Posts Tagged ‘Beijing’

 

In his trade war with China, President Donald Trump wields one seeming advantage: The United States could ultimately slap tariffs on more than $500 billion in imported Chinese goods. Beijing has much less to tax: It imported just $130 billion in U.S. goods last year.

Yet that hardly means China would be powerless to fight back once it ran out of U.S. goods to penalize. It possesses a range of other weapons with which to inflict pain on the U.S. economy.

Indeed, China’s Commerce Ministry has warned of “comprehensive measures” it could take against the United States. It has given no details but possible tactics could include harassing automakers, retailers or other American companies that depend on China to drive revenue to selling U.S. government debt or disrupting diplomatic efforts over North Korea.

Some of those steps might harm China’s own interests. But Beijing might still be willing to deploy them, at least temporarily, if its trade war with Washington were to drag on.

On Friday, Washington imposed its first tariffs in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressuring companies to hand over technology. China swiftly announced retaliatory tariffs on a similar amount of U.S. goods.

A look at some of China’s options:

TARGET AMERICAN COMPANIES

China’s state-dominated and heavily regulated economy gives authorities an arsenal of tools to disrupt U.S. companies by withholding licenses or launching tax, anti-monopoly or other investigations.

Also open to retaliation are services such as engineering and logistics in which the United States runs a trade surplus.

“The U.S. focus is on goods, while China could very well look at services, as well as the operation of U.S. companies in China,” said Taimur Baig, chief economist for DBS Group.

In one prominent case, U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. has waited for months for word on whether Chinese regulators will accept its proposed $44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors. All other major governments have approved the deal.

China’s entirely state-controlled media have encouraged consumer boycotts against Japanese, South Korean and other products during previous disputes with those governments.

Last year, Beijing destroyed Korean retailer Lotte’s business in China after the company sold land in South Korea to the Seoul government for an anti-missile system opposed by Chinese leaders.

Beijing closed most of Lotte’s 99 supermarkets and other outlets in China. Seoul and Beijing later mended relations, but Lotte gave up and sold its China operations.

FINANCIAL LEVERAGE

Nationalists point to China’s $1.2 trillion holdings of U.S. government debt as leverage. Beijing might suffer losses if it sold enough to influence U.S. debt financing costs — but such sales might become necessary.

China’s yuan has sagged against the dollar this year, which might require the central bank to intervene in currency markets.

To get the dollars it needs, the People’s Bank of China might “become a net seller of U.S. Treasurys,” said Carl B. Weinberg of High-Frequency Economics in a report.

“Punishing the U.S. Treasury market is one of the tactics China has available to retaliate against unilateral U.S. tariffs,” said Weinberg.

DIPLOMATIC PRESSURE

Beijing can appeal for support to U.S. allies that are miffed by Trump’s “America first” approach and the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate pact.

Trump’s unilateral actions have allowed China to position itself as a defender of free trade despite its status as the most-closed major economy. That could help Beijing win over governments that have criticized Trump for acting outside the World Trade Organization.

“China could strike a common ground with the EU, Canada, Japan and other economies impacted by the U.S. tariffs,” said Citigroup economists Li-Gang Liu, Xiaowen Jin and Xiangrong Yu in a report.

Chinese leaders have tried, so far without success, to recruit European and other governments as allies.

More broadly, Chinese commentators have suggested Beijing also could disrupt diplomatic work over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs or other initiatives. But political analysts say that would risk setting back work Chinese leaders see as a priority.

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As Iran prepares for a Trump presidency in Washington, Beijing and Tehran signed a cooperation agreement Monday to conduct joint military drills and “create a collective movement to confront” the threat of terrorism, according to Iran state television.
The two nations have been strengthening their military relationship in the last few years, sending naval ships to each other’s ports, helping to set the stage for the pact to be signed by Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and his Iranian counterpart General Hossein Dehghan.

Iranian outlet Tasnim News quoted Dehghan describing the collaboration as an “upgrade in long-term military and defense cooperation with China.”

The signing also comes as Tehran considers a $10 billion arms deal with Moscow, which would include the delivery of planes, helicopters, artillery systems and T-90 tanks to Iran.
Tehran is seeking to fortify its military ahead of President-elect Donald Trump taking power in Washington, as he has vowed to repeal the nuclear weapons deal signed by Iran, the US and four other world powers — an historic treaty that eases sanctions on Iran in return for the country curbing nuclear development.
On the campaign trail Trump called the agreement “the stupidest deal of all time,” and described it as “a one-sided transaction where we are giving back $150 billion to a terrorist state.”
Trump’s disdain for Iran deal appears to be an overture to Israel, whose relationship with Washington has been strained, as Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been at odds in recent years.
 Though Trump threatened China with 45 percent tariffs and other trade penalties during his campaign, after a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday his camp said the heads of the world’s two largest economies walked away with a “clear sense of mutual respect.”
Reports show Xi stressing the importance of cooperation between Beijing and Washington, with China Central Television (CCTV) quoting the Chinese leader saying that, “The facts prove that cooperation is the only correct choice for China and the United States,” and the nations must “promote the two countries’ economic development and global economic growth” along with pushing “for better development going forward in China-US relations.”

By Pepe Escobar

Your honors, in this venue I announce my separation from the United States… both in military and economics also».

Thus Philippines President Rodrigo «The Punisher» Duterte unleashed a geopolitical earthquake encompassing Eurasia and reverberating all across the Pacific Ocean.

And talk about choosing his venue with aplomb; right in the heart of the Rising Dragon, no less.

Capping his state visit to Beijing, Duterte then coined the mantra – pregnant with overtones – that will keep ringing all across the global South; «America has lost».

And if that was not enough, he announced a new alliance – Philippines, China and Russia – is about to emerge; «there are three of us against the world».

Predictably, the Beltway establishment in the «indispensable nation» went bananas, reacting as «puzzled» or in outright anger, dispersing the usual expletives on the «crude populist», «unhinged leader».

The bottom line is that it takes a lot of balls for the leader of a poor, developing country, in Southeast Asia or elsewhere, to openly defy the hyperpower. Yet what Duterte is gaming at is pure realpolitik; if he prevails, he will be able to deftly play the US against China to the benefit of Filipino interests.

«The springtime of our relationship»

It did start with a bang; during Duterte’s China visit, Manila inked no less than $13 billion in deals with Beijing – from trade and investment to drug control, maritime security and infrastructure.

Beijing pulled out all stops to make Duterte feel welcomed.

President Xi Jinping suggested Manila and Beijing should «temporarily put aside» the intractable South China Sea disputes and learn from the «political wisdom» of history – as in give space to diplomatic talks. After all, the two peoples were «blood-linked brothers».

Duterte replied in kind; «Even as we arrive in Beijing close to winter, this is the springtime of our relationship,» he told Xi at the Great Hall of the People.

China is already the Philippines’ second-largest trade partner, behind Japan, the US and Singapore. Filipino exports to these three are at roughly 42.7 percent of the total, compared to 22.1 to China / Hong Kong. Imports from China are roughly 16.1 percent of the total. Even as trade with China is bound to rise, what really matters for Duterte is massive Chinese infrastructure investment.

What this will mean in practice is indeed ground-breaking; the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will definitely be involved in Philippine economic development; Manila will be more involved in promoting smooth China-ASEAN relations in all sorts of regional issues (it takes the rotating chair of ASEAN in 2017); and the Philippines will be more integrated in the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. One Belt, One Road (OBOR).

Three strikes; no wonder the US is out. And there’s even a fourth strike, embedded in Duterte’s promise that

he will soon end military cooperation with the US, despite the opposition of part of the Filipino armed forces.

Watch the First Island Chain

The build-up had already been dramatic enough. On the eve of his meeting with Xi, talking to members of the Filipino community in Beijing, Duterte said, «it’s time to say goodbye» to the US; «I will not ask but if they (the Chinese) offer and if they’ll ask me, do you need this aid? [I will say] Of course, we are very poor».

Then the clincher; «I will not go to America anymore … We will just be insulted there».

The US was the colonial power in the Philippines from 1899 to 1942. Hollywood permeates the collective unconscious. English is the lingua franca – side by side with tagalog. But the tentacles of Uncle Sam’s «protection» racket are not exactly welcomed. Two of the largest components of the US Empire of Bases were located for decades in the Philippines; Clark Air Force Base and Subic Bay Naval Base.

Clark, occupying 230 square miles, with 15,000 people, was busy to death during the Vietnam War – the main hub for men and hardware in and out of Saigon. Then it turned into one of those Pentagon «forward operating» HQs. Subic, occupying 260 square miles, was as busy as Clark. It was the forward operating base for the US 7th Fleet.

Already in 1987, before the end of the Cold War, the RAND corporation was alarmed by the loss of both bases; that would be «devastating for regional security». Devastating» in the – mythical – sense of «defending the interests of ASEAN» and the «security of the sea-lanes».

Translation; the Pentagon and the US Navy would lose a key instrument of pressure over ASEAN, as protecting the «security of the sea-lanes» was always the key justification for those bases.

And lose they eventually did; Clark was closed down in November 1991, and Subic in November 199

It took years for China to sense an opening – and profit from it; after all during the 1990s and the early 2000s, the absolute priority was breakneck speed internal development. But then Beijing did the math; no more US bases opened untold vistas as far as the First Island Chain is concerned.

The First Island Chain is a product, over millennia, of the fabulous tectonic forces of the Ring of Fire; a chain of islands running from southern Japan in the north to Borneo in the south. For Beijing, they work as a sort of shield for the Chinese eastern seaboard; if this chain is secure, Asia is secure.

For all practical purposes, Beijing considers the First Island Chain as a non-negotiable Western Pacific demarcation zone – ideally with no foreign (as in US) interference. The South China Sea – which in parts is characterized by Manila as the Western Philippine Sea – is inside the First Island Chain. So to really secure the First Island Chain, the South China Sea must be free of foreign interference.

And here we are plunged at the heart of arguably the key 21st century hotspot in Asian geopolitics – the main reason for the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia.

The US Navy so far counted on the Philippines to oppose the proverbial, hyped up «Chinese aggression» in the South China and East China seas. The neocon/neoliberalcon industrial-military complex fury against «unhinged» Duterte’s game-changer is that containing China and ruling over the First Island Chain has been at the core of US naval strategy since the beginning of the Cold War.

Beijing, meanwhile, will have all the time needed to polish its strategic environment. This has nothing to do with «freedom of navigation» and protecting sea-lanes; everyone needs South China Sea cross-trade. It’s all about China – perhaps within the next ten years – being able to deny «access» to the US Navy in the South China Sea and inside the First Island Chain.

Duterte’s game-changing «America has lost» is just a new salvo in arguably the key 21st century geopolitical thriller. A Supreme Court justice in Manila, for instance, has warned Duterte that, were he to give up sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal, he could be impeached. That won’t happen; Duterte wants loads of Chinese trade and investment, not abdicate from sovereignty. He’d rather be ready to confront being demonized by the hyperpower as much as the late Hugo Chavez was in his heyday.

 

Beijing, August 31, 2016 – AIIB President Jin Liqun met with Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau at AIIB’s headquarters to discuss collaboration between AIIB and Canada. President Jin welcomed Canada’s decision to apply for membership in AIIB.

After the meeting, President Jin and Minister Morneau held a joint press conference, at which President Jin said, “The decision of Canada to apply to join AIIB is very welcome and shows its confidence in the strong foundations the Bank has built in our first few months. Canada has a remarkable track record of multilateral engagement, and I believe it will contribute significantly to the development of this Bank.”

Minister Morneau said, “Succeeding in the global economy of tomorrow will require strategic partnerships and openness to the world. Canada is always looking for ways to create hope and opportunity for people around the world, and membership in the AIIB is an opportunity to do just that.”

It was announced at the Bank’s Annual Meeting in June that formal expressions of interest from potential new members would be welcomed before September 30, 2016. The Bank looks forward to welcoming the first of these new members early in 2017.

The AIIB, located in Beijing, aims to promote broad-based economic and social development in Asia through investment in infrastructure and other productive sectors and promote regional cooperation in addressing development challenges by working with other multilateral and bilateral development institutions.

By Stephen Lendman

A lot rides on defeating US imperialism in Syria. The fate of the region and beyond hangs in the balance.

If Syria goes, Iran is next, a war if initiated by Washington far more potentially consequential and devastating.

Iran’s population alone makes it an important regional country – four times the size of Syria at around 80 million. Imagine the possible war-related death, injury and displacement toll.

Transforming the Islamic Republic into a US vassal state would give America and Israel unchallenged Middle East dominance.

Russian and Chinese regional influence would wane or be eliminated. The loss of Syrian and Iranian sovereignty would greatly aid the scourge of US imperialism worldwide – Moscow and Beijing the key independent powers standing in the way of its global dominance.

Nuclear war would be more likely with the aim of letting America colonize planet earth unopposed if triumphant, provided nuclear devastation and radiation poisoning didn’t kill us all – why nuclear confrontation is so crucial to prevent. The potential consequences should terrify everyone.

Vladimir Putin is committed to defeating the scourge of US-supported terrorism in Syria, mainly concerned about preventing its spread to Russia’s heartland – at the same time wanting the Syrian Arab Republic’s sovereignty and territorial integrity preserved.

During an August 15 meeting with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “(w)e believe that it is still necessary not to allow international terrorist entities to prevail here, and to ensure the beginning of genuine and true negotiations between all Syrian sides.”

It’s alarming that many so-called (US-supported) moderate (sic) (anti-government combatants) more often coordinate their actions with” Security Council-designated terrorist groups.

China intends offering Syria humanitarian aid and enhanced military help. On Tuesday, People’s Liberation Army Admiral/high-ranking Defense Ministry official Guan Youfei met with Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jasssim al-Freij and an unnamed Russian general in Damascus.

Following their meeting, he issued a statement, saying “(t)he Chinese and Syrian militaries traditionally have a friendly relationship, and the Chinese military is willing to keep strengthening exchanges and cooperation with the Syrian military.

How far Beijing intends going militarily remains to be seen. It has its own terrorist problem. It’s threatened by US regional provocations, notably in the South China Sea.

Its government reportedly sent dozens of military advisors to Syria last year to aid in the fight against terrorism, stopping short of committing warplanes and/or ground forces.

Does Guan’s Tuesday visit signify Beijing intending more direct military involvement than already? Will greater East/West confrontation follow?

Flashpoint conditions in Syria could become more serious than currently. Neocon Hillary Clinton likely succeeding Obama next year could threaten world peace and stability by escalating conflict into something more dangerous than now.

A lot depends on the Syrian, Russian, Iranian, Chinese alliance against the scourge of US imperialism – maybe humanity’s fate.

Representatives for China and the Philippines met for five days of talks this week, marking the start of reconciliation between the two countries which, since 2012, have been in conflict over the South China Sea.

Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear spoke with Eric Draitser, political analyst and founder of StopImperialism.org, about Chinese-Filipino relations and the role played by the US.

Draitser remarked that the meetings are “a pretty important development in the region, because the president of the Philippines has at least rhetorically begun to chart a much different course of action, when it comes to bilateral relations with China. Those people who observe the region, even from afar, should know that the Philippines in many ways has been the leading force of anti-China posture in the entire region. I think we could point to the very close relationship between the Philippines and the United States that explains that.”

The analyst suggested that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s attempts at appearing to be independent of US influence and his impending accession to the leadership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has caused some concern in the Western world’s halls of power.

“That is critical because ASEAN has long been the institutional international forum through which the United States has been able to maintain hegemony in the region,” Draitser said, adding, “it has tried to use ASEAN as a club against China these last few years, and the fact that the leadership of the ASEAN will shift from Laos to the Philippines is very significant.”

Loud & Clear host Brian Becker asked, “What was the basis for the breakdown between the Philippines and China in 2012, ultimately leading to the arbitration claim by the Philippines, and how likely is it that either side will budge on their claims to these disputed islands?”

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.file photo

“This is about control, this is about hegemony,” Draitser responded. “This is about the US ability to maintain the status quo that has been in effect since the second world war, specifically US dominance in the Pacific.”

Beyond the US trying to assert itself in the region, Draitser claims that the vast amounts of untapped natural energy reserves in the South China Sea also explain why Washington has a stake in the relationship between China and the Philippines.

“The South China Sea is critical for global commercial shipping and much of global trade,” he said. “This is what drives a lot of China’s economic development…all of these initiatives are predicated on the idea that China wants to have free lanes of communication and secure commercial shipping, and that is what the US wants to block.”

When Becker asked Draitser what he thought could happen if the US-Filipino relationship deteriorated, he answered, “I think it’s quite likely that the US will be prepared to do whatever it takes to maintain their dominance over the Philippines, up to and including overthrowing the government.”

The upgraded combat features on board the flagship of the South China Sea fleet impress Western defense analysts, as Beijing threatens to aggressively defend the disputed territories.

China has completed a major weapons upgrade for their Shenzen destroyer, which will return to operations with the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) fleet in the South China Sea amid brewing tensions over the disputed territory, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly reported.

The missile system of the Shenzen, Beijing’s only Luhai-class destroyer, was upgraded to a 32-cell vertical launch platform capable of firing medium-range HHQ-16 surface-to-air (SAM) missiles with a range of 19 nautical miles and a maximum speed of 2,148 mph (3457 kph). Defense analysts say the system is comparable to the powerful Russian Gollum/Shtil-2 missile system.

Other combat characteristics added to the ship include four 37 mm twin anti-aircraft guns with two Type 1130 close-in weapon systems, along with upgraded surface and air search radars. The ship’s radar system has also been augmented to remove a blind spot in the previous system’s visible range.

The 6,000-ton destroyer, commissioned in 1999, is unique among modern destroyer classes, as it uses a steam propulsion system and doubles as a helicopter hangar, with space allowing for the landing and takeoff of up to two helicopters.

Prior to the upgrades, the Shenzen served as Beijing’s flagship in the South China Sea, but it remains uncertain whether it will currently remain in the position of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s command ship.

Significant upgrades to what was already China’s most lethal destroyer come as Beijing faces increasing pressure to relax its claims over oil rich South China Sea territories, through which some 40% of the world’s shipborne commerce travels each day.

The recent ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague is challenged by China, saying that the Hague does not have the jurisdiction to decide upon the case. According to Beijing’s interpretation, China would have had to jointly submit to the dispute for the court’s decision to be enforceable.

Despite China’s explanation, Beijing faces growing pressure from the West, as well as from regional rivals Japan and Australia, that analysts worry could push the regime of Xi Jinping into a corner, increasing the threat of hostilities.

China has warned its people to be prepared to go to war over the South China Sea territory and has further engaged in aggressive statements against both Japan and Australia – the latter of which fell prey to an op-ed by the state-run People’s Daily calling for a military assault on the country.

Since that time, China has deployed combat patrols into the South China Sea and has ramped up its naval war exercises, joined by the Russian Navy, with both countries offering a counterpoint to the increasingly aggressive posture of the Western defense establishment.