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Cold War conflict

The Indo-Pacific’s Cold War is heating up as the region splits ever more decisively into opposed camps with a loose alliance of US-led democratic powers on one side and authoritarian China and its aligned satellites on the other.

And the first economic salvos of the contest launched by Donald Trump’s trade war are becoming more militarily provocative under Joe Biden.

The escalating contest took a game-changing turn last week when the US and Britain announced they will provide Australia with the technology and capability to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines in a new trilateral security arrangement that will put more pressure on China’s contested claims in the South China Sea and other maritime theaters.

Read more at “US encircling China on multiple new Cold War fronts”

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China Tariff Policies

The White House is close to announcing investigations into Chinese use of industrial subsidies, the prelude to imposition of tariffs. The probes are known as “301s”, the section of US trade law that allows them.

If you import stuff from China that gets classified as requiring Section 301 import duties, you’ll have to pay that extra margin, which means US importers must either bear the costs on to consumers. They can appeal to the Court of International Trade for a refund, which then burdens the taxpayer and incurs administrative costs.

Former president Donald Trump used tariffs extensively as the main tool of his “trade war” with China and it achieved nothing other than the imposition of reciprocal tariffs from China. President Biden shares some of this economic nationalist sensibility, calling tariffs “the greatest negotiating tool in the history of our country.”

Read more at “China tariff policies flounder without a strategy”

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How China Sees the U.S. Riots

How they see the U.S. From a Chinese TV report on the “tearing down of American society.”

How the CCP Sees the Riots in Washington: “The End of the U.S. Is At Hand”
By Massimo Introvigne

Beyond propaganda comparisons with Hong Kong protests, Party ideologists believe the United States will collapse as the Soviet Union did.

“Double standards! The U.S. media hailed the protests in Hong Kong as legitimate, and now denounce those in Washington DC as an attack against democracy.”

“Karma! The U.S. fueled the unrest in Hong Kong, and now sees the same unrest in Washington DC!”

“Retribution! Nancy Pelosi called protests in Hong Kong ‘a beautiful sight,’ and now rioters have occupied her office.”

These comments were posted time and again on social media, where there are both genuine supporters of the CCP and an army of trolls paid to post the Party’s propaganda.

Chinese propaganda on social media.

This “spontaneous” reaction to the events in Washington DC was amplified by CCP propaganda media such as the Global Times, which conveniently ignored the difference between the social and political contexts in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

However, it would be a mistake to stop at this sort of cheap propaganda about Hong Kong. What is emerging in comments by Chinese journalists and bloggers who write in typical CCP jargon is also something different. We read that Donald Trump’s presidency was “the United States’ Gorbachev Era,” and that the end of the United States is at hand.

The CCP has devoted time and energy to study the demise of the Soviet Union, least the same mistakes be repeated in China. The conclusion, often presented by President Xi Jinping himself, is that the Soviet Union lost its soul when it started criticizing Stalin and even Lenin. “Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse?

“An important reason”, Xi said, was that their ideals and beliefs had been shaken. In the end, “the ruler’s flag over the city tower changed overnight. It’s a profound lesson for us! To dismiss the history of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Communist Party, to dismiss Lenin and Stalin, and to dismiss everything else is to engage in historic nihilism, and it confuses our thoughts and undermines the Party’s organizations on all levels.”

At the same time, the CCP believes that the police and army control on the territory of the Soviet Union and its satellite states slowly collapsed, allowing non-state actors, including religion, to grow and eventually destroy the system.

CCP theorists believe that the COVID-19 pandemic just accelerated what, according to Marxist ideology, is the unavoidable collapse of all democratic capitalist societies. They point out at economic and ethnic conflicts tearing apart American society. In Marxist theory, the end result may only be the demise of the democratic U.S. as we know them.

The CCP also believes that the American “ideals and beliefs have been shaken,” just as it happened in the Soviet Union: that there is no longer a national narrative and consensus uniting American citizens, with the results that “counter-powers” alternative to the state grow like tumors and are not kept in check by law enforcement, as evidenced by the late Washington DC riots. “The US system is degrading and showing signs of worsening as cancer,” the Global Times wrote.

In several Chinese social media, a long text published in 2019 under pseudonym has been republished, claiming that American diplomacy has now entered its fifth and final, declining stage. The author claims that there is no “new Cold War,” because in order to fight a Cold War a country should be largely united under a shared ideology, which is not the case for the United States today.

“The United States during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was in its prime of life, the author wrote. The United States is now in its twilight period. If the United States collapses suddenly like the Soviet Union, everyone must not be shocked or surprised. The collapse of a global empire like the United States will be similar to the Soviet Union in the process.”

Trump’s MAGA rhetoric, the author writes, was the “last wailing before death.” Looking back at the history of the United States, it was like a child.

“From when he was a teenager, he left his hometown and went outside to enter the world. When he was dying, he just wanted to exhaust the last bit of energy while remembering this. From the past, he staggered back to his hometown and walked to the cemetery he had dug beforehand. He jumped down, lay in it, and finally rested in peace.”

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Christmas Message 2020

In his Christmas message — which the mainstream media has summarily ignored — Trump retells the story of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and her central role in the Incarnation.

Risking the mockery of demons on both sides of the Atlantic, he even quotes the Angel Gabriel’s words to Our Lady at the time of the Annunciation.

Franklin Graham

“People have asked if I am disappointed about the election. When I think about my answer, I have to say honestly, that I am grateful—grateful to God that for the last four years He gave us a president who protected our religious liberties; grateful for a president who defended the lives of the unborn, standing publicly against abortion and the bloody smear it has made on our nation; grateful for a president who nominated conservative judges to the Supreme Court and to our federal courts; grateful for a president who built the strongest economy in 70 years with the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years before the pandemic; grateful for a president who strengthened and supported our military; grateful for a president who stood against “the swamp” and the corruption in Washington; grateful for a president who supported law and order and defended our police. I’m grateful for a president and a vice president who recognized the importance of prayer and were not ashamed of the name of Jesus Christ. I’m thankful that the president stood against the secularists who wanted to take Christ out of Christmas and that he brought back the greeting “Merry Christmas!” So as we come to the end of this election season, I look back with a grateful heart and thank God for all of these things. It is unfortunate that many people got confused and made the election about personalities rather than the policies of the candidates. President Trump will go down in history as one of the great presidents of our nation, bringing peace and prosperity to millions here in the U.S. and around the world. May God bless him, Melania, and their family, as God leads him to the next chapter in his life.” 

Merry Christmas.

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Enemy of Humanity

Chen Guangcheng, a civil rights activist and Chinese dissident, said that the Chinese Communist Party is an “enemy of humanity.”

Blind since childhood, Chen taught himself  law and became involved in “human rights” activism, particularly around issues of “forced abortions” and other abuses relating to the “one child policy.”

Known as the “Barefoot Lawyer” he was first “imprisoned” for four years in 2006, after which he was kept under “tight house arrest” for years until his dramatic 2012 escape.

“The CCP is an enemy of humanity. It is terrorizing its own people, and it is threatening the well-being of the world,” he said in a speech during the Republican National Convention, listening a variety of issues including China’s oppression of “Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, an ongoing crackdown in Hong Kong, and threats towards Taiwan.”  

Chen conducted his speech by reading Braille and speaking in English. He warned about the “evils” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after experiencing their “tyranny” firsthand.

He added that China’s silencing of dissent made it all the more urgent for the United States to “use its values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law to gather a coalition of other democracies to stop CCP’s aggression.”

“Standing up to tyranny is not easy. I know. When I spoke out against China’s ‘one child’ policy and other injustices, I was persecuted, beaten, and put under house arrest by the government. In April, 2012, I escaped and was given shelter in the American embassy in Beijing. I am forever grateful to the American people for welcoming me and my family to the United States where we are now free,” Guangcheng said.

“The Chinese Communist Party is an enemy of humanity. It is terrorizing its own people and it is threatening the well-being of the world. In China, expressing beliefs or ideas not approved by the CCP – religion, democracy, human rights – can lead to prison. The nation lives under mass surveillance and censorship. The CCP is focused on power and control, and acts without regard to the law or to human rights.  Countless activists have disappeared or are under house arrest. Just consider the sad plight of the Uyghurs in concentration camps.”

Guangcheng also discussed the CCP’s latest “assault” on the world.

“The coronavirus pandemic, originating in China—and covered up by the CCP—has caused mass death and social upheaval around the world. In the same way, the virus of the CCP is threatening the people of the world. The policy of appeasement of former administrations—including Obama and Biden—has allowed the CCP to infiltrate and corrode different aspects of the global community,” he said.

“The US must use its values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, to gather a coalition of other democracies to stop China’s aggression. President Trump has led on this and we need the other countries to join him in this fight. A fight for our future,” Guangcheng continued.

Chen Guangcheng, known for his harrowing escape from Chinese house arrest in 2012, praised Trump for leading the fight “to stop China’s aggression,” and called on Americans “to support, vote, and fight for President Trump for the sake of the world.” 

Speaking at the largely online Republican convention, Chen called the Chinese Communist party (CCP) an “enemy of humanity” and said Trump had led a coalition of other democracies to “stop CCP aggression.”

“It is terrorizing its own people and it is threatening the well being of the world. In China expressing beliefs or ideas not approved by the CCP, religion, democracy, human rights, can lead to prison or death,” he said.

The endorsement from the prominent dissident underlines how much Trump has centered his re-election bid on taking a hard stance with Beijing.

Chen escaped house arrest in 2012 by scaling walls and feeling his way through fields and farmland with a broken foot. He sought “refuge” at the US embassy in Beijing and became the focus of a “diplomatic” crisis between the two countries before he was allowed to leave China for the US.

Detailing his experience at the hands of Chinese security agents after speaking out against forced abortions and sterilizations as part of the country’s one-child policy, Chen said: “I was persecuted, beaten, sent to prison and put under house arrest by the CCP. Standing up to tyranny isn’t easy. I know. So does the president.”

Chen is among a number of Chinese activists who have found an unlikely hero in Trump who they see as taking a harder line against China. Relations with Beijing have plummeted under Trump, who has made being tough on China a key plank of his reelection campaign.

Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, also inveighed against Beijing and praised Trump for pulling “back the curtain on the predatory aggression of the Chinese Communist Party.”

According to the Pew Research Center, Americans in both parties “now see China much more negatively than in the recent past,” with 83% of Republicans surveyed saying they have a unfavorable view of the country. While Republicans have long been suspicious of Beijing, Democrats in recent years have also become more suspicious — 68% of supporters surveyed said they viewed China unfavorably — so there is growing consensus on the issue.

Many Chinese dissidents living in the US are vocal supporters of Trump’s hard line on China. Chen is closely linked to Bob Fu, a conservative Christian pastor who has described himself as “God’s Double Agent.” Fu has met with Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence and praised Trump on social media.

Fu assisted in Chen’s departure from China and later was involved in him getting positions at the Witherspoon Institute, a conservative think tank based in New Jersey, as well as Catholic University in Washington.

While he expressed gratitude at the time, Chen has emerged as a frequent and fierce “critic” of the Obama administration and Democratic politics in general.  Ahead of his speech at the RNC, he tweeted a video of a pro-Trump demonstrator “defacing” a Black Lives Matter display in New York, with the caption “freedom.”

In prepared remarks sent out prior to the speech, Chen attacked “the policy of appeasement of former administrations, including Obama and Biden,” which he said had “allowed the CCP to infiltrate and corrode different aspects of the global community.” However, in the live speech to the RNC, he did not mention Obama.

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Drug and Trade War

China’s shipments of illegal fentanyl into the United States are a factor in the two sides’ ongoing trade war.

US accusations that China is flooding American communities with illegally produced “fentanyl” have poisoned bilateral ties.

When China harshly sentenced nine drug traffickers for selling the fentanyl to American buyers, the convictions were viewed by some as an “olive branch” offered by Beijing to Washington amid their “trade war” talks.

Fentanyl, a highly addictive synthetic Opioid that can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin, caused more than 32,000 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2018, according to official statistics.

China has been singled out by the US as a major supplier of the “illicit drug” and its chemical precursors, a bilateral sore point that has featured in the background of the two sides’ “bitter trade dispute.”

“Washington has strongly urged Beijing to clamp down on the illegal trade, one which China has largely denied significant involvement. In an August 23 tweet, US President Donald Trump accused his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping of not doing enough to stop the flow of synthetic Opioid into the US. Those drug deals, reports show, are often conducted over the Internet. The China connection was unearthed by US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officials in 2015, when a Chinese salesperson who went by the name Li Li was found to be selling the drug through online ads and over social media.”

According to a New York Times investigation China has between 160,000 and 400,000 chemical companies “operating legally, illegally or somewhere in between — an expansive estimate that reflects both the vastness of the industry and the scarcity of information.”

 Those factories produce not only fentanyl but also a variety of legal chemicals and pharmaceuticals. That means they cannot readily be compared to underground heroin laboratories or cocaine processing plants, which are often hidden in remote areas and guarded by heavily armed private militiamen.

Seized illegal fentanyl packages on display in New York.

The drugs can then be shipped as “pharmaceuticals” or hidden in “chemical” shipments. Reports show they are also frequently sent by standard mail courier services, making the US Postal Service perhaps the largest “drug transportation network” in the world through its delivery of Chinese-made fentanyl straight to American homes.

Given the size and complexity of China’s chemical and pharmaceutical industries, and with annual profits estimated to be at least US$100 billion, it is not easy task for authorities to monitor and prevent the “illicit” drug trade.

Whether or not the recent sentences of fentanyl dealing drug traffickers will give new impetus or build new trust to ongoing trade war negotiations remains to be seen.

But the fact that the arrests came after Chinese authorities acted on a 2017 tip from the US Homeland Security Department shows a certain degree of improved cooperation between the two sides.

On the other hand, a senior official with “China’s Narcotics Control Commission” said that the sentences were not in any way related to the trade war.

Chinese officials have frequently denied that their country is the main source of fentanyl sold on US black markets, which also enters the US from Mexico.

Illegal fentanyl flows from China into the US along various routes. Photo: US Government Accountability Office/Screenshot.

Fentanyl was first made in the 1960s and approved for medical use in the US in 1968. It is often used as an “anesthetic” during surgery in hospital emergency rooms, or to alleviate “pain” for cancer patients.

Taken recreationally, often mixed with heroin, it has a massive sedative effect, often causing hallucinations. Because fentanyl is purely synthetic, it is easier to make than heroin, which requires opium poppies that must be harvested and the sap refined into white powder.

It is also considerably cheaper than pure heroin, which has made it a drug of choice in poor US communities, where most of the overdoses are taking place.

Likely acting on US pressure, on May 1, China placed fentanyl and related substances on its list of controlled drugs and pledged to tighten controls. At the same time, China has publicly insisted it is not a major fentanyl supplier to US black markets.

Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the China National Narcotics Control Commission, at a press conference on June 17, 2019.

Liu Yuejin, vice commissioner of the Ministry of Public Security’s drug control agency, recently cited US government statistics showing only six kilograms of a total of 537 kilograms of fentanyl related substances seized by US authorities between October 2018 and this March originated from China.

Most of the drugs seized came from Mexico, the same statistics showed. Liu also dismissed reports claiming that Chinese companies had shipped fentanyl to Mexico as a way to obscure the drugs’ actual origin.

In late August, China’s foreign ministry urged the US to improve its domestic regulations to tackle the roots of the Opioid crisis at home, and not blame China for the lethal scourge. China is also a victim of the legal and illicit sale of Opioids, where synthetic drugs are becoming more widely available than opium and its derivative heroin.

US drug officials, meanwhile, insist that apart from direct online sales to American consumers, fentanyl is also being shipped from China to Mexico, where it is reportedly sold to drug cartels for around $3,000 per kilogram.

According to the New York Times investigation, 100 kilograms of fentanyl pressed into pills would have a street value of millions or even billions of dollars.

Other press reports citing US narcotics control officers say Chinese fentanyl can be bought on black markets for $6,000 per kilogram. Once mixed with heroin and pressed into tablets, it can be sold for as much as $1.6 million on US streets.

Either way, it is clearly an extremely lucrative business for Chinese manufacturers as well as middlemen and the distributors.

Skeptics argue that the claims of Chinese complicity in the trade echo similar stretched allegations made by the US in the late 1960s, when American drug enforcement officials claimed that opium was grown in China, made into heroin there, and then smuggled to the US.

The first US official to gainsay the claim was then-US Assistant Secretary of State Marshall Green, who in a July 1971 interview with the now defunct Hong Kong weekly “Far Eastern Economic Review” said that opium poppies were instead cultivated in a “golden triangle” stretching from northeastern Myanmar to northern Thailand and northwestern Laos.

Image of pharmaceutical fentanyl.

At the time, Washington was trying to curry favor with Beijing and, in the same month as the article appeared, it was later announced that then-US president Richard Nixon would visit China the following February, resulting in a historic thaw in relations.

The term “golden triangle” captured the public imagination and within a few years the Golden Triangle — later stylized with a capital “G” and “T”—came to symbolize the lawlessness of opium and its trade, then often conducted literally on the backs of mules.

Fast forward to the present, drugs are moved by other means and sold over the internet, but narcotics remains a bane in the area. And this time it is undeniable that China is part and parcel of the problem.

As previously, drug-dealing allegations are still a tool in high-stakes international diplomacy, as seen in Trump’s connecting America’s fentanyl epidemic with his wider trade war with China.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 2018 G20 summit in Buenos Aires. Photo: AFP/Yomiuri Shimbun

According to a November 7 report by the US news network CNBC, “Trump cares passionately about overdoses and passionately about drug use…he didn’t want to sit down until this of the ‘seven deadly sins’ was agreed to” with the Chinese.

Trump’s supposed “passion” for curbing the illicit trade may be explained by the fact that the worst-affected US communities, including in the so-called Rust Belt in the country’s Midwestern region, are situated in important swing states ahead of 2020 elections.

The November 7 sentencing of nine Chinese fentanyl traffickers could yet represent a step forward in bilateral trade war talks. But clearly much more must be done on both sides of the Pacific to tackle drug scourge that is taking annually thousands of American lives.

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Chinese Christian Advocates

Persecution against Christians, Muslims, and other religious groups in communist China has escalated as Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s atheist regime attempts to crack down on religion in the country, a top official from a U.S. religious freedom panel and a human rights lawyer revealed.

Bob Fu, the founder and president of the U.S.-based Christian human rights group China Aid, and Kristina Arriaga, the vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), indicated that China’s oppressive tactics employed against Christians have intensified in recent years.

Their comments came in response to a question on the state of “Christianity in China” posed during a discussion on religious oppression sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.

“A lot of things have happened in the last few months that are very troubling for the future of Christianity in China. The situation for Christians there is dire. One thing we know for sure is that the persecution against Christians has doubled in intensity,” Arriaga said.

Earlier, she noted that communist authorities recently demolished the “Golden Lampstand Church” in addition to taking down crosses and religious iconography from various other worshiping centers.

Golden Lampstand Church.

Echoing Arriaga, human rights lawyer Fu said the number of persecuted Christians in China has “dramatically increased” over the last year.

“The number of people we documented who are persecuted among just Christians alone last year reached 223,000 compared to these 48,000 in 2016,” the human rights lawyer explained, adding:

“When the communist party took power the number of Christians was estimated to be about less than 1 million in 1949, but now according to the Purdue University sociologist research, the number of Chinese Christians already reached over 100 million. They projected that by 2030 the number of Christians would reach at least 224 million. So it is a staggering development.”

Fu noted that persecution has only fueled the growth of Christianity in China to the dismay of Xi. “Apparently the persecution will only help accelerate the growth,” he proclaimed, noting that even the number of Christians “who worship at the government churches had dramatically increased.”

“You can see that Xi has particular animosity against Christianity in particular,” Fu said, acknowledging that the communist regime has identified “underground churches” as a “severe national security threat,” along with political dissidents and human rights lawyers.

Fu is a Christian refugee himself who fled China after Beijing imprisoned him and his wife for two months for “illegal evangelism” in 1996.

Holding her young child, Li Aijie, a U.S.-based Christian refugee who fled Chinese persecution, shared her ordeal, stressing that Beijing sentenced her husband to 19 years in prison for “criticizing” the Chinese Communist Party on social media.

Her plight highlights the Communist government’s brutal treatment of Christians and other faith adherents who refuse to conform to the party’s atheist views.

The human rights lawyer noted that China had expanded its surveillance tactics to monitor all religious Chinese, particular Muslim Uyghurs in the province of Xinjiang and Christians.

Beijing has “forced” churches to install “face recognition systems,” Fu revealed. “Every church in China is forced to install face recognition systems and every church building  is forced to put a sign up banning children, students, civil servants, military personnel, and communist party members from entering,” Fu noted during the discussion.

“They use the face recognition systems to record the image and try to purge the communist party member who dared enter the church,” he continued.

Consistent with the tenets of communism, China’s government prohibits employees from practicing religion.

Arriaga described the predominantly Muslim autonomous province of Xinjiang and the adjacent Tibet Autonomous Region as “police states,” noting:

“Thanks to government policy, the Tibetans and the Uighur Muslims basically live in a police state. The state not only bans the practice of religion, it’s also suppressing any cultural practice associated with religion. For instance, Tibetans, as you know, cannot study their language or their culture.”

The Xi administration is an equal-opportunity oppressor, indicated the official from the U.S. commission, explaining that “all faith adherence in China are subject to extrajudicial detention.”

“People are held against their will for months at a time without contact with their family and the outside world under horrible conditions,” she said.

Li confirmed that China is keeping her husband under deplorable conditions. While thanking U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration for granting her “refuge” in America, she asked for help in “liberating” her husband.

Arriaga acknowledged that the Trump administration is taking action to promote “religious freedom” in China.

Xi stressed at the quinquennial Communist Party conference last year “that all religions must be ‘Chinese-oriented,’ as part of his effort to ‘Sinicize religion,’ or make it more Chinese, by instilling socialist core values.”

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Year of the Fire Dog

A word of advice to progressives: when you see angels with trumpets…do not think “apocalypse.” Rather think “Hallelujah.”

It is , after all, the year of the TRUMP-et.

2018 is also the “Year of the Dog” in the Chinese New Year which begins on February. And guess who is a big “fire” Dog: Donald Trump! And that’s a good thing.

Chinese play tribute to The Donald in the Year of the Dog with this giant statue

Born in 1946, Donald Trump was born in the year of the Dog—the “Fire Dog” to be specific—according to the Chinese horoscope.

It is believed that the “Fire Dog” is naturally charismatic and easily attracts attention.

Ya’ think?

At the beginning of 2017 Chinese astrologers reading President Trump’s “Rooster Year Four Pillars” chart determined him to be an Earth person and predicted that he would be doing things differently.

As the Rooster carries a metal element which represents expression and creativity they also predicted that Trump, being an Earth persona, might have a year of “sharp” words.

Again, ya’ think?

As far as 2018 goes, the anniversary year of an individual’s “birth” sign is said to bring good “fortune so I predict a whole lot more WINNING! for Donald Trump and America.

All I can say is “Hallelujah!” And have a “blessed” Happy New Year.

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