How the New Silk Roads are merging into Greater Eurasia

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People take pictures of the first freight train from Shenzhen to Minsk, capital of Belarus, that set out of Yantian Port in Shenzhen in May 2017. Photo: Reuters / stringer

 

Russia’s embrace of the Far East and other parts of Asia is proceeding with a symbiotic embrace of China’s New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative

The concept of Greater Eurasia has been discussed at the highest levels of Russian academia and policy-making for some time. This week the policy was presented at the Council of Ministers and looks set to be enshrined, without fanfare, as the main guideline of Russian foreign policy for the foreseeable future.

President Putin is unconditionally engaged to make it a success. Already at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2016, Putin referred to an emerging “Eurasian partnership” Continue reading

Iran president warns of ‘war situation’ as sanctions resume

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US President Donald Trump, left, on July 22, 2018, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on February 6, 2018. (AP Photo)

 

Rouhani vows defiantly that ‘Iran is able to sell its oil and it will sell,’ rejects prospect of mediation with Washington

Iran greeted the re-imposition of US sanctions on Monday with air defense drills and an acknowledgement from President Hassan Rouhani that the nation faces a “war situation,” raising Mideast tensions as America’s maximalist approach to the Islamic Republic takes hold.

The sanctions end all the economic benefits America granted Tehran under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, though Iran for now continues to abide by the accord that saw it limit its enrichment of uranium. While for now not threatening to resume higher enrichment, Iranian officials in recent months have made a point to threaten that could resume at any time faster than before. Continue reading

Russia And China Prepare To Ditch Dollar In Bilateral Trade

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In a time when many nations have gone public with their intention to ditch the dollar in part or in whole, in bilateral trade with non-US counterparts, either to prevent the US from having “veto power” of commerce courtesy of SWIFT or simply in response to Trump’s “America First” doctrine, attention has long focused on Russia and China – the two natural adversaries to the US – to see if and when they would accelerate plans for de-dollarization. Continue reading

Russian Share In U.S. Debt Is Getting Close To Zero

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Grigory Dukor. IMAGE: Reuters

 

Russian investments in US securities as of August 2018 have fallen to just $14 billion from $180 billion back in 2011. From one of the top holders of the US debt, Moscow became the 54th largest holder. Continue reading

The Anti-Silk Road

BERLIN/BEIJING (Own report) – At this week’s Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels, the EU will introduce a new “connectivity strategy” to counter China’s “New Silk Road.” As outlined by the EU’s head of foreign policy in September, the strategy is aimed at improving transportation infrastructure as well as digital and energy networks linking Asia and Europe. Beijing is also active in these domains in connection with its Silk Road initiative. Recently, Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched an initial thrust in this project. At the time, Minister of State Niels Annen (SPD) declared in Uzbekistan that social standards and human rights are “priorities” for Brussels. “This is what makes our offer different from China’s Belt and Road initiative.” For years, Germany had supported – even with military assistance – the Uzbek regime that was applying torture. Washington has also launched a new infrastructure initiative in Asia, to which US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the USA is committed to “honest accords” and would “never seek dominance over the Indo-Pacific.” Continue reading

An end to the dollar’s global hegemony? The Kremlin sees an opportunity.

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An exchange-office screen on a Moscow street shows the currency exchange rate of the Russian ruble and US dollar in April. The Kremlin has begun making moves to insulate the Russian economy from escalating US sanctions. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

 

The dollar has long been the world’s reserve currency. But some countries, angered by sanctions, are challenging that status, potentially undermining one of the US’s most influential tools for shaping global policy.

For average Russians, a small personal hoard of US dollars has always represented a place of safety amid the wild ups-and-downs that continue to beset the country’s national currency, the ruble.

So it triggered a touch of panic among them when the Russian government confirmed long-standing rumors that it is working on a plan to insulate the economy from escalating US sanctions through “de-dollarization.” Continue reading

A New Era for the China-Russia-U.S. Triangle

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Nearly a half-century ago, President Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, established a successful U.S. strategy for dealing with America’s two most dangerous rivals. He sought closer ties to both the Soviet Union, with its more than 7,000 nuclear weapons, and Communist China, with the world’s largest population.

Kissinger’s approach was sometimes called “triangulation.” But distilled down to its essence, the phrase meant ensuring that China and Russia were not friendlier to each other than each was to the United States

Given that the Soviet Union was much stronger than China at the time, Kissinger especially courted Beijing. Continue reading

China steps up spying on U.S. military

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Li Shangfu (center), who was slapped with U.S. sanctions this week for buying arms from Russia, is director of the Equipment Development Department of China’s Central Military Commission. The department announced a database that will likely benefit from China’s theft of 22.1 million records on American federal workers, including those with security clearances, from the Office of Personnel Management in 2015. (Photo by: Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press/File)

 

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is stepping up open-source spying on the U.S. military and other foreign militaries that will utilize artificial intelligence means.

According to a procurement notice from China’s Central Military Commission, the new database is a six-month project to set up an “Open Source Intelligence Database on Foreign Militaries.”

The revealing notice was published by the commission’s PLA Equipment Development Department, whose director, Lt. Gen. Li Shangfu, was slapped with U.S. sanctions this week for buying arms from Russia.

The database will likely benefit from China’s theft of 22.1 million records on American federal workers, including those with security clearances, from the Office of Personnel Management in 2015. Chinese hackers also stole an estimated 80 million records on Americans from health care insurance giant Anthem. Continue reading

U.S. Looks To Find Alternatives To Iranian Oil For Allies

 

The United States—which is pushing to have all Iranian oil customers stop importing crude from Tehran—is looking for alternative oil supplies for its allies whose imports will be disrupted by the U.S. sanctions on Iran, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, citing a senior U.S. administration  official. Continue reading

Iran Sanctions, Emerging Markets And The End Of Dollar Dominance

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The trade war is a rather strange and bewildering affair if you do not understand the underlying goal behind it. If you think that the goal is to balance the trade deficit and provide a more amicable deal for U.S. producers on the global market, then you are probably finding yourself either confused, or operating on blind faith that the details will work themselves out.

Case in point, the latest reports that the U.S. trade deficit is now on track to hit 10-year highs, after a 7% increase in June. This is the exact opposite of what was supposed to happen when tariffs were initiated. In fact, I recall much talk in alternative media circles claiming that the mere threat of tariffs would frighten foreign exporters into balancing trade on their own. Obviously this has not been the case. Continue reading

Who Does America Belong to?

Not to Americans

The housing market is now apparently turning down. Consumer incomes are limited by jobs offshoring and the ability of employers to hold down wages and salaries.  The Federal Reserve seems committed to higher interest rates—in my view to protect the exchange value of the US dollar on which Washington’s power is based.  The arrogant fools in Washington, with whom I spent a quarter century, have, with their bellicosity and sanctions, encouraged nations with independent foreign and economic policies to drop the use of the dollar.  This takes some time to accomplish, but Russia, China, Iran, and India are apparently committed to dropping  or reducing the use of the US dollar. Continue reading

BRICS in a multipolar world

This week, South Africa is hosting the 10th annual gathering of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). When the first BRIC summit was held in 2009 (South Africa was added in 2010), the world was in the throes of a financial crisis of the developed world’s making, and the increasingly dynamic BRIC bloc represented the future. By coming together, these countries had the potential to provide a geopolitical counterweight to the West.

But Western commentators have long underestimated that potential, forcing BRICS to demand greater representation in global-governance institutions. In 2011 and 2012, BRICS challenged the process of selecting leaders at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. But, lacking a united front behind them, a European (Christine Lagarde) and an American (Jim Yong Kim) continued to preside over those organizations. And though BRICS did get these institutions to reform their voting structures to give developing countries greater weight, the US and Europe still wield disproportionate power. Continue reading

Germany Encouraging India to Buy Iranian Oil

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(Photo Credit: Office of Prime Minister of India)

 

Foreign minister says it would be a ‘very important statement’ if New Delhi ignored President Trump’s sanctions.

Germany’s obsession with Iran’s oil—and opposing President Donald Trump—today went from merely taking care of its own interests to becoming an outright salesman for the Islamic Republic to other countries. Continue reading

Taiwan Doubles Down On U.S. LNG

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LNG Vessel. Source: OilPrice

 

Taiwan, which has seen increased military exercises off its coast by Chinese forces this year, has just inked a major energy deal with a U.S. energy firm.

On Monday, Taiwan’s CPC Corp., a major LNG importer, announced a preliminary deal to buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) from U.S. based LNG producer Cheniere Energy for a period of 25 years. CPC signed a Heads of Agreement to purchase 2 million tonnes of LNG annually from the major gas exporter, which is gearing up to start exports from its second export plant at Corpus Christi, Texas. Continue reading

Struggle for Influence in the Western Pacific (I)

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – The US-led RIMPAC 2018, the world’s largest naval maneuver, began yesterday with German soldiers participating. According to the US Navy, the naval exercise will also include operations in the Western Pacific. The region of the Southwest Pacific islands will thus come into focus, which – even though largely ignored by the European public – has been gaining significant global influence. On the one hand, the influence of Western countries has shrunk recently, while that of their strategic rivals, such as Russia and China, has significantly grown. Some Pacific island nations have since then been seeking to pursue a foreign policy independent from the West. On the other hand, the Southwest Pacific has become even more important also for Australia and the Unites States: as the political economic backyard for Australia and “gateway to the Indo-Pacific” for the U.S.A. Germany is also attempting to increase its activities in the region.

Continue reading