Category Archives: China

WHY I REJECT WESTERN COURTS AND JUSTICE, by Andre Vltchek

There is a small courthouse from the ‘British era’, standing right in the center of Hong Kong. It is neat, well-built, remarkably organized and some would even say – elegant.

Earlier this year I visited there with an Afghan-British lawyer, who had been touring East Asia for several months. Hong Kong was her last destination; afterwards she was planning to return home to London. The Orient clearly confused and overwhelmed her, and no matter how ‘anti-imperialist’ she tried to look, most of her references were clearly going back to the adoptive homeland – the United Kingdom.

“It looks like England,” she exclaimed when standing in the middle of Hong Kong. There was clearly excitement and nostalgia in her voice.

To cheer her up even more, I took her to the courthouse. My good intentions backfired: as we were leaving, she uttered words that I expected but also feared for quite some time:

“You know, there are actually many good things that can be said about the British legal system.”

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I thought about that short episode in Hong Kong now, as I drove all around her devastated country of childhood, Afghanistan. As always, I worked without protection, with no bulletproof vests, armored vehicles or military escorts, just with my Afghan driver who doubled as my interpreter and also as my friend. It was Ramadan and to let him rest, I periodically got behind the wheel. We were facing countless detentions, arrests and interrogations by police, military and who knows what security forces, but we were moving forward, always forward, despite all obstacles.

From that great distance, from the heights of the mountains of Afghanistan, the courthouse in Hong Kong kept falling into proportion and meaningful perspective.

Continue reading WHY I REJECT WESTERN COURTS AND JUSTICE, by Andre Vltchek

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CPEC AND THE 21ST CENTURY CONVERGENCE OF CIVILIZATIONS, by Andrew Korybko

Source: Katehon

The current century presents a plethora of strategic opportunities for Pakistan, provided that Islamabad knows how to pluck the low-hanging fruit and take the initiative. The steady development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is making the country ever more attractive for a wide variety of international partners, some of which have traditionally been aligned with Pakistan, and others which are entirely new and unprecedented. No matter which of the two categories these states fall under, it’s evident that they’re all interested in taking advantage of this game-changing series of infrastructure projects.

Never before has China had a reliable overland trade corridor to the Indian Ocean, and this in turn opens up a wide range of options for the People’s Republic and its economic partners. Moreover, the eventual completion of CPEC will allow Russia and the landlocked states of Central Asia to more easily conduct commerce with the broader Indian Ocean Region, thereby leading to the creation of previously uncharted trade routes which will invigorate each set of partners and profit the irreplaceable transit state of Pakistan. In terms of the bigger picture, each crisscrossing network of economic connections in one way or another is expected to pass through Pakistan by means of CPEC, thereby empowering Islamabad to leverage its crucial geostrategic position in pursuit of its national interests.

The convergence of so many diverse civilizational actors – including Europeans, Russians, Turks, Arabs, Iranians, Chinese, and Africans – in one state is made possible by Beijing’s One Belt One Road vision of global connectivity as manifested through CPEC, and it accordingly allows for Pakistan to mediate over a dialogue of civilizations in the 21st century. This is a pivotal role of the utmost importance and highest responsibility, and it has the very real potential of transforming Pakistan from a regional leader to a hemispheric Great Power within the next decade. This analysis will thus explore the way in which this grand strategy can be actualized, sequentially describing the overall concept, the various civilizational-connectivity channels, and the challenges that Pakistan can expect to face.

Concept

Abstract:

The economic attractiveness of CPEC serves as an irresistible magnet for all sorts of various actors to utilize its infrastructural connectivity in facilitating their trade objectives, whether it’s enhancing bilateral trade with China such as the EU, Mideast, and African states may naturally be interested in, or in acquiring a convenient outlet to the Indian Ocean such as what Russia and the Central Asian republics desire. The convergence of so many civilizational forces in Pakistan will propel the South Asian state to worldwide importance by gifting its leaders with the impressive potential to serve as the common middle ground between each of them, both literally in terms of CPEC connectivity and figuratively as it relates to the broader dialogue of civilizations concept.

The latter objective is wholly dependent on the former, meaning that Pakistan is unlikely to bring together a wide array of hemispheric interests and actors if the CPEC project isn’t completed or is severely undermined after the fact. Conversely, the completion of CPEC will enable Pakistan to do just that, which thus propels the country’s significance to global heights. The second and largest part of this research will describe the different connectivity channels that CPEC opens up between Pakistan and the rest of Afro-Eurasia, but at this point a lot more needs to be said about the grand strategy behind this exciting endeavor.

Once CPEC becomes fully operational, Pakistan will unofficially become China’s most important gateway to the rest of the world. Although the People’s Republic currently engages in a staggering amount of trade with each of its countless partners, the vast majority of this is conducted via maritime routes which traverse the bottlenecked chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca and the contentious waters of the South China Sea, both of which are uncomfortably vulnerable to an American blockade or similar sort of interference in the event of a conflict between the two Great Powers. It’s mostly for this reason and due to the foresight of Chinese strategists that Beijing decided to pioneer an overland trade route to the Indian Ocean through CPEC, relying on its decades-long and all-weather friendship with Pakistan in order to make this a reality.

Continue reading CPEC AND THE 21ST CENTURY CONVERGENCE OF CIVILIZATIONS, by Andrew Korybko

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Shadow play: the New Great Game in Eurasia, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Asia Times

Wayang kulit puppets in Java, Indonesia. Photo: Collection Jean François Hubert

On his return to the Asia Times fold, veteran columnist and author Pepe Escobar writes that the West’s Divide and Rule approach to global rivals may no longer cut the ice in an age of New Silk Roads

So, right in the heart of Bali, spellbound after a serious conversation with a dukun — a spiritual master — it struck me: this should be the new Yalta, the perfect setting for a Trump-Xi-Putin summit setting the parameters ahead for the ever-evolving New Great Game in Eurasia.

Balinese culture makes no distinction between the secular and the supernatural — sekala and niskala. Sekala is what our senses may discern. Niskala is what cannot be sensed directly and can only be “suggested”. Massive geopolitical shifts ahead could not be more shrouded in niskala.

Captive to the vertiginous velocity of the here and now, the West still has much to learn from a highly evolved culture that prospered 5,000 years ago along the banks or the river Sindhu — now Indus — in what is currently Pakistan, and then migrated from the Majapahit empire in Java to Bali in the 14th century under the pressure of advancing Islam.

In the Hindu-Balinese conception of cosmic structure, Man is a kind of scale model of the universe. Order is personified by Gods, disorder personified by earth demons. It’s all about dharma and adharma. As for the West, adharma rules, unchecked.

In Hindu-Balinese religious philosophy, for every positive force there is a counterbalance, a destructive force. The two are inseparable — coexisting in dynamic equilibrium. Western dualism is so unsophisticated compared to it.

In the Suthasoma — a great Mahayana Buddhist epic poem composed in central Java at the time when Buddhism was merrily mixing up with Shivaist Hinduism — we find an outstanding verse: Bhineka tunggal ika (“it is different but it is one”).

That also happens to be the motto of Indonesia, emblazoned in its coat of arms, below the golden Garuda mythical bird. It’s a message of unity, like the American e pluribus unum. Now it looks more like a message presaging Eurasian integration via the New Silk Roads; it’s not by accident that Xi Jinping officially launched the Maritime Silk Road in 2013 in Indonesia.

A passerby casts a shadow over a map illustrating China’s “One Belt, One Road” megaproject at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China, on January 18, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip

With the Trump era about to begin, our current geopolitical juncture looks and feels like a massive Wayang kulit — a Balinese shadow play.

The historical origin of the shadow play lies most possibly in India, although it has been performed all across Asia. Good and evil coexist in shadow play — but Hinduism seeks to depict the clash as a sort of quirky partnership.

Continue reading Shadow play: the New Great Game in Eurasia, by Pepe Escobar

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WILL VIETNAM EMBRACE CHINA AFTER TRUMP ELECTED?, by Andre Vltchek

Common wisdom says that after Donald Trump got elected in the United States, Vietnam should be in panic.

True, there could be some ‘objective’ reasons for alarm, if one is truly obsessed with the ‘free’ trade agreements.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership may soon go to the dogs and at least one sizeable part of the Vietnamese leadership was counting on it, hoping that it would boost the economy, particularly its garment and agricultural sectors.

However, Vietnam is and always was tough, and on top of it, there are many signs indicating that the public and many government and Party heads are actually demanding a more ‘hardline’ Communist path, not just more business activities.

Earlier this year, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, was re-elected, while Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was pushed from power. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported:

“Mr Dung was the party’s strongest voice in denouncing Beijing and was credited with Vietnam’s smooth accession to a US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

In brief: he was one of the main local advocates of the pro-Western foreign and economic policy, which was setting Vietnam on a dangerous crash course with China. And he is gone…

After the recent election results in the United States were announced, Vietnam is set to move much closer towards both China and Russia. President-elect Donald Trump’s ‘exceptionalist’ and often anti-Asian rhetoric is already setting off alarm bells all over the region: from Hanoi to Jakarta, and naturally from Manila to Beijing.

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Donald Trump is now getting ready to murder the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ (the 12-nation trade pact). Vietnam, which during the previous years developed (pragmatically) a very close relationship with the Obama administration, is watching nervously. Before the 12th National Congress of the Communist Party earlier this year (and particularly since a new Constitution was adopted in 2013), Vietnam introduced and passed around 100 new laws, some described rightly or wrongly by Western analysts as ‘pro-market economic reforms’.

Undeniably, some in the Vietnamese leadership believed that their country would be one of the main beneficiaries of the TPP.

There was even some muted grumbling about the ‘growing strategic relationship’ between Vietnam and the United States.

To impress the West, particularly the United States, Hanoi kept ‘improving the business climate’, ‘easing its trade regulations and yielding to various demands from Western and Asian businesses and corporations.

Most alarmingly, Hanoi’s confrontational stand towards China was changing from rhetorical to ‘tangible’, after Vietnam began expanding its runway – and according to Reuters and other Western sources – after it began deploying several rocket launchers in or near the disputed area in the South China Sea.

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To say that ‘Vietnam changed its basic positions opportunistically and abruptly’ would be wrong. Even before the US elections, Vietnam began ‘diversifying’ its foreign policy.

Now Hanoi is hoping for the deal that is being proposed by China: a 16-nation agreement called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would include Vietnam and the rest of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Relations between Hanoi and Beijing have been rapidly improving. It is becoming clear that Vietnam may be following the example of the Philippines, backing off permanently from the confrontational course with the most populous nation on earth. Significantly, the top Vietnamese leadership recently hosted the outspoken anti-imperialist President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. To quote Gary Sands from the Foreign Policy Blogs:

“…While the previous administration in Hanoi had angered Beijing by seeking legal advice from Manila in order to potentially file their own claim at The Hague, the new leadership under Quang appears to be backing off confrontation with Beijing, along with Manila. Any jointly-coordinated legal or military effort between Hanoi and Manila appears now to be out of the question for fear of provoking the dragon next door, while we await the outcome of hopefully peaceful bilateral negotiations.” 

The ideological stand of the Vietnamese leadership became clear following the death of the Cuban leader Fidel Castro Ruz. The country announced a day of mourning and Vietnam’s government and Party officials delivered powerful emotional revolutionary and internationalist speeches.

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One major problem is that the Western perspective has managed to kidnap almost entirely the narrative on the country – the way all major or minor developments in Vietnam are being perceived and interpreted. This does not necessarily apply to the Vietnamese people, although many of them are actually also consuming Western propaganda at an excessive rate. However, it definitely applies to how the rest of the world understands (or misunderstands) Vietnam.

The slowing down of Doi Moi pro-market reforms is hardly addressed by Western mass media. As they hardly address any social changes in neighboring China. In Europe and the US it is generally perceived that both countries are determinately and happily embracing the market economy concepts.

The reality couldn’t be any farther from that. In China and in Vietnam (although still more in China), the majority of the population has been disappointed, even disgusted, by capitalist practices. People are demanding the re-introduction of essential socialist principles. In China, under the leadership of President Xi, the government is yielding to the people’s demands. It appears that Vietnam is paying close attention to its giant neighbor in the North, and is also willing to reconsider its hard-core pro-market stands.

The people of Vietnam may be hopeful, but they are not necessarily content, in the cities and in the countryside. Life is now better than two decades ago, but expectations are also much higher. ‘Socialism Vietnam-style’ would most likely be welcomed by the majority, and could be coming soon!

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(First published by NEO)

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel “Aurora” and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and  Fighting Against Western Imperialism. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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The Pearl River Delta showcases the Chinese Dream, by Pepe Escobar

Source: RT

Buildings are seen through thick haze at the central business district in Guangzhou, Guangdong province © Alex Lee / Reuters
Buildings are seen through thick haze at the central business district in Guangzhou, Guangdong province © Alex Lee / Reuters

As President Putin, post-Brexit, rushed to discuss all matters pertaining to Eurasia integration with President Xi Jinping in Beijing, I embarked on a connected, parallel southern China journey.

From my base in Hong Kong, I set out on a Pearl River Delta loop, hitting Shenzhen and Dongguan and then Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Macau.

Why? Because this unprecedented, interconnected story of breakneck urbanization, technological innovation and post-modern megacity sprawl showcases no less than the future dreamed up by the collective leadership in Beijing. And it doesn’t hurt that southern China is the starting point of the Maritime Silk Road.

I was very privileged to visit Shenzhen and Guangzhou only a few days after the Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping, then 88, embarked on his legendary six-week “southern tour” in January-February 1992. His target at the time was to turbo-charge the “get rich is glorious” Chinese manufacturing miracle, still in its infancy.

In the early 1990s, agriculture, mining and fishing were responsible for 27 percent of the Chinese economy, while manufacturing and construction accounted for 40 percent, and services for 30 percent, according to Hong Kong banking sources. At the start of the 2010s, agriculture was already down to only 10 percent, with manufacturing at 46 percent and services at 44 percent. A generation of business leaders often referred to as the “Gang of 92” – when many of them started – were imprinting their mark on a new China.

Now the Pearl River Delta – China’s number one hub of labor-intensive manufacturing – is in the process of replacing workers with robots on a large scale, a further sign that China is about to take off technologically, big time. And that’s all part of a “Made in China 2025” strategy announced only two months ago by Beijing, centered on relentless innovation – and commercialization. The China 2.0 new industrial revolution is a go – with a bang.

The megacity confederation

China today, on the ground, looks and feels like a confederation of megacities fiercely competing with each other for everything; investment (internal and foreign), industries, tech talent, global visibility. Beijing does support provinces and regions – much as the Song dynasty did – but up to a point. China, de facto, is already federalized. It’s up to each province to determine its own economic strategy.

That’s a long and winding road since the 1960s – when China was under the yoke of the Cultural Revolution (to seize the seismic shift, check out The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History 1962-1976, by University of Hong Kong professor Frank Dikotter, based on previously classified party documents). It’s also enlightening to compare it with the fact that the UN, during the 1960s, was starting to promote the concept of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) as an infrastructure and growth template.

Now there are more than 4,000 SEZs scattered all across the world – living and breathing experiments of strategic investment bound to absorb working masses and turbo-charge modernity. And Shenzhen, of course, is the mother of all SEZs.

Continue reading The Pearl River Delta showcases the Chinese Dream, by Pepe Escobar

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China will react if provoked again: you risk the war, by Andre Vltchek

Interview with Andre Vltchek

The AntiDiplomatico (Italy) interviews philosopher, Andre Vltchek: “Russia and China are forming an incredible defensive wall to protect humanity from Western terrorism.”

 By Alessandro Bianchi

Andre Vltchek has become renowned in Italy for being the co-author, along with Noam Chomsky, of the famous book “Western Terrorism” (Ponte alle Grazie).

A documentary filmmaker, novelist, essayist, philosopher and intellectual, multi-faceted Vltchek is the cosmopolitan man par excellence, a “true revolutionary” as he likes to call himself. In recent years with his camera and his extraordinary commitment against injustice on this planet he has explored every corner of the Earth and taken over the length and breadth of Western terrorism, one that our media likes to censor and hide from our consciences.

After the interviews with the great Australian journalist John Pilger and the famous American playwright John Steppling, we have the honor and privilege of speaking to our great friend of l’AntiDiplomatico, asking some questions on burning current international issues.

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This interview first appeared in the Italian language, published by ‘L’AntiDiplomatico’

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In Beijing Art District with my dragons

Q: I start from a brutal question: What has become of a country that it offering Donald Trump as its ‘best candidate’?

AV: It is not much different from the country that it used to be for decades, even centuries. Since the beginning, the US presidents (all of European stock, of course), had been promoting slavery, extermination campaigns against the native population of North America, barbaric wars of aggression against Mexico, and other Latin American countries, the Philippines, etc. Has anything changed now? I highly doubt it. Donald Trump is horrendous, but he is also honest. Both Presidents Clinton and Obama were great speakers, but unrepentant mass murderers.

Q: In a recent survey over 53% of Americans were against both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. How long will we continue to consider the United States a democracy? And why, in your opinion, is abstention the only form of “rebellion” by a population completely excluded from the decision-making stage?

AV: “Democracy” means nothing else other than, “rule of the people”, in Greek. There is nothing democratic about the political concepts of the United States and Europe. And there is absolutely nothing democratic about the “global arrangement” through which the West has been ruling over the rest of the world for decades and centuries. The second part is, I’m convinced, much more important, much more devastating; in the West, people have been tolerating their insane political system, in exchange for the countless privileges they are getting from their countries’ plundering of the planet, and violating entire nations and continents. But in Africa, Asia and elsewhere, those “un-people” have no choice at all.

Q: Is Bernie Sanders really the change that many in Europe have described?

AV: Bernie Sanders is like those liberal members of the German National Socialist Party during the WWII, or of the Italian Fascist movement during Mussolini. They’d do much for their own workers and peasants, socially… as long as funds were flowing in from the countries plundered by their imperialism. Under Bernie Sanders, Western workers would definitely do much better, but the rest of the world, the “wretched of the Earth” would still have to pay the bill.

Q: What would happen to the world under a Hillary Clinton’s presidency?

AV: Nothing exceptional – things would stay the same: sponsorship of “Color” or “Umbrella” or whatever “revolutions”, some more coups, “regime changes”, direct invasions, bombing, propaganda warfare against China, Russia, Iran, South Africa and what is left of the Latin American revolutions. There would be plenty of torture in “secret centers”, but it would not be as advertised and glorified as it would be if Trump were elected. World War III would become a great possibility, but such a scenario is quite possible under any new US administration… To answer your question: business as usual.

Continue reading China will react if provoked again: you risk the war, by Andre Vltchek

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Conversation: Opium Wars – A War Nerd Podcast

Source: exiledonline.com

The War Nerd – Gary Brecher – discusses British Imperialism in the context of the Opium Wars and other less often remembered wars.

Click below to listen to a great podcast.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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World Faces Wave of Epic Debt Defaults, Fears Central Bank Veteran

Source: Information Clearing House

[Exclusive: Situation worse than it was in 2007, says chairman of the OECD’s review committee]

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in Davos

January 20, 2016 “Information Clearing House” – “The Telegraph ” –  The global financial system has become dangerously unstable and faces an avalanche of bankruptcies that will test social and political stability, a leading monetary theorist has warned.

“The situation is worse than it was in 2007. Our macroeconomic ammunition to fight downturns is essentially all used up,” said William White, the Swiss-based chairman of the OECD’s review committee and former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

“Debts have continued to build up over the last eight years and they have reached such levels in every part of the world that they have become a potent cause for mischief,” he said.

“It will become obvious in the next recession that many of these debts will never be serviced or repaid, and this will be uncomfortable for a lot of people who think they own assets that are worth something,” he told The Telegraph on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“The only question is whether we are able to look reality in the eye and face what is coming in an orderly fashion, or whether it will be disorderly. Debt jubilees have been going on for 5,000 years, as far back as the Sumerians.”
Continue reading World Faces Wave of Epic Debt Defaults, Fears Central Bank Veteran

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Does China hold key to the Afghan puzzle?, by Pepe Escobar

Source: RT

© Reuters
© Reuters

Just like Lazarus, there were reasons to believe the Afghan peace process might have stood a chance of being resurrected this past Monday in Islamabad, as four major players – Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China – sat together at the same table.

The final communiqué though was not exactly ground breaking: “The participants emphasized the immediate need for direct talks between representatives of the Government of Afghanistan and representatives from Taliban groups in a peace process that aims to preserve Afghanistan’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

A week before the Islamabad meeting, while in the Persian Gulf, I had an extremely enlightening conversation with a group of Afghan Pashtuns. After the ice was broken, and it was established I was not some Sean Penn-style shadowy asset with a dodgy agenda, my Pashtun interlocutors did deliver the goods. I felt I was back in Peshawar in 2001, only a few days before 9/11.

The first ground breaker was that two Taliban officials, currently based in Qatar, are about to meet top Chinese and Pakistani envoys face to face, without interference from the US. This fits into the strategy laid out by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by China and Russia, according to which the Afghan puzzle must be solved as an Asian matter. And Beijing definitely wants a solution, fast; think Afghan chapter of the New Silk Roads.

The post 9/11 Afghan War has been going on for an interminable 14 years; taking a cue from Pentagonese, talk about Enduring Freedom forever. No one is winning – and the Taliban are more divided than ever after the previous peace process collapsed when the Taliban announced Mullah Omar had been dead for two years.

Continue reading Does China hold key to the Afghan puzzle?, by Pepe Escobar

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Disruptive ideas from the ether abound, Max Keiser leads the way!

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

 

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