The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.
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.”
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.
Source: Asia Times
President Xi Jinping invokes Ming dynasty heroes, geopolitical development strategies and wild Asian geese analogies to portray China’s New Silk Roads initiative as the flagship of a trade-focussed new world order.
President Xi Jinping used the two-day New Silk Road international forum in Beijing to establish China as the flagship of a new, benign trade-focussed world order. This was, said Xi, a “new model of win-win and cooperation” that will prevail over gunboat diplomacy.
At the start of the conference, China’s state broadcaster Xinhua made clear that the initiative — officially first called One Belt, One Road (OBOR) and now Belt and Road (BRI) — was not “neocolonialism by stealth.”
“China needs no puppet states,” said Xinhua, while essentially repeating what Xi delivered in his keynote delivery.
“China is willing to share its development experience with the rest of the world” said Xi, “but we will not intervene in other nations’ internal affairs, export our social system and development model, nor force others to accept them.”
The Forum communiqué – a summary of the main points developed in Xi’s keynote speech – reported that the nations represented in Beijing had pledged to promote “practical cooperation on roads, railways, ports, maritime and inland water transport, aviation, energy pipeline, electricity and telecommunications”.
Big business too was represented and, reportedly, is enthusiastic.
Alibaba’s Jack Ma, so committed to advancing an electronic World Trade Platform, spoke to Chinese media at the Forum and hailed BRI’s “inclusion of young people, women, smaller enterprises and developing countries.”
On the final day of the forum, Beijing even engineered a sort of New Silk Road United Nations, in the form of a Leaders Roundtable, with the microphones open equally to all. The event was a nifty illustration of how Xi wants the world to see this initiative.
“The primary intention and the highest goal of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ is to allow each member to jointly address global economic challenges, find new growth opportunities and drivers, achieve a win-win situation and keep moving toward a community with joint destiny,” said Xi.
Xi went onto offer exhortations for Ming dynasty navigation master Admiral Zheng He – as a “friendly emissary” – before delivering a metaphor for the new world trade order that he had just outlined.
“Wild swan geese,” he said of the large, rare and wild bird found in Asia but not in Europe, “are able to fly far and safely through winds and storms because they move in flocks and help each other as a team.”
by Andre Vltchek
All photos by Ms. Yayoi Segi
Ms. Yayoi Segi is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and she has worked in Syria for almost 3 years. She is extremely passionate about the country, which she admires and tries to support in her position as an accomplished specialist in national education development.
She agreed to share her collection of personal photos from Damascus, Homs and Aleppo.
I asked about her impressions regarding Syria and its people, and she replied, frankly:
“Syria is not what the mainstream media wants us to believe it is. One has to see it, to understand. Seeing is believing! It is an extraordinarily exceptional country. All that we have been told about Syria and its people is a lie.”
And what is the war doing to the country?
“The war… it is devastating the country. Life is of course tough now, but it never stopped; it definitely goes on. Electricity is cut often and water supplies are limited, but still life goes on. People endure; they even socialize. Syrians are very humble, very caring, warm and gentle people. They like to joke. They believe in their nation, in themselves; they are truly remarkable.”
Yayoi has been literally dedicating her life to the Syrian nation. She is ‘building schools’ there, and she is defending the nation whenever she goes. She is drawn to the Syrian people and she admits that she is philosophically close to them. She says:
“It is extremely important, what goes on in Syria, especially on the ideological front in highly politicized field of education, because ideology shapes education, and vice versa.”
“Even in the time of crises that was implanted from outside, the Syrian people still maintain tremendous sense of solidarity towards those whose lives have been shattered for decades, mainly Palestinians.”
Source: In Gazza
*“…the White Helmets are handling the corpses of people without sufficient safety gear, most particularly with the masks mostly used , as well as no gloves. Although this may seem insignificant, understanding the nature of sarin gas that the opposition claim was used, only opens questions. Within seconds of exposure to sarin, the affects of the gas begins to target the muscle and nervous system. There is an almost immediate release of the bowels and the bladder, and vomiting is induced. When sarin is used in a concentrated area, it has the likelihood of killing thousands of people. Yet, such a dangerous gas, and the White Helmets are treating bodies with little concern to their exposed skin. This has to raise questions.” (from: “Jumping to conclusions; something is not adding up in Idlib chemical weapons attack“)
This morning, under the orders of President Trump, the US military fired a reported 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at an airbase in Syria, killing at least 6, according to early reports. The false pretext for this is the tired old refrain that “Assad used chemical weapons”, a ‘red line crossed claim’ made–and disproven–in 2013 in Ghouta, and in allegations prior and since. Any actual instances were the western-backed ‘rebels’. All others were fabrications of the NATO aligned media and faux human rights groups.
I’ll keep my own commentary short other than to emphasize that I do not believe for one second that the Syrian government used toxic gases on Idlib last week. My reasons are logical and many, but I will list just a few here and continue with suggested reading/listening:
–The Syrian army had no need to do so, are making advances on the ground in various areas of Syria with conventional means of fighting terrorism. Using a chemical weapon is precisely the ‘red line’ act America and NATO/Gulf/Zionist allies would leap upon to wage their war of ‘regime change’ fully on Syria, as per Libya and Iraq before. Meanwhile, western-backed ‘rebels’ have a history of using toxic gas in Syria (even the UN’s Carla del Ponte admitted this).
-Recently, apparently relations with America, via Trump, had improved. At the time of the alleged gas attacks, relations were looking positive. (That said, today, sadly, Trump has launched an illegal attack on Syria, using at least 59 cruise missiles on a military site and causing unknown deaths. This is an unprovoked act of war. Trump/America have zero evidence that the Syrian government authorized and used toxic gas, something even the United Nations admittedeven the United Nations admitted.)
For the sake of time, because this is an urgent issue that needs clear thinking and a firm stance against American (and Zionist/NATO/Turkish/Gulf) attacks on Syria, I am posting excerpts from a number of good analyses already online. Please share.
“Ex-UK Ambassador: Assad wasn’t behind the chemical attack“, Apr 5, 2017
“Former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford says he believes it is “highly unlikely” that Russia or the Assad regime was behind the attack in Idlib.”
How dreadfully depressing life has become in almost all of the Western cities! How awful and sad.
It is not that these cities are not rich; they are. Of course things are deteriorating there, the infrastructure is crumbling and there are signs of social inequality, even misery, at every corner. But if compared to almost all other parts of the world, the wealth of the Western cities still appears to be shocking, almost grotesque.
The affluence does not guarantee contentment, happiness or optimism. Spend an entire day strolling through London or Paris, and pay close attention to people. You will repeatedly stumble over passive aggressive behavior, over frustration and desperate downcast glances, over omnipresent sadness.
In all those once great [imperialist] cities, what is missing is life. Euphoria, warmth, poetry and yes – love – are all in extremely short supply there.
Wherever you walk, all around, the buildings are monumental, and boutiques are overflowing with elegant merchandize. At night, bright lights shine brilliantly. Yet the faces of people are gray. Even when forming couples, even when in groups, human beings appear to be thoroughly atomized, like the sculptures of Giacometti.
Talk to people, and you’ll most likely encounter confusion, depression, and uncertainty. ‘Refined’ sarcasm, and sometimes a bogus urban politeness are like thin bandages that are trying to conceal the most horrifying anxieties and thoroughly unbearable loneliness of those ‘lost’ human souls.
Purposelessness is intertwined with passivity. In the West, it is increasingly hard to find someone that is truly committed: politically, intellectually or even emotionally. Big feelings are now seen as frightening; both men and women reject them. Grand gestures are increasingly looked down upon, or even ridiculed. Dreams are becoming tiny, shy and always ‘down to earth’, and even those are lately extremely well concealed. Even to daydream is seen as something ‘irrational’ and outdated.
To a stranger who comes from afar, it appears to be a sad, unnatural, brutally restrained and to a great extent, a pitiful world.
Tens of millions of adult men and women, some well educated, ‘do not know what to do with their lives’. They take courses or go ‘back to school’ in order to fill the void, and to ‘discover what they want to do’ with their lives. It is all self-serving, as there appear to be no greater aspirations. Most of the efforts begin and end with each particular individual.
Nobody sacrifices himself or herself for others, for society, for humanity, for the cause, or even for the ‘other half’, anymore. In fact, even the concept of the ‘other half’ is disappearing. Relationships are increasingly ‘distant’, each person searching for his or her ‘space’, demanding independence even in togetherness. There are no ‘two halves’; instead there are ‘two fully independent individuals’, co-existing in a relative proximity, sometimes physically touching, sometimes not, but mostly on their own.
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.
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.
Source: New Eastern Outlook
Imperialist demagogues, as well as religious fanatics, are known to live in their grotesque realities. They erect huge sand castles, invent mascots, and bombard the public relentlessly with self-promoting messages.
Those who refuse to listen and believe, those who dare to doubt and resist, are sidelined, starved to death, humiliated or simply liquidated.
Western religions and European/North American brutal colonialist practices are intertwined culturally. Hand in hand, for centuries, they have been destroying our Planet, from corner to corner, on all continents and even on the high seas.
All conquests, all genocides, all plunders have been eternally rationalized, painstakingly justified. Grand bogus concepts of charity, of ‘altruism’ have been erected. Subjugated nations have always been ruined in the name of some higher principles, in order to save them from themselves. For centuries, the West has portrayed itself as a sacrificial lamb, as a hand chosen by some divine power, as the greatest civilization that is continuously and altruistically liberating the world.
In the West, scribblers and ‘scholars’ have been paid to soften every barbarity committed by the rulers, soldiers and even common citizens.
The cults of formal learning, of facts and information have been erected. Holed in innumerable officially recognized institutions, the scholars, certified demagogues, researchers and media people have been ‘studying’ each other, recycling and quoting each other, filling millions of books with essentially the same narrative.
‘New’ and ‘revolutionary’ academic discoveries mostly lead to the same old conclusions, to stale intellectual and moral passivity, cowardice and spinelessness.
Endless libraries have been filled with useless volumes, first arriving in print, then later in electronic form. Tens of millions of young and not too young men and women are busy wasting their lives, chasing diplomas, those colorful pieces of paper with the seal of approval, certifying people as fit to serve the Empire and the victorious civilization.
At some point, all major philosophical and existential topics ceased to be discussed, in official academia, in mainstream media, in the film houses, libraries and best selling books.