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Dragon Flies, Eagle Crashes at Geoeconomic Summits
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Four geoeconomic summits compressed in one week tell the story of where we stand in these supremely dystopian times.

The (virtual) signing of RCEP in Vietnam was followed by the equally virtual BRICS meeting hosted by Moscow, the APEC meeting hosted by Malaysia, and the G20 this past weekend hosted by Saudi Arabia.

Cynics have not failed to note the spectacular theater of the absurd of having the Top 20 – at least in theory – economies discussing what is arguably the turning point in the world-system linked to a beheading-friendly desert oil hacienda with a 7th century mentality.

The Riyadh declaration did its best to lift the somber planetary mood, vowing to deploy “all available policy tools” (no precise details) to contain Covid-19 and heroically “save” the global economy by “advancing” global pandemic preparedness, vaccine development and distribution – in tandem with debt relief – for the Global South.

Not a peep about The Great Reset – the Brave New World scheme concocted by Herr Schwab of Davos and fully supported by the IMF, Big Tech, transnational Big Capital interests and the oh so benign Prince Charles. Meanwhile, off the record, G20 sherpas moaned about the lack of real global governance and multiple attacks on multilateralism.

And not a peep as well about the real life vaccine war between the expensive Western candidates – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca – and the much cheaper Russia-China versions – Sputnik V and Sinovac.

What seems to be the case is that any agenda – sinister or otherwise – fits the one-size-fits-all vow by the G20 to provide “opportunities of the 21st century for all by empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers.”

The House of Xi

At the G20, President Xi Jinping did not waste the chance – after RCEP, BRICS and APEC – to once again emphasize China’s priorities: multilateralism, support for WTO reform, ample international cooperation on vaccine research and production.

But then, in tandem with reducing tariffs and facilitating the trade of crucial medical supplies, Xi proposed a global health QR code – a sound way to restore global travel and trade: “While containing the virus, we need to restore the secure and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains.”

Predictably, there were howls about neo-Orwellian intrusion, comparing the QR code with the exceptionally misunderstood Chinese credit system. Herr Schwab’s Great Reset in fact proposes something similar, with even more neo-Orwellian overtones, disguised under an innocent “Covid Pass” app, or highly secure “health passport”.

What Xi has proposed amounts to just a mutual recognition of health certificates, issued by different nations, based on nucleic acid tests. No gene altering vaccines coupled with nanochips. These QR codes, incorporated to health apps, are already used for domestic travel in China.

Chinese officials have made it very clear that Beijing has been working as the representative of the Global South inside the G20. That’s multilateralism in action. And the multilateralist drive extends from RCEP – signed between 15 nations – to the brilliant Sun Tzu maneuver of China now accepting even the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the successor of the Obama-promoted and Trump-detonated TPP.

This revival – a case of Make TPP Chinese Again – can be envisaged because Beijing not only has mastered how to contain Covid-19 but is also recovering in lightning speed. China will be the only major economy growing in 2020 – de facto leading the world to a tentative post-Covid paradigm.

What the APEC meeting made crystal clear is that with East Asia graphically hitting the economic limelight, as seen with RCEP, much vaunted US “leadership” inevitably diminishes.

APEC promoted a so-called Putrajaya Vision 2040, condensing an “open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful” Asia-Pacific all the way to 2040. That neatly ties in with the three accumulated five-year Chinese plans all the way to 2035, approved last month at the CCP plenum in Beijing.

The emphasis, once again, is on multilateralism and an open global economy.

Few are more capable to capture the moment than Professor Wang Yiwei at the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University, who wrote the best Chinese book on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Wang stresses how China is in a period of “strategic opportunity” and is now “the most powerful leader of globalization”. China’s emphasis on multilateralism will “activate the connectivity and vitality of a trade platform like RCEP”.

Stranger than fiction

Now compare all of the above with Trump at the G20 tweeting about the election dystopia and privileging golfing instead of discussing Covid-19 containment.

And then there’s

The Elements of the China Challenge, the new 74-page delusional epic concocted by the office of secretary Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo.

Diplomatic howls comparing it with the notorious George Kennan “long telegram” that codified the containment of the USSR in the Cold War are nonsense. Chinese Foreign Ministry reaction was more to the point: this was concocted by some “living fossils of the Cold War” and is doomed to end up “being consigned to the dustbin of history”.

President Xi Jinping, at RCEP, BRICS, APEC and the G20, concisely laid out the Chinese case: multilateralism, international cooperation on multiple fields, an open global economy, due representation of Global South’s interests.

As we wait for a set of imponderables all the way to January 20, 2021, perhaps an angular approach to what may lie ahead for the world economy is best offered by fiction.

Enter Billions, season 5, episode 2, dialogue written by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Axe: “You know they call us traders ‘gamblers’. The world’s economy is one big casino, fueled by a giant debt bubble and computer driven derivatives. And there’s only one thing better than being a gambler at a casino.”

Wags: “That’s being the house.”

ORDER IT NOW

Axe: “That’s right. There’s a systemized machine out there, sucking capital from localities and injecting it into the global markets, where it can be used to speculate and manipulate. And if something goes wrong there are bailouts and bail-ins, federal aid and easing. Where the government doesn’t hunt you down, but instead gives you a nice soft net to land in.”

Wags: “That’s your answer to the fireside chat: You want to become a bank.”

Axe: “I want to become a bank.”

Wags: “In order to rob it?”

Axe: “In order that I don’t have to.”

(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy • Tags: China, China/America, Free Trade 
The China/America Series
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  1. botazefa says:

    What Xi has proposed amounts to just a mutual recognition of health certificates, issued by different nations, based on nucleic acid tests. No gene altering vaccines coupled with nanochips. These QR codes, incorporated to health apps, are already used for domestic travel in China.

    Ahh, thank you. You are promoting China as the rational adult in the room. Nothing wrong with the communist regime. We should all follow their lead, right.

    Now I see clearly on which side your bread is buttered.

  2. @botazefa

    Ahh, thank you. You are promoting China as the rational adult in the room. Nothing wrong with the communist regime. We should all follow their lead, right.

    Right! So, now, sneering apart; let’s see you show us how the Chinese are NOT the rational adults in the room. Too late to follow their lead, that opportunity evaporated last Spring. If the West had followed their lead about 97% fewer people would have died, probably.
    https://eand.co/the-wests-failure-on-covid-is-even-more-staggering-than-you-think-77332f0cc5c2

    • Agree: Jack Bray
    • Replies: @Realist
  3. @botazefa

    All commenters who hark back to any 1950s crap, like this obvious moronic antiquated red-baiting is a troll.

    It’s a field mark.

  4. @botazefa

    Mossad has entered the chat room.

    • LOL: botazefa
  5. Biff says:

    May you live in interesting times, and the next five years alone are gonna be ground breaking. Will Washington fall from grace with dignity or continue with an even worse style of attack-dog-diplomacy?
    Will the neo-liberal West fragment from its’ invade/invite the world along with; saddle the paroles with debt denominated in dollars that are losing value.?

    And finally some people are starting to realize that western Democracy is not only phony as a three dollar bill(rigged from one end to the other), but in general it sucks as a governmental structure – think of the money, time, and resources wasted on personality contests. And I really mean FINALLY!!. I guess I’ll be the first to top the hill and yell out loud – “Democracy Sucks!”
    Meritocracy is the way to roll.

  6. Realist says:
    @foolisholdman

    Right! So, now, sneering apart; let’s see you show us how the Chinese are NOT the rational adults in the room. Too late to follow their lead, that opportunity evaporated last Spring. If the West had followed their lead about 97% fewer people would have died, probably.

    Yes, the Chinese have other areas they lead in…being essentially a monoracial country for one. But we are four hundred years too late for that one.

  7. Realist says:
    @Biff

    And finally some people are starting to realize that western Democracy is not only phony as a three dollar bill(rigged from one end to the other), but in general it sucks as a governmental structure – think of the money, time, and resources wasted on personality contests. And I really mean FINALLY!!. I guess I’ll be the first to top the hill and yell out loud – “Democracy Sucks!”
    Meritocracy is the way to roll.

    Excellent…yes Democracy Sucks and Meritocracy is the way to roll.

  8. @Biff

    The problem with Meritocracy, is that (((someone))) gets to decide what constitutes merit.
    Fifty years ago, companies had succession planning schemes usually aimed at employees who had demonstrated their ability and dediacation to the company. Now they use “head hunters” to find “the best candidate”. The “best candidate” “merits” the job, even though (s)he knows fuck all about the company. When the meritorious best candidate starts hiring and promoting, (s)he hires what (s)he sees in the mirror. After 5 years, the “best candidate” fucks off to screw up another company. That is what passes for meritocracy today.

  9. Biff says:
    @Curmudgeon

    What you need is a committee of previous selected appointees to select their overlord/boss .

  10. Although much more preferential to what goes on today, that doesn’t always work out either. The old succession planning model was designed to give several people the tools they would need in “no pressure” situations, so that in unforeseen circumstances, like long term illness or death, business could continue as usual. Of course, that meant the company had to show loyalty to the employees, and shareholder “rights” weren’t about asset stripping. Not allowed these days.

  11. Pepe Escobar snipes at Saudi Arabia as a

    beheading-friendly desert oil hacienda with a 7th century mentality

    And tho he is correct, it seems ‘multi-polar’ Pepe – as he pumps for the Eastern alliance of Russia, China and Iran – has much less to say about Iran’s even more brutal method of execution –

    In Iran it is typically slow-torture hanging, strangling whilst conscious at the end of a rope, without a long drop that might break the neck and put the victim into a coma

    Iranian hanging victims taking sometimes nearly an hour to die, especially the more petite women, who strangle for longer given the lower body weight … Hundreds killed each year like this, often in groups

    Beheading doesn’t look nice but it is one of the most merciful methods of death, a Belarus-style bullet back of the head being perhaps better … In the USA-Chinese lethal injections, it also sometimes takes nearly an hour to kill the victim, lots of needle-poking and so on

    And Iran continues to bury women alive up to their necks and throw rocks at their heads to kill them, plus flogging and amputation of fingers and hands … also Saudi practices, tho recently they did finally prohibit flogging

    Horrid, barbaric cultures … the USA too with its executions … 85% of world nations have ended all this stuff, now practiced by mostly Muslim nations but also USA, Japan, India, China, Belarus

    • Replies: @Anon
  12. @Biff

    “Will Washington fall from grace with dignity or continue with an even worse style of attack-dog-diplomacy?”

    Judging by the melodramatic speeches of Biden’s cabinet appointees – it will be the same purposes – just a different style. The talk of “values” and “freedom” in soft tones looking into the camera like they had coaching from a drama teacher… Then of course the “most powerful nation” – “greatest nation” and “God bless America”…. So basically the same regime change and military/economic coercion around the globe and more taxes to offer more INEFFICIENT social programs… So more debt more arguing and more discord… But the US won’t collapse… Just keep grinding the wheels..

  13. By nature I resist conspiracy theories because I am someone who likes proof. But when I listen to some of the dumb politicians talk about “as a result of Covid – we need diversification of the supply chain away from China to more trustworthy sources”- I can’t help but think that it was a bio weapon that attempted to stifle China – but failed and backfired. The reason being is that is completely stupid. As Escobar noted – China did the best of any major economy in holding itself together. It has shown that it’s economies of scale and logistical advantages can’t be matched by spreading out production all over the globe. That’s why industry went there in the first place. India can’t do it. ASEAN is firmly integrated into China’s supply chains and as RCEP notes and the further infrastructure projects show – that trend is only increasing – not decreasing (in spite of the Japanese government giving it a shot).

    When measured for scale in terms of the disease – only Vietnam and New Zealand did as well. So by what logic would Covid be an excuse for diversifying the supply chain out of China? That is just not logical sense.

    Of course that doesn’t mean that it really was a bio weapon… It could just be that politicians have no sense and are just governed by ideology.

    • Agree: Mary Marianne
    • Replies: @Notsofast
  14. @Curmudgeon

    Good points about companies nowadays. That’s why most of them get no loyalties from their own employees.

    As to meritocracy in China… Well it goes back centuries and centuries to Dynastic days. The Civil Service Exam used by many countries in the world came about when the British realized the Chinese Dynasties used one. But the difference is how rigorous they are. It’s similar with the rigor required to pass the universal university entrance exam that China has. The whole society is all about having the sharpest arrow in the bow. The communist revolution destroyed that ideal with the egalitarian folly that communism teaches everyone can be the same. After the Cultural Revolution – China realized that doesn’t work. So it got back to being competitive again. So the CPC is no longer communist. They still hold many socialist ethos – yes… But the structure of the government and the talent levels are in many ways closer to Dynastic China. The main difference being that because of the socialist part – they don’t exploit the poor like the old emperors. They really do believe in trying to take everyone out of poverty. The difference between western socialism is that the Chinese socialism requires hard work and diligence. Each person has the job of helping build the nation – rather than being able to suck from the society.

    Another example of such is now that they have to raise the retirement age in order for the pension system to remain solvent. The age is ridiculously low. That is a remnant of communist ideals. But it was also practical since life expectancy was low. The younger people don’t need as much convincing but the people about to retire now are not happy. But in this case – too bad… The country can’t afford it after 2035. My prediction is there will be protests – but nothing like what happened in some Europe countries or Brazil – said they needed to raise the retirement age. I think that is because there is meritocracy rather than political populism.

  15. Notsofast says:
    @showmethereal

    It was a bio weapon but it did exactly what the neocons that instigated it wanted. The blow back was intended to take out trump. In addition it covered up the impending collapse of the ponzi stock market and uberponzi derivatives market and wiped out half the small businesses. Trillions in a govt bailout and buying the assets of murdered businesses for pennies on the dollar. Billionaires made billions more, follow the money. None of this is coincidence.

  16. Anon[241] • Disclaimer says:
    @brabantian

    Can you please add few more gory details from your favorite nighttime childhood Halloween stories?

    American justice system is much worse than Saudi. Iran doesn’t do any of those .
    USA doesn’t slice up the bodies but the system makes sure that blacks get to fill up the prison,produce billions dollars worth of goods for the pay of daily wage laborers of Congo,get raped,bludgenoned to death,and don’t get to vote or get a job once released after serving months for drug possessions or trespassing or for disagreeing to the arrest or body search. People get shot at home for not opening the door in 30 seconds . 30 seconds are what the SWAT get to act on before breaking the door open. Drivers get shot for trying to show the registration or drivers license . Passenger gets punched on the face and smacked down on the ground for not knowing details about the driver .

    They are demonized as welfare queen while their overlords in DC , Silicon Valley,and Manhattan are praised as innovative hard working geniuses .

  17. @botazefa

    It does take an adult to recognize something better and have the drive to learn.

    And the funny part. What xi proposed was basically the same thing that was already proposed in the west with the covid pass. But you only focus on the us vs them part.

    You are why this country will get no where.

    • Agree: showmethereal
    • Replies: @botazefa
  18. @Curmudgeon

    The chinese version seems to be votes by colleagues and competitors in the same dept, official class or league. That is on top of their governing skill n result.

    That is their merit. It is not someone who decides.

  19. botazefa says:
    @Astuteobservor II

    But you only focus on the us vs them part.

    You are why this country will get no where.

    Do you see what you did there?

    I’m not the ‘us vs them’ type of person. My objection to the Chinese government cannot be reduced to such nonsense.

    People who project their own insecurities onto straw men are a large part of why the US is dysfunctional. Check yourself, bub.

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