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The Dragon lays out its road map, denies seeking hegemony

The Dragon lays out its road map, denies seeking hegemony

The key merit of China’s National Defense in the New Era, a white paper released by the State Council in Beijing, is to clear any remaining doubts about where the Middle Kingdom is coming from, and where it’s going to by 2049, the mythical date to, theoretically, be restored as the foremost global power.

Although not ultra-heavy on specifics, the white paper certainly should be read as the Chinese counterpoint to the US National Security Strategy, as well as the National Defense Strategy.

It goes without saying that every sentence is being carefully scrutinized by the Pentagon, which regards China as a “malign actor” and “a threat” – the terminology associated with its “Chinese aggression” mantra.

To cut to the chase, and to the perpetuating delight of China’s supporters and critics, here are the white paper’s essentials.

What global stability?

The Beijing leadership openly asserts that as “the US has adjusted its national security and defense strategies, and adopted unilateral policies” that essentially “undermined global strategic stability.” Vast sectors of the Global South would concur.

The counterpart is the evolution of “the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era,” now playing “a significant role in maintaining global strategic stability.”

In parallel, Beijing is very careful to praise the “military relationship with the US in accordance with the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.” The “military-to-military relationship” should work as “a stabilizer for the relations between the two countries and hence contribute to the China-US relationship based on coordination, cooperation and stability.”

Another key counterpart to the US – and NATO – is the increasingly crucial role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is “forging a constructive partnership of non-alliance and non-confrontation that targets no third party, expanding security and defense cooperation and creating a new model for regional security cooperation.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chinese Bank With $100 Billion In Assets Is About To Collapse

Chinese Bank With $100 Billion In Assets Is About To Collapse

While the western world (and much of the eastern) has been preoccupied with predicting the consequences of Trump’s accelerating global trade/tech war and whether the Fed will launch QE before or after it sends rates back to zero, Beijing has quietly had its hands full with avoiding a bank run in the aftermath of Baoshang Bank’s failure and keeping the interbank market – which has been on the verge of freezing – alive.

Unfortunately for the PBOC, Beijing was racing against time to prevent a widespread panic after it opened the Pandora’s box when it seized Baoshang Bank, the first official bank failure in an odd replay of what happened with Bear Stearns back in 2008, when JPMorgan was gifted the historic bank for pennies on the dollar.

And with domino #1 down, the question turned to who is next, and could it be China’s Lehman.

As a reminder, back in May, shortly after the shocking failure of China’s Baoshang Bank (BSB), and its subsequent seizure by the government – the first takeover of a commercial bank since the Hainan Development Bank 20 years ago – the PBOC panicked and injected a whopping 250 billion yuan via an open-market operation, the largest since January. Alas, as we said at the time, it was too little to late, and with the interbank market roiling, with Negotiable Certificates of Deposit (NCD) and repo rates soaring (in some occult cases as high as 1000%) we said that it’s just a matter of time before another major Chinese bank collapses.

We Are Neutral on Chinese Equities, Says Bank of Singapore’s Malik

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China Hit By “Significant Banking Stress” As SHIBOR Plummets To Recession Levels

China Hit By “Significant Banking Stress” As SHIBOR Plummets To Recession Levels

It’s probably not a coincidence that just days after we reported that China’s interbank market was freezing up in the aftermath of the Baoshang Bank collapse and subsequent seizure, which led to a surge in interbank repo rates and a spike in Negotiable Certificates of Deposit (NCD) rates…

… that Beijing is doing everything in its power to keep liquidity flowing within the world’s largest, ~$40 trillion, financial system.

Case in point: China’s overnight SHIBOR lending rate tumbled overnight, sliding from 1.253%, and 1.924% a week ago, to just 1.11% today. This, as Commodore Research points out, marks the lowest level seen since June 12, 2015. 

In fact, the only other time this decade that SHIBOR rates fell to such a low level was back in 2015 (which was a period when China was likely undergoing a recession). Prior to 2015, the previous time that SHIBOR rates fell to 1.11% (or lower) was during the global financial crisis in 2008/2009.

As Commodore further notes, “there recently has remained talk of liquidity problems and banking fears in China (and these concerns have only grown since the Baoshang Bank failure in May). Low SHIBOR lending rates are supportive and accommodative in nature — but rates sitting at rare multi-year lows are likely an indication that China is facing significant banking stress at the moment.”

The report’s conclusion: “It is very rare for the overnight SHIBOR lending rate to be set as low as 1.11%.”

Meanwhile, as the world’s biggest financial time bomb ticks ever louder, traders and analysts are blissfully oblivious, focusing instead on central banks admitting that the recession is imminent and trying to spin how a world war with Iran would be bullish for stocks.

Beijing “Seriously Considering” Rare-Earth Export Ban

Beijing “Seriously Considering” Rare-Earth Export Ban

Following what was a mostly quiet holiday weekend for trade-war-related rhetoric (other than a dollop of trade-deal optimism offer by President Trump, little was said by either side), Beijing has started the holiday-shortened week by reiterating threats to embrace what we have described as a ‘nuclear’ option: restricting exports of rare earth metals to the US.

Global Times editor Hu Xijin, who has emerged as one of the most influential Communist Party mouthpieces since President Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, tweeted that China is “seriously considering restricting rare earths exports to the US.”

Based on what I know, China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the US. . China may also take other countermeasures in the future.

There are signs that these warnings should be taken seriously: One week ago, President Xi and Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator, visited a rare earth metals mine in Jiangxi province. Rare earths, which are vital for the manufacture of everything from microchips to batteries, to LED displays to night-vision goggles, have been excluded from US tariffs.

Rare

Though other Chinese officials have denied that export curbs were being considered, Xi’s visit was widely viewed as a symbolic warning. Seven out of every 10 tons of rare earth metals mined last year were produced by Chinese mines. One analyst warned that Xi’s visit was intended to send “a strong message” to the US.

Beijing is limited in its ability to retaliate against Washington’s tariffs by the fact that there simply aren’t enough American-made goods flowing into the Chinese market. Because of these limits, it’s widely suspected that Beijing will find other ways to retaliate. Though they are more plentiful than precious metals like gold and platinum, rare earths can be expensive to refine and extract.

Four

The tension has sparked a 30% increase in ‘heavy rare earth’ metals.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“A Big Wake Up Call”: Chinese Bond Market Roiled By First Ever Bank Failure

“A Big Wake Up Call”: Chinese Bond Market Roiled By First Ever Bank Failure

Late last Friday, we reported that several hours after the market close, China’s financial regulator and central bank made a shocking announcement: for the first time in nearly 30 year, China would take control of a bank, in this case the troubled inner Mongolia-based Baoshang Bank, due to the serious credit risks it poses.

The news which highlights the potential for increased stress at regional lenders that piled into off-book financing in recent years, was strategically timed to hit ahead of the weekend, and with the market closed, it avoided an immediate panic selling waterfall. However, the fact that in China banks are now fair game for failure, and will soon join the record surge in Chinese corporate defaults…

… slammed the country’s financial sector on Monday, sending funding costs sharply higher and underscoring the potential for increased stress at regional lenders that piled into off-book financing in recent years.

Unfortunately for Beijing, Bloomberg writes overnight that despite the strategically timed news, it wasn’t enough to prevent turmoil from sweep across the nation’s bond market, where funding costs for lenders surged and yields on government debt jumped. The seven-day repurchase rate jumped 30 basis points to 2.85%, the highest in a month, as of late Monday in Shanghai, while the yield on 10Y sovereign bonds climbed 5 bps to 3.35%.

“Baoshang’s case is a big wake-up call,” said Becky Liu, head of China macro strategy at Standard Chartered. “Participants in the interbank market, who didn’t differentiate credit when lending to banks on the belief that they will never go bankrupt, have now become more cautious. That has helped drive up funding costs and thus sovereign yields.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The road to modern wars

The road to modern wars 

President Trump pursues a policy combining military threat with economic warfare and his aim is to restore American hegemony especially in view of the rising contender: China. Beijing has been acquiring technological knowledge and started expanding beyond the borders, having easier access to Central Asia and the Pacific than Americans.

In 2015, when Trump stood for election, we wrote: “Trump’s war rhetoric is very popular with his audiences and is a step beyond Obama’s statement about American exceptionalism. In New Hampshire, Trump nearly declared war on China as he stated: ‘Take a look at China what they have done, they have taken our money, our jobs, our base, our manufacturing, and we owe them 1.5 trillion dollars that’s like a magic act, they have taken everything, and we owe them money.’ Mr Trump did not tell his audience that bringing back jobs comes at a cost. China’s GDP per capita is around 7,500 dollars, while the GDP per capita of the US is about 55,000 dollars. The China rhetoric is unambiguous; China stole what belongs to the US, and there is no need to repay US debt owed to China. The world should brace for Mr Trump as the 45th president of the USA.

President Trump wants to dictate to the whole world, but, taking into account the fact that the United States is now in conflict with Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Russia, China and North Korea, a big war is not to be expected any time soon, so much so that the military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Libya appear to be inconclusive. Washington has an arsenal of other measures and these include:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Clash of civilizations’ or crisis of civilization?

‘Clash of civilizations’ or crisis of civilization?

Talk about a graphic display of soft power: Beijing this week hosted the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations

Organized under the direct supervision of President Xi Jinping it took place amid an “Asian Culture Carnival.”  Sure, there were dubious, kitschy and syrupy overtones, but what really mattered was what Xi himself had to say to China and all of Asia. 

In his keynote speech, the Chinese leader essentially stressed that one civilization forcing itself upon another is “foolish” and “disastrous.” In Xi’s concept of a dialogue of civilizations, he referred to the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as programs that “have expanded the channels for communication exchanges.”

Xi’s composure and rationality present a stark, contrasting message to US President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign.

West vs East and South

Compare and contrast Xi’s comments with what happened at a security forum in Washington just over two weeks earlier. Then, a bureaucrat by the name of Kiron Skinner, the State Department’s policy planning director, characterized US-China rivalry as a “clash of civilizations,” and “a fight with a really different civilization and ideology the US hasn’t had before.”

And it got worse. This civilization was “not Caucasian” – a not so subtle 21st century resurrection of the “Yellow Peril.” (Let us recall: The “not Caucasian” Japan of World War II was the original “Yellow Peril.”) 

Divide and rule, spiced with racism, accounts for the toxic mix that has been embedded in the hegemonic US  narrative for decades now. The mix harks back to Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, published in 1996. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

On Hostile Coexistence with China

On Hostile Coexistence with China

President Trump’s trade war with China has quickly metastasized into every other domain of Sino-American relations.   Washington is now trying to dismantle China’s interdependence with the American economy, curb its role in global governance, counter its foreign investments, cripple its companies, block its technological advance, punish its many deviations from liberal ideology, contest its borders, map its defenses, and sustain the ability to penetrate those defenses at will.

The message of hostility to China these efforts send is consistent and apparently comprehensive.  Most Chinese believe it reflects an integrated U.S. view or strategy.  It does not.

There is no longer an orderly policy process in Washington to coordinate, moderate, or control policy formulation or implementation.  Instead, a populist president has effectively declared open season on China.  This permits everyone in his administration to go after China as they wish.  Every internationally engaged department and agency – the U.S. Special Trade Representative, the Departments of State, Treasury, Justice, Commerce, Defense, and Homeland Security – is doing its own thing about China.  The president has unleashed an undisciplined onslaught.  Evidently, he calculates that this will increase pressure on China to capitulate to his protectionist and mercantilist demands.  That would give him something to boast about as he seeks reelection in 2020.

Trump’s presidency has been built on lower middle-class fears of displacement by immigrants and outsourcing of jobs to foreigners.  His campaign found a footing in the anger of ordinary Americans – especially religious Americans – at the apparent contempt for them and indifference to their welfare of the country’s managerial and political elites.  For many, the trade imbalance with China and Chinese rip-offs of U.S. technology became the explanations of choice for increasingly unfair income distribution, declining equality of opportunity, the deindustrialization of the job market, and the erosion of optimism in the United States.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“China’s JPMorgan” Seeks Money From Its Employees To Avoid Collapse

“China’s JPMorgan” Seeks Money From Its Employees To Avoid Collapse 

Ever since Beijing allowed private Chinese companies (even certain state-owned enterprises) to officially fail for the first time in 2015, and file for bankruptcy to restructure their unsustainable debt loads, it’s been a one-way street of corporate bankruptcies, one which we profiled last June in “Is It Time To Start Worrying About China’s Debt Default Avalanche” (the answer, by the way, was yes), and which culminated with a record number of Chinese onshore bond defaults in 2018, as a liquidity crunch sparked a record 119.6 billion yuan in defaults on local Chinese debt last year.

But if 2018 was bad, 2019 is set to be the biggest by far for defaults in China’s $13 trillion bond market, highlighting the widening fallout from the government’s campaign to rein in leverage and China’s accelerating economic slowdown. According to Bloomberg, in just the first four months of the year, companies defaulted on 39.2 billion yuan ($5.8 billion) of domestic bonds, some 3.4 times the total for the same period of 2018. The pace is also more than triple that of 2016, when defaults were more concentrated in the first half of the year, unlike 2018.

However, whereas for much of 2018 Chinese defaults affected largely less meaningful companies with little to no systemic impact, in 2019 the defaults started hitting dangerously close to the beating heart of China’s massive, $40 trillion financial system (roughly three times China’s GDP). As we reported back in February, a giant Chinese borrower missed its payment deadline when Wintime Energy – which in 2018 became the latest Chinese bond defaulter as the coal miner failed to pay scheduled interest – didn’t honor part of a restructured debt repayment plan, setting the scene for even more corporate defaults, and as Bloomberg put it, “underscoring the risks piling up in a credit market that’s witnessing the most company failures on record.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Warning Shot Across The Bow:” US Warns China On Aggressive Acts By Maritime Militia

“Warning Shot Across The Bow:” US Warns China On Aggressive Acts By Maritime Militia

Earlier this month, we reported that 275 Chinese fishing militia and Coast Guard vessels surrounded the island of Thitu in the South China Sea, which is currently being occupied by the Philippines. The US recently delivered a stern message to Beijing about its aggression in the highly disputed body of water, announcing that Chinese fishing militia and Coast Guard ships would be treated as military vessels.

Admiral John Richardson, head of the US Navy, described how he told, vice-admiral Shen Jinlon of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), back in January, that the Trump administration would label the Coast Guard and the maritime militia as military vessels.

“I made it very clear that the US navy will not be coerced and will continue to conduct routine and lawful operations around the world, in order to protect the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of sea and airspace guaranteed to all,” Admiral Richardson told the Financial Times.

China’s Coast Guard has more than doubled its feet to over 130 ships in the last decade, making it the largest coast guard in the world. Beijing trains and provides financial subsidies to the maritime militia, an armed reserve force of civilians and fishing boats, has significantly increased in size since 2015.

In its last annual report on the PLAN, the Pentagon said the fleet “plays a major role in coercive activities to achieve China’s political goals without fighting.”

In 2H17 through 1H18, the maritime militia sailed through the East China Sea with commercial grade laser pointers — striking low-flying American warplanes with damaging beams of light.

China has more frequently deployed the maritime militia in the East and South China sea because the US Navy is likely not to respond to aggression from small fishing boats. But that seems to be coming to an end, as the latest warning from Admiral Richardson could provoke a hot conflict.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Two US Warships Sail Through Taiwan Strait In Dare To Beijing

Two US Warships Sail Through Taiwan Strait In Dare To Beijing

With US-China trade talks set to resume this week amid what flashing red headlines, Larry Kudlow and Donald Trump’s twitter account remind us every day, if not hour, is a sense of “optimism” about an imminent deal, on Sunday the US navy reminded Beijing to stick to the script (one in which Trump supposedly comes off as a negotiating giant), when it two warships through the hotly contested Taiwan Strait as the Pentagon increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite vocal and often time angry opposition from China.

While the voyage risks further raising tensions with China – at an especially sensitive time for trade negotiations – it will also be viewed by Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in a statement. The 112-mile-wide Taiwan Strait separates Taiwan from China. Winking at China, Doss also said there were no unsafe or unprofessional interactions with other countries’ vessels during the transit. Beijing may beg to differ.

Despite an alleged convergence of view on trade between Beijing and DC., Taiwan remains one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a trade war, U.S. sanctions, the future of Huawei and 5G and China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom-of-navigation patrols to remind China that the US will never cede implicit control of the world’s most important naval area.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Former India Envoy To Pakistan: Massive Navy Operation A Warning To Beijing

Former India Envoy To Pakistan: Massive Navy Operation A Warning To Beijing

Former Indian government officials and military analysts have told Russian media sources that India’s large scale naval deployment, including nuclear submarines and an aircraft carrier, was fundamentally aimed at sending a message to China, not necessarily Pakistan. Indian warships on parade off the coast of Mumbai, via Reuters.

A major naval deployment exercise called TROPEX 2019 involvingsome 60 ships and an equal number of aircraft had been slated to run from January to early March, but according to reports quickly turned into a real time operational situation following the Feb. 27 crisis over Kashmir.

Notably, the games which had already been underway at the time of the crisis had involved the INS ‘Vikramaditya,’ a Russian-built aircraft carrier, and multiple other nuclear submarines essentially becoming “active” as the situation unfolded

But now Indian analysts in an interview with Russia’s RT have presented the interesting prospect that the TROPEX 2019 naval exercises-turned-“active” was “a clear signal to Beijing, rather than Islamabad.”

“China is using Pakistan as a tool to contain India, so the redeployment of an aircraft carrier, warships and nuclear-powered submarines to North Arabian Sea is a clear signal to Beijing, rather than Islamabad,” the analysts, including former Indian envoy to Pakistan Gopalaswami Parthasarathytold RT.

Parthasarathy insisted that “India does not base its defense preparedness on what Pakistan does or does not do,” however cited India’s greater concern as what China does to contain Indian influence in the Indian Ocean.”

Once India’s top envoy to its rival nuclear-armed neighbor, Parthasarathy continued, “Pakistan is an instrument used by China to contain India through supplies of weapons, missiles and even nuclear weapon designs.” And he emphasized further while significantly downplaying Islamadad as a threat: “Pakistan, by itself, does not worry us. We can more than match and manage Pakistan.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China Premier Vows No Massive Stimulus As Beijing Launches Massive Stimulus

China Premier Vows No Massive Stimulus As Beijing Launches Massive Stimulus 

When it comes to China, the past decade revealed two things beyond a shadow of a doubt: i) all of the country’s economic data is utterly meaningless as it is entirely fabricated (in this measure it is not much different from other developed nations), goalseeked to fit a specific political narrative, and ii) Beijing has an annoying Trotskyite habit of doing precisely what it vows not to do or accuses others of doing.

A good example of the latter was again observed last night, when Premier Li Keqiang said that China will stick to its current targeted economic support strategy and resist the temptation to engage in large-scale stimulus like quantitative easing or a massive expansion in public spending.Li Keqiang on March 15.

“We certainly need to take strong measures to face the downward pressure,” Li told a news conference Friday at the close of the annual National People’s Congress session in Beijing. “An indiscriminate approach may work in the short run but may lead to future problems. Thus it’s not a viable option. Our choice is to energize market players.

This is ironic because just over a month ago, China quietly launched a quasi-QE program in the form of the PBOC buying perpetual bonds issued by local banks, to flood the system with liquidity and achieve the same end goal as more conventional quantitative easing, and which Rabobank described as a means to keep China’s “Ponzi scheme afloat.”

Just as ironic was Li’s vow not to flood the economy with stimulus, read new debt, one month after the PBOC flooded the economy with a record amount of new debt.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China Offers To Help Venezuela Restore Power As Maduro Accuses Trump, Guaido Of “Sabotage”

China Offers To Help Venezuela Restore Power As Maduro Accuses Trump, Guaido Of “Sabotage”

China offered on Wednesday to help Venezuela repair its power grid after the country was plunged into its worst blackout on record, now in its sixth day, reports Reuters

With the power blackout in its sixth day, hospitals struggled to keep equipment running, food rotted in the tropical heat and exports from the country’s main oil terminal were shut down.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said China had noted reports that the power grid had gone down due to a hacking attack.

China is deeply concerned about this,” Lu said. –Reuters

“China hopes that the Venezuelan side can discover the reason for this issue as soon as possible and resume normal power supply and social order. China is willing to provide help and technical support to restore Venezuela’s power grid,” added Lu.

President Nicolas Maduro, who retains control of the country’s military and has the support of both Russia and China, has accused US President Donald Trump of cyber “sabotage.” 

The United States’ imperialist government ordered this attack,” Maduro said in a 35-minute televised address on Monday night accusing the White House of launching an imperialist “electromagnetic attack.” 

“They came with a strategy of war of the kind that only these criminals – who have been to war and have destroyed the people of Iraq, of Libya, of Afghanistan and of Syria – think up,” Maduro added. 

Maduro claimed that the Trump administration conducted the attack in coordination with “puppets and clowns” from the Venezuelan opposition in order to bring about a “a state of despair, of widespread want and of conflict” to justify a foreign invasion. 

Caracas-based political analyst Dimitris Pantoulas tweeted on Tuesday that Maduro appeared “worried, anxious and absolutely desperate,” adding that it’s clear that the government is not in control of the situation. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Vietnam’s Energy Dilemma Is About To Become A Crisis

Vietnam’s Energy Dilemma Is About To Become A Crisis

Hanoi

Vietnam can’t seem to get a break. The country lies just beneath China, its giant neighbor to the north, and shares many of the same socialist ideals that Beijing promulgates. However, Sino-Vietnamese relations have been a source of tension for years dating back to the colonization of Vietnam by China centuries ago – a historical fact that the average Vietnamese citizen has never forgotten. Even after the protracted and costly war between North Vietnam and the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government, that ended more than 40 years ago, China (which had proven a valuable ally for Hanoi during the war) turned on its smaller communist ally and invaded the country in 1979. It was a brief but bloody border war which showed Beijing that Vietnam could still hold its own.

Fast forward several decades and Hanoi is still trying to placate Beijing while at the same time rapidly improving relations with one-time adversary Washington. In fact, U.S.- Vietnamese relations, both trade and bilateral, have improved so much recently that the two sides could now arguably be called allies in the Asia-Pacific region. Of course, much of that alliance, similar in some respects to the decades-old U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia, is born of necessity. The U.S.-Saudi alliance was berthed in the aftermath of World War 2, held together amid shared concerns during the cold war, and remains amid worries over Iranian hegemony ambitions in the Middle East. The U.S.-Vietnamese alliance is largely held together over the mutual aim of both Washington and Hanoi to keep China’s economic and military ambitions in check in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the volatile South China Sea, where Beijing claims as much as 90 percent of the troubled body of water.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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