Tag Archives: China

The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm, by Pepe Escobar

source: The Saker

Major turbulence seems to be the name of the game in 2016. Yet the current turbulence may be interpreted as the calm before the next, devastating geopolitical/financial storm. Let’s review the current state of play via the dilemmas afflicting the House of Saud, the EU and BRICS members Russia, Brazil and China.

Oil and the House of Saud

Not many people are familiar with the Baltic Dry Index. Yet the Index is key to track commodity demand. Two months ago, it was trading to all-time lows. Since then, it has increased over 130%. Precious metals prices have all moved higher in virtually all currencies. Why is this important? Because it tells us that faith in fiat currencies – the US dollar especially — is sharply declining.

The Baltic Index rise portends a rise in oil demand in Asia – especially China. Falling supply and rising demand for oil will likely drive up the price of the barrel of oil in the second half of 2016.

That does not mean that the House of Saud will win back the trust of both the US and Russia. Deep sources keep confirming that as far as Washington and Moscow are concerned, the House of Saud is expendable. Both are really energy independent (should the US want to be). Powerful Washington factions blatantly accuse Riyadh of “terror” – well, it’s way more complicated – while Moscow regards the House of Saud as following US orders to destroy Russia in an oil price war.

Ailing – on the way to dementia — King Salman and young Warrior Prince Mohammed would be finished if those famous 28 pages about 9/11 were released and the Saudi connection is incontrovertible. What next? Regime change. A CIA coup. A “trusted” Saudi military CIA asset elevated to power.

What’s left for the House of Saud is to play for time. High up in Riyadh the feeling is that relations with Washington won’t improve while Obama is president; the next president — whether Hillary or The Donald – will be a much better deal. So Plan A for now is to keep posing as essential to Washington in the “war on terra”; that means King Salman falling back on Mohammed bin Nayef, the Crown Prince, way more adept at it than the Warrior Prince, the conductor of the disastrous war on Yemen.

In parallel, Turkey’s Sultan Erdogan keeps advancing his play to take over oil in Iraqi Kurdistan, eventually diverting the whole supply to make Turkey energy independent – and thus a regional superpower.

Moreover, in Pipelineistan terms, Erdogan absolutely also needs the Qatar gas pipeline through Saudi Arabia and Syria to gain energy independence from Russia. That also happens to be a major US goal. And that also portends perennial trouble for the Syria peace process.

Erdogan already has the German superpower at his feet in the shape of a groveling, begging Chancellor Merkel. Were Turkey on its way to become an energy power, Merkel would prostrate herself on that Ankara palace golden ground non-stop. The CIA intimates as much, when it analyzes how Turkey will keep “expanding its influence” in Iraq through the militias they support, at the expense of Iraq’s security and political unity.

Andrew Bacevich’s America’s War for the Greater Middle East examines how Washington ruled that “military preponderance” across the Middle East should be the strategic objective in a war against the USSR — that was when Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski reigned as geopolitical supremo. This was always supposed to be an endless war – now encompassing the “Greater Middle East” the neocons are so fond of.

Continue reading The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm, by Pepe Escobar

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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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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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The Chinese Vision for the world, by Pepe Escobar

With so much happening in our world we tend to find it difficult to focus on everything. When it gets full on, you can rely on Pepe sorting out the real global changes that will shape your future.

Excellent as usual, enjoy!

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Source: RT

© YouTube
© YouTube

Everybody’s doing the Shisanwu. Well, at least hundreds of millions of Chinese are.

Here’s the pop version; call it the new Chinese five-year plan for dummies. You can even sing along, as you mull how to break down the road map for China’s economic and social development from 2016 to 2020.

The People’s Daily said the 13th five-year plan is mostly about economic growth, institutional reforms, the environment, and poverty alleviation. What’s unsaid is that’s a make-or-break road map for China to escape the dreaded middle-income trap.

The first glaring feat of Shisanwu is to enshrine President Xi Jinping’s by now famous “new normal” – as in China’s economy entering a slower, sustainable growth pattern; still a whopping 6.5 percent a year down from the current 7 percent. Premier Li Keqiang has stressed that China needs 6.5 percent over the next five years if it is to become a “moderately prosperous” society.

Beijing Renmin University professor Zhao Xijun breaks it all down: “The timing of the 13th five-year plan is crucial, because by 2020, the nation is supposed to have met its first centenary goal, marking the 100th anniversary of the party’s founding [in 1921], to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society.

Continue reading The Chinese Vision for the world, by Pepe Escobar

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Conversation: ‘China V-Day parade sending multiple messages to Asia and West’ – Pepe Escobar

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times, an analyst for RT and Sputnik, and a Sputnik regular. His latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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 Age of Imperial Wars, by James Petras

Source: Global Research

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From Regional War, “Regime Change” to Global Warfare

2015 has become a year of living dangerously.

Wars are spreading across the globe. 

Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity.

Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.

These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.

There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders.  Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.

 Now major nuclear powers face off in Europe and Asia:  NATO versus Russia, US-Japan versus China.  Will these streams of blood and wars converge into one radiated wilderness drained of its precious life blood?

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ISIS in Afghanistan: Proxy War against Iran and China, by Eric Draitser

Source: New Eastern Outlook

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The nature of the war in Afghanistan has shifted dramatically in recent months. While the US and NATO continue to be actively involved in the country – their strategic objectives having changed very little since the Bush administration launched the war nearly a decade and a half ago – the complexion of the battlefield, and the parties actively engaged in the war, has changed significantly.

The emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan, along with the impending withdrawal of US-NATO troops from the country, has driven the Taliban into a marriage of convenience, if not an outright alliance, with Iran. What seemed like an unfathomable scenario just a few years ago, Shia Iran’s support for the hardline Sunni Taliban has become a reality due to the changing circumstances of the war. Though it may be hard to believe, such an alliance is now a critical element of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. But its significance is far larger than just shifting the balance of power within the country.

Instead, Afghanistan is now in many ways a proxy conflict between the US and its western and Gulf allies on the one hand, and Iran and certain non-western countries, most notably China, on the other. If the contours of the conflict might not be immediately apparent, that is only because the western media, and all the alleged brainiacs of the corporate think tanks, have failed to present the conflict in its true context. The narrative of Afghanistan, to the extent that it’s discussed at all, continues to be about terrorism and stability, nation-building and “support.” But this is a fundamental misunderstanding and mischaracterization of the current war, and the agenda driving it.

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Who profits from the Bangkok bombing?, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Asia Times

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BANGKOK – The Guy in the Yellow T-shirt — long shorts, unruly black hair, thick dark glasses — arrived at the Erawan shrine in a tuk-tuk. No one may have noticed him; just another nondescript backpacker in one of the busiest crossroads in Asia. He may have come to pay his respects to the golden statue of Brahma at the center of the shrine – and gaze on the Thai dancers and musicians in the background.

He sits on a bench. Then, slowly, he gets rid of a black backpack. He stands up, checks his mobile. Then he walks away. Stops. Actually seems to be calling someone on his mobile. Then he finally leaves Erawan, hitting the crowded intersection, clutching a white plastic bag, but always checking his phone.

He may – or may not – have known all his movements were being tracked by multiple CCTV cameras. A few minutes after he disappears from their sights, and allegedly takes a motorbike taxi, he enters, with a lethal bang, the wilderness of mirrors that is contemporary Thailand.

Who is he? Thai police is convinced he is none other than the Bangkok Bomber. And there seem to be no other prime CCTV-captured candidates.

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Reshuffling Eurasia’s energy deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Asia Times

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Workers in Kazakhstan complete a section of a pan-Central Asian gas pipeline

Pipelineistan – the prime Eurasian energy chessboard — never sleeps. Recently, it’s Russia that has scored big on all fronts; two monster gas deals sealed with China last year; the launch of Turk Stream replacing South Stream; and the doubling of Nord Stream to Germany.

Now, with the possibility of sanctions on Iran finally vanishing by late 2015/early 2016, all elements will be in place for the revival of one of Pipelineistan’s most spectacular soap operas, which I have beenfollowing for years; the competition between the IP (Iran-Pakistan) and TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipelines.

The $7.5-billion IP had hit a wall for years now – a casualty of hardcore geopolitical power play. IP was initially IPI – connected to India; both India and Pakistan badly need Iranian energy. And yet relentless pressure from successive Bush and Obama administrations scared India out of the project. And then sanctions stalled it for good.

Now, Pakistan’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi swears IP is a go. The Iranian stretch of the 1,800-kilometer pipeline has already been built. IP originates in the massive South Pars gas fields – the largest in the world – and ends in the Pakistani city of Nawabshah, close to Karachi. The geopolitical significance of this steel umbilical cord linking Iran and Pakistan couldn’t be more graphic.

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China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion, by Eric Draitser

Source: New Eastern Outlook

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China has recently taken an important step in more tightly regulating foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) inside the country. Despite condemnation from so called human rights groups in the West, China’s move should be understood as a critical decision to assert sovereignty over its own political space. Naturally, the shrill cries of “repression” and “hostility toward civil society” from western NGOs have done little to shake the resolve of Beijing as the government has recognized the critical importance of cutting off all avenues for political and social destabilization.

The predictable argument, once again being made against China’sOverseas NGO Management Law, is that it is a restriction on freedom of association and expression, and a means of stifling the burgeoning civil society sector in China. The NGO advocates portray this proposed legislation as another example of the violation of human rights in China, and further evidence of Beijing’s lack of commitment to them. They posit that China is moving to further entrench an authoritarian government by closing off the democratic space which has emerged in recent years.

However, amid all the hand-wringing about human rights and democracy, what is conveniently left out of the narrative is the simple fact that foreign NGOs, and domestic ones funded by foreign money, are, to a large extent, agents of foreign interests, and are quite used as soft power weapons for destabilization. And this is no mere conspiracy theory as the documented record of the role of NGOs in recent political unrest in China is voluminous. It would not be a stretch to say that Beijing has finally recognized, just as Russia has before it, that in order to maintain political stability and true sovereignty, it must be able to control the civil society space otherwise manipulated by the US and its allies.

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