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Trump impressed by China – China underwhelmed by Trump

A lopsided “win-win” during Trump’s visit to the leading world economy.

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Donald Trump has gone to China amid what is being called a “state visit +”. All of the trappings of a grand welcome have been on display and like just about everything in modern China, it has gone off without a hitch. By contrast,  Barack Obama’s last Presidential visit to China became emblematic for a very unwelcoming display where Obama was forced to exit his plane via a door by the tail while other world leaders at the same summit, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, received the full red carpet treatment.

Trump’s visit could not be more different from Obama’s last one and the US President’s social media accounts are predictably filled with photo ops of the US First Lady and a generally stoic looking President Xi Jinping.

When it came down to business, trade agreements worth $253.4 billion were signed between the two countries, in an obvious sign that while Donald Trump may be the master of bold rhetoric, it is China that has mastered the art of the deal with just about every nation on earth.

In respect of Trump’s rhetoric, there was nothing new. Everything Trump said while next to Xi was the kind of rhetoric heard during Trump’s long campaign as well as during Presidential speeches in the US.

The main thrust of the rhetoric is that the US has suffered a trade imbalance with China and others due to poor US leadership and China’s leaders are intelligent for exploiting the weakness of everyone in the US who is not Donald Trump.

Trump even managed to produce awkward laughter from his Chinese hosts when he said the following about China’s allegedly “one sided” trade deals with the US

“But I don’t blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit”.

Trump also stated,

“The United States really has to change its policies because they’ve gotten so far behind on trade with China and frankly with other countries. And I have great respect for you for that because you are representing China. But it’s too bad that past administrations allowed it to get so far out of kilter”.

In other words, Donald Trump essentially read a Ross Perot campaign speech from 1992 in the heart of China in 2017, a country whose economic engine is unstoppable at this point. In this sense, Trump’s lighthearted expressions of condemnation of past US leaders was something of an admission of Chinese strength, albeit a patronising one which underplays the fact that China’s incredible advances over the last 40 years have been made in spite of the strength or weakness or other major powers, including the United States.

Donald Trump’s relationship to President Xi Jinping has been one filled with accidental insults from the get-go. During his first meeting with Xi, Trump told the Chinese leader that Beijing’s ally Syria had been bombed by the United States over what Trump described as a “big beautiful piece of chocolate cake” which according to Trump, Xi enjoyed.

By Chinese standards, this was far too casual a way to convey a message that was received negatively in China, a country that like Russia and Iran, supports the legitimate government of Syria.

Things only got worse as Trump continued to Tweet about North Korea as though it was a uniquely Chinese responsibility, thus enforcing a much hated narrative in China, that somehow Pyongyang is a Chinese client state, when in reality relations between the DPRK and PRC have plunged to all time lows during the Kim Jung-un/Xi Jinping years. In reality the USSR had better relations with North Korea than China ever had and more recently, Russia is willing to hear-out Kim Jong-un’s side of the story, while China has grown as irritating by Kim as by the US military-industrial complex for its meddling in the South China Sea, India and the Korean peninsula.

A further giant blunder came after the G20 summit in July of 2017, when an official press release from the White House referred to Xi Jinping as the “President of the Republic of China” the official name for Chinese Taipei, which is often referred to as Taiwan.

The Trump administration continues to insult China–both by mistake and by design

Trump however, has always expressed his personal fondness for Xi in a uniquely exuberant American style. These expressions have been met with professional diplomatic language that is as uniquely Chinese as Trump’s attitude is American. It should however be noted, that Obama’s cosmopolitanism and often robotic language failed to impress the Chinese too.

During his brief statement with Xi, Trump stated,

“I think we are going to do tremendous things for both China and for the United States… I’m looking forward to many years of friendship and working together to solve not only our problems but world problems and problems of great danger and security”.

Xi responded by emphasising his “win-win” strategy saying that, “For China and the United States, cooperation is the only right choice”.

While Trump and Xi probably both left feeling like winners of sorts, the only real winner in the Sino-US relationship is China. While China’s industrial might is usually invoked to make such arguments, the truth is that China is diversifying its economy in a number of ways, including embracing global monetary policy making with Chinese characteristics, rapidly expanding its vast internal market and most importantly building the One Belt–One Road trading, commerce and global infrastructure network.

One Belt–One Road (OBOR) remains China’s superhighway to the future in a multitude of ways, while the US remains intent of ignoring OBOR in public, all the while attempting to sabotage OBOR with proxy conflicts and long-term de-stabilisation policies along key points on OBOR.

US troops in Europe and the Middle East are there to provoke China more than Russia or Iran

Ultimately though, the US strategy of “lead from behind” in global conflicts designed to upset the progress of OBOR is a strategy symptomatic of the US falling behind.

 

As China along with Russia consolidates leadership over future multi-lateral trading initiatives, de-Dollarisation programmes and new technological developments in the energy, military and retail sectors, the US is going to have a great deal to do internally, if it really seeks to make itself great again. Antagonising China is simply a means of the US delaying its ultimate fall from the position of the world’s number one economy. In many ways, Donald Trump has already acknowledged this failure and the supreme difficulty the US has if it wants to even reverse certain elements of this phenomenon.

Russia and China actively collude to bring down the only thing America cares about

As I previously wrote,

“The reason that One Belt–One Road frightens both western protectionists and western globalists, is because it offers a model that is superior to both. Like globalism, One Belt–One Road offers opportunities for economic enrichment and the enhancement of living standards through global trade and economic connectivity. But like protectionism and unlike western free trade globalism, One Belt–One Road is focused on each nation playing to its strengths and allowing these domestic strengths (whether tapped or fully untapped) to then, expand globally. While globalism seeks to offshore entire economies, One Belt–One Road’s model allows strong domestic industries to create new markets for themselves while effectively and cheaply supplying these economies with much needed materials and expertise that cannot be produced domestically. It’s not a coincidence that “win-win” is one of Xi Jinping’s favourite phrases.

Because of this, all countries, including the US could benefit from integrating themselves into One Belt–One Road. In this sense, it helps to think of the declining US as an economy with the potential for growth. But the US can only grow if it admits that the old model has failed and that it is high time to embrace a new one, one which will create more domestic jobs, more domestic wealth and more global peace.

The US could avoid the protectionism that would cut off much required Asian materials and finished goods from the US economy, while also avoiding the prolonged offshoring of the US industrial base if it spoke with China about joining One Belt–One Road and expanding it westward, rather than positioning itself as an adversary.

The US, like all of China’s other partners could agree on which sectors could produce things that other countries along One Belt–One Road require, while also agreeing to import the things that the US requires from China’s One Belt–One Road partners. In the words of Xi Jingping, this would be a ‘win-win’ model.

China has been able to develop a largely self-sufficient industrial economy while also trading openly with the world on just this model. When one trades globally, yet preserves important sectors nationally, based on pragmatic geo-industrial realities, one can in fact both be open to the world and independent at home.

While many might maintain that the infamous “1%” in the United States who have enriched themselves through financial speculation and investments in the military-industrial complex, will be reticent to embrace this change, such a reticence will be at the “1%’s” own peril in the long term, in addition to the peril of working and middle class Americans (the 99%).

In this sense, it is not only greed that might ultimately force America into a position of continued hostility towards China and her partners like Russia, but moreover, it represents a a short sighted stupidity. There is plenty of money to be made in the United States, were American businesses to embrace One Belt–One Road. Even Alibaba founder Jack Ma has told American audiences that it isn’t China that has created US debt, unemployment and declining living standards, but instead, that it is America’s wars which are doing so. All of the money spent on war, could be money spent on peace and yes, peace is big business, just ask any Chinese businessman.

There is little doubt among the wider global consensus that the US is currently the biggest obstacle to world peace. The reason for this is that the US continues to cling onto an imperial model of world trade. If the US adopted the Chinese model and made it work for American businesses and American workers, they would find that not only could they make a lot of money, but that China would become far more flexible when approached through the language of opportunity rather than that of suspicion and aggression. This is true of any country. Even today, fewer and fewer countries are standing up to US neo-imperial bullying, Syria, Iran, Venezuela and the DPRK are merely the most vocal examples.

The only other alternative is for the US to cling on to a model that has objectively failed. It is a failed model that if taken to its logical extreme, would mean more war and little else. This would be a ‘lose-lose’ situation for the entire planet.

With countries throughout the world buying more Russian and Chinese weapons and increasing their ability to resist would-be US military aggression, even when accounting for its military strength, the US will find itself increasingly disabled in respect of turning its hegemonic attitude into meaningful economic results.

Why would the US want to make itself poorer and the world less peaceful when a ready-made alternative is available which could make the world safer and all participating nations richer? When one considers the words, stupidity, insanity and irrationality, one might find an answer to such a question”.

The US has two realistic options: save itself or destroy the world in trying to do so

Until Donald Trump and others can acknowledge this new reality, the US will be stuck with old methods that have already outlived their viability.

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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