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Terror in Mali: An Attack on China and Russia?

By Eric Draitser – New Eastern Outlook – 27.11.2015

Coming on the heels of the terrorist attack in Paris, the mass shooting and siege at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, the capital of the African nation of Mali, is still further evidence of the escalation of terrorism throughout the world. While there has already been much written about the incident in both western and non-western media, one critical angle on this story has been entirely ignored: the motive.

For although it is true that most people think of terrorism as entirely ideologically driven, with motives being religious or cultural, it is equally true that much of what gets defined as “terrorism” is in fact politically motivated violence that is intended to send a message to the targeted group or nation. So it seems that the attack in Mali could very well have been just such an action as news of the victims has raised very serious questions about just what the motive for this heinous crime might have been.

International media have now confirmed that at least nine of the 27 killed in the attack were Chinese and Russian. While this alone would indeed be curious, it is the identities and positions of those killed that is particularly striking. The three Chinese victims were important figures in China’s China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), while the Russians were employees of Russian airline Volga-Dnepr. That it was these individuals who were killed at the very outset of the attack suggests that they were the likely targets of what could perhaps rightly be called a terrorist assassination operation.

But why these men? And why now? To answer these questions, one must have an understanding of the roles of both these companies in Mali and, at the larger level, the activities of China and Russia in Mali. Moreover, the targeted killing should be seen in light of the growing assertiveness of both countries against terrorism in Syria and internationally. Considering the strategic partnership between the two countries – a partnership that is expanding seemingly every day – it seems that the fight against terrorism has become yet another point of convergence between Moscow and Beijing. In addition, it must be recalled that both countries have had their share of terror attacks in recent years, with each having made counter-terrorism a central element in their national security strategies, as well as their foreign policy.

And so, given these basic facts, it becomes clear that the attack in Mali was no random act of terrorism, but a carefully planned and executed operation designed to send a clear message to Russia and China.

The Attack, the Victims, and the Significance

On Friday November 20, 2015 a team of reportedly “heavily armed and well-trained gunmen” attacked a well known international hotel in Bamako, Mali. While the initial reports were somewhat sketchy and contradictory, in the days since the attack and siege that followed, new details have emerged that are undeniably worrying as they provide a potential motive for the terrorists.

It is has since been announced that three Chinese nationals were killed at the outset of the attack: Zhou Tianxiang, Wang Xuanshang, and Chang Xuehui. Aside from the obviously tragic fact that these men were murdered in cold blood, one must examine carefully who they were in order to get a full sense of the importance of their killings. Mr. Zhou was the General Manager of the China Railway Construction Corporation’s (CRCC) international group, Mr. Wang was the Deputy General Manager of CRCC’s international group, and Mr. Chang was General Manager of the CRCC’s West Africa division. The significance should become immediately apparent as these men were the principal liaisons between Beijing and the Malian government in the major railway investments that China has made in Mali. With railway construction being one of the key infrastructure and economic development programs in landlocked Mali, the deaths of these three Chinese nationals is clearly both a symbolic and very tangible attack on China’s partnership with Mali.

In late 2014, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita traveled to China to attend the World Economic Forum in Tianjin. On the sidelines of the forum the Malian president sealed a number of critical development deals with the Chinese government, the most high-profile of which were railway construction and improvement agreements. Chief among the projects is the construction of an $8 billion, 900km railway linking Mali’s capital of Bamako with the Atlantic port and capital of neighboring Guinea, Conakry. The project, seen by many experts as essential for bringing Malian mineral wealth to world markets, is critical to the economic development of the country. Additionally, CRCC was also tapped to renovate the railway connecting Bamako with Senegal’s capital of Dakar, with the project carrying a price tag of nearly $1.5 billion.

These two projects alone were worth nearly $10 billion, while a number of other projects, including road construction throughout the conflict-ridden north of the country, as well as construction of a much needed new bridge in gridlock-plagued Bamako, brought the cumulative worth of the Chinese investments to near (or above) the total GDP for Mali ($12 billion in 2014). Such massive investments in the country were obviously of great significance to the Malian government both because of their economically transformative qualities, and also because they had solidified China as perhaps the single most dominant investor in Mali, a country long since under the post-colonial economic yoke of France, and military yoke of the United States.

It seems highly implausible, to say the least, that a random terror attack solely interested in killing as many civilians as possible would have as its first three victims these three men, perhaps three of the most important men in the country at the time. But the implausible coincidences don’t stop there.

Among the dead are also six Russians, all of whom are said to have been employees of the Russian commercial cargo airline Volga-Dnepr. While at first glance it may seem irrelevant that the Russian victims worked for an airline, it is in fact very telling as it indicates a similar motive to the killing of the Chinese nationals; specifically, Volga-Dnepr is, according to its Wikipedia page, “a world leader in the global market for the movement of oversize, unique and heavy air cargo…[It] serves governmental and commercial organizations, including leading global businesses in the oil and gas, energy, aerospace, agriculture and telecommunications industries as well as the humanitarian and emergency services sectors.” The company has transported everything from gigantic excavators to airplanes, helicopters, mini-factories, and power plants, not to mention heavy machines used in energy extraction.

This fact is significant because it is quite likely, indeed probable, that the airline has been transporting much of the heavy, oversized equipment being used by the Chinese and other developers throughout the country. In effect, the Russian crew was part of the ongoing economic development and foreign investment in the country. And so, their killing, like that of the CRCC executives, is a symbolic strike against Chinese and Russian investment in the country. And perhaps even more importantly, the attack was a symbolic attack upon the very nature of Sino-Russian collaboration and partnership, especially in the context of economic development in Africa and the Global South.

It would be worthwhile to add that Volga-Dnepr has also been involved in military transport services for NATO and the US until at least the beginning of the Ukraine conflict and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Whether this fact has any bearing on the employees being targeted, that would be pure conjecture. Suffice to say though that Volga-Dnepr was no ordinary airline, but one that was integral to the entire economic development initiative in Mali. And this is really the key point: China and Russia are development partners for the former French colonial possession and US puppet state.

China, Russia, and Mali’s Future

China and, to a lesser extent, Russia have become major trading and development partners for Mali in recent years. Aside from the lucrative railroad and road construction projects mentioned above, China has expanded its partnerships with Mali in many other areas. For instance, in 2014 China gifted Mali a grant of 18 billion CFA (nearly $30 million) and an interest-free loan of 8 billion CFA (nearly $13 million). Additionally, China established a program that offers 600 scholarships to Malian students over the 2015-2017 period. Also, the Chinese government announced the construction of a training and educational center focused on engineering and the construction industry, as well as the completion of the Agricultural Technical Center in the city of Baguineda in Southern Mali, not far from the capital and population center of Bamako.

Of course, these sorts of Chinese offerings are only the tip of the iceberg as Beijing has also expanded its contracts with Mali in the transportation, construction, energy, mining, and other important sectors, including an agreement for China to construct at least 24,000 affordable housing units, making ownership of a decent home possible for many who would otherwise never have such an opportunity. Going further, as African Leadership Magazine reported in 2014:

Mali also relies on China to invest in new power plants to break the electricity crisis that is affecting the country. This is supposed to make available cheaper electricity for the industrial development…A hydroelectric dam will be built in the area of Dire in the North of the country; a hybrid power plant in Kidal in the North-East and another one in Timbuktu, which is in the North as well. Solar power plants will also be created in other parts of the country and all those infrastructures will be connected to the national grid of electricity… A factory of medicine production that is being constructed in the outskirts of the capital will be enlarged to be the largest in West Africa… More than 95 percent of the factory has been completed and it will be operating on January, 2015…Chinese banks that are not yet present in Mali are supposed to contribute to create small-scaled companies and industries.

To be sure, China is not offering such deals to Mali solely out of altruism and in the spirit of generosity; naturally China expects to enrich itself and ensure access to raw materials, resources, and markets in Mali now and in the future. This is the sort of “win-win” partnership forever being touted by China as the cornerstone of its aid and investment throughout Africa. Indeed, in many ways, Mali is a prime example of just how China operates on the continent. Rather than a purely exploitative investment model (the IMF and World Bank examples come to mind), China is engaging in true partnership. And, contrary to what many have argued (that China is merely a rival imperialist power in Africa), China’s activities in Africa are by and large productive for the whole of the countries where China invests, a few egregious bad examples aside.

China is a friend of Africa, and it has demonstrated that repeatedly throughout the last decade. And perhaps it is just this sort of friendship that was under attack in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako.

Likewise Russia has been engaged in Mali, though certainly nowhere near the extent that China has. Russia was one of the principal contributors to the humanitarian relief effort in Mali after the 2012 coup and subsequent war against terror groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Russia provided much needed food, clothing, and basic medical aid, while also supplying more advanced, and essential, medical equipment to Malian hospitals desperately trying to cope with the flood of wounded and displaced people.

Additionally, Moscow became one of the major suppliers of weapons and other military materiel to Mali’s government in its war against terrorism in 2013. According Business Insider in 2013, Anatoly Isaikin, head of Russia’s state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, “revealed that Moscow had recent military contacts with the government of Mali… He said small amounts of light weapons were already being delivered to Mali and that new sales were under discussion. ‘We have delivered firearms. Literally two weeks ago another consignment was sent. These are completely legal deliveries… We are in talks about sending more, in small quantities.’”

Finally, Mali has a longstanding cultural connection with Russia through the Soviet Union’s sponsorship of thousands of Malian students who studied in Soviet universities from the early 1960s through the 1980s. As Yevgeny Korendyasov of the Center for Russian-African Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences explained, “We have had very close ties to Mali throughout recent history… Though overall financial estimates of Soviet aid received by Mali are hard to come by, Moscow’s involvement with the country was all-encompassing.” Indeed, the Soviets educated Malian officials and intelligentsia, as well as their children, developed local infrastructure, and mapped the country’s abundant natural resources. Such long-standing ties, moribund though they may seem today, still have a lasting legacy in the country.

While the world has been transfixed by terrorism from the downing of the Russian airliner in Egypt, to the inhuman attacks in Paris and Beirut, not nearly enough attention has been paid to the attack in Mali. Perhaps one of the reasons the episode has not gotten the necessary scrutiny and investigation is the seemingly endless series of terror attacks that have transfixed news consumers worldwide. Perhaps it is simply good old fashioned racism that sees Africa as little more than a collection of chaotic states constantly in conflict, with violence and death being the norm.

Or maybe the real reason almost no one has shined a light on this episode is because of the global implications of the killings, and the obvious message they sent. While media organizations seem to have deliberately ignored the implication of the attacks of November 20th in Mali, one can rest assured that Beijing and Moscow got the message loud and clear. And one can also rest assured that the Chinese and Russians are well aware of the true motives of the attack. The question remains: how will these countries respond?

Eric Draitser, an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, is the founder of

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Economics, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Global gas demand to grow 32% by 2040 – Putin

RT | November 23, 2015

World demand for gas is growing faster than any other energy source, and will grow by a third in the next 25 years, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The growing demand opens up great opportunities for increasing production and exports of gas. At the same time, it’s a major challenge, because there’s a need to dramatically accelerate the development of new deposits, modernize the refining capacities, expand gas transportation infrastructure, bring into operation additional pipelines and make new LNG routes”, said Putin at a Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Tehran on Monday.

According to Putin, Russia seeks to increase its gas output by 40 percent by 2035, reaching 885 billion cubic meters. One of the biggest tasks ahead of Russia is to boost the supplies of gas to China, India and other Asian countries from the current 6 percent to 30 percent, said Putin. Kremlin also intends to triple the LNG supplies. He added that Russia would be able to deal with all these tasks.

During his visit, Putin is meeting with Iranian leaders. He’s talked to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei about energy cooperation, Syria and other key issues. Putin’s also meeting Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.

November 23, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey kills missile system deal with China manufacturer

Press TV – November 15, 2015

Turkey has rescinded a contract with a state-owned Chinese manufacturer that would have seen the company build Ankara its first long-range missile defense system.

“The deal was cancelled,” an official from Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office told AFP.

The USD-3.4-billion (EUR-3-billion) contract was clinched with China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC) following talks with the firm in 2013.

The deal originally raised eyebrows among other NATO members, which complained that the defense apparatus would lack the qualities enabling it to work in tandem with other such systems in the Western military alliance.

Turkey has US-manufactured Patriot missiles stationed along its border with Syria.

The Chinese company has been placed under sanctions by Washington allegedly for selling items that are banned under US law to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The Turkish official, whose name was not mentioned in the report, said, “One of the main reasons is that we will launch our own national missile project.”

Prior to the cancellation of the deal, however, Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz had emphasized that Ankara’s decision to opt for a Chinese-built system and avoid integration with the existing NATO defense infrastructure was in line with the country’s national defense interests.

Experts had also argued that choosing a Chinese partner would ultimately enable Turkey to own both the system and the technology.

French-Italian consortium Eurosam and US-listed Raytheon Co have also submitted offers to help build the Turkey Long Range Air and Missile Defense System (T-LORAMIDS).

November 15, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Chinese Hackers? US Propagandists Should Look in the Mirror

By Eric Draitser |New Eastern Outlook | November 4, 2015

Like millions of Americans, this past week I was sitting on my couch, drinking a cold beer, watching Game 1 of the World Series – professional baseball’s hallowed championship. Suddenly the satellite feed went out, the screen went dark. Naturally, as FOX Sports scrambled to get their live feed fixed, many of my fellow Americans took to twitter to speculate as to what had caused the outage. I was, sadly, unsurprised to see that the most common joke people were making was that China must have hacked the World Series.

On the one hand, it is understandable given the barrage of propaganda about Chinese hackers as a threat to corporate and national security; seemingly every week there is a new news item highlighting the great red cyber-menace. On the other hand, it is a perfect illustration of the hypocrisy and ignorant arrogance of Americans who, despite being citizens of unquestionably the most aggressive nation when it comes to both cyber espionage and surveillance, see fit to cast China as the real villain. It is a testament to the power of both propaganda and imperial triumphalism that a proposition so disconnected from reality, and bordering on Orwellian Doublethink, is not only accepted, but is ipso facto true.

But there is a deeper political and sociological phenomenon at play here, one that begs further exploration. How is it that despite all the revelations of Edward Snowden regarding US intelligence and military snooping capabilities across the globe, Americans still cannot accept the culpability of their own government and corporate interests – the two work hand in hand – in global cyber-espionage? Even if they explicitly or implicitly know about the NSA, CIA, DIA, and Pentagon programs (among many others), their instinctive reaction is to blame China. Why? The answer lies in the complexity and effectiveness of the anti-China propaganda.

In his landmark book Public Opinion, the renowned writer, commentator, and theoretician of propaganda, Walter Lipmann, defined the term “stereotype” in the modern psychological sense as a “distorted picture or image in a person’s mind, not based on personal experience, but derived culturally.” In other words, the stereotype is an image in our mind’s eye, one that is constructed by outside forces; it is information filtered through a particular societal or cultural framework that then creates a picture of how something is to be understood. Lipmann went further, noting that carefully constructed propaganda could be used to shape stereotypes, thereby allowing the powers that be the ability to construct and manipulate information and narratives.

And this is precisely the phenomenon at work here. By repeating it endlessly, the US political and corporate media establishment have successfully convinced Americans that China is the real threat when it comes to cyberspace, playing on the stereotype of Chinese people in general, and the People’s Republic of China specifically. But, I would argue something far different: rather than seeing China as a threat, perhaps Americans, and westerners generally, should shine a light on what their own countries are doing, thereby gaining a broader perspective on the issue. For China’s moves in this field pale in comparison to those of the US, and are clearly a response to them.

China and the US: Comparing the Rap Sheets

The corporate media is replete with stories of Chinese hacking of US institutions. From alleged Chinese hacking of the University of Virginia employees connected with US government programs directed at China, to the infamous breach of the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management which resulted in the theft of the personal information of more than 20 million Americans, such stories help to construct an image of China as the world’s leading hacker-state. This week it is Chinese hackers targeting health care providers, last year it was stealing the secrets of Westinghouse and US Steel, and literally dozens of other such examples.

The purpose of this article is not to deny the veracity of these reports; I’m not a computer expert, nor do I have access to the information that an expert would need in making a determination. Instead, my purpose here is to show the grossly unbalanced, and utterly dishonest, way in which the issue is presented to Americans especially, and to probe why that might be. For any fair and balanced approach to the issue would present the simple fact that the US is the world leader in cyber-warfare, having actually conducted what are to date the only recorded live uses of cyberweapons.

Take for instance the joint US-Israel developed Stuxnet virus, a pair of highly complex and severely destructive, computer viruses launched at Iran’s nuclear facilities. According to a group of independent legal experts assembled at the request of NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence, the Stuxnet cyberattack was “an act of force.” Their report noted that “Acts that kill or injure persons or destroy or damage objects are unambiguously uses of force [and likely violate international law].”

Indeed, the US and its Israeli partners launched the very first true cyberweapon. As cyber security expert Ralph Langer wrote in Foreign Policy in 2013:

Stuxnet is not really one weapon, but two. The vast majority of the attention has been paid to Stuxnet’s smaller and simpler attack routine — the one that changes the speeds of the rotors in a centrifuge, which is used to enrich uranium. But the second and “forgotten” routine is about an order of magnitude more complex and stealthy. It qualifies as a nightmare for those who understand industrial control system security… The “original” payload… attempted to overpressurize Natanz’s centrifuges by sabotaging the system meant to keep the cascades of centrifuges safe.

Essentially, the US and Israel employed the world’s first cyberweapon without even fully knowing the potentially destructive consequences. As the virus migrated out of the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz and onto the internet, innumerable variables could have come into play, with the potential for disastrous outcomes.

But of course Stuxnet was not alone. The US and Israel also deployed both the Gauss and Flame viruses, two more sophisticated cyberweapons designed to cause major damage to online infrastructure. The Gauss virus, discovered by Kaspersky labs, one of the world’s most highly respected cyber-security firms, was designed to steal sensitive data such as financial records. According to the US officials who spoke with the Washington Post, the Flame virus was a: massive piece of malware [which] secretly mapped and monitored Iran’s computer networks, sending back a steady stream of intelligence to prepare for a cyberwarfare campaign… “This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action… Cyber-collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.” said one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, who added that Flame and Stuxnet were elements of a broader assault that continues today.

Clearly the US and Israel were not merely interested in surveillance and information-gathering, but actually having the ability to manipulate and destroy vital computer infrastructure in Iran. Any reasonable reading of international law should hold that such actions are, in fact, an act of war, though of course war with Iran has not come to pass. But just the very use of such sophisticated weapons, far more elaborate, technical, and dangerous than mere hacking by humans, should call into question the weepy-eyed condemnations of China for its alleged stealing of corporate and government information.

And then of course there is the seemingly endless supply of revelations from Edward Snowden regarding the US surveillance infrastructure, how all-encompassing it truly is, how it is used to manipulate political outcomes, how it is used as a weapon against foreign governments, and much more.

Just to name a few of the countless programs and initiatives of the NSA and the surveillance state designed to capture information for political purposes:

PRISM – allows “The National Security Agency and the FBI [to tap] directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, emails, documents, and connection logs.”

BLARNEY – “Gathers up metadata from choke points along the backbone of the internet as part of an ongoing collection program the leverages IC (intelligence community) and commercial partnerships to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence obtained from global networks.”

Boundless Informant – “Details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks.”

US & UK Target G20 Leaders – “The documents suggest that the operation was sanctioned in principle at a senior level in the government.”

US Spied on EU Offices – “America’s National Security Agency (NSA) not only conducted online surveillance of European citizens, but also appears to have specifically targeted buildings housing European Union institutions… in addition to installing bugs in the building in downtown Washington, DC, the European Union representation’s computer network was also infiltrated.”

But of course, the US has also specifically, and successfully, trained its cyber-espionage and cyber-warfare sights on China itself. Thanks to Snowden, we now know that US intelligence repeatedly hacked into Beijing’s Tsinghua University, China’s top education and research institute. As revealed in the South China Morning Post:

The information also showed that the attacks on Tsinghua University were intensive and concerted efforts. In one single day of January, at least 63 computers and servers in Tsinghua University have been hacked by the NSA… The university is home to one of the mainland’s six major backbone networks, the China Education and Research Network (CERNET) from where internet data from millions of Chinese citizens could be mined. The network was the country’s first internet backbone network and has evolved into the world’s largest national research hub.

But it wasn’t only Tsinghua University that was targeted. Snowden also revealed that Chinese University in Hong Kong was the victim of US hacking; the university is home to the Hong Kong Internet Exchange, the city’s central hub for all internet traffic. In addition, it came out that US intelligence has repeatedly hacked into Chinese mobile phone companies, spied on users, and stolen data, including text messages. These are, of course, only what we know about thus far from the Snowden revelations. The scope of US hacking operations against China is not known, but could be safely assumed to be far-reaching.

In fact, the depth of US hacking and other intelligence operations targeting China, including those taking place inside China itself, has been alluded to repeatedly. The New York Times noted in August 2015 that the Obama administration was cautious about any retaliation against China for the breach of the Office of Personnel Management because “Intelligence officials say that any legal case could result in exposing American intelligence operations inside China — including the placement of thousands of implants in Chinese computer networks to warn of impending attacks.”

It is clear that what we do know about US cyberwar programs and tactics is really only the tip of the iceberg. It is likely that Washington has myriad other China-specific hacking programs and initiatives, including the much discussed attempts to subvert the oft referenced “Great Firewall of China.” Put simply, the US is engaged in the most sophisticated forms of hacking and cyber-subversion, and much of it is directed at China (and Russia and Iran). This should now be beyond question.

Keep this information in mind the next time another story about Chinese hackers attacking US interests runs in the corporate media. While the hack may or may not be true, it is the context within which such actions take place that really needs to be understood.

There is a cyberwar going on, of this there can be no doubt. But who’s got the biggest guns? And who fired the first shot?

November 6, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Southeast Asia “Forgets” About Western Terror

By Andre Vltchek | CounterPunch | October 2, 2015

Southeast Asian elites “forgot” about those tens of millions of Asian people murdered by the Western imperialism at the end of and after the WWII. They “forgot” about what took place in the North – about the Tokyo and Osaka firebombing, about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, about the barbaric liquidation of Korean civilians by the US forces. But they also forgot about their own victims – about those hundreds of thousands, in fact about the millions, of those who were blown to pieces, burned by chemicals or directly liquidated – men, women and children of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor.

All is forgiven and all is forgotten.

And once again the Empire is proudly “pivoting” into Asia; it is even bragging about it.

It goes without saying that the Empire has no shame and no decency left. It boasts about democracy and freedom, while it does not even bother to wash the blood of tens of millions off its hands.

All over Asia, the “privileged populaces” has chosen to not know, to not remember, or even to erase all terrible chapters of the history. Those who insist on remembering are being silenced, ridiculed, or made out to be irrelevant.

Such selective amnesia, such “generosity” will very soon backfire. Shortly, it will fly back like a boomerang. History repeats itself. It always does, the history of the Western terror and colonialism, especially. But the price will not be covered by the morally corrupt elites, by those lackeys of the Western imperialism. As always, it will be Asia’s poor who will be forced to pay.

Patet Lao HQ Cave in Laos

After I descended from the largest cave in the vicinity of Tham Pha Thok, Laos, I decided to text my good Vietnamese friend in Hanoi. I wanted to compare the suffering of Laotian and Vietnamese people.

The cave used to be “home” to Pathet Lao. During the Second Indochina War it actually served as the headquarters. Now it looked thoroughly haunted, like a skull covered by moss and by tropical vegetation.

The US air force used to intensively bomb the entire area and there are still deep craters all around, obscured by the trees and bushes.

The US bombed the entirety of Laos, which has been given a bitter nickname: “The most bombed country on earth”.

It is really hard to imagine, in a sober state, what the US, Australia and their Thai allies did to the sparsely populated, rural, gentle Laos.

John Bacher, a historian and a Metro Toronto archivist once wrote about “The Secret War”: “More bombs were dropped on Laos between 1965 and 1973 than the U.S. dropped on Japan and Germany during WWII. More than 350,000 people were killed. The war in Laos was a secret only from the American people and Congress. It anticipated the sordid ties between drug trafficking and repressive regimes that have been seen later in the Noriega affair.”

In this biggest covert operation in the U.S. history, the main goal was to “prevent pro-Vietnamese forces from gaining control” over the area. The entire operation seemed more like a game that some overgrown, sadistic boys were allowed to play: Bombing an entire nation into the Stone Age for more than a decade. But essentially this “game” was nothing else than one of the most brutal genocides in the history of the 20th century.

Naturally, almost no one in the West or in Southeast Asia knows anything about this.

Laos - Plain of Jars - 2 copy

I texted my friend: “What I witnessed a few years ago working at the Plain of Jars was, of course, much more terrible than what I just saw around Tham Pha Thok, but even here, the horror of the US actions was crushing.” I also sent her a link to my earlier reports covering the Plain of Jars.

A few minutes later, she replied: “If you didn’t tell me… I would have never known about this secret war. As far as we knew, there was never a war in Laos. Pity for Lao people!”

I asked my other friends in Vietnam, and then in Indonesia. Nobody knew anything about the bombing of Laos.

The “Secret War” remains top-secret, even now, even right here, in the heart of the Asia Pacific region, or more precisely, especially here.

When Noam Chomsky and I were discussing the state of the world in what eventually became our book “On Western Terrorism – From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare”, Noam mentioned his visit to the war-torn Laos. He clearly remembered Air America pilots, as well as those hordes of Western journalists who were based in Vientiane but too busy to not see and to not ask any relevant questions.


“In the Philippines, the great majority of people is now convinced that the US actually ‘liberated’ our country from the Japanese”, my left-wing journalist friends once told me.

Dr. Teresa S. Encarnación Tadem, Professor of Political Science of University of the Philippines Diliman, explained to me last year, face to face, in Manila: “There is a saying here: “Philippines love Americans more than Americans love themselves.”

I asked: “How is it possible? The Philippines were colonized and occupied by the United States. Some terrible massacres took place… The country was never really free. How come that this ‘love’ towards the US is now prevalent?”

“It is because of extremely intensive North American propaganda machine”, clarified Teresa’s husband, Dr. Eduardo Climaco Tadem, Professor of Asian Studies of University of the Philippines Diliman. “It has been depicting the US colonial period as some sort of benevolent colonialism, contrasting it with the previous Spanish colonialism, which was portrayed as ‘more brutal’. Atrocities during the American-Philippine War (1898 – 1902) are not discussed. These atrocities saw 1 million Philippine people killed. At that period it was almost 10% of our population… the genocide, torture… Philippines are known as “the first Vietnam”… all this has been conveniently forgotten by the media, absent in the history books. And then, of course, the images that are spread by Hollywood and by the American pop culture: heroic and benevolent US military saving battered countries and helping the poor…”

Basically, entirely reversing the reality.

The education system is very important”, added Teresa Tadem. “The education system manufactures consensus, and that in turn creates support for the United States… even our university – University of the Philippines – was established by the Americans. You can see it reflected in the curriculum – for instance the political science courses… they all have roots in the Cold War and its mentality.”

Almost all children of the Asian “elites” get “educated” in the West, or at least in so-called “international schools” in their home countries, where the imperialist curriculum is implemented. Or in the private, most likely religious/Christian schools… Such “education” borrows heavily from the pro-Western and pro-business indoctrination concepts.

And once conditioned, children of the “elites” get busy brainwashing the rest of the citizens. The result is predictable: capitalism, Western imperialism, and even colonialism become untouchable, respected and admired. Nations and individuals who murdered millions are labeled as carriers of progress, democracy and freedom. It is “prestigious” to mingle with such people, as it is highly desirable to “follow their example”. The history dies. It gets replaced by some primitive, Hollywood and Disney-style fairytales.

monument to American War in Hanoi

In Hanoi, an iconic photograph of a woman pulling at a wing of downed US military plane is engraved into a powerful monument. It is a great, commanding piece of art.

My friend George Burchett, a renowned Australian artist who was born in Hanoi and who now lives in this city again, is accompanying me.

The father of George, Wilfred Burchett, was arguably the greatest English language journalist of the 20th Century. Asia was Wilfred’s home. And Asia was where he created his monumental body of work, addressing some of the most outrageous acts of brutality committed by the West: his testimonies ranged from the first-hand account of the Hiroshima A-bombing, to the mass murder of countless civilians during the “Korean War”. Wilfred Burchett also covered Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, to name just a few unfortunate places totally devastated by the United States and its allies.

Now his books are published and re-printed by prestigious publishing houses all over the world, but paradoxically, they do not live in sub-consciousness of the young people of Asia.

The Vietnamese people, especially the young ones, know very little about the horrific acts committed by the West in their neighboring countries. At most they know about the crimes committed by France and the US in their own country – in Vietnam, nothing or almost nothing about the victims of the West-sponsored monsters like Marcos and Suharto. Nothing about Cambodia – nothing about who was really responsible for those 2 millions of lost lives.

The “Secret Wars” remain secret.

George Burchett in Hanoi

With George Burchett I admired great revolutionary and socialist art at the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts. Countless horrible acts, committed by the West, are depicted in great detail here, as well as the determined resistance struggle fought against US colonialism by the great, heroic Vietnamese people.

But there was an eerie feeling inside the museum – it was almost empty! Besides us, there were only a few other visitors, all foreign tourists: the great halls of this stunning art institution were almost empty.

heroic Vietnamese women destroying US tank

Indonesians don’t know, because they were made stupid!” Shouts my dear old friend Djokopekik, at his art studio in Yogyokarta, He is arguably the greatest socialist realist artist of Southeast Asia. On his canvases, brutal soldiers are kicking the backsides of the poor people, while an enormous crocodile (a symbol of corruption) attacks, snaps at, and eats everyone in sight. Djokopekik is open, and brutally honest: “It was their plan; great goal of the regime to brainwash the people. Indonesians know nothing about their own history or about the rest of Southeast Asia!”

Before he died, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, the most influential writer of Southeast Asia, told me: “They cannot think, anymore… and they cannot write. I cannot read more than 5 pages of any contemporary Indonesian writer… the quality is shameful…” In the book that we (Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Rossie Indira and I) wrote together – “Exile” -, he lamented that Indonesian people do not know anything about history, or about the world.

Had they known, they would most definitely raise and overthrow this disgraceful regime that is governing their archipelago until these days.

2 to 3 million Indonesian people died after the 1965 military coup, triggered and supported by the West and by the religious clergy, mainly by Protestant implants from Europe. The majority of people in this desperate archipelago are now fully conditioned by the Western propaganda, unable to even detect their own misery. They are still blaming the victims (mainly Communists, intellectuals and “atheists”) for the events that took place exactly 50 years ago, events that broke the spine of this once proud and progressive nation.

Indonesians almost fully believe the right wing, fascist fairytales, fabricated by the West and disseminated through the local mass media channels controlled by whoring local “elites”… It is no wonder: for 50 nasty years they have been “intellectually” and “culturally” conditioned by the lowest grade Hollywood meditations, by Western pop music and by Disney.

They know nothing about their own region.

They know nothing about their own crimes. They are ignorant about the genocides they have been committing. More than half of their politicians are actually war criminals, responsible for over 30% of killed men, women and children during the US/UK/Australia-backed occupation of East Timor (now an independent country), for the 1965 monstrous bloodletting and for the on-going genocide, which Indonesia conducts in Papua.

Information about all these horrors is available on line. There are thousands of sites carrying detailed and damning evidence. Yet, cowardly and opportunistically, the Indonesian “educated” populace is opting for “not knowing”.

Of course, the West and its companies are greatly benefiting from the plunder of Papua.

Therefore, the genocide is committed, all covered with secrecy.

And ask in Vietnam, in Burma, even in Malaysia, what do people know about East Timor and Papua? The answer will be nothing, or almost nothing.

Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines – they may be located in the same part of the world, but they could be as well based on several different planets. That was the plan: the old divide-and-rule British concept.

In Manila, the capital of the Philippines, a family that was insisting that Indonesia is actually located in Europe once confronted me. The family was equally ignorant of the crimes committed by the pro-Western regime of Marcos.


The western media promotes Thailand as the “land of smiles”, yet it is an extremely frustrated and brutal place, where the murder rate is even(on per capita basis) higher than that in the United States.

Thailand has been fully controlled by the West since the end of the WWII. Consequently, its leadership (the throne, the elites and the military)have allowed some of the most gruesome crimes against humanity to take place on its territory. To mention just a few: the mass murder of the Thai left wing insurgents and sympathizers (some were burned alive in oil barrels), the murdering of thousands of Cambodian refugees, the killing and raping of student protesters in Bangkok and elsewhere… And the most terrible of them: the little known Thai participation in the Vietnam invasion during the “American War”…the intensive use of Thai pilots during the bombing sorties against Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as handing several military airports (including Pattaya) to the Western air forces. Not to speak about pimping of Thai girls and boys (many of them minors) to the Western military men.


The terror that the West has been spreading all over Southeast Asia seems to be forgotten, or at least for now.

Let’s move on!” I heard in Hanoi and in Luang Prabang.

But while the Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian people are busy “forgiving” their tormentors the Empire has been murdering the people of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine, and all corners of Africa.

It was stated by many, and proven by some, particularly in South America, where almost all the demons have been successfully exercised, that there can be no decent future for this Planet without recognizing and understanding the past.

After “forgiving the West”, several nations of Southeast Asia were immediately forced into the confrontation with China and Russia.

When “forgiven”, the West does not just humbly accept the great generosity of its victims. Such behavior is not part of its culture. Instead, it sees kindness as weakness, and it immediately takes advantage of it.

By forgiving the West, by “forgetting” its crimes, Southeast Asia is actually doing absolutely nothing positive. It is only betraying its fellow victims, all over the world.

It is also, pragmatically and selfishly, hoping for some returns. But returns will never come! History has shown it on many occasions. The West wants everything. And it believes that it deserves everything. If not confronted, it plunders until the end, until there is nothing left – as it did in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Iraq or in Indonesia.

Laos Plain of Jars - village fence made of American bombs copy 2

Renowned Australian historian and Professor Emeritus at Nagasaki University in Japan, Geoffrey Gunn, wrote in this essay:

“The US wields hard power and soft power in equal portions or so it would appear. Moving in and out of East Asia over the last four decades I admit to being perplexed as to the selectivity of memories of the American record. Take Laos and Cambodia in the 1970s where, in each country respectively, the US dropped a greater tonnage of bombs than dumped on Japanese cities during World War II, and where unexploded ordinance still takes a daily toll. Not so long ago I asked a high-ranking regime official in Phnom Penh as to whether the Obama administration had issued an apology for this crime of crimes. “No way,” he said, but then he wasn’t shaking his fist either, just as the population appears to be numbed as to basic facts of their own history beyond some generalized sense of past horrors. In Laos in December 1975 where I happened to be when, full of rage at the US, revolutionaries took over; the airing of American crimes – once a propaganda staple – has been relegated to corners of museums. Ditto in Vietnam, slowly entering the US embrace as a strategic partner, and with no special American contrition as to the victims of bombing, chemical warfare and other crimes. In East Timor, sacrificed by US President Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to the Indonesian generals in the interest of strategic denial, and where some 30 percent of the population perished, America is forgiven or, at least, airbrushed out of official narratives. Visiting the US on a first state visit, China’s President Xi Jinping drums up big American business deals, a “new normal” in the world’s second largest economy and now US partner in the “war against terror,” as in Afghanistan. Well, fresh from teaching history in a Chinese university, I might add that history does matter in China but with Japan as an all too obvious point of reference.”

“China used to see the fight against Western imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism as the main rallying cry of its foreign policy”, sighs Geoff, as we watch the bay of his home city – Nagasaki. “Now it is only Japan whose crimes are remembered in Beijing.”

But back to Southeast Asia…

It is all forgotten and forgiven, and the reason “why” is clear, simple. It pays to forget! “Forgiveness” brings funding; it secures “scholarships” just one of the ways Western countries spread corruption in its client states and in the states they want to draw into their orbit.

The elites with their lavish houses, trips abroad, kids in foreign schools, are a very forgiving bunch!

But then you go to a countryside, where the majority of Southeast Asian people still live. And the story there is very different. The story there makes you shiver.

Before departing from Laos, I sat at an outdoor table in a village of Nam Bak, about 100 kilometers from Luang Prabang. Ms. Nang Oen told me her stories about the US carpet-bombing, and Mr. Un Kham showed me his wounds:

“Even here, in Nam Bak, we had many craters all over, but now they are covered by rice fields and houses. In 1968, my parents’ house was bombed… I think they dropped 500-pound bombs on it. Life was unbearable during the war. We had to sleep in the fields or in the caves. We had to move all the time. Many of us were starving, as we could not cultivate our fields.

I ask Ms. Nang Oen about the Americans. Did she forget, forgive?

“How do I feel about them? I actually can’t say anything. After all these years, I am still speechless. They killed everything here, including chicken. I know that they are doing the same even now, all over the world…”

She paused, looked at the horizon.

“Sometimes I remember what was done to us… Sometimes I forget”. She shrugs her shoulders. “But when I forget, it is only for a while. We did not receive any compensation, not even an apology. I cannot do anything about it. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, and I cry.”

I listened to her and I knew, after working for decades in this part of the world: for the people of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and East Timor, nothing is forgotten and nothing is forgiven. And it should never be!

author refuses to forget and forgive

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and Fighting Against Western Imperialism.

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. Drops Fleas With Bubonic Plague on North Korea

By David Swanson – War Is A Crime – September 5, 2015

This happened some 63 years ago, but as the U.S. government has never stopped lying about it, and it’s generally known only outside the United States, I’m going to treat it as news.

Here in our little U.S. bubble we’ve heard of a couple versions of a film called The Manchurian Candidate. We’ve heard of the general concept of “brainwashing” and may even associate it with something evil that the Chinese supposedly did to U.S. prisoners during the Korean War. And I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people who’ve heard of these things have at least a vague sense that they’re bullshit.

If you didn’t know, I’ll break it to you right now: people cannot actually be programed like the Manchurian candidate, which was a work of fiction. There was never the slightest evidence that China or North Korea had done any such thing. And the CIA spent decades trying to do such a thing, and finally gave up.

I’d also be willing to bet that very few people know what it was that the U.S. government promoted the myth of “brainwashing” to cover up. During the Korean War, the United States bombed virtually all of North Korea and a good bit of the South, killing millions of people. It dropped massive quantities of Napalm. It bombed dams, bridges, villages, houses. This was all-out mass-slaughter. But there was something the U.S. government didn’t want known, something deemed unethical in this genocidal madness.

It is well documented that the United States dropped on China and North Korea insects and feathers carrying anthrax, cholera, encephalitis, and bubonic plague. This was supposed to be a secret at the time, and the Chinese response of mass vaccinations and insect eradication probably contributed to the project’s general failure (hundreds were killed, but not millions). But members of the U.S. military taken prisoner by the Chinese confessed to what they had been a part of, and confessed publicly when they got back to the United States.

Some of them had felt guilty to begin with. Some had been shocked at China’s decent treatment of prisoners after U.S. depictions of the Chinese as savages. For whatever reasons, they confessed, and their confessions were highly credible, were borne out by independent scientific reviews, and have stood the test of time.

How to counter reports of the confessions? The answer for the CIA and the U.S. military and their allies in the corporate media was “brainwashing,” which conveniently explained away whatever former prisoners said as false narratives implanted in their brains by brainwashers.

And 300 million of so Americans more or less sort of believe that craziest-ever dog-ate-my-homework concoction to this day!

The propaganda struggle was intense. The support of the Guatemalan government for the reports of U.S. germ warfare in China were part of the U.S. motivation for overthrowing the Guatemalan government; and the same cover-up was likely part of the motivation for the CIA’s murder of Frank Olson.

There isn’t any debate that the United States had been working on bio-weapons for years, at Fort Detrick — then Camp Detrick — and numerous other locations. Nor is there any question that the United States employed the top bio-weapons killers from among both the Japanese and the Nazis from the end of World War II onward. Nor is there any question that the U.S. tested such weapons on the city of San Francisco and numerous other locations around the United States, and on U.S. soldiers. There’s a museum in Havana featuring evidence of years of U.S. bio-warfare against Cuba. We know that Plum Island, off the tip of Long Island, was used to test the weaponization of insects, including the ticks that created the ongoing outbreak of Lyme Disease.

Dave Chaddock’s book This Must Be the Place, which I found via Jeff Kaye’s review, collects the evidence that the United States indeed tried to wipe out millions of Chinese and North Koreans with deadly diseases.

“What does it matter now?” I can imagine people from only one corner of the earth asking.

I reply that it matters that we know the evils of war and try to stop the new ones. U.S. cluster bombs in Yemen, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, U.S. guns in Syria, U.S. white phosphorus and Napalm and depleted uranium used in recent years, U.S. torture in prison camps, U.S. nuclear arsenals being expanded, U.S. coups empowering monsters in Ukraine and Honduras, U.S. lies about Iranian nukes, and indeed U.S. antagonization of North Korea as part of that never-yet-ended war — all of these things can be best confronted by people aware of a centuries-long pattern of lying.

And I reply, also, that it is not yet too late to apologize.

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military to Hype Imaginary China and Russia Threat

By Matt Peppe | Just the Facts | August 2, 2015

The CBS news program 60 Minutes on Sunday aired an extended segment titled “The Battle Above” that relayed the concerns of various US military personnel that China and Russia could pose a threat to the vast system of American satellites that are used for military purposes and for commercial use by banks, telecommunications companies, farmers and others.

“Top military and intelligence leaders are now worried those satellites are vulnerable to attack. They say China, in particular, has been actively testing anti-satellite weapons that could, in effect, knock out America’s eyes and ears,” said correspondent David Martin.

Gen. John Hyten, head of the 38,000-person Space Command unit of the US Air Force, tells all his troops that there is a “contested environment” in space with multiple countries not allied with the U.S. possessing capabilities that could potentially threaten American satellites. “It’s a competition that I wish wasn’t occurring, but it is. And if we’re threatened in space, we have the right to self-defense, and we’ll make sure we can execute that right,” Hyten says.

While the Pentagon admits spending $10 billion per year on space, 60 Minutes reports that when you add in other indirect costs the actual total reaches $25 billion. And Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James says the Pentagon plans to spend an additional $5 billion over the next 5 years on protecting its satellites.

Hyten describes the ambitions and activities of foreign actors in space as essentially an existential threat not just to the U.S. military but to the American economy. This is a useful narrative for an agency that is seeking billions of dollars to extend its current dominance.

Without a discernible threat, it would be difficult to justify such outlandish expenditures as the X-37B space plane. The plane is able to return to earth after voyaging for 20 months into space, allowing anything included in the payload to be later retrieved. The purpose of the plane is as yet undisclosed. But Hyten’s response when asked if it will one day be used as a weapons system – that he can’t answer – is revealing.

The military officials interviewed by 60 Minutes frame the issue as one in which the U.S. is acting purely in self-defense and within international law. Martin mentions that there is a 1967 U.N. treaty that calls for the peaceful use of space, but says in practice it does not resolve much. When he asks if this means it’s every country for himself, Lee James says, “Pretty much.”

60 Minutes makes much of anti-satellite weapons tests that China conducted in 2007, nearly a decade ago. China’s foreign ministry told the news program that it has not conducted any tests since and is “committed to the peaceful use of outer space.”

Are China’s declarations just empty rhetoric to conceal their true ambitions? And what threat do Russia and other countries like North Korea actually pose?

60 Minutes fails to mention that the United Nations has actively been dealing with the threat of weapons in space, and it is the United States itself – not China or Russia – that has been most forceful in rejecting limits on weapons programs and an arms race in space.

In its most recent session, the UN General Assembly passed two resolutions directly related to the use of weapons in space – one of which the U.S. government outright opposed and the other which it abstained from voting on.

UNGA resolution 69/31, “Prevention of an arms race in outer space” passed by a margin of 178-0 with 2 abstentions (the United States and Israel). The resolution affirmed that “the exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall be for peaceful purposes and shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries” and recalled that all States must “observe the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations regarding the use or threat of use of force in their international relations, including in their space activities.”

The General Assembly also passed resolution 69/32, “No first placement of weapons in outer space,” passed by a margin of 126-4 with 26 abstentions. China, Russia, North Korea and Iran all voted in favor of this measure, while the United States, Israel and US allies Georgia and Ukraine were the only nations voting against it.

The resolution “urges an early start of substantive work based on the updated draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space” that was submitted at the Conference on Disarmament. The draft treaty was submitted by two states: China and Russia.

In their story, 60 Minutes serves the role of Pentagon PR mouthpiece, allowing US military officials to hype the threat of China and Russia by presenting a narrative based on little more than their own paranoia.

If they wanted to realistically assess the threat of an arms race in space and determine who is responsible, 60 Minutes would have examined the extensive actions and voting record of the United States, China, Russia, and other states in the diplomatic arena to deal with such a threat. This would demonstrate emphatically that the United States has stood virtually alone in the world in opposing peaceful cooperation and de-escalation of military action in space. But apparently 60 Minutes finds it easier to simply take the Pentagon’s arguments and analysis at face value.

The DoD’s scare tactics of creating an imaginary threat – in the form Washington’s familiar punching bags China and Russia – allow them to frame their space program as an imperative reaction to legitimate national security threats, rather than as a superfluous, aggressive expansion of their unchallenged hegemony that extends not just around the globe, but thousands of miles into the reaches of outer space.

August 3, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion

By Eric Draitser – New Eastern Outlook – 25.07.2015

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’s Overseas 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.

‘Soft Power’ and the Destabilization of China

Joseph Nye famously defined ‘soft power’ as the ability of a country to persuade others and/or manipulate events without force or coercion in order to achieve politically desirable outcomes. And one of the main tools of modern soft power is civil society and the NGOs that dominate it. With financial backing from some of the most powerful individuals and institutions in the world, these NGOs use the cover of “democracy promotion” and human rights to further the agenda of their patrons. And China has been particularly victimized by precisely this sort of strategy.

Human Rights Watch, and the NGO complex at large, has condemned China’s Overseas NGO Management Law because they quite rightly believe that it will severely hamper their efforts to act independently of Beijing. However, contrary to the irreproachable expression of innocence that such organizations masquerade behind, the reality is that they act as a de facto arm of western intelligence agencies and governments, and they have played a central role in the destabilization of China in recent years.

Undoubtedly the most highly publicized example of just such political meddling took place in 2014 with the much hyped “Occupy Central” movement in Hong Kong, also known as the Umbrella Movement. The Western media fed uninformed news consumers story after story about a “pro-democracy” movement seeking to give voice to, as White House spokesman Josh Earnest cynically articulated, “…the aspirations of the Hong Kong people.” But such vacuous rhetoric was only part of the story.

What the corporate media in the West failed to mention were the deeply rooted connections between the Occupy Central movement and key organs of US soft power. The oft touted leader of Occupy Central was a pro-Western academic named Benny Tai, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong. Though he presented himself as the leader of a grassroots mass movement, Mr. Tai has for years been partnered with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a nominal NGO which is actually directly funded by the US State Department via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In fact, the NDI has been one of the leading advocates (and financial backers presumably) of the Center for Comparative and Public Law at the University of Hong Kong, a program with which Benny Tai has been intimately connected, including as a board member since 2006. So, far from being merely an emerging leader, Tai was a carefully selected point person for a US-sponsored color revolution-style movement.

Two other high profile figures involved with Occupy Central were Audrey Eu, founder of the Civic Party in Hong Kong, and Martin Lee, founding chairman of the Democrat Party of Hong Kong. Both Eu and Lee have long-standing ties to the US government through the NED and NDI, with Eu having been a frequent contributor to NDI sponsored panels and programs, and Lee having the glorious distinction of having both been a recipient of awards from NED and NDI, as well as meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden in 2014 along with anti-Beijing advocate Anson Chan.

It does not take exceptional powers of deduction to see that, to varying degrees, Tai, Eu, Lee, and Chan each act as the public face of a US Government-sponsored initiative to destabilize the political situation in Hong Kong, one of China’s most economically and politically important regions. Through the intermediary of the NGO, Washington is able to promote an anti-Beijing line under the auspices of “democracy promotion,” just as it has done everywhere from Ukraine to Venezuela. Luckily for China, the movement was not supported by either the bulk of the working class in Hong Kong and China, or even by many of the middle class who saw it as little more than an inconvenience at best. However, it required swift government action to contain the public relations and media fiasco that could have resulted from the movement, a fact of which Beijing, no doubt, took note.

As a spokesperson for the National People’s Congress explained in April, the NGO law is necessary for “safeguarding national security and maintaining social stability.” Indeed, in late 2014, in the wake of the Occupy Central protests, Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Macau and spoke of the need to ensure that Macau walked on the “right path.” In a thinly veiled reference to Hong Kong, Xi praised Macau for continuing to follow the “one country, two systems” policy under which the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong have greater autonomy but are still subject to Chinese law. Essentially, Xi made it quite clear that, despite the foreign NGO-manufactured movement in Hong Kong, Beijing remained firmly in control. And this is precisely the issue: control.

NGOs, Soft Power, and Terror in Xinjiang

The NGO ‘soft power’ weapon is not relegated solely to Hong Kong however. In fact, the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, one of the most volatile regions in the country, has seen active destabilization and subversion by soft power elements consistently over recent years. Home to the majority Muslim Uighur ethnic group, Xinjiang has been repeatedly attacked both with terrorism and vile propaganda that has sought to paint to China as the oppressor and enemy of Uighurs, and Muslims generally.

Xinjiang has been victim to a number of deadly terrorist attacks in recent years, including the heinous drive-by bombings that killed dozens and injured over 100 people in May 2014, the mass stabbings and bombings of November 2014, and the deadly attack by Uighur terrorists on a traffic checkpoint just last month which left 18 people dead. Were such attacks, which claimed the lives of scores of innocent Chinese citizens, to have been carried out against, say, Americans, the western media would be all but declaring holy jihad against the entire world. However, since they’ve happened in China, these are merely isolated incidents that are due to the “marginalization” and “oppression” of the Uighur people by the big bad Chinese authorities.

Such a sickeningly biased narrative is in no small part due to the NGO penetration of the Uighur community and a vast public relations network funded directly by the US Government. The same National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which has disbursed funds to the NDI and other organizations involved in the Hong Kong destabilization of “Occupy Central,” has been a primary funder of the Uighur NGO complex.

The following organizations have each received significant financial support from the NED through the years: World Uighur Congress, Uighur American Association, International Uighur Human rights and Democracy Foundation, and the International Uighur PEN Club, among others. These NGOs are quite often the sources cited by western media for comments on anything related to Xinjiang and are almost always quick to demonize Beijing for all problems in the region, including terrorism.

Perhaps the best example of just such propaganda and dishonesty came in the last few weeks as western media was flooded with stories making the spurious allegation that China had banned the observance of Ramadan in Xinjiang. Indeed, there were literally hundreds of articles condemning China for this “restriction of religious freedom,” portraying the Chinese government as repressive and a violator of human rights. Interestingly, the primary source for the claim was none other than the NED-funded World Uighur Congress.

Moreover, in mid July, on the day of Eid al-Fitr (the final day of Ramadan), the Wall Street Journal ran a story covering the media push-back from China which has sought in recent weeks to publicize the fact that Xinjiang, and all of China, has celebrated openly for Ramadan. And, as one should come to expect, the anti-China source cited is, as usual, a representative of the World Uighur Congress. It seems that this organization, far from being merely a human rights advocate, is in fact a mouthpiece for US propaganda against China. And when the propaganda is challenged and discredited by China, well that just invites new and more blistering propaganda.

The Geopolitical Footprints

All of this demonization has taken on a clear geopolitical and strategic significance as Turkey has stepped into the fray condemning China for its alleged “persecution” of Uighur Muslims, whom Ankara sees as Turks from its neo-Ottoman revanchist perspective. The Turkish Foreign ministry said in a statement that “Our people have been saddened over the news that Uighur Turks have been banned from fasting or carrying out other religious duties in the Xinjiang region… Our deep concern over these reports have been conveyed to China’s ambassador in Ankara.”

China responded to what it deemed to be inappropriate comments from Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, especially in light of Turkey’s absurd characterization of the Uighurs (who are Chinese citizens) as “Turks.” China’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying stated, “China has already demanded that Turkey clarify these reports and we have expressed concern about the statement from the Turkish foreign ministry… You should know that all the people of Xinjiang enjoy the freedom of religious belief accorded to them by the Chinese constitution.”

While the Chinese government, as it almost always does, used decidedly muted language to express its displeasure, the implications of the statement were not lost on keen political observers with some understanding of the China-Turkey relationship. Although the two countries have many aligned interests, as evidenced by Turkey’s repeatedly expressed desire to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the little known fact is that Turkey is one of the major facilitators of terrorism in China.

Though it received almost no fanfare from international media, in January 2015 Chinese authorities arrested at least ten Turkish suspects alleged to have organized and facilitated the illegal border crossings of a number of Uighur extremists. It has further been revealed that these extremists were planning to travel to Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to train and fight with fellow jihadis.

The story is still further evidence of a well-funded, well-organized international terror network operated and/or facilitated by Turkish intelligence. According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the ten Turkish citizens were arrested in Shanghai on November 17, 2014 for facilitating illegal immigration. While the formal charges against them range from forging documents to actually aiding illegal migration, it is the larger question of international terrorism that lurks beneath the surface. Because of course, as the evidence seems to indicate, these Uighur immigrants were not merely traveling to see loved ones in another country. On the contrary, they were likely part of a previously documented trend of Uighur extremists traveling to the Middle East to train and fight with the Islamic State or other terror groups.

It is these same extremist networks that carried out the aforementioned deadly bombing in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang. In fact, precisely this trend was exposed two months earlier in September 2014 when Reuters reported that Beijing formally accused militant Uighurs from Xinjiang of having traveled to Islamic State-controlled territory to receive training. Further corroborating these accusations, the Jakarta Post of Indonesia reported that four Chinese Uighur jihadists had been arrested in Indonesia after having travelled from Xinjiang through Malaysia. Other, similar reports have also surfaced in recent months, painting a picture of a concerted campaign to help Uighur extremists travel throughout Asia, communicating and collaborating with transnational terror groups such as the Islamic State.

So, Uighur terrorists with forged documents provided by sources inside Turkey are implicated as being part of the same terror networks that carried out a series of deadly attacks on Chinese citizens and police. No wonder China is not exactly bending over backwards to dry Erdogan’s and the Turkish government’s crocodile tears. And yet, despite the terror war, the US-funded Uighur NGOs continue to portray China as responsible for the terrorism.

The destabilization of China takes many forms. From a manufactured protest movement in Hong Kong sponsored by NGOs connected to the US government, to a fabricated propaganda war peddled by other NGOs sponsored by the US government, to a terror war fomented by a NATO member, China is a nation under assault by soft and hard power. That Beijing is finally taking steps to curb the pernicious influence of such NGOs, and the forces they represent, is not only a positive step, it’s an absolutely necessary one. The national security and national sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China requires nothing less.

July 26, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Increasing Burden of Diabetes in China

By Cesar Chelala | CounterPunch | July 24, 2015

China’s economic growth in the last three decades has dramatically transformed the nation’s economic landscape, removing 500 million people from poverty. This progress, however, has been accompanied by an increase in some diseases –such as diabetes– notably associated with increased urbanization and changed lifestyles. Twenty-five years ago, the number of people with diabetes in China was less than one percent. Today, China has more than 114 million people suffering from the disease, the highest number of any country in the world.

It is estimated that 11.6 percent of Chinese adults have diabetes, a proportion higher than the U.S. with 11.3 percent. Experts blame the increase in sedentary lifestyles, high consumption of sugary and high-calorie Western diets, excessive smoking and lack of exercise. According to some experts, India and China will have an increase of an additional 48.5m people with diabetes between 2007 and 2025.

Because the number of people suffering from this disease in China is increasing rapidly, the cost of treating diabetes and its complications can reach extremely high levels, and have a significant impact in the country’s economy. According to the International Diabetes Federation, 13% of medical expenditures in China are directly caused by diabetes. The yearly costs are US$25 billion. It is estimated that these costs will increase substantially, and reach more than $47 billion in 2030. In China, lost productivity costs alone are equivalent to 0.6% of GDP as reported by The Economist Intelligence Unit in 2007.

Both types of diabetes exact three kinds of economic costs: direct, indirect and those resulting from lost productivity. The direct costs include medical visits and treatment, medications and hospitalization for the disease and its complications. Indirect costs, which include informal care by relatives and paramedical personnel, constitute almost half the total cost of diabetes. Loss of productivity costs include those due to the consequences of the disability caused by the disease and its complications.

Diabetes also places a heavy toll on household income. People with diabetes spend 9 times more money in health care than healthy people of the same age and sex without diabetes. Those who have had diabetes for more than 10 years spent an estimated 22% of their household income for health care.

The total estimated cost of diabetes in the U.S. was estimated in $245 billion in 2012, of which 43 percent was for hospital inpatient care, 18 percent for prescription medications to treat the complications of the disease and 12 percent was for anti-diabetic agents.

People with diabetes report 3-4 times more in-patient care, out-patient visits and emergency room visits than people without diabetes of the same age and sex. In addition, health expenditures for people who have had diabetes for 10 or more years are 460% higher than for people who have had diabetes for 1-2 years.

Of the two kinds of diabetes, Type 1 is diagnosed primarily in children and young adults, and has probably genetic and environmental components. Type 2 diabetes, which probably has also a small genetic component, is mostly caused by unhealthy lifestyles and obesity. Type 1 diabetes accounts for approximately 5 percent of all cases.

Before a person develops diabetes Type 2, they frequently have a condition called pre-diabetes, which has no symptoms. In pre-diabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to qualify people as diabetics. It is estimated that 493 million people -or one in two adults- in China has pre-diabetes. Without treatment, those with pre-diabetes will develop full-fledged diabetes in 10 years or less.

What makes this condition particularly serious is that it is frequently ignored, and those affected by it are at a 50% higher risk of heart disease and stroke than those who don’t have pre-diabetes. According to some estimates, each year six to seven percent of those with pre-diabetes will be added to the diabetes population.

In diabetes Type 1 the body doesn’t produce enough, or in many cases any insulin, while in diabetes Type 2 the body still produces insulin but has lost the capacity to make use of the insulin it makes. Because of increasing rates obesity, children are now more affected by this last type of disease. In Japan, for example, Type 2 diabetes is now more common among Japanese children than diabetes Type 1 and in China type 2 diabetes is now being seen at younger ages.

Increased awareness and education about the disease’s damaging effects is critical. In October 2012, the Chinese government launched a three-year project called China National Plan for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Treatment (2012-2015) to train 100,000 community-level doctors in diabetes prevention and treatment.

To improve the results of this plan, however, teachers in primary schools must also be trained and special classes should be devoted to this problem. Awareness should be raised in the general population about the importance of addressing risk factors, such as having poor eating habits, smoking in excess and having unhealthy lifestyles. If this serious crisis is not properly faced, it can provoke a most damaging effect on the country’s economy and on the health status of the population.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant.

July 24, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

Russia: Iran to join SCO after sanction lifted

Press TV – July 8, 2015

Iran will join the Eurasian economic, political and military bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), after sanctions are lifted on the country, a Russian presidential aide has said.

The announcement came after foreign ministers of the organization met ahead of a summit by SCO and BRICS leaders in the Russian city of Ufa.

“The Iranian application is on the agenda for consideration. Sooner or later, the application will be granted after the UN Security Council sanctions are lifted,” Interfax quoted Russian presidential adviser Anton Kobyakov as saying.

Iran and the P5+1 group of world countries are currently involved in make-or-break talks in order to reach a nuclear agreement which would have sanctions lifted on Tehran.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Interfax that the removal of a conventional arms embargo on Iran is a “major problem” in the negotiations.

“I can assure you that there remains one major problem that is related to sanctions: this is the problem of an arms embargo,” he said in Vienna.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will head to Russia on Thursday to participate in the summit of SCO and BRICS nations.

Iran has an observer status on SCO, awaiting the removal of sanctions to become a full-fledged member.

SCO currently consists of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Kobyakov said the organization has received 11 new applications for membership, including from Egypt.

Russian officials have said India and Pakistan will join SCO as full members after years of holding observer status as Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif will join regional leaders in Ufa.

The Iranian president will attend the BRICS summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as a special guest and will also deliver a speech to the event.

The BRICS accounts for almost half the world’s population and about one-fifth of global economic output. Its New Development Bank is seen on course to challenge the dominance of US-led World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

July 8, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

China, India, Russia largest shareholders in China-led bank

The BRICS Post | June 29, 2015

Fifty countries on Monday signed the articles of agreement for the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the first major global financial instrument independent from the Bretton Woods system.

Seven remaining countries out of the 57 that have applied to be founding members, Denmark, Kuwait, Malaysia, Philippines, Holland, South Africa and Thailand, are awaiting domestic approval.

“This will be a significant event. The constitution will lay a solid foundation for the establishment and operation of the AIIB,” said Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei.

The AIIB will have an authorized capital of $100 billion, divided into shares that have a value of $100,000.

BRICS members China, India and Russia are the three largest shareholders, with a voting share of 26.06 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 5.92 per cent, respectively.

Following the signing of the bank’s charter, the agreement on the $100 billion AIIB will now have to be ratified by the parliaments of the founding members.

Asian countries will contribute up to 75 per cent of the total capital and be allocated a share of the quota based on their economic size.

Chinese Vice Finance Minister Shi Yaobin said China’s initial stake and voting share are “natural results” of current rules, and may be diluted as more members join.

Australia was first to sign the agreement in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday, state media reports said.

The Bank will base its headquarters in Beijing.

The Chinese Finance Ministry said the new lender will start operations by the end of 2015 under two preconditions: At least 10 prospective members ratify the agreement, and the initial subscribed capital is no less than 50 per cent of the authorized capital.

The AIIB will extend China’s financial reach and compete not only with the World Bank, but also with the Asian Development Bank, which is heavily dominated by Japan.

China and other emerging economies, including BRICS, have long protested against their limited voice at other multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

China is grouped in the ‘Category II’ voting bloc at the World Bank while at the Asian Development Bank, China with a 5.5 per cent share is far outdone by America’s 15.7 per cent and Japan’s 15.6 per cent share.

The ADB has estimated that in the next decade Asian countries will need $8 trillion in infrastructure investments to maintain the current economic growth rate.

China scholar Asit Biswas at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore, says Washington’s criticism of the China-led Bank is “childish”.

“Some critics argue that the AIIB will reduce the environmental, social and procurement standards in a race to the bottom. This is a childish criticism, especially because China has invited other governments to help with funding and governance,” he writes.

The US and Japan have not applied for the membership in the AIIB.

However, despite US pressures on its allies not to join the bank, Britain, France, Germany, Italy among others have signed on as founding members of the China-led Bank.

Meanwhile, New Zealand and Australia have already announced that they will invest $87.27 million and $718 million respectively as paid-in capital to the AIIB.

The new lender will finance infrastructure projects like the construction of roads, railways, and airports in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Iran, 49 states sign Asia bank charter

Press TV June 29, 2015

Iran on Monday joined 49 countries in signing up to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), bringing Asia’s largest financial lender a step closer to existence.

Finance and Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia put Iran’s signature to the bank’s articles of association at a ceremony in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, which capped six months of intense negotiations.

In April, China accepted Iran as a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank being seen as a rival to the US-led World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank.

With the signing which amounted to the creation of AIIB’s legal framework, China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said he was confident the bank could start functioning before the end of the year.

Seven more founding members would ink the articles after approval by their respective governments.

The bank will have a capital of $100 billion in the form of shares, each worth $100,000, distributed among the members. Beijing will be by far the largest shareholder at about 30%, followed by India at 8.4% and Russia at 6.5%.

China will also have 26% of the votes which are not enough to give it a veto on decision-making, while smaller members will have larger voice.

Singapore’s Senior Minister for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo said the bank will provide new opportunities for its members’ businesses and promote sustainable growth in Asia.

Seventy-five percent of AIIB’s shares are distributed within the Asian region while the rest is assigned among countries beyond it.

Germany, France and Brazil are among the non-Asian members of the bank despite US efforts to dissuade allies from joining it. Another US ally joining AIIB is Australia but Japan has stayed away from it.

Countries beyond the region can expand their share but the portion cannot be bigger than 30%. Public procurement of the AIIB will be open to all countries around the world.

But the president of the bank will have to be chosen from the Asian region for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.

The bank will be headquartered in Beijing and its lean structure will be overseen by an unpaid, non-resident board of directors which, architects say, would save it money and friction in decision-making.

Earlier this month, former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke rebuked US lawmakers for allowing China to found the new bank, which threatens to upend Washington’s domination over the world economic order.

He said lawmakers were to blame because they refused to agree 2010 reforms that would have given greater clout to China and other emerging powers in the International Monetary Fund.

June 29, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia, China Deepen Win-Win

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 29.06.2015

It’s scarcely a day passes that there isn’t some fascinating new development bringing Russia and China closer in peaceful economic cooperation. The most recent such development involves what must be described as a win-win development in which Russia has agreed to lease prime Siberian agriculture lands to a Chinese company for the coming fifty years. It fits beautifully to plans for the development of the world’s largest infrastructure project, the planned New Silk Road Economic Belt, a network of new high-speed railway lines criss-crossing Eurasia from China to Mongolia to Russia and beyond ultimately to the EU.

The Chinese government officials in recent years are very fond of talking about “win-win” developments in business and politics. Now a genuine win-win development is emerging for both China and Russia in Siberia near the borders of Mongolia and China in the region known since 2008 as Zabaikalsky krai or region.

The region has a very sparse population of just over 1 million Russians on a land area of some 432,000 square kilometers. It also holds some of the richest, most fertile farmland in the world. China for its part is hurt by increasing desertification, water problems and other pressures on its food production security. China also has population and money to invest in worthwhile projects, something the more remote regions of the Russian Federation have had serious deficits of during the Cold War and especially since the destructive Yeltsin years.

Now the government of Zabaikalsky krai has signed a 49-year lease agreement with China’s Zoje Resources Investment together with its daughter company Huae Sinban to lease 115,000 hectares or just under 300,000 acres of Russian farmland to China. The Chinese company will invest more than 24 billion rubles for development of agricultural sector in the region, to produce agricultural products for Russian and Chinese markets. Plans are to grow fodder, grain and oilseeds as well as to develop poultry, meat and dairy products production in Russia’s Baikal region.

The project will be divided into two stages. If the first stage is successfully completed by 2018, the Chinese company will be given a lease on a second parcel of land bringing the total to 200,000 hectares. For Russia and the region it will be a win. The lands where the project will start have not been farmed for almost 30 years and to make the land suitable again for farming will require the labor of as many as 3,000 hands. Also significant is that the Chinese company had to compete for the land deal with several other Chinese companies as well as companies from South Korea, New Zealand and even from the United States.

Wang Haiyun, senior advisor at the Chinese Institute for International Strategic Studies, called the deal an example of the developing trust between the two countries, according to an article from the Chinese newspaper Huanqiu Shibao. He noted that the fact that Russian authorities agreed to lease such an immense territory for 49 years to a Chinese company proves Moscow has no ideological prejudice towards Beijing.

China-Russia Agriculture Fund

The latest land lease deal in Zabaikalsky krai follows other positive developments in agriculture cooperation between Russia and China. This past May Russia’s state Direct Investment Fund head, Kirill Dmitriev, announced that RDIF, the Russia-China Investment Fund and the government of China’s Heilongjiang province have agreed on the creation of a special investment fund for agriculture projects. The fund will total some $2 billion and be funded by primarily money of institutional Chinese investors, including those with significant experience in investment in the agricultural sector, Dmitriev added. He said that the agreement on the creation of a joint investment bank will help attract Chinese capital to Russia and make it easier for Russian companies to enter China’s markets. China’s Heilongjiang Province is to the east of Zabaikalsky krai.

Silk roads to golden goals

The China-Zabaikalsky krai agriculture agreement is merely the initial step of what will become a major infrastructure and industrial development of the now-remote underdeveloped Siberian region. Zabaikalsky krai is one of the richest regions in all Russia. Russia’s largest known deposit of copper at Udokanskoye in the region has resources of 20 million tons. On June 3 at the Sochi SP1520 annual international railways forum, Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin announced that the Russian Copper Company, a joint venture by Russian Railways Public Company, UMMC, and Vnesheconombank, had applied for development of the Udokanskoye copper deposit, confirming that Russia is thinking very strategically about its development in the region.

In addition the region is rich in gold, molybdenum, tin, lead, zinc and coal. Its crops are today wheat, barley and oats. The region is amply blessed with fresh water and flowing rivers.

At the same time Beijing has announced it is creating a huge $16 billion fund to develop gold mines along the rail route linking Russia and China and Central Asia. One major obstacle to date to exploitation of Russia’s vast agriculture and mineral riches has been availability of modern infrastructure to bring the products to market. Contrary to Harvard University or George Soros “shock therapy” free market theories, markets are not “free.”

At the September, 2014 meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Dushanbe, at the request of the Mongolian president, China’s Xi, Russia’s Putin and Mongolia’s Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj agreed to integrate Beijing’s Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with Russia’s transcontinental rail plan and Mongolia’s Prairie Road program, to jointly build a China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor.

That could turn Mongolia into a “transit corridor” linking the Chinese and Russian economies. Mongolia is larger than Japan, France and Spain together. The three are discussing issues of traffic interconnectivity, how to facilitate cargo clearance and transportation, and the feasibility of building a transnational power grid.

Eurasian Economic Birth

The potential of the recent economic cooperation agreements between the two great Eurasian nations, Russia and China, is without question the most promising economic development in the world today. As US sanctions forced Russia to turn increasingly to its eastern neighbor, China, US military provocations against China in the East China Sea and elsewhere forced China to completely rethink its own strategic orientation. Developing their land connections in a vast economic space is emerging as the result. As the ancient Chinese saying goes, every crisis contains new opportunities if viewed so.

Beijing has discussed building various Eurasian rail ties for several years but in the past eighteen months since the beginning of the Presidency of Xi Jinping it has assumed highest priority, especially the construction of the New Silk Road Economic Belt. President XI has made that Silk Road project the cornerstone of his presidential term. In the meeting of Xi on May 8 in Moscow with Russian President Putin, the two presidents signed a joint declaration “on cooperation in coordinating development of EEU and the Silk Road Economic Belt,” with both declaring their goal to coordinate the two projects in order to build a “common economic space” in Eurasia, including a Free Trade Agreement between the EEU and China. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently stated that the trade turnover between China and Russia is likely to reach $100 billion in 2015. The future prospects, with construction of the network of high-speed railways, is staggering.

Markets, all markets, are man-made, products of deliberate or not so deliberate decisions of individuals and usually of governments. The creation of what could become a multi-trillion dollar economic space spanning the vast Eurasian land is moving forward in a beautiful way. The China-Russia agriculture land leasing is a sign that Russia is opening a new qualitative phase in these developments.

In the world of mathematics win-win is referred to as a “non-zero sum game” in which there is typically a matrix of multiple payouts for all participants. That seems to be emerging across the vast Eurasian expanse far faster than anyone could have imagined even two years ago.

June 29, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment


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