China builds listening station in Hong Kong

 

The existence of a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) communications installation atop Hong Kong’s tallest mountain – the 957 m-high peak of Tai Mo Shan – recently came to light.

Construction began around 2010, with a geodesic dome first appearing in satellite imagery in 2011. The facility has been operational for approximately three years. Continue reading

A Chinese Gold Standard?

LONDON — While the 70th anniversary of D-Day last month received a lot of attention, another event, in July 1944 — the Bretton Woods conference, named for the mountain resort in New Hampshire where it was held — was perhaps even more significant in shaping the modern world. It not only led to the creation of what are now the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, but it also confirmed the central position of the United States dollar in the international monetary system.

Why does this matter for us now? Just as America displaced Britain as the world’s pre-eminent economic power in the interwar period, so, too, the large debts and fiscal pressures confronting the West, and the rise of China and other economic powers, challenge us to think about the future of finance.

For most of the 19th century the British pound had been the world’s “reserve currency,” the currency in which trade and finance were denominated. “As sound as a pound” became a widely used expression. The pound was pegged to gold at a fixed rate of just under £4 per ounce. Continue reading

BRICS nations could rival US in global influence

The rise of the BRICS countries–Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa–may challenge the world order and lead to the end of US domination.

The five countries set up the New Development Bank during a recent summit in Brazil, which offers an alternative to the US-led International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The five countries participating in the economic cooperation forum are likely to deepen their cooperation in various fields, which may rival the dominance of the United States and G7 countries in the world.

The BRICS countries will also increase their sway if they can improve their governance, considering the fact that they account for 42% of the global population and their GDP and trade volume each make up for about 20% of the world’s total. Continue reading

Europe braced for any gas crisis as Russia sanctions escalate

The showdown with Russian president Vladimir Putin comes at moment of surging global supplies of LNG, which can be diverted to European markets and reduce the Kremlin’s political leverage. The price of LNG in Asia has crashed from $20 to $11 per British thermal unit since February.

The pan-EU group Gas Infrastructure Europe said the network of LNG terminals in Britain and the Continent is currently operating at just 20pc of its full capacity. It could in theory boost flows by 160bn cubic metres (BCM), if there is available gas.

This is more than Russia’s entire shipments, which reached 155 BCM last year. The European network of pipelines does not cover every region and would leave pockets in eastern Europe without supply.

“We have a lot of free capacity in LNG in Europe. It would be extremely difficult to replace Russian gas in a just a few months but it is possible to raise supply,” said one official. Continue reading

Chinese spy ship arrives at giant U.S.-led naval exercise off the coast of Hawaii

A giant U.S.-led naval exercise with 22 nations from around the world got an unexpected visitor on Sunday — a Chinese spy ship perched in international waters.

The 24th Rim of the Pacific exercises (RIMPAC) in and around the Hawaiian Islands features more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel. China is part of a host of nations taking part, which also includes Australia, Canada, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, the United Kingdom and others. Continue reading

Billionaire Sprott – The Bank Of England Gold Vaults Are Empty

As the gold and silver smash continues for a second day, billionaire Eric Sprott warned King World News that the Bank of England gold vaults are empty and there will be a price to pay for what Western central planners have done.  The Canadian billionaire also warned about the banking system.  Below is what Sprott, Chairman of Sprott Asset Management, had to say in Part I of a remarkable series of interviews that will be released today.

Sprott:  “We have the Chinese coming in and buying an extra 1,500 tons (of gold).  We will have a GLD metric that could be as much as 1,000 tons just this year, year over year.  The Indians haven’t changed the laws yet but I think that will be forthcoming, and they can get back into normal buying mode…. Continue reading

Ethiopia’s Nile dam project signals its intention to become an African power

The 4×4 roars off, kicking up a cloud of dust. With one hand on the wheel, the other stifling a yawn, Semegnew Bekele could do this trip with his eyes shut. A construction engineer, he has driven down this track at every hour of the day or night over the past three years. “Ordinary people are building an extraordinary project,” he says. He is referring to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam (Gerd), in the north-west corner of the country close to the border with Sudan. Four hours away from the town of Assosa more than 8,500 workers and engineers are labouring on a massive project to harness the waters of the Blue Nile.

The countdown has already started for Bekele: he has three years left to complete this concrete colossus. “I don’t feel like a special person,” he says, “just an engineer leading the project.” True enough, the driving force behind the dam is former prime minister Meles Zenawi, who ran the country for more than two decades. He was obsessed with the country’s rebirth. The structure will be built, whatever the cost, he asserted, upon laying the first stone in April 2011. He died the following year. Continue reading

Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier Has no Purpose Except As ‘a Failed Dream of EU Integration’

The 65,000-ton Royal Navy aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, launched by Her Majesty on July 4 and praised as “a national instrument of power,” is in fact “a ship with no real purpose other than to act as the monument to yet another failed dream of EU integration,” according to historian and journalist Christopher Booker.

Even before the launch, there were questions raised over the ship’s purpose. No aircraft will be able to fly off it until 2020. Despite a vast flight deck, it is not designed to handle fixed-wing aircraft, only the American-built vertical take-off F35, which is still in development with chronic design problems.

The F-35 seen on board the ship at the launch was in fact a fibre glass replica, a plastic kit plane defence giant Lockheed Martin assembles for air shows and exhibitions.

Other questions have been raised that HMS Queen Elizabeth should be nuclear powered like American aircraft carriers, not by diesel and gas. More, the Royal Navy no longer has enough surface craft to provide escort for an aircraft carrier. Continue reading

Global firms becoming keen on using yuan

The use of the renminbi in trade settlements increased sharply this year, according to HSBC’s annual renminbi survey.

The survey which began last year covered eleven countries, four of which were added this year. All seven markets surveyed in both years posted increases, the largest of which were in Germany, Hong Kong and the U.S.

Of the German companies profiled, 23 percent are using the renminbi to settle trades, up from 9 percent last year, while usage in Hong Kong rose to 58 percent from 50 percent and to 17 percent from 9 percent in the U.S.

Usage of the renminbi among French companies – a new addition to this year’s list – was high at 26 percent.

Prospects for next year are bright as nearly 60 percent of global companies plan to increase their cross border activity with China over the next 12 months. Currently, 22 percent of companies globally trade in renminbi. Continue reading

Banks could lose monopoly on gold fix

Other industry groups such as miners may join process of setting crucial benchmark following allegations that process is open to rigging

Banks could lose sole responsibility for setting the gold price benchmark under new rules proposed by the industry.

Other parties such as miners and refiners may enter the London gold fix, which has been controlled by banks for almost a century but has come under scrutiny following allegations that the system is open to manipulation.

Continue reading

KGB papers, kept in secret since 1992, released by British archive

Original documents from one of the biggest intelligence leaks in history — a who’s who of Soviet spying — were released Monday after being held in secret for two decades.

Intelligence historian Christopher Andrew said the vast dossier, released by the Churchill Archives Centre at Cambridge University, was considered “the most important single intelligence source ever” by British and American authorities.

Mitrokhin was a senior archivist in the KGB’s foreign intelligence headquarters — and a secret dissident. For more than a decade, he secretly took files home, copied them in longhand and then typed them and collated them into volumes. He hid the papers at his country cottage, or dacha, some stuffed into a milk churn and buried.

The world did not learn of Mitrokhin until Andrew published a book based on his files in 1999. It caused a sensation by exposing the identities of KGB agents including 87-year-old Melita Norwood, the “great-granny spy,” who had passed British atomic secrets to the Soviets for years. Continue reading

Britain planned to train and equip 100,000 Syrian rebels

Secret initiative planned to train rebels to fight the Assad government a year later by marching on Damascus, a BBC Newsnight investigation discloses

Britain planned to train and equip 100,000 Syrian rebels for a shock and awe campaign to defeat President Bashar al-Assad.

General David Richards, who was then the UK’s most senior military officer, drew up the plans two years ago, according to the BBC’s Newsnight. Continue reading

Particularly Close to Germany

Do you still question who runs Europe? Guess who’s back.

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) – With Jean-Claude Juncker, Germany will have a politician as President of the EU Commission, who has always been a close ally. Juncker says that “since his earliest youth,” he has “always felt particularly close” to Germany, an affinity that “grew even stronger” in later years. The former prime minister of Luxemburg is seen as former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s protégé and as the “mediator” in Germany’s interests, wherein he had also won France over to accept Germany’s standpoint on an economic and monetary union. The transition from the Barroso cabinet to that of Juncker will be coordinated by the German national, Martin Selmayr, who had previously been employed as cabinet director of the EU Commissioner for Justice, Viviane Reding, (Luxemburg) and was considered to “actually be the Commissioner of Justice.” He is also considered to become cabinet director of Juncker’s office as President of the Commission. Germans are at decisive posts on the Council of Ministers as well as in the European Parliament, for example as parliamentary group whips, and the German national, Martin Schulz is being considered for the next presidency of the parliament. An influential German journal commented the concentration of Germans at the leadership level of the EU’s bureaucracy with “The EU speaks German.” Continue reading

China to Set Yuan Clearing Banks in Luxembourg, Paris

In its continued push to make the yuan a global currency, China’s central bank said Sunday it plans to designate clearing banks for its currency in Paris and Luxembourg, as the two financial centers battle with London to become the leading European offshore yuan-trading city.

The People’s Bank of China announced the move in two separate statements Sunday. It didn’t say when it would designate the clearing banks. Continue reading

UK edges closer to EU exit as David Cameron is crushed in bid to block Jean-Claude Juncker’s leadership

Britain took another step towards the EU exit door as David Cameron warned that Jean-Claude Juncker’s appointment to the top job in Brussels would make it harder to persuade the public to remain in the 28-nation bloc.

Mr Cameron’s stark warning came after he suffered a humiliating defeat in his lonely battle to stop the veteran federalist becoming president of the European Commission. At a Brussels summit, EU leaders voted 26-2 to nominate Mr Juncker after Mr Cameron demanded an unprecedented formal vote on a post traditionally settled by consensus. Hungary’s Viktor Orban was the only leader to back the Prime Minister.

Asked if the crushing setback had taken the UK closer to an EU exit, Mr Cameron told a press conference: “The job has got harder of keeping Britain in a reformed Europe. The stakes are higher. Do I think it is an impossible job? No.” Continue reading