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War of the Worlds — the masks are ripped away in Syria

In recent weeks, the battle for Aleppo has exposed the true heart of contemporary global politics with vivid clarity.

Andrey Fomin

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Submitted by Oriental Review

The US Air Force’s duplicitous September 17 attack on Syrian army positions near Deir ez-Zor, the hysterical outcry against Russia that erupted from the Pentagon, the US State Department’s undisguised threats against the Russian contingent in Syria, the Western media’s candid reports about arms shipments to al-Nusra militants, and the phantasmagoric drama in the UN Security Council on October 8 all point to just one thing: there are no international coalitions against ISIL- there is only the Russian army and its allies who are taking a stand against the international terrorism used as a tool by the US and NATO.

The contours of today’s biggest international conflict are clear. But still not everyone understands its core and causes. The conventional wisdom – that a decrepit global hegemon was unable to export “democracy” into a stable nation and now finds itself at a dead end – does not actually explain very much.

But why did that stumbling block turn out to be Syria, which is certainly not the most significant country in the world? Why isn’t it, for example, Egypt that is under attack, where “fighters for democracy” from the Muslim Brotherhood have been unable to consolidate their victory and have even had to cede power to the powerful and far from pro-American government?

Why is Russia the country that is standing up to the aggressor? After all, Russia was on the verge of collapse not so long ago and is in no way a major competitor to the Western economy. And why is the United States pushing so fiercely to raise the stakes, driving the planet to the brink of a third world war?
And yes, of course, many Middle East experts can rattle off a whole list of potential answers to all these “whys.” But upon careful analysis it becomes clear that they are only the footnotes to what is actually the main reason.

The first and most frequent argument cited is the oil and gas factor. Allegedly, the surfeit of reserves in Syria has made that country a desirable goal for the West, which – in the wake of Iraq and Libya – could cash in on Syria’s hydrocarbons, now that it has wiped out the local government. But in fact there are only 2.5 billion barrels of proven reserves of that oil in Syria, which is 0.1% of the global total.

And that is clearly not enough to explain the outbreak of a terrorist intervention in Syria: if the West were only focused on oil, it would be more logical to orchestrate such an export of democracy into Venezuela, which sits on 17.5% of the world’s reserves.

It is also surmised that the rationale for the aggression could be traced back to Damascus’s 2009 refusal to allow a gas pipeline running from Qatar to Europe to cross its borders. But that would also be an overstatement. That disagreement might have been a motivation for the Qataris, but hardly the West. That gas-pipeline project is itself so risky that it could perhaps have served as a bluff or pretext, but not as a serious reason to launch a multi-year terrorist campaign against Assad.

There has been a popular trend in recent years to examine any conflict for traces of oil and to blame those hydrocarbon deposits for all tribulations, but that is an oversimplification and is similar to the monetarist approach to the economy, in which all the complexities of economic relations are evaluated exclusively in terms of debits and credits.

With regard to global politics however, oil is only meaningful as a tool (although an important one) for safeguarding interests and reaching geopolitical goals: Hitler was desperate to reach the oil fields in Baku, not for their own sake, but to cut off Moscow’s access and thus deal a death blow to the USSR.
It is unacceptable to conflate tools and goals because this creates a distraction from the truth.

Far less significant as an explanation of the war in Syria – which is on the verge of blowing up into a global conflict – are the arguments citing, for example, the legitimate internal animosities within Syria and within the region, or the spread of Islamism and the collapse of the state in Iraq, a country that is now a breeding ground for the growth of extremism, or the confrontation between Sunnis and Shiites or Saudi Arabia and Iran, or overpopulation in the region, or water shortages, etc.

All of this, in varying degrees of course, contributes to the severity of the conflict, but it does not at all explain why troops from dozens of countries – including two of the most powerful, the US and Russia – are currently active in Syria.

There is a much more convincing explanation of the current strife in Syria, although it is not considered sufficiently scholarly. The wreckage of that country is of vital urgency to the supranational elites in order to fan the flames of chaos in the Middle East, which will make it possible to spread the forces of destabilization across all of Eurasia and help topple the alternative centers of economic power – especially China and Russia.

Supposedly the Federal Reserve cannot survive an inundation of debt, and the war in Syria is being used as a tool to destabilize any competitors in this economic showdown.

And indeed it was the Chinese economy that in 2014 outstripped America’s GDP, and it would seem that between these two economic behemoths – one falling and one rising – a military and political struggle had to ensue. Both American as well as Chinese political analysts have had a lot to say about this in recent years.

However, during the Syrian conflict – and this is an incontestable fact – China has kept itself far from the fray. For five whole years – and even during the current flare-up – Beijing has maintained its usual neutrality, merely lamenting the suffering of the Syrians and issuing condemnations of terrorism.

In economic terms Russia does not pose a genuine threat to the US, but in Syria it is indeed the Russian army that is the Americans’ biggest foe – the Chinese don’t figure into it at all there.

And looking at the situation geographically, the conflict in Syria could spread the contagion of ISIL into the Russian Caucasus (through a direct corridor that passes through Turkey) far more quickly than such a plague could enter, say, China’s more distant Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. By that logic, it would be smarter to promote ISIL in Afghanistan or Pakistan, a better starting point for funneling the terrorist chaos into China.

Moreover, it is quite safe to assume that if Russia were not such a significant geopolitical player today, Beijing would not have entered into a confrontation with the US over Syria, but would have instead come to an agreement with the West even on the basis of a compromise that was not very advantageous for China, taking the historical long view to bet on the inevitable attenuation of Western civilization.

For Russia however, the conflict with the West has absolutely nothing to do with economics. It is inane to suggest that the Russian economy, despite all its genuine progress over the past 15 years, poses a threat to the US global economy, in which China still plays an integral part.

Yes, geopolitical associations such as BRICS could potentially topple the currency system established at the Jamaica Conference, as well as the Washington consensus, but again this is not economic competition, but the financial projection of a military and political showdown.

But what is at its core? Why is Russia once again at the epicenter of a global conflict that is threatening to boil over? Why has the Russian state – which underwent a painful transformation in the late 20th century from which it has yet to fully recover – been forced to withstand the attack of a hegemon that steers international developments and possesses far more advanced tools of confrontation?

To understand the essence of what is happening, one must ultimately acknowledge that the actions of those in the top echelon of Western civilization – not the clerks laboring at the State Department and Pentagon, but the true managers of the Pax Americana global project, who are viewed as utter pragmatists – are in fact dictated by very specific ideals and ultimate goals.

Their words about American exceptionalism as the ideal free society, the beacon of democracy, and the Earth’s last hope are more than just nice catchphrases and advertising jingles – they represent their sense of themselves as a special force on this planet. Back in the 18th century, Jonathan Edwards declared that Americans had taken the place of the Jews as God’s chosen people. And even America’s Founding Fathers saw in their work the culmination of the history of the world.

By the 20th century, Ronald Reagan, who accused the Soviet Union of being an “evil empire,” was clearly claiming the role of the “good empire” for the US. In this sense, the Bushes, the Clintons, and Obama are not inventing anything new, only using different words to express this very American messianism.

A natural expression of this ideology can be seen throughout the foreign policy of the modern US as “an exporter of democracy” and the world’s referee and policeman. The seizure of resources, oil, and gas – as well as financial rewards – are just bonuses and a tool to help attain these ideals.

The key concept is “freedom,” around which the remainder of the construct of “exclusivity” is built. This is communicated as human freedom (i.e., as a blessing), but actually the “rulers of the world” understand this as freedom of capital, i.e., a policy of “anything goes” for homo economicus. According to them, the ideal world should be a market for goods and services, in which a human being is himself both of these. Money becomes the equivalent of every manifestation of the universe as well as its primary essence.

Everything that is designated as pragmatism is actually derived from this “monetary” understanding of life.
However, the expansion of money – in a spatial and a spiritual dimension – is not restricted to today’s profits but pursues its main goal at any cost, which is to utterly engulf the world and reformat mankind into a financial mechanism (that process itself is known as progress, which is analogous to the development of technology).

Is it worth even explaining that “freedom” and “progress” as understood in this way are utterly at odds with the entire 2,000-year path of Christianity and are lethal for humanity?

As a matter of fact, in recent decades Western civilization has moved toward a total rejection of Christianity under the guise of “tolerance” and toward the promotion of depravity under the guise of “gay rights”, while Russia has become the primary champion of traditional values and faiths.

Is it simply a coincidence that the onset of this major battle between the “freedom of capital” and “freedom of the soul” is coming to a head on Syrian soil where the Christian world took its first steps? Christianity was born amidst those rocks of the Middle Eastern Mediterranean region, and hundreds of years later we are seeing attempts to bury it there.

Interestingly, the ISIL ideologues, who were trained in the US prisons to selectively abuse the Quran verses, enjoy citing hadith 6924, which describes a battle between Good and Evil in the Syrian town of Dabiq. Are they – like those who hang upon their every word with gaping mouths – aware that they are merely the deceived cannon-fodder of the Devil in the Last Battle?

Are the multitudes who each day chomp away at the vacuous chewing gum known as CNN capable of grasping that history is not propelled by oil or fleeting interests, but by a battle between opposing principles, two forces that are pulling humanity in different directions – one down into the Gehenna and the other up to the Land o’ the Leal?

It is odd but true: over the course of the last few centuries only one power – Russia – has planted herself squarely in the path of those who declare themselves to be a “great blessing”, a “pure race”, or a “beacon of democracy” while seeking to subjugate humanity.

Historians can spend all the time they want trying to convince us of the objectivity of the emergence of Hitler and his eastern campaign, that the US and Great Britain did not notice his Nazi mischief and then carelessly helped the German economy by furnishing it with loans, but it is obvious that Hitler, like today’s ISIL, had been carefully groomed for an offensive against Russia. And after the Soviet army destroyed Hitler’s army, they were ready to do “the unthinkable” – to attack the USSR. They never took that plunge.

But in the initial postwar years they used the prospect of their atomic bomb to intimidate Moscow.
It is daft to try to explain away such infamy as merely the consequence of the standoff between the communist and capitalist systems, because as we saw after the collapse of the Soviet Union – communism was no more, but Russia was still the enemy.

“To save the world from the unmitigated spread of evil” – such is the global mission and the fate of the Russian nation and the Russian state as a historical phenomenon. This fate was not chosen, but Russia is destined to once again save the world from destruction – otherwise she would no longer be Russia.

This in no way implies the infallibility or exceptionalism of Russians themselves, since the battle is taking place within them as well, but it confers upon that nation a special responsibility for the fate of the whole world. The fact of this mission explains the irrational, savage hatred of Russia and of Russians that inflames the global “superclass” and that is reflected in the terabytes of militant propaganda they pay for each day.

It is important for all rational citizens of the world to understand that when they watch the news from Syria, the real issue is not about Assad or Syria as such, nor even about the national interests of a nation state. The issue is about the metaphysical standoff between the two principles of this universe. It is about the war of the worlds. In which every citizen will have to make his own existential choice.

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Skripal and Khashoggi: A Tale of Two Disappearances

Two disappearances, and two different responses.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Two disappearances, and two very different responses from Western governments, which illustrates their rank hypocrisy.

When former Russian spy Sergei Skripal went missing in England earlier this year, there was almost immediate punitive action by the British government and its NATO allies against Moscow. By contrast, Western governments are straining with restraint towards Saudi Arabia over the more shocking and provable case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The outcry by Western governments and media over the Skripal affair was deafening and resulted in Britain, the US and some 28 other countries expelling dozens of Russian diplomats on the back of unsubstantiated British allegations that the Kremlin tried to assassinate an exiled spy with a deadly nerve agent. The Trump administration has further tightened sanctions citing the Skripal incident.

London’s case against Moscow has been marked by wild speculation and ropey innuendo. No verifiable evidence of what actually happened to Sergei Skripal (67) and his daughter Yulia has been presented by the British authorities. Their claim that President Vladimir Putin sanctioned a hit squad armed with nerve poison relies on sheer conjecture.

All we know for sure is that the Skripals have been disappeared from public contact by the British authorities for more than seven months, since the mysterious incident of alleged poisoning in Salisbury on March 4.

Russian authorities and family relatives have been steadfastly refused any contact by London with the Skripal pair, despite more than 60 official requests from Moscow in accordance with international law and in spite of the fact that Yulia is a citizen of the Russian Federation with consular rights.

It is an outrage that based on such thin ice of “evidence”, the British have built an edifice of censure against Moscow, rallying an international campaign of further sanctions and diplomatic expulsions.

Now contrast that strenuous reaction, indeed hyper over-reaction, with how Britain, the US, France, Canada and other Western governments are ever-so slowly responding to Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case.

After nearly two weeks since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the Saudi regime is this week finally admitting he was killed on their premises – albeit, they claim, in a “botched interrogation”.

Turkish and American intelligence had earlier claimed that Khashoggi was tortured and murdered on the Saudi premises by a 15-member hit squad sent from Riyadh.

Even more grisly, it is claimed that Khashoggi’s body was hacked up with a bone saw by the killers, his remains secreted out of the consulate building in boxes, and flown back to Saudi Arabia on board two private jets connected to the Saudi royal family.

What’s more, the Turks and Americans claim that the whole barbaric plot to murder Khashoggi was on the orders of senior Saudi rulers, implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The latest twist out of Riyadh, is an attempt to scapegoat “rogue killers” and whitewash the House of Saudi from culpability.

The fact that 59-year-old Khashoggi was a legal US resident and a columnist for the Washington Post has no doubt given his case such prominent coverage in Western news media. Thousands of other victims of Saudi vengeance are routinely ignored in the West.

Nevertheless, despite the horrific and damning case against the Saudi monarchy, the response from the Trump administration, Britain and others has been abject.

President Trump has blustered that there “will be severe consequences” for the Saudi regime if it is proven culpable in the murder of Khashoggi. Trump quickly qualified, however, saying that billion-dollar arms deals with the oil-rich kingdom will not be cancelled. Now Trump appears to be joining in a cover-up by spinning the story that the Khashoggi killing was done by “rogue killers”.

Britain, France and Germany this week issued a joint statement calling for “a credible investigation” into the disappearance. But other than “tough-sounding” rhetoric, none of the European states have indicated any specific sanctions, such as weapons contracts being revoked or diplomatic expulsions.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “concerned” by the gruesome claims about Khashoggi’s killing, but he reiterated that Ottawa would not be scrapping a $15 billion sale of combat vehicles to Riyadh.

The Saudi rulers have even threatened retaliatory measures if sanctions are imposed by Western governments.

Saudi denials of official culpability seem to be a brazen flouting of all reason and circumstantial evidence that Khashoggi was indeed murdered in the consulate building on senior Saudi orders.

This week a glitzy international investor conference in Saudi Arabia is being boycotted by top business figures, including the World Bank chief, Jim Yong Kim, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Britain’s venture capitalist Richard Branson. Global firms like Ford and Uber have pulled out, as have various media sponsors, such as CNN, the New York Times and Financial Times. Withdrawal from the event was in response to the Khashoggi affair.

A growing bipartisan chorus of US Senators, including Bob Corker, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Chris Murphy, have called for the cancellation of American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as for an overhaul of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Still, Trump has rebuffed calls for punitive response. He has said that American jobs and profits depend on the Saudi weapons market. Some 20 per cent of all US arms sales are estimated to go to the House of Saud.

The New York Times this week headlined: “In Trump’s Saudi Bargain, the Bottom Line Proudly Stands Out”.

The Trump White House will be represented at the investment conference in Saudi Arabia this week – dubbed “Davos in the Desert” by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He said he was attending in spite of the grave allegations against the Saudi rulers.

Surely the point here is the unseemly indulgence by Western governments of Saudi Arabia and its so-called “reforming” Crown Prince. It is remarkable how much credulity Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and others are affording the Saudi despots who, most likely, have been caught redhanded in a barbarous murder.

Yet, when it comes to Russia and outlandish, unproven claims that the Kremlin carried out a bizarre poison-assassination plot, all these same Western governments abandon all reason and decorum to pile sanctions on Russia based on lurid, hollow speculation. The blatant hypocrisy demolishes any pretense of integrity or principle.

Here is another connection between the Skripal and Khashoggi affairs. The Saudis no doubt took note of the way Britain’s rulers have shown absolute disregard and contempt for international law in their de facto abduction of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. If the British can get away with that gross violation, then the Saudis probably thought that nobody would care too much if they disappeared Jamal Khashoggi.

Grotesquely, the way things are shaping up in terms of hypocritical lack of action by the Americans, British and others towards the Saudi despots, the latter might just get away with murder. Not so Russia. The Russians are not allowed to get away with even an absurd fantasy.

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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