Pence: “All-Out Cold War” Coming If China Doesn’t Change Course; “We Won’t Back Down”

 

The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin has revealed stunning comments issued by Vice President Mike Pence during a conversation between the two aboard Air Force Two as the VP traveled for an official trip to Asia this week, where he landed in Singapore for regional summits highlighting Indo-Pacific security, trade and investment.

Pence reportedly said the White House is prepared to undertake take dramatic policy changes regarding China if Beijing does not capitulate to its demands as the trade war continues. In addition to the issue of tariffs, pressing security issues include the US demanding Chinese cessation of what’s reported to be widespread intellectual property theft and refusal to recognized America freedom of navigation through and above the South China Sea.  Continue reading

US military advantage has eroded, study says

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Photo: MANDEL NGAN;Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

 

WASHINGTON – The United States has lost its military edge to a dangerous degree and could potentially lose a war against China or Russia, according to a report released Wednesday by a bipartisan commission that Congress created to evaluate the Trump administration’s defense strategy.

The National Defense Strategy Commission, comprised of former top Republican and Democratic officials selected by Congress, evaluated the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy, which ordered a vast reshaping of the U.S. military to compete with Beijing and Moscow in an era of renewed great-power competition. Continue reading

The Biggest Threat To Dollar Dominance

dollars

 

Russian oil exporters are pressuring Western commodity traders to pay for Russian crude in euros and not dollars as Washington prepares more sanctions for the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Moscow, Reuters reported last week, citing as many as seven industry sources.

While it may have come as a surprise to the traders, who, Reuters said, were not too happy about it, the Russian companies’ move was to be expected as the Trump administration pursues a foreign policy where sanctions feature prominently. This approach, however, could undermine the dominance of the U.S. dollar as the global oil trade currency. Continue reading

Taiwan navy gets two new warships as China tensions grow

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen vowed Thursday that the island would not “concede one step” in defending itself as she inaugurated two frigates bought from the United States aimed at boosting Taipei’s naval capabilities against China.

Rival China has upped military drills including a live fire exercise in the Taiwan Strait in April, declaring its willingness to confront the island’s “independence forces”. Continue reading

China unveils stealth combat drone under development

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Visitors take pictures of a model of CH-7 HALE Stealth Unmanned Reconnaissance Aircraft at the Airshow China 2018 in Zhuhai, south China’s Guangdong province / Getty

 

ZHUHAI, China — A Chinese state-owned company says it is developing a stealth combat drone in the latest sign of the country’s growing aerospace prowess. The CH-7 unmanned aerial vehicle also underscores China’s growing competitiveness in the expanding global market for drones.

China has won sales in the Middle East and elsewhere by offering drones at lower prices and without the political conditions attached by the U.S.

The CH-7’s chief designer Shi Wen says the aircraft can “fly long hours, scout and strike the target when necessary.” Continue reading

War of Sanctions against Iran

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BERLIN/TEHRAN (Own report) – New US sanctions against Iran have come into effect, without the slightest sign of success for the opposition to the US Middle East policy that had been so loudly proclaimed by Berlin and the EU. Berlin had affirmed, it would do everything in its power to secure for EU companies – particularly German – business deals with Iran, thereby safeguard the nuclear agreement while strengthening the standing of German/EU industry in Iran. The latter has completely failed. German business representatives are warning of the “danger” that German business with Iran “could come to a complete halt.” If this development continues, China – which during the first round of sanctions, had already become Iran’s main trading partner – could further enhance its position in Iran, particularly due to continued oil purchases from Tehran. Contrary to its announcement, the Trump administration did not succeed in entirely cutting off Iranian oil exports. Today, Iran is selling more oil than during the previous round of sanctions.

Continue reading

US sanctions: SWIFT network suspends Iran banks

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The SWIFT banking network, the backbone for international monetary transfers, said Monday it has suspended several Iranian banks from its service, after the United States reimposed nuclear sanctions on Tehran.

“In keeping with our mission of supporting the resilience and integrity of the global financial system as a global and neutral service provider, SWIFT is suspending certain Iranian banks’ access to the messaging system,” it said. 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

South Korea Readies for a Future Without America

Instead of North Korea coming to terms with the Western world, it’s the Western world that’s being absorbed into China’s sphere of influence in Asia. The Western plan in its current state seems to be backfiring.

 

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A South Korean soldier stands guard before the military demarcation line and North Korea’s Panmun Hall. (ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

 

‘These disagreements have brought thorny issues over the shape and size of the U.S.-South Korea alliance back to the surface.’

The United States and South Korea are increasingly at odds over North Korea, placing the future of their military alliance in doubt.

Early last month, South Korea opened a liaison office with North Korea despite U.S. opposition to the move. Shortly after, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha publicly criticized the U.S. for its inflexibility regarding an action of good faith that North Korea had asked of the U.S. Also in September, South Korea announced that it might remove a certain set of sanctions on the North, prompting U.S. President Donald Trump to say the South does “nothing without our approval,” a statement that irritated many South Koreans. Continue reading

‘We are preparing for war’ Russia issues SHOCK warning over US withdrawal from INF Treaty

Andrei Belousov

Andrei Belousov said Russia is ‘preparing for war’ in response to the US (Image: GETTY)

 

A LEADING Russian official has warned that Russia is preparing for war in the wake of the US’s unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), in a sign of growing tensions between the two foes.

Andrei Belousov, deputy head of the Department of Nonproliferation and Arms Control at the Russian Foreign Minister, raised concerns over potential future conflict between the US and Russia, stating that Moscow will defend its territorial integrity and principles in response to US aggression.

Mr Belousov made his remarks after the First Committee of the UN General Assembly voted against a draft resolution to the INF proposed by Russia in support of the treaty. Continue reading

China Is Challenging The US In Central America, And Washington Can’t Do Anything

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El Salvador’s Foreign Minister Carlos Castaneda (L) shakes hands with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing on August 21, 2018

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Central America late last week when he criticized China’s rising influence there by questioning the intentions behind its investment activity, which prompted the country’s media to angrily respond earlier this week and lambast the US for trying to “drive a wedge” into Sino-Latin American relations. Washington is worried that Central America is slipping out of its hegemonic control after tiny El Salvador broke ties with Taiwan in August and recognized Beijing as China’s legitimate government in exchange for economic support, which some observers feared could catalyze a chain reaction in this part of the world where the self-proclaimed country counts a handful of its dwindling supporters. Continue reading

Europe’s Gas Game Just Took A Wild Twist

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Despite the almost unprecedented divisive nature of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, he is chalking up some impressive foreign policy victories, including finally bringing Beijing to task over its decades long unfair trade practices, stealing of intellectual property rights, and rampant mercantilism that has given its state-run companies unfair trade advantages and as a result seen Western funds transform China to an emerging world power alongside the U.S.

Now, it looks as if Trump’s recent tirade against America’s European allies over its geopolitically troubling reliance on Russian gas supply may also be bearing fruit. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that earlier this month German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered government support to efforts to open up Germany to U.S. gas, in what the report called “a key concession to President Trump as he tries to loosen Russia’s grip on Europe’s largest energy market.” Continue reading

Canada installs Chinese underwater monitoring devices next to US nuclear submarine base

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One of the Chinese undersea devices off Canada. Photo: Handout

 

  • Ocean Network Canada confirms addition of hi-tech sensors built by Chinese scientists to its marine observatories in Pacific Ocean
  • US state department has ‘nothing to say’ on matter

While the eyes of the world have been on the strategic tussle between Beijing and Washington in the South China Sea, Chinese scientists, with the help of the Canadian authorities, have succeeded in positioning four monitoring devices in waters just 300km (186 miles) off the United States’ Pacific coast. Continue reading

US Is Negotiating With SWIFT To Disconnect Iran From Network

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that unlike Obama’s 2013 Iran blockade, it would be harder for countries to get waivers on Iran oil sanctions as the US is already working on disconnecting Iran from the SWIFT network and dismissed concerns that oil prices could rise, saying the market had already factored in the output losses.

Speaking in an interview with Reuters in Jerusalem on Sunday at the start of a Middle East trip, Mnuchin said countries would have to reduce their purchases of Iranian oil by more than the roughly 20% level they did from 2013 to 2015 to get waivers. “I would expect that if we do give waivers it will be significantly larger reductions,” said the US Treasury Secretary. Continue reading

Saudi admission of Khashoggi death leaves turmoil in Riyadh, fallout on Saudi-US relations

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President Donald Trump saw this when he said: “Saudi Arabia has been a great ally, but what happened is unacceptable. It’s a big first step, only a first step.” He also announced he would work with Congress on the response.

There are too many fingers in the pie and open questions for the scandal to die down any time soon. For one, what happened to the body of the dead journalist? The Saudis now report that it was handed to an unnamed “local collaborator.” This mysterious person either got away, was smuggled out of Turkey by Saudi agents or is no longer alive. This may explain the sweep Turkish police have been conducting in the woods near the consulate and other parts of Istanbul. Continue reading