Category: Kings of the East

VOSTOK 2018: Russia And China Hold Largest-Ever War Games That Has NATO Wondering What They’re Really Preparing For

The drills, which also include Mongolian soldiers, have been condemned by NATO as a rehearsal for “large-scale conflict”. The military exercises come at a time of escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over accusations of Russian interference in western affairs and conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

 

by Geoffrey Grider September 11, 2018

Russia launched Tuesday what it called its largest ever military drills, with hundreds of thousands of troops taking part along with Chinese soldiers in a show of force NATO condemned as a rehearsal for “large-scale conflict.”

War games are part of the battle readiness plans that all industrialized nations need to have to maintain their peace and security. But the unprecedented and aggressive war games that kicked off this morning between Russia and China has NATO and the United States wondering exactly what the two nations are really preparing for. NATO is accusing Russia of preparing for ‘large scale conflict’ that would be of thier own making.

From a biblical perspective, this much mutual cooperation between two of the ‘heaviest hitter’ nations in the in scripture should absolutely be raising some red flags.

“Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:” Ezekiel 39:1 (KJV)

FROM YAHOO NEWS: President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the games after hosting an economic forum in Russia’s far eastern city Vladivostok where his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping is one of the prominent guests.

The week-long war games dubbed “Vostok-2018″(East-2018) “have kicked off” in far eastern Russia, the defence ministry said. Taking part in the drills are around 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 80 ships and 1,000 aircraft, helicopters and drones.

Some 3,500 Chinese troops will take part in the games.

The defence ministry released video footage of military vehicles, planes, helicopters and ships getting into position for the initial stage of the drills. Putin praised Russia’s increasingly close ties with China as he met with Xi at the economic forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday.

“We have trustworthy ties in political, security and defence spheres,” the Russian leader said. Xi for his part said the two countries’ “friendship is getting stronger all the time.”

The drills, which also include Mongolian soldiers, have been condemned by NATO as a rehearsal for “large-scale conflict”. The military exercises come at a time of escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over accusations of Russian interference in western affairs and conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

The Russian army has compared the show of force to the USSR’s 1981 war games that saw between 100,000 and 150,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers take part in “Zapad-81” (West-81) — the largest military exercises of the Soviet era.

But Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said these exercises are even larger.

“Imagine 36,000 military vehicles moving at the same time: tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles — and all of this, of course, in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible,” Shoigu said.

The exercises will be held across nine training ranges and three seas: the Sea of Japan, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.

The Russian army is rolling out all of its latest additions for the event: Iskander missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, T-80 and T-90 tanks and its recent Su-34 and Su-35 fighter planes. At sea, the Russian fleet is deploying several frigates equipped with Kalibr missiles that have been used in Syria.

Wednesday will see games featuring anti-aircraft technology, while the main event will be on Thursday, the defence ministry told journalists covering the event in eastern Siberia and the Far East.

NATO said that Vostok-2018 “demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict”.

“It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time — a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defence budget and its military presence,” the alliance’s spokesman Dylan White said late August.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed such concerns on Tuesday

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9377

Chinese officials burn bibles, close churches, force Christian to denounce faith amid ‘escalating’ crackdown

By Lukas Mikelionis | Fox News

In this Tuesday, March 27, 2018, photo, Catholic religious paintings and figures are displayed behind bars at an underground Catholic church in Jiexi county in south China’s Guangdong province. A group that monitors Christianity in China says the government is ratcheting up a crackdown on congregations in Beijing and several Chinese provinces, destroying crosses, burning Bibles and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The Chinese government is destroying cross, burning bibles, closing churches and forcing Christian believers to sign papers renouncing their faith as the crackdown on religious congregations in Beijing and several provinces intensifies.

The suppression of religious freedoms comes as an official government campaign to “Sinicize” religion by demanding loyalty to the atheist Communist party and removing any potential challenge to the party’s power in the country.

“The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief,” Bob Fu of China Aid, said.

“The situation for Chinese #Christians becomes more dire by the day. We are working tirelessly to put maximum pressure on China stop the persecution,” Jay Sekulow, President Trump attorney and Chief Counsel at the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), wrote in a tweet.

The persecution of Christians in China is nothing new. A report by the watchdog group Freedom House found that Christians and other religious groups in China have been persecuted since 2012, Fox News reported.

A third of all religious believers in China who belong to a faith group were also found to face “high” to “very high” levels of persecution, which ranges from bureaucratic harassment and economic exploitation to harsh prison terms and even violence, the report said.

But experts and activists say the Chinese government is now waging the most severe suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedoms were granted by the Chinese constitution in 1982.

The escalating anti-Christian campaign coincides with President Xi Jinping recent consolidation of power that made him the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, the notorious communist leader responsible for millions of deaths.

Activists reportedly filmed footage of what appeared to be piles of burning bibles and forms declaring that the signatories had rejected their faith. The authorities allegedly forced the believers to sign the forms or risk being expelled from school or loosing welfare benefits.

A Christian Pastor in the Henan city of Nanyang, whose name was identified out of fear of retaliation by the authorities, reportedly confirmed that crosses, bibles and furniture were burned during a raid on his church on Sept. 5. He added that local authorities were in discussions with the church about reforming it, but no agreement had been reached.

According to Chinese laws, religious believers are allowed to worship only in government-sanctioned congregations. But many millions of Christians belong to underground or house churches that ignore government regulations.

Officials reportedly disputed the allegations raised by Christians, saying authorities respect religious freedom.

The anti-religion campaign affected not only Christian denominations. Around 1 million Uighurs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the country’s northwest have been detained in indoctrination camps where they are forced to denounce Islam and profess loyalty to the Communist Party.

The Chinese government denied setting up the camps for indoctrination, but stressed the importance to tackle extremism.

China has an around 38 million Protestants, and some have predicted that the country will have the world’s largest Christian population in a few decades.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9375

Naval experts concerned over China’s increasing presence in Mediterranean

The workshop held at the University of Haifa studied and assessed the issues concerning the future and character of maritime warfare in the region as well as various strategic developments.

By Anna Ahronheim

August 23, 2018 15:28

Israeli navy patrol vessels take part in a drill simulating the targeting of an infiltrated enemy vessel and the evacuation of a patrol boat, in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Ashdod, southern Israel November 8, 2016.. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

The increasing presence of China in the Mediterranean region as part of the Asian giant’s Belt and Road Initiative should be a cause of concern, experts told The Jerusalem Post this week.

“What concerns us is China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its growing role in Israel’s maritime domain, especially the operating of Haifa port,” Rear Admiral (Ret.) Prof. Shaul Chorev told the Post during a two-day workshop held by the University of Haifa-Hudson Institute Consortium on the Eastern Mediterranean (Hudson Institute and the Haifa Research Center for Maritime Policy and Strategy).

Under President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Action Plan released in 2015, China’s “new Silk Road” will connect Beijing with 68 countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe via land routes (the “Belt”) and maritime routes (the “Road”) with the goal of improving trade relationships primarily through infrastructure investments.

According to a report by the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), a leading German think tank, the Chinese workers building the network of infrastructure developments as part of the multi-billion dollar initiative are secured by 3,200 Chinese – many of them veterans of China’s People’s Liberation Army – employed by 20 registered private security companies.

These security companies operate in places like Sudan, Pakistan and Iraq, where the risk of kidnapping or attacks against Chinese workers is high due to political unrest.

In Israel, China has invested in major infrastructure projects including the expansion of Haifa and Ashdod ports, the construction of the Mount Carmel tunnels in Haifa, and the building of the Tel Aviv light rail. Elsewhere in the Middle East, including Turkey, various Gulf emirates and Iran – which is China’s top trading partner – Beijing has similarly been active in building infrastructure projects.

According to Admiral (res.) Gary Roughead, who served as the 29th Chief of Naval Operations and Commander of the United States Fleet Forces Command, the ability to collect information by civilian systems from military systems should be of concern to both Israel and the United States.

“In a world in which so much depends on how information moves, the types of systems we are using and the ability to collect information and intelligence from those systems is of significant concern,” warned Roughhead, who today teaches at the University of Haifa-Hudson Institute Consortium on the Eastern Mediterranean, and is the Robert and Marion Oster Distinguished Military Fellow at the Hoover Institute, an American public policy think tank and research institution located at Stanford University in California.

“It’s not just someone listening in, but what is the technology being used in commercial systems which can bleed into military systems. How vulnerable are they to interference? It’s not something that just Israel and the Port of Haifa should be concerned about. What is being tested on an Israeli warship and how easily can those signals be picked up? What are the mechanisms in place to prevent that?”

The workshop, held at the University of Haifa, assessed the future of maritime warfare in the region as well as various strategic developments. The workshop also examined ways in which Israel and the United States can cooperate in the maritime domain.
According to Douglas Feith, director at the Center for National Security Strategies at the Hudson Institute, some civilian cyber-defense technology used for commercial purposes “are the top of the line that militaries should adapt and use for their own purposes.”

Ties and trade between Israel and China have increased dramatically in the past few years. According to data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, exports to China reached $2.8 billion in the first half of 2018, a 73% increase compared to the previous year.

While visiting Beijing in 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said China accounts for one-third of the investment in Israel’s high-tech sector.

The Belt and Road initiative, Feith added, must be looked at from various perspectives.

“If you are going to look at phenomena like this initiative, you should look at it from all points of view,” he said. “Most militaries use civilian technology, and that’s one reason why the Chinese favor economic activities like expanding ports. These are not only commercial, but commercial with military implications.”

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9342

China issues six warnings to US plane flying over disputed territory: ‘LEAVE IMMEDIATELY’

CHINA’s armed forces told a US Navy reconnaissance plane to “leave immediately” on six separates occasions today during a tense flight over the South China Sea. By Joshua Nevett / Published 10th August 2018

China warn US Navy for flying past South China Sea islands

The P-8A Poseidon jet was flying close to disputed territory over the South China Sea when the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) issued the series of alarming warnings.

Flying at an altitude of 16,500ft, the P-8A swooped within view of a number of artificial military islands constructed by the Chinese military in the hotly contested sea.

A CNN journalist was aboard the P-8A plane, dubbed the “submarine killer”, when it flew past four major artificial islands apparently stockpiled with military structures, buildings and aircraft.

As the Poseidon passed by the Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson Reef and Mischief Reef, the PLA told the US Navy crew to withdraw from the area six times.

“US military aircraft, this is China … leave immediately and keep out to avoid any misunderstanding,” a representative of the PLA said.

On each occasion, the US Navy crew aboard the plane refused to obey their orders.

In response, the US Navy crew said: “I am a sovereign immune United States naval aircraft conducting lawful military activities beyond the national airspace of any coastal state.

“In exercising these rights as guaranteed by international law, I am operating with due regard for the rights and duties of all states.”

GETTY

ARTIFICIAL: A construction within the Fiery Cross Reef located in the South China Sea

“Leave immediately and keep out”

Chinese military

China and several neighbouring countries have been locked in a bitter and long-running dispute over who controls territories in the South China Sea, a region rich in natural resources.

Beijing has claims over most of the territories, but the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim they have a stake in the region.

Beijing claims the waters by right, despite a UN ruling in 2016 deciding the disputed region does not belong to China.

As a result, China has been claiming unoccupied land on reefs and shoals to build de-facto military outposts to intimidate rivals with competing claims.

“It was surprising to see airports in the middle of the ocean,” said Lt. Lauren Callen, who was leading the air combat crew aboard the Navy flight.

The Pentagon is weighing a more assertive programme of so-called freedom-of-navigation operations close to Chinese installations on disputed reefs to counter its expansion.

Chinese foreign ministry officials have claimed the US is “running amok” in the region.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “By playing up the so-called China’s militarisation in the South China Sea, certain people in the US are staging a farce of a thief crying ‘stop thief’.

“It is self-evident to a keener eye that who is militarising the South China Sea.”

GETTY

CHINA: Beijing has been boosting its navy in the South China Sea

The incident comes after China tested a hypersonic aircraft that can carry “unstoppable” nuclear warheads at staggering speeds of 4,563 mph.

A team of scientists conducted the first successful flight of the Starry Sky-2 hypersonic aircraft at a secret location in northwest China on Friday last week.

A statement issued by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), which oversaw the testing process, said the flight was a “huge success” in a statement on Monday.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9330

China Threatens Philippines in South China Sea

Radio communications warn of ‘possible consequences.’

Aug 3

Even as the ASEAN ministerial gathering is focused on finding a diplomatic solution to the freedom of navigation issues in the South China Sea, it appears China is pushing for war with one of its neighbors.

A new report from the Philippine government shows that in the second half of last year, its military aircraft received nearly four dozen radio warnings from the Chinese while on patrol near the disputed Spratly Islands. The report suggests that these warnings are originating from the islands themselves, where Beijing has deployed electronic warfare equipment, surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers.

The radio messages are a relatively new escalation of the quasi-war state between China and the Philippines over the islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, and Malaysia. In January, a Philippine Air Force aircraft on patrol near the islands received the following warning, followed by two warning flares fired from a nearby reef:

“Your presence is endangering the security of the Chinese reef. Leave immediately and keep off to avoid misunderstanding.

“Philippine military aircraft, I am warning you again. Leave immediately or you will pay the possible consequences.”

Washington has made it clear that international law allows any country the freedom to navigate—by air or by sea—in the area, and that it will continue to do so. Joint Chiefs of Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie also noted:

“The United States military has had a lot of experience in the Western Pacific taking down small islands. It’s just a fact.”

The public affairs officer for the U.S. 7th Fleet has admitted American naval vessels and aircraft have “observed an increase in radio queries” that appear to be coming from China’s military facilities on the man-made islands in the South China Sea. He said the communications have not affected U.S. operations in the area.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9305

The Government Of Iraq Bans Farmers From Using Water. Now Iraqi Farmers Are Pushing The Government To Get Water From Turkey. This Is Only Helping Turkey Dominate The Middle East

Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. (Revelation 9:12)

The government of Iraq is restricting the use of water for farmers, only allocating water for fifty percent of Iraqi farmland. This disaster is made worse by the fact that Turkey has been building dams on the Tigers and Euphrates, and taking water from the two rivers. Now the situation is so severe that Iraqi farmers are pushing their government to start importing water from Turkey.

The Hurriyet Daily News published an article on the situation, and there are some excerpts I would like to show:

Iraq has banned its farmers from planting summer crops this year as the country grapples with a crippling water shortage that shows few signs of abating.

Citing high temperatures and insufficient rains, Dhafer Abdalla, an adviser to Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources, told The Associated Press that the country has only enough water to irrigate half its farmland this summer.

But farmers fault the government for failing to modernize how it manages water and irrigation, and they blame neighboring Turkey for stopping up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers behind dams it wants to keep building.

Farmers staged demonstrations against the moratorium. In one instance, they forced the closure of a levee along a branch of the Euphrates River to let the water levels rise for irrigation.

They demand the government secure more water from Turkey, fill the country’s reservoirs, and drill into the nation’s aquifers.

About 70 percent of Iraq’s water supplies flow in from upstream countries. Turkey is siphoning off an ever-growing share of the Tigris and Euphrates to feed its growing population in a warming climate. And it is building new dams that will further squeeze water availability in Iraq.

Syria is expected to start drawing more water off the Euphrates once it emerges from the yearslong civil war.

Turkey started filling its giant Ilisu Dam upstream in June, then paused the operation until July after pleas from Baghdad. Iraq’s Water Resources Ministry says it has enough water behind the Mosul Dam to guarantee adequate flow for a year, but experts say the Ilisu could take up to three years to fill, depending on rains.

So Turkey — as part of its decades long Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) — has been building dams throughout southeastern Anatolia while taking water from the Tigris and Euphrates, and at the same time Turkey is conducting a policy of military expansionism into Iraq. While Turkey has a military presence in Iraq, it is already taking resources, making Iraq more and more agriculturally impoverished. The US’ invasion of Iraq and its toppling of Saddam led to major instability in the country, causing a ripple effect of violence into Syria. With Syria is in chaos, this has enabled countries like Iran and Turkey to take advantage of the situation and enter the country. With Iraq in horrible conditions, due to war, the situation has enabled Turkey to take water from the region, and Iraq’s condition is so bad that farmers are asking water from Turkey. In other words, the declining water supply of Iraq is only giving more political leverage to Turkey to become the rising power in the Middle East.

Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolian Project has been criticized for flooding villages, giving Turkey control over water, desertification and pushing people out of their villages. As one researcher has said:

Opponents of the project criticize the privatization of rivers, the limitation of the right to use water, expropriation of private lands, eviction of villages, depopulation, desertification, clearance of forests, and the submerging of historic homes and cultural sites. GAP has also been harshly criticized in the past for flooding villages and displacing the inhabitants. From the perspective of Kurdish inhabitants in particular, there have been occasions where GAP had brought more instability to the region and its citizens than peace and happiness. In addition, GAP has an international dimension. It has been criticized for being a project that enables Turkey to control the flow of water to downstream states, and thus to build dominance over Iraq and Syria.

According to journalist Alex Kemman, there are academics in Turkey who believe that the dams — while being portrayed as a means to economic growth — are actually part of a war strategy by the Turkish government to fight against the PKK:

I was there in 2013 and 2015 to investigate a series of state-funded dam projects that locals believe will be used for military purposes. Some academics have reported that the so-called “security dams” are actually part of a broader war strategy by the Turkish government, to counter the PKK.

The General Directorate for the Turkish state owned company behind the construction of the dams, State Hydraulic Works (DSI), admitted that the dams are “security dams against the PKK.” The head of DSI, Veysel Eroglu, is a major backer of Erdogan’s Islamist AK Party, and he is also a huge supporter of Turkey’s military operation in Syria, exclaiming early this year:

“Our hero is an army, it has captured important centers at this moment, we will never allow the terrorist organization to form a corridor, America is notwilling to set up such a terrorist state in Mexico, besides, we will not tolerate this.

He also said: “it is a pride of our soldiers to run to martyrdom as if he is going to play.”

So the company behind the building of these dams, State Hydraulic Works (DSI), is ran by a member of Erdogan’s Islamist AK Party who believes in jihad. The building of the dams, then, is a part of Turkey’s geopolitical jihad.

PKK terrorists, in 2012, reportedly set 22 trucks on fire, and construction workers have been kidnapped by these militants. Regardless, that Turkey is building dams that lower the water supply of Iraq, and thus push Iraqi farmers to ask for water from Turkey, does indicate a strategy of war, not just to defeat the PKK, but to give Turkish political preponderance in the Middle East.

Turkish power rising in the Middle East can be, to a great extent, attributed to US policy. With the Saddam regime toppled, it created a power vacuum. With destabilization plaguing Syria, this also created a political power vacuum. This gave Turkey the green light to enter Syria, and now it is entering Iraq. The United States is facilitating Turkish expansionism with its recent agreement with Turkey on the “Manbij agreement” which esteems Turkey as a partner to bring stability to Syria. As Hurriyet Daily News reports:

The Manbij Roadmap agreement between the U.S. and Turkey about power-sharing in the northern Syrian city of Manbij will be “part of the political resolution,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on June 27.

“They [Turkey] will ultimately be part of political resolution there and an important part. And we need to recognize that and do our best of work alongside them,” Pompeo told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on funding for the State Department, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

The plan was announced after a June 4 meeting in Washington between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Pompeo.

The deal focuses on the withdrawal of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Manbij and on stability in the region. Turkey deems the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

The Turkish General Staff said in a statement on June 24 that the two countries’ forces conducted patrols separately in the west of Manbij. The first patrols by Turkish and U.S. troops in the region began on June 18.

So the United States used Kurdish militants to defeat ISIS, and now is getting warm with Turkey by siding with the Turks against the Kurds. Turkey is the most powerful country of the Muslim world. Of course it is going to get the permission to rule, because it is the preponderating and superior force.

Removing Saddam was the catalyst to this vicious filling of power vacuums and the stealing of water by Turkey which would have otherwise been used to enrich Iraq’s agriculture. And although Saddam did conduct policies that were destructive to Iraq’s farming (like diverting rivers to dry out marshes to root out political dissidents), the reality is that Iraq under Saddam was in a much better state agriculturally. Said K. Aburis has written:

“Operating through loyalists within the Ministry of Agriculture, Saddam introduced an admirable land reform programme. Trade unions loyal to the party were allowed to function and, although unable to question the overall government policy, they did address themselves effectively to the issues of workers’ conditions and pay. An extensive social security system was introduced, and steps were taken towards improving health care.” (Saïd K. Aburis, Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge)

Before the Iraq War, Iraq had a very strong agricultural economy, being one of the largest producers of dates on earth. Amnon Cohen and Noga Efrati write:

“From being one of the largest producers of dates in the world thirty years ago, Iraq’s crop dropped to such a level after the war that the ministry of agriculture began to consider importing dates. Productivity is down to about half the level of the mid-1980s, in part due to lack of technology and water, and whereas there were 150 date processing factories prior to the 2003 invasion, there are now only six, with most Iraqi dates now packaged more than 800 miles away in the United Arab Emirates.” (Amnon Cohen & Noga Efrati, Post-Saddam Iraq) 

Kamran Mofid also writes on how Saddam focused much on making Iraq agriculturally self-sufficient:

“In 1980 the importance and potential of agriculture in Iraq’s overall development was once more highlighted when Saddam Hussain declared that agriculture was Iraq’s ‘permanent oil’ and that he wanted to see the country become self-sufficient and a net exporter of food within this century”. (The Economic Consequences of the Gulf War)

The water conditions of Iraq are getting so bad that there have been actual cases of gun battles between people over water, as the financial times reports. The Turks are being backed by the Europeans in their dam making enterprise. An Austrian company, Andritz AG, is taking part in this in cooperation with Turkey. European and American actions are enabling Turkey to dominate the Middle East. Be prepared for the next Ottoman Empire.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9280

STILL WINNING: Kim Jong-Un Commits To ‘Complete Denuclearization’ As President Trump Scores Historic Win At Singapore Summit

The president said he had been working around the clock helping to cement the terms of what he hopes will be an iron-clad agreement that Kim will honor. That would mark a change from North Korea’s past performance on pacts with the West. ‘I haven’t slept in 25 hours, but I thought it was important to do,’ he said, animated as ever in gesture and vocal cadence.’  Trump made no promises about relaxing the economic sanctions that have strangled the hermit kingdom for years yet said he was ‘actually looking forward to taking them off’ if Kim follows through on his commitments.

by Geoffrey Grider June 12, 2018

Kim Jong-un affirmed an ‘unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula’ in a signed document on Tuesday, President Donald Trump says.

‘We’re prepared to start a new history, and we’re ready to write a new chapter between our two nations,’ he told a packed room of reporters at a press conference in Singapore.

Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program will come to an end, he predicted, claiming that Kim had already left Singapore and was ‘on his way back’ to North Korea to begin implementing their joint vows.

‘I believe he’s going to live up to that document,’ Trump said. ‘Our eyes are wide open, but peace is always worth the effort, especially in this case.’

Trump said he knows ‘for a fact that as soon as he arrives’ in Pyongyang Kim is ‘going to start a process that makes a lot of people very happy’ even though the statement that his White House provided to press made no mention of an agreed upon timetable for denuclearization.

‘He wants to do that. This isn’t the past. This isn’t another administration that never got it started and therefore never got it done,’ Trump said, tweaking the Obama administration.

The U.S. president told reporters that he became convinced that Kim was serious when he agreed to dismantle a sophisticated missile engine testing site. ‘We’re much further along than I would have thought.’

At the same time, he agreed that there are no guarantees that Kim will tear apart what he called ‘a very substantial arsenal.’ ‘Can you ensure anything?’ he asked. ‘All I can say is: They want to make a deal. … Can anybody be certain? But we’re going to be certain soon because the negotiations continue.’

‘I may be wrong,’ he allowed. ‘I may stand before you in six months and say, “Hey, I was wrong.” ‘ And then with a sly smile, Trump joked: ‘I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.’

The president said he had been working around the clock helping to cement the terms of what he hopes will be an iron-clad agreement that Kim will honor. That would mark a change from North Korea’s past performance on pacts with the West.

‘I haven’t slept in 25 hours, but I thought it was important to do,’ he said, animated as ever in gesture and vocal cadence.’

Trump made no promises about relaxing the economic sanctions that have strangled the hermit kingdom for years yet said he was ‘actually looking forward to taking them off’ if Kim follows through on his commitments.

He speculated about exchanging ambassadors with North Korea ‘hopefully soon’ but cautioned that ‘it’s a little bit early for that.’

A first step would be a White House invitation.  The U.S. president again said he’s open to inviting Kim to the U.S. and visiting Pyongyang himself.  ‘At a certain time, I will,’ he said of a conversation with Kim in the Oval Office.

He also projected that hostilities between the North and South ‘will soon end’ because ‘the past does not have to define the future.’

‘Anyone can make war, but only the most courageous can make peace. The current state of affairs cannot continue forever,’ Trump proclaimed in his second news conference this week on foreign soil

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9227

China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier heads out for sea trial

By Ben Westcott and Brad Lendon, CNN

Updated 12:04 AM ET, Sun May 13, 2018

 

(CNN)China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier began sea trials on Sunday, a historic step in the country’s mission to build a navy capable of rivaling the world’s leading maritime powers.

The new aircraft carrier, temporarily named Type 001A, sailed out at around 7 a.m. in Dalian, in the northeast province of Liaoning, according to reports in Chinese state media.

The 50,000-tonne ship will become the country’s second aircraft carrier, and the first to be entirely built and designed inside of China, when it joins the navy sometime before 2020.

The carrier’s maiden sea trial follows a speech given by Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 12, in which he announced plans to build a “world-class” navy under the banner of the Chinese Communist Party.

China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, a retrofitted Soviet-era vessel bought from the Ukraine, was hailed as the fulfillment of a “70-year dream” of the Chinese nation when it launched to much celebration in 2012.

But experts said while the new aircraft carrier will dramatically boost China’s military power in the Asia region, its technology was still outdated and lagged far behind the world’s naval superpower, the United States.

“This is, in and of itself, not designed to be some frontal challenge to US power in the Asia Pacific, because it simply isn’t in the class of America’s aircraft carriers,” Sam Roggeveen, senior fellow at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, told CNN.

Chinese workers labor on the deck of China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, at the shipyard in Dalian on 16 April.

Bigger and better

China’s second aircraft carrier will be “modernized” compared to its first, experts said, with a design that’s bigger and heavier to allow it to carry more planes.

The basic design for the new aircraft carrier is clearly modeled heavily on the Liaoning, including the signature ski-jump inclination at the front from which aircraft lift off.

The ship, which is roughly 315 meters (1,033 ft) in length and 75 meters (246 ft) wide, uses conventional rather than nuclear propulsion, and is believed to displace 50,000 tonnes, according to reports in state media.

Speaking to CNN, RAND Corporation senior international defense research analyst Timothy Heath described the design as generally easier to build and to operate aircraft from.

But expert analysis of pictures and satellite images of the new China-built vessel reveals it has been altered in subtle ways, possibly allowing it to accommodate up to eight additional aircraft.

By comparison, the Liaoning is thought to currently carry around 30 warplanes, including fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.

According to Peter Layton, visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute, the Liaoning was intended to act as more of a training vessel, whereas the new ship is likely to be deployed in combat missions, positioning China alongside a select number of countries with global naval capabilities, including Russia, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

As of this year, the United States Navy fields 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, more than any other nation in the world.

The US ships feature “catapult” technology, in which a gear attached to a steam-powered piston or an electromagnetic rail gets aircraft up to flight speed as they leave the deck.

Aircraft launched by catapults can get airborne and with greater quantities of fuel and ammunition, giving them an advantage over Chinese planes, which rely on their own power when lifting off from the Liaoning’s ski-jump.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9180

Steven Mnuchin Will Head to China as Trade Tensions Mount

By Alan Rappeport and Ana Swanson

April 24, 2018

WASHINGTON — With trade tensions mounting between the United States and China, President Trump said he would dispatch his Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and other top economic advisers to Beijing next week to try to forestall an all-out trade war.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said he was optimistic that the United States could reach a deal with China. But he warned that if the Asian nation did not live up to its promises to open its markets, his administration would proceed with the tariffs he has threatened to impose on as much as $150 billion worth of Chinese products.

“I think China is very serious, and we’re very serious,” Mr. Trump said between meetings with President Emmanuel Macron of France. “We have no choice but to be very serious.”

Mr. Trump said that the United States delegation was making the trip at China’s request and that he was heartened by recent remarks by its president, Xi Jinping, suggesting that he was prepared to open his country’s economy to more foreign investment and ease restrictions on imports of American cars.

The two economic giants have been locked in a tit-for-tat battle over tariffs, with the United States threatening to tax Chinese products like TVs and medical devices and the Chinese retaliating with tariffs on pork and threatening to impose additional penalties on soybeans and other American goods.

Mr. Mnuchin is expected to be joined on the trip by Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, and Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative. The delegation comprises a wide range of views on trade, with Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Kudlow, a former CNBC economic commentator, more receptive to free trade and resistant to draconian tariffs, and Mr. Lighthizer encouraging the president to take a harder line. Peter Navarro, a trade adviser and the author of the book “Death by China,” may also travel with the group, but an administration official said the details were not yet finalized.

Chinese officials have increasingly turned to Mr. Mnuchin as their primary contact in trade talks, which some observers say may stem from China’s perception that he is more sensitive to their concerns. After the formal “economic dialogue” between the United States and China stalled last summer, Mr. Mnuchin has held regular discussions with his Chinese counterparts, including Liu He, China’s new economic minister.

The Chinese view Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Kudlow, who both previously worked on Wall Street, as potentially more moderate voices who would be more reluctant to start a trade conflict that could damage American businesses and cause stock markets to plunge. They hope the two men will be more sympathetic to offers to open up China’s financial market and reduce its trade surplus by making purchases of American natural gas and other products, people briefed on the deliberations said.

Mr. Navarro and Mr. Lighthizer, meanwhile, have criticized China’s offerings and insisted that the Chinese make more sweeping changes to its economy, including removing industrial subsidies and rolling back government intervention in the economy.

The stakes of the trip are high after months of increasing strain between China and the United States. Fears about a trade war between the world’s two biggest economic powers emerged in March after Mr. Trump unveiled tariffs on global imports of aluminum and steel. The threat of tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese imports followed.

Next month, the Treasury Department is expected to release a plan to further restrict Chinese investment in American companies, including industries such as semiconductors and artificial intelligence that are sensitive for national security reasons. The rules could also restrict American partnerships with Chinese companies abroad.

China has not taken such threats lightly. In recent weeks it has hit back with its own threats, raising concerns among farmers and businesses in the United States that the escalating dispute could be a drag on the economy and blunt the effect of the tax cuts Mr. Trump signed into law in December.

But Mr. Xi has also signaled that he is open to negotiating with Mr. Trump. He said this month that China would reduce its tariffs on autos, which Mr. Mnuchin called “a big step in the right direction.”

While some trade experts warned that China has failed to deliver on such promises before, Mr. Trump insisted on Tuesday that he was encouraged about the possibility of a deal.

“President Xi made a speech four days ago where he said that China is going to be opened up,” Mr. Trump said. “Because it’s not opened up right now. They trade with us. We can’t trade with them.”

Some China analysts were not so impressed by Mr. Xi’s speech. “I thought it was a bunch of warmed-over repetition of things we had heard before,” said Scott Kennedy, a China analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “For me, the concern is that the level of mixed messaging that we’re sending the Chinese makes them expect that they can get through this with a very limited offer.”

Edward Mills, a public policy analyst at Raymond James Financial, said he still viewed negotiations that averted tariffs as the most likely outcome. That could include, for example, China promising to reduce tariffs on American cars, open up its financial sector and drop rules that require American companies to partner with Chinese firms in many industries. But the negotiations could drag out for months, damaging business relations.

Mr. Trump “hasn’t actually identified what he wants as the end game” of the negotiations, Mr. Mills said. “I think that is something that gives a lot of flexibility to Mnuchin and the president to declare a number of things as a victory.”

Some veterans of trade talks with China caution that Mr. Trump’s approach could backfire.

“I think that it’s very dangerous to get into a tit-for-tat war in trade, because even if your goal is to be moderate and proportional in response, one thing can lead to another and it can get out of control,” Jacob J. Lew, the Treasury secretary under President Barack Obama, told CNBC last week.

However, Paul H. O’Neill, who was President George W. Bush’s first Treasury secretary and traveled to China for talks in 2001, said it was a good sign that the American delegation was making the trip. Negotiations with Chinese officials tend to be well choreographed, he said, so it is likely that the dimensions of a trade agreement are starting to take shape.

“There’s already been endless conversations, and tweets, from our side,” Mr. O’Neill said in an interview. “They are shadow dancing with each other, but behind the scenes where we can’t see what is going on, apparently they are making some progress.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9147

‘New world order’ could stem from US-China trade battle

  • A tit-for-tat trade standoff between the U.S. and China has fueled market fears that the dispute could soon spiral into a full-blown trade war.
  • “The signal must be there is a new order emerging, and how that new order emerges will depend upon the wisdom, the patience and the understanding of the top leaders,” Andrew Sheng, chief advisor at China’s Banking Regulatory Commission, said Friday.
  • Sheng added he was hopeful of a positive outcome given that the world wants to see “a sensible and measured way of negotiations.”

Sam Meredith | @smeredith19

Published 7:12 AM ET Fri, 6 April 2018 CNBC.com    

A trade showdown between the world’s two biggest economies could be the flashpoint for a new international order, according to the chief advisor of China’s Banking Regulatory Commission.

A tit-for-tat trade standoff between the U.S. and China has fueled market fears that the dispute could soon spiral into a full-blown trade war. Washington and Beijing have been embroiled in escalating tariff threats since early March — with market participants concerned about the potential impact of an ensuing trade war.

“The signal must be there is a new order emerging, and how that new order emerges will depend upon the wisdom, the patience and the understanding of the top leaders,” Andrew Sheng, chief advisor at China’s Banking Regulatory Commission, told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick on the sidelines of the European House Ambrosetti Forum in Italy Friday.

When asked whether he was optimistic about the prospect of political leaders finding an effective solution to the world’s problems, Sheng replied: “I think so … We are now seeing a much more complex, much more subtle (and) much more nuanced search for the new order.”

‘Sensible and measured’

Late on Thursday, President Donald Trump instructed the U.S. Trade Representative to consider $100 billion of additional tariffs on Chinese goods. The further charges were being proposed “in light of China’s unfair retaliation” against prior U.S. trade actions, Trump said in a statement.

China on Wednesday announced it would introduce tariffs on 106 U.S. products, including soybeans, cars and whiskey. The duties were introduced as a retaliatory measure against Trump, who just 24 hours prior, had unveiled a list of Chinese imports he planned to target with tariffs.

Sheng said the world was finally getting to grips with the “massive labor shock” brought about by globalization. And while Sheng said the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China was a “very confusing situation,” he added that he was hopeful of a positive outcome given the world wants to see “a sensible and measured way of negotiations.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9128