleanup, water still unfit to drink
Smog in Pearl River Delta 'worse than in Beijing'
Maoists Block Deal to Break Nepal's Long Political Deadlock

Cameron to pay respects to victims of Amritsar massacre
Cameron's India trip hits wobble with concern over helicopter deal
Sars-like virus death reported in UK
New coronavirus can infect human lungs as easily as cold virus
Magdalene laundries: Ireland to apologise to survivors
Iranian torture guard refused UK citizenship
Britain expands "bigger than burgers" horsemeat tests
Regulator warns Britain 'on the brink' of energy crisis
Scotland 'faces EU funding cut'
Tanker drivers in Scotland vote to strike
Belfast Orange Order warns members over flag protests
One in four Africans attacked in Ireland

Berlusconi accused of trying to buy votes days before election
After Bulgarian Protests, Prime Minister Resigns
Greek police fire tear gas on anti-austerity protesters
Greece welcomes Hollande with ‘news blackout’
Dutch experiment in legalised prostitution a disaster
Thieves in Belgium pull off most spectacular and dramatic diamond heist in years
Iceland considers dropping its currency
Lawmakers Threaten to Veto Tightened Budget
EU reinforces sanctions against DPRK
To Revive Honey Bees, Europe Proposes a Pesticide Ban
Anti-austerity strike to bring Greece to a standstill
Italy politicians make final drive for votes before poll

Berlusconi's possible comeback a nightmare for Angela Merkel
Merkel's Rainbow Problem: On Gay Rights, Chancellor Still a Conservative
German Officials Signal Berlusconi Isn't Their Man
Germany Sends Troops to Mali
German police raid firms over Ponzi scheme
Germany: Court Backs Adoption by Same-Sex Couples
Net activists slam Germany's open data portal
NSU victims' families want more than sympathy
Security staff at Hamburg airport to strike Wednesday in pay dispute
Swiss mayoral candidate 'pro-Hamas, pro-Iran'
Outgoing chairman of Switzerland's Novartis foregoes $78 million golden parachute deal
Norway is Afraid of Foreign Spies

Hollande: French soldier killed in northern Mali
Hollande confirms seven kidnapped in Cameroon
Hollande urges investment in Greece, growth in Europe
Hollande: France will miss 2013 growth target
French Kidnapped in Cameroon Were Taken Into Nigeria
France saw 58 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks in 2012
Man arrested for serial attacks on Paris Chinese
France to unfreeze development aid to Mali
France Charges 11 In Alleged Kurdish Extortion Ring
War For Global Energy Supremacy-World War III
Syrian rebels threaten Hezbollah with 48-hour deadline
Syrian military reportedly shoots down Israel drone
US direct military support to Mali likely to continue after elections
Mortars Explode Near Assad Palace in Damascus
Missile kills more than 30 in Syria
Typhoid breaks out in rebel-held eastern Syria
Foreign Arms Supplies to Syrian Rebels Expanding
Pro-Assad militia now key to Syrian government’s war strategy
Russia's double dealing on arms to Assad regime leaves UK isolated over Syria
Syrian Rebels Threaten to Attack Lebanon Over Border Dispute
Insight Into Today’s News
Billionaires Continue To Dump Stocks
G20 issues empty declaration against currency wars
Norway Enters The Currency Wars
The Second-Mortgage Shell Game
The Last Liberal Branch of Government
US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan unraveling
Goodbye? We’ve Lost Who We Are?
US Schools Go Into Full Prison Mode
Hornady Addresses Ammo Shortage: We’re working 24/7
US Media Yet Again Conceals Newsworthy Government Secrets

Former foreign minister Livni joins Netanyahu coalition
Prisoner X: Benjamin Netanyahu adds to mystery
Secretary Kerry to skip Israel in first trip
Turkey, Israel Cut 1st Defense Deal Since Freezing Ties
Israel Seeks to Curb Weapons Flow to Gaza
West Bank protesters rally for release of deteriorating prisoners
Palestinian Prisoner's Hunger Strike Reaches 211th Day
Fatah Official Warns of Violence if Prisoners Aren't Freed
'Iron Dome' may be instrumental in peace process
Head of Israeli IVF unit arrested in Romania


Security deteriorating in Egypt due to political instability
Opposition Sets Conditions For Dialogue With Morsi
Morsi's advisory team less diverse after months of walkouts
Morsi Issues Presidential Decree to Appoint New Mufti
Strike, Protests Hit Egypt's Port Said for 3rd Day
Egyptians protest at Libyan border over new visa rules
Egypt ministry appeals against order to block YouTube
Egypt files new charges against Mubarak's last premier
2 Sunni groups halt roles in Bahrain crisis talks
A Palace Rift in Bahrain Bedevils Key US Navy Base

Iran to Conduct Military Drills Over 3 Days
Reformists Meet Khamenei To Improve 'Internal Climate'
Rivals Forced to Apologize to Supreme Leader
Ahmadinejad threat to cancel Iranian poll
Iran Pushes Nuclear-Free Mideast Plans
Syrian Prime Minister Claims Iran is Now “Occupying” Syria
MPs say sovereignty over three Persian Gulf islands is non-negotiable
Iran protests Berlin film award for banned Jafar Panahi
Fatwa Issued Against 3G Internet Operator in Iran
Iran FM Spurns Western 'Gold Trade' Offer
Stung by 'Argo,' Iran Backs Conference Denouncing 'Hollywoodism'

Top World News Now                 
February 15, 2013

United States
Environmentalists Press Obama in Heated Oil Pipeline Debate
NRA exec accuses Obama of gun 'charade' at State of the Union
Kerry: Moves Against North Korea Would Scare Iran Off Nukes
Senate Republicans Block Hagel Nomination For Defense Secretary
Key US general backs keeping Afghan forces at peak strength
Missouri Democrats Introduce Legislation to Confiscate Firearms – Gives Gun Owners 90 Days to Turn in Weapons
Transocean to pay $400 million for 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill
High taxes force more Americans to renounce their citizenship
600 children living in Washington, DC homeless shelter
Conspiracy Theorists Leap at the Confusing Case of Dorner’s Multiple Wallets
Body in burned cabin ID'd as Christopher Dorner
Cruise ship nightmare nearing end for passengers after hellish trip
CDC Warns of Super-Gonorrhea

Russia activates ‘Operation Fortress’, 20,000 troops after air defense forces shoot down space object
Putin orders Russian security on high alert before Olympics
Putin Warns Foreign NGOs Against 'Meddling' In Russian Affairs
Putin Orders FSB to Set Up Anti-Hacker Defense
Putin: Russia will not tolerate foreign pressure
Foreign Ministry: Russia ‘Ready’ to Consider Further Nuclear Arms Cuts
Army Chief: Russia may be drawn into resource wars in future
Russian Army Commissions Bioengineered Liver for $17 Mln
Russia charges Georgian politician with plotting mass unrest
Constitutional Court: Authorities must not politically discriminate against protesters
Six Suspected Militants Killed in Dagestan Operation
Very strong earthquake in a sparsely populated Siberia area
Thousands of Russian convicts may go untracked if bracelet batteries die

Xi's Vows of Change in China Belie Private Warning
Xi Jinping Prepares to Deal With New 'Gang of Four'
Beijing ramps up propaganda war to bolster Diaoyus claim
China's environment unaffected by DPRK nuclear test so far
China's Netizens React Colorfully to N. Korean Nuke Test
Nuke test gives US excuse to boost its military
S. Korea stages large-scale drills following DPRK nuke test
South Korea flexes missile power after North test
The Real Japan-China Conflict
7 dead, 18 injured in China after man sets off bomb over child custody dispute
Depressing landmark reached, 100th Tibetan self-immolates
Tibetans commemorate centennial of 'Tibetan independence'
Clues to why most survived China's melamine scandal

Major warns Cameron's EU referendum is a 'gamble'
EU warns Tories that UK security opt-out 'doesn't make sense'
UK Military Flies Ghana Troops, Equipment to Mali
Britain warns of Syria jihadist threat to Europe
British MPs to receive on-the-job mental health aid
UK Lawmakers Say Credit Schemes Not Working
Another policeman held in UK graft probe
New SARS-like virus shows person-to-person transmission
Deaths, lies and the NHS: Shocking new healthcare scandals emerge in UK
UK Arrests Men in Horse-Meat Probe
Horsemeat: Bute Found In Carcasses In UK
UK soap opera star faces child sex charges

Europe Rejects Critics of 'Robin Hood' Tax
Austerity's children becoming Europe's "lost generation"
Economy in Europe Contracts More Than Expected
Pope rounds on rival cardinals and their 'sins against unity'
Man sets himself alight at Rome airport
Berlusconi defends need for bribery in winning contracts
Monte Paschi's former finance chief held in Italy
Italy unemployment crisis reaches alarming rate
Foreign investors set to sue Spain over energy reform
King Juan Carlos fights new pressures to abdicate
Greece: Alexis Tsipras raises the political stakes
Interior Ministry: Mafia plotting to crash Serbian Air Force One

Un-Natural Gas: Fracking Set to Shake Up German Campaign
Germany and Spain Move to Curb Green-Energy Supports
German airports security staff strike continues Friday
Germany to help Israelis stuck in unfriendly countries
Roma in Germany forced into abject poverty
Barbarians at the Gate
Reports Of 'Neo-Nazi' Guards At Amazon Warehouses In Germany Creates Fresh Scandal
Tempting PhDs lead politicians into plagiarism
Germany's Great Church Sell-Off
Swiss push reconciliation plan for Sri Lanka
Switzerland prepares to sit at G20 head table
Norway Ready to Use Rate Cuts to Cool Krone

Hollande Tiptoes Toward Raid on Pensions Under Pressure From EU
Hollande says France ok with India civil nuclear liability clause
Hollande in India to sell warplanes, nuclear power, metro construction
Tunisians denounce France interference
The European Slump: France Gives Up Lowering Its Budget Deficit
French Goodyear workers protest against closure of Amiens Nord plant
France moves step closer to legal euthanasia
French firm suspected as culprit in spreading horsemeat scandal
France to return 7 paintings looted during WWII
War For Global Energy Supremacy-World War III
Libya Braces for Unrest on Anniversary of Qaddafi Revolt
Syrian rebels down 2 government planes
Syria rebels capture oil field and military base
Saudis say Syria death toll may be 90000
As war in Syria continues, refugees in Turkey open a high school
Armenia tries to help as Christian Armenians flee Syria
In Mali town, counter-insurgency task ties down French
French incursion frees few slaves in Mali
Official Details French Role in Mali
US Pledges to Help Mali With Long-Term Stability
Insight Into Today’s News
US Media Yet Again Conceals Newsworthy Government Secrets
Now We Know: War Is Murder
It Can't Happen Here?
The Andromeda Strain, Yes. Jesus, No. Your Tax Dollars at Work.
Remember 1994
Morningland Dairy destroyed by feds, $250,000 inventory stolen by government thugs during armed raid
Department of Homeland Security Targets Gun Collector
CIA Adviser Warns of 'Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction'
Debtors Prisons In The US Are Rapidly Filling With People Who Can’t Pay Bills

Netanyahu threatened media over Prisoner X
'Prisoner X' took part in Mossad operation of killing Hamas operative in Dubai?
Lawyer: ‘Prisoner X’ negotiated plea bargain before suicide
Israeli Security Delegation Arrives for Talks in Cairo
Border area on alert as Israel carries out drills
Israel shells out almost a fifth of national budget on defense
Israel falls 20 places in World Press Freedom Index
Leading Rabbi Says Let Haredim Guard Their Own West Bank Cities
Israeli Siege Snuffing Out Gaza's Camel Industry


Morsi's Egypt Poised to Criminalize Protest
Morsi's graduate son snares plum Egypt job at 66 times lowest salary
Salafis open fire on Morsi
Ruling party aims for outright majority in new parliament
Egypt political forces call for symbolic funeral of slain boy potato seller
Egypt Military Offers Rare Apology for Child Death
Teenage protester shot dead amid clashes on Bahrain uprising anniversary
Saudi Minister Puts Young Royals in Succession Spotlight
Bahrain condemns Iran's statements

Ahmadinejad bluffed that Iran is now a 'nuclear state'
IAEA, Iran Fail to Reach Nuclear Deal
Kerry urges Iran to make "real offers" in nuclear talks
Gulf states reject Iranian suggestion that Syria, Bahrain be discussed at nuclear talks
Iran denies transferring arms to Somali militants
Iran Using China To Smuggle Nuclear Material? ISIS Report Raises Concerns
Iran Mourns Senior Commander Killed in Syria
Iran Begins Its Election-Season Web Crackdown a Few Months Early
Pak-Iran pipeline deal likely to be inked today

Venezuelan students protest outside Cuban Embassy as Chavez remains out of sight in Havana
Venezuela to Limit Medicine Prices After Chavez Devaluation
Maduro: Chavez Undergoing “Very Complex and Tough” Treatment
Venezuela's move to devalue is desperate
Chavez Devaluation Puts Venezuelans to Queue Before Price Raise
Capriles: Venezuela needs no devaluation, but stop handouts
US Imposes Sanctions on Venezuela's Cavim Arms Company
Farc rebels kill seven Colombian soldiers in blow to peace process
Eastern Colombia locked into neo-paramilitary war

Witnesses of Argentina major train accident fear for their lives
Woman in Argentina marries twin sister's convicted killer
Rousseff Stumbles on Energy
Brazil's Hydroelectric Dam Boom is Bringing Tensions
Brazil Papal Contender: Place of Birth Irrelevant
Argentina confirms quizzing of Iran suspects
Epic Glacier Collapse In Argentina: Ice Bridge Connected To Perito Moreno Thunders Into Lake
Argentina Continues Its Defiance of Ghana in the Courts
Chile's Mapuche Indians clash with police in Collipulli

A glimpse of Nieto's new crime fighting strategy
Mexico arrests six suspects for rape of

Original text

 â€œThe News You Need Today…For The World You’ll Live In Tomorrow.”





Brennan converted during an assignment to Saudi Arabia






you will quickly be able to note and compare the Obama treacherous and even treasonous anti-American activity among what she reports.


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Click Here For More Sorcha Faal Reports

Sister Maria Theresa is the 73rd Sorcha Faal of the Sorcha Faal Order, Elected as Mother Superior 3 February 2007
 â€œConspiracy theorists concentrate their time on transmuting the "base matter" of current events, official stories, propaganda and public relations into the gleaming golden truth buried within. They do this through the very right-brained activity of uncovering and inventing connections between disparate elements.
They create story-systems to understand and explain events - essentially a religious activity. For whatever reason, it’s much easier for us to deal with our internal contents by projecting them into the world around us. These outward signs inevitably become carriers of the archetypal content and psychodrama latent in the seeker.
Conspiracy theory also overcomes the strictures of literalism and the problems of simplistic thinking by experimenting with multiplicity of meaning. Ordinary events, people and signs become symbols bristling with complex, malleable, even contradictory meanings. Mystery is revived and idealized. Facts become more than the sum of their parts. Theory becomes poetry and even theology.”
The Most Critical Books Published By The Order Of The Sorcha Faal You Should Own: Picking up the Pieces: The Most Important Book Available For You To Be Able To Survive Americas Growing Police State   The Partisans Handbook   Code Red: The Coming Destruction Of The United States   “Dirty, Filthy, Christians”: Treatise On The Most Dangerous Death Cult In Human History   Battle Begins For Throne of This World: The Return of the Einherjar Warriors   War Of The Sacred Code: The True Secret Of 2012

Top World News Now                 
February 9, 2013

United States
Hundreds of thousands already without power, buried under snow from ongoing blizzard
Obama: 'No reason' for automatic Pentagon cuts
Obama to propose 1 percent pay hike for federal employees
White House won't comment on Brennan's waterboarding dodge
Clinton more popular than Obama, polls show
White House Delivers Dire Warning About Automatic Cuts
Lawmakers test legal waters for regulating drones
Christopher Dorner manhunt: Search for ex-LAPD cop goes on amid California snowstorm
Cop-killer on the run: Largest manhunt in LAPD history spreads to three US states and Mexico
US Air Force veteran added to no-fly list after visiting sickly mom
FBI Sting: California man arrested trying to blow up Oakland Bank of America branch with "Taliban help"
Health Officials: Worst of Flu Season May Be Over
KKK promises the largest rally in the history of Memphis after Confederate parks are renamed
Ohio Amish beard-cutting ringleader gets 15 years  

Putin: Countering extremists key task for law enforcers
Forward Russia: Grand Sochi project highlights Putin ambition
Migrant workers suffer for Putin's Olympics
Putin presents presidential awards to young scientists
Russia targets Uganda as big market for weapons
Retired intelligence officer gets 13 years for coup plot
New Russian citizens to get call-up for military service
‘I solemnly swear!’ – Russian citizen’s oath considered
Married couple, forced apart in communist Russia, reunite by chance and remarry
Russia, US in Hasid books brawl: Moscow wants recourse over $50,000 daily penalties
In Russia, brazen murder of Chernovik founder is unsolved
Russia's Black Earth Farmers Switch to Corn, Oilseeds for Profit
Reform Quickly or Lose Deals, EU Tells Ukraine
Fascism rehabilitated in Ukraine?

Xi Jinping says he welcomes criticism; critics aren’t so sure
Xi Jinping promises a cleaner, greener energy future in China
Chinese leaders send greetings for Lunar New Year
China Denies Directing Radar at Japanese Naval Vessel and Copter
Dangerous dance around disputed islets is becoming ever more worrying
PLA Navy to conduct training drills in western Pacific over Lunar New Year
China threatened by overseas hackers
Former Guangdong official stripped of Party membership
China retrieves defaulted payments for migrant workers
China jails Tibetan man for inciting secession
HP Directs Its Suppliers in China to Limit Student Labor
After Myanmar Violence, Almost 6,000 Rohingyas Arrive in Thailand
North Korea nuclear test may cause volcano eruption near Chinese border
South Korea in 'first strike' alert over tests

United Kingdom‎
Cameron savors EU budget win as battles loom
Cameron: 'Horsemeat story is shocking'
Britain opens criminal probe of horse meat contamination scandal
Clegg faces a fresh attempt to oust him as Liberal Democrat leader
2.3 million deprived kids absent from UK poverty data
UK investigating allegations of child sex abuse at former RAF base in Germany
Border agency backlog keeps Britons and their foreign spouses in limbo
Experts say DNA crime-fighting in UK 'lagging behind'
New evidence of UK complicity in Libya torture
Tax Rules Waived in Britain to Lure Athletes
Saga of Speeding Politician Rivets Britain
Whitehall spies could already be operating in Scotland
Refuelling and rendition: Ireland's role in the war on terror

European Union
EU budget cut ushers in austerity for first time in union's history
EU leaders agree to push for US trade deal
EU may force banks to help set Euribor to keep it clean
EU Court Strikes Down Swift's Blockade Against Iranian Banks
Greece gets silver lining to budget plans for coming years
Growing Police Brutality in Greece: The Hidden Face of the Crisis
Armenia holds 2 in attack on presidential candidate
Anarchists Claim Responsibility for Attempted Bombing in Spain
Moroccan suspected of being terrorist arrested in Spain
Cyprus Presidential Candidate Wary of EU Bailout Terms
Italy Vote Seen Inconclusive as Risk of Second Ballot Grows
Birth Defects In Multiples On The Rise In Europe

German Shale-Gas Fracking Rules Sought by Merkel Coalition
Germany Warns on Currency Depreciation
Germany posts second highest trade surplus in 60 years
Topless activists denounce female circumcision at Berlin film festival
German weapons case pits man against gun clubs
Minister's Heritage Sparks Racism Debate
New doubts cast on Holocaust account Nazi child mascot
Swiss Unemployment Returns to a 2.5 Year High
Gun control debate rages in Switzerland
Switzerland Justice Minister Returns Home
Taipei Ministry to ask Switzerland to arrest Zain Dean
Global warming to bring more rain to hydro-dependent Norway
EON Plans Hundreds of Megawatts of Wind Power in Norway, Sweden

Illegal Roma evictions in France continue under Hollande
Ayrault says no current plan for Peugeot stake
Ex-US envoy: $17M French ransom funded al-Qaida
France plays down report of ransom paid for Niger hostages
Europe Is Watching as France Weighs Options for Peugeot
French charge north in Mali, Bamako shooting kills two
Symbol of French Republic defaced in art attack
Hollande Eschews Monarch-Style Presidential Monument in Crisis
War For Global Energy Supremacy-World War III
Jets roar over Pacific skies as US military gathers allies in drills, to keep ahead of China
Shooting erupts amid reports of mutiny in Malian capital
Suicide bomber blows himself up near Mali soldiers, first attack of its kind
French intervention 'will cost Mali its independence'
Rebel push into Damascus raises fears of long fight coupled by mass exodus
Syria says 'no truth' Israel targeted convoy
UN Says 5000 Syrians a Day Are Now Fleeing War
Syria military factory blast kills 54
Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra is taking over Syria's revolution

Insight Into Today’s News
US Media Yet Again Conceals Newsworthy Government Secrets
Now We Know: War Is Murder
It Can't Happen Here?
The Andromeda Strain, Yes. Jesus, No. Your Tax Dollars at Work.
Remember 1994
Morningland Dairy destroyed by feds, $250,000 inventory stolen by government thugs during armed raid
Department of Homeland Security Targets Gun Collector
CIA Adviser Warns of 'Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction'
Debtors Prisons In The US Are Rapidly Filling With People Who Can’t Pay Bills

Netanyahu's coalition-building efforts are guided by suspicion and skepticism
Livni will be appointed as minister in charge of peace process
Defense Ministry suspends ties with six firms over alleged fraud
Tel Aviv Hepatitis A outbreak may stem from open-air markets
Abbas to Ahmadinejad: Talk more about Palestine, less about destroying Israel
Palestinian jailed for Abbas Facebook 'insult'
Abbas Meets With Leader of Gaza Terror Group in Cairo
Hamas Weighs Options For Recognizing Israel
Palestinian prisoners in Israel 'smuggling out sperm'

Despite US opposition, oil trade with Iraq is legal, PM Erdoğan says
South Cyprus condemns Erdoğan's remarks calling him a 'bully'
Turkey says has spent $600 million on Syria refugees
No strong EU without Turkey, says Italian envoy
Turkey-US Tension Develops Over Al-Qaeda Member  
Ailing ex-general fights for survival after sentence delay
Cargo ship crashes into a passenger seabus in the Bosphorus
Protests grow in Sunni areas in Iraq
Iraqi Kurdistan presses on with oil pipe to Turkey

Morsi: Egypt, Turkey to establish joint chamber of commerce
Clashes in Egypt as anti-Morsi camp demands change
China's new Princess - the daughter of Communist president Xi Jinping studying quietly at Harvard
  • Xi Mingze, 20, has been studying at the leading US university under a pseudonym since 2010

  • 'She is a bookworm, very quiet and studious'
  • Xi is said to have 24 hour protection from bodyguards
Demure: Xi Mingze has been studying at Harvard under a pseudonym since 2010

Demure: Xi Mingze has been studying at Harvard under a pseudonym since 2010

Demurely dressed in a high-necked jumper on a chilly autumn day, the pretty 20-year-old brunette could be any university student.

But this photograph posted on Facebook shows Xi Mingze, the new 'princess' of China.

As the cherished only daughter of China's new president Xi Jinping, Ms Xi, nicknamed Muzi, is being expensively educated 
in the US, where she has been enrolled under a pseudonym since 2010 at Harvard University, Massachusetts.

'She is a bookworm, very quiet and studious,' one of her acquaintances, a Chinese writer, told The Mail on Sunday last night.

Though she is said to be protected by bodyguards, she has shunned the party lifestyle of another Chinese 'princeling' at Harvard, Bo Guagua.

Mr Bo, whose mother Gu Kailai murdered British businessman Neil Heywood, was renowned at Oxford and Harvard as a playboy. His politician father, Bo Xilai, faces corruption charges.

In contrast, friends of Ms Xi say she devotes herself to her courses, which include political studies. She attended a discussion last spring about the political tumult convulsing China's Communist Party, where she reportedly listened 'intently' from the top row of the lecture hall.

Powerful: Xi Jinping became China's new leader last week

Powerful: Xi Jinping became China's new leader last week

Flamboyant: Xi Mingze's mother Peng Liyuan is a well known singer

Flamboyant: Xi Mingze's mother Peng Liyuan is a well known singer

Her mother, a flamboyant People's Liberation Army singer, Peng Liyuan, 49, is Mr Xi's second wife.

Ms Xi was said to have been sent to America because her father is an admirer of Western culture.

          Copper price jumps on gangbusters China growth         

China has a major political transition coming up in September or October. Xi Jinping has not yet anointed a new successor probably because so many positions are opening up in the Standing Committee and the Politburo, and he has a vested interest in stacking them with his own appointees.
The ousting of Sun Zhengcai, a current Politburo member, from Chongqing over the weekend supports the view Xi is angling towards the kind of control Zhang Zemin had over the political apparatus which persisted long after he was in the top position.

Talk of containing “grey rhinos” or in Donald Rumsfeld speak “known knowns” can also be viewed as an attempt to ensure Xi’s legacy. Here is a section from an article discussing the issue from Bloomberg:

"The message from the leadership last weekend was very clear -- financial stability is now regarded as an important element of national security," said Raymond Yeung, the Hong Kong-based chief economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.

An editorial in the Communist Party’s People Daily newspaper on Monday pointed to the seriousness of the campaign, warning of potential "grey rhinos" -- a variation on the black swan events popularized during the global financial crisis, with the difference that the danger from a charging rhino is more immediate and the animals are less rare.

          China Should Deal With North Korea        

While regional conflicts remain, a serious international war has been a declining risk since Fidel Castro invited Nikita Khrushchev to turn Cuba into a nuclear missile base in 1962. I remember it well because I was in the 101st Airborne Division at the time and we thought we might be parachuted into Cuba. Fortunately, Khrushchev and President Kennedy backed down from that very tense situation.

I reckon that was the closest we have ever been to WW3. Subsequently the risk of another World War declined, not least because it would have been an act of mutual self-destruction.

Needless to say, that reality is far greater today. If most of the nuclear weapons currently on the planet were detonated in conflict, it would most likely cause the end of human civilisation. Hopefully, WW3 remains a tiny risk but it has increased somewhat.

The prospect of mutual self-destruction would presumably deter any leader other than a madman from launching a first nuclear strike from China, Russia or the United States. However, that could more readily happen in a small rogue state, if it had the capability.

There have always been a number of rogue states but few had either the capability or the protection to start a nuclear war. North Korea does not quite have the capability but it certainly is a rogue state and it has long been protected by China. Moreover, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is clearly obsessed with developing nuclear weapons and the long-distance missiles to launch them.

China could solve the North Korean problem very quickly and effectively, in the interests of most North Koreans and everyone else. Xi Jinping is China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, but does he have the character to halt North Korea’s nuclear programme?

(See also: US Ambassador to UN: Kim Jong Un ‘Is not rational’, from CNN Politics)

          Seducer: The Serious Player's Handbook        

Is This Sexual Filth Or Seduction Redefined?

New York, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/28/2014 -- GRAPHIC SEX? Check. Tricks of dirty low down sexual seduction? Check. Over-the-top sexual satire of billionaires, kings, queens, presidents, and Hollywood? Check. Dangerously controversial mockery of Christianity, Islam, and the Sikh religion? Check. Such is the outrageous folder in David Justice's newly released guide book

Seducer: The Serious Player's Handbook.

Move over Tucker Max, now begins the reign of Seducer, the newest book series to join the elite league of American fratire genre. But, can David Justice fill the void left by Tucker Max after his last book, Jerks Finish First? Better yet, what would motivate a self-made millionaire, David Justice, to write a step by step guide book on the art of sexual seduction, high fashion, and then give it away for absolutely FREE? The thrill and glory of sex, of course… Indeed, throughout Seducer, he dishes out freaky if not gratuitous sex, exotic drugs, parties on yachts, comedy galore, rock n' roll, and psychotic advice on seduction - with sickening abandon.


Clearly, Justice draws from a vivid imagination and personal experience. He uses crazy romantic case studies and lively narrative that rocks the reader, as well as snappy dialogue, as a means of making his argument on seduction. The result is a page turner that's thrilling for some, but not to everybody's taste. Much as this book is a tribute to human sexuality it raises a lot of moral issues.

At best, Seducer is a laugh-out-loud fun read. At worst, it's an outrageously sleazy account of how best to manipulate women for sex and avoid commitment. To my dismay, Seducer: The Serious Player's Handbook objectifies women as pretty creatures that are great for one thing: sex. So, what message does Seducer send to young men?

That sex with more girls is better, obviously. This premise is wrong on many levels and can not be justified, but clearly the sex -crazed fans of this rogue's bible, don't care.


Guys love sex, money, and partying, but do guys love sex more than women? While young women may find Seducer fun to read, especially the sensational stories of exotic romance in far-off places, it's also plausible that they may learn tricks to self-protect unwanted seduction. Throughout Seducer's 15 chapters, David Justice serves up sexual seduction case studies that are as diverse as the art of seduction itself.

The legend of Casanova, comedians Jimmy Kimmel, and Arsenio Hall, pop acts Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Eminem, Beyonce, int'l porn star Sora Aoi, the Kardashians, Presidents Obama, Clinton, Kennedy, Putin, and China's Xi Jinping, and playboy billionaires Silvio Belusconi and Yuri Milner, are but a few top-notch case studies discussed throughout this book.

Published by Excelsior London Media LLC, a relatively new player on the publishing scene, Seducer is clearly not for the faint of heart. I give it three stars out of five were it

not for the graphic sexual scenes, casual drug use, and religious profanity that will anger purists among us.

Press Contact:

Moe Raimi
ELM Public Relations


SEDUCER: The Serious Player's Handbook By David Justice
Forward by Abbishek "A.J." Bachchan
200 Page Excelsior London Press @ Copyright 2014-2015
ISBN 978-0-6159-59-405 E-Book
ISBN 978-0-6159-59-399 Paperback

E-Book available now at Excelsior London Media LLC on Facebook (Gumroad),

Anne S. Matthews on Facebook, Amazon, Google Play, Waterstones, and other bookstores.

For more information on this press release visit:

Media Relations Contact

Moe Raimi
Excelsior London Media LLC
Telephone: 877-778-8555
Email: Click to Email Moe Raimi

          Weekly Commentary: Data and a Carefree Bond Market        
July non-farm payrolls gained 209,000 versus estimates of 180,000. June payrolls were revised 9,000 higher to 231,000. It’s worth noting that manufacturing added 16,000 jobs (est. 5,000) in July, the strongest gains since March. So far in 2017, manufacturing employment has been expanding at the briskest pace in years, with y-t-d gains of 82,000 dwarfing comparable 2016’s zero and 2015’s 12,000. The unemployment rate dipped a tenth in July to 4.3%. Unemployment bottomed at 4.4% during the previous cycle low back in 2007. In fact, the unemployment rate has not been lower than the July level since February 2001.

The recent narrative holds that the economy has been in an extended “soft patch”. In general, economic data have somewhat missed expectations. “US Car Sales Continue to Skid, Drop 5.7% in July.” The decline in automobile sales was viewed as confirmation of a slowing manufacturing sector. Ongoing travails in retail also support the view of economic stagnation. The labor participation rate remains a dismal 62.9%.

The narrative of a weakening in both economic activity and inflationary pressures serves the markets well. With Fed funds now near the Federal Reserve’s “neutral rate,” rate normalization has apparently about run its course. Even after Friday’s stronger-than-expected job gains, the market places the probability of another 2017 hike at less than 40%. What could be more bullish than so-called rate “normalization” that avoids any tightening of financial conditions whatsoever? The Carefree Bond Market has been cruising along the PCH with the top down in a slick new autonomous sports car.

It’s my view that U.S. and global economic maladjustment has become extreme after years of policy-induced monetary disorder. The U.S. economy is structurally unsound, though this grim reality remains well-masked by the artistry of low rates, liquidity over-abundance, inflated securities markets and record household net worth. More succinctly, deep structural impairment ensures central bankers remain wedded to loose financial conditions.

On a more cyclical basis, however, economic activity is not that weak. Data aggregation definitely smooths an extraordinarily unbalanced economy, with some segments booming and others mired in stagnation. And, importantly, ongoing monetary stimulus will do anything but resolve imbalances and structural maladjustment. At this point in the cycle – after nine years of historic monetary stimulus - the Fed should focus policy attention on cyclical indicators and err on the side of reducing accommodation. There are perilous risks associated with pushing a structurally marred economic system to the limits.

July average earnings were up 0.3% m-o-m, with one-year gains of 2.5%. Tepid wage growth is viewed as a major factor keeping inflation (CPI) stubbornly below the Fed’s 2.0% target. Yet stagnant wages are clearly a structural issue. U.S. manufacturing workers must compete against labor from around the globe. Less appreciated, the massive U.S. service sector – that flourished in the backdrop of deindustrialization, aggressive monetary stimulus and asset inflation – has created tens of millions of low skill jobs. Moreover, it is increasingly difficult for the overbuilt service sector (i.e. retail, restaurant, hotels, etc.) to afford higher compensation expenses. And let’s not forget the enormous cost – and ongoing inflation – in healthcare and insurance.

Over recent months, there has been some focus on the divergence between robust “soft” and lagging “hard” data. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose last month to 49.6, a level just below the previous cycle peak in 2006/07. One must go all the way back to 2001 to beat 2017 readings for the Bloomberg Weekly National Economy Index. July’s 113.4 reading for the University of Michigan Current Economic Conditions Index was the highest since July 2005 - and the second highest going all the way back to November 2000. Last month’s 147.8 reading for the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Present Situation Index was the highest since July 2001. The CEO Confidence Index has declined only slightly from the March level - which was the highest going back to December 2004.

These various confidence indices - in conjunction with a 4.3% unemployment rate and stock prices surging further into uncharted record territory - would have traditionally been viewed as indications of loose monetary conditions. But the Yellen Fed has hung its hat on the consumer price index (and, to a lesser extent, wage growth). And it matters little to the Fed that inflation is clearly a global structural issue – one arguably associated with a prolonged period of monetary mismanagement.

And it’s not as if “hard” data is all that weak. July’s 56.3 reading in the PMI Manufacturing Index compares to 52.3 from one year ago. Looking back to 2007, the high that year was 52.6 – with the 2006 peak (February) at 55.8. June Durable Goods Orders (up 6.5%) surprised on the upside. And Q2 GDP rose to 2.6%, up from Q1’s 1.2%. The Atlanta Fed forecasts 4% Q3 GDP growth.

And despite all the talk of heightened disinflationary pressures, the ISM Manufacturing Price Index jumped seven points in July to 62. The ISM Non-Manufacturing Price index rose 3.6 points in July to 55.7. Crude and most commodities have rallied sharply over the past six weeks, certainly bolstered by dollar weakness.

A lot of attention has been paid recently to weakening auto sales. July sales were reported at a weaker-than-expected (seasonally adjusted and annualized) 16.69 million units. This compares unfavorably to the year ago pace of 17.75 million. But before we get too carried away, sales averaged 16.35 million annualized during the 2006-2007 period. In fact, July sales were just slightly below the monthly average from the eight-years 2000-2007. Sure, sales have moderated from the 2015-2016 boom – a period stoked by booming subprime lending. But, for now, I don’t see the slowing auto sector as part of a general downturn in economic activity.

Housing starts jumped back in June to a stronger-than-expected 1.215 million pace. This was the strongest reading since February and compares to the year earlier 1.190 million. Over recent months, housing starts have been running at the strongest level since 2007. Building permits also popped higher in June. Existing Home Sales are running at the highest level since early 2007. At $263,800, June Median Existing Home Prices were a record and compare to the year ago $247,600. The supply of inventory at 4.3 months of sales, while up from January’s extreme 3.5 reading, remains significantly below the average 6.0 months over the period going back to 1999. The Case-Shiller National Price index increased to a record 190.61 in May (up 5.6% y-o-y).

Friday’s smaller-than-expected Trade Deficit was the result of a 1.2% m-o-m jump in exports (up 5.8% y-o-y), to the strongest level since December 2014. U.S. exports have recovered strongly from the 2015/16 pullback, reflecting a global trade revival. The jump in U.S. exports is consistent with recent data from China, Europe, Japan and elsewhere.

For now, it’s difficult for me to take a negative short-term view on U.S. economic activity so long as the housing and export sectors continue to boom. It’s remains a Bubble Economy and, while vulnerable, the Bubble is still expanding.

At this point, the bond market is content to disregard a lot of data, that is, so long as there are no upside surprises in consumer price indices or wages (the two data sets stuck deepest in the structural muck). This works to keep market yields artificially depressed – and mortgage rates extraordinarily low. With after-tax borrowing costs remaining significantly below the rate of housing appreciation (in many areas), the backdrop is favorable for a strengthening of an already potent housing market inflationary bias. The unusually low levels of housing inventory – and an expanding list of overheated local markets – coupled with the Fed’s fixation on CPI sow the seeds for Housing Bubble 2.0.

August 1 – Bloomberg (Alfred Liu): “China has made progress in slowing leverage in the economy, but still needs to do more with the total amount of financing expected to rise 13% this year, according to Autonomous Research analyst Charlene Chu. Total outstanding credit is expected to grow to 223 trillion yuan ($33 trillion) by December from 196.8 trillion yuan at the end of 2016, analysis by Chu shows. The estimated increase will be lower than last year’s 19% gain as the government’s campaign against leverage starts to bite, she said. Her estimates are far higher than the latest official figure of 167 trillion yuan in June, which she says doesn’t accurately represent the true state of financing as it doesn’t include items like local government bond issuance and some forms of off-balance sheet lending.”

Charlene Chu is one of the preeminent analysts of Chinese Credit. She currently forecasts almost $4.0 TN of Chinese Credit growth this year, with total Credit approaching 300% of GDP. It’s somewhat of a challenge to be negative on short-term global GDP trends with record Chinese Credit expansion, enormous ongoing global QE and booming securities markets. At the same time, there’s a strong case that we’re getting awfully close to peak QE, peak Chinese Credit and peak global securities Bubble. Things would get more interesting if economic data begins to surprise on the upside, forcing the Fed and other central banks to again rethink the meaning of “normalization”. That would awaken bonds. July payrolls could have been a start.

For the Week:

The S&P500 added 0.2% (up 10.6% y-t-d), and the Dow gained 1.2% (up 11.8%). The Utilities rose 1.3% (up 9.8%). The Banks jumped 2.1% (up 5.9%), and the Broker/Dealers added 0.2% (up 14.2%). The Transports increased 0.5% (up 2.6%). The S&P 400 Midcaps declined 0.6% (up 5.5%), and the small cap Russell 2000 fell 1.2% (up 4.1%). The Nasdaq100 slipped 0.2% (up 21.3%), while the Morgan Stanley High Tech index was unchanged (up 25.4%). The Semiconductors declined 1.2% (up 19.1%). The Biotechs fell 1.0% (up 28.4%). With bullion down $11, the HUI gold index dropped 2.3% (up 5.2%).

Three-month Treasury bill rates ended the week at 105 bps. Two-year government yields were unchanged at 1.35% (up 16bps y-t-d). Five-year T-note yields slipped two bps to 1.82% (down 11bps). Ten-year Treasury yields declined three bps to 2.26% (down 18bps). Long bond yields fell five bps to 2.84% (down 22bps).

Greek 10-year yields rose eight bps to 5.41% (down 161bps y-t-d). Ten-year Portuguese yields fell six bps to 2.87% (down 88bps). Italian 10-year yields dropped 10 bps to 2.02% (up 21bps). Spain's 10-year yields declined four bps to 1.48% (up 10bps). German bund yields dropped seven bps to 0.47% (up 26bps). French yields fell six bps to 0.75% (up 7bps). The French to German 10-year bond spread widened one to 28 bps. U.K. 10-year gilt yields declined four bps to 1.18% (down 6bps). U.K.'s FTSE equities index rallied 1.9% (up 5.2%).

Japan's Nikkei 225 equities index was unchanged (up 4.4% y-t-d). Japanese 10-year "JGB" yields slipped a basis point to 0.065% (up 3bps). France's CAC40 gained 1.4% (up 7.0%). The German DAX equities index recovered 1.1% (up 7.1%). Spain's IBEX 35 equities index gained 1.2% (up 14%). Italy's FTSE MIB index surged 2.4% (up 14%). EM equities were mostly higher. Brazil's Bovespa index rose 2.1% (up 11.1%), and Mexico's Bolsa added 0.2% (up 12.5%). South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.2% (up 18.2%). India’s Sensex equities index was unchanged (up 21.4%). China’s Shanghai Exchange increased 0.3% (up 5.1%). Turkey's Borsa Istanbul National 100 index gained 0.8% (up 38.9%). Russia's MICEX equities index rose 0.8% (down 12.5%).

Junk bond mutual funds saw inflows of $195 million (from Lipper).

Freddie Mac 30-year fixed mortgage rates added a basis point to 3.93% (up 50bps y-o-y). Fifteen-year rates slipped two bps to 3.18% (up 44bps). The five-year hybrid ARM rate declined three bps to 3.15% (up 42bps). Bankrate's survey of jumbo mortgage borrowing costs had 30-yr fixed rates down six bps to 4.05% (up 43bps).

Federal Reserve Credit last week declined $9.2bn to $4.426 TN. Over the past year, Fed Credit contracted $8.7bn. Fed Credit inflated $1.615 TN, or 58%, over the past 247 weeks. Elsewhere, Fed holdings for foreign owners of Treasury, Agency Debt rose $8.0bn last week to $3.333 TN. "Custody holdings" were up $113bn y-o-y, or 3.5%.

M2 (narrow) "money" supply last week rose $12.2bn to a record $13.620 TN. "Narrow money" expanded $727bn, or 5.6%, over the past year. For the week, Currency increased $1.4bn. Total Checkable Deposits jumped $55.9bn, while Savings Deposits slumped $44.9bn. Small Time Deposits gained $2.6bn. Retail Money Funds declined $2.9bn.

Total money market fund assets jumped $20.47bn to $2.660 TN. Money Funds fell $78.3bn y-o-y (2.9%).

Total Commercial Paper declined $8.2bn to $969.6bn. CP declined $57bn y-o-y, or 5.5%.

Currency Watch:

August 1 – Financial Times (Jennifer Hughes): “The Hong Kong dollar has fallen to its weakest level since the China-inspired turmoil of January 2016 as abundant liquidity continues to create a widening interest rate gap with the US. The move pushed the Hong Kong currency further into the weaker half of its tightly pegged trading range against the US dollar — in a shift from its position for most of the past decade of trading near the stronger end. Wednesday’s weakness took the currency to HK$7.8171 against the greenback — a level not seen since January 2016 when fears about China’s weakening economy sent shockwaves through global markets.”

The U.S. dollar index recovered 0.3% to 93.542 (down 8.7% y-t-d). For the week on the upside, the euro increased 0.2%. On the downside, the South African rand declined 3.1%, the Canadian dollar 1.7%, the New Zealand dollar 1.4%, the Australian dollar 0.8%, the British pound 0.7%, the Mexican peso 0.6%, the Swiss franc 0.4%, the Norwegian krone 0.4%, the Swedish krona 0.3%, the Singapore dollar 0.3%, and the South Korean won 0.2%. The Chinese renminbi added 0.12% versus the dollar this week (up 3.21% y-t-d).

Commodities Watch:

The Goldman Sachs Commodities Index slipped 0.5% (down 3.5% y-t-d). Spot Gold declined 0.9% to $1,259 (up 19.2%). Silver dropped 2.7% to $16.252 (up 1.7%). Crude slipped 13 cents to $49.58 (down 8%). Gasoline fell 1.8% (down 2%), and Natural Gas sank 5.7% (down 26%). Copper added 0.3% (up 15%). Wheat sank 5.5% (up 12%). Corn lost 1.8% (up 8%).

Trump Administration Watch:

August 3 – Wall Street Journal (Del Quentin Wilber and Byron Tau): “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, a sign that his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase, according to people familiar with the matter. The grand jury, which began its work in recent weeks, signals that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry will likely continue for months. Mr. Mueller is investigating Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign or associates colluded with the Kremlin as part of that effort.”

August 1 – New York Times (Keith Bradsher): “The Trump administration is preparing a broad move against China over trade, according to people with knowledge of its plans, amid growing worries in the United States over a Chinese government-led effort to make the country a global leader in microchips, electric cars and other crucial technologies of the future. The move, which could come in the next several days, signals a shift by the administration away from its emphasis on greater cooperation between Washington and Beijing, in part because administration officials have become frustrated by China's reluctance to confront North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The two sides have also struggled in trade negotiations despite claiming modest progress earlier this year, while American companies have complained they face pressure to share trade secrets with Chinese partners. The trade case will focus on alleged Chinese violations of American intellectual property, according to three people with a detailed knowledge of the administration's plans.”

July 31 – Wall Street Journal (Gerald F. Seib): “When folks here in Washington end a summer filled with White House hijinks and an epic but inconclusive health-care debate, they will look up and discover something unsettling: The world has become a more dangerous place while everybody has been distracted. That’s most obviously true in North Korea, where its rogue weapons program has leapt so far forward that the nation now has a missile with the range to reach much of the U.S…. Meanwhile, American relations with China, the country most able to cooperate in slowing down Pyongyang, are deteriorating amid presidential recriminations—delivered via Twitter—about Beijing’s behavior. Relations with Russia are sliding backward as well… Both sides agree that ties now are at their lowest point since the Cold War.”

July 30 – Wall Street Journal (Siobhan Hughes and Thomas M. Burton): “President Donald Trump’s tumultuous past week has widened rifts in his party, between those who vocally support the president’s combative style and others who bridle at it, according to interviews… Mr. Trump has long been a polarizing force among members of his party, but for the first several months of his tenure, the GOP was largely united by a shared desire to make the most of his election and the party’s total control of the government for the first time in a decade. After a week that included the president attacking his attorney general, the collapse of a GOP health bill, a surprise effort to bar transgender people in the military and a White House staff shakeup, divisions that were largely set aside at the start of 2017 have emerged anew.”

August 2 – Reuters (David Lawder and Lesley Wroughton): “Three top Democratic senators, in a rare show of bipartisanship, on Wednesday urged U.S. President Donald Trump to stand up to China as he prepares to launch an inquiry into Beijing's intellectual property and trade practices in coming days. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer pressed the Republican president to skip the investigation and go straight to trade action against China. ‘We should certainly go after them,’ said Schumer in a statement. Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio also urged Trump to rein in China.”

July 30 – Wall Street Journal (Kate Davidson): “Republicans are leaving town for an August recess after a failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. When they return in September, they’ll have just 12 working days to avert another big problem. In a letter to lawmakers Friday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the federal borrowing limit, or debt ceiling, needed to be raised by Sept. 29 or the government risked running out of money to pay its bills. The Treasury Department has been employing cash-conservation measures since March, when borrowing hit the formal ceiling of nearly $20 trillion.”

China Bubble Watch:

July 30 – New York Times (Chris Buckley): “China’s president, Xi Jinping, has opened a public campaign to deepen his grip on power in a coming leadership shake-up, using a huge military parade on Sunday, speeches and propaganda, along with a purge in the past week, to warn officials to back him as the nation’s most powerful leader in two decades. Wearing his mottled green uniform as commander in chief of the People’s Liberation Army, Mr. Xi watched as 12,000 troops marched and tanks, long-range missile launchers, jet fighters and other new weapons drove or flew past in impeccable arrays. Mao famously said political power comes from the barrel of a gun, and Mr. Xi signaled that he, too, was counting on the military to stay ramrod loyal while he chooses a new leading lineup to be unveiled at a Communist Party congress in the autumn.”

August 2 – Bloomberg: “President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser commissioned a study earlier this year to see how China could avoid the fate of Japan’s epic bust in the 1990s and decades of stagnation that followed. The report covered a wide range of topics, from the Plaza Accord on currency to a real-estate bubble to demographics that made Japan the oldest population in Asia… While details are scarce, the person revealed one key recommendation that policy makers have since implemented: The need to curtail a global buying spree by some of the nation’s biggest private companies. Communist Party leaders discussed Japan’s experience in a Politburo meeting on April 26… State media came alive afterward, with reports trumpeting Xi’s warning that financial stability is crucial in economic growth.”

August 1 – BloombergBusinessweek (Kevin Hamlin): “For the past couple of years, Chinese companies roamed the world in an unprecedented $343 billion cross-border takeover spree. Among the splashiest deals: Dalian Wanda Group, whose founder, Wang Jianlin, is China’s second-richest executive, bought Hollywood production and finance company Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion in 2016. Anbang Insurance Group bought the Waldorf Astoria. Fosun International Ltd. purchased Club Méditerranée SA and Cirque du Soleil. But as the binge seemed ready to go on, China’s banking regulator in June ordered lenders to scrutinize their exposure to four high-­flying private conglomerates that have announced $75 ­billion-plus in deals at home and abroad since the start of 2016: Dalian Wanda, Anbang, Fosun, and aviation and shipping giant HNA Group Co.”

August 1 – Bloomberg: “China’s crusade against capital outflows and leverage has ensnared some of the nation’s largest property investors, including Anbang Insurance Group Co… The crackdown is rippling across the world, and will likely spur an 84% slump in Chinese overseas property investment this year, and a further 18% drop in 2018, according to… Morgan Stanley. The most vulnerable real-estate markets are those in the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong and Australia, with office properties the most exposed, analysts including economist Robin Xing wrote. Manhattan is a particular worry, with about 30% of transactions in the borough that’s home to Wall Street involving Chinese parties in 2017.”

August 1 – Bloomberg: “China’s foreign-exchange regulator is examining how some of the country’s biggest dealmakers used their domestic assets as collateral to get loans overseas, people familiar with the matter said. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange recently began reviewing loan guarantees for Anbang Insurance Group Co., Dalian Wanda Group Co., Fosun International Ltd., HNA Group Co. and the Chinese owner of the AC Milan soccer team, the people said…”

July 31 – Reuters (Kevin Yao): “China's central bank will continue to force financial institutions to cut debt but ensure the process is smooth and orderly to limit its impact on market liquidity, an assistant central bank governor said… Higher short-term funding costs, driven by a regulatory crackdown on banks' riskier financing, have started to spill over into the real economy, a risk to economic stability ahead of a five-yearly leadership transition later this year. The drive to force financial institutions to deleverage… could affect the stability in market supply and demand of funding, Zhang Xiaohui wrote in the bank's China Finance magazine.”

July 31 – Reuters (Elias Glenn): “Growth in China's manufacturing quickened in July, a private survey showed on Tuesday, as output and new orders rose at the fastest pace since February on strong export sales. But even as firms boosted purchasing in anticipation of more business, employment levels at factories fell at the fastest pace in 10 months and a reading on business outlook was the lowest since last August… The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 51.1 in July… well ahead of the 50.4 in June which was also the median figure forecast…”

July 31 – Financial Times (Yuan Yang): “Multinationals in China are bracing to be cut off from the global internet as Beijing begins to shut down their only way of accessing uncensored foreign content. Companies offering virtual private network services, which bypass the country’s ‘Great Firewall’, have had their operations closed or obstructed in recent weeks — a blow to foreign groups that rely on VPN services to connect their staff to services such as Google-provided email and uncensored news. International companies are now preparing for an extended crackdown, according to Carolyn Bigg, senior lawyer at DLA Piper in Hong Kong. ‘The time for businesses to ignore these restrictions is over. The environment is changing weekly at the moment,’ she said.”

August 2 – Financial Times (Gabriel Wildau): “China’s finance ministry has acknowledged that public-private partnerships for infrastructure investment have become a vehicle for ‘disguised borrowing’ by local governments, as Beijing targets systemic risk from rising regional debt. The central government has sought to rein in runaway debt at local governments, a legacy of China’s post-2008 economic stimulus. But local officials have continued to exploit loopholes in local borrowing rules to keep infrastructure projects cashed up. The clampdown on PPP investment could add to growth headwinds for China’s economy. Infrastructure comprised 21.2% of urban fixed-asset investment in the first half — the highest share since 2010.”

July 30 – Financial Times (Louise Lucas and Sherry Fei Ju): “China’s pending regulatory crackdown on the $120bn peer-to-peer lending industry has claimed its first scalp before it has even begun, with one of the biggest players saying it will wind up its business in an industry full of bad loans and no profits. P2P lending, in which borrowers are matched with investors via online platforms, has mushroomed in the past five years, with China boasting more than 2,100 such platforms, but so too have scandals. Last year was marked by multibillion-dollar scams in China and a governance scandal that rocked New York-listed LendingClub. Beijing this month said it would delay regulations that will bar online lenders from guaranteeing principal or interest on loans they facilitate, cap the size of loans at Rmb1m for individuals and Rmb5m for companies, and force lenders to use custodian banks — a requirement only a fraction of the industry has met so far.”

Europe Watch:

July 29 – Reuters (Joseph Nasr): “The European Central Bank should start thinking about how it wants to return to normal monetary policy and when it wants to wind down it bond purchases, governing council member Sabine Lautenschlaeger said… ‘The expansionary monetary policy has both advantages and side effects. As time passes, the positive effects get weaker and the risks increase,’ she told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper. ‘So it's important to prepare for the exit in good time. What's crucial in that context is a stable trend in the rate of inflation towards our objective of just under 2%. It's not quite there yet.’”

August 1 – Bloomberg (Catherine Bosley): “The euro-area economy expanded apace in the second quarter, a sign the bloc’s upswing is becoming increasingly robust and self-sustaining. Gross domestic product in the 19-country region rose 0.6% in the three months through June, after increasing 0.5% at the start of the year.”

August 3 – Bloomberg (Nikos Chrysoloras): “Public support for the euro rose to a 12-year high among citizens of the currency bloc, according to the… latest Eurobarometer survey… Almost three-quarters of respondents in the poll support the ‘economic and monetary union with one single currency, the euro,’ the highest reading since the fall of 2004. Adding to signs of increasing optimism, against the backdrop of a strengthening economic recovery, 56% of Europeans are now confident about the future of the EU -- an increase of six percentage points from fall 2016.”

Central Bank Watch:

August 3 – Bloomberg (David Goodman and Jill Ward): “Mark Carney said Brexit is casting the biggest shadow over the U.K.’s economic outlook, as his confidence in an orderly departure from the European Union starts to fade. The Bank of England governor’s comments follow slow progress in the initial round of exit talks after Prime Minister Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority in June. Carney said that there’s only so much monetary policy can do as the central bank cut its forecasts for economic growth and wages.”

Global Bubble Watch:

August 4 – Bloomberg (Theophilos Argitis): “Canada’s labor market continued its stellar performance in July, with the jobless rate falling to the lowest since before the financial crisis. The unemployment rate fell to 6.3%, the lowest since October 2008, as the labor market added another 10,900 jobs during the month, Statistics Canada reported from Ottawa. The total increase over the past year of 387,600 is the biggest 12-month gain since 2007.”

August 2 – Bloomberg (Katia Dmitrieva and Erik Hertzberg): “Home prices in Canada’s largest city posted their biggest monthly drop in at least 17 years in July and sales plunged as government efforts to cool the market and the near-collapse of a mortgage lender made buyers leery. The benchmark Toronto property price, which tracks a typical home over time, dropped 4.6% to C$773,000 ($613,000) from June.”

Fixed Income Bubble Watch:

August 2 – Wall Street Journal (Paul J. Davies): “The last financial crisis cleared out an alphabet soup of complex credit products. One type, however, has returned in droves in recent years, although popularity is now threatening their viability. This product is collateralized loan obligations, or CLOs, which buy portfolios of risky, leveraged loans often used by private-equity firms in buyouts. In the U.S., new CLO volumes have outstripped pre-crisis totals since 2014, while Europe is catching up to its previous levels fast. But returns from the loans they buy are getting squeezed as money from retail and institutional investors rushes in alongside CLOs to snap up loans. That could bring CLOs to a painful halt again.”

Federal Reserve Watch:

July 30 – Financial Times (Lena Komileva): “The US Federal Reserve raised rates for the third time in six months in June, even though inflation had stayed below its 2% target for much of the past decade. Why? The justification lies with the return to ‘economic normalisation’ (a more normal US growth and credit cycle), a reflationary global environment and easy financial conditions all combining to banish the extreme ‘tail risks’ of a deflationary slump that followed the financial crisis. Yet markets have been reluctant to heed the call of a return to more normal monetary conditions. Having lagged behind the Fed’s rate tightening and the discussion on shrinking its balance sheet this year, investors are still uncertain about the chances of another — well telegraphed — rate rise this year. A less than 40% probability is attached to this in the fed fund futures market. “

August 2 – Reuters (Richard Leong and Jonathan Spicer): “St. Louis Federal Reserve James Bullard is opposed to further U.S. interest rate increases by the central bank and warned that more hikes could hinder domestic inflation from achieving the Fed's 2-% goal… ‘Given the inflation outlook, which has deteriorated in 2017, I would not support further moves in the near term,’ Bullard told Market News… ‘It's possible data will turn around, but we'll have to see. I think for now we should remain on pause.’”

August 2 – Bloomberg (Christopher Condon): “Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester is keeping the faith that weak inflation will bounce back, even as she lowers her estimate for where unemployment begins to trigger higher prices. ‘My suspicion is it’s the idiosyncratic factors, it’s transitory and that the factors pushing down inflation are going to dissipate over time,’ Mester told reporters… ‘I still have a forecast for a gradual increase in inflation back to 2% over time.’”

August 2 – Wall Street Journal (Nick Timiraos): “Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said increasingly tight labor markets should keep the U.S. central bank on its path to gradually raise rates and start slowly shrinking its portfolio of bonds and other assets, despite a surprising pause in inflation pressures this spring. In an interview, Mr. Rosengren said he sees ‘some reasonable risk’ that the unemployment rate drops below 4% in the next two years. ‘In my own view, that would not be sustainable,’ he said.”

U.S. Bubble Watch:

August 1 – CNBC (Diana Olick): “Home price gains are accelerating again, and in some cities those values are overheating. Four of the nation's largest cities are now considered overvalued, according to CoreLogic. Home prices in Denver, Houston, Miami and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area now exceed sustainable levels. To determine if a market is overvalued, CoreLogic compares current prices to their long-run, sustainable levels, which are supported by local economic fundamentals like disposable income… ‘With no end to the escalation in sight, affordability is rapidly deteriorating nationally,’ said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic.”

August 1 – Wall Street Journal (Sarah Krouse): “The fortunes of Wall Street’s cheapest and priciest funds are diverging fast. Exchange-traded funds held $1 trillion more in investor money than hedge funds globally for the first time ever at the end of June… Assets in ETFs, which trade on exchanges like stocks, first surpassed the amount of money in hedge funds two years ago and have continued to swell. Market-mimicking funds like ETFs have been helped by fresh market highs… Those gains have prodded investors already losing faith in star stock and bond pickers to plow even more money into the ultra low-cost funds.”

July 31 – CNBC (Fred Imbert): “Investors may be in for disappointing market returns in the decade to come with valuations at levels this high, if history is any indication. Analysts at Goldman Sachs Asset Management pointed out that annualized returns on the S&P 500 10 years out were in the single digits or negative 99% of the time when starting with valuations at current levels. In a chart, they point out that the S&P's cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (CAPE) is currently around its highest historical levels. CAPE is a widely followed valuation metric developed by Nobel Prize winners John Campbell and Robert Shiller.”

August 1 – CNBC (Tae Kim): “Mutual funds are piling into technology stocks to a record level, according to… Bank of America Merrill Lynch. But the overweighting may not be bullish for the sector going forward. In July ‘large cap active managers have yet again increased their positioning in tech, setting another record overweight of 25% (+5.8 percentage points) relative to the benchmark,’ strategist Savita Subramanian wrote… ‘This record overweight has helped managers beat their benchmarks so far this year, as tech continues to outperform all other sectors.’”

August 1 – Reuters (Joseph White and Paul Lienert): “U.S. carmakers said… they continued to slash low-margin sales to daily rental fleets in July as the overall pace of U.S. car and light truck sales fell for the fifth straight month. The annualized pace of U.S. car and light truck sales in July fell to 16.73 million vehicles, down from 17.8 million vehicles a year earlier…”

July 31 – Wall Street Journal (AnnaMaria Andriotis): “Credit-card losses are mounting, a reversal from a six-year trend that could be a warning sign for markets and the broader economy. The average net charge-off rate for large U.S. card issuers—the percentage of outstanding debt that issuers write off as a loss—increased to 3.29% in the second quarter, its highest level in four years, according to Fitch Ratings. The quarter was also the fifth consecutive period of year-over-year increases in the closely watched rate. All eight large issuers… had increases for the quarter.”

EM Bubble Watch:

August 2 – Wall Street Journal (Julie Wernau and Carolyn Cui): “Investors have been bracing for a Venezuela debt default for more than a year, but fallout from the country’s widely criticized election last weekend could prove to be the tipping point. The government and state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA, also known as PdVSA, together owe $5 billion in principal and interest payments due between now and the end of the year… The country has $725 million due this month alone… The problem: Venezuela only has about $3 billion of its foreign reserves in cash, according to S&P Global Ratings. That means the country is dependent on oil exports to make up the difference.”

July 31 – CNBC (Lucia Kassai, Laura Blewitt, and Nathan Crooks): “The specter of tighter U.S. sanctions is pushing up the perception that Venezuela is getting closer to defaulting on its bonds. Venezuela is awaiting possible further restrictions after the U.S., its largest trading partner, sanctioned President Nicolas Maduro after he held elections Sunday for a new assembly that will rewrite the constitution. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in announcing the measures, including freezing Maduro’s assets in the U.S., that additional sanctions were ‘on the table.’”

July 29 – Reuters (Girish Gupta): “In a portend of steepening inflation in crisis-stricken Venezuela, money supply surged 10% in just one week earlier this month, its largest single-week rise in a quarter of a century. Venezuela is undergoing a major economic crisis, with millions suffering food shortages, monthly wages worth only the tens of U.S. dollars, and soaring inflation…”

August 2 – Bloomberg (Jeanette Rodrigues): “Business conditions in India have deteriorated the most since the global financial crisis as the roll out of a nationwide sales tax disrupted supply and distribution links just months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cash ban roiled markets. The Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index fell to 46 in July from 52.7 in June, the steepest drop since March 2009… Activity in the key services sector plunged to 45.9 from 53.1 -- the lowest since September 2013 -- after data showed manufacturing slumped the most since 2009.”

Leveraged Speculation Watch:

August 3 – Bloomberg (Simone Foxman): “Billionaire Paul Singer is warning of a growing and menacing threat: passive investing. ‘Passive investing is in danger of devouring capitalism,’ Singer wrote... ‘What may have been a clever idea in its infancy has grown into a blob which is destructive to the growth-creating and consensus-building prospects of free market capitalism.’ Almost $500 billion flowed from active to passive funds in the first half of 2017. The founder of Elliott Management Corp. contends that passive strategies, which buy a variety of securities to match the overall performance of an index, aren’t truly ‘investing’ and that index fund providers don’t have incentive to push companies to change for the better and create shareholder value.”

August 3 – Bloomberg (Nishant Kumar, Javier Blas, and Suzy Waite): “If an oil trader so good that he was known as “God” can’t win in today’s markets, it’s hard to imagine who can. Andy Hall is closing down his main hedge fund after big losses in the first half of the year, according to people with knowledge of the matter. His flagship Astenbeck Master Commodities Fund II lost almost 30% through June… The capitulation of one of the best-known figures in the commodities industry comes after muted oil prices wrong-footed traders from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to BP Plc’s in-house trading unit.”

August 1 – Bloomberg (Nishant Kumar and Suzy Waite): “Europe is on a mini-streak with hedge-fund investors as the prospect of faster economic growth and fading political risk help restore confidence in the region. Money pools investing across Europe attracted additional capital for the second straight month in June, following a 12-month stretch in which almost $16 billion was pulled out, according to… eVestment. The continent’s success contrasts with Asia and the U.S., where investors have pulled money from hedge funds.”

August 1 – Bloomberg (Saijel Kishan): “Paul Tudor Jones’ investors are increasingly deserting him. The billionaire macro manager who helped give rise to the hedge fund industry saw clients pull about 15% of their assets from his main fund in the second quarter… That’s left client assets at about $3.6 billion, almost half the value a year ago. The withdrawals are a blow to Jones… and exemplify the asset bleed hurting the biggest names in the business, including Alan Howard and John Paulson… Macro hedge funds have posted their worst first half since 2013, losing 0.7%, and on average returned about 1% annually in the past five years, according to Hedge Fund Research Inc.”

Geopolitical Watch:

July 31 – Reuters (Philip Wen and Ben Blanchard): “China loves peace but will never compromise on defending its sovereignty, President Xi Jinping said… while marking 90 years since the founding of the People's Liberation Army. China has rattled nerves around Asia and globally with its increasingly assertive stance in territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas and an ambitious military modernization plan. Relations with self-ruled Taiwan have also worsened since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won presidential elections there last year. China considers Taiwan a wayward province, to be brought under Beijing's control by force if necessary.”

August 2 – Financial Times (Emily Feng and Leo Lewis): “Xi Jinping has warned that China will not tolerate any infringement of its sovereignty or territory, in a speech delivered as the country finds itself embroiled in several territorial disputes with neighbours. ‘We will never seek aggression or expansion but we have the confidence to defeat all invasions,’ the Chinese president said in an hour-long speech on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the country’s army. ‘We will never allow any people, organisation or political party to split any part of Chinese territory out of the country.’ His comments came as Japan mounted a formal diplomatic protest to demand that China stop its renewed drilling operations in the East China Sea.”

August 4 – Associated Press: “Beijing is intensifying its warnings to Indian troops to get out of a contested region high in the Himalayas where China, India and Bhutan meet, saying China's ‘restraint has its limits’ and publicizing live-fire drills in Tibet. Indian troops entered the area in the Doklam Plateau in June after New Delhi's ally, Bhutan, complained a Chinese military construction party was building a road inside Bhutan's territory.”

July 31 – Reuters (Ben Blanchard and Elias Glenn): “China hit back on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted he was ‘very disappointed’ in China following North Korea's latest missile test, saying the problem did not arise in China and that all sides need to work for a solution. China has become increasingly frustrated with American and Japanese criticism that it should do more to rein in Pyongyang. China is North Korea's closest ally, but Beijing, too, is angry with its continued nuclear and missile tests.”

July 29 – Reuters (James Pearson and Michelle Nichols): “The United States flew two supersonic B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force on Sunday and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said China, Japan and South Korea needed to do more after Pyongyang's latest missile tests. North Korea said it conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) on Friday that proved its ability to strike America's mainland, drawing a sharp warning from U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump's ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said… that the United States was ‘done talking’ about North Korea, which was ‘not only a U.S. problem.’”

July 29 – Reuters (Babak Dehghanpisheh): “The Iranian Revolutionary Guards said… that U.S. Navy ships came close to their vessels in the Gulf and shot flares. The USS Nimitz and an accompanying warship drew close to a rocket-bearing Iranian vessel on Friday and sent out a helicopter near a number of Guards vessels… ‘The Americans made a provocative and unprofessional move by issuing a warning and shooting flares at vessels ...,’ the statement said. ‘Islam’s warriors, without paying attention to this unconventional and unusual behaviour from the American vessels, continued their mission in the area and the aircraft carrier and accompanying battleship left the area.’”

July 31 – Wall Street Journal (Julian E. Barnes, Laurence Norman and Felicia Schwartz): “The U.S. Pentagon and State Department have devised plans to supply Ukraine with antitank missiles and other weaponry and are seeking White House approval, U.S. officials said, as Kiev battles Russia-backed separatists and ties between Moscow and Washington fray. American military officials and diplomats say the arms, which they characterized as defensive, are meant to deter aggressive actions by Moscow, which the U.S. and others say has provided tanks and other sophisticated armaments as well as military advisers to rebels fighting the Kiev government.”
          Wednesday's News Links        
[Bloomberg] U.S. Stocks, Dollar Retreat as Apple Bolsters Dow: Markets Wrap

[Reuters] U.S. private sector adds 178,000 jobs in July: ADP

[CNBC/NYT] Trump administration is said to prepare broad trade case against China

[Bloomberg] Some Republicans Are Frustrated With Lack of Detail in GOP Tax Plan

[Bloomberg] How China’s Risk Crackdown Will Hit Manhattan’s Property Market

[Bloomberg] China Isn't Excited About iPhones Any More

[BloombergBusinessweek] Can Xi Jinping Defuse China’s Debt Bomb?

[CNBC] Chinese state media: Trump is 'wrong' when he says we can fix the North Korea problem

[WSJ] U.S. Plans Trade Measures Against China

[WSJ] Venezuelan Default Fears Rise With Billions in Debt Coming Due Soon

[FT] Hong Kong dollar peg slips to weakest in 19 months
          Sunday's News Links        
[CNBC] Trump expresses frustration with China over North Korea, hints at retaliation

[Reuters] Real estate booms in China's small cities, but construction outpaces demand

[Reuters] U.S. flies bombers over Korean peninsula after North Korea missile test

[NYT] China Shows Off Military Might, and Xi Jinping Puts Rivals on Notice

[Spiegel] Pro-Russian Separatists Harden Split from Ukraine
          Weekly Commentary: Five Years of Whatever It Takes        
July 25 – Bloomberg (Paul Gordon and Carolynn Look): “Five years ago today, Mario Draghi was talking about bumblebees. The European Central Bank president’s speech in London on July 26, 2012, became instantly famous because of his pledge to do ‘whatever it takes’ to save the euro. But for all the power and clarity of that phrase, he started his remarks more obliquely. ‘The euro is like a bumblebee. This is a mystery of nature because it shouldn’t fly but instead it does. So the euro was a bumblebee that flew very well for several years. And now -- and I think people ask ‘how come?’-- probably there was something in the atmosphere, in the air, that made the bumblebee fly. Now something must have changed in the air, and we know what after the financial crisis.’ At the time, the currency bloc was being buffeted by soaring bond yields in peripheral nations as speculators bet the union’s fundamental flaws would rip it apart. Draghi’s answer was to state unequivocally that the immediate crisis fell under the ECB’s responsibility and he would deal with it. ‘The ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough.’ That pledge was followed by a program to buy the debt of stressed countries in return for structural reforms, and in that respect the words alone proved to be enough. Yield spreads collapsed even though the program has never been tapped.”

This week marks the five-year anniversary of Draghi’s “whatever it takes.” I remember the summer of 2012 as if it were yesterday. From the Bubble analysis perspective, it was a Critical Juncture – for financial markets and risk perceptions, for policy and for the global economy. Italian 10-year yields hit 6.60% on July 24, 2012. On that same day, Spain saw yields surge to 7.62%. Italian banks were in freefall, while European bank stocks (STOXX600) were rapidly approaching 2009 lows. Having risen above 55 in 2011, Deutsche Bank traded at 23.23 on July 25, 2012.

It was my view at the time that the “European” crisis posed a clear and immediate threat to the global financial system. A crisis of confidence in Italian debt (and Spanish and “periphery” debt) risked a crisis of confidence in European banks – and a loss of confidence in European finance risked dismantling the euro monetary regime.

Derivatives markets were in the crosshairs back in 2012. A crisis of confidence in European debt and the euro would surely have tested the derivatives marketplace to the limits. Moreover, with the big European banks having evolved into dominant players in derivatives trading (taking share from U.S. counterparts after the mortgage crisis), counter-party issues were at the brink of becoming a serious global market problem. It’s as well worth mentioning that European banks were major providers of finance for emerging markets.

From the global government finance Bubble perspective, Draghi’s “whatever it takes” was a seminal development. The Bernanke Fed employed QE measures during the 2008 financial crisis to accommodate deleveraging and stabilize dislocated markets. Mario Draghi leapfrogged (helicopter) Bernanke, turning to open-ended QE and other extreme measures to preserve euro monetary integration. No longer would QE be viewed as a temporary crisis management tool. And just completely disregard traditional monetary axiom that central banks should operate as lender of last resort in the event of temporary illiquidity – but must avoid propping up the insolvent. “Whatever it takes” advocates covert bailouts for whomever and whatever a small group of central bankers chooses – illiquid, insolvent, irredeemable or otherwise. Now five years after the first utterance of “whatever it takes,” the Draghi ECB is still pumping out enormous amounts of “money” on a monthly basis (buying sovereigns and corporates) with rates near zero.

Keep in mind that while “whatever it takes” first radiated from Draghi’s lips, markets soon surmised that the ECB president was speaking on behalf of the cadre of leading global central bankers. After all, ECB (desperate) measures were followed promptly by the return of QE by the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan, the Swiss National Bank and others. It’s worth mentioning that the Fed’s balance sheet totaled about $2.8 TN in July 2012, only to rise to $4.4 TN by September 2014. Amazingly, Bank of Japan assets have expanded about three-fold since 2012 to approach $5.0 TN.

Going back to 2002, the burst “tech” Bubble was evolving into a full-fledged U.S. corporate debt crisis. Back then Fed governor Bernanke’s talk of “helicopter money” and the “government printing press” profoundly altered market dynamics. It may not have at the time been loud and clear. But putting markets on notice that the Fed was contemplating extraordinary reflationary measures was a far-reaching development for corporate debt. Facing a liquidity crisis in 2002, Ford bonds had become a popular short in the marketplace. Almost single-handedly, Dr. Bernanke’s speeches proved a catalyst for the speculating community reversing the Ford (and corporate debt) bond short - and then going long. The impact on general market liquidity was profound. And with the corporate debt crisis resolved there was nothing to hold back the burgeoning mortgage finance Bubble.

What “Helicopter Ben” accomplished with U.S. corporate bonds, “Super Mario” surpassed with Trillions of European sovereign, corporate and financial debt. Italian bond yields ended 2012 at 4.5%, down 210 bps from July highs. Spain’s 10-yields declined about 250 bps to 5.00% in less than six months. “Whatever it takes” almost immediately transformed Italian and Spanish debt from favored shorts to about the most enticing speculative long securities anywhere in the world.

Draghi’s utterance ‘The ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough,’ was a direct declaration to speculators with short positions in the euro currency, along with shorts in Italian, Spanish and periphery debt. Immediately Cover Your Shorts and Go Long. Five years on, Italian yields hover around 2.10% and Spanish yields sit at about 1.50% - emblematic of arguably one of history’s most spectacular securities market mispricings. European bank stocks have gained better than 50%. Draghi not only bloodied the shorts, be ensured spectacular profits for those levered long European debt – and the riskier the Credit the greater the reward.

Central bankers should not be in the business of playing favorites in the markets. So how did it get to the point where they seek to incentivize longs (levered and otherwise) while routinely punishing the shorts? Because central bankers followed the Bernanke Fed into a policy course of using rising securities and asset prices as a reflationary mechanism for the overall economy. As we’ve witnessed now for going on a decade, that’s a slippery slope. Adopt pro-Bubble policies and there will be no turning back. Inflate an epic Bubble and you own it for the duration.

“The euro is like a bumblebee. This is a mystery of nature because it shouldn’t fly but instead it does.” The euro flew and it soared incredibly high, trading above 1.50 to the dollar in early-2008. As fundamentally flawed as the euro monetary experiment has been, it has been buoyed by the fundamentally weaker dollar. The euro flew on the back of highly speculative flows, much of it flowing from an overcharged U.S. Credit system.  U.S. monetary policy had been too loose for too long. Unstable finance has been nurtured for what seems like an eternity. The U.S. exported its Credit Bubble to the world.

Going all the way back to the late-nineties, Italy and the European periphery were a leveraged speculator community darling. Indeed, the Euro Convergence Trade granted huge profits to the hedge fund community. The egregious amounts of leverage employed (directly and through derivatives) was illuminated with the 1998 implosion of Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM).

The LTCM fiasco contributed to an 18-month bear market that saw the euro trade down to 0.87 vs. the dollar in early 2002. With Dr. Bernanke and his radical theories on reflationary policymaking arriving on the scene in 2002, it’s no coincidence that the euro then embarked on a multiyear rally. The euro traded up to 1.00 late in 2002, 1.20 in 2003, 1.35 in 2004, 1.45 in 2007 and 1.58 in 2008. It’s furthermore no coincidence that Italian bond prices tracked the euro higher. After trading at 5.5% in the first-half of 2002, Italian yields dropped to 3.22% by October 2005. Greek bonds followed an almost identical trajectory, as both already highly-indebted nations took full advantage of the market’s insatiable demand for European peripheral debt.

Draghi has lately grown accustomed to patting himself on the back. He saved the euro. He saved Europe’s big banks. He kept Greece and Italy in the euro currency. His policies have spurred European economic recovery. But Draghi and global central bankers also inflated history’s greatest speculative Bubble. Celebration will be in order only if policies can be normalized without the whole thing coming crashing down.

July 25 – BloombergBusinessweek (Jana Randow): “Euro-area governments have saved almost 1 trillion euros ($1.16 trillion) in interest payments since 2008 as record-low European Central Bank rates depress bond yields at a time when state treasurers are also reducing debt. That’s according to calculations by Germany’s Bundesbank, which is urging finance ministers in the 19-nation region to make provisions for when interest rates start to rise. Italy, the world’s third-most indebted country, has benefited most, with savings exceeding 10% of gross domestic product.”

Italy has been the biggest beneficiary of collapsing market yields. The problem is that its debt load still expanded to a distressing 130% of GDP. Italy remains only a jump in yields away from trouble, and I suspect this helps explain why Draghi has been so reticent to pull back on the stimulus throttle. After trading below 1.90% in mid-June, Italian yields surged to 2.33% earlier this month as markets began to contemplate global central bankers moving toward concerted normalization.

The FOMC this week confirmed the dovishness of Yellen’s testimony before congress. Apparently, over the past month Fed rate “normalization” has been scaled back to perhaps one more hike this year – and that could be about it. And I just don’t buy the Fed’s recent fixation on below target inflation (GSCI Commodities Index up 4.2% this week on further dollar weakness!).

Something has raised concerns at the FOMC. Could it be European debt markets, with ECB stimulus to be significantly reduced in the months ahead. Or perhaps it’s China and Beijing's determination to rein in some financial excess. EM and all their dollar-denominated debt? Maybe a dysfunctional Washington has supplanted international developments on the worry list – or, understandably, it could be a combination of things.

At least for the week, global markets lost a bit of their recent swagger. While Boeing helped push the Dow to yet another record high, the S&P500 ended the week little changed. The broader market underperformed. The highflying technology stocks were unimpressive in the face of generally robust earnings. The VIX rose to 10.29, with some volatility beginning to seep into stock trading. Commodities caught a big bid, while bond yields began moving north again. The currencies remain unsettled.

Thinking back five years, U.S. markets at the time were incredibly complacent. The risk of crisis in Europe was downplayed: Policymakers had it all under control. Sometime later, the Financial Times - in a fascinating behind-the-scenes exposé - confirmed the gravity of the situation and how frazzled European leaders were at the brink of losing control. Yet central bankers, once again, saved the day – further solidifying their superhero status.

I’m convinced five years of “whatever it takes” took the global government finance Bubble deeper into perilous uncharted territory. Certainly, markets are more complacent than ever, believing central bankers are fully committed to prolonging indefinitely the securities bull market. Meanwhile, leverage, speculative excess and trend-following flows have had an additional five years to accumulate. Market distortions – including valuations, deeply embedded complacency, and Trillions of perceived safe securities – have become only further detached from reality. And the longer all this unstable finance flows freely into the real economy, the deeper the structural maladjustment.

For the Week:

The S&P500 was about unchanged (up 10.4% y-t-d), while the Dow jumped 1.2% (up 10.5%). The Utilities slipped 0.3% (up 8.4%). The Banks added 0.5% (up 3.7%), and the Broker/Dealers rose 1.0% (up 14.0%). The Transports dropped 2.6% (up 2.0%). The S&P 400 Midcaps declined 0.7% (up 6.1%), and the small cap Russell 2000 dipped 0.5% (up 5.3%). The Nasdaq100 slipped 0.2% (up 21.5%), and the Morgan Stanley High Tech index fell 0.8% (up 25.5%). The Semiconductors dropped 1.3% (up 20.6%). The Biotechs declined 1.0% (up 29.7%). With bullion up $15, the HUI gold index rallied 2.3% (up 7.7%).

Three-month Treasury bill rates ended the week at 106 bps. Two-year government yields added a basis point to 1.35% (up 16bps y-t-d). Five-year T-note yields increased three bps to 1.83% (down 9bps). Ten-year Treasury yields rose five bps to 2.29% (down 16bps). Long bond yields jumped nine bps to 2.90% (down 17bps).

Greek 10-year yields rose 11 bps to 5.33% (down 170bps y-t-d). Ten-year Portuguese yields added two bps to 2.93% (down 82bps). Italian 10-year yields gained five bps to 2.12% (up 31bps). Spain's 10-year yields rose seven bps to 1.53% (up 15bps). German bund yields increased four bps to 0.54% (up 34bps). French yields rose five bps to 0.81% (up 13bps). The French to German 10-year bond spread widened one to 27 bps. U.K. 10-year gilt yields gained four bps to 1.22% (down 2bps). U.K.'s FTSE equities index fell 1.1% (up 3.2%).

Japan's Nikkei 225 equities index declined 0.7% (up 4.4% y-t-d). Japanese 10-year "JGB" yields added a basis point to 0.08% (up 4bps). France's CAC40 gained 0.3% (up 5.5%). The German DAX equities index declined 0.6% (up 5.9%). Spain's IBEX 35 equities index rallied 1.1% (up 12.7%). Italy's FTSE MIB index rose 1.1% (up 11.4%). EM equities were mixed. Brazil's Bovespa index gained 1.3% (up 8.7%), while Mexico's Bolsa declined 0.7% (up 12.2%). South Korea's Kospi sank 2.0% (up 18.5%). India’s Sensex equities index added 0.9% (up 21.3%). China’s Shanghai Exchange increased 0.5% (up 4.8%). Turkey's Borsa Istanbul National 100 index rose 0.8% (up 37.8%). Russia's MICEX equities index slipped 0.4% (down 14.2%).

Junk bond mutual funds saw outflows of $21 million (from Lipper).

Freddie Mac 30-year fixed mortgage rates declined four bps to 3.92% (up 44bps y-o-y). Fifteen-year rates slipped three bps to 3.20% (up 42bps). The five-year hybrid ARM rate fell three bps to 3.18% (up 40bps). Bankrate's survey of jumbo mortgage borrowing costs had 30-yr fixed rates up five bps to 4.11% (up 42bps).

Federal Reserve Credit last week declined $5.1bn to $4.435 TN. Over the past year, Fed Credit added $0.4bn. Fed Credit inflated $1.625 TN, or 58%, over the past 246 weeks. Elsewhere, Fed holdings for foreign owners of Treasury, Agency Debt rose $6.0bn last week to $3.325 TN. "Custody holdings" were up $105bn y-o-y, or 3.3%.

M2 (narrow) "money" supply last week gained $6.0bn to a record $13.608 TN. "Narrow money" expanded $740bn, or 5.8%, over the past year. For the week, Currency increased $2.7bn. Total Checkable Deposits dropped $50.2bn, while Savings Deposits jumped $52.1bn. Small Time Deposits added $1.3bn. Retail Money Funds were little changed.

Total money market fund assets jumped $23.28bn to $2.640 TN. Money Funds fell $75bn y-o-y (2.8%).

Total Commercial Paper gained $7.4bn to $978bn. CP declined $49bn y-o-y, or 4.7%.

Currency Watch:

The U.S. dollar index declined 0.6% to 93.26 (down 8.9% y-t-d). For the week on the upside, the Swedish krona increased 1.5%, the Norwegian krone 1.3%, the British pound 1.1%, the Australian dollar 0.9%, the Canadian dollar 0.9%, the New Zealand dollar 0.8%, the euro 0.8%, the Singapore dollar 0.4%, the Japanese yen 0.4% and the Brazilian real 0.4%. On the downside, the Swiss franc declined 2.4%, the South African rand 0.8%, the Mexican peso 0.7% and the South Korean won 0.3%. The Chinese renminbi gained 0.44% versus the dollar this week (up 3.09% y-t-d).

Commodities Watch:

The Goldman Sachs Commodities Index jumped 4.2% (down 3.0% y-t-d). Spot Gold gained 1.2% to $1,270 (up 10.2%). Silver rose 1.4% to $16.695 (up 4.5%). Crude surged $3.94 to $49.71 (down 8%). Gasoline surged 7.2% (unchanged), while Natural Gas declined 1.0% (down 21%). Copper jumped 5.6% (up 15%). Wheat dropped 3.7% (up 18%). Corn fell 1.4% (up 10%).

Trump Administration Watch:

July 27 – Bloomberg (Sahil Kapur and Erik Wasson): “The House is set to leave for its August recess without having taken the first essential step to overhauling the U.S. tax code: agreeing on a 2018 budget resolution. Disputes among House Republicans over spending levels and the controversial border-adjusted tax proposal are preventing Speaker Paul Ryan from winning enough support to schedule a floor vote on the budget that a House panel approved last week. With House members planning to leave Washington Friday for a five-week recess, the lack of a budget is raising doubts that a tax rewrite -- one of President Donald Trump’s top priorities -- can get done this year, or even before the 2018 elections. ‘Clearly, no budget, no tax reform,’ said the House’s chief tax writer, Representative Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican.”

July 25 – Bloomberg (Erik Wasson and Roxana Tiron): “House Republicans this week are increasing the possibility of a government shutdown in October by moving forward with a $788 billion spending bill that complies with President Donald Trump’s demands to boost the military, reduce clean-energy programs and fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Those priorities, especially $1.6 billion in wall funding, guarantee House and Senate Democratic leaders will oppose the bill. Trump has urged his Republican supporters in Congress to fight, saying in May that a ‘good’ shutdown may be needed to advance his agenda. Republicans are trying to demonstrate unity after months of division over major legislation, including a repeal of Obamacare.”

July 24 – Bloomberg (Alex Harris): “The Treasury Department got a clear message from investors that they’re starting to get concerned another showdown over the U.S. debt ceiling may get ugly. The government’s auction Monday of $39 billion of three-month bills attracted the lowest demand of any other sale of the securities since June 2009. The bills, which mature around when the Treasury is estimated to run out of money unless lawmakers agree to extend the statutory limit on the nation’s borrowing, were sold at a rate of 1.18%, the highest since October 2008.”

July 27 – Bloomberg (Margaret Talev): “White House chief strategist Steve Bannon supports paying for middle-class tax cuts with a new top rate of 44% for Americans who make more than $5 million a year, according to a person familiar… It’s unclear whether President Donald Trump would support the move, which would bring the top rate, currently 39.6%, to the highest level in 30 years. Trump has said he’s focused on tax changes that would help the middle class, but an analysis this month of the tax outline the White House released in April shows it would mostly benefit top earners.”

July 25 – Reuters (John Benny): “A final decision on a steel trade policy may have to wait until other top-priority issues on his agenda get addressed, U.S. President Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal… The administration would take time in making a decision on whether to block steel imports… Trump had previously initiated a 'Section 232' review of the U.S. steel industry that allows for the imposition of tariffs or quotas on imports if they are found to threaten national security. The law, which has been used twice before - to investigate oil in 1999 and iron and steel in 2001 - allows the president to impose restrictions on imports for reasons of national security.”

China Bubble Watch:

July 23 – New York Times (Keith Bradsher and Sui-Lee Wee): “Let the West worry about so-called black swans, rare and unexpected events that can upset financial markets. China is more concerned about ‘gray rhinos’ — large and visible problems in the economy that are ignored until they start moving fast. The rhinos are a herd of Chinese tycoons who have used a combination of political connections and raw ambition to create sprawling global conglomerates. Companies like Anbang Insurance Group, Fosun International, HNA Group and Dalian Wanda Group have feasted on cheap debt provided by state banks, spending lavishly to build their empires. Such players are now so big, so complex, so indebted and so enmeshed in the economy that the Chinese government is abruptly bringing them to heel. President Xi Jinping recently warned that financial stability is crucial to national security, while the official newspaper of the Communist Party pointed to the dangers of a ‘gray rhinoceros,’ without naming specific companies.”

July 24 – New York Times (David Barboza): “The acquisitive Chinese conglomerate HNA Group moved to allay concerns about its ownership structure… by releasing a statement showing that its biggest shareholder had recently shifted from a mysterious businessman to a foundation it set up in New York. The company said that its largest shareholder, a private businessman in China named Guan Jun, had recently donated his 30% stake in the company to HNA’s charitable organization, the Hainan Cihang Charity Foundation. Combined with the 22.8% stake held by HNA’s sister charity in China, HNA says it is now 52% owned by the Cihang foundations.”

July 23 – Bloomberg: “Several Chinese banks that helped fund HNA Group Co.’s global acquisition spree are losing their appetite for financing the company, according to people familiar with the matter. Three of the banks have decided to stop extending new loans to HNA, said the people… One made the decision early this year, the second acted a couple of months ago and the third moved recently, the people said. A fourth bank trimmed its exposure to the company over the past few months and reduced the size of a credit line, one of the people said, without providing further details.”

July 25 – Bloomberg (Laurence Arnold and Prudence Ho): “For a company regularly in the news for its frequent and wide-ranging acquisitions, China’s HNA Group Co. remains shrouded in mystery. Chinese and American government officials are seeking more information about the company’s ownership -- though for very different reasons -- and the European Central Bank may open a review of its own. Once a little-known airline operator, the company took on billions of dollars in debt as it made more than $40 billion of acquisitions over six continents since the start of 2016. With interests in tourism, logistics and financial services, it’s now the biggest shareholder of such well-known names as Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG.”

July 23 – Wall Street Journal (Lingling Wei and Chao Deng): “China’s government reined in one of its brashest conglomerates with the approval of President Xi Jinping, according to people with knowledge of the action—a mark that the broader government clampdown on large private companies comes right from the top of China’s leadership. The measures, with President Xi’s previously unreported approval last month, bar state-owned banks from making new loans to property giant Dalian Wanda Group to help fuel its foreign expansion. The cutoff in bank financing for the company’s foreign investments highlights Beijing’s changing view of a series of Wanda’s recent overseas acquisitions as irrational and overpriced, these people say.”

July 22 – New York Times (Paul Mozur and Carolyn Zhang): “Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with more than two billion users. LinkedIn was sold to Microsoft for $26 billion last year. And Apple is Apple, the most valuable company in the world. In most local markets, it would be a surprise if any one of these companies were floundering. But in China, the real shock is that their troubles no longer surprise anyone. Just in the past few weeks, Facebook had one of its most popular apps blocked by the Chinese government. LinkedIn… had its local boss step down amid tepid results in the country. And Apple announced a billion-dollar investment to comply with local law as it continued to watch Chinese demand for its iPhones fade. This summer of challenge for the three companies offers a broad illustration of just how varied the obstacles have become for foreign companies in China. They also show in stark terms why this vast market has been frustratingly difficult for outsiders.”

July 25 – Reuters (Ryan Woo, Kevin Yao and Stella Qiu): “All major Chinese enterprises owned by the central government will be turned into limited liability companies or joint-stock firms by the end of the year as part of reforms aimed at overhauling their unwieldy structures. Beijing is trying to revive China's bloated state-owned sector and create ‘bigger and stronger’ conglomerates capable of competing on the global stage. Restructuring state-owned enterprises (SOEs) will separate government administration from management of day-to-day business operations, one step toward greater efficiency.”

Europe Watch:

July 27 – Bloomberg (Alessandro Speciale): “Germany’s grip over the euro area’s financial institutions is getting firmer. With the reappointment… of Werner Hoyer as president of the European Investment Bank, Germany’s hold over three key roles for the region’s economy was reaffirmed. A fourth one -- by far the most important -- could follow. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann is a frequently mentioned candidate to replace Italy’s Mario Draghi when his term as European Central Bank’s president runs out in October 2019… Further complicating the succession talks will be the large number of European posts coming up for grabs in the next two years, as well as French President’s Emmanuel Macron stated intention of creating a euro-area finance minister.”

July 24 Financial Times (Michael Hunter): “Could zombies be keeping Mario Draghi awake at night? Investors remain highly sensitive to the outlook for the start of the reduction, or tapering, of the European Central Bank’s €60bn monthly stimulus spending. As the scrutiny of the ECB president’s every utterance continues, there is some eye-catching analysis from Bank of America Merrill Lynch on what could be an important factor in his thinking on tapering. It points toward so-called ‘zombie’ companies, or those that depend on ultra-loose monetary policy for credit provision. ‘Although corporate leverage has helpfully declined over the last few years, we still find that 9% of firms have very weak interest coverage metrics in Europe,’ says the bank’s Barnaby Martin, credit strategist. The research defines a zombie company as one with an interest coverage ratio ‘at or below 1 times’ earnings.”

July 25 – Reuters (Paul Carrel and Irene Preisinger): “German business morale hit a record high in July as ‘euphoric’ manufacturers, shrugging off the impact of a strong euro, anticipated a surge in already robust exports from Europe's biggest economy. The Munich-based Ifo economic institute said… its business climate index, based on a monthly survey of some 7,000 firms, hit its third record high in as many months with a rise to 116.0 from 115.2 in June.”

Central Bank Watch:

July 24 – Bloomberg (Tanvir Sandhu): “The European Central Bank has given the green light to summer carry trades as volatility remains contained and the policy meetings in September and October are likely reserved to outline further details on quantitative easing, buying more time for carry, Bloomberg strategist Tanvir Sandhu writes. Italian bonds offer one of the most attractive carry and rolldown across European government bonds, with the five-year bucket three-month carry and roll at 16 bps and one-year at 70 bps. That compares with one-year of 30 bps for 10-year bunds and 42 bps for bonos. Given that carry trades are implicitly short volatility, two-year Italy stands out as the most attractive on a vol-adjusted basis. Since earning the full carry and rolldown assumes an unchanged yield curve, adjusting for volatility will provide a more realistic indicator of profitability.”

Global Bubble Watch:

July 22 – Financial Times (Chris Flood): “Vanguard is closing in on BlackRock’s title as the world’s largest asset manager after pulling in more than $1bn a day of investor money since the start of the year. The two heavyweights of the investment industry are attracting unprecedented inflows into their low-cost exchange traded funds amid rising investor dissatisfaction with the high fees and poor performance of active managers that strive to beat the market. Investors ploughed $215bn into Vanguard’s funds in the first six months of the year, far outpacing new business growth for BlackRock, which pulled in $168bn over the same period.”

July 26 – Financial Times (Eric Platt): “Investor enthusiasm for corporate debt has neared levels not seen since before the start of the credit crisis, in a deepening endorsement of a global economic recovery that has already propelled US stock markets to record heights. In several parts of the US bond markets, companies are now able to raise money at a lower cost, relative to government bonds, than they have for the past decade… ‘This is a continuation of this hunt for yield that you have seen for the last couple of years,’ said Brian Kennedy, a portfolio manager with Loomis Sayles. ‘Between the economic backdrop, lack of yield around the world and the buyers out of Asia and Europe, the investment grade and high-yield markets are the sweet spots for people who want yield.’”

July 23 – Financial Times (Laura Noonan): “The men running two of Wall Street’s biggest banks saw the value of their shareholdings rise by a combined $314m in 2016 as stock market prices rocketed in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as US president. But while Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein each enjoyed $150m-plus rises in the value of their stock and options in JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, respectively, the average gains for the other 18 best-paid chief executives at international banks last year was $4m.”

July 25 – Reuters (Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Anna Irrera): “Wall Street's main regulator said on Tuesday that initial coin offerings (ICOs), a means of crowdfunding for blockchain technology companies, should be subject to the same safeguards required in traditional securities sales. ICOs have become a bonanza for digital currency entrepreneurs, allowing them to raise millions quickly by creating and selling digital ‘tokens’ with no regulatory oversight. But the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said that the tokens can be considered securities, and therefore, may need to be registered unless a valid exemption applies.”

Fixed Income Bubble Watch:

July 23 – Financial Times (Attracta Mooney): “Investors piled more than $355bn into bond funds in the first five months of 2017 despite concerns that the fixed-income market is set for an unprecedented shake-up as central banks shift towards normalising monetary policy. The surge of money has put fixed-income funds on course to beat 2016’s full-year inflows of $375bn… The net inflows are already larger than the amount of money invested in fixed income funds over the entire 2013 and 2015. The biggest winners this year include Pimco’s income fund, T Rowe Price’s new income fund that invests in US bonds, and a Vanguard index fund investing in global fixed income. These products have had inflows of between $4bn and $27bn since the start of the year.”

July 23 – Financial Times (Attracta Mooney): “Bob Michele, a bond fund veteran, is more worried than he has ever been. The head of global fixed income at JPMorgan Asset Management, the US fund house, has spent almost four decades investing in bonds. The 57-year-old… is gearing up for the most demanding period of his career. ‘The next 18 months are going to be incredibly challenging. I am not an equity investor, but I can just imagine how equity investors felt in 1999, during the dotcom bubble,’ he says… The Nasdaq Composite, the index, lost 78% of its value in the 18 months after the tech bubble collapsed. Mr Michele, like many fixed-income investors, is acutely worried about how central banks’ retreat from monetary easing will affect the bond market.”

Federal Reserve Watch:

July 25 – Wall Street Journal (Kate Davidson): “President Donald Trump is considering renominating Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chairwoman but also views his economic adviser Gary Cohn as a top candidate, he told The Wall Street Journal… Mr. Trump reiterated that he thinks Ms. Yellen is doing a good job and he has ‘a lot of respect for her,’ and said she is still in the running to serve a second four-year term as leader of the central bank. But he said he also is considering replacing Ms. Yellen with Mr. Cohn, who became Mr. Trump’s National Economic Council director after a 26-year career at Goldman Sachs…”

July 23 – Reuters (Marius Zaharia): “In September 2015, the U.S. Federal Reserve cited risks from China as a key reason for delaying its first interest rate hike in a decade. A wall of Chinese debt maturing in the next few years could jolt the country back into the U.S. central bank's policy deliberations. Two years ago, it was a collapse in Chinese stocks, a surprise yuan devaluation and shrinking foreign exchange reserves that roiled financial markets that delayed the Fed, but it did raise rates three months later and has tightened further since. Now, some see risks emerging in China's dollar-denominated bonds that could give the Fed greater pause for thought as it raises rates, even as other central banks signal a shift from ultra-easy policy. To be sure, Fed officials have not publicly flagged China's debt as a major risk in their policy discussions. However, debt analysts point to the possibility of another September 2015 moment in which the Fed takes its cues from concerns about China.”

July 23 – Financial Times (Gavyn Davies): “Janet Yellen, in an unusually ebullient mood, suggested last month that there may not be a repeat of the Global Financial Crash (GFC) ‘in our lifetimes’. Given the extreme severity of the GFC, that is perhaps a fairly easy hurdle for the central bankers to clear. As a result of the co-ordinated efforts of Basel III and the Financial Stability Board under Mark Carney, the fault lines in the pre-2008 financial architecture have been largely repaired. A more difficult question is whether the current phase of rising markets, which began in 2009, will end because financial asset prices implode under their own weight. There may not be a complete collapse of the entire financial system this time, but there could still be a very unpleasant bear market for investors to endure. It is clear from the latest Fed minutes that ‘a few’ members of the FOMC are more worried about the risk of financial instability than Chair Yellen, but even they seem reluctant to tighten monetary or prudential policy unless the Fed’s dual mandate, aimed at low inflation and maximum employment, is under threat.”

July 26 – Bloomberg (Craig Torres): “Federal Reserve officials said they would begin running off their $4.5 trillion balance sheet ‘relatively soon’ and left their benchmark policy rate unchanged as they assess progress toward their inflation goal. The start of balance-sheet normalization -- possibly as soon as September -- is another policy milestone in an economic recovery now in its ninth year. The Fed bought trillions of dollars of securities to lower long-term borrowing costs after cutting the main interest rate to zero in December 2008.”

U.S. Bubble Watch:

July 25 – Reuters (Lucia Mutikani): “U.S consumer confidence jumped to a near 16-year high in July amid optimism over the labor market while house prices maintained their upward trend in May, which could boost consumer spending after recent sluggishness… ‘This brightens the outlook for the economy as we enter the second half of the year,’ said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG... ‘We expect Fed officials will continue with their gradual pace of rate hikes secure in the knowledge that a confident consumer means that more spending is on the way.’”

July 26 – Bloomberg (Patricia Laya): “The U.S. housing market is stabilizing near 10-year highs, according to government data Wednesday that showed sales of new homes were slightly less than forecast. Single-family home sales increased 0.8% m/m to 610k annualized pace (est. 615k). Median sales price fell 3.4% y/y to $310,800. Supply of homes crept up to 5.4 months from 5.3 months; 272,000 new houses were on market at end of June.”

July 25 – Bloomberg (Patricia Laya): “Steady price gains in 20 U.S. cities in May indicate that a tight supply of properties paired with increased demand is boosting home values, according… S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller… 20-city property values index increased 5.7% y/y (est. 5.8%). National price gauge advanced 5.6% y/y. An shortage of listings is still behind the rapid appreciation of home prices, particularly in high-demand areas such as Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, where values have surpassed pre-recession peaks.”

July 27 – Wall Street Journal (Michael Wursthorn): “Wall Street brokerages are pushing customers to take out billions of dollars in loans backed by stocks and bonds, a trend that yields lucrative fees for the firms but poses risks for borrowers. Executives at Morgan Stanley earlier this month highlighted these loans to individuals as a big growth area and revenue driver, saying the loans helped expand the bank’s overall wealth lending by about $3.5 billion, or 6%, in the second quarter. On Thursday, Goldman Sachs… took a step toward growing its securities-based lending business through a new partnership with Fidelity Investments. For brokerages, these so-called securities-backed loans have become a reliable source of revenue in the years since the financial crisis as firms have begun moving away from a business model of charging commissions for trading to a system of fees based on assets under management.”

Japan Watch:

July 24 – Bloomberg (Andy Sharp): “Former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba overtook scandal-hit Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the best person to lead Japan, an opinion poll showed… Ishiba was seen as the most appropriate choice for prime minister by 20.4% of respondents to the poll conducted by the Sankei newspaper and FNN TV network, while 19.7% picked Abe. In a similar survey in December, Ishiba’s 10.9% lagged behind the 34.5% who favored Abe.”

July 25 – Reuters (Tetsushi Kajimoto): “The two new members of the Bank of Japan's policy board said… that the central bank should continue efforts to achieve its 2% inflation goal and it was premature to debate an exit from its massive monetary stimulus. Goushi Kataoka, a 44-year-old former economist… and an advocate of massive money printing, said he wants to see the price goal achieved quickly although he cannot say when that can be. The other new board member, Hitoshi Suzuki, a 63-year-old former deputy president of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ… said it was ‘dangerous’ to markets to debate an exit from the stimulus now.”

EM Bubble Watch:

July 24 – Bloomberg (Natasha Doff): “The rapid growth of a BlackRock Inc. exchange-traded fund that tracks emerging-market debt is causing jitters among investors. The iShares JP Morgan EM Local Government Bond ETF, ticker IEML, has doubled in size this year, mopping up more than $3 billion of inflows as investors reach for average yields as high as 4.72% in developing economies. The risk is that if the carry trade unwinds, as tends to happen eventually, investors could race for the exit all at once and send the fund tumbling.”

July 24 – Wall Street Journal (Carolyn Cui): “Venezuelan bond prices tumbled to their lowest levels of the year as default fears grew following U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to impose sanctions on the country. State-owned oil producer Petróleos de Venezuela SA’s bonds due in November fell 2.9% late in New York trading Monday and have tumbled 7.6% over the past six sessions, now at their lowest levels since December… The government’s bonds due in 2038 were down 10% during the period after falling 4.3% on Monday.”

Leveraged Speculation Watch:

July 26 – Bloomberg (Katia Porzecanski): “Paulson & Co., the investment firm that shot to fame betting on the collapse of the U.S. housing market, is closing its 2-year-old long-short equity fund in an effort to shift strategies after a steep drop in assets. ‘We are re-focusing the funds on our core areas of expertise in merger arbitrage and distressed credit, where our assets have been growing,’ founder John Paulson said in a letter to investors… ‘We thank the long-short team for their efforts on behalf of the company.’”

Geopolitical Watch:

July 26 – Bloomberg (Stepan Kravchenko): “Russia threatened to retaliate against new sanctions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, saying they made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump administration’s goal of improved relations. The measures push U.S.-Russia ties into uncharted territory and ‘don’t leave room for the normalization of relations’ in the foreseeable future, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said… Hope ‘is dying’ for improved relations because the scale of ‘the anti-Russian consensus in Congress makes dialogue impossible and for a long time,’ Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said… Russia should prepare a response to the sanctions that’s ‘painful for the Americans,’ he said.”

July 25 – CNBC (Nyshka Chandran): “The rivalry between India and China is heating up as the heavyweight economies face territorial tensions on both land and sea. A fierce border standoff in Bhutan's Doklam region — triggered by a Chinese road construction project in a disputed area and a Bhutanese request for Indian help — is now entering its second month with soldiers from both sides engaged in skirmishes. But a new confrontation in the relationship is arising as New Delhi is growing concerned about a Chinese naval presence in its own backyard: the Indian Ocean. ‘As the [Doklam] crisis stretches on, China is likely to seek ways to pressure India, both on the border and elsewhere, and this will compound the cycle of competition that is already well underway,’ Shashank Joshi, research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said…”

July 24 – South China Morning Post (David Barboza): “China… issued its strongest warning yet to India over their month-long border ­dispute, saying Beijing would ­protect its sovereignty ‘at all costs’. Observers believe that China's stepping up of its rhetoric, which came before a high-level security meeting that involves both Chinese and Indian security officials, gives Beijing more bargaining power in the talks with New Delhi. Defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian also said that China planned to strengthen its ‘targeted deployment and exercises’ along the disputed border, and that India should ‘have no ­illusions’ about its military's capabilities or commitment.”

July 24 – Reuters (Michael Martina and Matthew Tostevin): “China’s Foreign Ministry has urged a halt to oil drilling in a disputed part of the South China Sea, where Spanish oil company Repsol had been operating in cooperation with Vietnam. Drilling began in mid-June in Vietnam's Block 136/3… The block lies inside the U-shaped 'nine-dash line' that marks the vast area that China claims in the sea and overlaps what it says are its own oil concessions. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China had indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, which China calls the Nansha islands, and jurisdiction over the relevant waters and seabed.”
          India- China Bilateral Economic Ties: Issues and Prospects        
| by D. S. Rajan

( January 19, 2015, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian)
It may not be wrong to assume that the prevailing growth asymmetry between India and China can have implications for their economic partnership; the ties definitely look as one between two unequals- India occupying a weaker position as against a stronger China.

To elaborate, China adheres to a system of socialist market economy, in which the public ownership system plays a leading role. India, on the other hand, follows a mixed economy model involving both private and public sectors.

President Xi Jinping’s New Silk Road Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road proposals are meant to facilitate energy supplies connectivity to China from abroad. China has especially been able to conclude several international deals, to get shale gas from North America, build pipelines across Myanmar and secure stakes in Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects and Caspian Sea oil and gas. To ensure an uninterrupted supply of oil and gas, China has been able to strengthen energy infrastructure by building a network of pipelines from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Myanmar.
China’s economy is now the second largest in the world (GNP in 2013 at the level of US$ 9.24 trillion), after that of the U.S. India ranks No.10 in the global list. China’s “comprehensive national power” now exceeds that of India by a wide margin. The former’s economy was more than four times the size of India’s in 2012, and over eight times the size when adjusting for purchasing-power parity (PPP). China’s official military budget of $119 billion in 2013 was over three times larger than India’s $38 billion defense budget. In 2013, China’s real GDP growth rate was 7.7 % as against India’s 3.2%. In terms of alleviation of poverty, China seems to be doing better than India (China’s 0.061% and India’s 29.8%. in 2010); China’s literacy rate was 95% in 2010 as against India’s 62% (2006).

China is also the biggest exporting nation globally (US$ 2.2. trillion in 2013). Its main strength now lies in manufacturing for e.g. cell phones and personal computers, making it a workshop of the world. China’s foreign trade is burgeoning day by day –its total exports and imports surpassed US$ 4 trillion for the first time to reach US$ 4.16 trillion in 2013. It now has the largest foreign exchange reserve in the world- about US$ 3.4 trillion. Its investment abroad is gaining strength; it is now the third largest investor after the US and Japan. On the reverse side, in terms of inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), China has become second largest in the world- it attracted a record US$117.6 billion in FDI in 2013. 450 out of the FORTUNE 500 American companies have established production lines and business presence in China. Also, the PRC’s requirement of raw material from abroad to speed up its development at home has grown significantly. China has surpassed the US to become the world's biggest energy consumer. Only with regard to demography, India stands to gain vis-à-vis China; In 2012 India’s working-age population grew by twelve million while that of China shrank by over three million.

The importance of the outcome of the PRC President Xi Jinping’s visit to New Delhi in September 2014 to India-China economic ties needs no emphasis. The widespread perception in India is that the visit was a success in economic terms, but not so promising in political sense. The Chinese intrusion in Ladakh’s Chumar area has been seen in India as one which provided a negative backdrop to the visit; in broader terms, opinions in India view the intrusion as symbolic of the existing trust deficit affecting bilateral ties.

It is true that two sides agreed during the visit to conduct their relations from a strategic and overall perspective and consolidate their ties on the basis of Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and mutual respect and sensitivities for each other's concerns and aspirations, but there was no sign of an early solution to strategic issues dividing them , particularly to the key boundary problem; India and China merely reiterated their commitment to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to it.

In purely economic terms, significant has been the readiness of India and China, exhibited during the visit, on taking the bilateral cooperation into new areas including industrial investment, infrastructure development, energy conservation and environment protection. Notable have been the steps agreed upon by the two sides on rebalancing bilateral trade and addressing the existing structural imbalance in trade through adopting measures like advancing cooperation on pharmaceutical supervision, conducting speedier negotiations on agro-products for two-way trade, establishing stronger links between Indian IT companies and Chinese enterprises, and increasing services trade in tourism, films, healthcare, IT and logistics. As a particular measure, they could approve a ‘Five Year Trade and Economic Development Plan’, aimed at laying down a roadmap to promote sustainability and lessen the bilateral trade imbalance as well as to strengthen investment cooperation in order to realize the US$ 20 billion Chinese investment in India, in next five years, assured by Xi Jinping; this investment is to be made in various industrial and infrastructure development projects in India, particularly in the establishment of two industrial parks in India, one in Gujarat and one in Maharashtra.

What has been achieved during Xi Jinping’s visit to India makes one to think that an unprecedented rise may be in the offing in the prospects of India-China economic relations; the driving forces are not difficult to identify. The new Modi regime in India like its predecessor and the Xi Jinping administration in China, are increasingly realizing the importance of domestic development to the nation building in the respective countries and to fulfill this objective,, are displaying keenness to work out mutual benefit-based external economic strategies. What we see today is the specific application of these strategies to India-China economic ties.

It would be appropriate to focus on the present status and future of India-China trade and investment ties. In early 90s, the level of bilateral trade was insignificant as the trade basket was restricted to a limited number of products. In 2008, China became India’s biggest trading partner replacing the U.S and that position continues today. Bilateral trade increased by nearly ten and a half times during 2003-11; it reached the level of US$ 74 billion in 2011, US$ 66.7 billion in 2012 and US$ 65.47 billion in 2013. The decline seen in 2012 and 2013 is being attributed to a variety of reasons including depreciation of Indian rupee, global slowdown and fall in Indian exports due to India’s curbs on the export of iron ore, the single biggest export item (53% of India’s total exports to China). The two countries aim at achieving the trade target of US$100 billion by 2015.

On the most prominent issue of trade imbalance in India-China economic ties, hopes for an early solution to it appear to have risen of late. China’s proposed US$ 20 billion investment in India, its readiness to open its pharmaceutical, agro-products, IT and service sectors to India’s participation and on the reverse, India’s nod to the Chinese entry into India’s infrastructure projects, may pave the way for closing the deficit, which stood at US$ 31.4 billion in 2013.

For India, progress on trade deficit issue, would depend on its ability to introduce new products to China having global competitiveness (Major Indian exports so far to the PRC are: iron ores, slag and ash, iron and steel, plastics, organic chemicals, and cotton. India’s imports from China so far mostly relate to the manufacturing sector, more precisely in the sectors of chemicals, machinery and mechanical appliances and base metals). Expert studies (for e.g S.K.Mohanty, Research and Information System for developing Countries (RIS), New Delhi, indicate that India could emerge as a competitive supplier to the Chinese market, as it has a large domestic market in value chain in a number of sectors, including the parts and component sector; its exports to China in this sector could be more competitive than that of several South East Asian economies on which China is seriously dependent for intermediate input supplies.

On imports from China, India should respond to the changing pattern of import demands of the latter which is rebalancing its economy taking the focus away from the traditional export and investment-led growth. Examples of pattern changes include the fall in China’s demand for coal imports, continuous rise in its energy demand from abroad and appetite for foreign hi tech products. Also, India would stand to gain in bringing medium and high-technology intensive products from China. The resultant change in the composition of India’s imports from China can have a positive impact on the bilateral trade imbalance. Growth in trade has prompted a spurt in investments between the countries as well. China’s accumulated investment in India reached US$57.6 million while India’s investment in China reached US$44.2 million by December 2011.

Next to trade imbalance, the other issue which may affect the prospects of India-China economic relations is the exchange rate regime in China. Authorities in China artificially keep the Chinese Yuan undervalued against world currencies and this step benefits its world exports, particularly exports to the neighboring countries in Asia. India may have to carefully study the implications of Yuan rate for its export to nations in South East and East Asia, a region where it is competing with China for markets.

India-China differences on the leadership in the regional integration process may be another issue relevant to their economic relationship. India supports the East Asia Summit (EAS)/ Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) process; it favors a leading role in the EAS by ASEAN plus 6 nations (10 ASEAN nations plus Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand). China on the other hand wants ASEAN plus 3 (10 ASEAN nations, China, South Korea and Japan) to play a leading role in the EAS; it considers India, Australia and New Zealand as ‘secondary’ group in the EAS. The future of regional cooperation would very much depend on the progress in the ongoing negotiations among 16 countries on the RCEP proposal launched in November 2012. India and China are among those taking part in the negotiations. Five rounds of talks have been held so far. Meanwhile, China has made its own proposal to establish a working group to study the feasibility of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.

Concerning India-China bilateral economic ties, is also the question as to how each perceives its role in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)? China, an observer SAARC nation now, is keen to join that organization as a full member with an eye on expanding its presence in South Asia; its aim seems to be the signing of a China-SAARC Free Trade Area. With regard to India, China feels that both the nations can work together as ‘dual engines’ for regional stability and development. It is seeking India’s support to China becoming a full SAARC member.

President Xi Jinping has said that “China welcomes and supports India’s full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with the expectation that India will support China in building relations with SAARC”. Motivating China to play an active SAARC role, is its thinking that this will benefit the concerned South Asian economies as well as of itself, particularly its South Western part and the protection of the country’s sea lane security in the Indian Ocean. For this purpose, China says that it will follow a policy of “upholding justice and seeking interests”, which can accommodate interests of all neighboring nations, including the SAARC countries. According to it, initiatives under such policy comprise China’s four proposals – New Silk Road Economic Belt, 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Bangladesh-China- India- Myanmar (BCIM) Corridor.

In an overall sense, China appears to assess that the SAARC is divided into two camps- one led by India and another by Pakistan and that India is adopting a ‘big brother’ attitude in South Asia (“China’s Economic Relations with SAARC: Prospects and Hurdles”, Liu Zongyi, China Institute of International Studies, 1 December 2014). On its part, India has so far been hesitant to endorse China’s proposals; the Joint India-China Statement, issued after President Xi Jinping’s visit to New Delhi, did not mention the first two. The apparent India’s reservations on the third proposal, i.e China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, can be understood in the context of the issue of Kashmir, a likely Chinese corridor area. On the BCIM, India’s position appears to be a developing one; it may have to respond to some domestic concerns arising from the likely implications for its Northeast part of the unresolved border dispute with China and the security challenges to the country in the event of opening that sensitive part for foreign participation.

Affecting India-China economic ties is also the ongoing competition between them for resources worldwide. As the two face continuing gap domestically between the resource supply and demand, it is natural that they compete to reach out to resource-rich nations in the world. The PRC became a net oil importer in 1993 and the largest global energy consumer in 2010. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected that China would surpass the United States as the largest net oil importer by 2014 due to its rising oil consumption. Oil imports in China grew by nearly 10 percent in 2014, to nearly 2.3 billion barrels (308 million tons). Taking the case of India, it is currently the fourth largest oil consumer in the world, behind the US, China and Japan. It is expected to become third largest by 2025. In the estimates of the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), India’s oil consumption will rise from 3.68 million barrels per day (bpd), or 173.5 million tonnes, in 2012 to 5.19 million bpd in 2025, overtaking Japan’s 4.38 million bpd consumption.

India-China competition for resources – oil and natural gas, industrial and construction materials, foreign capital and technology, is expected to intensify in future in the regions where the latter remains active at this juncture - Middle East (Iran and Saudi Arabia), Central Asia (Kazakhstan), Russia, Africa (Sudan and Angola), Latin America (Venezuela and Brazil) and the Asia-Pacific region (Myanmar and South and East China seas).

China is encouraging its state-owned companies to reach exploration and supply agreements with resource-producing nations in these regions. Simultaneously, Beijing is acting at state levels to influence such nations, which are getting manifested in four ways – conducting high-level diplomatic exchanges, promoting bilateral trade, extending economic aid especially for infrastructure building, and even providing military assistance. China is diversifying energy supply sources in response to perceived vulnerability to any over dependence in this regard on the politically volatile Middle East and Africa. Russia and Latin America have become China’s new markets.

President Xi Jinping’s New Silk Road Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road proposals are meant to facilitate energy supplies connectivity to China from abroad. China has especially been able to conclude several international deals, to get shale gas from North America, build pipelines across Myanmar and secure stakes in Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects and Caspian Sea oil and gas. To ensure an uninterrupted supply of oil and gas, China has been able to strengthen energy infrastructure by building a network of pipelines from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Myanmar.

On the other hand, Indian initiatives to respond to those taken by China seem to be inadequate. Indian entities like Oil & Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) continue to face challenges from Chinese companies such as China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) in winning prospective oil and gas opportunities in the third countries. Admittedly, the new Modi government in India is seized of the urgency to accord priority to the nation’s energy security matters.

(The writer, D.S.Rajan, is Distinguished Fellow, Chennai Centre for China Studies, Chennai, India. This formed the basis of his presentation on the subject at an interaction with the visiting Chinese scholars, organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi on 13 January 2015. Email:

          Ã“lga innan Framsóknar        
Morgunvaktin 19.maí hófst á hjali um blíðviðri á landinu og um nokkrar fréttir dagsins. Kínverjar hafa kynnt áform um risavaxið samgönguverkefni, nýja silkileið, sem ætlað er að tengja Kína um landveg og sjóleiðina öðrum heimshlutum. Markmiðið er að tryggja stöðu kínverska hagkerfisins í heimsviðskiptunum. Frumkvæðið að þessu átti Kínaforseti, Xi Jinping. Hann vonast til að verkefnið leysi úr læðingi efnahagskrafta, sem skapi forsendur fyrir nýrri þróun í heiminum og auki stöðugleika í alþjóðavæðingu heimsins. Sagt var frá þessum áformum Kínverja sem rædd voru á leiðtogafundi í Beijing. Forystusveit Framsóknarmanna heldur mikilvægan fund um helgina á nokkru ólguskeiði í flokknum. Búast má við að eitthvað gusti um sali á vorfundi miðstjórnarinnar. Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson velti Sigmundi Davíð Gunnlaugssyni úr embætti flokksformanns og það er ekki gróið um heilt. Sigurður Ingi ræddi stöðu Framsóknarflokksins. Ferðafólki hér á landi fjölgaði um rúmlega helming á fyrsta ársfjórðungi, sem ...
          Fighting the Culture War        
After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the creation of a raft of new liberal and democratic states in 1989 and 1991, the argument about the values of the open society went into a kind of stasis. The debate was deemed by many to be closed, and the virtues of liberal democracy self-evidently triumphant.

25 years later that "end of history" seems at best more nuanced. At worst, the closed authoritarian model seems to have made a spectacular come-back.

This blog references Cicero, and in previous posts I have explained why. I have feared for a long time that the values and virtues of democracy are being eroded from within and without. The fact is that mass societies can be manipulated and subverted. Vladimir Putin spends billions of dollars on propaganda, and while much of this is to persuade Russians not to challenge his regime, equally his purpose has been to undermine confidence in the states of Europe and North America that he deems to be his enemies. He is achieving a remarkable success in promoting closed, right-wing models of society. His admirers are a rogues gallery of anti-democrats: Marine Le Pen, Diane James, Geert WildersDonald Trump, the Vlaams Belang in Belgium and many members of the Cinque Stelle in Italy.

The weakness that this subversion is demonstrating should give all of us some pause for thought. The fact is that both our media and our education system have already let us down severely. 80% of the UK print media is in the hands of foreign or off-shore ownership, with an extreme right-wing agenda. On my recent visit to London, I was staggered how many people read the Mail and the Express- two newspapers who seem to have given up on the truth altogether. The fact is that in a world of post truth politics, our general education level seems simply too low to challenge the false narratives that the biased and self-serving media is promoting.

When people ask me why Estonia is so much more successful than, say, Russia. I generally reply by pointing out that Estonian culture so strongly promotes education. It is a history of Lutheran respect for education, combined with strongly rooted values of hard work, discipline and openness. It is next to impossible to beat a bright kid with a good work ethic. Yet even in Estonia, I see signs of a culture being assailed. The astonishing growth in graffiti in recent months is one example, the rise of EKRE- an unpleasant and intolerant right-wing nationalist party- is another. Of course both are still much weaker than in the UK, but the fact that they even exist in Estonia is reflective of possible problems ahead.

In the end, across Europe and North America, the heartland of the West, it is our values, our culture and way of doing things that is being challenged. Some of this is the subversion of openness by the enemies of the open society, but we must also admit that we have made too many mistakes. The promotion of the Bush-Blair war agenda, against strong internal resistance was, in retrospect, the beginning of a crisis of confidence in democracy. Cynical politics has created a cynical society. Amoral decisions have contributed to a climate of moral indifference which is highly corrosive of the open society. The result has been the growth of an alienated and angry electorate. The result has included the economic, political and moral mistake of the Brexit referendum result.

As we contemplate the challenge of Putin, and indeed the coming challenge of Brexit, it seems to me that we will need more and more to renew our national political cultures. The cheerless and backward-looking managerialism on offer from Theresa May already looks dated, and such values as she offers- a return to the 1950s- are hardly robust enough to meet the demands of the new century. Although Taavi Rõivas, the Estonian Prime Minister, offers a younger face, he remains the captive of older figures, and Estonia too needs to renew its political culture. The party-list electoral system is too closed for the increasingly open society that Estonia wishes to be, and the three ring circus of the current presidential election has shown just how locked-out the voters are from the process. 

In both countries a voice that reiterates the values and virtues of openness is much needed. The complications of a tolerant and free society must be explained, and that is difficult enough in thoughtful and educated Estonia, never mind the shrill and poisoned atmosphere of British politics. However, if we do not renew our culture and reinforce our values, I fear that all the gains of the global society could be rolled back and the locust years will be upon us. It is not just a question of economics, it is a question of ethics and morality. It is a question of good and bad. 

Cicero lived at the time of the death of the Roman Republic. The Republic had existed for 500 years in turbulent vigour. Cicero was instrumental in defeating the first conspiracy against the Republic- the Cataline conspiracy- but though he knew the Republic needed reform, he could not provide the leadership to thwart Caesar's coup d'etat. Within a very few years Rome was the prisoner of its Emperors and the power of the Republic was broken. Cicero, and his ally Cato had failed and the decadence and corruption of the Empire lingered in place of the vigour of the Republic. 

Is that to be the fate of the West?  In the end we could fail and with the failure of the global society a smaller, weaker, more violent world could come. Instead of creating a more open and integrated planet we could fall back on the failures of the past, possibly not excluding war and the eventual use of nuclear weapons.

Thus it is not for small stakes that we must fight. The renewal of our values in a world where virtually limitless data or information is free, but knowledge and understanding just as difficult as it ever was cannot be easy. Yet now- in a world of surveillance, both overt and covert-  we need to set the limits of power more than ever. It comes down to renewing our philosophy and living rigidly to our values. We must not let political compromise become moral weakness. Whether the challenge comes from Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping or our own media-political complex, we have to understand the scale of the problem- and the terrible price, if we fail. In the new cultural war, we cannot afford to fail.  
          Guerre, la graduatoria delle tragedie dipende dal marketing mediatico        
9 aprile 2017 – Il Fatto Quotidiano Donald Trump ci ha sorpreso ancora una volta. Nessuno poteva immaginare che avrebbe lanciato una pioggia di missili cruise (tomahawk) contro la Siria poche ore prima di sedersi davanti a Xi Jinping, il leader cinese, per la tradizionale cena di gala che apre questo tipo di incontri bilaterali. Read more
          China& Liberation of Tibet: Rules of the Game        
‎Montag, ‎22. ‎August ‎2011, ‏‎16:45:00 Robert Barnett, NYR Xinhua Audience members at the ceremony for ‚the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Tibet,‘ Lhasa, July 19, 2011 Much of the talk about Vice President Joe Biden’s four-day visit to China last week centered on the man who hosted him: Xi Jinping, expected to become the […]
          Putin Dubs Xi a “Lone Warrior”; Censors Pounce        
Xi Jinping has gathered an impressive array of titles over the past four years, from the official through the avuncularly casual to the firmly unapproved. Last week, he gained another
          Ren Zhiqiang’s Gagging Hailed as Key Achievement        
Almost a year ago, the weibo accounts of property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang were deleted after he challenged Xi Jinping’s call for media organizations to “take ‘Party’ as their
          Deciphering China’s VPN Ban        

This weekend Apple took a dispiriting step in the policing of its Chinese mainland App store: the company removed several Virtual Private Network (VPN) applications that allowed users to circumvent the China’s extensive internet censorship apparatus. In effect, the company has once again aided the Chinese government in its censorship campaign against its own citizens.

A commercial VPN is a private service that offers to securely relay your internet communications via their own network. The advantage of using a VPN is that all of the data you send and receive is hidden from local networks. VPNs may be hosted in a foreign country, which is useful both for protecting communications from a local government, and bypassing national censorship. It is primarily the VPNs’ censorship circumvention properties that make them threatening to the Chinese government.

Apple’s iOS has VPN capabilities built-in, but in recent years China has blocked such standard VPN protocols across their network. This has led to an explosion of applications that use their own unique methods for wrapping and encrypting iOS data. There’s only one way to provide such tools on Apple’s mobile devices, which is via the company’s centralized App Store: once removed by Apple, iPhones and iPads have no way to reach blocked foreign sites (including Google services, Facebook, and independent sources from the New York Times to Human Rights Watch).

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, said that he was hopeful that the restrictions would be lessened over time. But how reasonable is that hope? Is China’s recent crackdown on VPNs a foreshadowing of an even more restricted domestic internet for Chinese users and businesses, or a temporary blip that companies like Apple and independent VPN providers might expect to be able to ride out?

Enforcement of China’s internet censorship policies has historically waxed and waned, depending on the authorities’ concerns over domestic political unrest. Crackdowns can be triggered by concerns over a one-time event, such as the Beijing Olympics in 2008, or regularly-occurring events such as the Communist Party Congress or the June 4 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. Crackdowns have usually been followed by an easing of restrictions after the politically-sensitive event has passed. However, since the beginning of Xi Jinping’s presidency, there have been indications that the Great Firewall as a technology, and its surrounding regulatory prohibitions, have changed in emphasis from a filter that was relatively easy for businesses, academics, and dedicated netizens to evade, into a far more draconian censorship and surveillance system.

The regulation most often cited as the grounds for the current crackdown on App Store VPNs is a temporary one, promulgated by the The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in February of this year as part of a “cleansing” of the Internet. Its order, which forbids the use of unauthorized VPNs for “cross-border activities,” expires in March 2018. That period would cover the 20th anniversary of the handing over of Hong Kong to China in July, as well as the meeting of China’s 19th Communist Party Congress in November. Chinese citizens have blamed both events as the reason for the tightening of China’s internet rules.

VPNs have always been the bellwether for shifts in these firewall policies. The implementation and unlicensed use of VPNs to bypass local censorship has been prohibited in China since at least 2002. Nonetheless, for many years, individual users, private companies, and even tourist-friendly hotel chains were permitted to use them with little consequence. From 2011 onwards, however, the Great Firewall was upgraded to block VPNs by detecting their protocol, rather than on a per server basis.

This escalation crossed a line that Chinese censorship had previously avoided: rather than being a road bump to prevent popular access to forbidden foreign content, the pervasive blocking of VPNs affects small businesses, university researchers, and high-up Party members.

China’s pressure on Apple to remove consumer VPNs will ratchet up that disruption. Just as their filtering of VPN protocols shepherded users to non-standard VPN implementations in the app store, iOS users will have to seek alternative solutions, including, perhaps, switching to Android and taking advantage of VPNs sold in the over four hundred unofficial Android marketplaces, many of which sprang up after Google’s Play store was blocked in October of 2011.

By locking down their devices, Apple can be forced to strip a feature—access to the full, global internet—from its own products. When the manufacturer controls what kind of software you can have on your devices, it creates a single chokepoint for free expression and privacy.  It is Apple’s pursuit of a “Crystal Prison” model for its hardware that has led to the unpleasant compromise it’s making.

Ultimately, both Apple and the Chinese censors face a barrage of pressures, from each other, and from Chinese technology users. If Apple makes too great a stand against the China’s laws, it could be thrown out of the country. But if China pushes its censorship system too hard, it will have to face the growing frustrations of its own elite. No matter how large China’s internal net is, the country is not yet an information autarky. There’s still some hope that this crackdown will recede when the political climate improves.

How will we know which way the wind is blowing? The best indication will probably come from the Apple App Store at the end of the year, once the 19th Communist Party Congress is over. If commercial VPNs are quietly added back to the store, this move may be part of the regular ebb and flow of censorship in China. If the VPNs remain absent, it may signal an even darker turn for Chinese internet censorship, one in which Apple may find itself permanently complicit.

          China Poised To Fill Leadership Void On Climate Policy – With Economic Incentives        
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: As we heard earlier in the program this week, President Donald Trump will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. As we also heard earlier, the two leaders are taking different public stances on climate change. We wanted to focus on that a bit more in light of the executive order President Trump just signed that begins to roll back the Obama administration's climate change policies, especially those aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. Environmentalists opposed President Trump's move for its own sake, but also pointed out that the administration's stance provides an opening for China to become a new leader on climate change which is rather remarkable given that China leads the world in carbon emissions. We wanted to hear more about this, so we called Varun Sivaram from the Council on Foreign Relations and Georgetown University. He was also an adviser on energy policy to New York's Democratic
          Hong Kong, London Vie to Fund One Belt, One Road        
Xi Jinping hawks OBOR to Filipino flunkies. Apparently, there are many of these sorts all over the world.
So we may have expressed some doubts about the now-legendary PRC "One Belt, One Road" project--otherwise known as the "New Silk Road"--coming true. However, there is an interesting corollary to the story. What if China's erstwhile economic rivals buy into the hype? The Americans, for instance, are comparing the decrepit state of US infrastructure and the beleaguered Donald Trump's ever-doubtful intentions to fix it with such a massive-scale, global effort:
China excels at spectacle, and the Belt & Road Forum was as much PR stunt as anything. But the vast scale of the plan and the national ambition behind it dwarfs anything leaders are contemplating in Washington, or European capitals. “If you compare this to what the United States is doing—trying to rescue the steel and aluminum sectors and open a few markets for its goods—we’re pretty small potatoes,” says Scott Kennedy, an expert on the Chinese economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “China is more organized and they’re planning more strategically than the United States.”
Apparently, there is some kind of nascent Western inferiority complex when it comes to infrastructure. The Americans aside, the British want in on a piece of the action. However, they will have to duke it out with the PRC's erstwhile Hong Konger compatriots to help finance the enormous project if a South China Morning Post article is to be believed:
Hong Kong and London have locked horns at a two-day high-level forum in Beijing over which city is best placed to act as the ­finance hub for China’s global trade and commerce strategy. At the first day of the Belt and Road Forum for International ­Cooperation, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying ­insisted the city was “the preferred destination” for capital flows from the mainland. Leung cited the city’s status as the largest offshore settlement centre for yuan trade and its title as the world’s No 1 stock market for new listings in 2016.
C.Y. Leung may not exactly be an authoritative source on the matter at this point in time since he's the lame duck chief executive of Hong Kong. His British counterpart's place in the political space may be more secure since his Conservatives look set to win an overwhelming majority against the decrepit Labour Party:
However, [Leung's] bid was swiftly challenged by British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond. Referring to the sheer scale of funding required for China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, which promises to be in the trillions of US ­dollars and would require mobilising the world’s capital markets, Hammond said Leung’s pitch was “elegantly made”, but “London is not an alternative to Hong Kong”.
Aside from the question of whether OBOR will be realized anywhere close to the scale of the PRC vision, it is amusing to find financial centers vying to be locales for where the fundraising will be conducted. That is, OBOR may be more smoke and mirrors  and vaporware more than anything, ah, concrete, but that's not stopping folks from bending over backwards to court the favor of the Chinese Communist Party.
At the very least, then, consider it a well-done PR job. 

          One Belt, One Baloney? PRC's Silk Road Revival Doubts        

Over the weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted an elaborate event in Beijing concerning the PRC's idea of reviving the historical Silk Road. Spanning much of Asia and the Middle East besides, this trade route epitomized many of the things China wants to be today: (1) at the center of world trade, (2) involved in infrastructure, and (3) a prime mover of international relations. This, of course, stands in contrast to the retrograde "America First" stylings of the racist-protectionist-isolationist American president, Donald Trump.

Some hackles were raised about the invitation being extended to North Korea, of all nations, but certainly we'd rather have it peacefully trading with the rest of us than firing missiles to draw attention to itself?

More to the point, though, how realistic is this plan? A few months ago, an op-ed appeared in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (usually a Communist Party-friendly outlet) placing the "One Belt, One Road" project's viability in question by way of Japan's example from only a few years back of doing something similar: using infrastructural might to extend not only diplomacy but also trade with its neighbors:
Facing a deep slowdown after years of investment-fuelled growth that culminated in a huge property and stock market bubble, the leaders of Asia’s largest economy [China] come up with a cunning plan. By launching an initiative to fund and construct infrastructure projects across Asia, they will kill four birds with one stone.

They will generate enough demand abroad to keep their excess steel mills, cement plants and construction companies in business, so preserving jobs at home. They will tie neighbouring countries more closely into their own economic orbit, so enhancing both their hard and soft power around the region. They will further their long term plan to promote their own currency as an international alternative to the US dollar. And to finance it all, they will set up a new multi-lateral infrastructure bank, which will undermine the influence of the existing Washington-based institutions, with all their tedious insistence on transparency and best practice, by making more “culturally sensitive” soft loans. The result will be the regional hegemony they regard as their right as Asia’s leading economic and political power.
However, the author Tom Holland delivers the punch line that, actually, the Japanese tried all this stuff before and failed:
[I]t’s actually a description of a strikingly similar plan rolled out by Japanese prime minister Keizo Obuchi in the 1990s. That too promised to provide work for Japan’s recession-hit construction sector by building Japanese-funded infrastructure projects around Asia. And it even included a proposal – never realised – to establish an Asian Monetary Fund to lend to regional governments on easier terms than either the IMF or World Bank.
Unfortunately for Beijing, the precedent is hardly encouraging. From the start the scheme was plagued by bickering over conditions and allegations of corruption. A handful of infrastructure projects did get built, but the reality fell woefully short of Tokyo’s grandiose dreams. Far from cementing Japan’s economic ascendancy across Asia, the project left a legacy of bad blood, and marked the beginning of a financial retreat from around the region that Japan has only recently begun to reverse.
The rest of the editorial notes that rampant corruption elsewhere siphoned funds away from projects, and those bits that actually did get built ended up as "white elephant" projects: transport initiatives that cost so much to maintain that they could not be sustained and were eventually shelved. Certainly, the OBOR and New Silk Road tags characterize some grandiose initiative. (See the map pabove.) Whether the Chinese have the actual sense to scale these to reality-based bits is another question since linking the Middle East all the way to the Far East is not a vision based on modesty. 

Scaling it appropriately to meet local needs of the countries involved is key. That is, participating countries will plump for maintaining infrastructure built (with Chinese support) insofar as they can benefit from it going forward. However, if benefits are not evident--or mainly serve the purpose of transit through a country instead of serving the citizens of the countries in question first and foremost--the Japanese example provides ample cautions.

UPDATE: A warning is that investment in OBOR countries has, actually, dropped off in recent times, though there are caveats associated with this as a gauge:
Foreign direct investment from China to countries identified as part of the BRI fell 2 per cent in 2016 year on year and has dropped an additional 18 per cent so far in 2017, according to commerce ministry data. Non-financial FDI to 53 BRI countries totalled $14.5bn last year, comprising only 9 per cent of overall outbound FDI...
Chinese experts counter that published figures do not paint a complete story. Jia Jinjing, chief researcher at the Renmin University’s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies in Beijing, said much outbound FDI passes from China through an intermediate country before reaching its final destination, making the commerce data an unreliable gauge of total BRI investment.

          Foreign Policy by Tweet        

President Trump’s Tuesday tweet on North Korea typifies his cluelessness about international politics, in ways both subtler and more alarming than usual:

While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!

That afternoon, on the eve of a long-scheduled meeting between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Chinese counterpart, “senior officials” told a New York Times reporter that they were “still trying to gauge the meaning of the president’s tweet.” It’s a disturbing sign, though all too normal in this administration, that those entrusted with delicate diplomacy have to parse their marching orders from the sound and fury of the boss’s random outbursts.

So let’s parse this tweet for clues of what it might reveal about the mindset and intentions of the most powerful man in the Western world.

First, it reveals that Trump may be the easiest mark in presidential history, at least for foreign leaders, and particularly authoritarian ones, who can play him without having to worry about confusing their own constituents. Ever since his chocolate cake summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, Trump—who, during the 2016 campaign, had denounced China for raping America and stealing our resources—has embraced the Chinese president as “a terrific person” and a fount of geopolitical wisdom. Trump thanks Xi more heartily than he has ever thanked the leader of any NATO ally—which would be bad enough if Xi really has “tried” to solve the Pyongyang problem, but he hasn’t.

The Chinese leaders have certainly grown weary of Kim Jong-un, the young North Korean tyrant, with his nuclear provocations, his incessant missile tests, and his (even by Kim family standards) reckless rhetoric. As the country’s largest ally and trading partner, the Chinese certainly could put the screws to Kim’s ambitions and probably rouse the forces to oust him from power, if they wanted to—but that’s just it: Ultimately they don’t want to. Toppling the regime—and thus ending not only the dynasty that has ruled North Korea since its creation after World War II but also the mythic legitimacy that has sustained it—would unleash internal chaos, a flood of refugees across China’s scantly populated eastern border, and a humanitarian crisis, none of which Beijing could manage. It would also likely expand the reach of the South Korean government across the entire peninsula, thus putting an armed ally of the United States—and probably U.S. troops—at the edge of Chinese territory.

Like his father and grandfather who sat on the throne before him, Kim well understands China’s strategic interest in his survival and ably plays the region’s large powers against each other. Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder, referred to North Korea’s position as “a shrimp among whales.” He and his son, Kim Jong-il, devised a strategy to turn their weakness into strength, and the latest scion, Kim Jong-un, has extended their legacy, if more eccentrically.

Trump’s tweet goes on to say that Xi’s effort “has not worked out.” It’s unclear what he means, but he is probably referring to the fate of Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old American college student who was arrested in January 2016 for stealing a North Korean propaganda poster during a brief holiday visit and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Earlier this month, Warmbier was returned to the United States after falling into a coma. He died on Monday, the day before Trump’s tweet.

This is a horrific tale, a clear reflection of the Kim regime’s savagery (though hardly a surprise), deserving of strong U.S. retaliation in the form of further sanctions, trade embargoes, banking restrictions, travel bans on more North Korean officials, and perhaps additional steps of isolation and skullduggery. But it is premature to say, as Trump ambiguously did in his tweet, “it has not worked out.” Barely two months have passed since his meeting with Xi at Mar-a-Lago. President Obama’s policy toward North Korea, which he called “strategic patience,” was derided by some as a euphemism for kicking the can down the road, and maybe, to some extent, it was. But it wasn’t very different from old-fashioned “containment” (it could have also been called “containment when there isn’t much else you can do right now”), and history teaches us that containment sometimes works.

But the question might be worth exploring more deeply. When Trump writes “it has not worked out,” what specifically does he mean by “it”? Does he mean Xi’s “efforts … to help with North Korea”? Or the whole concept of applying pressure on North Korea? And pressure to do what—to dismantle its nuclear program, simply freeze it, stop testing missiles, oust Kim from power? What is the goal here? What might be signs of progress toward the goal? What might be ways of getting from here to there? Or if there aren’t any ways, what to do next?

This last question is the gulper. Some see Trump’s fatalistic final words—“At least I know China tried!”—as a signal that the United States will now take over. After all, in an interview with the Financial Times shortly before his April meeting with Xi, Trump said, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.” How does he plan to do that?

It’s a good bet that Trump has by now asked Secretary of Defense James Mattis for military options “to solve North Korea.” The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reams of such options, which they update periodically, for all kinds of contingencies, including this one. No doubt Mattis will eloquently brief these options to the president, if he hasn’t done so already, along with the myriad reasons why none of the options is likely to end well.

Trump is hardly the first president to go down this road. Richard Nixon asked for such options after the North Koreans shot down an EC-121 early warning plane. Lyndon B. Johnson asked for such options after they captured the Pueblo spy ship. Bill Clinton asked for such options when they prepared to convert fuel rods at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor into weapons-grade plutonium. (That crisis ended with an accord that locked up the rods, under international monitoring.) George W. Bush asked for such options when they seemed to be evading Clinton’s accord. Bush, prodded by Vice President Dick Cheney, was so confident that North Korea would crumble under pressure—especially after the display of U.S. armed might in defeating the Iraqi army and ousting Saddam Hussein from power—that he abrogated Clinton’s accord and pulled out of follow-up negotiations. As Cheney put it, “We don’t negotiate with evil; we defeat it.”

But none of the presidents pursued these options—even Bush pulled back from the trigger after deploying a massive armada of air and sea power to within striking range of North Korea—because they saw that all the options led to disaster. Even before the North Koreans built a small arsenal of nuclear weapons (they did that under Bush and Cheney’s watch), they had amassed an enormous array of artillery rockets, hundreds of them infused with chemical weapons, all of them within range of Seoul—the capital of South Korea, just 35 miles south of the border—and many within range of Japan and of American troops in the region. Many of these rockets were hidden underground or deployed on the back side of mountains and would thus be hard to hit even in a massive American pre-emptive strike. If some of them survived, and if Kim or some designated successor struck back, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of allied soldiers and civilians would die.

The Kim family has long known this, too. They well understand the concept of deterrence as it applies to small powers: Carry some big sticks and talk loudly. Over the decades, it has worked.

As Kim Jong-un moves toward longer-range missiles capable of carrying miniaturized nuclear weapons, North Korea could soon pose a new sort of threat. Does it mean that, once he obtains such an arsenal, he will launch a nuclear strike against South Korea, Japan, or California? Almost certainly not. The United States still has a few thousand nukes, which could obliterate Kim’s kingdom. Kim may be erratic, but he’s not suicidal; in fact, his weirdest behavior—like that of his father and grandfather—is geared toward ensuring the survival of his regime and himself. But the further he goes down the nuclear road, the more immune he will become to outside pressure—and, in a crisis, war can erupt from misunderstandings, mixed signals, and desperate needs to demonstrate “credibility.”

In the long run, the only way to “solve North Korea” is probably regime change. But the United States can’t be the agent of this change. First, we’re not very good at it. Second, we have no standing or even much presence in North Korea. Third, it’s a big place; no one could possibly want to station a million U.S. troops in North Korea for decades to come. China will have to be the main actor, and, for reasons already discussed, Beijing is reluctant to step into that role. North Koreans themselves will have to take the lead, and, given Kim’s efficiency at quashing the slightest hint of dissent or disloyalty, this seems unlikely for now.

In the short run, the only course open is to negotiate—not right away, certainly not in the wake of Warmbier’s death, but at some point. We do have an interest in halting North Korea’s march to a larger, longer-range nuclear arsenal. We do have an interest in simply calming the tensions of the region. So do China, South Korea, and Japan. North Korea has been lured to the tables before through shrewd combinations of threats and rewards. Clinton’s accord stands as a possible model; it even halted Pyongyang’s drive to a nuclear weapon for eight years.

But this is a delicate matter. How to instill Kim’s confidence to come to the tables in the short run, while setting the stage for his toppling in the long run? This requires shrewd and subtle statesmanship, conducted (or at least advised) by specialists with a deep knowledge of the territory and the history. It also requires patience; this will take longer than two months, and it might not work after two years. And one thing that will get in the way, as much as any obstruction, is a president who erupts before he (or anyone else in his Cabinet) thinks.

          The Tarnishing of H.R. McMaster        

There are many ways to look at President Trump’s disclosure of extreme secrets to Russia’s top diplomats last week: an appalling security breach that would land anyone else in prison for years; a betrayal of a sensitive ally—Israel, according to the New York Times—that will make other allies reluctant to share intelligence with Washington again; a sick-comic plot twist that a satirical novelist would discard as too improbable.

But there is another, simply sad aspect to the spectacle: the tarnishing of a good man’s honor. I speak of the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, one of America’s finest soldiers, a public servant who has been all but incapable of guile throughout his career, now soaked in the swamp of deceit in the service of Trump.

Monday evening, in the wake of the Washington Post’s story on the breach, McMaster appeared before reporters and cameras (after at first turning away from them saying, “This is the last place on earth I wanted to be”), and read a script nearly identical to the statements released by the two other senior officials who’d been in the Oval Office with Trump and the Russians.

This script amounted to a classic “nondenial denial” but with a slightly more deceptive twist, in that it was a denial of claims that the Post story never made.

And here is where the tale gets sad, bordering on tragic. McMaster has built his entire reputation—the past 20 years of his career—on his embodiment and celebration of honesty. He first came to prominence, as an Army major, with a Ph.D. dissertation-turned-book arguing that the U.S. military’s top generals betrayed their constitutional duties by failing to give civilian leaders their unvarnished military advice during the Vietnam War. The book was titled Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam, and it was a critique of the deceit that ruled Washington in a dreadful time.

In a 2006 profile of McMaster as a colonel leading the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq, New Yorker journalist George Packer remarked that there were “more than a few echoes of the Iraq war” in his book. As Packer reported, McMaster “laughed and said, ‘I can’t even touch that.’ ”

Back then, of course, McMaster was a midlevel officer in wartime, giving orders to his troops but also carrying out the policy laid down in Washington. He had no business dishing out comments or critiques. But now he is a general and a policy adviser. In some ways, he is in the same position as the officers whom he criticized in his book for their dishonesty. And while we don’t know what he tells this president in private, his exculpation of Trump in public also carries “more than a few echoes” of the statements by the earlier generation of generals that the younger McMaster had condemned.

Let’s parse the statement that McMaster read in front of the White House on Monday night:

The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false. … At no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or methods discussed. The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. … I was in the room. It didn’t happen.

This is a carefully composed statement: not strictly a lie but clearly a deception. “The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false.” That italicized phrase is key: It allows McMaster to ponder one or two minor errors in the story and thus label the entire piece (“as reported”) false. The following morning, at a press conference inside the White House, McMaster was asked if he still contended the story was false. He replied, “I stand by my statement”—presumably including the phrase as reported.

“At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed.” The Post story never contended that they were discussed. The reporters, Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe, both very fine national-security journalists, wrote that Trump revealed information from which the Russian officials—Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak—could readily make inferences about sources and methods.

“The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.” In fact, the Post story didn’t claim, even indirectly, that Trump discussed military operations. The topic of his conversation was intelligence information that ISIS was plotting to put bombs inside laptops with the intent of having agents carry them onboard airplanes.

“I was in the room. It didn’t happen.” What didn’t happen? It’s not at all clear.

McMaster’s appearance in the White House press room on Tuesday morning amounted to more of the same. After briefing reporters on Trump’s upcoming trip to Europe and the Middle East, he took questions, most of them about the meeting with the Russians. Several times, he said that Trump’s remarks were “wholly appropriate.” Asked when Trump decided to share the intelligence, McMaster replied that it is “wholly appropriate for the president to share any information he thinks” would benefit U.S. security.

In other words, McMaster seemed to be repeating the argument made on Monday by several of Trump’s defenders—that because the power to classify and declassify information resides with the president, he has the right (it is “wholly appropriate”) to say anything to anyone that he wants. In a narrow, legal sense, this claim is correct. But just because the president can do something, that doesn’t mean he should. He also has the legal power to launch nuclear missiles without consulting anyone. That doesn’t mean it’s a smart idea to do so.

Then McMaster went further. After denying that Trump’s statements to the Russians endangered national security, he asserted that the leaks about those statements did endanger security. McMaster was, uncharacteristically, flailing.

He was then asked why, if the disclosure wasn’t harmful, White House counterterrorism officials called the CIA and NSA right after the meeting to let those agencies know what happened. McMaster said he hasn’t talked with those officials about their calls or motives, and this might be true. None of the White House reporters, however, asked McMaster to address the following passage in the Post story:

The Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city [where the intelligence was gathered], at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.

Two points follow from this. First, why would officials urge the Post to withhold details about the ISIS plot—details that Trump revealed to the Russians—unless those details did jeopardize intelligence sources? Second, it is noteworthy that by withholding those details, the reporters and editors of the Washington Post—and of the New York Times and Reuters, which confirmed the story from their own sources and also refrained from publishing those details—seem to care more about national security than Trump does.

It is unlikely that Trump gave away code word­â€“classified secrets—crown jewels of an allied nation’s intelligence—because he’s malevolent or a Russian spy. The more plausible explanations are that he doesn’t understand much of what he’s told; that he doesn’t quite grasp why some information is particularly sensitive; that he’s talkative, boastful, amazingly vulnerable to foreign leaders’ feigned camaraderie, and thus easy for them to play as a mark. (See also his sudden friendship with that “terrific person,” Chinese President Xi Jinping.) After Trump won the Republican nomination last summer, some intelligence officials were leery of giving him classified briefings, fearful that he couldn’t keep a secret. What happened in the Oval Office with the Russians illustrates why they were leery. And now that he’s president, key allies are leery too.

So what are McMaster’s options? Clearly he is in a spot. I should stress here that I have not in any way communicated with McMaster since he took his new job; but I suspect that, regardless of any discomfort he might feel, he considers it his patriotic duty to stay where he is. He has, on a few occasions, phoned foreign officials to wave away false or disturbing statements that Trump has made. For instance, after Trump said he might make South Korea pay for the THAAD missile-defense system that the U.S. recently installed, McMaster called to assure officials that we would cover the costs (reportedly to Trump’s annoyance). McMaster may regard himself and some of his staff as the grown-ups in the White House, well positioned to prevent the president from doing something terrible. I suspect that Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson feel the same way. They may be right, and in the end their decision to stay on the job may win them the thanks of the nation. In the meantime, though, their legacies are in jeopardy, and their characters in doubt. In the case of McMaster, many of his longtime friends and colleagues are in despair; one of them emailed me that McMaster’s statement on Monday left him “heartbroken.”

Almost certainly, McMaster is aware of all this. At the same time, he is still an active-duty officer, duty-bound to obey all legal orders from his commander in chief and perhaps inclined to regard him with respect. Will he remain conscious of the tension between his obligations and his character, asserting the latter whenever opportunities arise? Or will the former subsume all else? This is the dilemma faced by all Trump appointees who didn’t share his temperament or ideology going into the job. It is particularly poignant to see it playing out in one of the U.S. Army’s most conscientious figures.

          Unstrategic Impatience        

North Korea is a knotty problem, but there’s no cause for the hysteria that President Trump and his aides have been pumping up in recent days, and it’s time to turn down the heat and the noise, before someone gets hurt.

The worry (and it’s a legitimate worry) is that, sometime soon, the North Koreans will test another ballistic missile or nuclear weapon, which would, yet again, violate a U.N. resolution and put them one step closer to threatening American troops and allies in East Asia—and maybe, years from now, the United States itself. But there is no immediate crisis, no threat that must be staved off now or never. And yet President Trump is sending an aircraft-carrier task force and a guided-missile submarine toward North Korean shores. At the same time, he has summoned all 100 U.S. senators to a classified briefing on the subject, to be conducted on Wednesday, at the White House, by the secretaries of defense and state, the director of national intelligence, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

U.S. military exercises in the region are routine, as are top-secret briefings to select lawmakers. But to hold a briefing for all senators, by the administration’s top security officials, is unusual. To hold it at the White House (or, more precisely, the Executive Office Building next door to the White House), instead of in the Capitol, is unprecedented. And to do all this while the deadliest warships in the U.S. Navy’s non-nuclear fleet dart toward the country in question—well, the leaders in the region needn’t be paranoid to infer that Trump might be preparing to launch an attack on North Korea.

Still, it’s unlikely that Trump actually intends to launch an attack. By all accounts, his top advisers, U.S. allies in the region (especially the leaders of South Korea and Japan), and his new best friend, Chinese President Xi Jinping, are counseling against military action. But who knows what Trump is thinking from one moment to the next? His unpredictability and impulsiveness might have a deterring effect, as in an accidental version of Richard Nixon’s “madman theory.” Precisely because he doesn’t know how Trump will react, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might tone down his provocative ways, even adopt a certain caution.

But let’s say Kim ignores Trump’s unwitting stab at the ploy and risks another missile or nuclear test. Will Trump—riled by Kim’s persistence or feeling a need to display “resolve” and “credibility”—launch a volley of cruise missiles and more at the test sites, at some nuclear facilities, or even at Kim’s hangouts in Pyongyang?

Most North Korea–watchers are convinced that, in this scenario, Kim would retaliate with an attack—possibly a bring-them-all-down-with-me attack—on U.S. bases and allies, not necessarily with nuclear weapons but with a barrage of artillery shells. North Korea’s military has thousands of these shells deployed on the border with South Korea (whose capital, Seoul, sits only 35 miles away) as well as on its eastern shore (within firing range of Japan). North Korea’s live-fire long-range artillery drills on Tuesday were no doubt meant as a “signal” of what Trump should expect if he follows through on his own threat.

No one could possibly want a military conflict, with hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of casualties on both sides. But a mix of mutual bluff, bluster, ego, and insecurity—fueled by heavy firepower and an itchy trigger-finger or two—makes for a potentially lethal concoction. In the annals of history, wars have erupted from less combustive kindling.

Retired Gen. John Kelly, secretary of homeland security, said this week that “the minute” North Korea gets a single nuclear-armed missile with the range to hit the United States, “we are at grave risk as a nation.” Really? The United States survived three decades of Cold War when the Soviet Union had more than 1,000 such missiles; and while Kim—like his father and grandfather, who reigned in Pyongyang before him—seems more voluble and risk-prone than the commissars who ruled the Kremlin, his prime imperative is to preserve his regime. There is no evidence that he renders the basic principles of nuclear deterrence obsolete.

At least Kelly acknowledged that the specter of a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile lies some years in the future. Some of his colleagues seem to be in more of a hurry. Vice President Mike Pence, during his visit last week to South Korea, said “the era of ‘strategic patience’ is over.” He was referring to President Obama’s phrase for a policy that recognized the limits of U.S. military power against North Korea and that focused instead on sanctions and containment as tools for eroding the Kim regime over time. Strategic patience may have borne scant fruit so far, but what is Pence’s alternative—unstrategic impatience?

Trump is not going to order a strike on North Korean soil, not even in retaliation to another missile or nuclear test, as long as South Korea or Japan has anything to say about it. If he does order a strike in defiance of their protests, then say goodbye to South Korea and Japan, among others, as allies—and that’s the best outcome. (The worst is the end of alliance plus a massive death toll.)

On the other hand, if the North Koreans do test another missile or nuke, and if Trump in his wisdom does not respond with military force, then his bellicose warnings of the past week—the threatening tweets, the siren-laced briefing, the gunboat demarche—would seem, in retrospect, like the growls of a paper tiger.

It is probably true that the North Korean problem won’t end without the demise of the Kim regime, but military intervention isn’t the only route to regime change, and U.S. airstrikes have proved particularly ill-suited to the enterprise. There is no doubt, as argued in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs (in an article titled “Getting Tough on North Korea”), that the Kim family has exploited all efforts at diplomatic engagement and economic aid, returning trust and favor with self-aggrandizement and deceit.

Yet there is also some record of success at this game; the Agreed Framework of 1994, negotiated by Bill Clinton’s administration, dismantled North Korea’s plutonium-reprocessing plant, installed international inspectors, and nearly opened additional pathways, including a ban on missile tests, until diplomacy broke down—partly because the U.S. Congress didn’t fund the energy aid that the deal promised, partly because North Korea started enriching uranium (an alternative path to nukes that the accord did not prohibit), and partly because George W. Bush pulled out of the deal when he became president.

It is also the case that economic pressures—especially the set of secondary sanctions that Obama put in place toward the end of his presidency—have started to have some effect on China’s willingness to pressure Kim. The Kim regime has also begun to accommodate proto-capitalist markets to provide consumer goods. This has led to the opening up of North Korea to Western exposure and influence, which, though very limited at the moment, could sire ruptures in the near future.

Finally, for better or for worse, we have no choice but to deal with North Korea diplomatically. South Korea is probably about to elect a president who is far more disposed to engagement with North Korea and far more resistant to confrontation; China—the country most capable of pressuring Kim—is not going to apply so much pressure that the regime collapses suddenly, setting off a refugee crisis and a South Korean (which is to say, U.S.–backed) takeover of the entire peninsula. So there is no alternative to diplomacy. It should be a complex diplomacy, consisting of coercion as well as concessions. But one thing the mix should not include—the thing that’s most likely to set back desired progress—is a threat of military force that no one wants to see carried out and can’t be carried out without catastrophic consequences. That’s the path that Trump seems to be treading now, and the grown-ups around him need to pry him off.

          Return of the Madman Theory        

President Donald Trump’s most nerve-racking trait—his unhinged impulsiveness, driven more by random stimuli and shifts in mood than by careful study or long-held principles—might be having an oddly stabilizing influence in the world’s crisis-strewn regions, at least for a little while.

Consider what Richard Nixon called “the Madman Theory.” In the early years of his presidency, he told his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, to warn the North Vietnamese that Nixon was crazy. Nixon is obsessed with Communism, Kissinger was supposed to say. He can’t be restrained when he’s angry, and for God’s sake, he has his hand on the nuclear button. In two days’ time, Nixon predicted, Ho Chi Minh will be “begging for peace.”

The ploy didn’t work, in part because the North Vietnamese didn’t believe it. Whatever the many other eccentricities that Nixon had displayed in a quarter-century of public life, he wasn’t a madman, at least not in that way.

Trump, on the other hand, really does seem to be, if not quite insane, at least erratic, unpredictable, prone to outbursts of violence detached from coherent policy (e.g., firing 59 cruise missiles at Syria, to little effect, followed by nothing) and drastic reversals of opinion (e.g., recent statements on NATO, China, Russia, Janet Yellen, and the Ex-Im Bank, to name a few).

I am not suggesting that Trump has intentionally adopted Nixon’s madman strategy (or any strategy at all). I am proposing, however, that his behavior might be having the effect that Nixon desired.

It may well be that certain world leaders, most notably Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, watch Trump in motion and, as a result, start acting cautiously—as well clamping down on their more antic-prone allies—because they just don’t know what this guy might be capable of. Xi, for instance, recently turned away a boatload of coal from North Korea, one of the country’s chief exports, as a further signal of displeasure over Kim Jong-un’s nuclear tests. We will see if Putin cracks the whip on Bashar al-Assad.

In his 1960 book On Thermonuclear War, the flamboyant nuclear strategist Herman Kahn likened certain kinds of conflict to the game of highway chicken. Two cars speed toward each other, head on, late at night. In the standard version of the game, there are three possible outcomes. One driver gets nervous and veers away; he loses. Both drivers veer away; the game’s a draw. They both keep zooming straight ahead; everybody dies. But Khan posited a fourth outcome and an unconventional way to win: One driver yanks the steering wheel from his dashboard and visibly throws it out the window; the other driver, seeing that his opponent can’t pull off the road, has no choice but to veer away himself.

In this analogy, Trump is the guy who’s thrown the steering wheel out the window, possibly without knowing what the steering wheel does. The other drivers, Russia or China, can’t be sure of his motives, but they’d better get out of the way anyway.

Trump may take this analogy as vindication of his approach to public relations. He has said that he wants to foment uncertainty in the minds of adversaries (or, sometimes he’s suggested, in the minds of all foreigners), to throw them off-guard. That may be happening to some extent, but the effect will likely wear off soon—or if it persists, the results will be grim for global stability and American interests.

The United States is fundamentally a status quo power. It helped create the international system that took hold at the end of World War II; and so it becomes stronger as the values, institutions, and processes of that system spread. (It has become weaker in the last quarter-century, since the end of the Cold War, in part because the system has broken down.) This being the case, America thrives, in large part, by being a guarantor of that system—and a guarantor of the security of the system’s members. In this role, an American president must appear to be reliable. There is a place for strategic ambiguity but not for uncertainty.

If no one knows what to expect of the United States, maybe, for a while, adversaries will grow cautious—but for the same reason, allies will get nervous, and they will turn to others for security. Maybe they’ll cut deals with one of the adversaries, or maybe they’ll form their own separate alliances. Either way, the United States will find itself cut out of the action—the basis of its strength and influence eroded.

Meanwhile, some who might at first have been cowed by Trump’s unpredictability are finding ways to exploit it for their own interests. This is because Trump’s version of the Madman Theory is entirely accidental; his erratic flips and eruptions stem not from strategic calculation but rather from sheer ignorance of the issues. He decided not to call China a “currency manipulator,” despite promising for more than a year that he would do so, because he just found out that China hasn’t been a currency manipulator for some time. He decided that NATO is no longer “obsolete” because it now has a counterterrorism policy, not knowing that the alliance has had a counterterrorism policy since 2001. And he’s suddenly learned that getting North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program is—like repealing and replacing Obamacare—more complicated than he’d realized.

Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he made this discovery in the course of an hourlong phone conversation with Chinese President Xi. Trump offered Xi a better trade deal if Xi would only hammer the pesky North Koreans on nukes, but then Xi gave him a history lesson on the politics between the two nations. “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” Trump said. “I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power over North Korea. But it’s not what you would think.”

Actually, it is “what you would think” if “you” were someone who’d read up on the topic, but Trump clearly has not done that, not even a little bit. You would also think that his advisers might have briefed him on the subject right before a summit with the Chinese president, but they didn’t do that—or not at an adequate level of detail. The Pentagon and the State Department are still woefully understaffed; Trump has not so much as nominated a single assistant or undersecretary for either department. He has also insisted that his daily intelligence briefings consist of no more than three topics, no longer than one page per topic, with bold conclusions; if there are dissenting views from one agency or another, he doesn’t want to hear about them. As a result, it seems, he needs to get lessons on Asian geopolitics from the Chinese president himself. The next time they talk, will Xi lay out the reasons for China’s expansion into the South China Sea—and will Trump suddenly see the light from Beijing’s angle?

In short, Xi sees that the American president can be played. Trump is erratic in part because he knows so little and he has failed to build an administration that systematically fills the gaps in his knowledge. So Xi will fill them at key moments. Other leaders will follow suit if they can. Maybe Trump will learn enough that he screws the steering wheel back into the dashboard. The question, at that point, will be whose directions he takes on where to drive the car.

          The Morning After in Syria        

At the start of every war that the United States has entered in the last quarter-century, much has been made—by officials, officers, and pundits—of the number of missiles fired, the brightness of the blasts, and the firm “message” that the president was sending to whatever international outlaw needed punishing.

But the real issues, which can’t be assessed at the start and usually wind up with a less burnished glow, are these: how much damage the strikes actually wreaked, how the object of the attack responds, what the president does as a follow-on, and—ultimately—how this whole sequence of events affects the rest of the war and the political struggles underlying it.

Less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump’s first high-profile decision as commander in chief, all we know is that U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at an air base in Syria; that the missiles were aimed at planes, aircraft shelters, petroleum storage bins, ammo supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars; that, according to the Pentagon’s initial estimate, the attack “severely damaged or destroyed” the targets; but that—according to a press briefing by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster—Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s ability to fire chemical weapons in the future has been degraded but not eliminated.

Trump and his supporters believe that he sent a signal—not just to Assad but to the Russians, the North Koreans, friends and foes around the world, perhaps especially Chinese President Xi Jinping, with whom he happened to be having dinner as the attack took place—that he is a man of resolve and action who doesn’t hesitate to use force when appropriate.

On the other hand, Assad, Xi, and the others might (again, we don’t yet know) view the attack as a half-hearted measure, a one-off flash in the sky, with no tangible, much less long-term, effect. Assad might even come out of the fray strengthened, able to boast—as many past targets of missile strikes have boasted—that he, his regime, and his armed forces survived an assault from the great superpower. Russian officials have already denounced the attack as an act of “aggression” and promised to repair the damage. We don’t yet know whether Xi, at Trump’s Florida resort for a two-day summit, was impressed or whether he’s sizing up his host as what the Chinese have long called a “paper tiger.”

This was not an enormous attack. According to three knowledgeable former officials, it was considerably smaller than the attack plan that President Obama mulled over but decided not to carry out in 2013, after Assad crossed a “red line” by killing his own citizens with chemical weapons. The targets were similar, these ex-officials say, but Obama’s plan would have struck all of Syria’s air bases and its command-control systems too. Trump’s plan may have been whittled down because Syrians and Russians are now intermingled on those bases, and nobody wants to spark a wider war. (Some Russians were present on the one base that Trump attacked, so they were given advance notice of the attack, allowing them to leave—though perhaps also allowing some Syrian jets to scatter: We don’t yet know.)

Trump might gain some leverage from this move if he follows up with diplomacy by pushing or plying Russian President Vladimir Putin to put pressure on Assad and possibly re-engaging with talks on a political solution for Syria. This time, U.S. diplomacy would be accompanied by the clear signal (here is a where a signal might have effect) that the United States is willing to back its stance with force.

But Trump seems to lack the inclination and the resources to mount a full-scale diplomatic offensive. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the attack reflects no new U.S. strategy on Syria, suggesting that it was a one-off move to punish Assad for using chemical weapons and deter him from doing it again—a measured statement but hardly one designed to plant fear in the heart of Assad or any other American adversary.

Then again, Trump himself is a cauldron of mixed messages. Throughout the 2016 campaign, and as recently as last week, Trump has said that, though Assad is “a bad guy,” it made no sense to go after ISIS and Assad at the same time. In fact, he said several times that weakening Assad could strengthen ISIS. Then, on Wednesday, after watching the horrid TV images of children suffocating from a chemical-weapons attack, Trump announced that his attitude had changed completely, that Assad had crossed “many, many lines.” After meeting with his national security advisers, he chose one of the four attack options that the military had laid on the table—one of the lighter options, reportedly—and put it in motion right away.

At this point, no one knows—I suspect Trump himself doesn’t know—what his policy toward Syria is: how he sees the wars playing out, how he would like to see them end, what kind of political settlement he’s willing to accept in the interests of peace, stability, or whatever other goal he has in mind. These are the crucial issues—and it will take a lot more than a few dozen cruise missiles to sort out.

Clearly, Trump meant to highlight the contrast with Obama, who tended to deliberate at great length—over a stretch of days, weeks, or even months—about the use of force. But there is a fine line between decisiveness and impulsiveness, and we will soon see which line Trump has crossed.

          Trump’s Blurred Red Lines        

This week, Donald Trump is getting a taste of what it’s really like to be president, and his responses have bolstered what his opponents said about him in the Republican primaries and the general election—that he’s temperamentally unsuited for the job.

Suddenly Trump is facing crises in Syria and North Korea, two of the most intractable problem countries on the planet, and he has taken the worst of all possible paths on both—threatening military action, even unilateral military action, without having a shred of a plan in his pocket.

His words on Syria are particularly egregious. Earlier this week, his secretary of state and U.N. ambassador publicly said that it was pointless for the United States to try ousting Bashar al-Assad from power, that they would instead focus on destroying ISIS and leave the rest to the Syrian people. Then, on Wednesday, Trump watched TV footage of women, children, and babies suffering the horrors of a chemical attack—almost certainly launched by Assad—and told reporters, “My attitude toward Syria has changed very much.”

Throughout his campaign, and as recently as this week, Trump castigated President Obama for drawing a “red line”—threatening, in 2012, to use force if Assad used chemical weapons—then declining to cross it when Assad did just that. Trump went so far as to say that Obama’s failure to follow through “set us back a long ways, not only in Syria but in many other parts of the world, because” his red-line warning turned out to be “a blank threat.”


Now, though, Trump is saying that Assad’s new chemical attack “crossed many, many lines, beyond a red line—many, many lines.” As a result, he’s put himself in a spot where he now has to do something, lest he be likened not just to Obama, but to Obama at what Trump and other critics assail as his weakest moment.

When Trump gets his Pentagon briefing on the subject, he will discover that none of the options they lay out for taking action against Assad are good ones. Will he do something anyway, to save face? And then what happens?

This was the question that concerned Obama the most when Assad crossed the red line with a sarin gas attack in August 2013. The option that Obama was all set to put in motion, according to officials familiar with the plan, would have attacked Assad’s air force, likely destroying all his planes as they sat concentrated on a base, as well as his command-control systems. This would be done using a small number of U.S. and allied aircraft, likely resulting in no American casualties.

But then three things happened. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had promised to join the attack, sent the notion to Parliament—which voted it down. Since the point of the plan was to punish Syria for violating international law, Obama felt he needed the legitimacy of international support. Absent that, he turned to Congress for authorization—and Congress voted it down, too (though that didn’t stop Republicans from subsequently criticizing Obama for not going through with the attack anyway).

Finally, in the course of running these obstacles, Obama contemplated the larger strategic issues. Maybe the strike would succeed; some of his advisers thought it would be so potent that Assad’s regime might collapse. But what if it didn’t? What if Assad went ahead and launched more chemical attacks? Or what if Russia and Iran, Assad’s two allies, stepped up their support, sending in troops, planes, and more. Obama would then have had to choose between two dreadful options: backing down, which would look worse than if he hadn’t taken action in the first place, or escalating, which could suck him and the nation into a civil war that he desperately wanted to avoid.

Russia then stepped in for the rescue, making a deal under which Assad agreed to surrender his chemical weapons—or, as we now see, most of his chemical weapons. Will some new deus ex machina save Trump from a similar dilemma—and if not, will he back off or sound the trumpets for a charge into the quagmire? The attack plan that Obama favored, at least for a while, might not be so enticing now: Assad’s planes are more dispersed, and his forces are entangled with Russian planes and advisers. An attack potent enough to have impact might also unavoidably draw in Moscow.

This isn’t to say that Trump should do nothing, especially after his words Wednesday. The question is what should he do? And, just as one might now argue that Obama should never have uttered the words red line, why did Trump go even further than Obama—invoking “many, many lines”—without knowing how to respond? This is what happens to someone habituated to dashing off tweets at all hours.

North Korea provides another case of Trump’s impetuousness. He is meeting Thursday with Chinese President Xi Jinping in what would be any American president’s most important summit of the year. Xi is bringing along an able crew of advisers, some of whom have closely studied American politics and Trumpian psychology. Trump comes with a foreign policy apparatus that’s staffed to a small fraction of its normal capacity, topped by appointees—Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster—who, whatever their various talents, have no experience in dealing with China.

The question of what to do about North Korea’s nuclear program tops the summit’s jampacked agenda, particularly following the latest missile test by Kim Jong-un’s government on Wednesday. In an interview with the Financial Times, published Sunday, Trump said, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.” Asked if he believed the United States could solve the problem without China, Trump replied, “Totally.”

Once again, it’s the naïve bluster—the blithe certainty, untempered by the slightest knowledge of the history and politics of the region or the conflict—that sends shivers up the spine.

China’s interests in this subject are complicated. On the one hand, Xi is growing impatient with the antics of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. On the other hand, he has no desire to force the crumbling of Kim’s regime, leaving a humanitarian crisis on China’s remotest border and the prospect of a unified Korea controlled by the American allies in Seoul. Nor does Xi want to remove a threat to U.S. air and naval forces in northeast Asia, leaving them free to roam in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, where Beijing has vital interests. Trump might nudge Xi to recalculate his interests and put more pressure on Kim—Obama did that, to some extent—but he doesn’t have the leverage to push him very far.

Meanwhile, Trump is on record: If China doesn’t solve the North Korea problem, he will—“totally.” He isn’t the first one to believe that a fierce growl and a display of arms will make the Hermit King of Pyongyang cower. Vice President Dick Cheney thought so, too. In 2003, the U.S. sent bombers and warships within striking range of North Korea, and for good measure the vice president bellowed, “We don’t negotiate with evil, we defeat it”—this was right after the U.S. military, with little effort and great speed, crushed the Iraqi army and sent Saddam Hussein running. Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s leader at the time (and the current Kim’s father) paid no attention.

But Trump probably doesn’t remember that sequence of disillusionment, or if he does, he may still think, as he does in so many realms, that he has the moxie to do things that none of his predecessors could manage.

“Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” Trump moaned when his attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare went up in smoke. He’s about to discover the same thing about the world.

          Trump’s China Cave-in Sends a Terrible Message         

President Trump’s sudden cave-in to China on Thursday reveals that, despite his reputation as a master of the deal, he knows little about bargaining with major foreign powers.

Soon after he won the election, but before he took office, Trump said that he might scuttle America’s longstanding acceptance of the “One China” policy—the recognition of the People’s Republic of China, with its capital in Beijing, as the only state to be called China. (Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China, could still receive defensive weapons but not otherwise be treated as an independent state.)

That was Trump’s first mistake. Any expert in the region could have told him that the Beijing government views “One China” as an existential matter, not open to discussion. When told this after the fact, Trump said—publicly—that he would use his threat as a “bargaining chip” to get better terms on trade or other issues.

This was Trump’s second mistake. If his best-seller The Art of the Deal doesn’t include a chapter titled “If You Want to Use Something as a Bargaining Chip, Don’t Say It’s a Bargaining Chip,” it’s a pretty worthless book. If the Chinese had been worried before that Trump might carry out his threat, they no longer had cause for concern. He’d pretty much winked and nudged that he was bluffing. They could stand their ground with no risk.

And so, this week, when Trump was wrapping up his phone calls with foreign leaders, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that he would not even speak with Trump until he explicitly reaffirmed the One China policy. In response, on Thursday, Trump reaffirmed it.

It’s good that, on this point, Trump reconciled with reality. But it’s bad that, after so avidly embracing an alternative reality and making it part of a tough stance toward China generally, he dropped it so swiftly, in exchange for nothing but a presidential phone call.

Our Asia-Pacific allies were already nervous about several of Trump’s remarks, which raised doubts about his commitment to their security. Their fears were so serious—and so justified—that Secretary of Defense James Mattis flew to the region and reassured them face to face. Now Trump’s 180 on China must make them leerier still of any promises he makes or beliefs he claims to hold. It’s likely that some of these allies will soon seek separate deals with China, another large power, or among themselves: some sort of arrangement that doesn’t depend on—or, as it will turn out, benefit—the United States.

Trump campaigned on the premise that, because he’d made great deals for his real estate empire, he could also make great deals for his country. Previous presidents made “terrible” deals, he scoffed, because they didn’t understand the game; he would make great deals because he practically invented the game. A deal is a deal is a deal—that was his assumption, regardless of whether the deal is made with New York City’s Department of Buildings, some vendor on a construction project, or the People’s Republic of China. What he didn’t understand was that the game of international relations is very different: In global power politics, no outside arbiter can settle disputes, and you can’t avoid a loss by declaring bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, on Friday, as was already scheduled, Trump welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the White House, then flew with him to Florida for a weekend of golf and talks. Abe played their joint press conference shrewdly: congratulating Trump for his election victory, complimenting Trump’s golf game (and deprecating his own), and touting the many jobs created by Japanese car factories in American territory. Abe has learned what many foreign leaders have learned—that the way to deal with Trump is to act like a grateful, admiring friend. Trump wears his buttons—his need for devotion and respect—so visibly on his sleeve that almost anyone can gain favor, at least for a while, by simply pushing them ever so gently. Vladimir Putin has done this; so has Theresa May (on Barack Obama’s advice); so, in a recent phone call, did Czech President Milos Zeman—lavishing praise, telling jokes, and talking about golf so amiably that Trump pronounced him “my type of guy” and invited him to the White House. Many more leaders can be expected to emulate these tactics.

But good personal relations alone aren’t the basis of sound foreign policy. Good relations grow out of common interests, not the other way around. Words and actions have consequences, and these consequences can intensify when a leader’s ultimate interests and intentions are as nebulous as Trump’s are. Politico reported this week that Trump is surprised that the presidency is so much harder than he thought it would be—and so much different from running a business. Yet it’s been only three weeks. He’s had to face no crises, other than those of his own making; he’s made only one life-or-death decision—involving the raid on Yemen—and he seems incapable of facing the possibility that it might have been a failure. Everyone who thinks seriously about these matters is nerve-racked wondering what he will do if he’s tested by a genuine threat. And it’s all the more worrisome to note that, at some point, every president is.

          Donald Trump Really Believes All Those Things He Said During the Campaign        

The main message from Donald Trump’s inaugural address—the message that leaders around the world are no doubt taking to heart, some of them panicking about—is that he really believes the things he said all those months on the campaign trail. There has been, and likely will be, no moderation, no maturation, as the weight of his office sets in.

In this speech, Trump explicitly endorsed protectionism. He proclaimed his “America First” slogan as official administration policy and added to those words, “Only America First.” He paid lip service to allies old and new but implied conditions for his commitment to their defense. We’ve been protecting other countries’ borders for a long time, he said; now he’ll defend our own.

There was no recognition, and probably beneath it no awareness, that America’s security and prosperity have rested all these years on the liberal international order, which our wiser leaders created in the wake of World War II and which Trump now deprecates.

Quite apart from the ignorance of history and economics that leads him to say, and probably believe, that protectionism will make America stronger and richer, this speech is likely to set off a cascade of consequences around the world. (Give the new president this: He penned a truly historic inaugural address—just not in the way that word is usually meant.)

One can imagine allies in Europe—suddenly aware that the United States may no longer be in their corner—drawing up plans for separate deals on security and trade, among themselves or with some other large power. One can imagine Ukrainians and possibly the Baltic nations—foreseeing the decline of NATO and the crumbling of the European Union—making the best deals they can manage with the looming specter of Moscow. One can imagine the Russian and Chinese presidents, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, shaking their heads in sheer wonder over the bounty that has fallen from the sky (though, in Putin’s case, the wonder may be that the plot he mounted to elect this guy succeeded).

One can also imagine African leaders—those who have aspired to democratic rule—stunned that American aid, even humanitarian aid (including health programs initiated by President George W. Bush), may no longer be forthcoming and that insurgent tyrants may no longer feel hesitant about overthrowing lawful regimes. As for the Middle East, it is hard to say what confluence of Russian, Syrian, and Turkish interests might align with Trump’s inclinations. But Israelis may soon feel the pains of getting what they’d asked for, as their security forces have warned Bibi Netanyahu of the violence in store, and the alienation of newly won Arab allies, if Trump makes good on his promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

There are plenty of people among Trump’s entourage—his incoming secretary of defense, his nominated secretary of state, and some of his appointees from the financial world as well—who understand the grave dangers that he embraced as bright beacons in that speech. The same is true of many Republicans in Congress, who have long championed free trade and strong alliances. Whether they speak up, challenge, persuade, and—if necessary—resist the agenda that Trump has clearly and even boldly laid out, that will determine the course the nation and the world take in the coming months.

          China Won’t Stop Kim Jong-un. The U.S. Must Stand Up to Both of Them.        

What to do with the pygmy of Pyongyang, the mad marshal of the Hermit Kingdom, by which I mean Kim Jong-un, the thirtysomething tyrant of North Korea?

On Sept. 9, his scientists set off their country’s fifth nuclear test, but there were two differences this time. First, the explosion was considerably larger (10 to 20 kilotons, roughly the size of the Hiroshima blast). Second, and more concerning, the bomb was described not as a “nuclear device” but a “nuclear warhead”—suggesting that they’re now able to miniaturize a weapon, so it can be placed in the nose cone of a missile.

If this is true, North Korea can claim to be very close to what President Obama said he would never allow it to become—a nuclear-weapons state. It wouldn’t be a very powerful one, possessing the materials for maybe a dozen small A-bombs (even the recent test released one-tenth the blast of the smallest U.S. warhead), but any nuclear weapon holds the stuff of enormous terror, especially in the hands of such a cloistered regime and such an unpredictable leader.

So what to do? The temptation, of course, is to blow it all up—but Kim’s scientists have learned the lessons of previous preemptive strikes and dispersed their facilities, some of them deep underground. Another possibility is to tighten sanctions—but North Korea is already so isolated, further strictures aren’t likely to affect Kim’s behavior, at least as long as oil, gas, and the elite’s luxury goods are let in through the Chinese border. How about coaxing China to do something? Four American presidents have tried, to little avail (for reasons to be elaborated below). Reopening nuclear arms talks? This approach worked for a while in the 1990s with Kim’s father and grandfather, Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung. Shrewd U.S. diplomats figured out the formula for dealing with the “Dear Leader” and “Great Leader,” as they were called. But the new, much younger Kim is a very different, more brutal figure who doesn’t play by his elders’—or, it seems, anyone else’s—rulebook.

This diplomacy of an earlier era culminated in the Agreed Framework, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, and, for a while, it worked. North Korea dismantled the fuel rods at its plutonium reprocessing plant, under the watchful eye of international inspectors and on-site cameras. In exchange, the United States agreed to give North Korea fuel, two light-water reactors (which could generate only electrical power, not bombs), and, over a period of time, diplomatic recognition. Congress never authorized funds for the reactors; the terms of recognition fell through. In 2002, U.S. intelligence detected North Korea enriching uranium—an alternative approach to building nukes that the Agreed Framework’s reprocessing-ban didn’t cover. By this time, President George W. Bush had decided to cancel the Agreed Framework formally, convinced by Vice President Dick Cheney’s dictum: “We don’t negotiate with evil, we defeat it.”

But Bush had no ideas for how to defeat this particular evil (it turned out that brandishing some bombers and scowling had no effect), so the North Koreans continued to enrich uranium, resumed their plutonium program, and, in July 2003, announced that they’d reprocessed all 8,000 fuel rods, enough to build a half-dozen bombs. At that point, Bush tried to get talks going on again, but it was too late. In 2006, the North Koreans set off their first atomic explosion, figuring if they couldn’t bargain away their nuclear materials, they might as well go ahead and build some weapons.

North Korea wants a nuclear arsenal for the same reason some other countries, especially smaller countries, would like to have one—to deter an attack by enemies. North Korea genuinely fears an American invasion and always has. The Kim dynasty has amassed its power, and oppressed its own people, by hyping this fear. From the regime’s beginnings just after World War II, its leaders have regarded their nation as a “shrimp among whales” whose survival relies on playing the bigger powers off one another. The first two Kims played this game very shrewdly.

The latest scion, Kim Jong-un, may be overplaying his hand—but his comeuppance may take a while to materialize. Chinese President Xi Jinping is clearly annoyed with the whippersnapper—he has pointedly never met with him (despite their nations’ status as allies), though he’s held many substantive sessions with Park Gyen-hye, the U.S.-allied South Korean president (and thus the devil incarnate in Kim’s mind). Xi has also voted in favor of U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning North Korea’s nuclear tests and has even condoned multinational maritime raids on ships carrying nuclear materials in and out of North Korean harbors.

But, much as Presidents Park and Obama have urged Xi to take real action against North Korea, this isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. If Xi did take action, that would be the end of the crisis. Nearly all of North Korea’s imports come through China’s borders, and Chinese banks handle financial transactions of the country’s elite. If Xi shut down the traffic until Kim dismantled his nuclear program, Kim would have to comply.

Xi leaves Kim alone on this score for three reasons. First, this sort of pressure would cripple and possibly implode Kim’s regime, siring chaos, prompting tens of millions of North Koreans to flee across China’s remote northeastern border, creating a humanitarian disaster that Beijing couldn’t readily solve.

Second, an allied North Korea serves as an impassible buffer to the U.S. military. If Kim’s regime fell, the entire Korean peninsula would come under South Korean control, and the buffer would be erased; the U.S. military would straddle China’s border. Or, another possibility: With the vanishing of a threat from Pyongyang, the U.S. military in Asia could redeploy to strengthen defenses in the Taiwan straits and the South China Sea, obstructing Beijing’s expansionist interests there.

And so, as much as Xi regards North Korea’s fledgling nuclear capability as a danger to the region’s stability, it’s not a threat to China directly, and the alternatives—all of which lead to the crumbling of the North Korean state—are seen as more damaging still to his own strategic interests.

In a statement on Monday, China’s foreign ministry said that the United States would have to take responsibility for the North Korean crisis. This evasive stance is precisely what President Obama (or, given the short time left in his term, his successor) has to change. The North Korea nuclear problem is China’s problem: China alone is enabling it by keeping Kim’s regime well-stocked and thus protecting it from economic catastrophe; China alone could solve it by threatening to withdraw support.

So the United States should rally the same sort of campaign that revved up the pressure against Iran before those nuclear talks got underway. In other words, the international community should apply sanctions not only against North Korea but also against all institutions that do business with North Korea—an action that would affect some major Chinese banks, which provide it with energy supplies, other goods, and hard currency.

Yes, this would stir tensions in U.S.-China relations; but so do a lot of other actions, many of them instigated by China (for instance, the dodgy territorial claims in the South China Sea), and in this case, any perceptions of American aggression would be offset, to some degree, by a realization—at least by some Chinese officials—that it’s time for Beijing to face up to its problem and reassess its strategic priorities accordingly. (Longtime China-watchers say that some of Xi’s senior comrades have been advocating tougher action against Kim.)

Washington could also play carrots and sticks with its military deployments. In the past several months, the United States has sent massive reinforcements of its air and naval power to the region. It has also agreed to install the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system in South Korea, to loud protests from Beijing and Pyongyang. Some analysts believe that North Korea stepped up its nuclear program in response to THAAD. This may be true. Chinese officials believe that THAAD is aimed at their missiles. This isn’t true, but as long as they think it’s true (despite U.S. assurances, which they have no reason to believe), we might as well exploit that perception for leverage: Tell Xi that we’ll dismantle THAAD if North Korea gets rid of its nuclear program; the offer might give him one more reason to turn up the heat on Kim.

Nor would the South Koreans mind if that’s how things worked out. President Park requested the THAAD system reluctantly, only after repeated provocations from the North (increasing her sense of danger) and repeated pressure from Beijing not to install it (stiffening her sense of national pride and independence).

The THAAD debate illustrates that missile-defense alone is not a sustainable defense strategy, in any case. The system may work well against one incoming missile, but it’s never been tested against two or more, so the North Koreans (or some other adversary) may calculate that the way to overwhelm the defense is to build—and potentially fire—twice as many offensive missiles as planned.

Which leads to the second part of a rational policy toward North Korea: classical nuclear deterrence. The next president should take steps, especially with China, to prevent Pyongyang from deploying a nuclear missile; but if that proves fruitless, he or she should make very clear that North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons—or even a conventional invasion of South Korea (which might be accompanied by a brandishing of nukes to deter anyone from coming to Seoul’s aid)—will be regarded as an attack on the United States and will be dealt with accordingly. There should be no ambiguity about this. Kim Jong-un may be crazy, but his eccentricities have always been in the service of his survival—and he should understand that he’s putting his survival on the line. Daniel Sneider, associate director of Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, thinks we should deploy more nuclear-capable aircraft on U.S. bases in Asia to drive this point home fiercely.

Finally, an American president should be on the lookout for all genuine diplomatic overtures and take advantage of them. This is what the United States did with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War, and North Korea is a far less formidable threat than the Soviet Union; it’s not even worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence, except to draw contrasts.

After these statements are made and actions taken, the president should move along to other, more important matters. To do otherwise plays into Kim’s game. He wants to set off alarm bells so as to be treated as a major power; that’s the only chip he’s got. It does us no good to play his game; the chip should be assessed for what it’s worth. China is Asia’s genuinely aspiring global power; it needs encouragement, and pressure, to be a responsible one, and its deed to that claim should begin with solving its Kim Jong-un problem.

          Trump Is Dangerously Incompetent on National Security        

If Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping read the New York Times on Thursday morning, they must be hoping and praying for the election of Donald Trump. And if serious Republicans read the same paper, they must be sickened with fear—if they weren’t nauseated already—that their party’s presidential nominee is a threat to national security.

For on the front page of the Times, in an interview on foreign policy, Trump says that, despite our treaty obligations, he would not defend NATO allies from an invasion if they haven’t been reimbursing us for the cost of protecting them; that he would abandon our military bases in Asia; and that he wouldn’t pressure Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to relax his crackdown because “the world looks at how bad the United States is” on civil liberties, too.

Thursday morning, Trump spokesmen disputed the Times story, claiming that he wasn’t quoted accurately. Since then, the Times has released a transcript of the full interview, and the story, it turns out, is not only accurate but even more distressing than the boiled-down story suggested.

Look at the following exchange between Trump and Times reporters David Sanger and Maggie Haberman:

Trump: I would prefer that we be able to continue [with NATO allies], but if we are not going to be reasonably reimbursed for the tremendous cost of these massive nations with tremendous wealth—you have the tape going on?

Sanger: We do.

Haberman: We both do.

Trump: Then yes, I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”

Sanger reminds Trump that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty obliges member nations to treat an attack on one as an attack on all. Trump replies, “How is it helping us? We have massive trade deficits.” He also says, “In a deal, you always have to be prepared to walk”—as if the 28 nations of NATO were opposing sides in a contract dispute, not members of a mutually beneficial, trusting alliance.

Then comes the shocker.

Sanger: Can the members of NATO, including the new members of the Baltics, count on the United States to come to their military aid if they were attacked by Russia? And count on us fulfilling our obligations—

Trump: Have they fulfilled their [financial] obligations to us? If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.

And if they haven’t paid the amount that Trump considers their proper share, the answer is no.

Then, to make matters specific, there’s this:

Sanger: I was just in the Baltic States. They are very concerned obviously about this new Russian activism, they are seeing submarines off their coasts, they are seeing airplanes they haven’t seen since the Cold War coming, bombers doing test runs. If Russia came over the border into Estonia or Latvia, Lithuania … would you come to their immediate military aid?

Trump: I don’t want to tell you what I’d do because I don’t want Putin to know what I’d do.

No! The whole point of NATO is to tell potential enemies, in no uncertain terms, that the United States and every other member-nation will respond to an attack with force.

In talking about U.S. commitments in Asia, Trump reveals himself as completely ignorant about military matters. If we shut down our bases in Japan and South Korea, and some crisis compels us to move back, Trump says, “We can always deploy” troops and weapons from bases in the United States, adding, “It would be a lot less expensive.” In fact, it would be a lot more expensive. It costs more to base troops at home than abroad, and it costs a lot more to deploy from home—we would need more cargo-transport planes and ships as well as the pilots, crews, and fuel to operate and maintain them. And it would take weeks, in some cases months, to mount a large deployment—possibly too long to make a difference.

If Trump is elected president, and if he actually does what he says he’ll do, every ally in Europe and Asia will scramble to form partnerships that do not include the United States. Some of the weaker allies will feel compelled, seeing no other choice, to cut a deal with Russia or China. Allies in every realm of international relations will view America as an untrustworthy guarantor.

Trump’s view of the world isn’t entirely out to lunch. If he and the Republican Party were trying to prompt a debate on America’s role in the world, if they were running on an avowed platform of isolationism, that would at least be taking a position. Such a debate is long overdue, and isolationism has its place as one school of thought in the American political tradition.

But it’s untenable for nearly every speaker at the GOP convention to lambast President Obama and Hillary Clinton for weakening our defenses, abandoning our allies, and “leading from behind” when the Republican candidate talks about our allies as expendable customers and prefers not to lead at all.

Trump reveals himself in the Times interview as an odd combination of isolationist and mercantilist. To him, every relationship is transactional, and the transaction’s currency is money—and only money. He sees alliances as a financial drain, carrying no geopolitical benefits. Geopolitics don’t enter into his calculus. If a commitment costs too much, cut it loose, cut the losses, balance the books, period.

Everything is a deal, and all deals are like the real estate deals that have made him a fortune. When the Times reporters ask him how he would deal with ISIS, he says that he would get the Turks to do more. When he’s reminded that the Turks care more about bashing the Kurds than defeating ISIS, he says, “It would be wonderful if we could put them somehow both together.” What’s his diplomatic plan for doing that? “Meetings,” Trump replies. “If I win, we will have meetings … very early on.”

One wonders: Does Trump think that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry haven’t already had “meetings” with Erdogan and the region’s other leaders about doing more to beat ISIS? Does he think his idea is novel? This may explain why he thinks the Obama administration—the entire U.S. government—is filled with idiots. Don’t they see, he might be thinking, that they have to hold meetings? He may see meetings with Erdogan and other national leaders as no different from meetings with the New York City Department of Buildings, a tenant who’s behind on his rent, an indebted hotelier that he wants to buy out, or a supplier that he’s trying to fleece.

The fact that the world is a mess, that America isn’t winning better deals, is proof to Trump that our people in power don’t know how to run a slick meeting. He thinks his opponents and critics know nothing. He doesn’t know how much he doesn’t know.

Read more of Slate’s election coverage.

          Abe menawarkan 600.000.000 Â¥ hibah ke Zimbabwe dalam upaya untuk melawan ofensif ekonomi Cina        

oleh Ayako Mie

Perdana Menteri Shinzo Abe menawarkan bantuan dalam bentuk hibah sebanyak 600 juta ¥ ke Zimbabwe pada hari Senin 28 Maret 2016, untuk membantu agar lebih banyak perusahaan Jepang kembali lagi sebagai penggerak pertanian di tengah agresifisitas yang dilakukan oleh China.

Pada konferensi pers bersama setelah pertemuan puncak bilateral dengan Presiden Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, Abe berjanji memberikan ¥ 600 juta bantuan keuangan untuk mendanai proyek jalan di koridor utara-selatan negara kaya sumber daya itu.

Dia juga mengatakan Jepang akan mempertahankan konsultasi dengan Zimbabwe untuk menanggulangi kekurangan pangan yang parah di sana.

Bantuan ini untuk negara Afrika yang miskin merupakan bantuan yang kedua Jepang sejak tahun lalu, ketika diperpanjang ¥ 1,8 miliar hibah pertama dalam 15 tahun.

Dengan membantu Zimbabwe dalam perbaikan infrastruktur, Tokyo berharap bisa membawa lebih banyak perusahaan Jepang ke Zimbabwe pada saat China secara agresif mencari peluang ekonomi di Afrika.

Tahun lalu, Presiden China Xi Jinping mengunjungi ibukota Harare dan menghasilkan 10 kesepakatan dan nota kerjasama ekonomi.

Pada konferensi pers, Mugabe mengundang perusahaan-perusahaan Jepang berinvestasi di negaranya, yang kaya akan mineral seperti emas, platinum dan nikel. Dia mengatakan perusahaan-perusahaan Jepang dapat mengambil keuntungan dari zona ekonomi khusus di negara ini.

"Pintu Zimbabwe terbuka untuk investor Jepang dan mereka harus melihat ke depan untuk hubungan yang saling menguntungkan dengan kami," kata Kepala Negara yang umurnya tertua di dunia, pada akhir bulan lalu berumur 92 tahun.

Mengamankan investasi internasional sangat penting untuk Zimbabwe, yang juga menderita kekeringan.  Ekonominya, yang digunakan untuk menjadi lokomotif pertanian, telah menderita parah sejak Amerika Serikat, Kanada, dan Uni Eropa memberlakukan sanksi ekonomi mengikuti program reformasi tanah Mugabe pada tahun 2000. Setelah sanksi mereda pada tahun 2014, Uni Eropa kembali melakukan investasi langsung tahun 2015 untuk pertama kalinya dalam 13 tahun.

Tetapi masyarakat internasional tetap kritis terhadap pelanggaran hak asasi manusia Mugabe dan ia masih terkena pelarangan pemasukan ini baik dari AS maupun dari Uni Eropa.

Meskipun kecaman internasional, Jepang mengundang pemimpin Afrika karena ia masih memegang kekuasaan pada saat Jepang sedang mencoba untuk membangun konsensus untuk rencana untuk mereformasi PBB. Pada hari Senin (28 Maret 2016), kedua negara sepakat untuk bekerja sama dalam masalah ini serta upaya Jepang untuk memperoleh dukungan kursi tetap di Dewan Keamanan.

Kedua pemimpin juga berjanji untuk mensukseskan 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development(TICAD) pada bulan Agustus, yang akan diselenggarakan oleh Afrika untuk pertama kalinya. Sedangkan kelima pertemuan TICAD sebelumnya, Jepang telah menjadi tuan rumah.

Sumber :

          Chinese President calls standards "common language of the world"        
President Xi Jinping of China underlined how “standards have become the common language of the world” in a written message addressed today to the 39th ISO General Assembly in Beijing. The message was delivered...
          APA YANG ADA PADA FELDA.........?        

Banyak cerita positif dan kejayaan anak anak Felda yang peneroka boleh banggakan. Cerita cerita ini lebih baik dikongsi dan disebar berbanding dakwaan, cerita karut dan fitnah yang dibawa oleh pembangkang.

Jasa Tun Abdul Razak mewujudkan Lembaga Kemajuan Tanah Persekutuan (FELDA) amat besar.  Allahyarham Tun Razak pernah sebut ‘land for the landless’. Mereka yang tak ada tanah diberikan tanah 10 ekar (4 hektar). Kini lebih bukan sekadar tanah, lebih daripada itu yang peneroka dapat.

Kesannya sampai kepada generasi yang keempat sekarang. Anak, cucu dan cicit peneroka generasi pertama mendapat kesan. Pencapaian dan cerita positif ini yang orang Felda harus kongsi dan banggakan.

Tahukah anda siapakah Ikon Sukan Felda? Beliau adalah Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad, atlet paralimpik yang menang emas acara 100 meteri di Rio de Janeiro, Brazil pada tahun 2016.

Ridzuan adalah cucu kepada peneroka Felda di Kampung Sertik, Wilayah Mempaga dan anak kepada pemandu kenderaan di Felda Wilayah Alor Setar. Hebat anak Felda, mampu menang emas di peringkat dunia.

Sebagai contoh di tahun 2014, sekumpulan anak-anak peneroka FELDA telah berjaya menimba ilmu di luar negara dengan mengikuti program akademik di London melalui Program Generasi Global yang dijayakan oleh Felda Global Venture dan Universiti Lim Kok Wing. Ini adalah inisiatif pertama kali buat anak-anak FELDA sehingga mereka berjaya memperoleh ijazah dan diploma di London.

Pada beberapa tahun lalu, tujuh anak peneroka FELDA telah berjaya mengikuti projek Everest FELDA. Projek Everest FELDA itu dianjurkan Kelab Eksplorasi Tujuh Benua Malaysia (KE7B) dan mendapat sokongan serta tajaan FELDA, FELDA Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) dan Majlis Belia FELDA Malaysia.

Seorang anak peneroka FELDA bernama Siti Hanisah Sharuddin, 23 (2013), yang merupakan anak jati Felda Jelai 1, Gemas, Negeri Sembilan telah menjadi wanita termuda negara berjaya menakluk puncak Gunung Everest di ketinggian 8,848 meter. Misi menakluk Gunung Everest itu diadakan sekitar tahun 2013.

Anak seorang Peneroka Felda Gemas Negeri Sembilan, Azmir Jaafar telah menjejakkan kaki di Universiti Georgia, Amerika Selatan untuk melanjutkan pelajaran  dalam bidang Pengajian Pemakanan (Diet Klinikal). Bermula dengan hanya sebagai Pengurus Pelatih McDonald's sahaja, kemudian memegang jawatan Pengarah Urusan McDonald's Malaysia.

Selepas itu Azmir ke China, memegang jawatan sebagai Naib Presiden/Ketua Pegawai Pembangunan. Azmir membuka lebih daripada 1,100 restoran dalam tempoh lima tahun di sana.

Bermula penubuhan Felda pada 1 Julai 1956. "Felda Hanya 1 Di dunia” bertapak dari penerokaan hutan dan berubah menjadi komuniti maju. Sesungguhnya tiada program pembangunan rakyat miskin di luar bandar yang berjaya seperti Felda.

Rancangan pertama Felda, yang bermula di rimba Lembah Bilut, Pahang. Kini sudah berkembang dengan 317 tanah rancangan di seluruh negara, dan menempatkan hampir dua juta keluarga peneroka.

Felda menjadi model contoh kepada negara-negara lain yang ingin melaksanakan konsep penyusunan semula tanah di negara mereka. Sierra Leone, Columbia, Laos dan Myanmar mahu meniru konsep Felda.

Pembangkang hanya pandai menuduh Malaysia kononnya menjual kedaulatan bila berbaik baik dengan China. Hasil hubungan baik itu menguntungkan peneroka Felda, bila Presiden Xi Jinping mahu membeli lebih banyak minyak kelapa sawit dari Malaysia.

"Dahulu harga minyak kelapa sawit RM2,300 setong tetapi hari ini telah mencapai RM3,100 setong... yang untungnya siapa? 550,000 pekebun kecil dan peneroka Felda dan saya mahu harga ini naik lagi," kata Datuk Seri Najib.

Pada 21 hingga 23 Julai 2017 ini akan diadakan Sambutan Hari Peneroka Peringkat Kebangsaan 2017 di Putrajaya. Program Ekspresi Felda Negaraku Malaysia  akan turut diadakan sempena sambutan Hari Peneroka ini. Tentunya banyak lagi cerita kejayaan yang boleh dirasai dan dilihat sendiri oleh rakyat Malaysia. Ini adalah acara "showcase" kejayaan kejayaan peneroka Felda.
          Pres. Duterte Thanks China For Donating 3,000 Assault and Sniper Rifles to the Philippines!        
On June 28, 2017, the Chinese Embassy donated more than 3,000 high-powered sniper and assault rifles to the Philippines. President Rodrigo Duterte says the guns will be used to fight against the terrorists in Mindanao, where martial law still reigns.
The first batch of military equipment came in four cargo planes, worth an estimated ₱590 million, and were turned over to the Philippine government at Clark Airbase, Pampanga.
President Duterte was quick to express his gratitude to the Chinese government for their aid against the ISIS-aligned militants currently besieging Marawi City.

“To Ambassador Zhao, please relate our sincerest thanks to President Xi Jinping and the government of the People’s Republic of China for its military aid package I will receive today in behalf of the Philippine government,” he said.
The Philippines’ commander-in-chief said this contract was “the dawn of a new era of Philippine-Chinese relations.” Duterte was, of course, referring to the several new business agreements between the Philippines and China. The Philippine head of state met with Chinese President Xi Jinping many times in the past. President Duterte said:
“This not only strengthens our country’s commitment to support each other during times of need, but also highlights the dawn of a new era in Philippine-Chinese relations.”
Your Excellency, Mr. President, I know you are fighting terrorism, ISIS-related terrorism in the south. China is also a victim of terrorism.”
The ambassador added that a second batch of weapons will be sent to the Philippines within the coming months.
Reportedly, over 71 government troops and 299 Maute and Abu Sayyaf militants have been killed in the ongoing conflict in Marawi City. 246,000 citizens of Marawi have been displaced due to the conflict.

          Why Does the Trump Administration Suddenly Care So Much About Venezuela?        

Here’s a telling omen: Under orders from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the State Department is reportedly drafting a new mission statement for itself. According to Josh Rogin of the Washington Post, the drafts are nearly identical to the current mission statement, except that they remove any mention of building a “democratic world” as a U.S. foreign policy goal.

This isn’t exactly surprising. Tillerson has previously told his staff that “pressuring countries on democracy and human rights creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, our economic interests,” and he’s not the only one in the administration that feels that way. President Trump said in his inaugural address that “we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone” and told an audience in Saudi Arabia in May, “We are not here to lecture.” These are understatements: Trump hasn’t just avoided lecturing autocratic governments; more often than not, he’s celebrated them.

Most famously, of course, there’s the president’s controversial relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Trump has congratulated Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, whose government has sanctioned the extrajudicial killing of thousands of drug dealers, for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” He says Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has “done a tremendous job.” He called to personally congratulate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a controversial constitutional referendum that most other Western governments denounced as an authoritarian power grab. Notwithstanding their differences on issues like trade and North Korea, Trump called Chinese President Xi Jinping a “good man” who “loves China” just hours after the death of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.

And yet, the past week has seen the Trump administration take a surprisingly strong stance in condemning Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government, following the disputed election of a new assembly to rewrite the Constitution and cement his control over the increasingly volatile and economically distressed South American country.

The U.S. had already sanctioned several Venezuelan officials in the lead-up to last weekend’s vote and afterward targeted Maduro himself with sanctions—an unusual step for a head of state that puts the Venezuelan president in the same category as leaders like Kim Jong-un, Bashar al-Assad, and Robert Mugabe.

The White House has put out statements from Trump—which make almost comically little effort to match his rhetorical style—affirming that the United States “stands with the people of Venezuela in their quest to restore their country to a full and prosperous democracy.” When opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma were jailed after the election, Trump said he held Maduro “personally responsible for [their] health and safety.” The U.S. is reportedly considering further sanctions, including on Venezuela’s vital oil industry.

For anyone who’s been following the Trump administration’s foreign policy, the sudden concern for democracy and the rule of law is a little jarring, and the inconsistency has been widely noted. On Monday, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster struggled to respond to a reporter’s question about what made Maduro’s power grab notably worse than the referendum that Trump had praised Erdogan for.

So what are we to make of Trump’s abrupt passion for protecting the rights and dignity of the people of Venezuela? For one thing, there seems to be an exception to Trump’s overall fondness for dictators when it comes to leftists in the Western Hemisphere. In June, the president told an audience in Miami’s Little Havana, “We will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer,” as he signed an order rolling back parts of Barack Obama’s diplomatic opening to Cuba. “To the Cuban government, I say: Put an end to the abuse of dissidents,” Trump said. “Release the political prisoners. Stop jailing innocent people. Open yourselves to political and economic freedoms.”

This, too, felt like an odd fit. Whatever else Trump is, he’s never seemed like much of a Cold Warrior. During his campaign he had said that while he felt he could have gotten a better Cuba deal than Obama, 50 years of embargo was enough and “the concept of opening with Cuba is fine.” But by the end of his campaign, Trump had morphed into a Cuba hardliner as he sought—successfully as it turned out—to win Cuban-American votes in Florida. Florida also has a rapidly growing community of Venezuelans, many of them middle class exiles. The community certainly doesn’t yet have the same political clout as Cuban-Americans, but many of the staunchest Cuba hardliners in Congress, Florida politicians like Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, are also highly engaged on Venezuela.

Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer, a veteran observer of U.S. Latin America policy, wrote last week that the Trump administration has effectively outsourced its Latin America policy to Rubio. (Notably, Tillerson and the State Department have said almost nothing about Venezuela.) Rubio, who had also been a leading advocate of rolling back Obama’s moves on Cuba, also pushed for the sanctions against Venezuelan officials in July and arranged a White House meeting between Trump and the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez in February. Why would Trump take cues from the former rival he used to mock as “Little Marco”? Oppenheimer suspects it’s because Rubio is a “member of the Senate Intelligence Committee that is investigating Russia’s interference in last year’s elections. And judging from Trump’s tweets, the Russia investigation is the one issue that worries the president the most.”

This seems just a little too neat. It’s also possible Trump’s team just figures it has little to lose from keeping the Congressional Cuba Caucus happy by punishing a Venezuelan government that, in addition to democracy issues, has suspected links to drug trafficking and is allied with Cuba and Iran. Given the importance of Maduro’s anti-Yankee bona fides to his appeal, he’s probably never going to be a U.S. ally, and there’s little to gain from trying to win his favor. For a president who views foreign policy in purely zero-sum transactional terms, a friendship with Venezuela has little to offer.

This may also be one of the few occasions where the Trump administration is on the same page as most Latin American governments, which are mostly united in condemning Maduro’s power grab.

There are risks, if the situation continues to escalate, though. One of the steps under consideration—and as Oppenheimer notes, being pushed by Rubio—is sanctions on the Venezuelan oil industry, the country’s main source of hard currency. This would be a substantial escalation beyond targeted sanctions on Venezuelan officials and would likely have a devastating impact on the country’s already teetering economy. The Maduro government will continue to blame Yankee imperialism for Venezuela’s unrest no matter what happens, but its case will be strengthened—and the opposition’s weakened—if U.S. policies are hurting ordinary Venezuelans. Support from other governments like Brazil and Mexico, always wary of U.S. interference in the hemisphere, could evaporate quickly.

Another factor, of perhaps greater importance to Trump, is that despite all the tensions, Venezuela accounts for 10 percent of U.S. oil imports. A trade embargo could raise gas prices for Americans, a risk that Trump must be very loath to accept. So far, the strong U.S. response to Venezuela’s crisis, while out of step with his foreign policy, has been a low-risk way for the Trump administration to please some key constituencies and punish an anti-American government. But there are probably limits to how far Trump is willing to take  that gamble.

          Comment on Trump, Kim Jong Un: 2 scorpions in a bottle by dave        
Totally preposterous for T.J. Pempel to omit China's role. Xi Jinping is absolutely fundamental to North Korea's survival and should be considered the third scorpion in the bottle. Beijing is 502 miles from Pyongyang and could suffer collateral damage if/when South Korea-Japan-U.S. decide that action is required. Clintons and Obama tried diplomacy, yet what did those 16 years of effort produce?
          The Duchess of Cambridge in Dolce & Gabbana        

When it comes to style, The Duchess of Cambridge has “it”. Case in point here and here. With a visit to honor Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, the Duchess attended a creative industry event showcasing a cultural collaboration between China and the UK—and she wore Dolce & Gabbana’s Floral lace dress […]

The post The Duchess of Cambridge in Dolce & Gabbana appeared first on RunwaytoRetail.

          Amazing evening - parents and teacher sit in at CPE I demanding principal's removal        
Update:  Apparently on the Brian Lehrer show this morning, Mayor de Blasio said he would meet with the parents at CPE I.  Let's hope he follows through and removes the principal post-haste.

Yesterday afternoon I attended an amazing School Leadership Team meeting at Central Park East I, the renowned East Harlem progressive elementary school founded in 1974 by Debbie Meier. Since Monica Garg was appointed the principal last year, the school has devolved into angry accusations by parents, teachers and alumnae that she is intent on undermining the morale and democratic spirit of the school and destroy its progressive traditions.

School Leadership Team meetings are now open to the public since we won our lawsuit in October vs. the DOE and Chancellor Farina in a unanimous decision by the NY Appellate Court. 

More than 100 people crowded into the music room at CPE 1 to watch the meeting- advocates, parents and teachers from throughout the city, UFT reps, newly elected City Council Member Bill Perkins and former CM Robert Jackson.

At the meeting the CPE parents repeatedly brought up how the principal, Monica Garg, had repeatedly lied to them, had ruled the school in an authoritarian manner, had victimized children by her actions, and had removed at least two teachers who opposed her and put them in the rubber room -- the latest one the UFT chapter leader Marilyn Martinez.
A teacher on the SLT said that every single teacher who challenged her were put under investigation one by one by the DOE. One parent on the SLT, K.A. Dilday, made the point that not a single teacher said they trusted the principal on last year's DOE survey, and the majority of parents at the school have signed a petition asking for her removal. The principal, Monica Garg, then said that many of those teachers have since left the school -- and the audience erupted - of course they did -- you pushed them out!
Finally, parent and SLT member K.A. Dilday read a letter signed by many other members of the SLT, asking her to resign. Garg said she refused to resign and that she answers only to her superiors, the Superintendent Alexander Estrella and Chancellor Farina.
There were so many people crowding the room that the meeting they had to move it to the auditorium. At that point, one after another parent stood up and passionately spoke out how the principal had lied to them, had refused to respond to their concerns about events that had happened at the school, and one parent stood up in tears to say that Garg had grilled her child without her present, and tried to make her admit that her teacher had abused her.

The latest outrage was putting beloved teacher Marilyn Martinez in the rubber room with charges DOE has refused to make public. Only one parent at the school spoke in support of the principal. LeRoy Barr of the UFT spoke and said that Carmen Farina was responsible for this problem and she needs to fix it.
Finally, when the meeting was over and everyone had their say, a bunch of parents and a teacher on the SLT held up a banner and said they wouldn't leave until the principal resigned or was removed.
They explained that they had attended every PEP meeting for the last year, directly urging the Chancellor to take action, where she had responded with a dismissive shrug to their concerns.They had sent letters to the Mayor and had petitions signed with over 2000 people asking for him to intervene, with no success.
They then began to sing, we will not be moved, and this little light of mine. They even sang in honor of Debbie Meier's birthday, the renowned founder of the school, who has also tried to intercede on their behalf. The custodian asked for them to leave and said he was going to turn the lights out, and they refused.

Ten to twenty police were there and outside, where a rally for CPE I was taking place, along with Marilyn Martinez, the chapter leader who had tape over her mouth.

The police were constantly on their radio, and apparently, someone in the Police Department or the Mayor's office decided it would not look good to arrest parents, especially in an election year.

The parents and teacher spent the night in the auditorium, with the heat off and temperatures fell to the 30's, according to Jen Roesch, one of the parents sitting in. Their press release is below.
Whatever side you are on, whether you believe the principal or the parents, the reality is that the principal must be removed for the school's survival.Below is a video from Deb Meier and a press release from parents at the school this morning.

The truth is despite all his promises and talk about how unlike Bloomberg, he would listen to parents, our supposedly progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina have been just as high-handed and dismissive of their concerns.

From: Jennifer Roesch <>
Date: April 7, 2017 at 7:51:08 AM EDT
To: "" <>
Subject: Parents Occupy East Harlem School Overnight Demanding Principal's Removal
***Breaking Update: Following a meeting of more than 100 parents, teachers and community members, families have been occupying their school at CPE1 since 6:30pm on Thursday, April 6th. The DOE has promised to send someone to meet with occupying families at 8am. Parents are asking Mayor de Blasio to step in and resolve the crisis at CPE1 by removing Principal Garg immediately. Supporters and families will be holding a press conference and rally at 8:30am to explain their demands and next steps in their struggle.***
CONTACT: Jen Roesch (917) 319-7008 or
Kaliris Salas-Ramirez (718) 704-7387
Kenya Dilday,
Parents Sitting In at Central Park East 1 to Demand Principal’s Removal
Letter Sent to Mayor DeBlasio asking him to personally intervene after DOE’s failure to address long-standing issues
Majority of Families Want ‘Worst Principal’ in NYC Out; Retaliation Against Teachers, Abuse of Parents, Children Must Stop
Afternoon of April 6th, Central Park East 1 at 1573 Madison Avenue: Parents, including members of the Parents’ Association leadership and School Leadership Team, are currently refusing to leave their school until their principal, Monika Garg, either resigns or is removed. They say they represent a majority of parents who have signed a statement of “no confidence” in the principal. This letter was presented at the School Leadership Team immediately preceding the sit-in. Other parents and supporters are holding a solidarity rally outside.
Parents say they have appealed to the DOE for over a year about significant concerns but have not had their needs adequately addressed. Garg is statistically the WORST principal in NYC: she has had the greatest drop in ratings from parents and teachers on the 2016 DOE school survey of any principal in the city and oversaw the city’s largest drop in test scores after her traumatic first year at the helm (2016). NYC has approximately 1800 public schools. They are refusing to leave until Mayor De Blasio intervenes. They cite his claim that his administration will make parent voice and building trust in our schools a top priority.

Parents cite serious concerns about Principal Garg’s leadership, including abuse of teachers, children and families. Two teachers have been removed from the school for investigations that parents consider retaliatory in nature. The investigations come in the wake of an open letter signed by tenured staff expressing concerns. Another third of the teaching staff left at the end of last year. All tenured teachers have faced investigations and disciplinary action under Garg’s tenure.
Parents say that children have been harmed as a result of these investigations. Garg interviewed very young children without parents’ knowledge or consent. Many only found out as a result of other parents whose children had told them. In one instance, a 7-year old child had documented emotional issues and was being assisted by the school guidance counselor. This child was interviewed without his parent or his guidance counselor being informed. He was asked about 2-year old incidents and told that his cooperation was necessary in order to keep his school safe. This parent failed to receive an answer to her concerns from either Garg or the DOE. More than 55 parents filed complaints with the DOE without any response. Children in the classes with teachers removed are suffering emotional and social distress and have not received proper support.
Since her appointment in 2015, which came via a questionable process, Garg has deliberately fomented division, mistrust and turmoil at the iconic public progressive elementary school. With the support of District 4 Superintendent Alexandra Estrella, Garg has harassed and retaliated against teachers, mistreated students and families, and undermined the school’s successful practices.

          Dataism: Getting out of the 'job loop' and into the 'knowledge loop'        
From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." Privileging the right of information to circulate freely - "There's an emerging market called Dataism, which venerates neither gods nor man - it worships data. From a Dataist perspective, we may interpret the entire human species as a single data-processing system, with individual humans serving as its chips. If so, we can also understand the whole of history as a process of improving the efficiency of this system... Like capitalism, Dataism too began as a neutral scientific theory, but is now mutating into a religion that claims to determine right and wrong... Just as capitalists believe that all good things depend on economic growth, so Dataists believe all good things - including economic growth - depend on the freedom of information." Our unparalleled ability to control the world around us is turning us into something new - "We have achieved these triumphs by building ever more complex networks that treat human beings as units of information. Evolutionary science teaches us that, in one sense, we are nothing but data-processing machines: we too are algorithms. By manipulating the data we can exercise mastery over our fate." Planet of the apps - "Many of the themes of his first book are reprised: the importance of the cognitive revolution and the power of collaboration in speeding the ascent of Man; the essential power of myths — such as religion and money — in sustaining our civilisations; and the inexcusable brutality with which our species treats other animals. But having run out of history to write about, Harari is forced to turn his face to the future... 'Forget economic growth, social reforms and political revolutions: in order to raise global happiness levels, we need to manipulate human biochemistry'... For the moment, the rise of populism, the rickety architecture of the European Union, the turmoil in the Middle East and the competing claims on the South China Sea will consume most politicians' attention. But at some time soon, our societies will collectively need to learn far more about these fast-developing technologies and think far more deeply about their potential use." also btw...
  • Preparing for our Posthuman Future of Artificial Intelligence - "By exploring the recent books on the dilemmas of AI and Human Augmentation, how can we better prepare for (and understand) the posthuman future? By David Brin." (omni o)
  • The Man-Machine Myth - "Beliefs inspired by the cybernetic mythos have a quasi-theological character: They tend to be faith-based."
  • Unsettling thought of the day
  • Each technological age seems to have a "natural" system of government that's the most stable and common... Anyway, now we've entered a new technological age: the information age. What is the "natural" system of government for this age?

    An increasing number of countries now seem to be opting for a new sort of illiberal government - the style of Putin and the CCP. This new thing - call it Putinism - combines capitalism, a "deep state" of government surveillance, and social/cultural fragmentation.

    It's obviously way too early to tell, but there's an argument to be made that Putinism is the natural system of government now. New technology fragments the media, causing people to rally to sub-national identity groups instead of to the nation-state.

    The Putinist "deep state" commands the heights of power with universal surveillance, and allies with some rent-collecting corporations. Meanwhile, IF automation decreases labor's share of income and makes infantry obsolete, the worker/soldier class becomes less valuable.

    "People power" becomes weak because governments can suppress any rebellion with drones, surveillance, and other expensive weaponry. Workers can strike, but - huge hypothetical assumption alert! - they'll just be replaced, their bargaining power low due to automation.

    In sum: Powerful authoritarian governments, fragmented society, capitalism, "Hybrid warfare", and far less liberty.
  • The Totalitarian - "Putinist models seem to curtail personal freedom and self-expression. Chases away innovation class. In the long run this makes them unable to keep up with more innovative, open societies. But innovative open societies are also fissiparous in the long run. They need a strong centralized, even authoritarian, core. To wit the big democracies also have deep states, just ones that infringe on domestic public life less than Putinist do. Automation makes mass citizenry superfluous as soldiers, workers or taxpayers. The insiders' club is ever-shrinking. Steady state of AI era is grim. One demigod and 10 billion corpses/brain-in-jars depending on humanism quotient of the one. The three pillars for this end state are strong AI, mind uploading/replication, and mature molecular nanotechnology."
  • Capitalism and Democracy: The Strain Is Showing - "Confidence in an enduring marriage between liberal democracy and global capitalism seems unwarranted."
  • So what might take its place? One possibility[:] ... a global plutocracy and so in effect the end of national democracies. As in the Roman empire, the forms of republics might endure but the reality would be gone.

    An opposite alternative would be the rise of illiberal democracies or outright plebiscitary dictatorships... [like] Russia and Turkey. Controlled national capitalism would then replace global capitalism. Something rather like that happened in the 1930s. It is not hard to identify western politicians who would love to go in exactly this direction.

    Meanwhile, those of us who wish to preserve both liberal democracy and global capitalism must confront serious questions. One is whether it makes sense to promote further international agreements that tightly constrain national regulatory discretion in the interests of existing corporations... Above all... economic policy must be orientated towards promoting the interests of the many not the few; in the first place would be the citizenry, to whom the politicians are accountable. If we fail to do this, the basis of our political order seems likely to founder. That would be good for no one. The marriage of liberal democracy with capitalism needs some nurturing. It must not be taken for granted.
  • G20 takes up global inequality challenge - "Even before the final communiqué is drafted for the annual G20 summit the leaders of the world's largest economies already seemed to agree on their most pressing priority: to find a way to sell the benefits of globalisation to an increasingly sceptical public. As they arrived in the Chinese city of Hangzhou over the weekend, many were on the defensive amid a welter of familiar complaints back home: frustratingly slow growth, rising social inequality and the scourge of corporate tax avoidance."
  • "Growth drivers from the previous round of technological progress are fading while a new technological and industrial revolution has yet to gain momentum," Mr Xi said at the start of the G20, adding that the global economy was at a "critical juncture".

    "Here at the G20 we will continue to pursue an agenda of inclusive and sustainable growth," Mr Obama said, acknowledging that "the international order is under strain".

    Mr Xi, whose country has arguably benefited more than any other from globalisation, struck a similarly cautious note in a weekend speech to business leaders. In China, he said, "we will make the pie bigger and make sure people get a fairer share of it".

    He also recognised global inequity, noting that the global gini coefficient — the standard measure of inequality — had raced past what he called its "alarm level" of 0.6 and now stood at 0.7. "We need to build a more inclusive world economy," Mr Xi said.
  • G20 leaders urged to 'civilise capitalism' - "Chinese president Xi Jinping helped set the tone of this year's G20 meeting in a weekend address to business executives. 'Development is for the people, it should be pursued by the people and its outcomes should be shared by the people', Mr Xi said... Before the two-day meeting, the US government argued that a 'public bandwagon' was growing to ditch austerity in favour of fiscal policy support. 'Maybe the Germans are not absolutely cheering for it but there is a growing awareness that 'fiscal space' has to be used to a much greater extent', agreed Ángel Gurría, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development."
  • Martin Wolf calls for basic income, land taxation & intellectual property reform: Enslave the robots and free the poor
  • The rise of intelligent machines is a moment in history. It will change many things, including our economy. But their potential is clear: they will make it possible for human beings to live far better lives. Whether they end up doing so depends on how the gains are produced and distributed. It is possible that the ultimate result will be a tiny minority of huge winners and a vast number of losers. But such an outcome would be a choice not a destiny. A form of techno-feudalism is unnecessary. Above all, technology itself does not dictate the outcomes. Economic and political institutions do. If the ones we have do not give the results we want, we must change them.
  • From the Job Loop to the Knowledge Loop (via Universal Basic Income) - "We work so we can buy stuff. The more we work, the more we can buy. And the more is available to buy, the more of an incentive there is to work. We have been led to believe that one cannot exist without the other. At the macro level we are obsessed with growth (or lack thereof) in consumption and employment. At the individual level we spend the bulk of our time awake working and much of the rest of it consuming."
  • I see it differently. The real lack of imagination is to think that we must be stuck in the job loop simply because we have been in it for a century and a half. This is to confuse the existing system with humanity's purpose.

    Labor is not what humans are here for. Instead of the job loop we should be spending more of our time and attention in the knowledge loop [learn->create->share]... if we do not continue to generate knowledge we will all suffer a fate similar to previous human societies that have gone nearly extinct, such as the Easter Islanders. There are tremendous threats, eg climate change and infectious disease, and opportunities, eg machine learning and individualized medicine, ahead of us. Generating more knowledge is how we defend against the threats and seize the opportunities.
  • What's more scarce: money, or attention? - "Attention is now the scarce resource."

          Esteri di gio 29/06        
1-Iran. Sempre più evidenti le differenze tra Rouhani e Khamenei. Il presidente e la guida suprema si sono criticati a vicenda pubblicamente...A Esteri l'opinione dell'analista iraniano Mojtaba Mousavi.2-Festa obbligata. La Cina festeggia il 20esimo anniversario del ritorno di Hong Kong con la visita del suo presidente, Xi Jinping. Ma non tutti sono d'accordo (Gabriele Battaglia).3-Gli Stati Uniti tolgono Iraq e Myanmar dalla lista dei paesi che fanno uso di bambini soldato. La decisione del segretario di stato, Tillerson, criticata da molti diplomatici americani (Adele Alberti).4-L'ultima idea di Erdogan per Istanbul. Una casa dell'opera al posto del centro culturale Ataturk in Piazza Taksim (Serena Tarabini).5-Slovacchia. Notizie false sul supporto finanziario ai migranti...Secondo l'Unione Europea in questi anni il paese ha ospitato meno di 20 rifugiati (Massimo Congiu, Osservatorio Sociale Mitteleuropeo)
          Esteri di ven 31/03        
1-Prima il divorzio e poi l'accordo commerciale. ..Linea dura dell'unione europea sulla Brexit. Nessuna concessione a Teresa May. ..2-” Il Jihadismo dei perdenti e dei disadattati”. Gli attentati post Bataclan,da Nizza a Londra, visti dall'esperto di Islam ..politico Olivier Roy. ..3-Ecuador: domenica il ballottaggio presidenziale. Si preannuncia un testa a testa tra sinistra progressista e destra. In caso di vittoria l'ex banchiere Guillermo Lasso promette di sfrattare il fondatore di wikileaks Assange dall' ambasciata a Londra...4-Benzina sul fuoco. Il primo ministro Netanyahu ha annunciato la costruzione di una nuova colonia in Cisgordania. ..5-Asia, la rassegna stampa. L'ex presidente Park arrestata per corruzione, tra una settimana Xi Jinping va da Trump. ..( Gabriele Battaglia) ..6-Dalla guerra fredda alla globalizzazione, 40 anni di politica estera vissuti da un Ong in prima linea. ( Alfrodo Somoza – Icei) ..7-Pinar e Lassana nel Giardino dei Giusti. ( Interviste a cura di Bianca Senatore)
          Esteri di gio 09/02        
1-Effetto Brexit. Laburisti sull'orlo di una storica spaccatura. Sempre più contestato Jeremy Corbyn che ha votato ieri per a favore della legge che permetterà al governo di avviare il distacco da Bruxelles. ..2-Energia Nucleare. Un banale incidente nella centrale di Flamanville conferma tutte le lacune del progetto. ..3-”sviluppare una relazione costruttiva stati uniti Cina”: la prima lettera di Donald Trump al presidente Xi Jinping. ..4-«Da Caporetto a Baghdad». Il libro reportage di Lorenzo Cremonesi che mette a confronto i conflitti armati di ieri e di oggi.
          Esteri di ven 22/01        
1-Quando il calo del prezzo del petrolio rischia di far saltare un paese...Il caso dell'Azerbaijan, dove la piazza prova a sfidare il padre padrone Aliyev (Simone Zoppellaro, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso).2-In Brasile in aumento i bambini nati con microcefalia. La malformazione, molto probabilmente, legata allo Zika Virus. Emergenza anche nel resto dell'America Latina (Sara Milanese).3-“Solo la ricchezza può portare la pace”. La ricetta cinese per risolvere i conflitti in Medio Oriente. Il viaggio del presidente Xi Jinping in Arabia Saudita e Iran (Gabriele Battaglia, Pechino).4-Le autorità tunisine temono le proteste per la disoccupazione...Il coprifuoco notturno esteso a tutto il paese (Mohammed Challouf, Tunisi).5-Dal caos politico spagnolo potrebbe uscire un governo di sinistra. Possibile intesa tra socialisti e Podemos (Giulio Maria Piantadosi, Madrid).6-Cina. Oltre la crisi dei mercati e il rallentamento del pil. Lo Yuan promosso dal Fondo Monetario a valuta di riferimento mondiale (Alfredo Somoza)
          Esteri di mar 20/10        
1-Canada, voglia di cambiamento...dopo 9 anni al governo i conservatori spazzati via dai liberali. La storia del nuovo premier justin Trudeau..2-Tappetto rosso per Xi jinping: Londra accoglie con tutti gli onori il presidente cinese. ..( Gabriele Battaglia) ..03-Israele, Benjamin Netanyahu vittima della sua stessa politica. Per l'opinione pubblica il leader del Likud non fa molto per la sicurezza dei cittadini...4-Svizzera – Polonia: la questione migrante e il vuoto politico in Europa fa volare i populismi...( Alessandro principe) ..5-Effetto Fukusihima, Tokyo conferma il primo caso di tumore legato all'incidente della centrale nucleare. ..6-Fiction: “ Narcos ” la serie tv che racconta la vita di Pablo Escobar e il cartello di Medellin ..( Massimo Alberti )
          Esteri di lun 20/04        
1-Libia e migranti: destini legati a doppio filo. Il punto di Esteri. 2-yemen : Arabia Saudita ha intensificato i raid contro i ribelli sciiti ma le prime vittime sono i testimonianza dalla capitale di Sanaa. ..3-Pakistan e l'amico cinese: il presidente xi jinping a Islamabad. Previsti investimenti per 46 miliardi di dollari. ( Gabriele Battaglia) 4-Genocidio armeno: le storie che si tramandano di generazione in generazione. ( Baykar Silvazyan unione armeni italia) 5-La radio nell'era digitale. La norvegia primo paese ad abbandonare la banda Fm. Lo switch off nel 2017 (Tiziano Bonini) ..6-Romanzo a fumetti: Manhattan project la graphic novll di Jonathan Hickman. ( Maurizio Principato) ..7-Rubrica sportiva : la prima giornata dei playoff di basket Nba. ( Dario Falcini) ..
          Esteri di ven 28/11        
1-Il prezzo del petrolio continua a scendere. Oggi ha toccato il livello più basso degli ultimi quattro anni.Pesano le scelte dell'OPEC, la geopolitica, la crisi in Medio Oriente (Stefano Casertano).2-La destra francese si prepara a rilanciare Sarkozy. Domani le primarie dell'UMP. Grande favorito l'ex-capo dell'Eliseo (Francesco Giorgini).3-Sconfiggere la corruzione. La scommessa più complicata del presidente cinese, Xi Jinping, che deve combattere una cultura che arriva da molto lontano (Gabriele Battaglia).4-Pepe Mujica: l'umiltà al servizio dello stato. In Uruguay, con le elezioni di questo fine settimana, si chiude una pagina politica difficile da ripetere (Alfredo Somoza).5-E se l'arcipelago delle Canarie diventasse un grande giacimento petrolifero? Molti preferirebbero di no e stanno protestando contro il governo spagnolo (Giulio Maria Piantadosi).
          Esteri di mar 20/05        
1-Thailandia: dopo sei mesi di crisi politica, l'esercito proclama la legge marziale...2-Kiev conferma: non ci sono più truppe russe al confine...A Donetsk, cristiani e musulmani pregano insieme per l'unità e la pace. Il reportage di esteri. ..( Il nostro inviato Emanuele Valenti) ..3-Vertice Putin – xi jinping: a shanghai accordi economici e politici in chiave anti stati uniti...( Rassegna stampa di Diana Santini) ..4-”25 maggio, in fondo a destra ”, nella puntata di oggi la minaccia lepenista in Francia...( Francesco Giorgini) ..5-Egitto, verso le presidenziali: la minoranza cristiana copta considera il generale golpista al sisi il male minore. ( laura Cappon) ..6-Israele – Palestina: ritorno sul fallimento della mediazione americana. ( Janiki Cingoli Cipmo) ..7Cile: come primo atto della sua presidenza, Michelle bachelet vara la riforma dell'istruzione. l'educazione cessera' di essere un bene di consumo per diventare un diritto di base...7-Land grabbing: la campagna “ behind the brand “ di Oxfam. ( Marta Gatti) ..
          Esteri di gio 27/03        
1-Ucraina commissariata dal fondo monetario. Per evitare il fallimento, Kiev accetta un piano lacrime e sangue. ..2-Fillipine: accordo di pace storico tra governo e separatisti musulmani. ..3-Crimini di guerra: l'onu apre un' inchiesta nei confronti dello Sri lanka. ..4-La Francia srotola il tapetto rosso per Xi Jinping. Firmati contratti per 18 miliardi di euro. ..5-Datagate: il Brasile approva la costituzione del web. La nuova carta garantirà il diritto alla privacy per chi usa la rete. ..6-Il fenomeno dei retornados: la crisi ha spinto migliaia di latinoamericani a tornare nei paesi di origine. ..( Alfredo Somoza) ..7-Le recensioni di vincenzo mantovani: Armi, acciaio e malattie. Breve storia del mondo negli ultimi tredicimila anni, di Jared Diamond. 8-Basket, le ultime dalla Nba. Esteri torna lunedì 31 Marzo!!!
          154 Nobel Laureates across the six Nobel disciplines urge Chinese President Xi Jinping to allow Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment        
          China says it's ready to hit back if Trump starts a trade war        

Xi Jinping

China is preparing to retaliate if US president-elect Donald Trump launches a trade war, a key US business lobby group warned on Wednesday.

“To our knowledge, China is already preparing measures in the event of actions by the new ­administration ... should [they] impose restrictions on trade and investment with respect to China,” Lester Ross, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in China’s policy committee, said.

Ross also said new anti-dumping investigations by China were in the pipeline.

“China has indeed threatened to and is preparing to take steps in retaliation if such actions take place,” he said.

Ross made the comments as the chamber unveiled the results of a business survey, which ­reflected concerns about rising protectionism, limited market assess and unclear regulation in China.

Chamber chairman William Zarit said foreign business had not observed any substantial moves by Beijing towards reforms pledged in 2012. Instead of liberalising or privatising the economy, the reforms seemed to only make state firms more competitive, he said.

The Ministry of Commerce did not reply to the Post’s request for comment.

On the campaign trail, Trump threatened punitive tariffs of up to 45 per cent on China’s exports to the US and nominated hardline China critics to take up positions in his administration.

Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, President Xi Jinping said there would be no winner in a trade war.

Vice-Premier Wang Yang also discussed economic issues in a phone call to US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew yesterday, Xinhua reported.

china trump banner

Zarit said the business group would send seven or eight members to Washington next month to “share ideas on a win-win path forward” and to “speak to whoever we can” to convey “realistic” messages about China.

“We would recommend the US ... be more aggressive in talks [with China] … we want to make sure that we don’t do things that are counterproductive to both countries,” he said.

The chamber said dimmer prospects for bilateral ties and the lack of progress on easing market access by China had dashed hopes on sealing an investment treaty. The chamber previously expected the deal could be reached by 2018.

The negative list submitted by China for the treaty was “far from acceptable”, Ross said.

Shen Jianguang, a Hong Kong-based economist with Mizuho Securities, said China could choose to cut imports from US aviation, car, mechanical equipment and hi-tech suppliers and turn to business rivals such as ­Airbus. China could also reduce the imports of US agricultural products, Shen said.

Other options for Beijing were to carry out strict and frequent anti-dumping or anti-subsidy ­investigations on US products, to dump its holdings of US treasuries or launch investigations into US businesses operating in China , he said.

“But all these countermeasures have side effects for China,” Shen said. “China is the largest overseas market for many US companies, and China still has room for negotiation.”

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          Washington's new anti-propaganda law may unleash war of ideas with China        

Photo of Donald Trump on a front page of a Chinese newspaper.

China and the United States could head down the slippery slope ­towards ideological confrontation after US President Barack ­Obama quietly signing an “anti-propaganda bill” into law, mainland observers said.

China is mentioned just once in the 1,623-word Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, but observers said the it could become a tool to counter Beijing.

The legislation was signed as part of the National Defence ­Authorisation Act of 2017 shortly before Christmas.

The anti-propaganda act is backed by an annual budget of US$800 million to, among other things, establish a fund to train journalists, and to give contracts and grants to non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations, think tanks and private firms specialising in deciphering trends in disinformation campaigns by other countries.

In a panel discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, in mid-March, one of the legislation’s ­architects, Republican Senator Rob Portman, said the act was not meant to target a specific country but the propaganda itself.

“To be clear, our legislation is not designed to permanently single out any one nation or nations for special attention, [but aims to create] a more comprehensive, proactive approach to winning the war of ideas,” Portman said.

But Portman did spell out what he and co-drafter Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, saw as threats from China.

“China spends billions annually on its foreign propaganda ­efforts,” Portman said. “China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea is a recent ­example of how effective disinformation operations can be used to seize initiative, and in this case catch the US and its allies off guard.”

china xi jinping

Beijing Institute of Technology economics professor Hu Xingdou said tension between China and the US could escalate with the passage of the bill.

“We always have ideological differences but with Donald Trump being the next [US] president and his hostile views towards Beijing, he may actually make China America’s biggest enemy,” Hu said.

“China and the US are the world’s two biggest economies, and China’s military power is growing very fast. It’s not going to be good for anyone if China and the US can’t get along.”

Shi Yinhong, an expert on ­Sino-US relations at Renmin ­University, said it remained ­unclear what the Trump administration would do with the bill, but agreed that it could be used against China.
“The initial purpose of this bill was certainly against Russia. But with the close relationship enjoyed by president-elect Donald Trump and his business interests in Russia, it now seems this bill is totally against China,” Shi said.

Observers also said it might be difficult for the US to use the funding from the bill to support NGOs in China, especially with Beijing rolling out a new law tightening control of the organisations.

Three non-governmental organisations contacted by the South China Morning Post declined to say whether they would be open to tapping such a fund.

In a 2014 anthology edited by a University of Hong Kong history professor Phyllis Roberts, Jilin University professor Guo Yonghu wrote that in the 1950 and ’60s, the now-defunct US Information Agency operated a programme out of Hong Kong to broadcast to the mainland and supply information on China to media outlets around the world.

(Additional reporting by Stuart Lau)

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          Jia Jinglong: Chinese villager executed despite campaign        
Source: BBC News (15 November 2016)

The execution of a Chinese villager - despite widespread calls to commute his sentence - has drawn criticism from those who say this country's courts have one way of handling the powerful and a different way of handling the poor.

In early May 2013, Jia Jinglong was preparing for his wedding day.

He wanted to have the ceremony at his family home in Hebei Province, not far from Beijing in northern China.

However, just prior to the big day, his house was knocked down to make way for a new development.

Adding to his woes, his fiancee then called off the wedding and he reportedly lost his job.

Jia Jinglong felt it was all too much. He sought revenge for the upheaval in his life following the destruction of his house without proper compensation.

In February 2015, he took a nail gun and went looking for the village chief, the man he decided was to blame. Then the groom-to-be-no-longer shot and killed the chief, 55-year-old He Jianhua.

For this he was sentenced to death.

Class and injustice

In accordance with the rules governing all death penalty cases, his went to the Supreme Court for ratification. It was cleared to proceed.

There has been a major public campaign to have his death sentence commuted because of extenuating circumstances. Even some newspapers controlled by the Communist Party have been arguing that he should be spared.

But now word has come through from an official social media account run by the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court: Jia Jinglong has been executed.

Some outside China will be wondering why the general public and Chinese media might have felt the need to campaign for somebody who admitted to murdering his local Communist Party secretary.

Well it all comes down to class and injustice in modern China.

These types of forced demolitions are routine here. It would be hard to argue against the premise that for years this country's central government has turned a blind eye while property developers, in league with corrupt local officials, have bulldozed people's houses, using paid thugs to beat up villagers if they try to resist.

It is a way of clearing out pesky residents which continues to this day.

The "compensation" paid is usually nowhere near enough to buy an apartment in the same area, forcing evicted families to move to distant, low-grade housing estates.

How can I say this so confidently? Because I've seen it first hand time and again. I've seen the houses being destroyed, I've seen the crying families and I've seen the men sent in to silence them.

Ask pretty much any China correspondent and they will tell you the same thing.
'Pushed into a corner'

We are constantly approached by desperate people claiming their homes have been effectively stolen and destroyed. The BBC could do a story on one of these cases in a different location every week if we wanted to.

Because this is seen here as such a widespread abuse of power against the lao bai xing (the ordinary punters) there has been a view that - while murder is not to be condoned - Jia Jinglong was pushed into a corner; that the crimes against him should have meant commuting his death sentence to some lesser penalty.

After all, people will tell you, government officials and those in the upper echelons of society are saved from a lethal injection for much less.

These cases are posing a real problem for the Communist Party in terms of perceived legitimacy, especially when its reason for monopoly power is supposed to be delivering a more just world for the downtrodden.

In 2009, a 21-year-old woman working as a pedicurist in a hotel building was on a break, washing some clothes.

Attached to the hotel was a massage and entertainment complex called Dream Fantasy City. Offering food, drink, massages, karaoke and often prostitution, these types of establishments are popular with government officials.

When a local Communist Party figure approached Deng Yujiao asking her to stop washing her clothes and instead provide him with "special services" he fully expected to get his way.

She told him she didn't do that kind of work there. It's said he then took a wad of cash from his pocket and started slapping her on the face with it. He then pushed her onto a lounge and got on top of her. To defend herself she stabbed him four times with a small knife. One of the blows struck him in the neck, causing the director of the local township's business promotions office to bleed to death on the spot.

Deng Yujiao was charged with murder.

Her case drew huge waves of support from Chinese people using the Internet to campaign in her favour. To many, she was seen as a hero. Finally somebody was standing up to these small-town, corrupt and arrogant officials.

The social media posts were censored but the momentum could not be stopped.

Prosecutors dropped the murder charge and granted bail. She faced a lesser charge of "intentional assault" but was never sentenced. This was apparently due to her mental state.

There are considerable parallels in these two cases but certainly not in one respect.

Despite the public outcry there was to be no sparing Jia Jinglong.

His crime was committed in the new era of President Xi Jinping. Justice now appears to be more hardline and the Communist Party remains well and truly in charge of the courts and all that takes place inside them.

          Com a Rota da Seda, a China entra no vácuo aberto por Trump        

por Carlos Drummond, especial para Carta Capital  —  Pequim conecta 66 países em três continentes com o canteiro de obras global. O Brasil de Temer despreza os investimentos O Deutsche Bank, maior banco da Alemanha, anunciou em maio sua participação, com 3 bilhões de dólares, no financiamento do projeto chinês das novas Rotas da Seda, de conexão com países da Ásia, África e Europa por ferrovias e estradas, ao Norte, e por mar, ao Sul. A decisão, que deverá ser acompanhada de iniciativas semelhantes de várias instituições financeiras, é uma resposta positiva ao chamamento do presidente Xi Jinping de unir aquele que é considerado o maior programa de infraestrutura do mundo ao plano europeu de investimento, conhecido como Plano Juncker. Além de vias de transporte, serão construídos portos, aeroportos, barragens, dutos de petróleo e gás, obras para geração e distribuição de eletricidade e telecomunicações, sistemas de água e esgoto e habitações. DPA/FotoArena A união dos projetos chinês e europeu de investimentos significa a ocupação de parte do espaço deixado com o abandono, pelos Estados Unidos, por iniciativa de Donald Trump, dos tratados Transatlântico e Transpacífico, propostos pelo ex-presidente Barack Obama para barrar a influência econômica do país oriental no mundo. A decisão do Deutsche Bank foi anunciada duas semanas depois da realização do Belt and Road Forum, em Pequim, sobre as Rotas da Seda, convocado por Xi Jinping e prestigiado por 29 chefes de Estado, inclusive o presidente Vladimir Putin, da Rússia. A América Latina foi representada por dois presidentes, Mauricio Macri, da Argentina, e Michelle Bachelet, do Chile. O Brasil enviou só seu secretário da Presidência da República. O pouco caso brasileiro para com o projeto chinês, considerado a maior oportunidade de investimentos e negócios internacionais das últimas décadas e de grande significado político e diplomático, ocorre no quarto ano de economia doméstica estagnada, sem que o governo consiga colocar em pé nem mesmo seu acanhado programa de infraestrutura. Lançada em 2013, a iniciativa adota o mesmo nome da estrada construída entre 206 a.C. e 220 d.C., durante a dinastia Han, e tem potencial para ser a maior plataforma mundial de colaboração regional, segundo Kevin Sneader, presidente da consultoria McKinsey na Ásia. Abrange 66 países, com 65% da população do planeta, cerca de um terço do PIB e um quarto de todo o transporte de mercadorias e serviços. Só no ano passado, os projetos e negócios realizados geraram 494 bilhões de dólares, contabiliza a consultoria PwC. Números preliminares da McKinsey indicam que os novos empreendimentos anunciados em 2016 somaram 400 bilhões de dólares, valor 2,1% acima do previsto, mas eles podem superar em mais de 10% as projeções, prevê a consultoria. A PwC estima que a China gastou o equivalente a 3 trilhões de dólares em infraestrutura no ano passado, valor 10% acima de 2015 e 40% superior à média dos últimos cinco anos. Os investimentos fazem parte da estratégia definida por Pequim para enfrentar tanto as dificuldades econômicas internas quanto a Grande Recessão mundial e tem força suficiente para conduzir a uma nova […]

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          Cambodia embraces China's President Xi on state visit        
China's President Xi Jinping arrived in Cambodia Thursday for a state visit to one of its staunchest regional allies, with ties flourishing after the kingdom supported Beijing in a maritime dispute.
          China Suspected of Cyberwar Recon; Huawei Fears Linger        
Alleged Chinese hacking of American companies may have diminished since tensions over the issue came to a head during Xi Jinping’s state visit to the U.S. last year. At Lawfare,
          The Paper: Smarter, Sexier State Media        
Launched in July of 2014 by the state-owned Shanghai United Media Group amid President Xi Jinping’s call for an upgrade to traditional state propaganda, The Paper (Pengpai 
          Regulatory Capture and the Chinese Stock Market        
By He Qinglian on November 19, 2015
Source article in Chinese: 2015年金融反腐(2):权力与资本的关系能否重构?
This adapted and abridged translation first appeared in the Epoch Time on November 30, 2015

The Chinese leadership’s recent attempt to save China’s stock market, after its extraordinary meltdown this summer, failed. While key officials of China’s securities industry are being investigated, the big question is whether corruption and insider trading in China’s stock market will really disappear.

China’s securities industry, and the capital in it, is highly dependent on connections to people in the right places of power. Will the anti-graft campaign carried out by Party leader Xi Jinping and his deputy Wang Qishan undo the relationship between power and capital?
The Regulators and the Regulated

Interest groups—individuals, families, and firms that help one another out—have formed around China’s stock market. Except for stock investors, the Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC),intermediaries, listed companies, various professional media, and stock analysts are all in cahoots with one another, which has lead to symbiotic relationships and deep conflicts of interest.

For instance, from 1996 to March 2011, a total of 58 former CSRC officials joined brokerage and fund management at senior positions, either the vice president level or elsewhere in the senior management team, according to National Financial News.

The May 16 article said that it’s an open secret in the industry that good connections with the CSRC and related departments are closely related to the success of a project. When listed companies choose a brokerage firm, their main criteria is the strength of the firm’s connections with the CSRC. Most of the top 10 brokerage firms in 2010 had former officials who had just left CSRC.
Gray Areas

CSRC officials joining securities firms easily leads to insider trading. Due to an intentional gray area in the law, officials in the CSRC system often join brokerage firms, fund management companies, and trust companies after working at CSRC for several years.

In 2000, the CSRC issued personnel guidelines for senior positions, but there were still no clearly defined limits regarding the relationship between the regulator and the regulated. This omission was not caused by low levels of legislation; the regulations had very detailed provisions as to the qualification requirements of independent directors of listed companies. Commentators at the time noted that the huge contrast between the two positions was “quite interesting.”

The CSRC Staff Code of Conduct published in 2009 still did not have adequate provisions regarding the period before a regulatory agency official may join a regulated company.

This “forever-cat-and-mouse-friends” relationship makes insider trading a common practice in China’s stock market, and it is rarely punished.
The Difficulty of Supervision

Recently, Communist Party agencies have started removing the limitation of CSRC officials joining regulated companies.

In 2014, CSRC issued a rule that, beginning 2015, officials leaving CSRC must observe a strict three-year period before joining regulated companies. This new regulation led to many officials leaving CSRC and joining the regulated companies earlier than planned.

The implementation of this waiting period is to “learn from the United States.” However, it is difficult for China to solve corruption even when copying U.S. law. The U.S. government observes a separation of powers, but in China the Communist Party dominates everything. Insider trading and nepotistic dealings are inevitable. As long as there is no change to the one-party monopoly on power, the breeding ground for corruption remains the same, and, as the Chinese saying goes, the trees growing in that soil will be the same trees.
          China’s SOE Reform: Privatization or Taking over the Private Sector?        
By He Qinglian on September 19, 2015
Source article in Chinese: 《国企改革方案》的风,姓私还是姓公?
This translation first appeared in ChinaChange on September 30, 2015

A flood of commentary has come out since the release of the long-anticipated Guiding Opinions on Strengthening and Reform of State-Owned Enterprises (《中共中央、国务院关于深化国有企业改革的指导意见》; “SOE Reform Program” or “Program” hereafter), jointly issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council. Some say that the Program is aimed at expanding and strengthening SOEs, while others say that the government is using market forces to promote privatization. That the same plan can yield two radically different suppositions is due to the Program’s strong “Xi Jinping quality”: It tries to combine the governance characteristics of both Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping and gain some advantage from both sides, thereby introducing a whole bunch of mutually contradictory formulations.

Key Points of the Program
The SOE Reform Program is 10,141 characters long and comprises 30 opinions in eight sections. It makes its purpose clear from the very outset: “SOEs are owned by the people as a whole . . . and are an important material base and political foundation for the development of our party and state.” This message infuses the Program throughout. Below are a few of its key points that must not be overlooked:
I. A highlight of the Program is the mixed-ownership system. Pundits have different opinions about this system based on their different understandings of the word “mixed.” Some (including foreign experts) see the word “mixed” and believe that the plan encourages privatization. But the original language in the Program says: “Actively encourage ownership diversification through introduction of other state-owned capital or various types of non-state-owned capital. State-owned capital may retain absolute or relative majority share positions, or it may be a [non-controlling] equity participant. Encourage the integrated companies to go public.”
The drafters of the Program seemed to worry that people would not fully understand their meaning, so they made a special point of noting in Opinion 2 (under the “General Principles” section): “Public ownership occupies the dominant position. It remains the basic economic system, the key point for consolidation and development. The non-public sector occupies a subordinate position.” “Upholding and improving the basic economic system are the fundamental requirements for deepening SOE reform that must be grasped.”
So, “mixed ownership” means that private companies can make cash purchases of shares in SOEs and become shareholders. But since the equity allocation ratio is based on the state-owned capital being the controlling party, private companies can only remain in a subordinate role, without any decision-making power or right to a say in matters. To prevent the public from getting the wrong idea, after releasing the program the Xinhua News Agency promptly issued a piece entitled “We Must Unequivocally Oppose Privatization” (《须旗帜鲜明反对私有化》).
II. The Program calls for fostering “market-oriented management mechanisms” while strengthening the Party’s leadership. Marketization is mentioned a total of 14 times, as if it were a theme of the Program. But in Opinion 24 it says: “Give full play to the key political role played by the Party organization within SOEs. Unite the goals of strengthening party leadership and improving corporate governance. Put a general requirement for Party-building work into the corporate charters of SOEs and clarify the statutory role of the SOE Party organization in the corporate governance structure.”
“Party leads everything” was the lifeblood of political and economic life during the Mao era. “Marketization” has been the theme of SOE reform ever since Deng Xiaoping took over. When Zhao Ziyang was General Secretary, he worked very hard to separate government from enterprise in the hopes that it would bring an end to the misadministration that came when the party managed companies. Originally, he even planned to build on his successes in this area and promote separation between the party and the government, but all of those efforts went down the drain after the events of June 4, 1989.
More than 60 years of Communist rule has shown that, under Party control, SOEs can use the Party’s support to grow large but not strong. This is because, growing strong means that a company increases its operational capabilities and management capacity, achieves a reasonable input-output balance, and gains market share through competition, rather than monopoly. These are precisely the things that it is impossible for Chinese SOEs to achieve.
III. Private companies with “great development and growth potentials” will become the primary target of SOE enterprise reform. Opinion 18 of the Program states: “Encourage state-owned capital to pursue various ways of investing in non-state-owned companies. Fully realize the capital operation role of state-owned investment and operations companies and use market forces to make quality investments in non-state-owned companies with great development potential and strong growth in the key sectors of public services, high-tech, environmental protection, and strategic industries.”
In other words, private companies with weak prospects can rest easy that SOEs won’t come knocking at their door. But if you’re a private company with high efficiency and good market prospects, the SOEs won’t even knock—they’ll come right in and purchase some of your shares or shell resources. There will be nowhere to hide.

 Why Do the Chinese Authorities Insist on Making SOEs Big and Strong?
You can tell what a government considers its key interests to be by looking at the companies it chooses to support. Take, for example, the acquisition of the largest American pork processor, Smithfield Foods, by China’s Shineway Group. With a total of 48,000 jobs at stake, including around 1,300 newly added jobs, local residents and governments all welcomed the deal and didn’t care that the new owners were Chinese.
In China, the private sector has long provided more employment opportunities for Chinese people than SOEs. According to official statistics for 2007, SOEs accounted for only 9.2 percent of industrial jobs, compared to 44.4 percent for the private sector. In January 2011, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce published a report indicating that small and medium enterprises accounted for more than 99 percent of all Chinese companies and accounted for more than 70 percent of urban employment and 90 percent of newly added jobs. In 2014, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce announced that sole proprietorships and private companies accounted for approximately 90 percent of all new urban jobs nationwide.
As foreign investors have begun to leave China, rural-based laborers are returning to the countryside in great numbers and more than half of all university graduates are forced to return home and live off their parents. In principle, the government ought to encourage development of the private sector and make raising the employment rate its primary consideration. So why do the authorities instead want to make SOEs, which account for comparatively fewer jobs, “big and strong” and adopt a “reform” strategy of “advance the public sector and diminish the private sector”? It is based on the following two considerations:
  1. As the economy has begun to slide, the Chinese government is facing an enormous financial dilemma. Private companies already represent the largest share among all Chinese companies when it comes to number of enterprises, assets, or main revenues, whereas SOEs are at a disadvantage on all accounts. But when it comes to the share of taxes paid to the state, private companies paid only 13.0 percent in 2012, according to official figures, compared to 70.3 percent paid by SOEs. As original sources of tax revenue increasingly dry up, the fact that SOEs are the main pillar of public finances is a sufficient reason for the government to make such efforts to support them. Whether or not SOEs can increase the employment rate is not among the government’s primary concerns. Premier Li Keqiang has already told the hundreds of millions of unemployed to follow a path of starting their own businesses.
  1. Restructuring and listing is the Program’s ultimate goal. Currently, there is a very high rate of debt among SOEs. At the end of July 2015, the average asset-liability ratio among Chinese SOEs was 65.12 percent, with the overwhelming majority of those debts owed to state-owned banks. This kind of relationship between banks and companies ensures that if SOEs cannot perform better, the state-owned banks will also collapse.
Over more than two decades, the main way that SOEs have gotten out of their difficulties has been to follow the brilliant idea of former Premier Zhu Rongji, who first allowed SOEs to raise money by going public. But today this idea seems to have lost its magic, and the national team appears stuck after being forced by the government to take part in efforts to save the stock market. So, the SOE Reform Plan is only an attempt to come up with a new tactic: have SOEs reform and, after mixing ownership with private companies, “encourage restructuring for going public.” After the assets have been restructured, the companies can go to the markets to float IPOs under a new name.

Does the Private Sector Want to “Mix” with SOEs?
This talk of a mixed-ownership system is something the public is familiar with, having first appeared in the 2014 Guiding Opinions on Deepening State-Owned Enterprise Reform (《深化国有企业改革的指导意见》) and the public consultation draft of the Guiding Opinions on Improving the Forms of Realization of Public Ownership (《关于完善公有制实现形式的指导意见》). But private companies are not in the least bit enthusiastic. In my earlier article, “SOE Reform: Government and the Private Sector Each See Things Differently,” I explained how private companies commonly perceive “mixed ownership” as a trap. They believe that if they take part in a mixed-ownership company, the private company can’t get a controlling stake so it’s very likely to be neutralized and, in the worst case, caught with no means to defend itself.
Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin (王健林) told the Sina website: “If I’m going to ‘mix,’ the private company definitely needs to have a controlling share, or at least I want relative control . . . If the SOE has the controlling share, isn’t that the same as me helping out the SOE by giving it money? Wouldn’t that be crazy of me to do? I can’t do that kind of thing.”
In the article Mixed-Ownership: Six Big Risks for Private Companies Investing in SOEs (《混合所有制:民企参股国企的六大风险》), the author got several private entrepreneurs to share their opinions about the mixed-ownership system. The main risks they raised were: (1) the people with responsibility over state assets were not actually required to take responsibility; (2) concern about loss of state-owned assets will become a high-tension line used to keep private-sector shareholders under control; (3) state-owned shareholders are much more powerful than private-sector shareholders, making it difficult to cooperate; and so on. The point is that private companies cannot cooperate with SOEs, because for them “cooperation” means getting caught in a trap.
It’s clear that even if private companies don’t want to “mix,” the government is determined to “mix” them. Chinese private entrepreneurs have weathered many storms over the years, and as soon as they saw the government getting ready to position itself for mixed ownership, they started “investing overseas” in great numbers. As the saying goes: “Of the 36 stratagems, fleeing is best.” Since August of this year, Beijing has imposed stricter foreign exchange controls. Rather than targeting those small holders of foreign exchange, the controls are aimed at those rich businessmen who are trying to transfer their assets overseas. “Shorting China” is becoming an up-and-coming crime.
To put the private sector at ease and keep them from seeing the government as the wolf dressed up in Grandma’s clothes, Opinion 16 of the Program states: “Uphold the principle of implementing policy according to location, according to industry, according to company. Decide whether to remain independent, take a controlling share, or make an equity investment based on what is appropriate. Don’t make arbitrary matches between companies or try to apply mixed ownership across the board. Don’t set timetables; move forward when the time is ripe. Reform must be carried out in accordance with law and regulation, in strict accordance with procedure, and in a transparent and fair manner. Ensure protection of the rights and interests of the various investors in mixed-ownership enterprises and root out state-owned asset loss.”
The real problem is that the Chinese government has always treated law as something used to constrain the people. Private entrepreneurs know what’s really behind this kind of reform intended to “preserve the leading position of the state-owned sector” and “root out state-owned asset loss.” Under this kind of “reform,” just watch and see whether the private companies that SOEs have taken a fancy to can avoid becoming “Little Red Riding-Hoods.”
          Likely Not Much to Come of Xi Jinping’s Meeting With Obama        
By He Qinglian on September 11, 2015
Source article in Chinese: ä¹ å¥¥å³°ä¼šâ€œå’¯ç‰™â€è¯é¢˜çŸ¥å¤šå°‘?
This translation first appeared in the Epoch Times on September 14, 2015.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit to the U.S. has many overseas media speculating on the potential topics to be brought up during the talks with President Barack Obama, from regional tensions caused by Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea, human rights issues, and cyber-attacks.

Other concerns looming large in the recent Sino-American dynamic include economic issues highlighted by the results of the recent Pew Center poll, including U.S. Treasury holdings, the employment shift to China, and the American trade deficit.

Human Rights, Immigrants, and the Nine-Dash Line
The U.S. will surely talk about and focus on detained rights lawyers such as Wang Yu, Gao Yu and a release list might be proposed. Looking at past meetings, these efforts are not likely to bear much fruit. Perhaps Beijing will give a show of “sincerity” and release the seriously ill Gao Yu.

Cyber-attacks are another hot-button topic. American intelligence complaints of blurred lines between the Chinese military and business sectors will meet with little more than protest from the Chinese Foreign Ministry and rhetoric from Beijing, since they have no second Snowden in their hands.

Neither is the issue surrounding the controversial “Nine-dash line” delineating Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea likely to be concluded, as it is really just a power struggle over who gets to play the decisive role in the region.

Chinese illegal immigrants could be a point brought up at the Xi-Obama summit. According to U.S. immigration authorities, there are 39,000 Chinese in the country illegally awaiting deportation, including 900 “violent criminals.” Likely China will demand the extradition of fugitive officials wanted for corruption such as Ling Wancheng (brother of deposed high-ranking official Ling Jihua) and Guo Wengui.

Economic Troubles
As American industrial capital and manufacturers withdraw from the increasingly expensive Chinese labor market, the phobia of China stealing U.S. jobs is now a non-issue. The “Made in the USA, Again” slogan made by the Boston Consulting Group in May 2011 is becoming reality, as China faces both manufacturing closures and a rising tide of unemployment brought on by shrinking foreign investment.

In 2010, then-vice premier Zhang Dejiang revealed that foreign companies provided China some 45 million jobs, and when taking into account the domestic enterprises indirectly supporting these international investors, hundreds of millions of workers are involved. For China to lose a third or half of these would be devastating.

Meanwhile, Chinese companies in the U.S. have employed more than 80,000 people, a telling increase from the 15,000 in 2010 and virtually none in 2000.

What is most worrying is the trade deficit the U.S. is experiencing with its Chinese partner. This is the direct result of accepting China as a World Trade Organization (WTO) member. According to a Chinese customs report on Sept. 8, the country’s imports and exports both continued to decline this August. The total export revenue was $197 billion, down 5.5 percent. The lowered exports were mainly caused by a downturn in trade with the European Union and Japan, but exports to the United States and ASEAN states maintained growth.

Sino-American trade, amounting to 14.1 of China’s total foreign trade value, came in at $355 billion, an increase of 2 percent.

Chinese exports to the U.S. totalled $250 billion, increasing 5.9 percent, while imports amounted to $93.75 billion, down 7.4 percent.

The United States has criticized the Chinese government for exacerbating the trade imbalance by providing export subsidies to domestic enterprises (causing foreign dumping) while charging high tariffs on U.S. imports coupled with exchange controls. But when China joined the WTO, there was no specific requirement on China’s foreign exchange regulations, and matters such as the governmental subsidies can only be solved by initiating the WTO’s internal dispute mechanisms.

Expecting such talks to persuade China to abandon the subsidies and reduce tariffs was already virtually impossible; in the current Chinese economic downturn, it’s even less likely. Any promises the Chinese could make would be empty rhetoric.

Chinese U.S. Treasury Holdings: The Common Interest
Holding dollars as foreign exchange reserves is a common practice among emerging market countries, and U.S. treasurys are usually the best choice. China now holds an amount of treasurys second only to Japan. In February this year, China’s total holdings of U.S. treasurys and securities were $1.2 trillion, only slightly less than what Japan holds.

Since mid-August, when China announced the devaluation of the yuan, the currency has been selling fast. To stabilize the yuan’s exchange rate and prevent further devaluation, the Chinese government sold about $200 billion in treasurys.

Considering the size of China’s foreign exchange reserves, the impact of China selling U.S. treasurys would be much greater than that from other countries. In the past fiscal year, treasurys contracted in every quarter because China’s state-run banks have been buying yuan to stabilize the exchange rate.

For China to protect its currency from the impact of the devaluation is crucial importance; moreover, the United States now also sees that the consequences of the yuan devaluation are not necessarily beneficial. Both sides have a “common interest” in U.S. treasurys.

In sum, not much is to be expected from Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit. The many disputes over economic economic interests will only allow for consensus and collaboration on vague topics such as climate, “sincerity,” and lists of “expectations.”
          China Is Not Saving the World Economy        
By He Qinglian on August 27, 2015
Source article in Chinese: 黄梁梦醒:中国并非拯救世界经济的“诺亚方舟”
This adapted translation first appeared in the Epoch Times on September 7, 2015.

Recently, the international community finally, and collectively, began to have a pessimistic view of China’s economy. Reasons for their pessimism vary. Some believe that Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign has led to political instability and hence economic recession. Others believe that the Chinese regime’s intervention in the stock market directly caused an economic crisis.

But people almost never seriously consider that it’s China’s economic system that makes it difficult to sustain prosperity. Despite everyone’s wishful thinking, China has never been a Noah’s Ark, able to save the world economy.

China Dream
With unemployment on the rise and tougher economic realities unfolding for China’s middle- and lower-classes, many Chinese are cracking jokes about the “China Dream,” calling it “pure illusion.”

Few Chinese are aware of the other “China Dream” that’s been circulating in the international community. This dream has been the same in Europe, America, and Africa where governments had fantasies of the Chinese government opening its big money bag and investing in their countries to boost their economies and employment.

China has actually done that. It has made large-scale investments overseas. Data from the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) indicates that China became the world’s third largest foreign investor in 2013, right behind the U.S.’s $338.3 billion and Japan’s $135.7 billion. From 2005 to the first half of 2014, China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) totaled $515.3 billion and projected investments totaled $355.1 billion.

In the United States, Britain, and Germany, investment from China increased at the greatest pace. Between 2007 and 2013, China’s investment in the United States increased by 14 times. Among 50 U.S. states, 35 of them have received investment from China, with New York state, California, and Texas being the top three. China’s investments cover extensive areas, including energy, real estate, manufacturing, finance, services, information, electronics, biotechnology, green projects and others, creating more than 80,000 jobs in the United States.

Germany has also become a hot spot for Chinese investment. In 2012, Germany accounted for 38 percent of China’s FDI projects in Europe, far more than Britain and France combined.

According to data from Germany’s The Statistics Portal, China established 2,500 companies in Germany, creating 12,000 jobs in Germany as of the end of 2014.

The investment banking industry has gained a lot from the China market. In 2014, the industry had a record revenue of $6 billion from the world’s second largest economy. Germany’s MERICS China Research Center and the U.S. Rhodium Group jointly issued a report predicting that China will become the world’s largest cross-border investor by 2020.

My response to such optimistic predictions: The higher the expectations, the greater the disappointment. China’s recession has caused a bad mood all over the world, as the world’s expectations of China were too high.

Chinese Century
Beijing does want to save the Chinese economy but is not able to. And the Chinese regime is indeed anxious to become the world’s No. 2 economic power.

However, that does not seem to be in the cards now.

When Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang took power, the country’s soil, rivers, lakes, oceans, and air were all heavily polluted, and the three main pillars supporting China’s economic development for nearly 30 years had shut down.

Analysts who predicted that the 21st century would be the “Chinese Century” have been unwilling to accept the fact that a country can only have sustained economic development under two conditions:

One is that such a country must have tremendous advantages in resources. This includes having good awareness of resource conservation, as well as having leading industrial systems, such as the United States and Canada do.

And, two, it must have leading-edge technology, such as the United States has at present and the U.K. had before World War II.

Both Britain and China have been referred to as “the world’s factory.” The U.K. obtained the title from its technological advantage during the industrial revolution, whereas China’s title of “world factory” refers only to being an assembly plant; it cannot be compared with the U.K.’s status at that time. Once the cost of labor and land is no longer cheap in China, international capital will flow to other places where costs are lower.

China’s prosperity, derived from being the world’s factory, relies entirely on cost advantage, namely cheap land and labor. In order to increase economic development, China has been recklessly consuming basis resources with the result that water, soil, and air are seriously polluted and minerals have been depleted. According to statistics by the National Development and Reform Commission, China has 118 resource-exhausted cities—about 18 percent of all cities—impacting a population of 154 million.

Another important point is that China has money to invest abroad because Beijing prints money. It has thus earned another title: the world’s largest money-printing country.

In January 2013, China’s 21st Century Business Herald conducted a statistical analysis of the 2008–2012 M2 data of the world’s major central banks. The conclusion was: Since 2009, China Central Bank’s money supply had surpassed Japan, the United States, and the eurozone. China became the world’s largest “money machine.” In 2012, the world’s new money supply was over 26 trillion yuan, with China accounting for nearly half of it.

China has been opened up to the rest of the world for nearly 40 years. Before 2008, developed countries all dreamed about China becoming their investment paradise and the largest commodity market. But after they discovered China’s investment environment to be far less than ideal, they left one after another.

After the 2008 world financial crisis, many countries again put their hopes in China, this time to save the global economy. However, those people intentionally ignored the fact that, compared with the countries who wanted to be “saved,” such as the EU, New Zealand, or South Africa, China is a much poorer country, having over 800 million people who are spending less than $2 per day. In addition, there is extreme environmental pollution and little or no welfare benefits.

A Jan. 22, 2015, Chinese language article by the Wall Street Journal titled China’s Capital Is on the Move  once again evoked this “China Dream,” saying: “We need a Bretton Woods Three to get global growth going with China providing the capital and the U.S. again absorbing a substantial portion of it.”

This dream is completely absurd. We are just now witnessing the beginning of China’s economy sliding into long-term recession.
          Chinese Stock Market Set up as Communist Regime’s Cash Cow        
Pillaging the savings from small speculators to enrich state-owned enterprises 

By He Qinglian on July 2, 2015
Source article in Chinese: 中国股市:一台由政府操控的财富榨取机
This translation first appeared in the Epoch Times

In recent months, having been encouraged by the state, millions of ordinary Chinese have put themselves at risk of losing everything by gambling in the stock market. The catastrophic results are unfolding daily. Actually, since its inception, China’s stock market has been under the control of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that has regarded the market as a kind of “ATM” for filling the coffers of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and lining the pockets of their CEOs, while draining the savings from small speculators.

During his term in office, former Premier Zhu Rongji stated, “The stock market needs to help lift SOEs out of poverty.” The CPC set a goal of pulling SOEs out of poverty within three years via use of the stock market. It then went about it by listing a group of poorly managed, and even unsustainable, SOEs on the stock market. With this direction, stock reform and listing of stocks was limited to SOEs for a long time, while privately owned enterprises had little chance of obtaining any public funding.

Encouraged by government policies, SOEs used the stock market to get funding. Subsidiaries of parent companies became “ATMs” that brought in streams of cash. Thus, China’s stock market achieved “100 years of progress in just 10 years.”

According to Chen Dongsheng, chairman of Taikang Life Insurance Co., Zhu Rongji made a big decision to allow all enterprises to be listed on the stock market. Furthermore, the capital market reform was clear back then, the goals were set up for each province, and all wanted to implement it. This is how China’s capital market came into being, Chen said. But from the beginning it was arranged to provide funding to solve the financial difficulties of SOEs. And today it’s the same, he said. Why can’t we manage our capital market well? It’s because SOEs are listed on the stock market if the premier says so.

Stock Market Money-Laundering Machine

One important reform of China’s SOEs is the so-called management buyout provision. The outside world thinks of this as executives using their power to split up state assets. But high-level CPC officials and their families, who were senior executives of SOEs, were among the biggest beneficiaries of this reform.

Xi Jinping recently ended the good old days of SOE executives. In the past two years, CPC authorities have repeatedly stressed the Party’s ultimate leadership of SOEs, and in November 2014 the State Council Leading Group of SOE Reform was implemented.

Since many SOE executives were dismissed during the anti-corruption campaign after the CPC’s 18th National People’s Congress, many SOE executives worried that holding shares would be classified as corruption. They hastily cashed in their shares. By Oct. 17, 2014, executives of China’s listed companies had substantially reduced stock holdings and cashed in 47.43 billion yuan (US$7.68 billion). In the first six months of 2015, SOE executives cashed in another 500 billion yuan (US$81 billion)—a record in history. It shows how these executives have made use of SOEs and the stock market as their money-laundering machines.

Draining Shareholders’ Investments

Since 1992, China’s stock market has experienced more than 10 rounds of big ups and downs. All-in-all, more Chinese stock investors lost than gained, but a lot of people keep on gambling in the market.

In 2008, the A-share market dropped more than 70 percent. According to a survey of over 25,000 investors across China by Shanghai Securities News, more than 90 percent of shareholders lost money, with over 60 percent of them losing more than 70 percent of their stock value. Only 6 percent of the investors said they made a profit.

In 2013, China’s stock market was called the worst performing stock market in Asia. According to a survey published by in January 2014, about 65 percent of shareholders lost money in 2013. The living standard of 32.2 percent of investors significantly dropped because of their stock market gambling, with 9 percent saying they were facing difficulties.

During the first six months of 2015, Chinese investors’ losses were tremendous. In the last two weeks of May, the market lost 13.26 trillion yuan (US$2.148 trillion), amounting to an average loss of 147,000 yuan (US$23,814) per investor—or nearly three times the average national annual income, according to data published by “How Much Stock Market Investors Lost in H1 2015.”

China’s Stock Market Differs From the West

China’s stock market has no long-term investors, only speculators. Nobody cares about the actual operating situations of listed companies. People only care whether stock prices are going up. Stock values are therefore completely unrelated to a company’s business performance and financial condition. Stock markets in the West have short-term speculators too, but they also have long-term investors. Business conditions and profitability are the basis of stock prices in the West.

In addition, the CPC manipulates the stock market. It uses various policies to regulate ups and downs in the stock market, whereas the U.S. government only acts as a caretaker of the stock market, with mature regulations in place.

Throughout the world, only China’s stock market lets down the majority of its investors.

China’s stock market has always been rigged in favor of state-owned companies and CPC officials who take advantage of asymmetric information and political power. They have thus been able to enrich themselves at the expense of novice speculators. These are the characteristics of an “extractive economy,” which serves a totalitarian dictatorship.
          Why China’s Revolution Has Already Begun        
By He Qinglian on June 29, 2015
Source article in Chinese: â€œé©å‘½â€çš„一只鞋已经落地

This translation first appeared in the Epoch Times. Slight changes have been made.

For a political organization founded to perpetuate revolution, the Communist Party of China (CPC) ironically fears it. But revolution is already underway in China, and the other shoe is about to drop.

One of the central contradictions of the regime today is its relationship between its founding ideology and the facts on the ground. Chinese school children must sit through political lessons on Marxism (or at least the Party’s version of it), Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, and other Party leaders.

Indeed, the rich and powerful in China have a vested interest in upholding the banner of Marx and Mao—it is a form of political insurance with the Party, and buttresses the legality of the regime.

But for the poor—an estimated 60 percent of China’s 1.4 billion population—the Party’s theoretical teachings offer scant relief. And the gap between the rich and poor will only grow as billionaires continue their unbridled plundering of public and civic wealth, while the penniless are blocked from scaling the social ladder—a structure that has not changed for nearly 20 years.

According to orthodox Marxist theory, the CPC has long degenerated into a predatory elite bourgeoisie, the very object of the communist revolution. The people at the bottom of the society now have the political legitimacy to dispose of the Party, which has become the worst tyranny in history.

While the Chinese regime’s ideological doctrine serves as a double-edged sword today, Party central will never abandon it. Former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was open to economic and other reforms in his day, but never rejected Marxism and Mao Zedong Thought.

Revolutionary Leader Wanted

The Chinese people want a revolution—but not the Marxist kind. They’ve given up the theoretical weapon of Marx, embracing universal democratic values instead.

Some seek a full democratic revolution; freedom of speech, freedom of association and assembly must be immediately institutionalized. Others hope to overthrow the Communist Party, allow equal access to wealth, and want to keep the Party’s constitution in the name of maintaining “social stability.” Those of the latter group may make their demands under the banner of “democratic revolution,” but they are most likely connected with the regime.

Despite the proliferation of theories and potential revolutionary masses—just check Twitter and Weibo for expressions of revolutionary sentiment—there still isn’t an organization or leader to guide the revolution. That’s because the Party, in consulting its own founding history, is almost pathologically sensitive to organizations.

“Spy, shut down, arrest”—that’s the Party’s strategy to contain any organization in China. To this end, informants can be found in book clubs, nonprofits, and colleges; civil organizations and foreign-aided non-governmental organizations such as Open Constitution Initiative and China Rural Library have been closed; and activists that are even slightly popular—Xu Zhiyong, Wu Gan, and others—have been detained, and are granted very limited freedom upon their release.

Genie Out of the Bottle

But for all its strict censorship, the Party failed to prevent one political leader from starting to harness China’s revolutionary masses.

Former Party official Bo Xilai was a popular figure across the social spectrum when he ran Chongqing from 2007 to 2012. Bo promulgated Mao-inspired leftist ideas and ran a Cultural Revolution-style “sing red songs and smash black gangs” campaign, temporarily reviving a communist spiritual backwardness among the residents of Chongqing. Many Party members and common people bought into Bo’s rhetoric and believed that he would be a leader that would guard their interests.

Because the Communist Party can’t stand competition, Chinese leader Xi Jinping purged Bo for “unorganized behavior” and corruption when his popularity was still in an embryonic state.

But Xi has only temporarily closed the lid on the genie’s bottle. The revolutionary masses have already had a taste of following a charismatic, popular leader, and that undercurrent is ready to surface again at any time.

The Late Qing

Since the Nobel Peace prize was awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010, the Party completely shut the door on reform, and Beijing has been especially sensitive to any hint of brewing “revolution.”

This year’s June 14 edition of The People’s Daily featured five articles stressing the deep harm caused by “color revolutions”—protests that result in the overthrow of oppressive governments—and that the democratic system cannot be forcibly grafted onto China. The articles say China must be alert to the infiltration and spread of “color revolution”; “hostile” Western forces have never given up on undermining and ousting the Chinese Communist Party; and China must eradicate its “superstitious” faith in Western institutions and Westernization.

Chinese authorities are maintaining the strategy of spending money to buy and promote “social stability,” but it won’t work with China’s economy slowing down and unemployment starting to becoming a severe social issue. Indeed, the word “revolution” is starting to surface on the Chinese Internet with increased frequency.

One shoe of revolution has fallen. The other shoe hasn’t yet dropped—only delayed by the Party’s vigilance in intensely monitoring and suppressing dissent.

The CPC should step down to preserve its own safety and if it has a thought for the nation’s future interests. Otherwise, it will face two potential revolutions: A color revolution led by the middle classes and the intellectuals, or a violent, proletarian upheaval by the lower classes.

Does China still have the opportunity to improve? Probably not. The present situation could evolve rapidly and play out similarly to the final years of the Qing Dynasty when revolution deposed imperial rule.

Before the Other Shoe Drops

Regimes collapse when there’s a coup, a financial crisis, a severe dispute between officials and the people, frequent violent, lethal resistance, or foreign invasion. Sometimes, these factors happen all at the same time.

The most likely revolutionary factor facing China today is a financial crisis. The Chinese regime has introduced several financial policies to lift the stock market, but whether they will work remains to be seen. The state of the international economy is extremely difficult to predict, and could yet exert a major influence on China.

Meanwhile, the other shoe is falling—slowly, but surely. Chinese society is constantly deteriorating as the state misspends social resources, brews social hatred, and degrades social morals. Over time, the revolutionary masses grow in number, awaiting the opportune moment to emerge.

Who should be held responsible for this situation? The CPC, of course. Normal human social order was overturned when the Party first eliminated the propertied class, and turned private ownership into public ownership. Using national resources to promote public ownership, “red” families and officials soon became millionaires and billionaires, while China grew the world’s largest class living in and on the cusp of poverty.

The Party’s history is one of enslaving and fooling the masses, as well as suppressing and eliminating voices of dissent. The Party doesn’t want anyone using violent revolution to overthrow it, even though its own ideology is a hotbed for cultivating violent revolution. Whatever the Party’s wishes, China’s revolution has already begun.
          Chinese Economy Dangles on a Cliff        
By He Qinglian on February 14, 2015
Source article in Chinese: 中国经济逼近悬崖

China’s money supply had a net increase of 11 percent from 2013 to 2014, an increase that is significantly higher than the country’s economic growth. In 2014 it reached 122.84 trillion yuan (US$18.05 trillion), compared with 110.7 trillion (US$17.71 trillion) by the end of 2013. Of China’s 12.14 trillion added currency (US$1.94 trillion) in 2014, 9.78 trillion yuan (US$1.56 trillion), over 80 percent, was used for creating new loans. Not only was it 890 billion (US$142 billion) higher than that in 2013, but also broke the 2009 record of 9.59 trillion (US$1.53 trillion) by 190 billion (US$30 billion) more.
So much new money was printed. Where did it all go? The majority of the loans did not flow into the economy, but went into non-production areas, namely the financial market.

Massive Money Printing

The Research Center for China Market Value Management Ltd. brought two pieces of good news about the Chinese economy in its 2014 annual report on A-shares stock market value, published on January 24. Firstly, the total market value of A-shares reached 37.11 trillion yuan (US$5.94 trillion) last year, exceeding Japan to become the world’s second largest stock market, next to U.S. Secondly, China’s securitization ratio reached 58.3 percent (derived from 37.11 trillion yuan of A-shares divided by a total GDP of 63.65 trillion yuan), far more than the 40.1 percent in 2013, bringing China one step closer to the securitization ratio of the U.S.
That good news, however, needs a bit of scrutiny. Chinese people in the securities industry like to point to the low securitization ratio to show that the Chinese stock market still has much room for development. The goal is to catch up and exceed the securitization ratio of the United States. That kind of comparison has neglected two factors. One is that the U.S. stock market is a global stock market, with its market value being supported by global capital. China’s A-shares stock market, on the other hand, has funds mainly coming from domestic sources. Moreover, there are fake foreign investments, i.e., domestic capital went out of the country through various channels and flew back in. The second factor is that the U.S. stock market is based on a sound credit system, while China’s credit system has too many defects, including constant fraud and weak penalties. Under such circumstances, a high securitization ratio often means a bigger bubble in the stock market and stronger speculation.
Second of all, retail investors have become losing buyers again. According to the market value annual report, important shareholders and executives of 1284 companies listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets sold 221.8 billion yuan (US$35.48 billion) worth of stocks. Among them, the executives received 64.1 billion yuan (US$10.26 billion) of cash from selling their stocks, making a historical record. Such urgent selling indicates a coping strategy for when CCP leader, Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign reaches state enterprises. More than ten years ago during the reform of state enterprises, many executives acquired shares through management buyout (MBO). In order to avoid losing their extorted wealth, they are trying to cash out in a hurry in every possible way.

Large Amounts Enter Debt Cycle

Tens of trillions of new money was printed after a 4 trillion yuan (US$640 billion) stimulation package in 2009. Local governments happily spent money and officials happily extorted money. Local governments have since been deeply buried under debt, but they knew too well that the central government would bail them out, which it did.
On September 21, 2014, the Chinese regime issued its Opinions of the State Council on Strengthening the Administration of Local Government Debt order. It requested local governments to report their outstanding debt at the end of 2014, classify the debts and include them in the 2015 budget, and coordinate funds to pay off first maturing debts.
In the past local officials tended to hide the actual figures of their debt because they were concerned about their performance and worried about losing their positions. According to Li Tie, an official from China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the local governments reported 18 trillion yuan of debt in total. Li estimated that the number was only 30 to 40 percent of the actual number.
Once the regime announced its countermeasures for managing the debt, local governments reacted quickly and reported all kinds of numbers, leading to instant explosive escalation of the debt level. That shocked central government officials. The Chinese regime’s Ministry of Finance then issued an announcement on Jan. 29, 2015, urging local government officials to review and reduce the reported numbers to spare any future scrutiny.
That maneuver is probably not necessary, however, as local governments long ago figured out how to make new loans to pay back old ones. That is how they continue in their corruption and at the same time keep the local banking system running.
Why would banks have to comply with the requests of local governments? Hyper competition among banks is the key. Banks rely on governments to provide two resources: First, to deposit of government funds. Government is the biggest customer of the banks and government officials can decide where to locate the government funds. The second resource is local operation permits. The ecosystem forced banks to play the local governments’ loaning game. The outcome is rapid increase in debts and the escalating threat of bankruptcy.

Capital Escape Overshadows Capital Export

China’s foreign investment underwent rapid growth since 2013. In a celebratory tone, its Ministry of Commerce boasted that the country has become a net capital exporting country and that the investment of Chinese capital around the world marked the ever-increasing importance of China’s position in the global economy. In the meantime international financial institutes were becoming more alert about the worsening problem of capital escaping from China.
Let us first examine the laurel of “net capital exporting country.” Starting in 2012, China was ranked among the top three countries that made capital investments in other countries. In 2013, direct investment from China in foreign countries demonstrated a 22.8 percent increase and hit a record high with US$ 107.84 billion. In 2014, it reached US$ 140 billion, which was US$ 20 billion more than the foreign investment in China. The regime’s Ministry of Commerce proudly proclaimed that China had become a net capital exporting country, with the U.S. being the largest capital receiver. That achievement was reported by the Chinese edition of Wall Street Journal on Jan. 22, 2015. The report, titled “Will Cheap Capital from China Flood the Global Market?”, said that Chinese capital accounted for 26 percent of global investment now and that number was 4 percent in 1995. As a comparison, the share of U.S. capital in the global investment peaked at 35 percent in 1985 and was less than 20 percent at present.
Just when the Ministry of Commerce was celebrating the fact of becoming a “net capital exporting country,” the Chinese regime’s central bank reacted rather differently, with annoyance at the continuous loss of capital. On Feb. 5, 2015, the central bank announced a decrease of the required reserve ratio, which would free monetary fluidity up to 600 billion yuan (or US$ 96.4 billion).

China’s money supply had a net increase of 11 percent from 2013 to 2014, an increase that is significantly higher than the country’s economic growth. In 2014 it reached 122.84 trillion yuan (US$18.05 trillion), compared with 110.7 trillion (US$17.71 trillion) by the end of 2013. Of China’s 12.14 trillion added currency (US$1.94 trillion) in 2014, 9.78 trillion yuan (US$1.56 trillion), over 80 percent, was used for creating new loans. Not only was it 890 billion (US$142 billion) higher than that in 2013, but also broke the 2009 record of 9.59 trillion (US$1.53 trillion) by 190 billion (US$30 billion) more.
So much new money was printed. Where did it all go? The majority of the loans did not flow into the economy, but went into non-production areas, namely the financial market.

Massive Money Printing

The Research Center for China Market Value Management Ltd. brought two pieces of good news about the Chinese economy in its 2014 annual report on A-shares stock market value, published on January 24. Firstly, the total market value of A-shares reached 37.11 trillion yuan (US$5.94 trillion) last year, exceeding Japan to become the world’s second largest stock market, next to U.S. Secondly, China’s securitization ratio reached 58.3 percent (derived from 37.11 trillion yuan of A-shares divided by a total GDP of 63.65 trillion yuan), far more than the 40.1 percent in 2013, bringing China one step closer to the securitization ratio of the U.S.
That good news, however, needs a bit of scrutiny. Chinese people in the securities industry like to point to the low securitization ratio to show that the Chinese stock market still has much room for development. The goal is to catch up and exceed the securitization ratio of the United States. That kind of comparison has neglected two factors. One is that the U.S. stock market is a global stock market, with its market value being supported by global capital. China’s A-shares stock market, on the other hand, has funds mainly coming from domestic sources. Moreover, there are fake foreign investments, i.e., domestic capital went out of the country through various channels and flew back in. The second factor is that the U.S. stock market is based on a sound credit system, while China’s credit system has too many defects, including constant fraud and weak penalties. Under such circumstances, a high securitization ratio often means a bigger bubble in the stock market and stronger speculation.
Second of all, retail investors have become losing buyers again. According to the market value annual report, important shareholders and executives of 1284 companies listed in Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets sold 221.8 billion yuan (US$35.48 billion) worth of stocks. Among them, the executives received 64.1 billion yuan (US$10.26 billion) of cash from selling their stocks, making a historical record. Such urgent selling indicates a coping strategy for when CCP leader, Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign reaches state enterprises. More than ten years ago during the reform of state enterprises, many executives acquired shares through management buyout (MBO). In order to avoid losing their extorted wealth, they are trying to cash out in a hurry in every possible way.

Large Amounts Enter Debt Cycle

Tens of trillions of new money was printed after a 4 trillion yuan (US$640 billion) stimulation package in 2009. Local governments happily spent money and officials happily extorted money. Local governments have since been deeply buried under debt, but they knew too well that the central government would bail them out, which it did.
On September 21, 2014, the Chinese regime issued its Opinions of the State Council on Strengthening the Administration of Local Government Debt order. It requested local governments to report their outstanding debt at the end of 2014, classify the debts and include them in the 2015 budget, and coordinate funds to pay off first maturing debts.
In the past local officials tended to hide the actual figures of their debt because they were concerned about their performance and worried about losing their positions. According to Li Tie, an official from China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the local governments reported 18 trillion yuan of debt in total. Li estimated that the number was only 30 to 40 percent of the actual number.
Once the regime announced its countermeasures for managing the debt, local governments reacted quickly and reported all kinds of numbers, leading to instant explosive escalation of the debt level. That shocked central government officials. The Chinese regime’s Ministry of Finance then issued an announcement on Jan. 29, 2015, urging local government officials to review and reduce the reported numbers to spare any future scrutiny.
That maneuver is probably not necessary, however, as local governments long ago figured out how to make new loans to pay back old ones. That is how they continue in their corruption and at the same time keep the local banking system running.
Why would banks have to comply with the requests of local governments? Hyper competition among banks is the key. Banks rely on governments to provide two resources: First, to deposit of government funds. Government is the biggest customer of the banks and government officials can decide where to locate the government funds. The second resource is local operation permits. The ecosystem forced banks to play the local governments’ loaning game. The outcome is rapid increase in debts and the escalating threat of bankruptcy.

Capital Escape Overshadows Capital Export

China’s foreign investment underwent rapid growth since 2013. In a celebratory tone, its Ministry of Commerce boasted that the country has become a net capital exporting country and that the investment of Chinese capital around the world marked the ever-increasing importance of China’s position in the global economy. In the meantime international financial institutes were becoming more alert about the worsening problem of capital escaping from China.
Let us first examine the laurel of “net capital exporting country.” Starting in 2012, China was ranked among the top three countries that made capital investments in other countries. In 2013, direct investment from China in foreign countries demonstrated a 22.8 percent increase and hit a record high with US$ 107.84 billion. In 2014, it reached US$ 140 billion, which was US$ 20 billion more than the foreign investment in China. The regime’s Ministry of Commerce proudly proclaimed that China had become a net capital exporting country, with the U.S. being the largest capital receiver. That achievement was reported by the Chinese edition of Wall Street Journal on Jan. 22, 2015. The report, titled “Will Cheap Capital from China Flood the Global Market?”, said that Chinese capital accounted for 26 percent of global investment now and that number was 4 percent in 1995. As a comparison, the share of U.S. capital in the global investment peaked at 35 percent in 1985 and was less than 20 percent at present.
Just when the Ministry of Commerce was celebrating the fact of becoming a “net capital exporting country,” the Chinese regime’s central bank reacted rather differently, with annoyance at the continuous loss of capital. On Feb. 5, 2015, the central bank announced a decrease of the required reserve ratio, which would free monetary fluidity up to 600 billion yuan (or US$ 96.4 billion).
If the Renminbi exchange rate demonstrates irreversible trend of depreciation, an avalanche of permanent exodus of foreign capital will be triggered.
— Yu Fenghui, Chinese economist
Market Watch published an analysis recently alleging that the reduction of the required reserve ratio by the People’s Bank of China has been ineffective in preventing China’s capital from escaping. As the outflow of hot money far exceeded the capital inflow, the report warned that a large-scale capital escape could soon take place in China. Goldman Sachs finance analysts MK Tang and Maggie Wei reported on Jan. 13 that China had accumulated 2-trillion Yuan (US$ 321 billion) discrepancy in its international accounts since 2010. The report alleged that the number could be an indication for the scale of covert capital outflow. On Feb. 3, the regime’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange publicized the figure of China’s Capital and Financial Accounts in the 4th quarter of 2014. The deficit reached US$ 91.2 billion, a quarterly high since 1998. Yu Fenghui, a famous economist and finance commentator in China, said in his article “China Should Cautiously Prevent Financial Crisis Triggered by Large-Scale Capital Escape” that the recent depreciation of the Renminbi would worsen the capital escape in the first quarter of 2015. He wrote, “First of all, if the Renminbi exchange rate demonstrates irreversible trend of depreciation, an avalanche of permanent exodus of foreign capital will be triggered. Once this happens, foreign reserves would be drained and the overall financial crisis would break out. Secondly, the exodus of foreign capital could lead to a bubble burst of China’s economy.” Yu said that his greatest worries are on China’s real estate, stock market, local governments’ debt, and industrial over-capacity.
When a government repeatedly resorts to printing more money to boost its economy, it is to encourage enterprises to enlarge their production input, increase employment and consumption, and ultimately secure prosperity at the expense of inflation. In the past two years, the money that the Chinese regime injected into the market was no less than that in 2009, when it injected 4 trillion yuan (US$ 643 billion). Instead of entering the targeted manufacturing segment, the money actually flowed into the stock and debt circuit, and eventually escaped China. Under such circumstances, it did not help at all no matter how fast China can operate its cash printing machines. Among the three sources of revenue, none lead to prosperity but all lead to the edge of a cliff.

Translated by Quincy Yu and Leo Chen

This translation first appeared in the Epoch Times.
          Will the CPC collapse?        
By He Qinglian on March 13, 2015
Source article in Chinese: 中国未来:在“强大”与“崩溃”之间的“溃而不崩”

Recently, some American China hands have been airing their views through various channels to express their disappointment with and criticism of Xi Jinping. The wordings of these comments were the sharpest since the period immediately after the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989.

The significance of their comments lie not in the novelty of their viewpoints—some Chinese scholars made even more profound observations a long time ago—but in the change of their attitude.

Collectively referred to as the Panda-huggers, this group of China hands have always held the view that the US-China relationships should be shaped through “contact and influence” and induce China to start democratization; they are the main supporters of a US-China strategic alliance.

Disillusionment of the Panda-huggers

What's interesting is that the problems these China hands listed have been around for a long time. Those problems were there when Xi Jinping took office and yet they were brushed aside as some helped to promote the peaceful rise of China. Now, however, as it became clear that unlike his predecessors, Xi Jinping is not governing China as pro-Beijing forces in the US hoped he would and even demonstrates intense rejection and animosity toward Western democratic politics, many China hands feel deeply disappointed.

This round of criticism began to surface in January this year. On January 29, the Wall Street Journal ran an article by Michael Auslin, Resident Scholar and Director of Japanese Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Entitled the Twilight of China's Communist Party, the piece mentioned a remark made at a private gathering of diplomats by one of the most experienced American China watchers that “I can’t give you a date when it will fall, but China’s Communist Party has entered its endgame.”

Then, in mid-February, in his speech delivered at a National Committee on US-China relations symposium marking the 40th anniversary of the normalization of US-China relations, professor Jeremy A. Cohen criticized Xi Jinping as stubborn, inflexible, and expressed deep frustration with the state of human rights in China under Xi Jinping.

Cohen hoped that China would ultimately implement genuine rule of law as he understands it: restrict government powers, reduce torture, arbitary actions and censorship.

Of the various comments made, the piece penned by George Washington University professor David Shambaugh in the Wall Street Journal could be seen as an example. Shambaugh’s article, the Coming Chinese Crackup, listed five factors to support his argument: exodus of capital and emigration of the rich; the strengthening of public opinion control and oppression of political dissent and opposition in minority regions; sense of detachment among the people; pervasive corruption in the government and the military; and the serious problems of the Chinese economy that have no solution in sight.

Four of these five factors appeared a decade ago, and the signs of an economic crisis began to show back in 2009, the only thing new is “the crackdown on adversaries inside the party’, that is to say, professor Shambaugh believes that a struggle among high ranking members of the party may result in the collapse of the Communist Party. Individuals who share Shambaugh’s view include Harvard University professor Roderick MacFarquhar, who also thinks that Xi Jinping’s intense anti-corruption drive would destabilize the regime.

Anti-corruption will not destabilize the regime

The above views make perfect sense if their conclusion is that Xi Jinping would become isolated among senior party officials as a result of his campaign to fight corruption. Xi Jinping’s high profile campaign to curb graft-taking upsets the pattern of interest transfer that existed during the Hu Jintao era; and the launch of operation fox hunt around the globe cut off the escape route of corrupt officials, keeping them inside China and sealing their fate with that of the Communist Party.

Under such immense pressure, officials under Xi Jinping are no doubt having a hard time and they miss the leniency of Hu Jintao and the good old days when they could live lavish life and get handsome “additional income” .

But while officials are worried about the campaign to stem out corruption, they do not wish the Communist Party to collapse. Fully aware that the Chinese general public hate the rich and top government officials, they know that the odds of their being punished within the Party for corruption would be no greater than five percent; and yet in the event of the collapse of the CPC, the odds of their being subjected to public retribution would be 100 percent.

Hence, officials are only eager to see the end of the anti-corruption campaign so that they do not have to constantly look over their shoulders.

Although officials, being predominantly on the contact list of those China watchers alongside intellectual elites, would convey to the latter their grievance about the anti-corruption campaign; the Panda-huggers became disappointed with Xi Jinping for a different reason: Xi Jinping’s vocal rejection of Western democratic institution. Since Xi Jinping came to power, he showed no hesitation in suppressing speech, controlling the internet and putting members of moderate political opposition under arrest; He even formally announced recently a plan to step up regulation of the 6000 plus foreign NGOs in China.

Through measures like these, Xi Jinping is showing the world with increasing clarity the kind of country he seeks to turn China into: one that implements authoritarian rule, with a market economy controlled by the government, and conducts economic exchanges with other countries only.

Harvard University professor Joseph Nye recently commented that Xi Jinping does not understand what “soft power” means. Viewed from a Western perspective, Nye’s comment was perfectly correct, yet what the professor failed to grasp is that Xi Jinping has no intention to adopt the Western standard of “soft power” at all. He has his own thinking on that matter.

“State of steady deterioration without outright collapse”

Back in 2004, I pointed out that the existence of any given society rests upon four pillars: the ecological environment that serves as its foundation of survival; the moral code that regulates the conducts of its members; the survival bottom line of its members as measured by employment, or the means to live; and the smooth running of society as ensured by law and institutions. With the fourth pillar being the only one that could change and adjust in a short period, the rest would not be transformed as easily, not even decades after a change of regimes.

All these years, the Communist Party rejects political reform, overdrafts China's resources and future; and the people are atomized and lack the ability to fight against the Party. Because of these, things in China would steadily deteriorate, yet the Communist Party would remain and not collapse for a long time to come. The Communist Party during the Mao era relied on ideology and planned economy to completely control the people. After Deng Xiaoping's reform, the Party's rule came to be based on interests and ties.

Therefore, the authority the Communist Party has over society now depends on the extend of control the government has over national resources and its ability to get revenue but not on values such as the “four cardinal principles”. An interest structure like this alters the cost of change—the price of bringing about the destruction of the regime would be much greater than to make it reform. Such an understanding is shared among elites in politics, economy, intelligentsia and the middle class; however, people of these social strata do not agree on how the regime should reform.

Members of political interest groups at different levels are undoubtedly tied with the Communist Party for better or worse; as for elites in the business sector, while these people may be staunch supporters of the CPC, they are ready to jump ship and settle elsewhere (as indicated by the expansion in Chinese investment overseas, which reached 14 billion dollars in 2014); and as for intellectuals, the majority of this social stratum lacks both the wealth to emigrate and the means to protect themselves in the event of a change of regimes, and thus would basically support the current regime, yet these people would become targets of the regime as they would ask the CPC to allow certain degree of freedom of speech and of publication and to govern in a more enlightened manner.

"The Twilight of China’s Communist Party" noted a US China specialist as implying that the hope for change in China rests in the general public. Such a view is only partially accurate. It is true, of course, that some in the Chinese populace do have certain understanding of democracy and are willing to strive for democratization. Yet the number of this group of people would be no more than 200,000 (as estimated in a survey on those who care about politics a few years ago), and it is hard to ascertain how big a role these people could play, and how long it would take them to realize the goal democratization.

The ruthless reality is that the heart and mind of a greater number of the general public are with the CPC, which many count on for their livelihood, including for example, border region inhabitants in dire poverty and live on the subsidy from the (central) government as well as 150 million environmental refugees who rely on the government for their daily necessities.

Similarly, many of those jobless college graduates, whose number increases year after year, depend on the jobs offered by the government and make a living by guiding public opinion on the internet.

In addition, people aged above 60, which number takes up 15% of the Chinese population, are most worried that their pension would be gone if the CPC is no more.

For these groups of people, democracy is a dream, and their livelihood is very real.

In his piece “Sorry, America: China Is NOT Going to Collapse” to counter Shambaugh’s arguments, Chen Dingding (assistant professor of Government and Public Administration at the University of Macau) wrote a well-made observation that “even among the most liberal Chinese, the desire for liberty and democracy quickly weakens as long as the Chinese government does a good job of tackling corruption, environmental pollution, and inequality. Democracy is seen as a means, rather than as an end.”

To put more bluntly, so long as Xi JInping manages to keep the people fed, the general public would continue to support the regime and reject those who strive for freedom and democracy.

Like I pointed out before, for a regime to collapse, it would require a combination of four factors: a domestic governing crisis (a coup, or a financial crisis), a complete breakdown of relations between the government and the people, continual violent resistant movements, and foreign invasion.

For now, foreign enemy is but a fictional idea; the chance of a coup is slim; a financial crisis exists only at local government levels and is manageable; and small-scale resistant movements, despite their frequent occurrence, are not enough to shake the CPC regime.

These factors make it impossible for the CPC to become powerful, yet until they all reach the tipping point, the state of steady deterioration without outright collapse would drag on under the authoritarian rule of the CPC.
          My take on China’s "Marshall Plan"        
An abridged and combined translation of the two-part series by He Qinglian published in VoA on Nov 15 and 18 respectively. -- translator note.

Overcapacity: “nuclear threat’ of the Chinese economy

The majority of industries in China faces severe overcapacity that seriously threatens the smooth function of the Chinese economy.
Despite China’s high hope for it, “the Road Map for the Asian Investment Bank” remained only a plan in the APEC summit in 2014. In addition, the Mexican government decided to cancel a Chinese company’s $3.7 billion bid for a hi-speed railway project. China’s "Marshall Plan", which aims chiefly to “export the country’s overcapacity”, is off to a bad start; Beijing would still need to find ways to deal with the “nuclear threat” of the Chinese economy.

Why would China want to implement a Marshall Plan?

Most of the comments made inside China regarding the country’s "Marshall Plan" focus on the investment to be made overseas. While some might point out “export of capacity” is an intent, they deliberately omit the key modifier for the word capacity: over.

China seeks to establish an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and, with that bank as the core, materialize its planning of “one belt and one road”—“the Silk Road Economic Belt” and “the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st century”. Through this “one belt and one road”, China can export capacity it doesn’t need. Commentators dubbed this as China’s Marshall Plan.

What I want to discuss here is the reason why China needs to implement its "Marshall Plan": The majority of industries in China faces severe overcapacity that seriously threatens the smooth function of the Chinese economy.

Why is overcapacity deemed as “nuclear threat” to the Chinese economy?

Overcapacity means the sum of productivity is greater than the sum of consumption demand. Unlike the US Marshall Plan that exported predominantly manufacturing apparatuses, the Chinese version seeks to export its infrastructure (such as railways and motorways) and the up- and downstream industries of the real property, where overcapacity is most noticeable.

China’s overcapacity came almost hand-in-hand with the country’s economic growth and its roots can be summarized as follows: investment made in the socialist manner and demand came following the capitalist fashion.

By “investment made in the socialist manner” I mean borrowers—state-owned-enterprises bosses (exempt from shouldering responsibility as unwritten rules dictate) and private companies owners (they would flee if they become bankrupt) alike—do not have to shoulder real risks as investment funds came mainly from the government or commercial banks and the investment risks are transferred to banks as bad debts.

By “demand came following the capitalist fashion” I mean that there has to be market demand for capacity. If effective demand is insufficient, excess, or in the case of the Chinese economy, over capacity would result.

Based on the aforementioned summary, we could see that China’s overcapacity has the following two characteristics:

First, overcapacity is the inevitable product of government interference with the economy.

Chinese economic growth is often linked to government stimulus policies. Whenever the central government launches stimulus policies, local authorities would without a doubt initiate as they please projects that are very similar in nature and result in severe overcapacity. Although the central government seeks to arrest excessive growth in some industries through macroeconomic regulation and control, their efforts have often been futile, with new overcapacity emerging while the existing ones have not yet been cleared.

In 2009, the NPC Financial and Economic Committee revealed in a survey and research report that starting from 2005, varying levels of overcapacity could be seen in 19 industries. At that time, the State Council Standing Committee set about a special plan to tackle the issue; however, with the local authorities seeing GDP growth as their achievement, overcapacity could not be controlled. By 2013, overcapacity became, as the respective industries acknowledged, a widely seen phenomenon that appeared in aluminum production, steel manufacturing, photovoltaics, wind power, ship building and the like.

Second, the macroeconomic regulation and control policy of the central government results, more often than not, in overcapacity becoming even more serious. Take for example the steel industry in China, despite going through several attempts to suppress its overcapacity in the last decade or so, the industry managed to circumvent those measures in one place or another somehow.

For instance, government policy stipulated that furnaces smaller than 200 cubic meters would be phased out. The intention of the policy was to eliminate smaller mills. However, many of those mills replaced their furnaces with ones sized 300, 500 cubic meters or even bigger. The phased out standard was raised to 300 cubic meters later on, and the mills made changes accordingly. This resulted in the actual capacity of China’s steel manufacture growing larger and larger.

Right now, the steel manufacturing industry has been in a state of overcapacity for several years and yet enterprises are still very eager to increase their capacity. In 2013, the overcapacity of the steel industry in China was 300 million tons, roughly two times the EU capacity. And in 2014, according to China United Steel Net (CUSteel), 24 new furnaces were put into operation; their combined annual capacity was 35 million tons. Although this was half of the 70 million tons increase in capacity in 2013, it’s still adding to the overcapacity issue when the demand is not strong.

According to a document from the National Development and Reform Commission, overcapacity could also be seen in a wide range of other industries and analysts were quoted as saying that there are but a handful of industries that do not have the overcapacity issue. Thus, overcapacity became the “nuclear threat” of the Chinese economy.

Why is it so difficult to bring overcapacity under control? The reasons, apart from the systemic issues of investment mentioned above, are that local authorities have two things to consider. First, phasing out excess capacity would result in huge layoffs, which would destabilize society and contradict the government objective of stability maintenance. And the second thing is debt risk. At present, the debt ratio of member companies of CUSteel is as high as 70%, with the total amount of loans reaching 1.3 trillion dollars. If the debt of non-CUSteel-member companies is also included, the sum of debt of the entire steel industry may exceed 2 trillion dollars. Phasing out companies would leave behind a massive credit black hole.

Obstacles abroad: oppositions to AIIB

Judging from China’s own situation, export of excess capacity might be a solution. So, during a 2013 visit to Indonesia, Xi Jinping offered to “finance infrastructure projects in developing countries in Asia, including ASEAN members” and proposed to set up an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
After representatives from 21 countries including China, India, Kazakhstan and Vietnam signed their signatures on the AIIB memorandum on October 24, the financial institution is expected to complete its charter signing procedures and works to make it become effective in 2015 and come into operation before the end of 2015.

The obstacles AIIB faces include a lack of interest from major economies in the Asia-Pacific region. Representative from four key economies in the region—Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Australia—did not attend the AIIB memorandum signing ceremony. In addition, both the US and Japan oppose it. There were reports that the US asked its allies to take careful considerations before they decide to join the AIIB. Nakao Takehiro, president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), stated simply that he does not welcome the creation of another regional bank spearheaded by China with objectives similar to the ADB.
Without the China-led AIIB to handle the lending business, it would not be easy for China to implement its plan to export the country’s excess capacity.

Obstacles abroad: investment risks outweigh opportunities

The idea of “one belt and one road” fascinated China, with plenty of articles on its bright prospects. These articles, I have to say, are written by starry-eyed persons who took into account only where to invest, i.e., where they could export excess capacity and did not think about the ways to have their return of investment guaranteed.

China’s so-called “market economy”, interfered with by the administration, concentrated only on how to get approvals from superiors, how to banks to lend the money and spend it; never once was ROI taken into consideration and unfinished projects and debts were deemed simply as “prices for mistakes”.

Take a look at the countries and regions covered by this “one belt and one road”, we could see that ASEAN, Southern Asia, West Asia, North Africa and Europe are all included.

Sure enough, countries like Korea, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium and Russia are not in the initial stage of industrialization and they have in place well-developed infrastructure and so they don’t need to take in massive excess capacity from China.

As for India, it’s a populous country that doesn’t lag far behind China in terms of manufacturing and I.T. industries and has plenty of workers if it really needs to build infrastructure.

Hence, countries that might actually need China’s help would only be Indonesia, Malaysia and Central Asian countries like Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Obstacles abroad: troubles and losses

The difference between overseas investment in “one belt and one road” and that China made in the past is that: in the past, China's overseas investment was strategic investment made to resolve its energy and mineral needs; this time, it is to release China's massive overcapacity and it came up with the premise that other countries need infrastructure and yet they lack the fund.

But all investment, whatever the purposes maybe, needs returns. The gains and losses incurred in overseas investment made in the past can provide meaningful insights into how China has been doing.

The Heritage Foundation set up a database called China's Global Reach to keep trace of overseas investment projects of Chinese enterprises that worth 100 million dollars or more. The data showed that China invested in industries like energy, mining, transportation and banking.

Between 2005 and 2012, Chinese enterprises made investment in 492 projects that worth at least 100 million dollars and committed a total of 505.15 billion dollars, around 90% of this money came from State-owned enterprises. And according to the list of “troublesome projects” in the database, 88 projects of the same period were either rejected by supervision agencies in later stages or partly or completely failed, a total of 198.81 billion dollars were involved.
Things are much much worse if according to China's own calculation. Wang Wenli, vice-president of China Economic and Trade Promotion Association, said in August this year that there over 20,000 Chinese companies have investment overseas, more than 90% of those suffered losses because of [faulty] asset valuation, labor disputes, anti-monopoly and national security issues, tax, public relations and so on. What Wang did not include was embezzlement committed by overseas investment management of state-owned enterprises.

These factors of losses would not go away because the investment objective of “one belt and one road” changed to export of excess capacity.

Beneficiaries of China's overseas investment

The massive investment China made in the last decade or so is a phenomenon unlike anything the international community has ever seen. Such a phenomenon could not possibly emerge in capitalist countries, where all investment all from private money; no multinationals would keep making investment with a loss rate as high as 70-90% over a long period; it didn't emerge in any other socialist countries either: before the 1990s, socialist countries only traded among themselves; today, of the remaining socialist countries, China is the only one to have amassed a wealth so massive that it can make large-scale and ineffective overseas investment using its state power.

As a result, China as a socialist authoritarian country became economically intertwined with democratic countries around the world, and adversaries were turned into partners.

But for all the political gains, China's investment overseas has so far incurred only economic losses. And despite this, China is still making investment abroad. According to China's Ministry of Commerce, the country committed 81.9 billion dollars in direct investment overseas. It's hard to see this as normal investment behavior.

A news report in a Guangzhou newspaper on September 2 would perhaps hold the key to the question why China is so persistent in making investment overseas despite the staggering losses: many mid-level officials of the PetroChina and Sinopec cliques sought opportunity to emigrate to Canada, the US, the UAE and elsewhere before they are struck by the anti-corruption drive. It's estimated that 20 to 40 billion dollars would thus be moved out of China.

          Beijing’s Interest in Offshore Tax Evasion Limited to Corrupt Officials        
Source article in Chinese: 国际追税与追逃,北京态度如冰炭

Fifty-one countries signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement in Berlin on Oct. 29 to fight offshore tax fraud and evasion. The agreement aims to put an end to banking secrecy by sharing tax-related information with member states.
Missing from the signatory list are the United States and China. China’s absence seems somewhat strange given its global “fox hunt” for corrupt officials who have fled the country.

Hunting Foxes vs. Beating Tigers

The United States has good reasons to stay out. With the enactment of its 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act or FATCA, the United States has been pioneering the fight against tax evasion.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has played a leading role in the development and negotiation of the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria commented that the United States has provided strong support in the process.
China, on the other hand, has made no comment on the Agreement and has not been mentioned by the OECD. Beijing’s indifference to the international anti-tax evasion campaign forms a sharp contrast to its highly propagandized effort to hunt down runaway officials.
Tax evasion is a serious federal felony in the United States. For Chinese, however, hunting corrupt officials and recovering taxes are two very different things from an ethical perspective. The former targets corrupt officials who fled the country with illegally obtained assets, while the latter involves all wealthy Chinese who have transferred their wealth abroad.
Besides members of the red magnates, these wealthy people also include private business owners who have transferred money abroad. Therefore, the capital affected by tax recovery efforts is not 100 percent illegal income.
However, the amount of money involved in corrupt official hunting and tax recovery is very different.
Since the 1990s, 16,000 to 18,000 Communist Party cadres and government officials have fled China, taking with them 800 billion yuan (about US $130 billion at today’s exchange rate), according to Party mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency.
In a report published on Jan. 21, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed that nearly 22,000 offshore clients with addresses in mainland China and Hong Kong hold companies in tax havens. (See “Leaked Records Reveal Offshore Holdings of China’s Elite“)
Among them are relatives of the “red nobility,” the wealthy, and Chinese congress members, according to the report.
“By some estimates, between $1 trillion and $4 trillion in untraced assets have left the country since 2000,” the report stated.
Compared to the 800 billion yuan that corrupt Chinese officials took abroad, the $1-4 trillion is a much larger amount. Furthermore, quite a large portion of the $1-4 trillion was obtained illegally.
Beijing is reluctant to cast the net to “catch the tigers” while enthusiastically “hunting foxes” globally, because the two campaigns target different groups.

“Fox Hunt” Targets Eloped Corrupt Officials

The “fox hunt” is a campaign to hunt down officials and senior management of state-owned enterprises who have fled the country with embezzled or illegally obtained money.
China launched the campaign globally in July with much publicity. In a series of eight articles called “China’s Fight Against Runaway Corrupt Officials,” Party mouthpiece provided a comprehensive account of the global manhunt.
The latest news is that China agrees to follow the international practice of sharing the illicit assets with countries that help capture the fugitives and recover the money. In the meantime, although China has not yet signed extradition treaties with the United States, Canada, or Australia, these three countries have been collaborating with China in various ways to hunt down economic fugitives.
The majority of the runaway officials used to work in lucrative departments such as finance, state-owned monopoly enterprises, transportation, land management, construction, taxation, trade, and investment.
In the past, the number of captured fugitives was never disclosed. Now, however, China has provided official statistics for the first time: 6,694 defecting economic crime suspects were brought back to the country from 2008 to 2013 through extradition, repatriation, persuasion, and prosecution abroad.
The United States, Canada, and Australia are the defecting officials’ top choices since these traditional immigration targets provide good living conditions and high-quality education. It is said that “corrupt official neighborhoods” and “corrupt official offspring villages” can be found in these countries.
So how high-ranking are these officials? A list of defecting corrupt officials in the seventh article of the series shows that the highest-ranking officials are Lu Wanli, former Director of Guizhou Province Transportation Department, and Yang Xiuzhu, former Vice Director of Zhejiang Province Construction Department.
In recent years the Chinese government is said to have made a great effort to hunt down corrupt officials who have fled abroad. It has signed 107 judicial assistance agreements with 63 countries, including those under negotiation, and followed the international practice of sharing the recovered assets with the assisting countries (40 to 80 percent of the assets will be shared depending on the contribution of the country).
Beijing swore to “bring the corrupt officials to justice even if they fled to the corners of the earth.”

Tax Recovery a Gold Mine

Although tax recovery is a gold mine, Beijing won’t dig into it for reasons that can’t be mentioned.
The reason tax recovery is so tricky for Beijing is that many of those who transfer assets abroad on a large scale are relatives and descendants of the red nobility.
I’d like to first explain the difference between the red nobility and senior officials. In pre-communist eras, “nobility” referred to relatives of the royal family and those who were granted nobility due to great achievements or contributions.
There is an old saying: “Official titles are to appoint the capable, and nobility titles are to reward contributions.” Official titles cannot be passed down to the officials’ children, while nobility titles can be inherited.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) stated they would “smash the old world,” so they could not adopt the old “feudal system” they said they would crack down on. However, the CCP never attempted to restrain the privileges of the red nobility who “won the world” for Mao.
Such privileges not only allow their children to easily become senior officials or officers, but also allow them to do business and take advantage of their parents’ political power.
Some red princelings argue that most of the second-generation red officials lead an ordinary life without any privileges. This is true, but there are reasons behind it.
The first reason is that there are differentiations among the “second red generation.” It is an unspoken rule that only the original generals in Mao’s era or the department heads in the 1950s or earlier qualify as “red nobility” who enjoy privileges above the law. Most of the second red generation do not belong to this group, so their privileges are limited.
The second reason is that not all red princelings have the ability to do business.
It has been proven by sources inside and outside China that a large portion of the wealthy class in China are from red nobility families. In a series of articles published in 2010, People’s Forum, a magazine published by the People’s Daily, publicly admitted for the first time that the majority of China’s nouveau riche are the “red families.”
The articles also pointed out that the red families have a high starting point and easy access to social resources due to their political and capital advantages. Most red families do business in industries that require government approval, such as trade, infrastructure, and energy. Real estate is another favorite business of this group.
The red family members, not being very rich, worry about the security of the mammoth assets in China, so they transfer their money overseas through various channels. According to the ICIJ report, over 100 researchers searched the list of 37,000 Chinese offshore company holders looking for “public figures”: Politburo members, military commanders, mayors of large cities, billionaires listed in Forbes and Hurun’s rankings of the mega-wealthy, and so-called princelings (relatives of the current leadership or former Communist Party elders).
The team identified family members of at least five current and former members of the Politburo (China’s top leadership group consisting of 7 to 9 members) who hold offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and the Cook Islands. Among them are Deng Xiaoping’s son-in-law Wu Jianchang, a former prime minister’s daughter Li Xiaolin, Wen Jiabao’s son Wen Yunson and son-in-law Liu Chunhang, Xi Jinping’s brother-in-law Deng Jiagui, and Hu Jintao’s nephew Hu Yishi, to name a few.
The report exposed the CCP interest group’s true nature as thieves, and it greatly undermined the CCP’s legitimacy. Therefore, the CCP continues to ignore this report.
Of the 800 billion yuan that corrupt officials took abroad, over 10 billion was recovered over the past 15 years. However, even if the rest is fully recovered, the amount is not comparable to the tax on the $1-4 trillion in assets transferred abroad.
Even an elementary school student can tell which is more important. Yet the Chinese government has no interest in the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement, but focuses only on hunting down the corrupt officials abroad.
Such an obvious problem is entirely due to the different target groups of the corrupt official hunt and tax recovery. In other words, it is a case of “identity discrimination,” as I pointed out earlier when commenting on Beijing’s anti-corruption campaigns.

This translation first appeared in the Epoch Times
          A Scandal Update: When Don Meets Vlad, The Russians Will Hold All The Cards        
When Donald Trump meets Vladimir Putin on Friday for the first time since the Russian president's brilliantly successful plot to hand the 2016 presidential election to him, only one of them will have an agenda, and it sure isn't the ignoramus who has been occupying the Oval Office for the last five months.   
While White House officials acknowledge that Trump has no agenda and, as is typical, hasn't bothered to prepare, Putin will be able to use the neophyte Trump as an intelligence asset to (again) be played like a cheap violin when they meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany.
Trump is said to want a sit-down meeting and not merely the usual hallway tête-à-tête, which concerns his aides because of the president's weakness for authoritarian leaders like President Xi Jinping of China and King Salman of Saudia Arabia, who are mere amateurs compared to the masterful Putin.
The Trump-Putin meeting comes at a pivotal time in the growing Russian scandal.   
As the first concrete evidence of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian hackers emerges, you would expect Trump to put as much distance between himself and the wily Putin as possible, if not call Russia out on its interference in the election, but Trump is nothing if not reliably irrational, and seems increasingly incapable of communicating outside the framework of 140 exclamation point-laced characters. 
Unfortunately for Trump -- but fortunately for you and I -- realpolitik has conspired to drive a wedge into Trump's oft-stated desire for warmer relations between Washington and Moscow. 
Beyond the several scandal investigations, the Senate has informed Trump that any effort to ease Obama-era economic sanctions will be blocked, while any concessions to Putin (or "deliverables" in diplomat-speak) will incite fresh waves of scrutiny back home.  This include's Moscow's oft-stated demand that the U.S. return two Russian spy compounds in Maryland and on Long Island that Obama ordered vacated late last year when the full scope of Putin's election interference had become known.  Trump has weighed acquiescing in discussions with his aides.  
In Warsaw on Thursday, Trump finally -- if barely -- moved away from his contention that the Russia scandal is a "witch hunt" to opine that Russia may have sort of interfered.  But he quickly added, "I won't be specific, but I think a lot of people interfere" before bashing the U.S. intelligence community, claiming Obama deliberately didn't address Russian hacking for political reasons and then moved on to yet another ad hominem attack on CNN and the news media.  He did chide Russia for its destabilizing activities in the Ukraine and support for hostile regimes.  
Trump has no options that won't create further political problems, even including his usual bromantic platitudes about the thuggish Putin.   
Says Nicholas Burns, U.S. ambassador to NATO under George W. Bush:
The president is boxed in.  Why would you give Putin any kind of concession at the first meeting? What has he done to deserve that?   If you try to curry favor, offer concessions, pulls back on the pressure, he'll take advantage.  He'll see weakness in a vacuum. 
The state of U.S.-Russian relations is at an extraordinary turn.   Never in the 70-plus years since the end of World War II has an American president or vice president met with a Soviet or Russian leader in such a weakened state.   
Recall Nixon standing down Krushchev in Moscow in the so-called 1959 Kitchen Debate, JFK speaking his mind with Krushchev in Vienna in 1961, the LBJ-Kosygin rapprochement in Glassboro in 1967, Nixon and Kosygin signing the first SALT Treaty in Moscow in 1972, Ford and Brezhnev agreeing to the Helsinki Accords in Finland in 1975, and Reagan facing down Gorbachev during a series of meetings in the 1980s. 
As Fred Kaplan notes at Slate, many of the more than a dozen treaties negotiated and signed over the Cold War years that capped or reduced nuclear weapons were token stand-ins for diplomacy because it was politically impossible to talk about deeper fissures, but they also were opportunities to step back from the brink.   
Yet despite its annexation of Crimea, support of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, indifference to North Korea's bellicosity and U.S. election interference, Russia is in its strongest position since the end of the Cold War while the U.S. is at its weakest because of an apprentice president who can't even get his stories straight about the man he owes his job to, let alone form a coherent sentence or formulate a policy.   
Will Trump blink when he and Putin lock eyes for the first time?  Next question, please.

Click HERE for a timeline of the Russia scandal.

          As Slowdown Continues in China, Fiscal Squeeze Anticipated to Challenge Xi’s Growth Targets         
According to a sizeable minority of economists in China who flag the restraints of traditional policy tools, the pared-back minimum growth rate of the country, still may be too high. Monetary easing strategies adopted by the policymakers have already led to six interest-cuts in the country since the last year. These strategies although have done little to spur an economy at risk of exhibiting a lesser growth target than 7 percent aimed for 2015. The slowdown also made fiscal stimulus even more difficult, through embracing income and tax revenue from land sales carried out by local authorities.  The prevailing dynamics of the China economy definitely have made President Xi Jinping’s goal of attaining a GDP gain of at least 6.4 per cent every year for the next five years more questionable than ever. More than third of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News projects China to miss growth target set by Xi for the coming year. For 2017, the median estimate is set at 6.3 per cent.  Since consumer spending and services are not yet strong enough to tip the balance, pressure is mounting on the Central Government to adopt deeper fiscal deficits, leaving the risk of accentuating nation’s depth to persist. As of now the officers are keener on expanding the bond swap by local government that is likely to give the regional authorities a much needed break from financing costs for previous projects.  Speaking about the prevalent conditions in China, Victor Shih, author of the book called “Factions and Finance in China: Elite Conflict and Inflation” said that growth fiscal income in the country has been sluggish yet this does not deter government from rolling out several expenditure initiatives. He further added that deficits in the ongoing year will be higher than it was earlier anticipated. Sustained growth during deficits is likely to erode confidence of investors, Victor Shih added.

Original Post As Slowdown Continues in China, Fiscal Squeeze Anticipated to Challenge Xi’s Growth Targets source Twease
          Chinese Construction Firm to Complete Remaining Construction Project of Cross-Kenya Railway Link        
A Chinese construction company has planned to complete the contract to build the cross-Kenya railway link. The cross-Kenya railway link is expected to improve the transport connections in East Africa. A leading Chinese construction company was recently awarded the bid to undertake the project and complete the remaining construction project. Under the agreement that was signed with the government of Kenya, China Communications Construction Co. will be responsible to build two sections of the railway line Mombasa-Malaba Standard Gauge.  Earlier in September 2015, the company won $1.48 bn contract to extend the railway line between Mombasa and Nairobi by 120 kilometers to Naivasha, which is a stop between Malaba and the capital, Nairobi. Earlier this month, China Communications Construction Co. signed a framework agreement to build the remaining section of railway link between Naivasha and Malaba. The railway that links Mombasa and Nairobi is valued at $3.8 bn and is now being constructed by China Road and Bridge Corp. a subsidiary firm of China Communications Construction Co. The railway link between Mombasa and Nairobi is expected to be operative from 2017.  As per the report from China Daily, the railway construction of the 960-kilometer link between Malaba and Mombasa is predicted to boost the economic growth, industrialization, regional integration, and overall construction industry of China and Kenya. As per the report, the Chinese construction company secured the railway contract after President Xi Jinping promised assistance and loans of worth $60 bn for Africa to help the region address their major problems such as funding, talent, and infrastructure.  Chairman of China Communications Construction Co., Liu Qitao, stated that the company had secured the construction of worth $5 bn along with loans for the railway construction project that includes hydropower and railway stations. The company is planning to seek more funds worth $5 bn for the construction project, stated Liu Qitao.

Original Post Chinese Construction Firm to Complete Remaining Construction Project of Cross-Kenya Railway Link source Twease
          China to Extend Help to Ebola-hit Guinea Whet Healthcare Capacity        
Xi Jinping, the Chinese President recently met his Guinean counterpart, Alpha Conde, and promised to extend help to the West African country, which was once beset with Ebola outbreak, and to strengthen its public health systems. In this regard, Beijing is delighted to see that Guinea has beaten the Ebola menace, the Chinese President stated, and that when the crisis hit last year, China, out of brotherly bond with Guinea stepped ahead to provide assistance. The Chinese President further added that China will continue to send healthcare teams to Guinea and extend support Conakry, Guinea’s capital city, to develop robust public health and epidemic prevention networks and to promote its capacity building in the important public-welfare area. With the note that Guinea is the first country in the sub-Sahara to develop diplomatic ties with China and that the two countries boast to have a profound traditional friendship, stated the Chinese President, that his country has great attachment for its relations with Guinea. China is ready anytime to work with Guinea and to translate their time-tested friendship into encouraging impetus for the purpose of bilateral cooperation and common development. The Chines President further suggested that the two countries need to cement political mutual trust and boost friendly exchanges wherever possible and deepen the win-win cooperation, with the endeavor to bring to more benefits to the populace. China is moving to encourage its enterprises for participation in Guinea’s industrial, construction and to invest in the agricultural production and processing sectors in the country, further added the Chinese President. The Guinean President, on his part, also reiterated the long-standing relationship between the two countries and expressed his gratitude for the long-running support that china has extended for his country, especially the timely and valuable assistance that China offered at the time of Ebola outbreak in Guinea.

Original Post China to Extend Help to Ebola-hit Guinea Whet Healthcare Capacity source Twease
          Leaders Discuss a Plan for Energy Conservation at Paris        
Out of the 150 leaders and heads gathered at Paris to discuss the serious problem of climate change leading to global warming Prime Minister US President Barack Obama, Narendra Modi, and Chinese premier Xi Jinping are also pushing for a more realistic and a challenging deal. At the same congregation about 175 nations have put forth pledges or INDCs to bring down carbon emissions. If these are to go through, the rise in the degree of global warming will limited to just about 2.7 degree Celsius by the end of this century. However, this rise in the temperature is higher as compared to UN’s ambition to limiting it to just 2 degree Celsius.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged citizens of India to save conserve energy due as a serious step to control the climate change. He communicated his message through a radio program “Mann Ki Baat” before leaving for Paris. He stated that global warming, climate change, and rising temperature are everyone’s problems and thus the responsibility lies with everyone. The meet that aims to create an action plan for 2030 has brought together 200 countries. These countries will try to finalize on a deal that will have a futuristic outlook that will put the world on a low-carbon emission plan.  Ajay Mathur, climate negotiator and director general of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency for India stated that the Paris climate agreement will not be limited to 2030, but will be a document that will be open to change in the future. Prakash Javadekar, environment minister for India stated that issues such as India’s need to demand for more carbon space to lift 300 million from poverty and energy deprivation will also be discussed at the meet.

Original Post Leaders Discuss a Plan for Energy Conservation at Paris source Twease
          Demand for Greene King Beer Grows in China after President Xi’s Britain Visit        
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to a local pub in Britain last month has had an impact on more than just trade relations between Beijing and London. The visit has brought British brewery Greene King into the Chinese limelight. President Xi was seen sipping a pint of Greene King beer during his visit to Cadsden pub’s The Plough in Buckinghamshire recently, after which sales of Greene King IPA reportedly grew in China. British businessman based in Beijing Peter Bloxham imports Greene King beers into China. Bloxham said that people have gone berserk after the incident. Within two days of the bar scene, people all across the country have been demanding this beer: bars, agents, hotels, and restaurants.  Orders have been pouring in from east, west, north, and south, Bloxham said, adding that promotion otherwise would have cost a fortune. The warehouse in Beijing has been completely out of stock as far as any Greene King product is concerned.  President Xi’s trip to the bar proved to be extremely beneficial for local bars in his home country. Over the past few weeks, at least one watering hole in Beijing has been using pictures of the Chinese president and British Prime Minister drinking session to attract customers.  A sign outside a local pub translates to “Come here and drink beer. We serve the same Greene King beer that President Xi drank.” The beer boom is not restricted only to the Chinese political capital. Newspapers in as far as Xinjiang have been witnessing a rise in beer consumption. Xinjiang is a desert region that is located over 2,000 miles west of the capital.  According to the owner of a pub in Xinjiang’s capital, earlier the pub sold around 100 liters of beer on a daily basis. After the Chinese president’s Britain visit, sales in the pub have gone up to around 200 to 300 liters per day.

Original Post Demand for Greene King Beer Grows in China after President Xi’s Britain Visit source Twease
          Kings College London Enters an Agreement with China for Opening of 3 British Schools in China        
The King’s College School, one amongst the most renowned British schools, located in Wimbledon in London, United Kingdom has entered into an agreement with Dipont, an education provider that is Shanghai-based, for setting up a trio of fee-paying schools that are British styled, within China. The deal comprises trading agreement of worth £30 billion that were announced amidst the visit of the Chinese President, named Xi Jinping in the last month.  As per Andrew Halls, King’s College School’s head, the fees is around £20,000 per annum and the profit from taking consultancy in China would double the count of bursaries present for the students in London. The first school is expected to get inaugurated in 2018 and is for 3,180 pupils and will be made adjacent to the lake situated at Wuxi Taihu New City, 90 miles towards the northern western side of Shanghai. The new city has emerged in the last 10 years and is situated amongst China ‘swiftly developing areas, which will in no time be home to about 10 mn people. The city government has been paying for the construction and amongst the students, most of them will be Chinese, coming to around 500 international students. The campus has been designed by a UK company and will be a twin of the marvelous Victorian Great Hall located at King’s in Wimbledon, having leaded windows and wood paneling. On the other hand, Mr Halls focused that the entire Wuxi campus will not be an exact twin of Wimbledon site and will only take the best features of the British and Chinese systems of education. Two more schools will be built shortly, one in Hangzhou, the ancient city which is about 10 miles south to Shanghai and the other’s location hasn’t been disclosed as of yet.

Original Post Kings College London Enters an Agreement with China for Opening of 3 British Schools in China source Twease
          Auto Sector in Asia Looks Promising with China and Japan working on Power Generation Technology in Electric Cars        
China and Japan, the two largest automobile powerhouses in Asia, are competing to gain technological knowhow to generate power in electric cars – from batteries to hydrogen-powered fuel-cells. This potential clash will be similar to the Beta-VHS video war between Sony and Panasonic in 1980s. The winner will dominate the electric cars market with their technology being adopted as a global standard by other car manufacturers. The future automobile market is open to both electric battery and hydrogen-fuel cell cars. The important question is which technology will power the mainstream cars manufactured by top car manufacturers such as General Motors, Toyota, and Volkswagen. According to analysts, it is difficult to point out the significance of choice between hydrogen and batteries. China, being a major oil importer, is stressing for electric cars. Owing to increased pollution in the country, the government is offering incentives to electric car buyers and opening its market to technology firms and others to produce such vehicles. This has compelled the global car manufacturers to share their technology. Further, Chinese President Xi Jinping has stated that the country’s auto sector’s growth lies in developing new energy vehicles.  Japan, on the other hand, is putting its money in fuel-cell technology and infrastructure. This initiative is a part of the country’s nation policy to create a ‘hydrogen society’ where hydrogen would be used to power homes and automobiles. Japan and China are not the only contestants in the electric cars market. Hyundai Motor in South Korea and Daimler in Europe are working on developing a hydrogen car. General Motors is partnering with Honda on hydrogen cars while BMW has become fuel cell partner for Toyota. It will be interesting to see how China and Japan face the stiff competition from European car manufacturers and dominate the global electric vehicles market

Original Post Auto Sector in Asia Looks Promising with China and Japan working on Power Generation Technology in Electric Cars source Twease
          China and the U.K. Sign Healthcare Deals of GBP 2bn        
Healthcare deals and colorations that are more than GBP 2 bn have been signed between British and Chinese companies, organizations, and universities in a recent visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Britain. Addressing at the Life Science and Healthcare Business Forum, the minister for Life Science stated that the collaborations are slated to provide a benefit that would go beyond the British and Chines populations. The recently signed deals and collaborations will positively affect the global population. China, which has a population of more than one billion, and is a rapidly developing economy is treading to be positioned as the fastest growing healthcare market in the world. The deals agreed upon GBP 2 bn is a trade package to be used for research, training, construction, drug discovery, hospital construction, and diagnostics, which shows the high potential of Life Science trade between the U.K. and China. The British Life Science Minister stared that both China and Britain are known for producing some of the leading scientists and academicians in the world. The works f these scientists and researchers have been fruitful to save the lives of millions of people across the world that suffer from life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Both in the U.K. and China, cancer is the one killer diseases, and like several other nations both the countries are in hot pursuit to discover an effective treatment. The British minister further stated that this the reason, the collaborations that have been announced between Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center and Warwick University for training and research to jointly work on anti-cancer treatments are very important. He further added that patient in the U.K. will benefit from technological advancements in China through deals such as Cerno and United Imaging that have collaborated to introduce latest oncology imaging technologies to the U.K

Original Post China and the U.K. Sign Healthcare Deals of GBP 2bn source Twease
          U.S. Decides to Undertake Patrols to Test China's Pledge on Disputed Areas Around South China Sea Islands        
The U.S. has decided to challenge China and undertake patrols near the controversial islands China has built, and the construction of which has alarmed nearby countries, in the South China Sea. What was Reef only a year back, has been developed into seven islets by China. The patrols will test president Xi Jinping's pledge that China does not intent on militarizing the artificial islands, a recent announcement that has taken U.S. officials by surprise. The Xi Jinping had taken the pledge during a news conference with the U.S. president Barack Obama at the White House last month, though he had not made it clear about how the pledge would change the way in which China is operational in the area near the disputed island. If through the announcement, the president was wishing to discourage the U.S. from conducting patrols in the area near the artificial islands, it looks like he has not succeeded. After discussions that lasted for many months in the U.S. government, a consensus has now been reached that the U.S. Navy should undertake the work of patrolling with the help of ships or aircrafts that will study the situation within 12 nautical mile s of the island. The patrols seek to challenge China's territorial claims in the area, according to inside people familiar with the discussions. On Sunday, the news was confirmed by a U.S. official that the decision regarding undertaking the patrols but added that it was not clear where exactly they will happen or when. Another U.S. official hinted that the operation could begin within days. What needs to be seen now is how China will respond to the operations by continuing its plans to develop the island or by backing out of the pledge of not militarizing the islands and pointing to the planned patrols as a provocation. The Pacific Fleet is ready for conducting freedom of navigation operations, or Fonops, near the disputed island after being asked for many months to draw up by the U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter throughout the year.

Original Post U.S. Decides to Undertake Patrols to Test China's Pledge on Disputed Areas Around South China Sea Islands source Twease
          Chinese President Xi Jinping to Fund $2 Billion to South-South Cooperation        
Xi Jinping, the Chinese president recently announced that the country will fund $2 billion to support the South-South Cooperation to assist the developing countries to develop education sector. Along with the education sector, China will also support the developing countries develop trade, agriculture, health, environment, and reduce poverty. All this will be in addition to the plan of initiating the ‘Six 100s’, said Xi Jinping. Xi Jinping informed the UN Sustainable Development Summit that China is planning to fund an initial amount of $2 billion in order to support the South-South Cooperation. With this, China is planning to assist the development of the education sector. China will be assisting most of the developing nations to implement their development agenda for 2015.  The South-South Cooperation is nothing but exchange of technology, knowledge, and resources between the developing nations, popularly known as the nations of global South. Xi Jinping lately announced to fund $3 billion to help the developing nations to battle climate change. China is also planning to raise their funds to US$12 billion by 2030 for the least developed nations. Sharing his opinion on post-2015 development plans, Xi called for an open, innovative, and equitable development strategy, by stressing on the point that not even a single country should be left behind.  Every country should enhance their education development capacity by improving the development environment. There should be a partnership between the developed countries and the least developed ones so as to achieve much required balance. There is a need to strengthen the coordination mechanism between the developed and least developed countries. China is planning to introduce 100 poverty reduction events, 100 agriculture cooperation programs, 100 hospitals and medical centers, 100 environmental protection programs, 100 schools, and training centers, in the coming five years. During the same period, Beijing is planning to provide 120,000 opportunities, 150,000 scholarships, and 500,000 professionals for developing various public sectors. 

Original Post Chinese President Xi Jinping to Fund $2 Billion to South-South Cooperation source Twease
          Chinese President Projects Positive Picture of Economy while Manufacturing Sector Hits 6 ½ Year Low        
President Xi Jinping has backed the Chinese government’s recent decisions related to economic policy. He stressed that the government’s timely intervention avoided panic among the investors in the stock market and added further that there were no plans to involve in a currency war or lower the exchange rate to propel exports from China. In Seattle, he pledged to work with the U.S. government in curbing cyber-crime and dismissed talks about his anti-corruption campaign as part of the ruling Communist Party’s power struggle.  Speaking to a gathering of business executives on the first day of his current tour in the U.S., Mr. Xi stated that the Chinese economy has become stable and the economic growth rate of 7% is well within proper range. He further added that the economy will remain steady with fairly rapid growth. However, contrary to his comments, the Caixin Flash Manufacturing PMI reflected that the manufacturing activity hit the lowest mark in past six and half years, even though the government has taken efforts to ease credit. Though National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planning agency in China is confident that the target growth rate of 7% would be met, experts and analysts are concerned about the economic outlook of the country. NDRC has pointed out that even though the traditional manufacturing sector has slowed down, high technology sectors are performing well. The planning agency is expecting that the economy will be boosted in the second half of the year owing to tax cuts, lower interest rates, and government spending. In his first state visit to the U.S. as a president, Mr Xi wants to project the positive image of Chinese economy in the coming days while meeting with executives from top companies such as General Motors, Apple Inc., and Berkshire Hathaway.

Original Post Chinese President Projects Positive Picture of Economy while Manufacturing Sector Hits 6 ½ Year Low source Twease
          Azjatyckie akcje osłabiają się; Dolar, Dolar Australijski również w dół        

Akcje azjatyckie osłabiają się przed bardzo wyczekiwanym spotkaniem Donalda Trumpa z chińskim prezydentem Xi Jinping. Dolar osłabił się gdyż inwestorzy przerzucili środki na aktywa „safe haven”, dolar australijski stracił na wartości po tym jak Bank Centralny nie zmienił stóp procentowych. Jen umacnia się do dolara trzeci dzień z rzędu. Akcje w Tokyo osłabiają się po […]

The post Azjatyckie akcje osłabiają się; Dolar, Dolar Australijski również w dół appeared first on Vipro Markets - Forex Broker.

          China Discloses Information about Misuse of 16.9 billion Yuan in Lottery Funds        
China has uncovered boundless misappropriation of 16.9 billion Yuan of stores from its state lottery project, underscoring the degree of authority debasement as the nation tries to find join. Stores were abused through the purchasing and building of office structures and inns or stole, the National Audit Office said in a report on its site.  The state reviewer said the anomalies represented a quarter of the aggregate of lottery trusts got in its 2012-2014 examination that spread over 18 areas. It said 17 areas had spurned the law in captivating in lottery deals through the Internet without approbation from the Ministry of Finance.  In another case, 32 lottery shops had utilized 3.1 billion Yuan to develop office structures, preparing focuses and lodgings, the report said. Impelled by increasing disposable income and rise in the interest for betting and more modern recreations, China's lottery business sector has blasted with customers spending billions of dollars. China is required to overwhelm the United States as the world's greatest lottery advertise this year.  The legislature has so far contained clubhouse betting to Macau, partially on account of social concerns. Specialists say authorities consider the lottery framework more purified, with less negative impacts on residents. The survey comes as President Xi Jinping's administration has pursued a battle against debasement, cautioning that the issue is so awful it could influence the Communist Party's hold on force.  Lottery items are commonly sold through approved stations all through the nation as physical tickets. These extent from devoted lottery stores to counters in markets, post workplaces and service stations.

Original Post China Discloses Information about Misuse of 16.9 billion Yuan in Lottery Funds source Twease
          HP becomes H3C in China        
Due to its Chinese unit’s disappointing performance, Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) has sold 51% stake in the unit worth US$4.5 billion to the technical arm of Beijing’s Tsinghua University. With the Chinese government’s focus on developing homegrown technology, HP is positive that the state-owned Chinese firm’s majority stake in the company will increase its sales. After the announcement of the deal and its plan to separate into two companies, the computer maker witnessed a rise of 2.3% in its share price, after the markets closed in New York on Friday.  The Chinese government has been stressing the country’s military, banks, and major organizations to stop purchasing foreign technology. The government’s action can be traced back to Edward Snowden’s revelation, accusing the U.S. National Security Agency of spying through hacking the computers of Tsinghua University. President Xi Jinping has asked for faster development of the domestic technology industry and has created Internet Security Panel for the same. The Chinese government has been trying to strengthen the country’s technology sector at the expense of firms such as International Business Machines Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. HP’s deal highlights the necessary step to be taken by foreign firms to succeed in the country. Due to the advantage of being a state-owned company with access to capital, Tsinghua beat its rival bidders such as China Huaxin Post and Telecommunication Economy Development Center, in the HP deal. Though China Huaxin Post and Telecommunication Economy Development Center is another state-owned firm, the government’s effort to avoid competition among the Chinese firms has led Tsinghua win the deal. The Chinese venture of HP has been named H3C and according to Qi Lian, the president of Tsinghua Unisplendour Corp, HP will help in managing the venture. 

Original Post HP becomes H3C in China source Twease
          Beer Production Volumes Fall in China as Wine Gets More Popular        
According to latest data from the Chinese Bureau of Statistics, beer production volumes have fallen for the first time in 24 years by 2.76% approximately by 4.9 kilo liters that equals to 163 billion standard size beer bottles. For decades beer production had grown rapidly and production had tripled from 1990 to 2000 and doubled from 2000 to 2010. In 2013 beer production broke the 50 million kiloliter threshold and there was a production of 50.62 million kiloliters of beer. In 2014 beer had a majority of 75.2 in the alcoholics’ drinks market in China, according to the Taiwanese news site “Want China Times”. According to an official of the China Alcoholics Drinks Association the prime reason for decline in beer production volumes is that more people are selecting wine instead of beer. The local Chinese made wine may not have international popularity, but there is a growing middle class market segment for Chinese brands of wine. Going by statistical data, China was the world’s largest consumer of wine, buying 155.4 million cases of red wine annually, two years ago. Other reasons for the decline are stated to be the government’s move for officials to be more economical. In 2013 when President Xi Jinping assumed office the big spending on parties and social outings and banquets were reduced and this austerity drive put a dampener on beer production. Xi Jinping is the President of the People’s Republic of China. Entertainment and restaurant venues became subdued due to officials not venturing to eat out or attend karaoke parties. Suspension of gift giving by organizations resulted due to the soberness drive and beer sales further declined. The slight decline in beer production volumes can mean problems for brewers. 

Original Post Beer Production Volumes Fall in China as Wine Gets More Popular source Twease
          Comprehensive Nepotism Unveiled at Chinese Telecommunications Firm        
A large number of staff individuals at one of China's biggest telecommunications organizations had been conniving with their family and friends to run side organizations, benefitting off their parts at a state firm, as per the consequences of an as of late completed investigation.  Comrade Party agents set up shop in China Unicom before the end of last year, leading a swathe of meetings and poring over the organization's books. The move is a part of Party pioneer Xi Jinping's crusade to pick up control and state train over wayward state behemoths that regularly go about as kingdoms unto themselves.  Hostile to defilement specialists as of late discharged the consequences of their work at China Unicom, reporting quantities of those taught and listing their law violations. As a rule, staff individuals were basically considered responsible, in the official speech; one and only individual was arraigned, while just nine were rejected.  One of the key new measures was to kill the intrigue between organizations run by family and friends of China Unicom staff and the organization itself. It creates the impression that agreement were being granted on familial, instead of meritocratic, contemplations. An aggregate of 63 staff individuals were advised that their families needed to transfer their businesses, while 21 were requested to close down, 16 requested to offer their shares, 8 advised to leave, and 85 made to sign an agreement ending the relationship between the organizations and China Unicom.  The investigation concerning China Unicom might likewise have had some high level political contemplation, as indicated by the Chinese political magazine Mingjing. The president of China Unicom is Lu Yimin, a political helper of the previous executive of China Zeng Qinghong, himself an associate of previous administration pioneer Jiang Zemin. Jiang's political system has been the biggest danger and peril to the agenda and power of Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Party, and a center of his political purge.  Independently, five administrators at the other major Chinese telecommunications firm, China Mobile, were likewise sacked as of late. The disciplinary commission's inspection group was stationed at the firm between late February and late April, subjecting it to a likewise probe as China Unicom. The officials expelled were from key subsidiaries around the nation. As indicated by Caijing, a Chinese business publication, purges at China Mobile haven't stopped. Maybe, agents have just started, given the plenitude of leads that they say they have obtained amid the latest interrogations.

Original Post Comprehensive Nepotism Unveiled at Chinese Telecommunications Firm source Twease
          China Pushes Government to Improve Rule of Law        
The government on Thursday said that China’s decision to improve the rule of law and other legal reforms which will be exhaustive and lengthy; however, the ruling Communist Party at the other end of the day should remain in charge of the whole legal system. The ruling party held an important four-day long meeting in the previous year pledging for speedy legislation which will fight against corruption and will make it stronger for officials to exert total control over the judiciary system. After the meeting, the party has made an announcement of a series of in-depth measures that will protect the rights of individuals, prevent miscarriages of justice and make its judiciary system professional. The party and government gave statements which were carried by the official Xinhua news agency in China giving aims for the reforms and informed that the task is arduous and it will take enormous time, however the reforms must be affected soon so as to ensure satisfaction. The statement has not elaborated the difficulties that will be faced for this change. The nation is witnessing huge anger over corruption, land grabs, and pollution. These issues are often left unresolved by courts and have resulted in violence between residents and police in the past few years. This situation is threatening the stability the ruling party which is very keen to maintain it. In spite of the legal reforms Xi Jinping, the Chinese President’s administration has not given any interest in political change and has further detained numerous dissidents which also included some lawyers. The party has not given any further indication which will grant the judiciary systems’ total independence. In most of the cases, courts do not challenge the party accusations in high-profile and sensitive cases which involve corrupt officials or dissidents.

Original Post China Pushes Government to Improve Rule of Law source Twease
          Obama Criticizes China Technology Rules        
U.S. President Barack Obama came down hard on China’s new rules on U.S. technology giants in an interview with Reuters on Monday. Obama indicated he had taken up the issue with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, and hinted U.S. companies may stop their voluminous trade with China if the policies were not reversed soon.  China’s new technology laws, ostensibly aimed at counterterrorism operations, demands that technology firms provide highly sensitive data to the Chinese authorities. This data includes encryption keys and passwords and entry codes used for data protection. The law also requires tech companies to design technological ‘backdoors’ for the Chinese authorities to keep an eye on their activity. Such high level of intrusion into data that affects not just the company but also potentially its global user base is being strongly opposed by a united front of American legislators and technology giants eager to capitalize on the growing affluent population base in China. Cyber security has already become a topic of contention between the United States and the People’s Republic, and these measures are feared to sour the relationship even further. Chinese authorities claimed the seemingly excessive measures are not extraneous but essential for national security and for the protection of business dynamics in one of the world’s fastest growing and largest economies. The second law of the contentious bill was read in the Chinese Parliament last month and the country is expected to incorporate the law in the coming few months, possibly even weeks. This would leave U.S. tech companies with a dilemma of either pulling out of one of the world’s largest technology markets or handing over vital business secrets to a system already viewed with considerable suspicion. President Obama warned China that major companies would overwhelmingly take the first option, hurting the Chinese economy.

Original Post Obama Criticizes China Technology Rules source Twease
          Prez. Obama Criticizes China’s Strategies for New Technology Regulations        
On Monday, Mar. 02, 2015, the U.S President Mr. Barack Obama harshly criticized the plans of China for new regulations on the U.S. tech firms, asking Beijing to change the policy if it wishes to do business with the U.S. He told that he had raised this issue and discussed it with the Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping. In an interview, President Obama stated that he was concerned about the strategies that Beijing had for a far-reaching law to counter terrorism that would need technology enterprises to entrust encryption keys, the pass codes, which assist in protecting data, and deploy security backdoors in their systems to provide the Chinese authorities the access to the surveillance. This is something that they have raised directly with President Xi, President Obama stated. They have made it very clear to them that this issue is something they are going to have to modify if they are going to have commercial relations with the United States. The government of China sees the regulations as critical to protect the state and trade secrets. Western firms say they support increasingly burdensome terms of doing trade in the second-largest economy of the world and heighten doubt over cyber security between Beijing and Washington. A parliamentary body in China read a second draft of the first anti-terrorism law of the country the previous week and is likely to approve the legislation in near future. The first draft, published late last year by the National People's Congress, needs firms to also keep user data and servers within China, provide law enforcement authorities with communications records and censor terrorism associated Internet content.

Original Post Prez. Obama Criticizes China’s Strategies for New Technology Regulations source Twease
          Um justo e um ímpio: incontornáveis contrastes .....        
Com espaço de poucas horas entre a noite desta sexta-feira e a madrugada de sábado, morreram Russell Shedd, 87 anos, cristão, pastor e mestre no ensino das Sagradas Escrituras e Fidel Castro, 90 anos, ex-presidente e ditador comunista cubano.

As diferenças que pautaram as vidas vividas por esses dois seres humanos são enormes. Para nós, cristãos evangélicos brasileiros, Russell Shedd foi um gigante da fé. Para o mundo, notadamente aqueles que adotaram a ideologia marxista, Fidel Castro foi um herói e um exemplo a ser seguido. Quanta diferença, entretanto, encontra-se entre um e outro aos olhos da Palavra de Deus.!

Fidel foi um homem sanguinário. Em sua conta podem ser colocadas as mortes de milhares de pessoas. Tomou o poder através da luta armada em Cuba no ano de 1959. Mandou para o fuzilamento no paredón seus muitos oponentes. Cuba se tornou a primeira ditadura socialista na América Latina. Castro introduziu o planejamento econômico fazendo com que o país alcançasse níveis elevados de desenvolvimento humano e social, a menor taxa de mortalidade infantil do continente, a erradicação do analfabetismo e também da desnutrição infantil. Todavia, isto tudo veio acompanhado do controle estatal da imprensa e pela forte supressão da dissidência interna. Apoiou grupos armados em vários países para igualmente se sublevarem e tomarem o poder. Foi uma figura admirada e controvertida. Mais de um milhão de cubanos se exilaram nos EUA e em outros países. São inúmeros os que morreram nas prisões da ilha caribenha. Apesar dos progressos supra relatados, Fidel Castro é o responsável pelo empobrecimento da economia cubana. Mesmo assim, sua ideologia política e seu modelo de governo e liderança influenciaram a política de vários indivíduos e grupos no mundo inteiro.

Russell Shedd foi um extraordinário homem de Deus com qualidades morais que lhe deram reputação ainda maior que suas qualidades intelectuais.Nascido na Bolívia de pais missionários norteamericanos, veio cedo para o Brasil após obter sua sólida formação bíblico-teológica nos EUA e na Escócia. Após pouco tempo em Portugal, Deus o direcionou ao Brasil e aqui desenvolveu seu profícuo ministério. Foi professor durante muitos anos na Faculdade Teológica Batista de São Paulo e fundou a Edições Vida Nova que até hoje é vanguarda na produção de livros teológicos de excelência. Era profundo conhecedor do grego e competente exegeta. Vivia o que ministrava, nunca se tornou mercador dos muitos livros de sua autoria e não buscou a fama ou engrandecimento em seu ministério. Sua já proverbial humildade e simplicidade levava-o a dormir no chão, se necessário, conforme relato que tenho em um livro de um pastor nordestino que afirmou que, além disso, o dr. Shedd não se importou em comer comidas mais simples e também não reclamou do forte calor e das viagens cansativas pelo interior do sertão. Era essa postura que causava impacto a todos que de perto conviveram com esse admirável homem de Deus.

Acerca de Fidel Castro, seus admiradores como o filósofo Renato Janine Ribeiro escreveu no Facebook: “Em que pesem seus erros, merece saudades”. Sim, saudades de um ditador sanguinário. Saudades de um de um burocrata aproveitador do povo cubano. Saudades enfim de uma utopia sórdida chamada comunismo. Se Fidel Castro tinha boas intenções para com o povo cubano, foi à sua maneira, ou seja, com forte repressão das liberdades individuais, perseguição e morte dos dissidentes e enriquecimento pessoal às custas da pobreza generalizada do povo.

Russel Shedd, nosso saudoso pastor e professor não será comentado na grande mídia como o personagem histórico Fidel Castro. Não vai merecer uma análise de sua vida, exceto por aqueles que o conheciam e foram privilegiados pelo seu amorável convívio e seu ministério de ensino bíblico-teológico. Afinal, sua jornada foi outra, seu caminho foi estreito, a porta por onde passou era apertada. Não viveu para si mesmo, não procurou lucro para si mesmo, não matou outros seres humanos, longe disso. Alimentou e deu a vida de Cristo a muitos por meio de seu ensino e pregação. Sobre ele podemos aplicar estas palavras conforme Isaías 32.8 na versão Almeida Revista e Atualizada: “Mas o nobre projeta coisas nobres, e na sua nobreza perseverará”. Li e reproduzi este versículo tendo em minhas mãos a Bíblia Vida Nova, que foi minha primeira Bíblia de estudo, adquirida em 1989 e foi uma das obras primas de Russell Shedd.

Palavras de alguns políticos sobre Fidel ....... Nicolás Maduro, presidente e evidente ditador venezuelano disse: “Os revolucionários do mundo têm que continuar seu legado”.  O líder da China comunista Xi Jinping declarou que Fidel Castro “viverá eternamente”. Vladimir Putin, presidente russo, destacou o exemplo de Castro : “A Cuba livre e independente que criou ao lado dos correligionários converteu-se num membro influente da comunidade internacional e serviu de exemplo inspirador para muitos povos e países.”  Michelle Bachelet, presidente chilena destacou Fidel como “um líder pela dignidade e pela justiça social em Cuba e na América Latina.”

Pois bem, como disse, alguns no mundo vão homenageá-lo como herói e como inspirador líder. Mas seu legado foi de muitas injustiças diante de Deus.

Quanto a Russell Shedd podemos dizer como o autor da epístola aos Hebreus de que ele foi um homem do qual o mundo não era digno (11.38) pois foi um justo, um autêntico e dedicado servo do Deus vivo. Encontramos ainda nesta epístola esta notável passagem que podemos plenamente aplicar ao nosso irmão Shedd: “Lembrai-vos dos vossos pastores, que vos falaram a Palavra de Deus, a fé dos quais imitai, atentando para a sua maneira de viver” – Hb 13.7 (ARC).

Segundo a Palavra de Deus, este receberá o prêmio de uma vida rendida a Jesus Cristo. O outro receberá o prêmio por suas injustiças. Um já entrou de posse de sua herança eterna em Cristo e está defrutando deliciosamente seu descanso na presença de Deus nesse exato instante. O outro está aguardando num lugar de sombras e fora da presença de Deus o Dia do juízo do Grande Trono Branco para ressuscitar e receber seu veredito final.

Contrastes inegáveis entre um justo e um ímpio. Contrastes imutáveis e incontornáveis. O mundo que não conhece a Cristo jamais entenderá a vida que viveu o justo Russell Philip Shedd. Entretanto, parte do mundo está lamentando e homenageando o ímpio e ateu Fidel Castro e alguns reputarão suas ideias e sua vida como um grande exemplo a ser seguido.
É aqui que deveremos lembrar mais uma vez o que diz as Escrituras: “Então vereis outra vez a diferença entre o justo e o ímpio, entre o que serve a Deus e o que não o serve” – (Ml 3.18). Um fielmente cuidou dos interesses eternos do Reino de Deus. O outro, se dedicou a erigir um reino pessoal entre os reinos dos homens. Interesses contrários, vidas divegentes, destinos diferentes na eternidade.  

Contrastes entre um justo e um ímpio. Sobre isso precisamos pensar.

          No Agreement Between China-Russia Natural Gas Deal        
Despite years of negotiations, Russia and China are still disagreeing over pricing a multi-billion dollar gas deal, said a senior Beijing official on Tuesday. This was put up ahead of a visit paid by Vladimir Putin on an expected contract signature.  In addition, the Russian President is planning to visit the commercial hub of Shanghai on two days Tuesday and Wednesday for an organized conference based on Asian security hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping.  The two countries for years have sought to reach a noble agreement on the deal for Russia to supply China with natural oil and gas (fuel) to its economy.  This is the world’s second largest economy. This agreement has created a rift in the European markets for Russia. They face criticism and sanctions by the West for its Ukraine market, including its seizure of the Crimea peninsula.  China’s Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping is in the constant efforts of trying to make this contract work out and get it signed and witnessed by the two presidents during President Putin’s visit to China.  He added that the negotiating companies had reached a certain agreement on many issues; however, the issue over the price of natural gas still lingers on. The two firms involved in this are China National Petroleum Corp. (CNCP), and Russian gas giant Gazprom.  Earlier framework agreement said Russia would pump 38 billion cubic meters of gas to China, and raise it up to 70 billion cubic meters. This bilateral meeting between Putin and Xi has threatened to dominate the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) says analysts.  Furthermore, Shanghai has planned and developed its security on starting armed police patrols and running searches on passengers at the city’s two airports from the threat of explosives this week.

Original Post No Agreement Between China-Russia Natural Gas Deal source Twease
          Chinese art colony's free-speech illusion shatters        

Just a few weeks ago, oil painters in eastern Beijing's Songzhuang art district had welcomed foreign reporters into their studios and shown off works tackling such touchy subjects as China's prisons and Communist Party politics. Over lunch, they candidly lamented the state of free speech in China while chewing on chicken and downing glasses of beer.

In a tightly controlled society where dissent is quickly squashed, the artists of Songzhuang appeared to be enjoying a rarely seen degree of creative and political freedom. But then, on Oct. 1, that illusion was shattered.

Police first detained poet Wang Zang after he posted on Twitter a picture and message supporting pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong. The next day, police rounded up another seven people who were heading to a poetry reading advertised on social media as supporting Hong Kong protesters. A total of 13 people living or working in the art colony were ultimately detained on charges of "creating trouble," according to Wang Zang's wife, Wang Li.

This past weekend, the police buildup was everywhere, with uniformed officers patrolling the aisles of Songzhuang's art shops and riding in golf carts through its sleepy winding streets. Artists who weeks earlier had opened wide their studio doors were apologetically warning away visitors, fearful that speaking too freely could get them into trouble.

Since Songzhuang was founded two decades ago, its artists have largely avoided official harassment by following a few tacit rules: If they produced provocative work, they showed it only to each other, and if they sold it, they did so privately. Most importantly, they kept a low profile.

Painter Tang Jianying, known as one of Songzhuang's most outspoken artists, said his neighbors had crossed that line by taking their dissent to the Internet.

"Among friends, we can speak freely," Tang said by phone hours after police had called to check in on him. "But if you're in public, you have to watch what you do. If you're on the Web and you speak too freely, they'll get you."

Although China's constitution promises free speech rights, in reality, figuring out what you can say or write has always been a guessing game.

Authorities have in recent months tolerated grass-roots protests on environmental issues but at the same time, violently cracked down on Muslim Uighurs in China's far west who have denounced the central government's policies on minorities. Watchdog groups such as Amnesty International say free speech restrictions have only tightened during the nearly two-year-old government of President Xi Jinping with police detaining dozens of lawyers, journalists and activists and even closely monitoring non-political groups such as Christian churches and community libraries.

On Wednesday, Xi told the country's most well-known directors, writers and artists gathered in Beijing that their art should be patriotic and reflect socialist values, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. That message was prominently displayed across state media and dominated that evening's main newscast.

"Fine art works should be like sunshine from blue sky and breeze in spring that will inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste and clean up undesirable work styles," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

Zhou Shifeng, a defense lawyer whose firm represents several of the Songzhuang detainees, said the government has been eager to quiet any criticism during a particularly sensitive few weeks. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters remain in the streets of Hong Kong denouncing China's plan to screen candidates for the semi-autonomous city's top executive. Next week, the Communist Party's top leaders will gather in Beijing for a much-watched plenum.

"It seems to me that current political factors are more relevant than the rule of law," Zhou said.

Despite the tougher environment since Xi's rise to power, Songzhuang's artists seemed confident during the Sept. 20 visit by about a dozen foreign journalists that they could avoid government notice as long as they followed the district's long-standing unspoken rules.

With a booming voice, Li Dapeng couldn't wait to show off his series of oil paintings depicting Chinese families, leaders and aristocrats — all topped off with grotesque pig faces. One painting, which he kept a copy of on his iPad, even depicted what appeared to be top Communist Party cadres with pig snouts and pointy ears, gazing down from a balcony.

"This is a happy thing. It's not necessarily a criticism," Li said. "It's a way to talk about things that you can't talk about if you paint people. But it's fun if you use pigs."

He added, however, that he didn't publish the more provocative work in art books and had sold his pig paintings only to a private purchaser.

Down the street from Li's studio, several of artist Ma Ming's paintings showed insects flying into giant white orifices that looked conspicuously like vaginas. She said it was a commentary on child abductions in China.

"It's like a wound," Ma said of her work. "The sex workers I've met were very sad because sex is supposed to be about life and joy, so this represents their feelings."

The pressure for more open political speech has only been growing in China, as more of its citizens go online and engage with the rest of the world, said William Nee, a Hong Kong-based researcher with Amnesty International.

"On the one hand, combined with increasing censorship and increasing numbers of people being detained and arrested, it doesn't look good for freedom of expression in China," Nee said. "But on the other hand, in the broader picture, if you look online and see how people's attitudes are changing despite all the censorship and how much of an appetite there is for real news and analysis, then I think there's something new."

Still, the price for Wang Zang's political speech has been steep.

Neither his wife, Wang Li, nor Sui Muqing, the family's attorney, have heard from him since his detention in Songzhuang more than two weeks ago, Sui said Friday. Wang Li added that all those detained in the district were still in police custody. Local police declined to comment on the cases.

"Despite all these troubles, I think my husband did the right thing," Wang said. "Everything he did wasn't for himself, it was for everyone else. I still support him."

          Perbandingan Kekuatan Angkatan Laut China dan Amerika Serikat        
Formasi kapal perang Angkatan Laut China saat melakukan latihan di Laut China Selatan. ©

Angkatan Laut China (PLA Navy)
Ketika Xiao Jin’guang, seorang mantan komandan Angkatan Laut Tentara Pembebasan Rakyat (PLA Navy), 67 tahun yang lalu ia ingin memeriksa markas angkatan laut yang ada di sebuah pulau, dia hanya bisa menemukan sebuah kapal ikan untuk membawanya ke sana.

Dengan ekspresi tegas di wajahnya, dia mengatakan kepada rombongan, “Ingat, Komandan Angkatan Laut Xiao Jin’guang membawa kapal ikan pada tur inspeksi tanggal 17 Maret 1950”.

Angkatan Laut China didirikan pada tanggal 23 April 1949 di Taizhou, Provinsi Jiangsu, China Timur, dengan hanya sembilan kapal perang dan 17 kapal yang diperoleh setelah satu unit armada pertahanan kedua Pantai Kuomintang membelot ke PLA. Pada tahap awal, armada utama PLA terdiri dari kapal kayu dan perahu layar.

Modernisasi Angkatan Laut
Tahun ini, pada ulang tahun ke-68, Angkatan Laut China memiliki kapal induk, kapal selam nuklir, puluhan skuadron kapal perusak, kapal pendarat dan kapal penunjang di tiga armada tersebut.

Angkatan laut memiliki beberapa ratus kapal perang berukuran lebih besar dari kapal fregat, dengan total tonase lima sampai enam kali lebih besar dari tahun 1980-an. Jumlah dan tonase kapal selam angkatan laut lebih berat serta kecepatannya juga puluhan kali lipat dari PLA Navy awal.

Laporan Pentagon 2016 tentang Kekuatan Militer China menyatakan bahwa China saat ini mengoperasikan jumlah kapal terbesar di antara negara-negara Asia.

Saat ini, China memiliki satu kapal induk Liaoning, Type 001, sebuah kapal yang dipasang kembali dimana sebelumnya dibangun oleh Ukraina (bekas pecahan Uni Soviet), namun kapal induk kedua yang merupakan kapal induk buatan China 001A pertama akan segera diluncurkan. Yang ketiga, Tipe 002, saat ini sedang dibangun di Shanghai, dan Tipe 002 akan jauh lebih canggih dari Tipe 001 dan Tipe 001A.

Laksamana Muda Yin Zhuo, seorang peneliti senior di PLA Navy Equipment Research Center mengatakan bahwa “untuk melindungi wilayah dan kepentingan China, China membutuhkan dua kelompok serang kapal induk di Samudra Pasifik Barat dan dua kapal induk di Samudra Hindia. Jadi setidaknya kita memerlukan setidaknya 5 – 6 kapal induk”.

Laporan Pentagon mengatakan bahwa China memiliki 5 unit kapal selam bertenaga nuklir, 53 unit kapal selam bertenaga diesel dan 4 unit kapal selam rudal balistik nuklir yang membawa rudal balistik JL-2 dengan jangkauan diperkirakan hingga 7.200 km.

“Platform ini merupakan pencegah nuklir pertama yang dipercaya oleh China” dan kapal selam nuklir Tipe 096 terbaru buatan China akan selesai dalam satu dekade mendatang, kata laporan Pentagon tersebut.

Angkatan Laut PLA melanjutkan program konstruksi kombatan permukaan yang kuat dari berbagai kelas kapal, termasuk kapal perusak rudal dan frigat rudal berpemandu. Angkatan Laut PLA saat ini memiliki 13 unit kapal tipe 052D, perusak rudal berpemandu paling canggih, yang terakhir “Xining” diluncurkan pada 22 Januari 2017.

Generasi baru Tipe 055 sedang dalam tahap konstruksi dan diyakini akan menjadi anggota kunci dari grup serang kapal induk China di masa depan. China terus menghasilkan kapal perang dengan rudal tempur Tipe 054A, yang berjumlah 27 unit, kapal terakhir, Liupanshui, diluncurkan pada 1 April 2017 lalu.

Kapal-kapal ini memberikan peningkatan yang signifikan terhadap kemampuan pertahanan udara PLA Navy, “yang akan sangat penting karena mampu memperluas operasi hingga jauh di luar jangkauan sistem pertahanan udara berbasis pantai”, kata laporan Pentagon.

Rencana Ambisius China
Laporan resmi terbaru tentang militer China yang berjudul Strategi Militer China, yang dikeluarkan oleh Kantor Informasi Dewan Negara pada tahun 2015, menekankan bahwa kekuatan militer China memiliki misi baru untuk melindungi kepentingan luar negeri China, dan Angkatan Laut PLA akan memainkan peran kunci di dalamnya.

Dalam beberapa tahun terakhir, selain menjaga kedaulatan maritim China, Angkatan Laut PLA telah melaksanakan misi anti pembajakan PBB di Teluk Aden dan evakuasi di zona perang seperti Libya dan Yaman.

Laksamana Muda Xu Guangyu, penasehat senior Asosiasi Pengendali Persenjataan dan Perlucutan Senjata China, mengatakan “untuk melaksanakan misi luar negeri secara lebih efektif, PLA perlu membangun basis logistik di luar negeri melalui kerjasama dengan negara lain”.

Pada bulan September 2015 yang lalu, Presiden Xi Jinping mengumumkan bahwa PLA akan mengurangi jumlahnya sebanyak 300.000 personil pada akhir tahun 2017, sebuah langkah yang secara luas diperkirakan akan menghasilkan lebih sedikit personil non-tempur dan menyeimbangkan kembali proporsi kekuatan di antara layanan untuk dapat meningkatkan kepentingan relatif PLA Navy dan PLA Air Force.

Sekitar 255.000 personil Angkatan Laut saat ini terbagi menjadi 3 armada yaitu Armada Laut Utara (Beihai), Armada Laut Timur (Donghai), dan Armada Laut Selatan (Nanhai). Setiap armada membawahi armada tempur udara, markas pendukung, armada kapal perang, komando garnisun maritim, divisi penerbangan dan brigade laut.

Di saat krisis, armada kapal pedagang dan kapal nelayan dapat mendukung Angkatan Laut. Pangkalan Angkatan Laut utama termasuk di Lushun, Huludao, Qingdao, Shanghai, Zhoushan, Wenzhou, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Zhanjiang dan Yulin.

Angkatan Laut Amerika Serikat (US Navy)
“Misi Angkatan Laut AS adalah untuk memelihara, melatih dan melengkapi pasukan angkatan laut siap tempur untuk memenangkan perang, menghalangi agresi dan menjaga kebebasan di laut”, menurut pernyataan misi Angkatan Laut AS.

Kekuatan Dominan Angkatan Laut AS
Kekuatan komprehensif angkatan laut terbesar di dunia dibuktikan dengan banyaknya kapal induk, kapal penjelajah, kapal perusak, kapal fregat, kapal selam, kapal perang lain dan pasukan khusus cabang tersebut, yang dianggap paling elit dalam militer AS.

Secara total, Angkatan Laut AS memiliki hampir 430.000 personil, dengan 322.809 personil adalah bertugas aktif dan 108.789 personil lainnya petugas cadangan yang siap bertugas pada bulan Maret, menurut data yang tersedia di situs web Angkatan Laut AS.

Memiliki luas total 4,5 hektar kapal induk kelas Nimitz ditempatkan di seluruh penjutu dunia, memungkinkan AS untuk menanggapi krisis internasional dengan cepat dan berpartisipasi dalam latihan gabungan dengan sekutu. Kapal induk AS termasuk kelas Enterprise 1 unit (bertugas), kelas Nimitz 10 unit (bertugas), dan kelas Gerald R. Ford 3 unit (dalam konstruksi).

Selain kapal induk, Angkatan Laut AS saat ini memiliki 22 unit kapal penjelajah kelas Ticonderoga, 62 unit perusak kelas Arleigh Burke, 30 unit kapal amfibi dan 18 unit kapal tempur pesisir.

Semua didorong oleh tenaga nuklir, kapal selamnya sekarang adalah kapal selam rudal balistik kelas Ohio (18 unit bertugas, dengan 4 unit diubah menjadi kapal selam rudal), 36 unit kapal selam kelas menengah Los Angeles, 3 unit kapal selam kelas Seawolf dan 13 unit Kapal selam kelas Virginia.
Pangkalan Militer di Seluruh Dunia
Sejak berakhirnya Perang Dingin, angkatan lautnya terus menjadi pendukung utama bagi kepentingan AS. Saat ini, Angkatan Laut AS memiliki lebih dari separuh kapal perang utama di dunia, dengan jumlah kapal induk dan kapal tempur maritim terbesar.

Sementara kebanyakan angkatan laut negara-negara lain membatasi diri untuk berpatroli di perairan teritorial, Angkatan Laut AS menguasai laut lepas dengan basis di seluruh dunia.

Saat ini, Angkatan Laut AS memiliki 275 unit kapal yang beroperasi aktif, dan lebih dari 3.700 pesawat terbang, paling banyak di dunia. Dan tonase kemampuan tempurnya lebih besar dari gabungan 13 armada kapal terbesar berikutnya.

SumberGlobal Times

          Insider Schlappner: Das steckt wirklich hinter dem China-Deal         

Waldhof Mannheim verbindet man automatisch mit dem Namen Klaus Schlappner.

Der 77-Jährige hatte als Trainer seine erfolgreichste Zeit beim heutigen Regionalligisten. Zwischen 1980 und 1987 coachte Schlappner Waldhof, 1983 führte er den Klub in die Bundesliga und erwarb sich damit Kult-Status weit über Mannheim hinaus.

Zwischen 1992 und 1995 war Schlappner Trainer der chinesischen Nationalmannschaft und technischer Berater des dortigen Fußballverbandes.

Zuletzt war sein Rat wieder mal gefragt, weil die chinesische U20 demnächst in der Regionalliga außer Konkurrenz mitspielen wird.

Vor dem Regionalliga-Spiel Waldhof gegen SV Elversberg (ab 19.45 LIVE im TV bei SPORT1) spricht Schlappner im SPORT1-Interview über Waldhof, den FC Bayern und seine Zeit in China.

SPORT1: Herr Schlappner, wie sehr haben Sie den SV Waldhof noch im Blick?

Klaus Schlappner: Man spricht mich immer auf Waldhof an und bringt mich mit der erfolgreichsten Zeit des Klubs in Verbindung. Das tut mir gut. Ich habe mich in den vergangenen Jahren aber auch maßlos über die Situation um Waldhof geärgert. Mannheim ist eine Fußball-Stadt und jeder erinnert sich gerne an die Bundesliga-Zeit. Die vergangenen Jahre verliefen dämlich.

SPORT1: Was genau lief falsch?

Schlappner: Der Meister einer Saison muss aufsteigen. Die Relegation spiegelte nicht die Leistung wieder, die Waldhof gebracht hatte. Das betraf auch Elversberg. Waldhof stabilisiert sich Stück für Stück, aber der Verein spielt leider nur in der Regionalliga. Wenngleich diese Liga enormes Potenzial hat. Und sie hat eine stärkere Präsenz in der Öffentlichkeit verdient.

SPORT1: Zuletzt gab es Ärger, weil die chinesische U20 in der Regionalliga außer Konkurrenz mitspielen wollte. Waldhof drohte mit Boykott. Wie haben Sie das wahrgenommen?

Schlappner: Ich sehe das schmerzfrei. Der Klub, der nicht dabei sein will, soll nein sagen. Es ist aber kein kommerzielles Projekt. Es ist viel Arbeit, die sich der DFB da aufgehalst hat, um dem Kooperationsvertrag zwischen Deutschland und China gerecht zu werden. Das war ein Hilfeschrei der Chinesen ähnlich wie die Deutschen früher in Richtung Asien, Japan und China geschrieen haben, wenn es darum ging Tischtennis-Spieler und deren Trainer oder Badminton-Spieler auszubilden. Ich hätte es lieber gesehen, wenn man das den Vereinen und den Fans in aller Ruhe präsentiert hätte. Einen schnelleren Marketing-Transfer gibt es nicht.

SPORT1: Wie meinen Sie das?

Schlappner: Alle Spieler sind in den chinesischen Medien präsent. Vereine profitieren von Firmen, die mit China große Geschäfte machen und das ist eine gute Möglichkeit etwas zurückzugeben. Der Fußball spielt im großen Kooperationsvertrag zwischen Deutschland und China eine wichtige Rolle, denn Präsident Xi Jinping ist ein großer Fußball-Fan. Der chinesische Fußball braucht deutsches Flair. Die Fußball-Kultur ist in den chinesischen Familien nicht vorhanden, da wird lieber über Pingpong gesprochen. Ich halte das Projekt, die U20 in der Regionalliga mitspielen zu lassen, für gut. Es steht jedem frei, nein zu sagen, auch Waldhof.

SPORT1: Es gab einen Kompromiss...

Schlappner: 16 Klubs werden sich an dem Projekt beteiligen und an den Tagen, an denen Waldhof, Offenbach und Stuttgart nicht spielen, gibt es andere Paarungen. Für die Chinesen ist es wichtig, regelmäßig zu spielen und nicht nur Turniere in China zu bestreiten, die nichts bringen. Sie brauchen den Druck von Spiel zu Spiel.

SPORT1: Waren Sie überrascht vom negativen Echo?

Schlappner: Ja. Mancher Trainer sagte, er wolle die zweite Elf spielen lassen. Da fasse ich mir an den Kopf. Ein Trainer muss doch neugierig sein auf solche Spiele und den Ehrgeiz haben, das mitzumachen. Das ist viel besser als jedes Jahr die gleichen Gegner in der Liga zu haben. Es ist immerhin die zukünftige Olympia-Auswahl von China. Wenn das kein Anreiz ist, dann weiß ich es nicht. Es ist doch wichtig für die Karriere eines Regionalliga-Trainers. Die U23 von Real Madrid kommt nicht vorbei und der Regionalligist bekommt noch Geld. Sportlich kann ich das nicht nachvollziehen.

SPORT1: Sie waren nach Ihrer Zeit als Trainer in Deutschland einige Jahre als Nationalcoach in China tätig. Was machen Sie heute?

Schlappner: Ich mache immer noch eine Menge mit Fußball. Ich beschäftige mich seit 25 Jahren mit dem Thema China. Sechs Jahre habe ich dort mit meiner Frau gelebt, ich war der erste Cheftrainer der Nationalmannschaft und habe in der 1. Liga die Polizeimannschaft trainiert. Seit 2012 kümmere ich mich um ein Projekt in Qingdao namens "Deutsch-chinesischer Ökopark". Ich wurde gebeten, in Zusammenarbeit mit dem DFB und der DFL einige Dinge voranzutreiben.

SPORT1: Nämlich?

Schlappner: Mittlerweile gibt es in China die erste Fußballschule des FC Bayern. Ich war zuletzt auch dort, als die Münchner auf Werbetour waren und habe mir angeschaut, wie sie das professionell aufziehen. Der Fußball in den Schulen spielt eine wichtige Rolle. Es werden Sportlehrer zu Jugend-Fußball-Trainern ausgebildet, weil die Chinesen noch nicht wissen, dass ein Sechsjähriger anders trainiert als ein Zehnjähriger. Ich habe mich bemüht, dass die Kinder seit diesem Jahr eine richtige Ausbildung in Trainingscamps kriegen, habe zudem eine Lehrfunktion für die Trainer. Deshalb bin ich sechs bis zehn Mal im Jahr in China.

SPORT1: Letzte Frage: Gibt es Ihren legendären Pepita-Hut noch?

Schlappner: Na klar. Ich hole den immer wieder hervor, wenn ich im Wald spazieren gehe und er wird in Ehren gehalten. Wenn ich mal ohne den Hut irgendwo auftauche, dann ist die erste Frage der Leute immer: "Wo ist denn der Hut?"

          Xi celebrates National Day with ethnic minority representatives        

BEIJING – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday met with 13 representatives from the five autonomous regions, invited to the National Day celebrations for their contribution to ethnic unity. The five autonomous regions, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Tibet, Ningxia and Xinjiang, host the majority of population of the nation’s ethnic groups, which account for nearly one tenth of the total population. Continue Reading

The post Xi celebrates National Day with ethnic minority representatives appeared first on Bulgarian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

          VIPS Exposure of the Fraud Behind Russiagate Breaks Out in The Nation        

The Nation, the oldest journal in the United States and one of the most widely read publications among liberals and progressives, has published a powerful and comprehensive report on the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) exposure of the Russiagate hoax, after its author interviewed four of the principal VIPS members on their work. The author, Patrick Lawrence, warns of the war danger generated by the anti-Russian hysteria, based on lies, concluding: "The investigators deserve a response, the betrayed professionals who formed VIPS as the WMD scandal unfolded in 2003 deserve it, and so do the rest of us. The cost of duplicity has rarely been so high."

The LaRouche movement took it upon itself to get the VIPS report out to the world, to break through the refusal of the Congress to investigate it, and the refusal of the media to cover it. While circulating it worldwide since its release in July, LaRouchePAC volunteers have delivered the report to every member of the House and Senate intelligence and judicial committees. Today another team is getting the report into the Old Executive Office Building and the Department of Justice.

President Trump and Secretary Tillerson have made it abundantly clear that the world's two nuclear superpowers must be friends, not enemies. The President also directly named the Congress as the responsible party for the dangerous state of affairs between these two nations, following the despicable, near-unanimous Congressional votes to impose sanctions on Russia, and even on the businesses of our allies who do business with Russia. The Congress must be forced to end the McCarthyite witchhunt, and to launch, instead, a full investigation into the lies of the war party, using the evidence in the VIPS report.

The war party is equally engaged in the current, escalating hysteria about North Korea. While the western press is full of wailing headlines, based on a fake "leak" in the Washington Post from an unnamed intelligence source, that North Korea is capable and prepared to nuke Guam, or even San Francisco or Washington (a lie easily refuted by any competent scientist or intelligence professional), the South Korean President's office spokesperson told the press a very different story: "I do not agree with the claim that the Korean Peninsula faces an imminent crisis," he said on background. He acknowledged that the crisis was serious, but added: "We are working to fundamentally resolve the North Korean nuclear and missile issues at the earliest date possible, and are working with a belief that the possibility is very high." Tillerson told the press: "I do not believe there is any imminent threat, in my own view."

The war party is intent on driving President Trump into a war with Russia and China, and to so terrify the American population that they will support it, or at least go along with it, as they did in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The problem lies in the psychological conditioning of the population over the generations since the death of Franklin Roosevelt, and especially since the assassination of Jack Kennedy. It is the British problem — the acceptance of empire, of geopolitics, that we can only get ahead at the expense of others, that mankind is no different from the dog-eat-dog world of wild animals. That British ideology rejects the very existence of a common aim for mankind as a whole, of what Xi Jinping calls "win-win" as the basis of the New Silk Road. It rejects the potential for creativity in every human being, which is the basis for human progress — which was once the common element of the American spirit.

This cultural decay was launched after JFK's assassination, with the calculated inundation of the population with drugs, with increasingly degenerate noise passed off as music, with anti-science green propaganda, and with the substitution of unrestrained liberty for freedom. Now, the American population is experiencing the results: the worst drug crisis in history, affecting every family, while our industry has collapsed and the cities are crumbling, as in Manhattan.

These things cannot be simply fixed. It is the system, the British system, which has failed, and must be replaced, with a new application of the American system, as is now being implemented under China's leadership — the New Silk Road to peace through development. Trump has committed himself and the nation to this new paradigm, but must be freed from the "color revolution" being waged against him by the war party. The VIPS report destroys the entire framework of the war party's treason against America and the human race.

President Trump, Investigate British Subversion of the USA

          LaRouche: Take Up the "Historical Challenge"        

Lyndon LaRouche, when briefed today on the latest dire economic headlines from Germany, responded that we are seeing an overall "collapse of the physical economy" in the Trans-Atlantic. He spoke of what that means in terms of the policy crisis, stressing that, even if some people have good intentions, and make specific proposals, nevertheless they are functioning in the same, failed system. LaRouche summarized: The U.S. economy is going down. France is in a condition where it's not contributing anything. Germany is not much better. And it's getting worse and worse. The whole paradigm must be changed, and fast.

When it was mentioned that we are lucky Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are not hotheads, LaRouche concurred, but stressed, that our problem is, "others don't want to do their job." This is our "historical challenge."

Our immediate task, especially in the United States, is to mobilize the forces to defeat the 'color-revolution' coup operation deployed against President Donald Trump, the nation itself, and Russia as well. It is coming from London, Inc., with the goal of killing the potential for good U.S.-Russia and U.S.-China relations, and friendly East-West relations generally, for the benefit of development and peace for all concerned. If this evil crowd succeeds, it means, not just privation, but all-out war. They must be stopped.

We're up against a "hate storm," is how one leading German political figure puts it. FDP Chairman Christian Lindner, last week, simply called for a "constructive dialogue" with Russia, and, in particular, to put the hot issue of Crimea on hold ("in provisium") during consultations. Then, Lindner said yesterday, he has been slammed with a "hate storm" of denunciations for his proposals, coming from the media and other quarters. An interview with Lindner in today's Bildzeitung, the major German daily, is headlined, "Lindner's Coziness Towards Putin."

Likewise yesterday, Sec. of State Rex Tillerson came in for a public hate storm of denunciation for the imputed offense of not activating an anti-Russia propaganda unit in the State Department. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York) made public a letter he sent to Tillerson Friday, accusing the Sec. of State of not acting "to combat the propaganda campaigns of Russia and ISIS...It is unacceptable to members of Congress that information warfare from Russia and ISIS will go unanswered..." The Engel letter was sent to Tillerson Aug. 4, the day before Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov met in the Philippines, and agreed to continue diplomatic talks, despite differences.

These two instances of hysteria, typical of now-daily occurrences, do not manifest the strength of the enemy, but their derangement. As LaRouchePAC reports from organizing around the United States show, wherever people can be provided the basis for knowing the truth, and what can be done, their humanity comes through. Later this week, LaRouchePAC will issue its new petition campaign on the need to act now.

          Xi Jinping military parade        
These soldiers are reminiscent of the Terra Cotta warriors.

Xi appears to be riding in a Chinese Gelandewagen, aka the BJ80J. Note they don't all have the same rims. Strange.

          China’s Climate Change Plan Raises Questions         
President Obama and President Xi Jinping drank a toast at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. Credit Pool photo by Greg Baker
BEIJING — When the presidents of China and the United States pledged on Wednesday to reduce or limit carbon dioxide emissions, analysts and policy advisers said, the two leaders sent an important signal: that the world’s largest economies were willing to work together on climate change.
“This is a very serious international commitment between the two heavy hitters,” said Li Shuo, who researches climate and coal policy for Greenpeace East Asia.
Still, many questions surround China’s plans, which President Xi Jinping announced in Beijing alongside President Obama after months of negotiations. In essence, experts asked, do the pledges go far enough, and how will China achieve them? 
Mr. Xi said China would brake the rapid rise in its carbon dioxide emissions, so that they peak “around 2030” and then remain steady or begin to decline. And by then, he promised, 20 percent of China’s energy will be renewable. Analysts said that achieving those goals would require sustained efforts by Beijing to curb the country’s addiction to coal and greatly increase its commitment to energy sources that do not depend on fossil fuels.
The possible effects for the coal and automobile industries of the landmark agreement between the United States and China.
Video by Carrie Halperin on Publish Date November 12, 2014. Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images.
Many scientists have said that 2030 may be too long to wait for China’s greenhouse gas emissions to stop growing, if the world is to keep the average global temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above the preindustrial average. That goal was adopted by governments from around the world at talks in Copenhagen in 2009.
Almost no country has done enough yet to reach that goal, but because of its size and industrial development, China is crucial to any effort to even come close. (So is the United States, which promised on Wednesday to emit 26 percent to 28 percent less carbon dioxide in 2025 than it did in 2005.)
Some experts said that China should try to halt the growth of its emissions much sooner than it has pledged, by 2025 rather than 2030.
“Based on China’s current coal consumption numbers, they can do much more,” Mr. Li said on Wednesday. He said of the pledges made on Wednesday that “this should be the floor on which they work, rather than a ceiling.” Ireland
People involved in the internal Chinese debates said the seeds of Mr. Xi’s announcement could be found in public anger over rising levels of toxic smog in China. Over the past two years, Chinese cities have recorded some of the worst air pollution readings in the world.
To address the problem, Chinese leaders have turned their attention to cutting back the country’s reliance on coal, a main pillar of the economy but also a major source of pollution. That led to discussions about how weaning Chinese industries off coal would not just clean the air, but would also permit China to make global commitments in the battle against climate change, the insiders said.
Last month, the departing European Union climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, said that halting the growth in Chinese carbon dioxide emissions much sooner than 2030 would “be a very important gift from China to the whole world,” according to a report by Agence France-Presse.
Policy makers and climate experts inside and outside China face the task of assessing the trajectory that China’s emissions are on now, and whether China must do more to change course.
Internally, Chinese scientists and officials have been crunching data to try to pinpoint when carbon emissions will peak and how high that peak will be, given current economic growth projections and energy policies, but their estimates have varied. Foreign scientists and policy makers are also trying to judge whether Mr. Xi’s 2030 pledge represents a genuine campaign by the Chinese government to fight climate change, or just a business-as-usual date when emissions would probably have leveled off anyway.
A 2011 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that it is not far from business as usual. Economic trends and government policies in China, the study said, had already put the nation on course to reach a peak sometime between 2030 and 2035, with an annual output of 12 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2033. More aggressive measures, it said, might limit the peak to about 9.7 billion metric tons and advance the date to about 2027.


La Alianza del Pacífico acelera la integración económica de América Latina 

México, Colombia, Chile y Perú avanzan en libre comercio con el desarme arancelario del 90% de sus productos frente al estancamiento de Mercosur 

Los presidentes de México, Colombia, Chile y Perú, reunidos este jueves en Cali, donde se celebra la VII Cumbre de la Alianza del Pacífico,avanzarán en la integración económica de América Latina tras haberse comprometido a liberalizar este año el 90% de su comercio. Este bloque, formado por las cuatro economías de mayor crecimiento de la región, tiene también importantes consecuencias geopolíticas para el continente: frente a un Mercosur -integrado por Brasil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay y ahora Venezuela- estancado desde hace años, y ante las futuras negociaciones para el Acuerdo de Asociación Transpacífico (TPP, en sus siglas en inglés), que impulsa EE UU, o en foros como la Organización Mundial de Comercio (OMC), donde podrán llevar una posición común. 

Los cuatro países de la Alianza del Pacífico, constituida formalmente en junio del año pasado, representan en conjunto el 35% del PIB de América Latina, el 50% de las exportaciones del continente y su población supera los 200 millones de habitantes, lo que supone una verdadera alternativa al coloso brasileño. Significa, además, un nuevo modelo de integración regional interesado en el fortalecimiento de las instituciones democráticas y orientado hacia la libre circulación de bienes, capitales, servicios y personas y hacia los mercados de Asia. 
“Es un cambio de paradigma”, afirma Luis de la Calle, consultor y antiguo subsecretario de Comercio Exterior con el presidente mexicano Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000). “En el pasado los procesos de integración en América Latina eran diálogos de sordos, acuerdos comerciales entre economías cerradas. La Alianza apuesta por la estabilidad y una apertura conjunta completa en la que se eliminan aranceles, restricciones a las inversiones y al movimiento de personas. Mercosur no solo no funciona, sino que además sus miembros se cierran al comercio entre ellos y a terceros”. 
El nuevo bloque contrasta con otras instancias regionales con tendencias más proteccionistas como Mercosur o más ideológicas como el ALBA(Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de América), de capa caída tras la muerte del presidente Hugo Chávez, y abre una línea divisoria en sentido vertical en el continente. “Mercosur camina en dirección opuesta. Lleva décadas anquilosada y es retrógrada en términos comerciales”, apuntan fuentes del actual Gobierno mexicano, orgullosas de la ofensiva comercial de su país en el nuevo escenario que se abre. En este sentido, apuntan, “no es fortuita la visita que el presidente chino, Xi Jinping, realizará a México la primera semana de junio. Será una gran oportunidad para destrabar una relación parada desde hace 12 años”. 
México pretende reducir el enorme déficit comercial que tiene con China y otros países como Singapur y Corea del Sur, muy superior al de sus socios de la Alianza del Pacífico que lo equilibran con la exportación de materias primas, y además compite con el gigante asiático en el terreno de las manufacturas. Según datos de la Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL), en 2012, México exportó a China por valor de 5.700 millones de dólares, mientras que importó bienes por valor de 56.936 millones de dólares. La brecha se amplía hasta los 80.000 millones si se tiene en cuenta el conjunto de Asia. 
La Alianza del Pacífico puede ser un buen instrumento para conseguir ese fin. Gerardo Esquivel, economista del Colegio de México, argumenta que posiblemente “sirva de antecedente para ir unidos en la negociación del TPP y empujar en bloque por la apertura de los grandes mercados asiáticos, algo por lo que EE UU está presionando mucho dada la debilidad de su mercado interno”. “El objetivo del TPP”, añade Luis de la Calle, “es fijar una fuerte disciplina en materia de comercio, sobre todo en propiedad intelectual y comportamiento de las empresas públicas, para que un día se le pueda imponer a China. De ahí la ofensiva diplomática del presidente chino”. 
Para Ramón Padilla, economista de la CEPAL, la Alianza puede tener ventajas más inmediatas como “lograr mayor complementariedad en los mercados regionales, contar con más alternativas que los mercados de EE UU y Europa y abrir espacios para la pymes locales por afinidad cultural y de patrones de consumo” entre los países miembros. En el caso de México, añade, “permitirá diversificar sus exportaciones, actualmente muy concentradas en EE UU -77,6% del total -, y dar una oportunidad a sus sectores más competitivos de capital nacional como el agroalimentario, el calzado o el textil”. 
Padilla subraya que, pese a queMéxico ha firmado más de 40 acuerdos comerciales con otros tantos países, apenas han tenido impacto en la diversificación de su comercio. En su opinión, “los tratados de libre comercio son condición necesaria pero no suficiente para impulsar el desarrollo. Deben complementarse con una política in