Category: Kings of the East

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the new aircraft carrier will dramatically boost China’s military power in the Asia region, its technology was still outdated and lagged far behind the world’s naval superpower, the United States.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

China Prepares For New Cold War With Massive Military Buildup

March 3, 2018 12:40 pm

(Zero Hedge) – As we have been documenting for quite some time, China has been not-so-quietly transforming itself into a serious threat to the West – beefing up its military to contend with the Washington’s air, sea, space and cyber weapons capabilities, while scrapping constitutional term limits for President Xi Jinping.

Since 2000, China has built more submarines, destroyers, frigates and corvettes than Japan, South Korea and India combined. To put this further into perspective, the total tonnage of new warships and auxiliaries launched by China in the last four years alone is significantly greater than the total tonnage of the French navy. –IISS

Analysts on both sides of the Pacific believe Xi’s aggressive military buildup and power grab have put Beijing on a direct course for conflict with Washington – with the heavy U.S. presence in the region setting the stage for a new Cold War.

In the Asia-Pacific, the dominant role of the United States in a political and military sense will have to be readjusted,” said Cui Liru, former president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a think tank under the Ministry of State Security that often reflects official thinking. “It doesn’t mean U.S. interests must be sacrificed. But if the U.S. insists on a dominant role forever, that’s a problem.” Cui added that it was “not normal for China to be under U.S. dominance forever. You can’t justify dominance forever.”

China’s military objective is to break through the first chain of islands,” said Mr. Cui, referring to the waters beyond Japan and Taiwan where the Chinese military wants to establish a presence. –NYT

China’s navy is also deploying further from home, including Europe, while their base in the Eastern African country of Djibouti will enable more naval deployments. In terms of military computing technology, China has also set out on an ambitious course, as vast resources have been sunk into “extremely high-performance computing and quantum communications,” which, along with their weapons advancements and overall defense capabilities mean the country is no longer merely “catching up” with Western progress.

Meanwhile, Xi and other Chinese officials are of the firm belief that the United States is a superpower in decline – which will require China to step into the vacuum left behind.

It is now clear Xi’s agenda to rebuild an Asian order with China at its center is here to stay,” said Hugh White, a scholar and former defense official in Australia who has argued that the United States must be prepared to share power with China in the Asia-Pacific region.

I think Xi is impatient,” Mr. White added. “He wants China to be the predominant power in the Western Pacific. He wants to do it himself and for it to go down in history as his achievement. That makes him formidable.” –NYT

In a keynote speech to China’s Communist Party Congress last October, Xi promised to make China’s armed forces world-class by the middle of the century. In a January speech, Xi told thousands of Chinese soldiers to “neither fear hardship nor death,” during an inspection visit Wednesday to the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Central Theater Command in northern Hebei province, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Xi advised the military to continue improving upon its equipment, tactics, technology, and combat readiness by engaging in “real combat training.” The Chinese president – for life, spoke of the need to “create an elite and powerful force that is always ready for the fight, capable of combat and sure to win in order to fulfill the tasks bestowed by the Party and the people in the new era.”

He [Xi] has accelerated the military’s plans to build a blue-water navy, increased spending on weaponry in outer space, and established China’s first military bases abroad. He has promoted a global infrastructure program to extend Beijing’s influence and ignored Western concerns about human rights, which have diminished under the Trump administration. –NYT

Indeed, with the rollout of stealth jets, new high-tech naval artillery such as a “secret railgun,” and Chinese media reports bragging about aggressive maneuvers that “dare to shine the sword,” our trading partner to the West has made it perfectly clear that they intend on being a dominant global force, both economically and militarily.

Last November, we reported on a secretive hypersonic weapons program, which if successful would be able to hit the United States in under 14 minutes.

“China and the US have started a hypersonic race,” said Wu Dafang, professor at the school of aeronautic science and engineering at Beihang University in Beijing who received a national technology award for the invention of a new heat shield used on hypersonic vehicles in 2013.

And just two weeks ago the International Institute for Strategic Studies reported that China’s rapid military modernization is “remarkable,” and is set to challenge the West on several fronts.

“China’s emerging weapons developments and broader defence-technological progress mean that it has become a global defence innovator” says Dr. John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive of the London-based think tank. Of note, Chipman points out that China’s Chengdu J-20 low-observable combat aircraft is set to challenge America’s “monopoly on operational stealthy combat aircraft.”

The IISS report also notes that China’s expanding array of advanced guided-weapons projects, such as the PL-15 extended range air-to-air missile which could enter service this year. “This weapon appears to be equipped with an active electronically scanned array radar, indicating that China has joined the few nations able to integrate this capability on an air-to-air missile,” reports Chipman.

Trump and China

Trump has clearly changed his tune Chinese trade – declining to label them a currency manipulator last year because the “timing was bad,” and refusing to impose sanctions – however the U.S. President has committed to beefing up defenses with a new nuclear policy calling for the revitalization of the nation’s nuclear arsenal, while also reaching out to forge a stronger “Indo-Pacific” coalition with Australia, India and Japan in order to counter China’s rapid rise.

“Trump is obsessed with strategic forces,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University. “He is determined to maintain American military predominance in face of China’s strategic buildup. That will make the relationship more profoundly confrontational.”

Chinese analysts downplayed Trump’s efforts, however, noting that the United States has been unwilling to fund the projects. “In the short term,” said Shi, “China does not care about it because the ability to form a real coalition is limited.”

Meanwhile, many feel that President Trump will be pressured into taking a harder line with China going into the midterm elections – as Democrats have signaled that they will compare his campaign promises with his softline approach to a country he spent much of the 2016 election railing against.

“Now that it’s clear that President Xi isn’t going anywhere, getting tough on China is even more of an imperative,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “If President Trump and Congress don’t crack down on their rapacious trade practices,” he added, “China will continue eating our lunch for years to come.”

And while Wall Street continues to broker lucrative investment-banking deals with the Chinese government, US manufacturers are growing increasingly frustrated at the prospect of competing with Chinese businesses who steal corporate secrets and regularly undercut their competition.

Manufacturers tend to be more fed up than Wall Street, which continues to do lucrative investment-banking business with the Chinese government. Technology companies have soured on China, though the market is so vast that they are still willing to consider concessions they would make nowhere else in the world.

The Trump administration reflects those fissures. Advisers like Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who both worked at Goldman Sachs, have persuaded Mr. Trump to hold off on tough trade measures against China in the past. -WSJ

Infiltrating Universities

On the national security front, the Trump administration has been using “Cold War-like terms,” referring to China as a revisionist power that will try “to erode American security and prosperity.”

This extends to U.S. colleges, which according to FBI Director Christopher Wray, are underestimating the ability for Chinese students to gather sensitive national security intelligence. Public universities have long been instrumental in the development of both offensive and defensive capabilities for a multitude of US agencies such as the Department of Defense and DARPA.

“The reality is that the Chinese have turned more and more to more creative avenues using non-traditional collectors (of information),” Wray said during the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual open hearings on the greatest threats to the country.

“The use of non-traditional collectors, especially in the academic setting—whether it’s professors, scientists, students—we see in almost every field office that the FBI has around the country, Wray said, adding “They’re exploiting the very open research-and-development environment that we have, which we all revere, but they’re taking advantage of it.’

Specifically, the FBI is “watching” programs at dozens of Confucius Institutes, funded by China’s Ministry of Education that are widely embedded within American universities and public schools to teach the Mandarin language.

The Confucius Institute program, which started operations in 2004, has been the subject of vast criticisms, concerns, and controversies during its international expansion. Many such concerns stem from the program’s close relationship to the Communist Party of China.

According to the South China Morning Post, some 350,000 Chinese students are actively enrolled at American universities, which is about thirty-five percent of the one million foreigners, said the Institute of International Education.

Bottom line: China’s rapid military buildup and commitment to becoming a dominant global force will require that the United States either cede power in Asia, or face another Cold War of steadily increasing temperatures. Keep in mind – times are good. The next recession, whenever that might occur, will most certainly push already-strained economic and military relations between the Washington and Beijing into uncharted territory.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9069

China’s Xi to Assume Greater Dictatorial Power

Chinese online posts compare supreme leader to North Korea’s Kim

BY: Bill Gertz
February 27, 2018 5:00 am

China’s Communist Party on Sunday moved closer to reinstituting the personality cult-like leadership under Mao Zedong by ending term limits for current supreme leader Xi Jinping.

The party announced Sunday the Chinese constitution will do away with the two, five-year term limit on Xi, the party secretary general, paving the way for him to become president for life.

The state-run Xinhua news agency said the requirement for China’s president and vice president to serve no more than two consecutive terms was removed from the constitution.

Removal of the term limit prompted criticism from China experts who regard the constitutional change as further destabilizing China.

“Xi is obviously behind the move to remove the current two-term limit,” said China expert Steven W. Mosher. “This will allow Xi, like Mao Zedong, to stay in power as long as he lives.”

Former State Department China expert John Tkacik said China’s powerful PLA supported Xi’s action based on worries about leadership succession in 2023, when Xi would have ended his second term.

“For the United States, the idea of an absolute dictator running the most powerful peer competitor nation-state-and soon to be the most powerful economy—with a single-minded obsession to ‘Make China Great Again’ who is going to be around for another 10 to 15 years must give us pause,” Tkacik said. “Fasten your seatbelts.”

The policy change was made in January by the 200-member Central Committee, a party policy-making organ, but only made public on Sunday.

Xi since 2013 has obtained more power than any Chinese leader since Mao, by eliminating rivals and making party and government changes.

A Chinese source with knowledge of internal affairs said Xi is the first leader to reside in Mao’s residence inside the walled Beijing leadership compound known as Zhongnanhai. In the past, Mao’s residence was a museum.

Mao seized power in 1949 and brutally transformed the nation by imposing communist rule. In the process, the communist system caused the deaths, through political repression and famine, of as many as 60 million Chinese.

The Chinese dictator ruled through a personality cult that granted him unlimited power under a totalitarian system until his death in 1976.

Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, sought to perpetuate the system after his death. She was ousted by reform communist leader Deng Xiaoping who then set limits on leaders’ tenure in office.

Xi currently holds three power positions: general party secretary, government president, and head of the central military commission that runs the party’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Xi is also the core member of the seven-member Standing Committee of the Politburo, the collective dictatorship that runs China.

Last October, he was re-elected general secretary and will be confirmed for the post at a government meeting March 5.

China’s vibrant internet responded with a wave of wry commentary as censors struggled to remove what the government regards as offensive posts.

“Argh, we’re going to become North Korea,” said one online post on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media outlet.

“We’re following the example of our neighbor,” said another post, referring to the communist family dynasty in North Korea in power since the late 1940s.

One social media post showed a picture of a condom in a wrapper under the caption, “doing it twice is not enough.”

A number of phrases used online to mask criticism of the Chinese political system were banned, including “boarding a plane” that in Chinese sounds similar to “ascending the throne.” Censors also banned “life-long rule,” “long live the emperor” and the title of George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, Financial Times reported.

Mosher, author of the new book, “Bully of Asia,” predicted Xi’s consolidation of power as supreme leader.

“Core leader Xi Jinping envisions a sinocentric world, with China’s borders expanding outward, near neighbors reduced to de facto vassals, and countries further afield humbly serving as markets for Chinese products and sources of raw materials,” Mosher wrote.

For the United States and the world, Xi’s power grab signals greater dictatorial rule in China and increased Chinese aggression abroad, Mosher said.

The party justified the action as an effort to promote internal stability.

A close aide to Xi, Ding Xuexiang, director of the party’s General Office, appeared to justify Xi’s further consolidation of power by claiming in a recent internal speech that the party is under assault from political enemies that have sought to “usurp the party and seize power.”

The comments appeared to be a reference to high-level opposition to Xi within the party from the so-called Shanghai faction aligned with former leader Jiang Zemin.

Xi has engaged in a five-year anti-corruption campaign that ousted a number of very high-ranking party leaders, many of them regarded as rivals for political power.

Most of the high-level officials ousted in recent years, including Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang, were part of the Shanghai clique.

Despite the anti-corruption effort, unofficial news outlets in China have reported that corruption remains rampant in both the party and government.

The congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission stated in its most recent annual report that Xi’s anti-corruption campaign has produced political uncertainty.

Additionally, Xi’s crackdown has produced large outflows of cash by Chinese officials and business people who are moving their wealth abroad to avoid government seizures.

The capital flow has raised concerns about China’s economic stability.

Recently, the government took action to prevent the collapse of the conglomerate HNA Group that is in danger of bankruptcy after spending billions overseas in questionable investments.

“According to China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, in the first half of 2017 more than 210,000 Chinese officials were punished for corruption,” the commission report said.

Despite cordial meetings between Xi and President Trump since last year seeking common ground, “tensions increased” between Washington and Beijing, the report said.

The Pentagon’s most recent annual report on the Chinese military says that Xi and Chinese leaders view the first two decades of the 21st century as a “period of strategic opportunity.”

The Chinese under Xi are seeking to expand China’s power to perpetuate communist rule, maintain domestic stability, and achieve regional dominance with a modernized military, the Pentagon said.

Xi’s assumption of new dictatorial power is a setback for some U.S. commentators who thought he would move the country in a democratic direction.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a China expert, predicted in 2013 that Xi would bring political reform. Kristof wrote in a Jan. 5, 2013, column that change under Xi was coming. “Here’s my prediction about China: … Mao’s body will be hauled out of Tiananmen Square on his watch, and Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning writer will be released from prison,” he said.

Liu died in prison from neglect last year and Mao’s embalmed cadaver remains an object of veneration at a Tiananmen Square mausoleum.

Another Chinese social media outlet, WeChat, was forced to disable the comments section for the official Party newspaper People’s Daily, to squelch negative comments about the constitutional change.

The overseas edition of People’s Daily also was forced to take down an article on the changed leadership term limits, replacing it with another article that did not mention the change.

Chinese social media also carried numerous memes of Winnie the Pooh, the fictional bear of the A.A. Milne children’s stories that has been used as a surrogate for Xi based on a likeness between the two. As a result, censors banned images of Winner the Pooh in China.

Global Times, the party-controlled jingoistic newspaper, said in an editorial that ending the term limit for Xi would preserve the system of party chief, government leader and military leader in a single person.

“Removing the two-term limit of the Chinese president can help maintain the trinity system and improve the institution of leadership of the [party] and the nation,” the newspaper said.

The rule changes will be announced during the meeting next month of China’s mock parliament, the National People’s Congress when Xi’s ideology also will be added to the constitution. His version of Chinese communism is called “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.”

Hong Kong analyst Lau Yui-siu said the constitutional changes are designed to facilitate Xi’s “life long tenure” as supreme leader and predicted greater struggle for democratic reform.

“Xi is taking a rollback step by step, which runs counter to the political civilization of the mankind,” Lau told the newspaper Ping Kuo Jih Pao. “If the feudal dictatorship continues to develop indefinitely, the CPC political reform will not be realized in the foreseeable future. Fierce struggle may reappear in the process of China’s democratic development.”

Willy Lam Wo-lap, a veteran China watcher, said Xi believes that only by staying in power can he “stabilize the entire country and put his political platform into practice.”

According to Lam, Xi seems to have forgotten that “dictatorship ultimately leads to collapse without exception” by suppressing dissent and ultimately producing a disaster.

Lam believes democratic forces within that Party and outside of it oppose Xi’s power grab and can be expected to launch “counterattacks.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9056

U.S. vs. China in South China Sea

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson left a four-day port visit in the Philippines on Tuesday and is leading a strike group to conduct a “freedom of navigation operation” in the South China Sea. (Associated Press) more >

By Bill Gertz – – Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Pentagon is stepping up its strategic messaging targeting China with the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson now underway in the South China Sea.

The Vinson strike group, including the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain and guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy, left a four-day port visit in the Philippines on Tuesday.

The carrier will resume operations in the contested sea — close to where China is militarizing several disputed islets, including Scarborough Shoal, some 100 miles from the Philippines.

The Vinson is expected to conduct a “freedom of navigation operation” involving disputed islands in the sea in the coming days. It also is expected to make a port call in Danang, Vietnam, next month.

“U.S. presence matters,” Rear Adm. John Fuller, strike group commander, told reporters on board the warship. “I think it’s very clear that we are in the South China Sea. We are operating.”

A Navy official was more specific: “Vinson ops in the [South China Sea] are designed to promote freedom of navigation, show the U.S./Navy flag and work with our partners and allies — all to message China that these waters aren’t theirs.”

The Navy expects Chinese warships to closely shadow the Vinson and its accompanying warships throughout its operations. “Typically, the interactions are professional and predictable,” the official said.

The Vinson visit followed an incident involving U.S. and Chinese warships in the region last month. China’s Defense Ministry claimed a Chinese warship forced the guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper out of the South China Sea last month. The Pentagon denied that the warship was driven from the waters, where it was conducting a freedom of navigation operation.

The carrier deployment began in early January as part of a new Navy command arrangement called “3rd Fleet Forward” — control by the Navy’s 3rd Fleet, the force of ships based on the West Coast and Alaska.

In the past, 3rd Fleet forces automatically shifted command to the Japan-based 7th Fleet upon crossing the international dateline.

“The new 3rd Fleet Forward construct expands 3rd Fleet control of ships and aircraft across the Western Pacific and beyond the international dateline to India, enabling 3rd and 7th Fleet to operate together across a broad spectrum of maritime missions — 7th Fleet maintains the ‘fight tonight missions,’ and 3rd Fleet does the phase zero and presence missions,” the Navy official said.

The new command system “allows us to keep pressure on competitors and reassure allies, splitting the focus among two staffs. This is a good thing,” the official said.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said last week that Chinese militarization in the sea was part of the reason he shifted U.S. defense strategy from terrorism to dealing with China and Russia.

“What made the competition explicit was the turning of atolls and features in the South China Sea in the military outposts,” he said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry so far have not directly criticized the Vinson deployment. Beijing appears to be holding its propaganda fire until after the Vinson’s freedom of navigation operation.

The Communist Party-linked newspaper Global Times quoted a Chinese military expert denouncing the Vinson’s deployment.

“The Trump administration is trying to pressure China by creating more issues, including the South China Sea issue, as it feels uneasy and unsatisfied by China’s raising competitiveness,” said Liu Weidong, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “Additional provocative moves by the U.S. such as entering the South China Sea can be expected in the future.”

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins told reporters aboard the Vinson last week: “International law allows us to operate here, allows us to fly here, allows us to train here, allows us to sail here, and that’s what we’re doing and we’re going to continue to do that.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9047

Experts Warn China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ Initiative Seeks to Undermine U.S.-Led World Order

by Kristina Wong26 Jan 20181,053

The United States and China are in a battle for global supremacy — one that the U.S. is losing, experts said at a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

“The United States and China are locked in a consequential geopolitical competition right now that will determine the character of the 21st Century,” said Ely Ratner, the Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“The United States is losing that competition right now,” he added.

Ratner’s warning came during a day-long hearing held by the congressionally-appointed U.S. China Commission, on China’s new “One Belt One Road” initiative, which experts warned is aimed at replacing the current U.S.-led world order.

The “Belt and Road Initiative,” or “BRI,” as Western experts call it, is Chinese President Xi Jinxing’s plan to build roads — literally and figuratively — across Central Asia to Western Europe, in a bid to further integrate their economies.

The name of the initiative purposely hearkens back to the ancient “Silk Road” trade routes, when China was a great empire. China’s dream is to recapture that status and become the world’s leading power by 2050. In that regard, BRI is aimed at slowly reorienting nations away from the U.S. and towards China and its preferred world order.

“BRI is a comprehensive vision for political and economic integration under Beijing’s helm,” said Nadege Rolland, senior fellow for political and security affairs at the National Bureau of Asian Research.

Under BRI, China will work with other nations, particularly developing countries, to build infrastructure linking the East to the West, including railways, pipelines, fiber optic cables, ports, and other infrastructure.

To build this network, China will use its growing economic might to loan developing countries money to build the infrastructure, in what they hope will become “even bigger than the Marshall plan,” said Randal Phillip, managing partner at the Mintz Group.

Rolland said BRI’s “intangible manifestations are as important if not more than its actual physical development.”

It is really a “multilayer web of … security ties that China is developing with the developing world … shaping before our very eyes,” she said. The goal is “unleveled Chinese influence over a key region, if not the world,” she added.

Already, several countries have announced their intention to link their development to one belt one road, said Jonathan Hillman, fellow and director of the Reconnecting Asia Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The initiative is also drawing China closer with Pakistan, he said.

Phillips called BRI’s mission statement “beautiful” and attractive to other nations.

“It talks a lot about win-win,” for China and other nations, he said. But, he added, the joke is that it really means “China wins twice.”

Experts noted that the concept for the BRI first emerged in 2013 to little fanfare, as a response to the Obama administration’s “Asia Pivot” and to the U.S. joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact with Asian nations excluding China.

But since then, Chinese President Xi Jinping has embraced it and elevated it to Chinese Communist Party doctrine and integrated it throughout all levels of Chinese government. Rolland said China’s determination to implement it is “deadly serious.”

Experts also testified that BRI would have huge military implications for the U.S. by giving the Chinese military more places to deploy and potentially try to block the U.S. military.

“BRI will increase demand to send the Chinese military abroad,” said Daniel Kliman, senior fellow at the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

The more involved Chinese companies are in other nations, the more China’s military will be involved in humanitarian missions, as well as rescue missions, Kliman said. It will also reinforce voices within the People’s Liberation Army for more “power projection” — ports, airfields, and a more robust logistics network, he said.

As an example, he pointed to how China first built a commercial port in Djibouti, and then built its first military overseas base there as well, right next to a U.S. military base.

From these military bases, Chinese ships can operate farther away from its shores and hold the U.S. military off with weapons such as long-range anti-ship missiles, Kliman said.

BRI would also allow China to use the growing infrastructure network to glean large amounts of data that would fuel China’s artificial intelligence industry, he said.

And if developing nations cannot afford to pay China back for loans, Chinese would likely seize the assets or demand concessions as they have over a Sri Lankan port they helped build in Colombo — in what experts called a “debt trap.”

Either way, Ratner said, China will gain “increased access” and coercive power over so-called “BRI countries” over time.

Overall, experts said, if BRI is successful, it could have very serious implications for Americans in everyday life.

Under a China-led world, “markets will be closed to American business. China’s policies will bankrupt American businesses,” Ratner said. “They’re being completely transparent about their goals to do just that.”

Already, he noted, Hollywood is censoring their movies for Chinese audiences. Newspapers are self-censoring the reporting they’re doing on Xi. Universities are censoring themselves in exchange for Chinese money, he said.

“Do we want our selves and our children to live in a world … that is fundamentally free or not?” he said.

Experts said BRI did have some risks for China. Nations could turn on China if there is a gap between expectations and reality from developing nations, or if China turns predatory. But so far, Phillips said, developing countries are “happy to see the cash come in.”

Experts testifying to the commission agreed that BRI could already be considered a success, particularly since it has no hard objectives, targets, or end date. They noted that it has already succeeded in piquing international leaders’ interest.

They noted that China’s Belt and Road Forum — which they jokingly called “BARF” — drew 29 world leaders and representatives from more than 130 countries.

“People didn’t kowtow but they came with gifts. In return for that they got access, investment, protection,” Rolland said. “It’s already happening, it’s already successful.”

“Their global stature is already enhanced,” she added. “There is no leader around the world that is not paying attention to China’s proposal and how they can get some benefit from it. Just that … is very important.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8996

Chinese PLA Braces For US Attack on North Korea

January 17, 2018

Secretary Tillerson begins mirroring General Mattis’ diplomacy as war with North Korea is presented as almost certain; President Xi mobilizes the multi-million man PLA in preparation for ensuing chaos on their border. On today’s J Factor a successful businessman shares why his trust is only in Jesus.

World war drums are beating louder, but few people hear the warnings.  Even fewer people are taking actions to prepare for world war.   The normalcy bias has immobilized them from getting ready.  They don’t believe it can happen to them.

Twenty nations that supported America in the 1952 Korean War convened in Vancouver Canada on Monday and Tuesday.   In addition to the USA, Canada, and Great Britain, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Sweden and Australia also participated.

The diplomats issued an uncompromising hardline message to Pyongyang: The coalition of nations will step up maximum pressure against North Korea.  The new level of pressure will include stopping and boarding ships suspected of trading with Pyongyang.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sounded more like Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.  Secretary Tillerson said, “We must increase the costs of the regime’s behavior to the point that North Korea must come to the table for credible negotiations.”

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono accused North Korea of buying time to continue building nuclear warheads and long-range missiles.

Likewise, Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson also accused North Korea of pursuing the acquisition of nuclear-armed ICBMs that could have incalculable geostrategic consequences.

Russia and China were not invited to the meeting in Vancouver.  Moscow lashed out on Wednesday saying the Vancouver meeting was making the situation worse.  Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavov denounced the allied meeting as destructive.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said banning China and Russia from the meeting will not help solve the crisis.  He called the meeting the product of cold war thinking and a sign that the USA is planning a military attack on North Korea.

As the talks wrapped up, Secretary of State Tillerson said the threat posed by North Korea was growing.  Mr. Tillerson implied that diplomacy is finished and war is coming.

He said: “We all need to be very sober and clear-eyed about the current situation … We have to recognize that the threat is growing and if North Korea does not choose the pathway of engagement, discussion, negotiation, then they themselves will trigger an option.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8972

China’s Armageddon Road – Todd Sandberg

The Bible’s prediction that there would be an army of 200 million “horsemen” had readers puzzled for several centuries. When the Apostle John wrote Revelation in around 95 A.D., there we’re only 200 million people on planet Earth. Since the biggest battles of John’s day only had a few thousand soldiers,  there is good reason for him to be baffled by the large number.

It was a very long time before the global population grew to fit that number. It took 1,650 years for the world’s population just to double to 400 million. At the beginning of the 20th century, the head count was only 1.6 billion.

The population of China was mostly stagnant at under 100 million, up into the 1600s. Endless war and famines only allowed China to grow at a gradual pace. It hit 400 million in 1831 and 600 million in 1953. In the past half century, China’s population more than doubled to 1.4 billion.

The One Child policy instituted by Beijing has made mobilization of a 200 million man army all the more possible. Normally, between 103 and 106 boys are born for every 100 girls. The preference for male children through selective abortions has tilted China’s sex ratio for the generation born in the 2000s to 124. The gender imbalance has grown to the point where there are now 33.5 million more men than women in China.

China could have 10 billion people and still not be able to outfit an army of great size. However, the economic boom that has occurred in recent years has been providential to this objective. For decades, China had the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with growth rates averaging 10% each year. In 1980 China’s GDP was at $306 billion. Today it at $11.5 trillion.

India has a higher population growth rate than China, and it will become the most populous nation in the next three years. According to Global Firepower, the Indian military has a combined 4,207,250 active and reserve personnel in service. India is so poor, there is no way it could mobilize an army into the tens of millions.

Now that China has the population and the economic might to outfit a large military, it needs a pathway to the Middle East. The Great Wall of China was impressive at keeping the Mongols at bay, but it is nothing compared to the Himalaya mountain range. This massive wall of peaks is the reason why there is such a drastic cultural difference between East and Southwest Asia.

To bridge this natural divide, China is working a complex series of Initiatives that go by the names, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road. The project is the brainchild of China’s president Xi Jinping, and its purpose is to establish road and sea connectivity between Eurasian countries.

The Silk Road will have major highways that reach to the doorways of Iran, Pakistan and India. The time scale is indefinite, and it will come with a huge price tag of between $4 trillion and $8 trillion. I doubt president Xi was thinking of military movement in his project, but it does show the massive amount of infrastructure that the “kings of the east” army will need to cross over to the Middle East.

To move a large army, a nation needs forward operating bases. This may explain why China has recently started building bases outside its territory. The Global Times reported last week that China is in talks with Pakistan to build its second overseas military base as part of a push for greater maritime capabilities along strategic sea routes.

Since the great invasion will take place near the end of the tribulation, China will have several years to work on the Silk Road. I read one stat that would seem to indicate that the 200 million man army will need to roll out in the not too distant future. The declining birth rate is a problem that naturally occurs with nearly every industrialized nation. The lack of children results in a country of old people. If Japan had a billion people, it couldn’t muster a large army.

Because God calls all the shots to prophecy, you can see why China following a step-by-step plan will play a major role in prophecy. With so many of the pieces of the puzzle that have already fallen into place, we can sense that time is short.

“Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them” (Revelation 9:14-16).

“And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared” (Revelation 16:12).

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8967

Author: Director of CIA Told Me It’s War With North Korea Within 12 Weeks

Conflict to begin before March 20

Paul Joseph Watson | Infowars.com – December 27, 2017 62 Comments

Author James Rickards, who is known to have intelligence contacts, says the Director of the CIA told him the United States will be at war with North Korea within 12 weeks.

Rickards, author of The Road To Ruin: The Global Elites Secret Plan For The Next Financial Crisis, says he attended a private event in Washington DC where CIA head Mike Pompeo told a small think tank group that conflict was inevitable.

“The most important financial or geopolitical issue in the world today is a coming war between the U.S. and North Korea, probably in the next twelve weeks,” writes Rickards.

“How can I be so sure about the timing? The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency told me.”

According to Rickards, Pompeo said, “It would be imprudent to assume it would take North Korea more than ‘five months’ to have a reliable arsenal of nuclear-armed ICBM missiles. These could strike U.S. cities and kill millions of Americans.”

The meeting took place on October 20, meaning March 20 would be the outside window for the war to begin, although Rickards says “the war will likely begin before then.”

Last week, Marine Corps commandant warned U.S. troops stationed in Norway that conflict was just around the corner.

“I hope I’m wrong, but there’s a war coming,” Gen. Robert Neller told them. “You’re in a fight here, an informational fight, a political fight, by your presence.”

Rickards’ prediction is also echoed by Chinese General Wang Gongguang, who also said that war was likely before March.

“The war on the Korean Peninsula might break out anytime between now and March next year,” Wang told the Global Times, adding that “China should be psychologically prepared for a potential Korean war, and the Northeast China regions should be mobilized for that.”

Meanwhile, a North Korean soldier who defected to the South earlier this year has been found to be immune to anthrax, sparking fears that the regime has succeeded in weaponising the disease for potential delivery via intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8928