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China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin: partners together, now and for a further Presidential term

Meeting of China’s Parliament and Russian Presidential election ensure that the most powerful relationship between two world leaders will continue

Alexander Mercouris

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One of the reasons for Western dismay at the decision by the Chinese parliament earlier today to abolish the terms limits of the Chinese Presidency – paving the way for President Xi Jinping to remain Chinese President when his present term limit expires – is that it guarantees that the partnership between Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin which has been making the international political weather ever since Xi Jinping emerged as China’s President in 2013 is set to confinue.

President Putin is due to be re-elected on 18th March 2018 for what it is widely assumed will be his last term as Russia’s President, which will end in 2024.  President Xi Jinping’s second term as Chinese President is due to end in 2023.

Even if the Chinese parliament had not just decided to change the Chinese President’s term limits, Xi Jinping would therefore continue to be China’s leader throughout President Putin’s next term.

Moreover, as many people have pointed out, the office of the Chinese President (more correctly, of the ‘State Chairman’) has only nominal power, with the actual power held by the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, who has no term limits, and who is of course Xi Jinping himself.

The ending of the term limits for the Chinese President, together with the widespread and almost certainly correct assumption that it will be President Xi Jinping who will benefit by being re-elected for a further term as Chinese President in 2023, however conclusively confirms Xi Jinping’s position as China’s paramount and undisputed leader.

This means that after the colourless eras of Xi Jinping’s two predecessors – Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao – China once again has in the person of Xi Jinping a strong leader, just as it once did in the eras of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

This is vitally important because China currently stands at a crucial crossroads in its development when strong and purposeful leadership is needed.

In its domestic policies China is engaging in the massive task of reorienting its economy away from mass production towards growth driven by services and technology.

This is an exceptionally difficult transition to navigate, one which the Soviets in the 1970s – who at that time found themselves facing roughly the same transition as the one China is facing now – referred to as the transition from ‘extensive’ to ‘intensive’ development.

The USSR failed to make the transition successfully, setting the scene for the crisis which eventually led to its collapse.

A strong and authoritative leader, popular in the country and able to push through essential decisions in the face of the bureaucratic and political obstacles which are certain to arise, is indispensable in this situation if a crisis is to be avoided.

That the Chinese leadership understand this very well is shown by how the abolition of the term limits is explained by this editorial in the semi-official Global Times

First, in this juncture China faces a series of major challenges regarding its reform in and outside the country, which demands the Constitution be revised in accordance with the times. Major countries now are mobilising their political resources to strengthen their decision-making capacity. The amendment is primarily driven by China’s internal needs for development.

Second, Chinese people are deeply aware that their happy life must originate from solidarity and stability, and that this has to be guarded by the whole of society led by the CPC Central Committee. In these years we have seen the rise and decline of countries and particularly the harsh reality that the Western political system doesn’t apply to developing countries and produces dreadful results. 

Luckily China has maintained its steady rise for a long period. We are increasingly confident that the key to China’s path lies in upholding strong Party leadership and firmly following the leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core.

Upon its founding, the People’s Republic of China largely copied the Soviet Union’s socialist system. Since reform and opening-up, China has embarked on a socialist path with Chinese characteristics and become the second-largest economy. This shows political independence is key to how far China can go.

Most major phenomena facing China can’t be explained by Western theories. China must find solutions with its own wisdom. Whether our practices are good should be assessed by whether they respond to and promote China’s mission, and the actual results.

Despite the flood of information that poured into China after reform and opening-up, Chinese society has managed to deal with it and accumulated collective wisdom. In this process the leadership of the Party Central Committee has been instrumental. The Constitutional amendment comes at a good time as it consolidates the guiding thought, Party leadership, the leadership structure and the improved supervisory mechanism when China faces arduous tasks in the new era.

(bold italics added)

The careful reference to the USSR makes it perfectly clear to which country the words about the “rise and decline of countries” refer to.

As for the words the “harsh reality that the Western political system doesn’t apply to developing countries and produces dreadful results”, taken in conjunction with the references to the USSR, these clearly refer to Mikhail Gorbachev’s disastrous democratisation or ‘perestroika’ policies, which instead of helping the USSR’s transition from ‘extensive’ to ‘intensive’ development, caused instead its collapse.

The final words about the need to “consolidate the leadership structure and improved supervisory mechanism when China faces arduous tasks in the new era” show that the Chinese do not intend to repeat Gorbachev’s mistakes.

Unlike the USSR, instead of ‘democratising’ they will strengthen the central leadership in order to keep a tight control of the process so as make the transition from ‘extensive’ to ‘intensive’ development successful.

Those familiar with Soviet history will recognise this as the same approach which Yury Andropov – the USSR’s last but one leader – had intended to follow.

Not coincidentally, just as Yury Andropov in the brief period when he was Soviet leader emphasised the fight against corruption as essential in order to carry out the transition from ‘extensive’ to ‘intensive’ development successfully, so does his Chinese equivalent Xi Jinping today.

In both cases, apart from a genuine desire to root out corruption, mounting an anti-corruption campaign imposes discipline, which is essential if a successful transition is to be achieved.

If however confirmation of Xi Jinping as China’s paramount leader has a primarily internal purpose, it also has an external dimension the importance of which should not be underestimated.

Even as China changes the structure of its economy the external environment is becoming less favourable for China.

Whereas in the 1990s and 2000s China’s economy was able to grow with the benevolent encouragement of the US, today US attitudes towards China have changed, with many Americans (not just President Trump) feeling that China has taken the US for a ride by growing its economy at the US’s expense.

That means that China may not have unimpeded access to the US market for much longer,

China must also face the reality of a US naval build up in the Pacific, with the US increasingly challenging China in China’s peripheral areas, notably the South China Sea which is for China a key artery for its trade.

The growing confrontation with the US means that China can no longer afford to take its maritime trade routes – vital not just for its exports, but also for its imports of vital raw materials – for granted.

This explains the gigantic One Belt, One Road programme upon which China has embarked, which aims to secure for China access to Eurasia’s unlimited supply of raw materials and to provide high speed transport links across Eurasia for China’s goods.

This in turn explains why for China its close relationship with Russia – the supreme Eurasian power – is not just geopolitically but also economically crucial.

Quite simply, without Russia’s cooperation the One Belt, One Road programme is impossible, and China becomes increasingly vulnerable to economic pressure from an increasingly hostile US.

This is the foundation which underpins the relationship between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.

Though all the indications are that the two men have developed a strong relationship with each other and even regard each other as friends, ultimately it is their countries’ vital interests which draw them together.

Just as for China its relationship with Russia is vital for its long term economic security, so for Russia – by now disillusioned about the prospects of its relations with the West – the relationship with China – the world’s second biggest economy – is vital in order to secure its geopolitical and economic future.

Having said this, though the relationship between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin is firmly based on a clear sighted understanding of their countries’ respective national interests, given the current extremely fraught nature of the international situation both will be relieved that their partnership is set to continue and become stronger.

Neither of them would want at this complex and difficult time to have to start over with someone else.

The political changes underway in both China and Russia this month – the meeting of the Chinese Parliament and the Russian Presidential election – ensure that both men will get their wish, and their partnership will not only continue but will become stronger

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Trump Orders Immediate Release Of All Text Messages, Carter Page FISA Application From Russia Investigation

Trump has ordered the DOJ to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions.

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Via Zerohedge

President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also released will be specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The statement reads in full:

“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

***

As we reported last Monday, Trump had been expected to release the documents any time – with specific attention to the Page documents and the “investigative activities of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr” – who was demoted twice for lying about his extensive relationship  with Christopher Steele – the former MI6 spy who assembled the sham “Steele Dossier” used by the FBI in a FISA surveillance application to spy on Page.

Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months.

  • They allege that Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats. (Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters during the presidential election — a fact that Ohr did not disclose on federal forms.)
  • And they further allege that the Obama administration improperly spied on Carter Page — all to take down Trump. –Axios

Ohr, meanwhile, met with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in 2015 to discuss helping the FBI with organized crime investigations, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon. The meeting with the Putin ally was facilitated by Steele.

Last month Trump called Ohr a disgrace, while also tweeting: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions  “Justice” Department? A total joke!”

Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”

According to emails turned over to Congressional investigators in August, Christopher Steele was much closer to Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie than previously disclosed.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., days after Steele turned in installments of his infamous “dossier” on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the agency’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote shortly following their breakfast meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

“After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DoJ and FBI acted properly,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told Axios earlier Sunday.

In early August, journalist Paul Sperry tweeted that Trump may use his presidential authority to declassify “20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, “and possibly” 63 pages of emails and notes between “Ohr & Steele,” and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews.”

President Trump threatened to declassify documents two weeks ago – one day after the New York Times allegedly published an anonymous Op-Ed claiming to be from a White House official claiming to be part of an unelected “resistance” cabal within the Trump administration.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

Trump’s threat comes as calls by frustrated GOP legislators to release the documents have hit a fevered pitch. Spearheading the effort are Republican Reps. Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Lee Zeldin – who have repeatedly asked Trump to declassify more of the heavily redacted FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016.

In June, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked President Trump to declassify key sections of Carter Page’s FISA warrant application, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Carter Page, the DOJ/FBI’s person of interest, weighed in on the matter in late August, tweeting: “The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.”

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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Democrat dirty ‘MeToo’ flavored trick could succeed

Fear of the Left’s “virtue signaling” trick is a real test for the American people, and they are likely to fail without honest critical thought.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The developments of the last-minute sexual allegation against Judge Brett Kavanaugh that was brought up, ostensibly as a last-minute tactic, a dirty trick, to delay or block his confirmation vote to the US Supreme Court.

The issue here is not at all about the doings of a young high-school age man to a girl when she was seventeen, it is a test to see how well the “sexual harassment” card actually works against one of the top players hand-picked by President Trump.

There is absolutely no call to “virtue” at all. All a critical thinker has to do is to consider these points:

  • Consider what side of the aisle this came from: The Democrats. The champions of every perverse sexual desire one can imagine, but dead-set against men being men and women being women.
  • The timing of the release of the allegation: The Democrats deliberately used this as ammo against Kavanaugh. If there was such a concern about the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford (a feminist, as most of these feminists like to go by three names) and her suffering, this would have been broached years ago – after all, she was 17 when it allegedly happened and she is now 36 years older. If #MeToo was really about finding a way to live virtuously, this would have been addressed day zero of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.
  • Consider the alignment of the people on the Democrat side AND the Republicans who are now beginning to voice the “need to wait”: Again this is not about any wrong doing being fixed. It is obvious sheer dirty trickery, and in classical liberal style, the “call to virtue” is only that which is politically expedient for the Democrats, the party of gay marriage, child pornography (check WikiLeaks email dump of Hillary Clinton’s advisor John Podesta for that one), spirit dinners (a nice name for what is ostensibly a satanic Black Mass – style ritual, also from Podesta’s group of friends)
  • Last and most important – how does this situation benefit Christine Blasey Ford? – If this is truly an issue that happened (which is apparently showing holes already), then how does taking the Judge down benefit her?
  • Further still, why has this woman allowed herself to be, frankly, used again, but this time by opportunistic politicians?

These points are just a suggested beginning. There are probably hundreds of other things to consider, such as why is this even an issue. A lot of boys made advances on girls in their teenage years, and a lot girls summarily fight them off and win. The snowflakes of the world are loath to admit this, but this is quite frankly a large part of growing up. Granted sometimes it goes too far and someone rapes someone else. That is a terrible thing. But it is also statistically extremely rare, and a randy teenager is hardly a rapist.

This type of “virtue signaling” as it has come to be known is the ultimate in hypocrisy, and it is completely devoid of contact with reality, yet the Congress is wavering on what to do. And why? Because the American male has been successfully cowed by feminist women. He has allowed this from trying to appease and honor such women, but for these women, who consider pregnancy a disease for which abortion is the cure, and who have been brainwashed to consider men the enemy, they greedily took all the power they could.

There is a lot to be said about this on many levels, but the point here is that this sort of manipulation is presently deployed for political reasons and no more. We saw this happen with Judge Roy Moore in January and it worked. And as soon as the Judge was out of the running, the charges magically vanished into the mist. It is being tried again now, and it may work.

This is beyond disgusting – it is actually frightening to consider that such a transparently political allegation may actually defeat a terrific candidate who has categorically and fully denied the allegation.

One one hand, if the nomination falls through, it’s no big deal. President Trump will likely pick Amy Barrett and that will shut down the feminists for a while and probably the whole #MeToo machine.

Unless they determine magically that Mrs. Barrett is a sexual predator. However her seven children are unlikely to support such a crazy idea.

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