Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Regime change in US could mean reset for China relations?

First posted in Asia Times

Two recent developments presage a forthcoming regime change in Washington – a change that needs no help from the National Endowment of Democracy, whose mandate to incite change of governments does not include the US, in any event. 

The surprise arrest of Steve Bannon last week could signify the loosening of another cotter pin in the Donald Trump machine. Bannon, former campaign strategist and intimate adviser for Trump, has been charged with embezzlement and money-laundering. If convicted, he will become the latest to join President Trump’s inner circle of crooks.

Will Bannon squeal?

US federal prosecutors charged Bannon and three others with skimming millions from a fund raised to build a private version of the border wall facing Mexico. If convicted, Bannon could be in for 10 to 20 years in the slammer.

According to one version of their relationship, Trump is estranged from Bannon for not sharing a “license fee” for stealing his idea of the wall and for taking the limelight away from The Donald. Trump called the private wall project “showboating.” Thus Bannon may not be able to count on a presidential pardon to get out of jail. 

His other option is to sing vigorously to the federal prosecutors in exchange for a lighter prison sentence. By telling them all he knows about the nefarious shenanigans of Trump and his inner circle of crooks, the wheels of the Trump campaign could be coming off even before the November election.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

How far will Pompeo drive the war with China

 First posted in Asia Times.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has taken charge of orchestrating the US attack on China. As President Donald Trump’s popularity drops further behind his rival, former vice-president Joe Biden, the more outlandish and outrageous have Pompeo’s provocations become.

The most recent is to accuse TikTok of being a threat to America’s national security. TikTok is a social-media platform introduced from China that has quickly attracted more than 100 million users in the US.

Pompeo offered no evidence or explanation of how TikTok can be a threat to national security, but the actual reason is envy. Pompeo is suffering from technology envy and market-share envy. He can’t conceive of anything from China that’s better than anything from America, such as Huawei before TikTok.

Pompous Pompeo is supposed to be a smart guy, but he doesn’t understand technology. He was upset when the CEOs of three of the four high-tech giants – Apple, Amazon and Google – at a recent congressional hearing, would not confirm being victims of intellectual-property theft by China. 

Pompeo was offended that three of the most valuable American companies would not support his demonizing of China.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Views of Americans living in China

Cyrus comment on Pompeo


Mario Cavalo current state of affairs 


Sunday, August 9, 2020

Oliver Stone's address at Hiroshima, August 2013

Stone's speech at the memorial probably took the audience by surprise if not aback. If's only about 11 minutes long but worth every bit of it.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

See Nathan Rich's latest review on the Cover 19 and alleged China coverup


8/10 discussion of ban on Tenchant


Nathan Rich discuss anti-terrorism in Xinjiang vs. US efforts

NR discuss poll of  majority of Hongkongers see US a threat


On Pompeo's clean network speech and alleged China's aggressiveness

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Re-election fears drive Trump's fight with China

First posted in Asia Times.
Walking down the busy aisle of a Costco outlet in the US, I saw a stack of boxes of newfangled, multi-functional gadgets positioned to attract the attention of passers-by. The gadget plugs into a wall socket, and its motion sensor will turn on an adjustable dimmer at night, and continuously disinfects the circulating air and kills the odors in the room. 
No larger than 10 by 10 centimeters, the device needs no maintenance or any replacement of parts. This is an ideal and appealing product for staying home to avoid the Covid-19 pandemic. Costco’s price? Under US$50 for a box of two units.
As I expected, the product was made in China. I couldn’t imagine from whom China could have stolen the intellectual property (IP) for this idea and design, nor where such a product could be made in the US for anywhere near the selling price.
In fact, just as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan did before, China has moved on from copying and borrowing to innovating and introducing new products for the world market – including, of course, American consumers.
Just like their Asian neighbors, China did its share of copying and reverse-engineering to catch up with the US. But the US also did its share of stealing from the UK in the 19th century to catch up to what was then the world’s leading industrial power.

Copycats go on to innovate

None of these countries stopped at mere copying. While they make me-too products, they improve their skills and go on to innovate and create proprietary products for new markets. Yet US President Donald Trump’s administration insists on accusing China of theft of IP as a reason for confrontation, even theft of IP that the US does not have, such as Huawei’s 5G (fifth-generation telecom technology).
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Bill Barr, among others in the Trump team, are unrelenting in accusing China of cyber-theft and hacking to steal American secrets. 
Recent reports from multiple sources indicate that Russian hackers have been actively seeking to vacuum up Covid-19 vaccine developments from Western countries. Yet Barr spent 45 minutes at the podium recently accusing China of theft, while not presenting one shred of evidence or making any mention of Russia.
Barr and his colleagues seem to know all the ways China’s hackers can attack America’s Internet without offering any actual proof. As we learned from Edward Snowden, no one is more sophisticated and skilled at cyber-theft than the US. I suppose it’s easy enough to accuse China of cyber-theft according to the way the US steals from others. 
US Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio along with the Trump team have decided Chinese students should be barred from entering the US as a way of preventing loss of technology. The top tier US universities vehemently disagree. They depend on the brightest graduate students to make scientific advances, and they know many of these come from China.

Conflict hurts US more

However, the China hawks within and outside the White House are determined to inflict a hurt on China even if it’s at a cost of terrible blowback to the US. They just don’t appreciate how much of their noses are sliced away to spite their faces.
The so-called trade war is a case in point. The tariffs on Chinese imports have caused China to sell less to the US. True enough. But it was Trump who had to beg China to buy more soybeans. 
Seeing Trump’s perfidious personality, China has prepared to wean itself from depending on exports to the US. China has been busy developing trade relations with the rest of the world. Now only about 3% of China’s exports go to the US. 
Furthermore, China has a robust, integrated economy with a strong manufacturing sector along with the world’s largest and fastest-growing consumer economy. Making things for its own consumers creates a virtuous cycle to keep the domestic economy revving. 
In fact, China’s consumer market is too big to ignore. Much as Trump would like to see American companies disengage from China, Apple has just increased its investment in China to open more retail stores there.
The trade war was supposed to bring manufacturing back to the US. It’s not happening, because it’s not that simple. Unless Trump can drive the US economy down to a Third World level – and not that he isn’t trying – and American labor is willing to work for peanuts, the low-end factories can’t come back. 
To bring high-end manufacturing back, Trump needs a lot of smart and well-educated graduates in science and technology – and presumably without any ethnic Chinese. Indeed, one tiny itsy-bitsy step in that direction was to entice Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) – note, not really American – to build a small, modest fab in Arizona.
Now, perhaps the reader can appreciate why the International Monetary Fund expects the US economy to shrink by 8% while China is the only country that will still manage a net economic gain for this year.

Hypocrisy over human rights

Incredibly, Pompeo and his colleagues continue to accuse China of human-rights violations as another reason to make that country an enemy. This has to be the epitome of hypocrisy. 
The US has more people incarcerated than any other nation. What’s more, black Americans are much more likely to be shot by the police and/or arrested and jailed. And because of the gun culture, the US has one of the highest per capita rates of fatal shootings.
No country is as brutal in stopping refugees at the border as the US under Trump. As a tactic to discourage others from coming, border enforcement has deliberately separated children from their parents. Then the record-keeping is so poor that distraught parents face formidable odds to find their kids again.
That cynical practice devoid of human decency speaks volumes on the sincerity of alleged American respect for human rights.
For years, China has had a national policy to help hundreds of millions out of poverty and has reached the point that very few are still living below the poverty line. By contrast, Trump has enacted massive tax cuts to benefit the top 10%, but he does not have a clue on how to help the rest of the Americans.
long-term study from Harvard recently published revealed that the approval of the Chinese people of their central government increased from 86% in 2003 to 93% in 2016, the period of the study. The Trump White House would kill for an approval rating from the American people at half that number.
The study also found that low-income Chinese citizens in rural areas have closed the satisfaction gap with high-income citizens in the coastal areas. This is evidence that China’s government, at all levels from local to central, has been diligent in improving the lives of all its people.

Beware of Trump

So why is Trump trying to pick a fight with China? There are at least two speculations attributed to contingency planning by Trump’s advisers in case he loses his re-election bid. 
Defense writer Michael Klare is fearful that by sending an aircraft-carrier strike force to the South China Sea – already twice this month – Trump is preparing for a repeat of the “Gulf of Tonkin” incident that triggered the Vietnam War. This one could provoke a military conflict with China that would give Trump the excuse to defer the November election and remain in office.
A regular MSNBC commentator has a similar worry. He speculates that Barr in concentrating on China and ignoring cyber trespasses by Russia is part of the plan to accuse China of nefarious interference with the election outcome if Trump were to lose.
The danger is not with China but that the Trump team will lie and cheat to steal the election – a tactic Pompeo is well known for from his days as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. If the American people let the Trump team get away with this, they may not live to rue the consequences.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Blaming China is dead end for Trump election hopes

First posted in Asia Times

In April, the US Republican Party issued a playbook for the November election. Put simply: Blame the Covid-19 pandemic and everything else on China and do not bother to defend President Donald Trump. As matters have unraveled since then, it’s becoming obvious the strategy will not work.
Trump and his faithful henchman Mike Pompeo continue to hammer home the message that China did not tell the world about Covid-19 in a timely manner, did not share its knowledge about the virus, and may even have created it in one of its own labs. 
But the narrative lacks authenticity and rings more hollow with repetition. To bolster a tenuous accusation, Pompeo has to exaggerate when the virus first struck in China and the length of time the authorities kept silent. 
While the two sides will never agree between what Pompeo said and China said, it has become obvious that regardless of when the Trump administration knew about the virus, it let weeks if not months go by before taking action.
Trump is betting his re-election on a healthy economy. He is desperately wishing for a normal recovery without paying the price of a nationwide lockdown, testing, mandating wearing facial masks and maintaining social distance. 
Unemployment remains over 11% and nearly 50 million Americans have filed unemployment claims for their first time. To inject liquidity and keep businesses afloat and wage earners from drowning in debt, Congress authorized the sending of checks on a massive scale.
The federal budget deficit for June was well over $800 billion, more than a tenfold increase from the same month last year.
The June World Economic Outlook published by the International Monetary Fund projected that the US economy will shrink by roughly 8% for the year. Canada is slightly worse and Germany slightly better, while most European economies will experience the pain of negative 10% growth or more. 
Only China is expected to show a 1% gain in gross domestic product. The country bit the bullet, clamped down hard and brought the virus under control quickly, measures the Western countries were reluctant to take.
History may well credit Trump’s stupidity for facilitating China’s economic rise and surge past the US. His administration and some poorly informed Republican senators seem to think that the US is the fountainhead of all advanced technology and the Chinese only come to America to steal.