Showing posts with label US China bilateral relations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US China bilateral relations. Show all posts

Monday, February 6, 2023

Much ado about a well-timed balloon. Aside from a propaganda boon for the US, the incident got Antony Blinken off the hook

First posted in Asia Times. A huge white balloon equivalent in size to three buses drifted from China over Alaska and Canada, and then over Montana and across the US continent before reaching the Carolinas coast. At that point, the Pentagon deemed it safe to send a couple of jet fighters supported by a fuel tanker to bring down the errant balloon and let the remnants fall into the Atlantic Ocean. After firing missiles at the target, the mission was completed and deemed a triumphant success. And the brave pilots returned to home base safely. The Biden White House first knew about the balloon on January 28 and shot it down a week later. In between, Washington expressed outrage, fear and anxiety over the “invasion” of a spy balloon from China. Beijing’s official response was that it was a civilian balloon for weather surveillance that went off course and hardly warranted the extreme response of a missile attack. Beijing did not feel it necessary to point out that high-flying balloons cannot gather intelligence as effectively as satellites or aircraft. The Pentagon certainly knows this better than anyone. It has been flying surveillance planes off the coast of China for years – though no balloons that we know of. Needless to say, a highly visible white finish is hardly appropriate for a spy balloon that would logically want to be stealthy. But it is, on the other hand, a well-known fact that thousands of weather balloons are released annually by many countries for the purpose of forecasting weather. Once in a while, a balloon will drift off course because of atmospheric conditions, which is not surprising and should not trigger any outpouring of emotional trauma. Aside from the fact that the wandering balloon gave Washington the opportunity to make a mountain of propaganda against China’s “aggressiveness” molehill, otherwise known as xiaotidazhuo (小题大做), the incident also got Secretary of State Antony Blinken off the hook. For weeks, Blinken has publicly announced his intention to visit Beijing. Then he got specific and set the dates of his visit as February 5 and 6. This presented China’s Foreign Ministry with a thorny problem. Aside from not having extended a formal invitation, the Chinese didn’t know what to talk to Blinken about. China has experienced a litany of the US saying one thing and doing just the opposite. A trust deficit exists that can’t be papered over. At the Group of Twenty Summit in Bali in November, US President Joe Biden promised to abide by the one-China principle, and then promptly enacted a bill to provide $10 billion worth of advanced weapons to Taiwan and celebrated the hijacking of a TSMC fab to Arizona. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen flew to Switzerland to meet with Vice-Premier Liu He, China’s economic czar, to ask for China’s support of American debt and not to divest US Treasury notes and bills that China was holding. Then she flew to Africa to badmouth China and warn Africans of Chinese “debt trap” diplomacy. Since Blinken’s ill-fated first meeting with Chinese leaders in charge of foreign policy, in Anchorage, Alaska, in March 2021, he has not altered his style of diplomacy. It’s “here are my list of demands and expectations in advance and now let’s talk.” China’s style of diplomacy is more nuanced, and telling Blinken to go hell or even to go Tianjin is just not its way. Instead, an innocently wandering balloon gives Blinken a face-saving way to postpone the self-invited visit to China. Note, he didn’t say he is canceling the visit, just postponing the trip. Despite his harsh, blunt approach, he does understand that the US desperately needs China’s willing collaboration. With China, he needs to act like he understands it can’t be all take and no give. A note added after the post: Should a real war break out between the U.S. and China, we can expect an armada of ten thousand weather balloons menacing the American sky.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Fatal flaws with the idea of decoupling

A shorter version of this post first appeared in Asia times. Recent issue of Bloomberg/Businessweek said, “Despite the heated national security rhetoric in Washington and talk of “decoupling” in policy circles, the world’s top two economies remain firmly intertwined.” The article goes on the say that the bilateral trade for year ending 2022 is likely to be the highest ever recorded. The failure to decouple is likely good news for China but even better news for the American public. However, anyone with a dollop of common sense would realize that the talk about decoupling was just so much balderdash. For the sake of introducing clarity to what and how decoupling might actually mean, let us recruit a team of Indians to address the many facets of this “elephant” in the room. Decouple would mean the opposite of economic integration. Each would have nothing to do with the other. This means Americans would have to stop buying manufactured goods from China. But this is contrary to actual bilateral trade data, wherein despite the added import tariff to the retail price, the American public can’t buy enough products Made in China. That’s the reality to date. In order for the US not to buy from China, we would have to make these products in America. Former President Donald Trump struck on the brilliant idea of bringing manufacturing back to America. He ordered, cajoled and dangled sweet deals to entice American companies back to the US. Americans don’t know how anymore The idea basically flopped for a host of reasons. The making of widgets left the U.S. decades ago, first to the four tigers such as Taiwan and Hongkong and then to mainland China. The basic skill sets needed on the production line hasn’t been seen in America for many decades and could not be replaced overnight on demand. Some lament that Washington is at fault for not having the vision to craft an industrial policy that would encourage retention of the manufacturing of run of the mill products, such as toys, television, personal computers or mobile phones. Our political leaders, busy getting elected, did not envisiage that making widgets was a necessary precursor step to making increasingly higher valued goods, as China has done. Actually, most the blame belongs to America’s abiding faith in Capitalism as executed by Wall Street. Not for nothing that Corporate America are known as “multinationals.” Multinationals (MNCs) go to where the production costs are the lowest and sell to where the profit is highest. “National interest” does not figure in their board room discussions. As Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden lacked the courage to remove the tariffs on imports from China, which could have only benefitted the American consumer. Washington along with the compliant mainstream media has so thoroughly demonized China in the minds of American public that Biden dare not risk even an appearance of apparently acting soft on China. However, Biden apparently understands that bringing manufacturing back is not quite as simple as a Trumpian clarion call. For one thing, the American wage scale would raise the cost of production, perhaps by as much as 50% according to Morris Chang, founder of Taiwan Semiconductor, for semiconductors. In the case of highend products, production also needs a complete supply chain of parts and components, which would also need to be transplanted from somewhere. Biden wins at the expense of Europeans So, instead of counting on American MNCs to make America great again, Biden is dangling subsidies to appeal to foreign MNCs, any company except from China, to move their plants to the US. European companies find the prospects tempting. Their economy at home faces shortages and inflation thanks to the Ukrainian war and they find America’s stability and market appealing. Just like their American counterparts, European companies owe their allegiance to their shareholders. But enticing European MNCs to the US means taking jobs away from their home country, which is making the European leaders very unhappy, hardly a way to treat America’s allies. Biden’s another approach is to outright hijack Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) plant from Taiwan and transplant it to Phoenix Arizona. The first group of TSMC staff came willingly and accompanied the equipment disassembled from Taiwan. They were convinced by their own government that invasion from China was imminent and this was the opportunity to get out. Mere weeks later, some troubling signs are developing. The staff from Taiwan are used to working 10-12 hour shifts and they were promised that they do not have to work night shifts. Well, their American colleagues don’t want to work night shifts either and 8 hours per day is their normal stint. The difference between the Taiwan based wage scale and the US based also creates tension and resentment. Presumably, the difference would eventually be harmonized but the manufacturing cost would go up. The question will be whether the TSMC customers, such as Apple et al., would pay for this higher price chips for the sake of national interest or just keep buying from the TSMC plant remaining in Taiwan. Want to hazard a guess? When the Soviet Union sent aloft the first manmade satellite in 1957, America woke up in shock, and promptly rallied national energy and resources to respond. Twelve years later we sent man to the moon. That was America’s first Sputnik moment. When China showed that they have caught up or even surpassed the US in certain critical 21st century technogies, that was another Sputnik moment. Demonize easier than compete But this time, our leaders in Washington must have decided that rather than compete head on, it was cheaper to allocate a few hundreds of million dollars to the media and ask them to continue to mislead the American public and demonize China as a human rights violator incapable of innovation and technological advances. Of course, Pentagon has yet to explain how an undersea mountain “ran” into the nose of our most advanced nuclear submarine off southern China coast in 2021 and forcing the sub to surface and run to safety. That’s a juicy mystery still waiting for the mainstream media to investigate and report. Unconfirmed rumor is that a Chinese drone sub wreaked havoc on the USS Connecticut. When the US has been going around the world promoting armed conflicts in the name of imposing “rule based, international order,” death and destruction inevitably followed. The world witnessed the repeated scenario in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen to name a few hot spots set ablazed by Uncle Sam. Rather than feeling secured under the American military umbrella, the rest of the world fear and distrust American rhetoric and intentions. In the meantime, China makes the rounds offering Belt and Road Initiative to underdeveloped and developing countries. The basics of BRI is that the host country will consult with China and select the infrastructure projects that need China’s assistance and financing. Infrastructure projects, such as port, rail, highway, airport, power and others, upon completion would give the host an economic shot in the arm. Raising the gross domestic product could come from increase in export and participation of global trade, improved yield on the farm based on Chinese technical assistance and creation of new jobs in the cities. BRI becomes a form of incoming tide that raises all boats. Over 150 countries around the world have signed BRI deals with China. Over time, we can expect to see increasing number of countries grow in economical strength. As more countries manage to keep their own people employed at home, the world will see fewer refugees and migrants, an overall benefit you will not hear reported by the western media. China has friends, the US fear and loathing The success of BRI has raised alarm from the western media and American diplomats are going around Africa and Latin America warning them of China’s “debt-trap diplomacy.” China’s BRI financing is normally around half of the going rate, sometimes even at zero interest, and some loans were outright forgiven. These third world countries should be offended that the West believes they are too stupid to tell the difference between centuries of colonial exploitation they suffered in the hands of the western imperial powers and China’s straightforward business propositions. If the much talked about decoupling were to suddenly occur tomorrow, the US would pay a much dearer price than would China. China would continue to be the most important trading partner to every country except for perhaps the US. China has long term, yuan based, energy contracts with Saudi, Iran, Qatar and other Gulf states along with Russia. Furthermore, thanks to the US aggressive actions pushing China and Russia into tighter collaboration, they can roll up their sleeves and concentrate on developing and realizing the vast potential of Siberia. On the other hand, the US is suffering from a deep deficit of trust by allies and rest of the world alike. The world has seen American unilateralism at work as the US confiscated the foreign reserve of the Taliban government in Afghanistan and later the Russian holdings, national and personal. The threat of sanctions and actual sanctions imposed has been the US favorite tool of diplomacy. As many have observed, sanctions have unanticipated consequences and blowback. As one recent article concluded, “Western sanctions led Russia to greatly increase trade with Asia, while devastating Europe’s economy. The US tech war against China is damaging its own industry.” Washington can act arbitrarily, capriciously and unilaterally. That’s why Japan, even as an ally, and China being the two largest foreign holders of US debt are in a rush to divest their holdings as quickly as possible. In the case of China, they face the challenge of trade surplus accumulating faster than they can divest their dollars. Indeed, friend and foe alike, most countries’ reserve now include increasing portion of China’s yuan while lessening the portion in dollars. Russia has even announced the ultimate goal of holding 60% renminbi and 40% gold as their foreign exchange reserve. Ironically, in middle of last month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen flew to Europe just to intercept China’s vice premier Liu He as he was on his way to the Davos summit. Apparently, the gist of their three-hour meeting was for Yellen to pitch the importance of China holding onto the dollars and continuing to buy US debt as vital to supporting the American economy. Most likely decoupling was not part of their conversation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Chinese-American completes ‘long journey’ to justice - But does Sherry Chen’s legal victory signal the end of racial profiling by US authorities?

First posted in Asia Times. Sherry Chen threw a party last weekend to celebrate her legal victory over her former employer, the US Department of Commerce (DOC). The purpose of the party, Chen said, was to thank her many loyal supporters for standing with her throughout her “long journey seeking justice.” The celebration took place at a home in Palo Alto, California, belonging to Adrian and Monica Yeung Arima, where Chen was staying as their houseguest. Silicon Valley was where many of her supporters reside who donated to her legal defense fund and gave abiding moral support. Around a hundred attended the party. Long ordeal begins In October 2014, after a two-year investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation came to her workplace and took her away in handcuffs, to the shock and surprise of her colleagues. In March 2015, federal prosecutors dropped all charges without any explanation. That should have been the end of the Sherry Chen story, but it wasn’t. Amazingly, in March 2016, Chen, a hydrologist, was fired from her job with the National Weather Service (NWS) based on the same charges that had been discarded by the prosecutors. NWS is under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Asia Times described the twisted shenanigan that took place between the NWS and NOAA in order to formalize the paperwork for Chen’s dismissal – hint, the head of NWS wriggled and managed to stay out of the fray. Shocked by the development, she said to Asia Times, “Why do I have to accept the unfair and unjust treatment my government has given me? I am not just fighting for myself but for all victims of racial profiling so that it won’t happen again.” MSPB rules in her favor Chen then filed a complaint for wrongful termination with the Merit System Protection Board. The MSPB was established to protect federal workers against abuses by their employers. To the surprise of many, the chief administrative judge, Michele Schroeder, ruled in her favor as the victim of gross injustice. From the time she filed with the MSPB to reaching the verdict took one and a half years. Judge Schroeder order reinstatement with back pay and benefits. Historically, the odds of winning a ruling from the MSPB against the federal government had been less than one in a hundred. So, in April 2018, the verdict should have been the end of Chen’s journey and a cause for celebration. But it wasn’t, because the DOC filed an appeal, which needed to be heard by a quorum of two or more judges. At the time the MSPB had only one working judge, and therefore the appeal was sent into limbo. Was the DOC aware of the delay due to a technicality? Of course. On January 2019, Chen filed a civil lawsuit against the DOC alleging malicious prosecution and false arrest and sought $5 million for damages and compensation. In October 2021, the American Civil Liberties Union along with Cooley LLP, a major law firm headquartered in Palo Alto, joined her legal team in pursuing the suit. Finally, early this month, Chen along with ACLU announced a settlement that would pay her $550,000 and an annuity of $125,000 per year over the next 10 years. Thus she can claim a happy ending after a decade-long journey. “It’s an enormous victory for Ms Chen personally,” said Ashley Gorski, a senior staff lawyer with the ACLU National Security Project, “and for the Chinese-American community as well. The settlement makes clear that when the government discriminates, it’s going to be held accountable.” ACLU proclaims Chen’s win historic The ACLU called her settlement historic, unprecedented and the largest ever paid by the DOC. All true, but Chen’s win, in my view, just recovers her legal fees and back wages. And her case is just a beginning of possible rectification and does not signify the end of systemic racial profiling against Chinese-Americans by the US government. As I observed in 2015, “Rather than compiling evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, the FBI and fellow practitioners will jump at any flimsy thread of possible wrong doing, make a public arrest, send out a press release on their accusation and put the hapless Chinese American in detention. “When their findings are then subject to scrutiny and fail to pass muster, the charges are quietly dropped. By then, of course, the reputation of the person is in tatters and the victim’s life and finances are in ruin.” Since the celebrated Wen Ho Lee case and even earlier, to this day, Chinese-American scientists are considered guilty until proven innocent. The burden of proof is on the accused. In Sherry Chen’s case, even when proven innocent, the burden was still on her to fight for the justice that was her due. According to an article published last December by the MIT Technology Review, analyzing the so-called China Initiative launched by former US president Donald Trump, “To date, only about a quarter of defendants charged under the initiative have been convicted, and about half of those defendants with open charges have yet to see the inside of an American courtroom.” The remaining 25%, I surmise, had their charges quietly dismissed. Xiaoxing Xi also seeking justice In 2015, Xiaoxing Xi, professor of physics at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was arrested at gunpoint at his home in front of his wife and daughters by the FBI in a “daring” dawn raid. The DOJ subsequently dropped the charges, which could be considered a win for Xi because the department did not ask him to plead guilty to some minor misdemeanor in exchange. The government just hates to admit making an error, and will normally ask for a plea to some minor offense so the arrest can be scored in the win column. Wen Ho Lee, for example, had to plead guilty to downloading computer files in violation of regulations at the Los Alamos National Laboratory before obtaining release from nine months of solitary confinement and set free by the presiding judge. The judge expressed regret that Lee had to cop a plea and apologized to him for government’s gross misconduct. Many other Chinese-Americans victimized by the FBI and DOJ have had to plea-bargain so that they can go on with their lives and cut the financial bleeding from the legal fees. It’s always a challenge to take on the US government in a legal dispute. Compared with the individual, the government has infinite resources and time on their side. Like Sherry Chen did, Professor Xi is also suing the US government and FBI agents for knowingly misrepresenting evidence as the basis for his arrest and the consequent trauma he suffered. The ACLU is also part of his legal team and he is hoping for an eventually favorable ruling. Gang Chen, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), appeared in a panel discussion along with Sherry Chen and Dr Xi at a conference in San Francisco, held a day after Chen’s legal victory was announced. The subject was racial profiling and discrimination against Chinese-American scientists. The fourth speaker was Jeremy Wu, founder of APA Justice, responsible for diligently tracking the government’s judiciary abuses. Gang Chen has similar FBI encounter Professor Chen was more fortunate than his fellow panelists. According to The New York Times, as soon as he found that he was under investigation, his employer, MIT, hired outside legal counsel to advise him along the way. One early morning in January 2021, a gang of more than 10 FBI agents came to his home to handcuff him and take him away for interrogation. He was released that afternoon, but he had to stay away from the campus and make no contact with any MIT employees. That September, Professor Chen’s lawyer reported good news from the prosecutor’s office. If Chen would admit to having certain contacts in China, the charges would be dismissed and the case dropped. While his lawyer thought the offer was a safe, risk-free deal to get off, Chen refused. Since he had done nothing wrong, he did not think he had to make the deal. A full year later, in January 2022, all charges against Professor Chen were dropped and he resumed his work at MIT. He was more fortunate than most because Rafael Reif, then president of MIT, supported him from the inception of the government investigation and the school pick up his legal bill. His fellow faculty vigorously rallied to his defense and protested his innocence. Others in similar debacles have been much worse off. Their university employers quickly cut them loose and hung them out to dry. By the time the charges are dropped, they may or may not be reinstated, their reputations have been tainted and their bank accounts greatly depleted by the fees for legal defense. At least 1,400 US-based ethnic Chinese scientists switched their affiliation last year from American to Chinese institutions, according to a joint report by academics from Harvard, Princeton and MIT. The trend is increasing thanks to the China Initiative established by Donald Trump and only recently canceled by President Joe Biden. The original intent of the initiative was to curb exchange of scientific informative between the US and China. It turned into a witch-hunt that ran amok. For ethnic Chinese, working in science and technology in the US has become hazardous, risking out-of-the-blue arrests and third-degree grilling about one’s loyalty. The way to stop the brain drain from the US is to enact regulations and laws that will punish prosecutions based on lies, falsified evidence, and hiding exculpable evidence. Anti-Chinese hate crimes must not be tolerated, especially when the perpetrator is the government. Provisions need to be in place for victims of wrongful prosecution to be promptly compensated for damages and legal fees. Only then can a brain drain of Chinese scientists and researchers slow – and perhaps reverse.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Blowbacks from Ukraine war will be deadly serious

First posted in Asia Times. Rampant inflation, a damaged dollar, and the threat of wider conflict are among the perils awaiting the world As the war in Ukraine rolls into its second month, the fog (of war) is beginning to lift and certain troubling conclusions emerge into view. Ominously, some are consequential threats to the future existence of the world as we know it. It’s increasingly obvious that the war was provoked by the US and that the US has a vested interest in keeping the conflict going. No members of President Joe Biden’s administration talk about ending the war, only about providing more arms for the Ukrainians to keep fighting, and to impose more sanctions on Russia. Biden has declared that the purpose of levying sanctions on top of sanctions on Russia was to inflict pain on the country to the point that the Russian people will revolt and overthrow President Vladimir Putin from power. As the world has learned from previous experiences of countries that faced the full fury of American wrath, Cuba, Iran and Venezuela to mention a few, sanctions represent a blunt and non-discriminating instrument of torture. The elites of the target nation might feel some pain but innocent civilians, especially women and children, suffer the most from the deprivations resulting from the sanctions. Rather than turning the people against their leaders, the external cause of pain can become a rallying focus for their leader and turn the resentment toward the perpetrator. Over time, the victimized people learn to make do with less and stiffen their resolve to stand up to the external bully. Also, in order for any sanction to become a potent weapon, it needs virtually universal support from the community of nations. Thus US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other senior officials have been scurrying around to hector friend and foe alike into joining the sanctions on Russia. Most not buying the American sanctions The response has been a great disappointment to Washington. Brazil, India and South Africa have elected to stand by Russia as fellow members of BRICS. Even Mexico has demurred and not joined the American-led sanctions. A spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, was tactless enough to point out that 140 members of the United Nations have not signed on. In other words, more than half of the world’s population is not joining the sanctions on Russia. Along with oil and natural gas, Russia is a major supplier of wheat and other agricultural products and fertilizers. Prohibition of Russia from participating in the world market will create shortages and inflationary prices. Not only does Biden expect his American public willingly to bear the economic pain caused by the collateral impact of his sanctions, he also expects the Europeans to go along, notwithstanding that their cost of living will go through the roof. The European Union depends on Russia for 40% of its natural gas and 27% of its oil. Germany is especially dependent on Russia as its major supplier of energy. One has to wonder how long the EU will squirm under US unilateral foreign policy. Rampant inflation will lead to civil unrest and tear the European alliance apart. A weakened Europe unable to get along with Russia would minimize the EU’s claim as one of the poles in a multipolar world. Eliminating the EU as a rival happens to fit the White House design to regain world domination. Even though Biden admits that sanctions do not deter, he freezes Russia’s international reserves. Then he chooses to accentuate the pressure on Putin by ordering the seizure of private property, such as US$100 million yachts, from selected Russian oligarchs, and removing Russia from the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) international financial transfer system, in effect removing Russia from global commerce. After Biden’s announcement, the value of the ruble plummeted through the floor and the US and its allies crowed in delight. Then Putin declared that he would accept payment only in rubles for the sale of Russian natural gas and oil to “unfriendly” countries. Later, he broadened that to include accepting gold for payment at the exchange rate of 5,000 rubles to one gram of gold. Trust in the dollar eroding With the linking of the Russian currency to real assets, the world has a choice on whether to trust the ruble or the full faith and backing of the US government on the value of the dollar. Apparently, confidence in the ruble was quickly restored, as the exchange rate against the dollar bounced back to near pre-war level. The unilateral and arbitrary actions of the Biden administration are raising doubts about the reliability of commitments from the US. India is one example. Not even Japan’s offer (as a proxy for the US) of a $43 billion investment over a five-year period can tempt Prime Minister Narendra Modi into joining the sanctions. Instead, Modi is negotiating a rupees-for-rubles deal for Russian oil. Even before the war in Ukraine, Russia had struck a deal to supply natural gas and oil to China based on the renminbi. Saudi Arabia has also hedged and agreed to sell oil to China on payment of the yuan instead of the dollar. Biden’s sanctions on Russia clearly drive home the lesson that no sovereign foreign reserve is safe in the hands of banks in the US or the UK, but is subject to seizure at the whim of the those governments. The American public may not yet fully appreciate that the one consequential blowback of this is a worldwide loss of confidence in the dollar, a currency not pegged to gold or any real asset and the belief that the US remains a safe place to leave one’s money. If and when the US is no longer perceived to be a safe place to park a country’s foreign reserve or a tycoon’s private wealth, the dollar will cease to be a reserve currency of any value. The dollar not being worth the paper it is printed on will lead to the collapse of the US economy, which can be directly blamed on Biden’s folly. China works on negotiation to peace While the mainstream media in the West focused on Putin’s naked incursion into Ukraine, there were some that documented the step-by-step aggression of the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that led to war. The alleged motive for the aggression was to provoke Russia into a war. The war was to bleed and weaken Russia into a pushover state for the US. Small wonder then that when Blinken asked China to join the sanctions on Russia, he got a polite but blank stare. He must have assumed the Chinese were too stupid to understand that after the collapse of Russia, China would be next in Uncle Sam’s gunsight. In contrast with Biden’s foreign policy, Chinese President Xi Jinping contacted Putin on the day after the Russian incursion into Ukraine to propose commencing negotiations with Ukraine for a peaceful settlement. Distinct from the US, the UK and NATO, China has been quietly working with France and Germany to promote a negotiation process that would lead to peace. The most recent meeting held in Istanbul was the fourth in a series of parleys to discuss a ceasefire. As host, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been following and reporting on the progress of the negotiations. Despite Western media accusations of genocide and war atrocities, Putin has apparently been careful to limit civilian casualties. As former ambassador and US official Chas Freeman has pointed out, the ratio of civilian casualties from the Ukraine conflict to military casualties has been one-tenth of that normally found in a typical war. Newsweek reported a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst as saying, “I know that the news keeps repeating that Putin is targeting civilians, but there is no evidence that Russia is intentionally doing so. In fact, I’d say that Russian could be killing thousands more civilians if it wanted to.” Yet Blinken had the temerity of wanting to charge Putin with war crimes without any sense of irony. So far, no one has accused Putin of indiscriminate carpet-bombing, drone strikes on wedding parties or waterboarding of prisoners of war. All are war crimes that Americans could have been charged with but have not. Another indicator that Putin’s objective in Ukraine was to reach a negotiated settlement was the report that the Russian military had agreed to release the mayor of the occupied Ukrainian city of Slavutych in exchange for removing arms within the city and for the Russian soldiers to leave. Hardly the action of anyone planning on a long-term occupation. One media source reported that prior to the breakout of hostilities, Moscow had submitted a draft proposal for a new mutual security treaty between Russia and NATO, with nine articles to be negotiated. But the Biden administration brushed off Russia’s entire proposal as a non-starter, not even a basis for negotiations. Given the Biden administration’s attitude about extending the conflict for as long as possible, it would be reasonable to speculate, as the two parties approach a peaceful settlement, whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky could run the risk of assassination by either a radical Nazi hit squad from within or by an outside CIA sniper. Kinzhal the dagger To show Russia is no mere paper tiger, it fired a hypersonic missile, which it calls Kinzhal, from the Black Sea across Ukraine that penetrated and exploded in an underground arms and munition depot in Ivano-Frankivsk region in western Ukraine. This depot was supposed to be hardened to resist a direct hit by a nuclear blast. The Kinzhal, Russian for “dagger,” is an air-to-surface missile that the Russian military claims can travel at more than 10 times the speed of sound and has a range of 1,930 kilometers. One reason for firing the missile was to tell the Pentagon that it had greatly underestimated Russia’s capability. As the publishers of Asia Times have written (Biden’s living a dangerous fantasy), Putin has repeatedly warned the US that the Russian bear will not be cattle-prodded into a corner but will pre-emptively launch the first nuclear strike if baited. Apparently, the Biden administration is not ready to back down and lose face. Thus the second consequential blowback from Ukraine is America’s evident willingness to collide with Russia at full tilt, even risking a worldwide nuclear holocaust. If the US does not succeed in knocking Russia back to the Stone Age, then what will Biden do with China? First, the US can continue to pressure China with the threat of sanctions. However, if sanctions will not cause Russia to bend to America’s will, China is even less likely to feel intimidated. After the financial crisis of 2008, China could see the shakiness of the dollar – a currency that depended on quantitative easing, that is, on the US Federal Reserve’s printing press running wild – and began to enter currency swap agreements with other countries. A swap agreement allows two trading partners to pay each other in their own currency and not have to settle in dollars. At last count, 40 countries have such agreements in place with China. Since China has become the leading trading partner of virtually every nation in the world, the US is even less likely to find many interested in joining any American boycott of doing business with China, were the US foolish enough to try. China counters US sanctions on Xinjiang But sure enough, the Biden administration has tried, by banning the import of cotton from Xinjiang. In response, China has mandated that all face masks for export must be made with cotton from Xinjiang. Biden has also forbidden the import of any products made in Xinjiang. In response, China has consolidated all its rare-earth mining companies into one holding company and registered it in Xinjiang. The US can probably get along without masks from China but will find it a real challenge without rare-earth metals and minerals. There’s a Chinese saying: “For every ploy, there is (always) a counter.” Second, the skill level of Biden’s team of diplomats is no match for China. When Blinken and company come calling, their message has been a consistent one: Follow our lead or else we will subject you to sanctions beyond your imagination. Nothing subtle or nuanced in their message, nor any offer of incentive to go along, just arrogance. Chinese diplomats do not go around threatening military action or sanctions. They offer collaboration in the spirit of their Belt and Road Initiative. China’s recent interaction with India comes to mind. On the eve of a scheduled visit to India by a UK delegation led by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also came calling. The UK group intended to lecture their former colony on the need to join the sanctions against Russia. Instead, the Indian government abruptly canceled the UK visit, but welcomed the visit by Wang. Wang went to India to indicate that the two nations’ border dispute can be resolved amicably and pale in importance compared with the need to unite and stand up to the hegemony of US/UK/NATO. India, having had a full dose of the Pentagon’s insulting arrogance, listened. Both Russia and India have tried to integrate with the West and failed. Now it’s time to look east and align with East and Central Asia. If the threat of sanctions against Beijing rings hollow, could the Biden administration replace Ukraine with Taiwan to push China into war over the island? Many in the mainstream media have suggested that pushing Russia to invade Ukraine was a dress rehearsal for doing the same with China, namely getting China to invade Taiwan. Is Taiwan China’s Ukraine? Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and others have suggested that the sure way to provoke China into war was officially to declare recognition of Taiwan as an independent and sovereign nation. Such a declaration would be to ignore the one-China principle that Taiwan is part of China and would violate China’s sovereignty and international rule and order. Of course, trampling on established international order has never bothered the US. The only order that the US respects is the set of rules set by the US. For certain, such open support for Taiwan’s independence would raise the tension between the US and China by orders of magnitude. But to light the spark of conflict, Washington would have to persuade Taipei to initiate military hostility. According to a poll taken in Taiwan recently, after witnessing how the US provoked the Russian incursion into Ukraine and then watched the war on the sidelines, only one-third of Taiwanese are confident they will receive direct US military support in the event of a Chinese invasion. One in six fears they will have to fight alone. This represents a sharp decline by almost half from a survey taken six months earlier. Hard to imagine that the people in Taiwan would want to see their island turn into another Ukraine. China also claims to own hypersonic weapons, but we have not seen a demonstration of the capability of its version of a “Chinese dagger.” But we do know that China is developing carriers on high-speed rail to keep its nuclear missiles on the move. The idea of moving the nukes on China’s high-speed rail network is similar to putting nukes in submarines. Namely, keep them moving to raise the likelihood of surviving a surprise attack and retain the ability to strike back. Unlike Putin, China is not ready to depart from its long-standing policy on “no first use” but will endeavor to keeping its sting potent. The American public must wake up to full realization that the third consequential blowback is the willingness of the political leaders in Washington to risk nuclear war in order to assert hegemonic superiority over China and the world. The Chinese have a saying, hui tou shi an (回头是岸), meaning “turn your head to see the shore.” In order to turn America back to the direction of peace, the American voters must be alert to the danger the world is confronting and exercise their rights to vote the rascals out. That means all of them, regardless of their party affiliation, so long as they yearn for war. We stand at a dangerous junction in history. Let us hope the world will live to see a brighter tomorrow. This song, "War Machine" says it all.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Webinars on US China relations

Part 1 - Early U.S. China Ties; One shining moment: Burlingame Treaty of 1868, given on Novembere 3, 2021 Part 2 - How did our China relations turn so sour? The future of our young generations are at stake, given on November 10, 2021 The above 2 part webinars were 7th and 8th in a 9 part series organized and sponsored by Coalition Peace Initiative. Presented at the Schiller Institute Conference. The Survival of Our World Depends on U.S. and China Getting Along.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

America has much to learn from China

Two recent stories hardly mentioned in the mainstream western media illustrate the major differences between China’s way of doing things versus the American way and suggest that the U.S. has much to gain by learning from China. The first story has to be with evacuation from Kabul at the end of the forever war in Afghanistan. China’s embassy notified their citizens in latter part of June to prepare to evacuate from Afghanistan. In mid-July, a charter plane from China picked up over 200 of their citizens and flew them to Wuhan. These passengers disembarked and were held in quarantine for two weeks for observation before being allowed to depart for their final destination. Thus, Chinese citizens living in Afghanistan avoided the chaotic, panic driven departure that the world witnessed at the end of August. True, China has much fewer people to evacuate than the U.S. but the orderly way China managed the evacuation raises a critical question. China anticipated Taliban’s takeover How was it possible that China could anticipate the Taliban’s return to power and control while the US failed to do so? The Americans had advisors working with the Afghan government, thousands of troops on the ground and a network of intelligence gatherers and informers. Yet, the US did not see the impending chaos and if an orderly exit was planned, it was incompetently implemented. One possible explanation, though not necessarily the only explanation, is that China was not in the country as an occupier but as a friendly potential investor. The Chinese did not order anyone around and they tried to get along with everyone. They talked to the local Afghans as peers. In so doing, they understood the local conditions much better than the occupying forces of the western powers. It’s difficult for the West to understand that China does not have a history of resorting to conquest and occupation to have their way. In the early 15th century, China’s naval fleet was the mightiest in the world. Led by Admiral Zheng He, his flotilla of several hundred ships docked and interacted with over 40 rulers and states from present day Indonesia to India to the east coast of Africa. Each of the seven voyages took over two years to make a round trip as the Chinese sailors had to rest on land and wait for favorable seasonal winds before they can resume sailing. The sailors would settle on shore and live among the local people in peace and exchanged knowhow in farming techniques and crops to plant that would be useful for their journey onwards. The Chinese traded goods with the people everywhere they landed. Even though Admiral Zheng’s armada carried a formidable fighting force, they did not seek conflict but extended diplomacy and friendship on behalf of the Emperor from Beijing. Some local royalty went on board at Zheng’s invitation and embarked on the journey to visit the imperial court in Beijing. Throughout China’s history, the middle kingdom was recognized as a great civilization and the seat of culture. People far and wide came to China to study and learn. Every so often, parts or all of China were overrun and occupied by martial nomadic people such as the Xiangbeis, Khitans, Mongols and the Manchus. In every case, the invaders soon adopted the Chinese language, values and traditions. Within a few generations, they were assimilated and lost traces of their own ethnic origin. To assume the inevitability of the so-called Thucydides trap between a rising China and the reigning America is to fail to appreciate that China is not derived from the foundation of western civilization, a civilization that depended on conquest and enslaving its neighbors. From its history, China has learned the value of peace and harmony over war and conflict and avoid zero sum outcomes. Another story not reported is how Laos has so far avoided the Covid epidemic. Laos being among the economically least developed nations has no access to vaccines. What they have is deep respect and belief in traditional Chinese medicine, TCM. Laos saved from Covid by Chinese medicine Laos invited a noted TCM authority, Professor Duan Guangping from China to lead the effort to develop a protocol to prevent the spread of Covid and a treatment for those that become ill from the coronavirus. Duan and his team of Laotian TCM experts studied the 3000 herbal plants indigenous to Laos. Drawing from twelve ancient Chinese recipes for anti-epidemic and for treatment of serious illness, Duan’s team selected likely potions of herbs that would do the job. Within one month, Duan’s team had finalized the recipe that proved 100% effective in preventing the patient from contracting Covid. Thus, the Laotian government called the formulation the “Chinese vaccine.” The government launched a massive effort to search and collect the necessary herbs, and a factory was built to manufacture billions of doses of the herbal vaccine. From the beginning of research to production took three months. The Laotian population was quickly given the herbal medication and rendered safe from the virus. Foreigners entering Laos were also given the medication as a preventive measure. A handful of foreigners entered Laos with Covid symptoms and were treated with the Chinese herbal medication. Their fever was down in 24 hours and all the symptoms gone in three days. Since the herbal formulation was based on locally available plants, that were widely available and inexpensive, Laos was saved from the ravages of Covid at very little cost. The country also did not experience any interruption of normal economic activities associated with the Covid epidemic. A grateful Laos president Bounnhang thanked China for sending Dr. Duan and declared that one expert in Chinese medicine drawing on the unique efficacy of TCM had saved the entire country. Dr. Duan has given the honorific title as the Sun of Laos. In recent days US president Joe Biden is reported to have called China’s president Xi Jinping and proposed a face-to-face summit meeting. Xi’s reply was “no,” at which point the White House denied that the telephone conversation ever took place. Biden does not understand China That Biden called Xi is a clear indication that Biden is beginning to realize that his decision to follow the strategy to confront China established by his predecessor Donald Trump is not working to the US advantage, but he still does not understand China. Whether it was China’s first meeting with Secretary Antony Blinken in Anchorage or subsequently with visiting Deputy State Secretary Wendy Sherman or with Special envoy John Kerry, Beijing’s message remained the same. Namely, China will not let the US pick and choose the issues to cooperate and other issues to compete and confront with China. The Biden administration cannot go around the world blackening China’s reputation and recruiting allies to counter China’s influence as if in another cold war and expect collaboration on other global issues. Without mutual respect, there would be no trust and no point of any summit conference because nothing productive can come forth from such a meeting. Since Washington insist on designating China an adversary, only the Biden White House can decide when and if China should no longer be considered an adversary but a powerful collaborator to resolve all the challenges the world has to face together.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Views of Americans living in China

Cyrus comment on Pompeo

Mario Cavalo current state of affairs

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