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AI, Gold and Nuclear War

AI, Gold and Nuclear War

So-called artificial intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm. Meanwhile, gold has shot up like a rocket over the past couple of months.

In mid-February, gold was trading at $1,990. Two months later, gold is trading above $2,400 — a $410 gain in just two months.

So here’s a question:

Is there a connection between AI and gold? It seems like an odd question. But as it turns out, the answer is yes. And surprisingly, there has been for decades. It involves the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

In the early 1980s, the KGB was deeply concerned about the possibility of a nuclear first strike by the United States. At the time, Yuri Andropov was head of the KGB.

Andropov’s fear of a nuclear first strike by the U.S. was based in part on the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan and Reagan’s plan to install Pershing II intermediate-range missiles in Europe.

Those missiles could be armed with nuclear warheads and could strike the Soviet Union within minutes of being launched. This put Soviet nuclear forces on a hair-trigger alert. They adopted a “launch on warning” posture.

This means that as soon as credible evidence of a planned first strike was discovered, the Soviet Union would launch its own first strike to avoid destruction of its forces.

The irony was that the U.S. had no actual plans to launch a first strike, but the Soviet Union didn’t know that. Reagan’s speeches about the “evil empire” did nothing to calm Soviet concerns.

AI and Nuclear Readiness

In response, the Soviets developed a primitive (by today’s standards) AI system called VRYAN. That’s a Russian acronym for: sudden nuclear missile attack.

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

Europe’s Metacrisis Just Got Worse

Energy Contrarian Featured Image

The latest conflict between Iran and Israel just made Europe’s already precarious energy and economic situation a lot worse.

Many analysts and politicians are celebrating Europe’s resilience after losing its natural gas supply from Russia.

“Two years on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, trade in energy products between Russia and the European Union has largely disappeared. The EU has adapted remarkably well to a decoupling that many would have considered impossible.”

Bruegel

There is some truth here but it misses the larger picture. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the world has witnessed a major shift in its geopolitical, economic, and social order. These changes have had a particularly large effect in Europe. Events in the Middle East make things even worse.

The Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020 resulted in a re-arrangement of supply chains and trade dependencies, prompting countries to consider the vulnerabilities inherent in globalized production networks. The era of unipolar dominance by the United States has given way to a more multipolar world. The traditional alliances and partnerships that underpinned the post-World War II order are unraveling.

Just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China and Russia issued a joint statement declaring that their partnership had “no limits” in opposing NATO expansion. They further stated their intention to reshape the global governance system to be more representative of the changing global landscape, challenging the current US-dominated world order.

In early 2024, the BRICS group of emerging-market nations—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa–expanded to include Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and Egypt. These countries now hold a dominant position on more than half of the global oil exports, with major implications for oil prices and energy geopolitics…

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

Most Americans Believe US Will Be in World War Within Next Decade

world war iii possible alliances

The majority of Americans believe it is likely that the US will be involved in a world war during the coming decade. Under President Joe Biden, the US is preparing for great power wars with Russia and China, engaged in multiple Middle East conflicts, and posturing for a confrontation with Iran and North Korea.

According to a new YouGov poll, 61% of Americans responded that it is very or somewhat likely that a world war would break out in the next five to ten years. About two-thirds of people responding to the poll said they believe the war will turn into a nuclear conflict.

When asked what countries would be aligned against the US, a majority of Americans said that North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Russia, and China. Americans identified NATO members such as France and the UK, as well as Israel and Ukraine, as allies in the coming world war.

Americans are not overly optimistic about the potential conflict. A slight majority believe the US and its allies would defeat Russia. While under half of respondents said the US would lose a war with Russia or against an alliance between Moscow and Beijing.

While most Americans believe a global conflict is on the horizon, they are not interested in fighting the war. More than twice as many respondents said they would refuse service even if drafted than stated, they would volunteer if the war broke out. Americans responded that they were more likely to serve in non-combat roles or if the homeland was threatened.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

“One Of The Most Brilliant Explanations Of The Modern World”: Russell Brand Sits With Tucker Carlson For Explosive Interview

“One Of The Most Brilliant Explanations Of The Modern World”: Russell Brand Sits With Tucker Carlson For Explosive Interview

Russell Brand flew too close to the sun, it would seem. Just as the popular British comedian was gaining massive attention for confronting global authoritarianism, he was hit with an onslaught of sexual allegations by anonymous accusers, which were amplified throughout the mainstream media.

Brand, known for his left-leaning ideology, articulate critique of the war in Ukraine, and the history of NATO leading up to said war, drew a clandestine ‘shadow campaign’ against him, which according to Tucker Carlson, “began with governments, not private organizations, but governments, their Intel services and their policy makers.” Brand was even attacked “as a Chinese propagandist” for his views on Ukraine.

I’ve never been to China. I don’t purport to understand China, certainly don’t advocate for Chinese policy,” Brand told Carlson, who suggested that the ‘Chinese propagandist’ allegations were nothing more than “the early seeds of a very deceptive plant that flowered more than a year later, in September, when you were accused of these crimes,” referring to the sexual assault allegations.

“You were making kind of a remarkable case against the Ukrainian people and certainly not in favor of Russia,” Carlson noted, to which Brand replied: “All we’ve essentially done is listen to brilliant academics talking about the history of NATO and the coup in 2014, in Ukraine, and Putin’s explicit declaration that he would prefer, let’s put it mildly, that Ukraine were not invited into NATO, the sum of the regional disputes, how they’re escalating tensions. This is information that, because of independent media, is available.

Brand was also attacked after Moderna ‘tracked his content’ during the pandemic, and thinks that we’re at a major inflection point for independent voices.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

As China Stocks Crash, Beijing Proposes Multi-Trillion Market Rescue Package

As China Stocks Crash, Beijing Proposes Multi-Trillion Market Rescue Package

Earlier today, we lamented the latest implosion in Chinese markets, which we discussed in “China Stocks Crash Through ‘Snowball Derivatives’ Trigger Levels Overnight“, in which we pointed out the unprecedented failure of the centrally-planned market to halt its collapse be it through short selling bans, or even the latest impotent intervention by the “National Team”, China’s Plunge Protection Team, which today failed to spark even a modest rebound in the relentless selling which had triggered key liquidation levels.

We then summarized just how badly Beijing had boxed itself, noting that “after short selling ban did nothing, China PPT stepped in… and couldn’t do jack. Beijing trapped.” We concluded that “either they watch liquidation cascade as snowball derivatives are knocked in sparking rout and leading to social unrest, or they stop talking and finally do something.”

Well, just a few hours later we were proven correct again, because shortly after China reopened on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that according to “people familiar with the matter, asking not to be identified” – i.e., government sources eager to do a market test, China is considering a package of measures to stabilize the plummeting stock market, after earlier attempts to restore investor confidence fell short and prompted Premier Li Qiang to call for “forceful” steps.

Specifically, Beijing is reportedly seeking to “mobilize” about 2 trillion yuan ($278 billion), mainly from the offshore accounts of Chinese state-owned enterprises, as part of a stabilization fund to buy shares onshore through the Hong Kong exchange link; it has also earmarked at least 300 billion yuan of local funds to invest in onshore shares through China Securities Finance Corp. or Central Huijin Investment Ltd.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

China’s Coal Production Hit a New Record High in 2023

China’s Coal Production Hit a New Record High in 2023

Higher power demand and efforts to boost energy security pushed China’s coal production to a record-high level in 2023, according to official statistics data published on Wednesday.

Chinese coal output rose by 2.9% year-over-year to 4.66 billion metric tons in 2023, per data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported by Reuters.

Coal imports also rose last year, as some domestic mining operations were suspended for some time in 2023 due to safety inspections and concerns.

Higher demand after the COVID restrictions were lifted and higher domestic coal prices led to record-high coal imports into China, which soared by 61.8% year-on-year to 474.42 million metric tons in 2023, data from the General Administration of Customs showed last week.

In the latter part of 2023, China ramped up coal and natural gas production, imports, and consumption as its electricity demand jumped in the second half and looks to hit a record-high winter peak demand.

Chinese authorities have been keen to avoid a repeat of the 2022 shortages and spiking prices and have instructed utilities and producers to maximize imports and output before the winter.

China continues to rely on coal and coal-fired power generation to meet its growing power demand, and despite being the world’s top investor in solar and wind capacity, it also plans a lot of new coal-fired electricity capacity.

During the first half of 2023 alone, China approved more than 50 GW of new coal power, Greenpeace said in a report this year. That’s more than it did in all of 2021, the environmental campaign group said.

China’s coal demand is expected to drop this year and plateau through 2026, and global demand is set to decline to 2026, “but China will have the last word,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its Coal 2023 annual report.

The outlook for coal in China will be significantly affected in the coming years by the pace of its clean energy deployment, weather conditions, and structural shifts in the Chinese economy, according to the agency.

What the “Rules Based International Order” Really Means

What the “Rules Based International Order” Really Means


This map, from Multipolarista, shows the US-centred Empire bloc of nations (in red) that subscribe to the US-invented Rules Based International Order. The countries in green do not recognize that order, and they continue to support de facto a UN-centred international system governed by international law.

There was a meeting a couple of years ago between the US and China where the two sides — pro-Empire and pro-Multipolarity — each used their own coded language to express what they had been conditioned, very differently, to believe to be in the best interests of world order and security. Clinton Fernandez, an Australian professor and former intelligence officer, recounts the event in his book Sub-Imperial Power:

AT A HIGH-LEVEL SUMMIT between the United States and China in March 2021, the US Secretary of State said he was ‘committed to leading with diplomacy to advance the interests of the United States and to strengthen the rules-based international order’. The director of China’s Foreign Affairs Commission countered by saying that China and the international community upheld ‘the United Nations–centred international system and the international order underpinned by international law, not what is advocated by a small number of countries of the so-called rules-based international order’.

China was essentially saying that the ‘rules-based international order’ was simply a euphemism for the will of the (US) Empire, and that China would fiercely oppose that Empire in favour of an ‘international order’ underpinned by international law (ie governed, at least ostensibly, in the interests of the people, not that of corporate wealth and power, and based on bilateral negotiations between autonomous nations, not the edicts of Empire).

This is perhaps the ultimate expression of the 21st century’s greatest “clash of ideologies”, one that could quite conceivably end in nuclear annihilation…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Writing’s on the Great Wall for a China Crash

The Writing’s on the Great Wall for a China Crash

As the economy continues to implode, capital flight rises.
As the saying goes, if you want to know what’s really going on, follow the money. That catchphrase doesn’t just apply to foreign companies and investors backing out of China. It also applies to the Chinese economy.A No-Confidence Vote

In the midst of widespread economic duress and growing social disruption, following the money trail shows how Chinese investors are voting with their wallets. Consumer spending is down, and the savings rate is up. Capital is flowing out of China any way it can, and it all amounts to a definite no-confidence vote for Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).The CCP Tries to Hide the Facts

In true CCP fashion, the state puts the blame for its failed policies on those who point them out. Anyone who mentions the crumbling economy, for example, is guilty of endangering financial stability. Even though the CCP would consider prosecuting journalists and economists who report accurately about the falling employment numbers and the high debt levels that plague local governments, China’s worsening economic conditions are too dramatic and widespread to hide.

Of course, financial stability isn’t threatened by people talking about it. It’s the CCP that’s destroying the economy. Even recent history shows that the less involved the Party is in the economy, the better it performs.

The property market and the development sector are perfect examples, although not the only ones. Both continue to be heavily manipulated by the CCP, and both are hemorrhaging value, as financial ruin in flagship companies such as Evergrande and Country Garden contribute to deteriorating conditions in the wider economy. Completed projects that remain unsold are being demolished, work on existing projects is being halted, and other development plans are being canceled, even as the development companies owe billions to creditors.…click on the above link to read the rest…

Israel A ‘Nuclear Wildcard’ On ‘Dangerous Road To Armageddon’: Macgregor

Israel A ‘Nuclear Wildcard’ On ‘Dangerous Road To Armageddon’: Macgregor

Tucker Carlson sat down with Col. Douglas Macgregor (ret.), who laid out a disturbing scenario in which the United States could quickly be pulled into a direct conflict with Iran, Russia and China over Israel’s anticipated response to the October 7 Hamas attack.

Carlson starts off highlighting Lindsey Graham, who vowed; “…if Hezbollah, which is a proxy of Iran, launches a massive attack on Israel, I consider that a threat to the… state of Israel, existential in nature. I will introduce a resolution [in] the United States Senate to allow military action by the United States in conjunction with Israel to knock Iran out of the Oil Business…”

Carlson then asks: “So what would war with Iran mean? Well, it’s hard to know because virtually no one who’s talking about it in public is operating from a deep interest in America’s interest. Is this good for us, or is it not?

If, as Sen. Graham suggests, we start bombing critical infrastructure in Iran, Macgregor warns “the destruction would be wholesale” as Iran would target “all the bases we have in Iraq and Syria – with around 1000 Americans – would be targeted… and this time accurately.

According to Macgregor, “The chosen destination” if we continue on this path, “is Armageddon,” and the implications (of which nobody seems to be considering) for the United States, Europe, and the Middle East are grave. For example, “just on the economic side, about 20% of the world’s oil passes through the Straits of Hormuz every month – probably 25% of liquefied natural gas, and you’re talking about shutting down 2 to three million barrels a day of oil from Iran. 

“You know this entire region is involved in the war. This is not an Iranian Monopoly by any stretch of the imagination,” he continued.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

De-Dollarization? China Completes First Digital Yuan Purchase For Cross-Border Oil Transaction

De-Dollarization? China Completes First Digital Yuan Purchase For Cross-Border Oil Transaction

De-dollarization continues accelerating with news of the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange (SHPGX), a Chinese-backed exchange for trading energy-related products, settling its first cross-border transaction in digital yuan.

Chinese-based financial news outlet “Yicai” first reported PetroChina International bought one million barrels of crude oil using digital yuan on Thursday. It was the exchange’s first overseas oil settlement in digital yuan. However, the name of the seller was not disclosed.

SHPGX has made several transactions in yuan earlier this year: In March, PetroChina and TotalEnergies completed a yuan-denominated liquefied natural gas transaction on the exchange. According to the exchange, four such LNG transactions have occurred this year.

China’s central bank began the digital yuan project in 2014 and has piloted the electronic currency in numerous regions across China. The world’s second-largest economy has been preparing to use the yuan and its digital version in international trade and finance as an alternative to the dollar.

In August, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called for BRICS nations to create a common currency as the world furiously searches for ways to circumvent the dollar-based financial system.

Brazil’s president said a BRICS currency “increases our payment options and reduces our vulnerabilities.”

The US shutting Russia out of the SWIFT messaging system that underpins most global payments in response to its invasion of Ukraine has supercharged the de-dollarization trend.

It remains to be seen who exactly PetroChina paid digital yuan for the crude oil, but it might not be out of the question that it was Russia, considering it’s been shut out of the SWIFT system, plus oil exports to China have hit a record high.

Xi, Putin Hail First BRICS Expansion In Over A Decade As Gulf Oil Powers Join

Xi, Putin Hail First BRICS Expansion In Over A Decade As Gulf Oil Powers Join

At a moment China and Russia have envisioned the future of BRICS as fundamentally an anti-Western bloc of developing nations, the Gulf oil powers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been formally invited to become members, which marks the bloc’s first expansion in over a decade.

“The membership will take effect from the first of January, 2024,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said, adding that additionally Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia and Iran will be added to the fold next year.

Brics pool photo, via NY Times

China’s President Xi Jinping hailed the rare expansion, beyond the current large economies of China, Russia, Brazil India, China and South Africa as “historic”. He said it will “inject new impetus into the BRICS cooperation mechanism and further strengthen the power of world peace and development.”

President Putin too congratulated the soon to be newest members, saying in a video message, “I would like to congratulate the new members who will work in a full-scale format next year.”

“And I would like to assure all our colleagues that we will continue the work that we started today on expanding the influence of BRICS in the world,” the Russian leader added. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also hailed the expansion which he said will strengthen the bloc.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s statement said, “the special, strategic relations with the BRICS nations promotes common principles, most importantly the firm belief in the principle of respect for sovereignty, independence and non-interference in internal affairs.”

He vowed in words before the BRICS conference on Thursday that the kingdom will be a “secure and reliable energy provider,” and noted that total bilateral trade between Riyadh and BRICS countries exceeded $160 billion in 2022, the Saudi foreign minister said.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Central Asia is the prime battlefield in the New Great Game

Central Asia is the prime battlefield in the New Great Game

So long as Russia and China remain the region’s dominant political and economic powers, the Central Asian heartland will remain a US and EU target for threats, bribes, and color revolutions.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Samarkand, Uzbekistan – The historical Heartland – or Central Eurasia – already is, and will continue to be, the prime battlefield in the New Great Game, fought between the United States and the China-Russia strategic partnership.

The original Great Game pitted the British and Russian empires in the late 19th century, and in fact, never got away: it just metastasized into the US-UK entente versus the USSR, and, subsequently, the US-EU versus Russia.

According to the Mackinder-designed geopolitical game conceptualized by imperial Britain back in 1904, The Heartland is the proverbial “pivot of History,” and its re-energized 21st century historical role is as relevant as in centuries ago: a key driver of emerging multipolarity.

So it’s no wonder all major powers are at work in the Heartland/Central Eurasia: China, Russia, US, EU, India, Iran, Turkiye, and to a lesser extent, Japan. Four out of five Central Asian “stans” are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO): Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. And some, like Kazakhstan, may soon become members of BRICS+.

Map of Central Asia

The key direct geopolitical clash for influence across the Heartland pits the US against Russia and China on myriad political, economic, and financial fronts.

The imperial modus operandi privileges – what else – threats and ultimatums. Only four months ago, US emissaries from the State Department, Treasury, and Office of Foreign Affairs Control (OFAC) toured the Heartland bearing a whole package of “gifts,” as in blatant or thinly disguised threats. The key message: if you “help” or even trade with Russia in any way, you will be slapped with secondary sanctions.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

 

Neocons Want War with China

It was a photo op for the ages: a visibly well-disposed President Xi Jinping receiving centenarian “old friend of China” Henry Kissinger in Beijing.

Mirroring meticulous Chinese attention to protocol, they met at Villa 5 of the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse – exactly where Kissinger first met in person with Zhou Enlai in 1971, preparing Nixon’s 1972 visit to China.

The Mr. Kissinger Goes to Beijing saga was an “unofficial”, individual attempt to try to mend increasingly fractious Sino-American relations. He was not representing the current American administration.

There’s the rub. Everyone involved in geopolitics is aware of the legendary Kissinger formulation: To be the US’s enemy is dangerous, to be the US’s friend is fatal. History abounds in examples, from Japan and South Korea to Germany, France and Ukraine.

As quite a few Chinese scholars privately argued, if reason is to be upheld, and “respecting the wisdom of this 100-years-old diplomat”, Xi and the Politburo should maintain the China-US relation as it is: “icy”.

After all, they reason, being the US’s enemy is dangerous but manageable for a Sovereign Civilizational State like China. So Beijing should keep “the honorable and less perilous status” of being a US enemy.

The World Through Washington’s Eyes

What’s really going on in the back rooms of the current American administration was not reflected by Kissinger’s high-profile peace initiative, but by an extremely combative Edward Luttwak.

Luttwak, 80, may not be as visibly influential as Kissinger, but as a behind the scenes strategist he’s been advising the Pentagon across the spectrum for over five decades. His book on Byzantine Empire strategy, for instance, heavily drawing on top Italian and British sources, is a classic.

Luttwak, a master of deception, reveals precious nuggets in terms of contextualizing current Washington moves. That starts with his assertion that the US – represented by the Biden combo – is itching to do a deal with Russia.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

China Snaps Up Record-High Volumes Of Russian Crude In The First Half Of 2023

China Snaps Up Record-High Volumes Of Russian Crude In The First Half Of 2023

  • In the first half of 2023, China imported 2.13 million barrels per day of Russian crude oil, making Russia its single biggest supplier.
  • In June, China once again imported record-breaking levels of Russian crude, a 44% increase compared to the same month in 2022.
  • Total Chinese oil imports are also soaring, with the country importing the second-highest monthly import figure on record in June.
Crude

Despite an apparent weakness in its economy, China is importing record volumes of oil and is buying record amounts of Russian crude to add to stockpiles.

During the first half of 2023, Chinese imports of Russian crude oil averaged 2.13 million barrels per day (bpd), which helped Russia oust its OPEC+ partner Saudi Arabia from the top spot as the single biggest supplier to the world’s top crude importer so far this year, per Financial Times estimates based on Chinese customs data. Imports from the world’s top crude oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, averaged 1.88 million bpd between January and June, according to FT’s calculations.

In June alone, China broke – for yet another month – the record for importing Russian crude oil, per data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs cited by Reuters. Chinese imports from Russia averaged 2.56 million bpd last month, a surge of 44% compared to the same month in 2022, the Chinese customs data showed.

The previous record, of 2.29 million bpd, was set in May as Chinese refiners continued to buy discounted Russian oil. The discounts for Russia’s crude narrowed relative to the benchmarks in June, but this didn’t stop China from boosting imports and breaking in June the record from May.

China’s imports from Saudi Arabia also rose in June, compared to May and June last year. But at 1.93 million bpd in June 2023, those imports still trailed behind the record-breaking Chinese crude oil imports from Russia.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Experts Warn Renewable Energy Creates ‘New Opportunities’ for Chinese Grid Attacks

Experts Warn Renewable Energy Creates ‘New Opportunities’ for Chinese Grid Attacks

America’s increasing reliance on intermittent power sources and batteries is creating novel risks, according to grid specialists who testified before Congress on July 18.

Many of the greatest among them emanate from a key geopolitical rival, China.

That’s partly because the new technologies frequently use inverters. When solar panels, wind turbines, and battery systems generate or store direct current electricity, inverters turn it into the alternating current electricity that flows through the grid.

Paul N. Stockton, a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, opened what he called a “rabbit hole” in response to a question on inverters during the House Energy & Commerce hearing.

“Do we have a satisfactory supply of inverters for all of the renewable energy that’s being brought into the grid?” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) asked Mr. Stockton, who also holds positions on subcommittees in the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.

“Manufacturers in China are important producers of inverters being deployed nationwide, across the United States,” Mr. Stockton responded.

He explained that the country’s reliance on Chinese inverters could jeopardize grid security.

“Sure, we’ve got inverters. Some of them are made in China. Others may be manufactured for final assembly in friendly nations, but they might have components—hardware, software, and firmware—that could provide attack vectors. And the constant updating of firmware from the cloud and by service providers—who’s on top of that for maintaining adequate security? Congressman, that’s an opportunity for progress,” Mr. Stockton said.

Solar Panels With Parts From China

The United States’ use of solar panels with parts from China that are assembled in Southeast Asia has been a source of controversy in this Congress. President Joe Biden vetoed a bill that would have ended his temporary pause on tariffs affecting those panels.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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