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Fri, 03 Feb 2023
The World for People who Think

Puppet Masters


Can you smell what the Year of the Rabbit is cooking?

Chinese City
© REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Liu He studied economics at Renmin University in China and got a Master's from Harvard. Since 2018, he's one of China's Vice Premiers - along with Han Zheng, Sun Chunlan, and Hu Chunhua. He's a Director of the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission and heads the China Financial Stability and Development Committee. Anyone around the world who wants to know what will drive China's economy in the Year of the Rabbit must pay attention to Liu He.

Davos 2023 has come and gone: an extended exercise in Demented Dystopia with peaks of paroxysm. At least a measure of reality was offered by Liu He's address. A limited but competent analysis of what he said is infinitely more useful than torrents of barely disguised Sinophobic "research" vomited by U.S. Think Tankland.

Liu He pointed to some key numbers for the Chinese economy in 2022. Overall 3% growth may not be groundbreaking; but what matters is value-added for high-tech manufacturing and equipment manufacturing going up by 7.4% and 5.6% respectively. What this means is that Chinese industrial capacity continues to move up the value chain.

Trade, predictably, reigns supreme: the total value of imports and exports reached the equivalent of $6,215 trillion in 2022; that's an increase of 7.7% over 2021.

Liu He also made it clear that improving the wealth of Chinese citizens remains a key priority, as enounced in the 2022 Party Congress: the number of middle class Chinese, by 2035, should jump from the current 400 million to an astonishing 900 million.

Liu He pointedly explained that everything about Chinese reforms revolves around the notion of establishing "a socialist market economy". This translates as "let the market play a decisive role in resources allocation, let the government play a better role." That has absolutely nothing to do with Beijing privileging a planned economy. As Liu He detailed, "we will deepen SOE [State-Owned Enterprises] reform, support the private sector, and promote fair competition, anti-monopoly and entrepreneurship."

China is reaching the next level, economically: that translates as building, as fast as possible, an innovation-driven commercial base. Specific targets include finance, tech, and greater productivity in industry, as in applying more robotics.

On the fin-tech front, a resurgent Hong Kong is bound to play an extremely important role starting by 2024 - most of it in consequence of several Wealth Management Connect mechanisms.

Enter, or re-enter the key role of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area - one the key development nodes of 21st century China.

What is known as the Greater Bay Area's Wealth Management Connect is a set up that allows wealthy investors from the nine mainland cities that compose the area to invest in yuan-denominated financial products issued by banks in Hong Kong and Macao - and vice-versa. What this means in practice is opening up mainland China's financial markets even further.

So expect a new Hong Kong boom by 2025. All those dejected by the collective West's morass, start making plans.

No Entry

US defense industry unprepared for war with China

fighter jets china
© Xinhua
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, fighter jets of the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conduct a joint combat training exercises around the Taiwan Island on Aug. 7, 2022.
The U.S. defense industry is "not adequately prepared" for "a protracted conventional war" with an enemy such as China, according to a think tank study published Monday.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) ran a war games simulation that found that the U.S. would likely be depleted of some of its munitions, including long-range, precision-guided ones, in less than a week of war with China in the Taiwan Strait.

The U.S.'s use of weapons would exceed the Department of Defense's stockpile, which would make sustaining a long-term war conflict "difficult," especially as China is investing in munitions and other weapons systems five to six times faster than the U.S., according to the study.

The Russia-Ukraine war exposed the shortfalls of the U.S.'s defense industry, CSIS said, with the study finding that the nation's inventories of some weapons, including Javelin anti-armor systems and Stinger anti-aircraft systems, are running low as the U.S. committed to sending more of these systems to Ukraine. The U.S. committed to sending more than 8,500 Javelin systems and more than 1,600 Stinger systems to Ukraine, leaving its own inventory low, according to the report.


The most egregious mistake

American Demise
© REUTERS/Carlos Barria
It is the miscalculation of this era - one that may begin the collapse of dollar primacy, and therefore, global compliance with U.S. political demands, too. But its most grievous content is that it corners the U.S. into promoting dangerous Ukrainian escalation against Russia directly (i.e. Crimea).

Washington dares not - indeed cannot - yield on dollar primacy, the ultimate signifier for 'American decline'. And so the U.S. government is hostage to its financial hegemony in a way that is rarely fully understood.

The Biden Team cannot withdraw its fantastical narrative of Russia's imminent humiliation; they have bet the House on it. Yet it has become an existential issue for the U.S. precisely because of this egregious initial miscalculation that has been subsequently levered-up into a preposterous narrative of a floundering, at any moment 'collapsing' Russia.

What then is this 'Great Surprise' - the almost completely unforeseen event of recent geo-politics that has so shaken U.S. expectations, and which takes the world to the precipice?

It is, in a word, Resilience. The Resilience displayed by the Russian economy after the West had committed the entire weight of its financial resources to crushing Russia. The West bore down on Russia in every conceivable way - via financial, cultural and psychological war - and with real military war as the follow-through.

Yet, Russia has survived, and survived relatively handsomely. It is doing 'okay' - maybe better, even, than many Russia insiders were expecting. The 'Anglo' Intelligence services however, had assured EU leaders not to worry; it's 'slam dunk'; Putin cannot possibly survive. Rapid financial and political collapse, they promised, was certain under the tsunami of western sanctions.

Their analysis represents an Intelligence failure on a par with the non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But instead of critical re-examination, as events failed to provide confirmation, they doubled down. But two such failures are just 'too much' to bear.

So why does this 'failed expectation' constitute such a world-shaking moment for our era? It is because the West fears that its miscalculation might well lead to the collapse of its dollar hegemony. But the fear extends well beyond that too - (bad as 'that' would be from the U.S. perspective).

Quenelle - Golden

Erdogan tells Sweden it won't back NATO bid after Quran burning outside its embassy in Stockholm


Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Sweden on Monday that it should not expect Turkey's support to join NATO
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden on Monday that it should not expect his backing to join NATO following the burning of the Quran outside Ankara's embassy in Stockholm.

"Sweden should not expect support from us for NATO," Erdogan said in his first official response to the act by an anti-Islam politician during a protest on Saturday that was approved by the Swedish police despite Turkey's objections.

Swedish leaders roundly condemned far-right politician Rasmus Paludan's actions but defended their country's broad definition of free speech.

The protest further jeopardised Sweden's attempt to join NATO in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Comment: The outlook for the West's scheming isn't looking too bright, but it looks like no one will really 'win', because they threaten to drag the whole world down with them:

Alarm Clock

Estonia wants to close Gulf of Finland to block Russia access to Baltic Sea - reports

gulf of finland
The Estonian government is planning to establish the contiguous zone regime in the Gulf of Finland as proposed by the national Foreign Ministry, ERR writes.

The outlet reports that the measure will allow Estonia to apply its laws in broader territorial waters, prosecute violations of its legal acts, and practically close off the Baltic Sea to Russian ships.

The regime will be applied within the 24 nautical miles from the Estonia coast and cover the whole of the Gulf of Finland. It would have a beneficial impact on Estonia's security, protection of the environment as well as archeological and historical objects found in the sea, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu explained.

Comment: If true, and if Estonia attempts to follow through, some are speculating that Russia may consider this an act of war. Although this possible development aligns with a number of other signs that a significant escalation is in the works:


Russo-Ukrainian War: The World Blood Pump

© Unknown
Iron • Ash • Blood
Since Russia's surprise decision to voluntarily withdraw from west bank Kherson in the first week of November, there has been little in the way of dramatic changes to the frontlines in Ukraine. In part, this reflects the predictable late autumn weather in Eastern Europe, which leaves battlefields waterlogged and clogged with mud and greatly inhibits mobility. For hundreds of years, November has been a bad month for attempting to move armies any sort of significant distance, and like clockwork we started to see videos of vehicles stuck in the mud in Ukraine.

The return of static positional warfare, however, also reflects the synergistic effect of increasing Ukrainian exhaustion along with a Russian commitment to patiently attriting and denuding Ukraine's remaining combat capability. They have found an ideal place to achieve this in the Donbas.

It has gradually become apparent that Russia is committed to a positional attritional war, as this maximizes the asymmetry of their advantage in ranged fires. There is an ongoing degradation of Ukraine's warmaking ability which is allowing Russia to patiently maintain the current tempo, while it organizes its newly mobilized forces for offensive action in the coming year, setting the stage for cascading and unsustainable Ukrainian losses.

In Ernest Hemingway's novel, The Sun Also Rises, a formerly wealthy, now down on his luck character is asked how he went bankrupt. "Two ways", he replies, "gradually and then suddenly." Someday we may ask how Ukraine lost the war and receive much the same answer.

Comment: This analysis is a fount of information, logic and strategy - well worth the read.

Light Sabers

Russia and West on verge of 'real war' - Lavrov

© Sputnik/Russian Foreign Ministry
Russian FM Sergey Lavrov
The current situation in Ukraine demonstrates that the conflict between Russia and the West can no longer be defined as a "hybrid war" but is instead approaching becoming a real one, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

Speaking at a press conference following a meeting with his South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor, Lavrov also noted that this "almost real" war was something that the West "has been preparing for a long time against Russia." The minister claimed that Western powers are seeking to destroy everything Russian, from the language to the culture that had existed in Ukraine for centuries, even forbidding people from speaking their native language.

Lavrov went on to point out that such practices have become commonplace throughout Ukraine and that the country's last two presidents, Pyotr Poroshenko and current leader Vladimir Zelensky, have both turned into "presidents of war" and "Russophobic leaders" after gaining power, despite running their presidential campaigns on the promise of establishing peace.


Julian Assange and the US government's war on whistleblowers

© Leon Neal/Getty Images
A sign placed by supporters of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is seen as people wait in line at The City of Westminster Magistrates Court on January 23, 2020, in London, England.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is expected to stand trial this year. His case is emblematic of how far the US government will go to hide the truth.

Thirteen years ago, WikiLeaks published extensive leaked US government documents detailing a range of criminal and unethical acts, from the slaughter of civilians in the "War on Terror" to acts of espionage against foreign heads of state. Since then, the persecution of Julian Assange has not ceased. This year, Assange is expected to stand trial in the US for violations of the Espionage Act. Journalist Kevin Gosztola joins The Chris Hedges Report to review the cases of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, and discuss Washington's wider war against whistleblowers and the truth itself.

Kevin Gosztola is the managing editor of Shadowproof, where he writes The Dissenter. He is the author of Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange.


Comment: The interview (transcript above):

Oil Well

The Biden administration finally admits its mistake in canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline

© Steve Hillebrand, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Pipeline Crossing
At long last, the Biden administration is admitting what experts have always known: reckless energy policies have disastrous consequences. This time, the Department of Energy quietly released a report highlighting the positive economic benefits of developing the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, an energy project canceled by President Biden in the hours following his inauguration.

But the DOE's report is a proverbial day late and a dollar short. The cancelation of the Keystone XL pipeline has already cost the United States thousands of jobs and billions in economic growth while families suffer under the weight of record high energy prices. It's time for lawmakers to make American energy independence a top priority.

Released without a formal announcement, the DOE's report points out that the pipeline would have created between 16,149 and 59,000 jobs and would have had an economic benefit of between $3.4 and 9.6 billion. That's no small impact. Yet with one stroke of his pen, Biden slashed the project and instead focused his efforts on costly "green energy" goals. As a result of his executive action, 11,000 pipeline workers were promptly laid off and told to "go to work to make solar panels" instead.

But Biden's green energy efforts are bound to backfire sooner rather than later. That's because today, more than 70 percent of the energy produced and consumed in America comes from oil, gas and coal. That's not likely to substantially change anytime soon. In fact, the International Energy Agency predicts that oil's share of energy production in the United States will only fall 8 percent in the next two decades, from 31 to 23 percent. And that's assuming a sustained commitment to green energy policies. The forecast spells bad news for the Biden White House. At his political peril, Biden ignores the lessons of Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, who both lost elections due to spiked oil prices and accompanying recessions.

Comment: Biden has proven once again: The pen is mightier than the brain.


Ex-Russian president predicts new anti-US military alliance

© Sputnik/Yekaterina Shtukina
Deputy Chair of Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev
The continuous flow of military aid to Kiev clearly shows that the collective West is seeking to "wear out or, preferably, destroy" Russia, the country's former president, Dmitry Medvedev, remarked on Sunday. The effort, however, may ultimately backfire for the US and its allies, he believes.

Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy chair of the Russian Security Council, made the comments in a social media post, days after a meeting at the US Ramstein air base in Germany at which Western powers pledged to continue supporting Kiev. He wrote:
"The meeting at Ramstein and the allocation of heavy weaponry to Kiev leave no doubt that our enemies will be trying to wear us out for an indefinite period of time, or, preferably, to destroy us."
However, the prolongation of the hostilities in Ukraine may ultimately lead to the emergence of a new military bloc that brings together nations "fed up with the Americans," Medvedev suggested.
"This has always happened in the history of mankind during long wars. And the US then will finally abandon old Europe and what remains of the unfortunate Ukrainians, and the world will return to an equilibrium once again. However, it might be 'too late' before this happens."