Russian defense minister: Uncertainty, tension in world affairs push Moscow & Beijing together – By RT

Chinese and Russian flag

© Vitaly Ankov / Sputnik

Russia and China are rigorously improving strategic ties to be better prepared for the challenges of today’s world, as the US resorts to deception, hybrid wars, and controlled chaos, the Russian defense minister said.

In a frank interview with Italian magazine Il Giornale, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu explained Russia’s strategy of keeping friends and deterring foes, and explained why Moscow has every reason to remain vigilant towards the US and its allies.

Russia & China: Strength through friendship

“There’s no doubt, tensions in world affairs gave boost to strengthening Russia-China ties built upon mutual respect and trust,”Shoigu told the Italian magazine. Both powers enjoy lasting strategic relations, and their militaries jointly hone their combat skills in naval and air defense drills.

Meanwhile, military ties between Moscow and Beijing are not limited to joint war games and political dialogue. In April, China sent its top-tier delegation to the 7th Moscow Conference on International Security to demonstrate the unity of the Russian and Chinese militaries.

Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, who led the delegation, said they went there “to let the Americans know about close ties between the Russian and Chinese armed forces.”

Prior to Wei’s visit, state-run Chinese newspaper the Global Times published an editorial titled “Western pressure brings China and Russia closer.” The report quoted analysts who believe that the current international environment – including the anti-Russia hysteria in the West and the US-China trade war – will only strengthen the Moscow-Beijing alliance.

Shoigu, who has served as defense minister for over six years, emphasized that Sino-Russian military activities are “purely defensive in nature” and have nothing in common with those of NATO and the EU. “Our military-to-military ties aren’t targeting other countries or alliances, only contributing to global and regional security.”

US prone to hybrid wars, backs ‘wildest ideologies’ & spreads ‘controlled chaos’

Further into the interview, Shoigu accused Washington of pushing a “neocolonialism strategy” which the Americans tested in Iraq and Libya. To spread “controlled chaos,” the US backs “even the wildest ideologies to weaken legitimate governments.”

Dismissing Western allegations of “hybrid wars” being waged by Moscow, he said such warfare is known since time immemorial. It was the hybrid warfare that helped Britain defeat the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Shoigu recalled, asking, “who doesn’t know the adventures of Lawrence of Arabia?”

To succeed in a hybrid war, one needs to have “global and all-embracing media,” dominate in IT and telecoms, control the world financial system, and employ Special Forces in other countries. “Who else, except for the US and Great Britain, has such a potential?” the Defense Minister said.

Washington has widely utilized hybrid warfare in Yugoslavia, Libya, Chechnya, and, most recently, Syria, Shoigu maintained. According to him, the sequence continued when a Western-backed coup struck Ukraine in February 2014, where “nationalist fighters trained on American and European money” removed the legitimate president from power.

Allegations that Russia is instigating a “hybrid war” began emerging in US and British media after similar subversive actions failed in Crimea, Shoigu underlined.

While the US seems reluctant to mend ties with Russia, Moscow is keen to keep the door for the dialogue open. “Though I work as Defense Minister, I am convinced every issue can be and should be solved without resorting to military power,”Shoigu stressed.

Comment: See also: Outcome of Western pressure brings Russia and China closer

 
 
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As Trump and Xi Wage Trade Roar, Kim Sees Both Sides of His Bread Buttered – By Elliott Gabriel – (MINT PRESS)

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, hosts North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Dalian, China in this undated photo released on May, 9 2018 by KCNA.
How Not to Win a Trade War

 

Donald Trump has backed himself into a corner with his tariff-imposed trade war with China, undercutting the most important lynchpin of peace with North Korea.

BEIJING – Tremendous; great, incredible and tremendous; very historic, and very, very comprehensive. Such were the terms U.S. President Donald Trump used to praise last Tuesday’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and he was far from alone in welcoming what appeared to be a major breakthrough in burying the memory of nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.

A week later, Chinese President Xi Jinping also hailed the “positive” outcome of the meeting as he welcomed Kim to Beijing for a two-day trip, the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea chairman’s third visit to the Chinese capital in only three months.  

The Chinese leader has plenty of reason to hail the unfolding peace process, as it represents the triumph of the dual suspension or “double freeze” proposal China offered last year, which prescribed an end to the DPRK’s weapons’ tests in exchange for an end to U.S.-South Korea war games.

The process is also lifting the shroud of diplomatic and financial pressure from Beijing’s shoulders when dealing with its counterparts in Pyongyang, who are counting on China’s diplomatic and technical reinforcement as it introduces further market reforms and seeks reintegration with the global economy.

According to Chinese press reports, the two held a candid and in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations while agreeing to work closely together to further deepen ties, including joint efforts to denuclearize the peninsula.

“No matter the changes in the international and regional situation, China’s party and government’s resolute position on being dedicated to consolidating and developing Sino-North Korea relations will not change,” Chinese reports quoted Xi as saying.

The DPRK will require China’s assistance to ensure that the U.S. remains committed to fulfilling the security guarantees it gave to the country, rather than veering toward the so-called “Libya option” of disarming Pyongyang before proceeding to violently topple Kim.

While U.S.-DPRK negotiations have progressed at a stunning breakneck pace, they have also coincided with increasing strains in relations between Beijing and Washington, especially over the trade war Trump has launched against China.

 

Trade war heats up

As Chinese newspapers have brimmed over with quotes of officials hailing Trump’s U-turn on the Korean nuclear issue, the same media has spared no effort piling derision on the U.S. president’s successive introduction of tariffs on Chinese goods.

Just last week, Washington announced the introduction of a 25 percent tariff on up to $50 billion of Chinese goods, provoking Beijing’s retaliation in the form of its own tariffs on U.S. products. China’s reaction resulted in Trump demanding that the U.S. Trade Representative’s office compile a new list of $200 billion in goods that would be subject to a 10-percent tariff. The reality TV star noted that if China follows through on its threat to levy retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, the U.S. would introduce duties on yet another $200 billion in trade.

A giant TV screen broadcasting the meeting of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, June 19, 2018. Andy Wong | AP

China has reacted furiously to what it sees as a blatant attempt at strong-arming it into accepting unfair trade terms, promising strong countermeasures to Trump’s “intimidation.” On Tuesday, a Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman noted:

Such practice of imposing extreme pressure and blackmailing is contrary to the consensus the two sides have reached through rounds of consultations, and disappoints the international community …The trade war waged by the United States is against both the law of the market and the development trend of today’s world. It undermines the interests of both Chinese and American people, the interests of companies and the interests of the people all over the world.”

The backdrop of fierce trade negotiations bordering on an all-out trade war between the two major powers may have led to the DPRK finding itself in the crosshairs of love-bombing attempts by both Washington and Beijing.

For the famously shrewd U.S. president, the prospect of disrupting the Chinese relationship with North Korea may be seen as a means of depriving China of leverage in trade talks. The former real-estate mogul may well believe that loud promises of glistening timeshares along Mount Paektu and Ritz Carlton hotels along the country’s east coast will entice Kim to drop his nukes and join the U.S. fold.

 

China-DPRK relations supported by the weight of modern history

Meanwhile, Beijing has pulled out all stops in feting Kim during his visits, which acclimates global public opinion to the idea that “Chairman Kim” isn’t some horrific dictator who should be treated as a pariah unless the U.S. says otherwise – no, he’s just the head of state in a nation seeking development.

In the meantime, the Communist Party of China and Workers’ Party of Korea have promoted a range of exchanges meant to promote the “all-round” fraternal relations and “mutually beneficial” alliance between the historically-intertwined organizations, whose ties date back to the 1930s, when first-generation leaders of their respective parties like Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, fought as comrades-in-arms as guerilla fighters versus the Japanese.

For the DPRK leadership, which spent the Cold War practicing a policy of equidistance between its mutually-opposed allies the Soviet Union and China, the position is comfortable and allows Kim to enjoy the benefits of amicable relations with both powers.

Reports have also emerged detailing how Chinese firms producing goods for the DPRK are resuming operations while North Korean laborers are being hired by clothing manufacturers in China, a sign that sanctions on the North are increasingly being shrugged off despite Washington’s unmet conditions for their relief.

“Although it seems there is a booming romance between Kim Jong-un and Trump, Kim understands the hierarchy. He knows that Xi is the Asian Godfather,” said Yanmei Xie, a China policy analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics, an economic research firm in Beijing. “[Kim] is making a pragmatic calculation that China can provide economic assistance to integrate North Korea diplomatically and economically into Northeast Asia.”

Now, with Xi’s go-ahead, the trade between the two countries could skyrocket in a manner that wipes away the foul taste of existing sanctions faced by Pyongyang, drastically undercutting Trump’s option of renewing the U.S.’s hostile policies toward a non-compliant DPRK.

Either way, war and pain are fast fading as prospects for the people of the Korean peninsula.

Top Photo | Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, hosts North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Dalian, China in this undated photo released on May, 9 2018 by KCNA.

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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Over 70 Syrian tribal leaders form coalition to expel illegal US and French forces from Syria – By SPUTNIK

syrian tribal leaders coalition june 2018

The tribal leaders announced the formation of a popular resistance unit that will fight alongside the Syrian Arab Army in a bid to liberate all Syrian lands and all foreign forces in Syria.

The presence of US troops in Syria is escalating tensions between government forces and the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with some politicians and Syrian Army officers accusing the SDF of serving as “puppets” for the US and other western powers.

In excess of 70 Syrian tribal leaders met in the Aleppo Governorate, specifically the city of Deir Hafer, over the weekend to discuss plans and coordinate with one another to remove US forces from Syria, Al-Masdar News reported on Sunday.

Via a joint statement, the tribes, which are predominately Sunni Muslims, announced the formation of a coalition to oust US and French military personnel from Syria, in addition to liberating territory held by the SDF, provided Damascus is unable to negotiate a reconciliation deal with them.

#حسين_مرتضى The Syrian clans announce the formation of resistance factions to confront the American, French and Turkish occupation.
The tribesmen also reportedly discussed the prospect of fighting Turkish forces in northwestern Syria.

The different tribes hail from various parts of Syria which are currently occupied by US-backed forces, including the oil-rich provinces of Deir ez-Zor and al-Hasakah.

Although there’s been some low-level, sporadic clashes and attacks on SDF bases in northern Syria in recent months, particularly in the Raqqa Governorate, where the Popular Resistance of Raqqa (PRoR) operates, we are yet to see the[m] launch a widescale, continuous anti-SDF operation, by either the Syrian Army or local militiamen.

However, in a recent interview with RT, President Bashar al-Assad warned that a widescale anti-SDF offensive would be launched if negotiations fail.

In the meantime, the Syrian Army is mobilizing and deploying forces to southern Syria ahead of a major offensive in the Deraa government, where militants control a large chunk of territory, including parts of the provincial capital.

Last Friday, a military source confirmed to Sputnik reporter Suliman Mulhem that Hezbollah troops and other Iran-backed militiamen won’t be involved in the offensive, likely as part of an acceptable compromise reached with Israel via Russian mediators.

Comment: See also:

Chinese general warns Mattis against making ‘irresponsible claims & interfering in internal affairs’ – By RT

Chinese general warns Mattis against making ‘irresponsible claims & interfering in internal affairs’
A Chinese general has defended South China Sea deployments and policy, slamming “irresponsible” comments and interference in internal affairs by US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who accused Beijing of intimidating its neighbors.

“Any irresponsible comments from other countries cannot be accepted,” Lieutenant General He Lei said at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, after Mattis promised to “vigorously” compete and confront Beijing’s growing influence in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

“We see any other country that tries to make noise about this as interfering in our internal affairs,” General He added.

The US has, for years, agitated China by claiming a “freedom of navigation,” sailing its warships and conducting flights near the disputed areas of the South China Sea. To reinforce its territorial claims, Beijing has been building artificial islands and deploying military infrastructure on the Paracels, as well as on the Spratly Islands.

“China’s policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness our strategy promises, it calls into question China’s broader goals,” the US Defense Secretary claimed on Friday, accusing Beijing of “intimidation and coercion.”

General He, who is deputy president at the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Science, made it clear that all the islands in question are “part of China’s territories,” noting that China has historical records proving its claim.

“It is undeniable that… there are soldiers that are stationed there and there are weapons that are deployed there. It is a symbol of China’s sovereignty,” the officer said. “The weapons have been deployed for national defense.”

The general also slammed Washington’s abuse of the freedom of navigation principle, noting that it is the “true root of the militarization of the South China Sea.”

“It is those that are shouting about ‘the militarization of the South China Sea’ who are militarizing the South China Sea,” He added. US military patrols and fly-bys “jeopardize China’s security and challenges China’s sovereignty,” the general explained.

The Chinese officer also slammed Washington’s pursuit of closer ties with Taiwan, which Beijing views as the violation of the One-China Policy. After Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act (HR 535) to extend ties between Washington and Taipei “at all levels,” Mattis, in his speech in Singapore, noted that the US commitment is to “provide articles and services needed for its self-defense.” Taipei has expressed interest in American M1A2 Abrams tanks, to serve as the island’s last line of defense against a hypothetical intervention by Beijing.

New ‘hottest flashpoint’? Taiwan mulls buying US Abrams tanks to counter China

Beijing will never allow a third country “separate any piece of Chinese territory from China at any time in any form,” General He said. “The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has the determination, confidence and ability to safeguard China’s sovereignty, security, unity and development interest.”

Noting that the country’s armed forces are able and ready to defend all of its territorial claims, disputed or not, including those in the East China Sea, He expressed hope that all of the governments and militaries involved “act in a manner that preserves regional and global peace.”

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Opinion: How China deals with an unpredictable US president Opinions CGTN

2018-05-30 13:37 GMT+8

Editor’s note: The article is translated from an editorial piece originally published in the Wechat official account of Bullpiano.

On Tuesday, the White House has announced a 25 percent tariff on 50 billion US dollars of Chinese goods in steps to reduce a deficit of 337 billion US dollars in trade with China. In a prompt response, the Ministry of Commerce of China issued a statement, appealing to the US to respect the agreement they reached a few weeks ago.

As the second largest economy in the world, menacing threats do not work well on China, as the last three months of trade disputes with the US has demonstrated.

When President Trump announced that the US would impose tariffs on products imported from China, China didn’t surrender but responded by placing tariffs on American agricultural products. The consequence of both the US and Chinese tariffs would be that the farmers in the Midwest would actually suffer the most.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a member of the US trade delegation to China, returns to a hotel in Beijing, on May 3, 2018./VCG Photo 

Since a large base of President Trump’s supporters are in that region, China’s counterattack struck a blow to President Trump’s core interests. China’s response forced the US to rethink its recklessness about starting a trade war with China.

The US had to admit that menacing threats doesn’t work well on China.

It was China’s counterattack that pulled both sides back to the negotiating table where they reached an agreement to stop the trade disputes.

The trade dispute between China and the US will also have a bad effect on the world economy. If the US doesn’t respect its agreement with China, it will not only be harmful to China’s interests, but it will also damage the interests of Americans, and will have a negative influence on other countries’ economies.

China shouldn’t be afraid of the US, but rather hold its tough stance. Although China is unwilling to start a trade war with the US, China does not fear a possible war, because US’ trade policies are not in line with global interests, which means it wouldn’t gain the support of people across the world.

In addition, given President Trump’s hallmark of being unpredictable, particularly when it comes to his policies, China should prepare a “plan B” just in case any agreements between China and the US breakdown. In other words, it’s necessary for China to take all potential situations into consideration in its policy-making process.

Gao Feng, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce of China was answering the questions about US’ sanction on ZTE in Beijing on April 19, 2018./VCG Photo

President Trump seems to be the most changeable leaders in the world now. His frequent policy changes are partly rooted in his personality, but are more connected to America’s two-party system. It is the Democrats’ pressure and criticism that has forced him to change his policies regularly.

The summit with Kim Jong Un, the leader of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), for example, is a good case for his changeable policies. Originally he announced to the world that he will meet Kim in Singapore in June. However, he canceled the summit just after a few weeks later, giving very unconvincing reasons. Being unpredictable has been the main tactic Trump employed to deal with his domestic critics and international opponents. He changes his polices regularly and frequently for the sake of his own interests.

As a successful businessman with an estimated four billion US dollar’s personal property empire, Trump always manages to maximize his profits when he is doing business. Likewise, he draws inspiration from his business career when he makes policy. Wilbur Ross, the current US Secretary of Commerce will visit China for the purpose of discussing the trade issue. Trump’s changeable policy could be seen as a tactic to gain an advantage in the next series of negotiations with China.

China however has seen through President Trump. In the statement published by the Ministry of Commerce in China, Beijing described the US policy as a “Strategic Statement”, which implies that it is pointless but just a strategy of the White House for the purpose of gaining an edge in the negotiations with China through exerting pressures. By using the rhetoric of being confident, being capable, and being experienced, Beijing has effectively warned Washington: “Never play tricks with me! I’ve discerned your motive!”

China doesn’t want to play silly games with the US, because it will definitely have adverse effects on the whole world. In the statement, China offers the best solution to the issue – cooperation. China appeals to the US to respect the agreement which was reached by both sides. Only by cooperation can both sides reap mutual benefits.

US hysteria over Chinese military ‘expansion’ shows ‘corporate coup d’état is complete’ – Lee Camp – By RT

US hysteria over Chinese military ‘expansion’ shows ‘corporate coup d’état is complete’ – Lee Camp
Watching Congress clutch their pearls over China’s new – and only – overseas military base is the only proof you need that America’s elected officials are bought and paid for by corporations and arms dealers, says RT’s Lee Camp.

In the latest installment of ‘Redacted Tonight,’ host Camp tore into a recent US House Intelligence Committee hearing on “China’s worldwide military expansion,” which bravely exposed the “growing threat” of China’s ability to project power abroad.

The hours-long hand-wringing was an “open hearing,” or as Camp explained: When “our super shady, super bought-off Congress opens their doors to pretend as if they are open and transparent to the nation.”

Camp was particularly unimpressed by Rep. Adam Schiff’s performance. The California Democrat pointed to China’s new (and only) overseas military base – in Djibouti, Africa – as an example of the growing worldwide Chinese menace.

“We fear for our dwindling military and economic empire in a world that is growing beyond it, so we have to build up the scary specter of China, with their one military base around the world. Sure it’s only one base, but it’s around the world!” Camp commented.

Noting that US defense spending is still five times larger than China’s, and that the US military has hundreds of overseas bases, Camp concluded: “The corporate coup d’état is complete – these stooges in this video that I just showed you, they’re just a show. They’re just a little performance. And they’re not even a very fascinating one, either. Put on a f*cking top hat or something, Adam Schiff.”

Watch the full episode:

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Washington’s Antics in the South China Sea Seek to Provoke Beijing to Military Response – By Brian CLOUGHLEY ( Strategic Culture Foundation)

Washington’s Antics in the South China Sea Seek to Provoke Beijing to Military Response

The US media network CNBC reported on May 1 that China has installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on three of its islands in the South China Sea. It was fed the information by US intelligence agencies, or, as, CNBC coyly put it “sources with direct knowledge of US intelligence reports.” In other words it was a deliberate leak in order to ramp up anti-China sentiment internationally while providing an opportunity for the US Administration to put its oar in the water.

The White House promptly commented that “We’re well aware of China’s militarization of the South China Sea. We’ve raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this and there will be near-term and long-term consequences.” This statement was made four days after “US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers flew a training mission over the South China Sea” as ”part of the US Air Force’s routine ‘Continuous Bomber Presence’ in the region.”

The Pentagon’s “Continuous Bomber Presence” is focused on the South China Sea, which is 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles) from the eastern coast of mainland America.  What would Washington say if China maintained a “Continuous Bomber Presence” off the west coast of the United States?  Or if Russia had a “Continuous Bomber Presence” in the Caribbean?

According to the Pentagon, “since 2004, Air Force bombers such as the B-1, the B-52 and the B-2 Spirit have been in continuous rotations, providing nonstop stability and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region… They provide a significant rapid global strike capability that enables readiness and commitment to deterrence…”  It is stated bluntly that the United States sends nuclear-capable bombing aircraft to fly round China’s coastline in order to demonstrate its “global strike capability.”

It was therefore no surprise when China stated on May 18 that “a division of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force recently organised multiple bombers such as the H-6K to conduct take-off and landing training on islands and reefs in the South China Sea in order to improve our ability to reach all territory, conduct strikes at any time and strike in all directions.”

Further, China has given priority to developing air defence systems, and has installed HQ-9 missiles in and around the South China Sea.  These travel at four times the speed of sound and can destroy aircraft at a height of 27 kilometres, or some 90,000 feet, and the nuclear-capable B-52s and all the other US bomber and electronic warfare aircraft that trail their coats around China may one day witness (briefly) its capabilities being demonstrated.

Washington’s justification for the Pentagon’s aerial forays and equally frequent naval manoeuvres in and around the South China Sea is that they are intended to exercise the principle of “freedom of navigation.” According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), such freedom “is exercised under the conditions laid down by this Convention and by other rules of international law.”  The main factor to be considered in this context is that, as pointed out by the Voice of America, “the US has not accepted UNCLOS because of opposition from Republicans in the Senate.”  It has yet to ratify the Treaty whose statutes are accepted by 161 other countries. (China ratified it in 1996.)  

Yet the United States considers it has the right to quote the Convention as justification for its aggressive aerial and naval operations in and around a vast stretch of water through which enormous numbers of merchant vessels pass every year, totally unmolested. There has not been a single instance of Chinese interference with the passage of a commercial ship through the Sea, and it is not expected that there ever will be such an intervention.  But US combat aircraft and ships continue to challenge China in the region. 

It is not unusual for the United States to refuse to accept the legality and purpose of an international accord and then criticise or even penalise others for allegedly transgressing, ignoring or otherwise failing to abide by the accord’s intentions and stipulations.

In addition to Washington’s refusal to ratify the Convention on the Law of the Sea, it rejects a host of other international treaties, not least being jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which is responsible for investigating allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The National Security Adviser to President Trump, John Bolton, made his opposition to the ICC clear by writing that the United States should welcome the opportunity to “strangle the ICC in its cradle” or “tell the ICC that “you are dead to us. Sincerely, the United States.” No administration in Washington will ever consider placing any citizen at risk of prosecution by an international authority for an alleged criminal act, no matter its gravity or provability.

There is small wonder, therefore, that the Pentagon’s policy on the South China Sea rests more on practising its “global strike capability” than on seeking to promote international trust and understanding.

China’s sovereignty over several islands in the South China Sea is contested by some of the countries in the region, but this has nothing to do with the United States, which has not the remotest claim to any of them, nor the slightest justification for becoming involved. There is nothing in the UN Charter that specifies any right on the part of the United States to take unilateral action to enforce observance of the conditions of an international accord. 

But this does not prevent Washington from confrontational meddling in the South China Sea (and elsewhere around the world), as evidenced by its policy on Freedom of Navigation which “consists of a two-pronged complementary strategy to maintain the global mobility of US forces and unimpeded commerce by protesting and challenging attempts by coastal States to unlawfully restrict access to the seas.”  The Pentagon is responsible for “operational challenges against excessive maritime claims.” 

“Excessive,” that is, in the eyes of Washington, which has not ratified the Convention on the Law of the Sea, yet declares it “will exercise and assert its rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea on a worldwide basis in a manner that is consistent with the balance of interests reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.” President Obama had it right when he said “We can’t try to resolve problems in the South China Sea when we have refused to make sure that the Law of the Sea Convention is ratified by our United States Senate.”

Washington’s confrontational antics are not in accordance with international law and serve no purpose other than to provoke China to respond with military action.  There are rocks ahead in the South China Sea. 

On sixth Friday of Gaza protests, Israeli snipers shoot 70, but kill none – By Ahmad Kabariti ( Mondoweiss )

Israel/Palestine

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“You! the one with the red T-shirt that has just insulted me, as a the son of a bitch. I promise to respond to you. We are ready for everything.” An Israeli soldier says by loudspeaker to the young men demonstrating in the weekly march on the Gaza border.

But the soldier’s threat did not compel hundreds of young men who’d gathered close to the fence between Gaza and Israel to step back, despite the intensity of tear gas canisters fired by soldiers towards the masked protesters, as well as the heat of the day, reaching 35 degrees Celsius (104 F) east of the town of Khuza’a in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

“Give the one-finger salute, guys! ” One of the protesters cheered. And the protesters did so, responding to the threats of the soldier, who characterized them by shirt color, saying: “You the yellow T-shirt guy! I heard you and saw you when you insulted me, ​​I have no problem shooting you as I did during the past Fridays.”

Palestinians in Gaza held their sixth Friday rally as part of the Great March of Return. The protests commemorate the “Nakba,” or Catastrophe, the displacement of Palestinians from lands that would become Israel in 1948. On Friday demonstrators highlighted the plight of Palestinian workers and the unemployed in a demonstration labeled “Friday of Workers.”

Beginning in the morning, protesters brought tires to within 500 yards of the border, preparing to set fire to them and roll them toward the fence, and use them as a smokescreen to counter Israeli snipers behind the sandy hills.

The slingshot is the only ‘weapon’ of some demonstrators. Their small stones rarely reach beyond the fence, though slingshots managed to knock down two Israeli drones, causing them to crash in the sky of Khuza’a.

At least 70 Palestinians were injured by Israeli live fire Friday, the lowest casualty toll since the protests began. Medics also treated 1,073 people, for tear gas inhalation, the Gaza health ministry said.

The protests were backed by “logistical support” from women who had prepared large bags of croissants filled with thyme, cheese and spinach, to be distributed free to demonstrators. “I woke up early in the morning to prepare 300 croissants,” Fatima Dalloul, 44, told Mondoweiss.

Fatima, a mother of 8 children, prepared her fast food packages with her neighbors in the Abasan neighborhood. “The majority of these young people are poor and need to feel that their mothers support their weekly mobilizing. While it is true that we are concerned that youths might be killed, we must support them and their right to return to stolen lands.”

Since the first protest March 30, 44 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,700 injured by Israeli fire. Friday marked the first weekly protest in which no Palestinian were reported killed by sunset.

One protester, Abdullah Al-Mughrabi, 39, came with his family and held a poster asserting the right of return. “I have nothing to lose,” he said. “The whole world must know our right to return.” Abdullah’s origins are the city of Jaffa, which his grandfather was forced to abandon in 1948.

“Seventy years of disaster is enough for us,” Abdullah added. “The siege treats us like animals in a stockyard without rights. Even a poor Somali can get medical treatment, travel and free trade. But we are not pirates, we are a people deprived of our rights, with the consent of the United Nations.”

Crowds were smaller today’s afternoon than in previous weeks, with Gazans saying they predict a large rally on May 14th, when the U.S will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The U.S. move angered Palestinian leaders, who have refused to talk to the Trump administration, accusing it of pro-Israel bias. Israel’s government celebrated the U.S. decision, saying it recognized the “reality” that Jerusalem was the historic capital of the Jewish people.

In the “Malaka” area of protests, on the border 19 miles north of Khuza’a, demonstrators celebrated the arrival of Mahmoud Abu Araza, who was born in 1953, five years after his parents were displaced from al-Majdal, now called Ashkelon. He said he had stopped caring about the fog of teargas that did not fade away for all seven hours of protest.

“All these hundreds of young men are my sons, and I will not leave them until they return to Ashkelon, Jaffa and Jerusalem,” Abu Araza, a grandfather of 45 children, told Mondoweiss.

He asked, “Are the Palestinians to be forced to live in misery throughout their lives due to the last occupation in the world?”

The whole world is living in freedom, compared to Palestine, he said. “I think that slavery still exists as long as Israel breathes.. I have never seen a happy day in my life because of Israel,” Abu Araza said.

About Ahmad Kabariti

Ahmad Kabariti is a freelance journalist based in Gaza.

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Financial Experts: US Will Fail to Undermine China-South America Free Trade Deal – By SPUTNIK

A US 100-dollar banknote with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin and Chinese 100-yuan banknotes with portrait of late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong are seen in the picture illustration in Beijing, China

© REUTERS / Jason Lee
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Financial experts discussed with Sputnik remarks by Argentine Ambassador to China Diego Ramiro Guelar, who said recently that talks about a possible free-trade deal between China and South America’s major economies could start as early as next year.

Following the Summit of the Americas held in Lima, Peru, earlier in April, the ambassador said that China’s investments were essential for Argentina, which is struggling to reform its isolated economy and regain access to the international capital market.

“China is as important as the US and sometimes it is more important than the US,” Guelar told the South China Morning Post, adding that “the Americans might be worried because they used to think that they would be hegemonic in the region.”

Financial experts told Sputnik that while the Latin American Market apparently seeks to strengthen economic ties with China and it is very likely that the free-trade deal will be reached, the US will certainly hinder the negotiations, pile political pressure on certain countries and try to unravel regional organizations.

Bian Yongzu, a researcher with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the People’s University of China, told Sputnik that the beginning of free trade zone negotiations between China, Argentina and other South American states has been greatly anticipated.

READ MORE: Pentagon Chief Pushes to Waive Sanctions for US Allies That Buy Russian S-400s

“In recent years, trade and economic cooperation between [these parties] has been tightening. The project is predetermined by the structure and interrelatedness of the region’s economic paradigms,” the expert said.

He explained that China, for instance, has invested in the extraction of mineral resources, infrastructure and agriculture of South America. In its turn, South America exports minerals and agricultural products to China; and the volume of trade between the regions has been consistently growing.

“On the other hand, South America has traditionally been the United States’ backyard. [The US] interferes in South America’s politics and economy, sanctioning some of the region’s states at every given opportunity,” Bian said. “Meanwhile, China’s economic clout in the world has been growing, which allows South American nations to consider other ways of cooperation on development.”

“All indications are that China’s development provides South America with a chance to solidify its positions in dialogue with the US. It is safe to say that negotiations between China and South America on a free-trade zone are exigencies of modern times,” the expert said.

Bian cautioned that the US may still try to slow the process down with a demonstration of power, but in the end it cannot do anything to stop the growing trend away from American dominance of the region, given the numerous and growing alternatives.

READ MORE: Grab the Popcorn: Trump Promises to ‘Take On’ EU in New Trade War

Alexander Kharlamenko, an expert from Russia’s Institute of Latin America, told Sputnik that China has long and successfully been developing relations with Cuba, Venezuela and some of the other countries in the region, and these countries will have to deal with political blows aimed at disrupting the unity of Latin America.

The expert suggested that the US will likely continue to pressure some of the region’s right-wing governments, seeking to undermine the system of regional organizations, including MERCOSUR [Southern Common Market].

“China will counter with its economic power,” the expert said. “It obviously seeks to avoid an open politicization of relations with countries in this region, securing normal relations and economic cooperation even amid regime changes.”

“China will rely upon its traditional flexibility, the policy of non-interference in internal affairs, supporting the independence of states in the region. That is a traditional Chinese policy to counter hegemonism,” Kharlamenko concluded.    

The Inexorability of De-Dollarization – By John Harrison – Brave new World (SPUTNIK)

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The Inexorability of De-Dollarization

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De-dollarization is something that is actually happening. In this program we discuss the time frame of probably the most significant international process taking place in the global economy.

Paul Goncharoff, an American businessman in Moscow joins the program.

Paul says that re-linkage of fiat currencies to assets is inevitable. “The US dollar is the default global default currency. What has happened, I guess since the Vietnam war, is that with increasing insistence the US has utilized the dollar, I guess the word used now is ‘weaponized it,’ to a certain degree. This was a behavior modification or tool, for want of a better expression, to guide those countries using the dollar as a clearinghouse mechanism to go one way or another in terms of their international foreign policy. This has put pressure on a lot of countries, making them go down roads that they would have preferred not to go down.”

Countries can be forced to trade in US dollars: “This is the inequity of the situation and what gives rise to the idea of an alternative currency; something that has an asset backing — be it gold, or be it a basket of assets — which is something that was talked about 10 years ago… Today, the direction the dollar’s position in the world gives it the largess to enable it to run up these incredible debts, and that finances a global presence.” Individual countries can of course switch from the US dollar when trading in something like oil, but may choose not to do so, because they weigh what they can gain from keeping in favor with the US in terms of grants, support or whatever in return for what they will gain from trading their products in local currencies. “What has happened, taking this one step forward, is that the new Shanghai oil yuan contracts, which just began on March the 26th, have an interesting twist. There is an agreement with the Shanghai gold exchange and the Dubai gold exchange that that those yuan realized on the oil contracts can be converted to physical gold, in one kilo bars, and these can technically be transferred to wherever the customer is. More likely than not the gold will never leave the warranted warehouses in Dubai, or Shanghai, but there is the marker, it’s a gold priced marker, not a dollar priced marker.” In a way, who controls the currency controls everything. Paul comments that in the end of the day, is the most important thing.

Paul thinks that some concrete measures are being taken at the present time to introduce a gold backed currency/ies. “I believe that there is something afoot, whether it is a gold backed currency or some sort of major change in how the currencies are aligned to assets. My guess is that something of a currency basket may be agreed upon. That basket would be what is regionally traded — energy, gold, silver, maybe something else, but instead of having faith in the system alone, this will be backed by something that is real.”

To a certain extent, de-dollarization is already happening. Paul explains: “Iran, because of sanctions does not use the dollar to trade its oil, but it does use the Euro. China today is the largest buyer of oil, and uses the Yuan; they will not buy in dollars. Russia sells its oil to China in Yuan.” All of this does not mean, however, that the dollar is going to disappear. “This is a very complex issue, but the trend in any event is for the devaluation of the dollar over time. It jumps, fits and starts, and we won’t see the dollar disappear in this decade or over the next decade, but the primacy and the unipolar aspect of the dollar will change, it has to change. Others will not get any progress on this planet. You will find countries, even in the back yard of America, such as Venezuela, which is also the bête noire currently of the area, is not currently trading its oil for dollars. There are many countries that will join in to the de-dollarization process.”

It is unlikely that America will simply sit back and watch as the world continues with de-dollarization, although to suggest that preventing this may be behind invasions of certain countries is opening oneself up to the accusation of being a controversy theorist… Paul comments: “It is not in America’s interest to give up on the dollar. How can we [otherwise] afford our deficits? Now it’s over 21 trillion! It boggles the mind.”

Paul does not predict how many years it will be until we see the end of the supremacy of the US dollar; however he does give a hint: “In a predictable scheme of things, I see 10, 20 years.” 10 or 20 years is actually a very short period of time says host John Harrison. “Even then, the dollar will not disappear; it will always be a strong player, but not the only player. That actually in the long run is to the benefit of Americans…” America does not seem to be preparing for this however. Paul comments: “The party goes on until something happens. In markets, as in governments, until something really bites you painfully, you would rather not pay attention to it. It will go away by itself. That’s the way markets work… Consider Kodak, a very famous company for decades, it carried on as nothing happened [with film], until they just collapsed, until they just imploded. That happens often enough on the historical drawing board.”

We’d love to get your feedback at radio@sputniknews.com

 

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