As if there weren’t enough geopolitical stress points in the world to fill a lifetime of “sleepy, vacationy” Augusts, late on Friday night President Trump spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping and told him that he’s preparing to order an investigation into Chinese trade practices next week, according to NBC. Politico confirms that Trump is ready to launch a new trade crackdown on China next week, citing an administration official, a step that Trump delayed two weeks ago under the guidance of his new Chief of Staff Gen. Kelly, but now appears imminent. It is also an escalation which most analysts agree will launch a trade war between Washington and Beijing. As Politico details, Trump on Monday will call for an investigation into China over allegations that the nation violated U. S. intellectual property rights and forced technology transfers, the official said. While it’s unclear how much detail Trump will get into in the announcement, administration officials expect U. S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open an investigation against China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The ordering of the investigation will not immediately impose sanctions but could lead to steep tariffs on Chinese goods. Trump has expressed frustration in recent months over what he sees as China’s unfair trade policies. As we discussed two weeks ago, Trump had planned to launch the trade investigation more than a week ago, but he delayed the move in favor of securing China’s support for expanded U. N. sanctions against North Korea, the senior administration official said.
This post was published at Zero Hedge by Tyler Durden /Aug 12, 2017.
As part of the People’s Liberation Army’s 90th anniversary celebration – it was founded on August 1, 1927 – President Xi Jinping (in military fatigues) hosted a giant parade at the Zhurihe Training Center. *** Zhurihe – Zhurihe certainly has enough room to hold all the people and equipment for a parade with thousands of soldiers, hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles, and dozens of ICBMs. -Xinhua News Agency Here, PLA’s most elite forces demonstrated how far China has come in modern warfare. CCTV broadcast the session, which means a domestic and global audience of millions saw the army’s showcase of tanks, stealth fighters, artillery, and ICBMs.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 8, 2017.
Winnie the Pooh has been censored on Chinese social media, thanks to the comparisons on memes between the communist country’s president, Xi Jinping, and the cartoon bear. The first time Winnie the Pooh grabbed the attention of the communist party’s censorship in China was in 2013 when memes compared the characters in the cartoon to former president Barack Obama, and Xi Jinping. Censorship has proven to be an effective propaganda arm of totalitarian regimes, but it isn’t limited to China. Left-leaning media in the United States has even claimed recently that ‘alt-right memes’ will be the downfall of democracy.
If there was any confusion whether in addition to Moscow, Beijing was also behind Assad, today all doubts were laid to rest when both Russia and China called on all involved parties “to support the efforts of the OPCW and the United Nations in investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria,” according to a joint statement by Russian and Chinese leaders on the current international situation posted on Kremlin website on Tuesday, following a meeting between Putin and China’s president Xi Jinping. “The sides emphasize that in matters of chemical weapons in Syria, all parties, with respect to Syrian sovereignty, must support the efforts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] and relevant UN structures to conduct an independent and comprehensive investigation in order to obtain irrefutable evidence, establish genuine circumstances and draw conclusions that are capable of withstanding the verification by facts and time.” Additionally, in the document Russia and China both “strongly condemn any use of chemical weapons anywhere and by anyone.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 4, 2017.
Ahead of this week’s G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Donald Trump called the leaders of China and Japan to discuss the “threat posed by North Korea’, along with trade issues, the White House said on Sunday. Trump spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose LDP had just suffered a devastating loss in the Tokyo Assembly elections, and according to the White House read out, “both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula” adding that “President Trump reiterated his determination to seek more balanced trade relations with America’s trading partners.” The terse statement did not provide further details of the call or say if Trump managed to persuade Xi to endorse his approach of exerting maximum pressure on North Korea, including a slew of further economic and trade sanctions. According to Reuters, the call may have been prompted by Trump increasing frustration with China’s inability to rein in North Korea, and the reference to trade was an indication the president may be ready to return to his tougher-talking ways on business with Beijing after holding back in hopes it would put more pressure on Pyongyang. Trump and Xi discussed the “peace and stability of the Korean peninsula”, China’s Foreign Ministry said, without elaborating.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 3, 2017.
Trump’s “up and down” relationship with China may be on the precipice of taking a sharp dive into the proverbial abyss. After frequently threatening to label China a “currency manipulator” on the campaign trail last year, Trump’s relationship with China’s President Xi Jinping took a decided turn for the better after a meeting at Mar-a-Lago in which China vowed to help address the “menace of North Korea” . I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U. S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 1, 2017.
One day after the US announced it would sell $1.42 billion in weapons to China’s offshore nemesis Taiwan, Beijing lashed out at the United States, saying it was “outraged” and demanded the US revoke immediately its “wrong decision”, saying it contradicted a “consensus” President Xi Jinping reached with his counterpart, Donald Trump, in talks in April in Florida. The proposed U. S. package for Taiwan includes technical support for early warning radar, high speed anti-radiation missiles, torpedoes and missile components. The sales would send a very wrong message to “Taiwan independence” forces, China’s embassy in Washington said in a statement. A U. S. State Department spokeswoman said on Thursday the administration had told Congress of seven proposed sales to Taiwan, the first under the Trump administration. “The Chinese government and Chinese people have every right to be outraged,” the embassy said. Besides token bluster, however, this time China also warned that Trump’s action was counter to the agreement reached with Xi in Palm Beach, suggesting retaliation will likely be imminent. “The wrong move of the U. S. side runs counter to the consensus reached by the two presidents in and the positive development momentum of the China-U. S. relationship,” the embassy said. This was the second major diplomatic escalation between the US and China in just the past 24 hours, with the US announcing late yesterday the first sanction imposed on Chinese entities for ties with North Korea, a move which likewise was slammed by the Chinese press.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 30, 2017.
Ahead of next week’s G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, chancellor Merkel had some fiery words about her two least favorite topics: Donald Trump and Brexit. In a speech to lawmakers in Germany’s lower house of parliament on Thursday, Merkel said that ‘the world has become less united’ and acknowledged that discussions at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg on July 7-8 ‘will be very difficult.’ Quoted by Bloomberg, Merkel said that ‘the discord is obvious and it would be dishonest to paper over the conflict.”
The unexpectedly confrontational posture comes as Germany is set to host world leaders including President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who are expected to hold their first head-to-head meeting in Hamburg, although the details have not yet been ironed out. Also present will be China’s Xi Jinping and Merkel’s nemesis, Turkey’s president Erdogan, with the meeting taking place “amid a global shake-up that threatens much of the international order on issues established since World War II. On the agenda for the meeting are free trade, climate change and migration.” If recent G-20 summits are any indication, next week’s meeting is likely to end in confusion and even more fingerpointing, with little in terms of consensus and even shorter communiques. Aware of the upcoming dissensus, to use a word coined by Deutsche Bank, Merkel took a swipe at Trump’s ‘America First’ rhetoric, saying that nations turning to isolation and protectionism are making a serious mistake and showcased a renewed ‘spirit of unity’ in the European Union after the U. K. decision to exit.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 29, 2017.
Based on the principle that transformative world events are not random, but are in fact predictable, Stratfor develops decade, annual and quarterly forecasts. These forecasts are built upon Stratfor’s geopolitical methodology, our framework for identifying and forecasting the fundamental trends shaping the international system. Below are the global trends highlighted in Stratfor’s forecast for the third-quarter of 2017. The complete forecast is available at Stratfor Worldview. The US Exits Stage Left? When world leaders gather in Germany for the approaching G-20 summit, they will no doubt make a slew of assertions – some alarmist, others justified – about a US retreat from the global stage. Talk of leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping stepping in to fill the void and uphold global governance on major issues such as free trade, climate change, and security can be expected. But there is an underlying reality to that narrative that should be kept in mind. Simply put, those hoping to fill the United States’ shoes in leading the world still have their own existential threats to contend with at home. Germany and France are buying valuable time with their electorates to try to repair the European Union and make an example of the United Kingdom’s departure, but the bloc’s members still have vastly different visions of what European integration should look like and how nationalism might fit in. China, meanwhile, is not a globalist power with a model of governance to offer the world; it is a fiercely nationalist power with global clout, caught between the compulsion to operate as a market economy and the imperative to centralize political power under the ruling Communist Party. None of these countries come close to matching the US military footprint or the country’s ability to shoulder the burden that comes with superpower status.
China’s Belt and Road Forum, hosted with great fanfare, signals the priority of this flagship connectivity initiative while also underlining its credentials as the new ‘shaper’ of global trends and norms. Exhorting all countries to participate, Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested that ‘what we hope to create is a big family of harmonious co-existence.’ But India, an emerging economy that shares a contested border with China, worries about containment and new pathways for aggression from Pakistan. Other nations wonder if hegemonistic designs are hidden behind the rationality of connectivity and trade. The policy initiative aims to enhance China’s centrality in the global economic unilateral approach in how the project is conceived and implemented so far belies the rhetoric of multilateralism emanating from Beijing. Taking inspiration from the ancient Silk Road trading route, China’s One Belt One Road initiative, or OBOR, hopes to link more than 65 countries, encompassing up to 40 percent of global GDP. Xi’s signature foreign paradigm – linking China to Asia, Europe and Africa via an ambitious network of ports, roads, rail and other infrastructure projects. Beginning in China’s Fujian province, the projected Maritime Silk Route passes through the Malacca Strait to the Indian Ocean, moving along the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, ending in Venice.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 25, 2017.
A tectonic geopolitical shift happened in Astana, Kazakhstan, only a few days ago, and yet barely a ripple registered in Atlanticist circles. At the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded in 2001, both India and Pakistan were admitted as full members, alongside Russia, China and four Central Asian ‘stans’ (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan). So now the SCO not only qualifies as the largest political organization – by area and population – in the world; it also unites four nuclear powers. The G-7 is irrelevant, as the latest summit in Taormina made it clear. The real action now, apart from the G-20, also lays in this alternative G-8. Permanently derided in the West for a decade and a half as a mere talk shop, the SCO, slowly but surely, keeps advancing a set up that Chinese President Xi Jinping qualifies, in a subdued manner, as ‘a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation.’ That’s the least one can say when you have China, India and Pakistan in the same group.
A sinkhole just opened in front of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate THE ORB DEMANDS SACRIFICE — Oliver Willis (@owillis) May 22, 2017
A sinkhole has just appeared right in front of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. This appeared to have happened while he was visiting the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and social media responded much like when he touched the glowing orb. Trump has spent numerous weekends at the Mar-a-Lago resort since taking office. He’s even hosted world leaders such as China’s Xi Jinping and Japan’s Shinzo Abe and has played several rounds of golf there. Twitter users quickly mocked the news of the sinkhole and even though it’s now been two days since it appeared, the jokes continue to be funny. The sinkhole was definitely a coincidence, but this thanks to social media, it conjured up images of heavenly forces sending clear signs to humanity that something is seriously wrong at the moment. As if we didn’t know that humanity was doomed, social media made the connection for us between the sinkhole and Trump’s visit to Israel. And it’s almost as funny as when he set off an internet firestorm by touching a glowing orb in Saudi Arabia.
The Russia-China strategic partnership, uniting the Pentagon’s avowed top two “existential” threats to America, does not come with a formal treaty signed with pomp, circumstance – and a military parade. Enveloped in layers of subtle sophistication, there’s no way to know the deeper terms Beijing and Moscow have agreed upon behind those innumerable Putin-Xi Jinping high-level meetings. Diplomats, off the record, occasionally let it slip there may have been a coded message delivered to NATO to the effect that if one of the strategic members is seriously harassed – be it in Ukraine or in the South China Sea – NATO will have to deal with both. For now, let’s concentrate on two instances of how the partnership works in practice, and why Washington is clueless on how to deal with it.
France, and the European “populist wave”, may be fixed for now, but geopolitical concerns remain as was made clear last night when during a phone call late on Sunday between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump, the North Korean neighbor called for all sides to “exercise restraint” as Japan conducted exercises with a U. S. aircraft carrier strike group headed for Korean waters. China, which has repeatedly called for the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula, is “increasingly worried” the situation could spin out of control, leading to war and a chaotic collapse of North Korea, something we cautioned over two months ago. Xi told Trump on the phone that China resolutely opposed any actions that ran counter to U. N. Security Council resolutions, the Chinese foreign ministry said quoted by Reuters. China “hopes that all relevant sides exercise restraint, and avoid doing anything to worsen the tense situation on the peninsula”, the ministry said in a statement, paraphrasing Xi. The nuclear issue could only be resolved quickly with all relevant countries pulling in the same direction, and China was willing to work with all parties, including the United States, to ensure peace, Xi said. A potential risk catalyst is just hours away: North Korea prepares to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army on Tuesday. It has marked similar events in the past with nuclear tests or missile launches.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 24, 2017.
After what may have been the worst day in Sean Spicer’s PR career as White House press secretary, when he first suggested Adolf Hitler was better than Syria’s Assad because he did not use chemical gas, then quickly followed up by saying that Trump was seeking to “destabilize” the Middle East, on Wednesday Spicer said he let President Trump down, and apologized for his comments. Spicer said his remark, which he said was meant to shame Syrian leader Bashar Assad for a deadly gas attack, distracted from Trump’s decision to respond with a cruise missile strike and his successful meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. “I made a mistake. There’s no other way to say it. I got into a topic that I shouldn’t have and I screwed up,” Spicer said during an event at a museum in Washington. “I hope I showed that I understand that I did that and that sought people’s forgiveness because I screwed up.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 12, 2017.
With Syria down, it’s now North Korea’s turn. According to NBC News, the National Security Council has presented the suddenly ragingly bellicose President Trump with several options to respond to North Korea’s nuclear program: put American nukes in South Korea or kill dictator Kim Jong-un. The scenarios were prepared in advance of Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week. The White House has expressed hopes the Chinese will do more to influence Pyongyang through diplomacy and enhanced sanctions, but if that fails, and North Korea continues its development of nuclear weapons, there are other options on the table that would significantly alter U. S. policy. While Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U. S. Strategic Command, maintained on Wednesday that “any solution to the North Korea problem has to involve China” a senior intel official told NBC he doubted U. S. and China could find a diplomatic solution to the crisis. “We have 20 years of diplomacy and sanctions under our belt that has failed to stop the North Korean program,” said the official involved in the review. “I’m not advocating pre-emptive war, nor do I think that the deployment of nuclear weapons buys more for us than it costs,” but he stressed that the U. S. was dealing with a “war today” situation. The “nuclear” option would mark the first overseas nuclear deployment since the end of the Cold War, a move that would promptly provoke global condemnation, not least of all by China. It was not immediately clear if South Korea’s regime – in turmoil recently following the recent impeachment and arrest of ex-president Park – had been consulted with the proposed strategy. The U. S. withdrew all nuclear weapons from South Korea 25 years ago.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 7, 2017.
The United States has opted to send a message to the Syrian government that it will not tolerate chemical weapons attacks. Washington launched approximately 50-70 precision-guided missiles April 6 at the Shayrat air base. The base, located southeast of Homs city, houses the two squadrons of Syria’s Su-22 ground attack aircraft that carried out the April 4 attack in northern Syria – an attack that killed at least 88 civilians. US President Donald Trump said the targeted strikes were in the “vital national security interest” of the United States. He gave the statement at Mar-a-Lago, where he is meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later said in a statement that Russia failed in its 2013 promise to dispose of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons, saying that Moscow was either incompetent or complicit. Syrian state media responded to the US strikes, called them an act of aggression.
Shortly after he concluded his dinner with Xi Jinping at Mar-A-Lago, Trump authorized the airstrike against Syria in which at least 60 cruise missiles were launched, and delivered the following brief statement: My fellow Americans, on Tuesday Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians. using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many, even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror. Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 6, 2017.
With Trump set for his most important meeting with a foreign leader tomorrow,, when he will meet China’s president Xi Jinping at Mar-A-Lago, Goldman’s Alec Philips lays out the agenda for what to expect and key deliverables from tomorrow’s meeting. Markets are focused on the meeting this Thursday and Friday between US President Trump and Chinese President Xi, which stands as a key event in a vital global bilateral relationship–between the two countries that represent the world’s two largest economies and two largest militaries. The meeting will mark the start of a new US-China dialogue but, in our view, the probability of significant breakthroughs seems low in light of the still-evolving nature of the Trump Administration’s policy toward China and the limited amount of interaction to date. Indeed, comments from senior officials at a White House press briefing held yesterday described it as an “introductory meeting” and an opportunity to “set a framework for discussions on trade and investment”, and indicated that “President Trump really views this meeting as a first step”. President Trump has signaled a desire to fundamentally shift aspects of the relationship, particularly regarding economic and trade-related issues. Chinese policy has become increasingly assertive, both economically and geopolitically, but in light of upcoming leadership changes ahead of this autumn’s 19th Party Congress, President Xi is apt to be keen to preserve aspects of the status quo and avoid disruptive changes.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 5, 2017.
US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet April 6 – 7 at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Most meetings between world leaders are relatively unimportant. This meeting is an exception, not because of whatever agreements or statements will emerge, but because of what it reveals about the current needs of the political administration of the world’s two largest economies. The issue of unfair Chinese trade practices was a recurrent theme in Trump’s campaign, and Trump needs to show his base that he can deliver on some of his promises. Xi wants to avoid straining US-China relations because he needs stability at home ahead of the Communist Party’s National Congress at the end of the year. While the US and China do not see eye to eye on many issues, they share a need for stability in the broad relationship right now. The four graphics below represent some of the fundamentals of this relationship.