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Why did Musk visit China?

The biggest American businessman with political ambitions visited the Celestial Empire for the first time in three years. Restrictions related to COVID-19 and the ongoing economic and sanctions war between the U.S. and China prevented the visit, although China is the main source of profits for Musk. The American businessman arrived as the CEO of Tesla, and officially the purpose of the visit was his business interests. This is logical, since more than half of all cars of this brand are produced in China at Tesla plants, which is more than 726 thousand units last year. Most of them are sold here in China, as well as in Asian countries. China also produces the main components of these electric cars – batteries, without which Tesla and other electric cars will become a useless pile of metal. The Chinese are world leaders in this area, not only in production, but also in development. It is no coincidence that Musk met in China with the management of Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) – the largest Chinese and global manufacturer of fuel cells, lithium-ion, lithium-iron-phosphate, and lithium-polymer batteries, which control more than half of the global market. Tesla seems to be doing well in China, the plants are increasing production and sales are growing. In fact, the situation is not easy, as evidenced by the second price increase for Tesla this year. This is due to the fierce competition from Chinese manufacturers of electric cars and hybrids. Musk would like to launch another Tesla plant in Shanghai, but not everything goes well there either. Musk met with Chen Jining, Secretary of the Communist Party Committee of Shanghai, about this issue. In addition, last year, Chinese authorities suspected Tesla cars, equipped with many sensors and video cameras, of spying. And they restricted these cars from entering government districts in Beijing. And then another problem arose. In terms of output and technology, Tesla has been overtaken by the world leader in the field of electric vehicles, the Chinese super concern BYD, which last year produced 1.86 million electric cars and hybrids and completely abandoned cars powered by internal combustion engines (something that is a dream in Europe). By the way, BYD is connected to another American billionaire, Warren Buffett. As we remember, Musk bought Twitter (banned in Russia) by chance, and now he is thinking about how to monetize it. Without the Chinese market, it seems impossible to do this, and Twitter is not available there either. The Chinese are by no means banning foreign social networks, but they demand compliance with local laws, which Americans, such as Google, are not willing to do. And this was also the subject of Musk's negotiations in China. Earlier it was reported that Twitter could be completely blocked in Europe from August 25 this year, when the "Law on Digital Services" will come into force there. The French Minister of Digital Technology, Jean-Noël Barrot, drew attention to the fact that Twitter under Musk refused to follow the "Voluntary Rulebook" – a collection of advisory rules, which very soon will become mandatory. The official said that if the administration of the social network does not comply with the new law, the platform will be completely blocked on the territory of the European Union. However, it is clear that Musk's visit to China went far beyond the usual visit of an oligarch to the country of his vested interests. Elon Musk was received at a higher level than, for example, the head of Apple, Tim Cook, or the heads of JPMorgan and Starbucks, Jamie Dimon and Laxman Narasimhan. Tesla's CEO received the attention of three Chinese ministers at once – foreign affairs, commerce, as well as industry and information technology of the PRC. What is this about? One can assume that Musk is seen in China as a sane negotiator, not so tied to confrontational neocons, and they want to use his interest to convey the Chinese leadership's views on the prospects for Sino-US relations in general to the American elite. Or to the part of it that is not in the mood for war. Since Nancy Pelosi's memorable visit to Taiwan and the U.S. administration's clearly unfriendly attacks, Beijing has refused to have high-level political contacts at all, despite Washington's best efforts to initiate them. In the context of the U.S. sanctions and trade war, the Chinese have cut off communication channels even in the military sphere. Not so long ago, in Singapore, Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu (who, incidentally, is under U.S. sanctions "for friendship" with Russia) defiantly refused to meet with his American counterpart Austin, even "on the margins" of the Asian security summit there. There are no attempts to resume preparations for Secretary Blinken's visit to the PRC, which the Americans themselves "postponed" because of the appearance of a Chinese hot air balloon in the skies over America. Despite the Western media speculation, there are no concrete details about visits to China by other senior U.S. officials. What to talk about when there is nothing to talk about, the Chinese explain. First, they say, stop the aggression, keep your hands off of Taiwan, stop the sanctions war, and then we'll talk. In a conversation with Musk, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang emphasized China's willingness to "steadily promote high-level openness to create a market-oriented, international business environment for companies from around the world, including Tesla. Using Musk's familiar auto vocabulary and China's favorite figurative language, the Chinese foreign minister called for "steering the wheel" of Sino-US relations so as to move toward mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation. "Using the Tesla [electric car] as an analogy for the proper development of Sino-US relations, it is necessary to keep the wheel so as to move toward mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation," his words were quoted by the Chinese foreign ministry's website. Qin Gang also urged in building the Sino-US relationship to "step on the brakes in a timely manner," avoid "dangerous driving," and be able to "step on the gas" to foster mutually beneficial cooperation. And Mao Ning, spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, invited other international business representatives to visit China as well, "so that a proper understanding of China and the benefits of cooperation with it can emerge." She said Beijing encourages foreign investors to increase activities in China, explore Chinese markets and share profits from China's development. Musk, for his part, was cautious against the "disconnection and severing of ties" and expressed his willingness to continue and expand his business in China. "The interests of the U.S. and China are intertwined like Siamese twins, they are inseparable from each other," Tesla noted in the announcement. Of course: a breakup between the PRC and the U.S. would mean the collapse of Elon's empire. Earlier Musk spoke in favor of the peaceful return of Taiwan to the motherland, however, the satellites of the Starlink system – Musk's brainchild – operate on the island (as in Ukraine), and this worries the Chinese. Surely Beijing has explained to Musk the principal position: they do not want confrontation, but they are not afraid of it. China is already surpassing the U.S. in many areas and on many parameters and is becoming self-sufficient. If official Washington does not heed this and does not put the brakes on, China will, in the foreseeable future, import-substitute the United States as a whole. The volume of the Chinese market, together with the partners in the One Belt and One Road, as well as BRICS and others, makes it possible to do so. Will Musk be able and willing to counter the prevailing anti-Chinese rhetoric and moods in the U.S. and assemble a "peace party," time will tell.  

The Island of Stumbling

The Chinese ring around Taiwan shrinks with each new provocative visit by U.S. functionaries. In the absence of an agreement on a meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Biden, former national security adviser in the Trump administration John Bolton arrived in Taiwan. This visit cannot be called anything remarkable, as lines of current and former U.S. functionaries have been visiting the island, especially in the last two years. Tensions between Beijing and Washington peaked last fall when U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan. Bolton is now out of business, but he has some credibility in the U.S. establishment, and this trip has been assessed by observers as a pre-election trip. Allegedly, Bolton has presidential ambitions. It is all the more important to keep track of what he said on the island and where exactly he said it. Speaking at the Global (!) Symposium on Taiwan National Issues on April 29, the former U.S. presidential national security adviser and potential U.S. leadership candidate called for a rapprochement between Taiwan and the United States. Bolton said he has been urging Washington to diplomatically recognize Taipei since 2000. Last August, he said, "We must make it clear to China that we believe Taiwan is an independent country." According to him, it will be too late to discuss these issues when China launches an attack. In addition, the American visitor said that Chinese leader Xi Jinping's recent visit to Russia is proof that Beijing and Moscow are forming a new axis. And the threat China poses to the Taiwan Strait should be viewed from a global political perspective. Bolton continued with the standard set of appeals from American hawks: a sharp increase in defense spending by both the U.S. and Taiwan, increased supplies of U.S. weapons to the island, an increase in the number of American warships in the Taiwan Strait. "Ukraine's fight against Russian troops" was called by Bolton the best role model for Taiwan. Such a security adviser and such a possible U.S. presidential candidate. China is closely watching all these escapades. Though Bolton received a separate comment from Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin for his remarks on another topic - the former advisor's admission that he had prepared coups d'etat in other countries. "This only confirms that interfering in domestic affairs and overthrowing governments in other countries has already become the norm of U.S. behavior. It is part of the American order. And such an order can only face the protest of the international community," the Chinese diplomat summarized. As for Taiwan, it seems that Beijing has finally realized that behind a smokescreen of ritualistic declarations of loyalty to the principle of "one China," Washington intends to provoke Taiwan to declare independence and unleash war with the PRC. Once upon a time, the world smiled at the regular Chinese warnings. They were issued whenever U.S. warplanes freely entered China's airspace. But now every diplomatic demarche by Beijing is followed by concrete action. Pelosi's trip was followed by narrowing the space around Taiwan beyond the control of PRC military forces. At the same time, Beijing stopped contact with the U.S. military through special channels of communication. With subsequent visits by prominent Americans, the ring around the island became tighter and tighter. In Taiwan, Bolton urged the U.S. authorities to prepare for action in the event of a complete blockade of Taiwan. Beijing's understanding that if Taiwan's independence is declared, a clash with the United States around Taiwan and in the region cannot be avoided, was also evident in the visit to Moscow of newly appointed Defense Minister Li Shangfu. Even if we take into account the fact that we have not been informed much about the specific agreements (enhancement of strategic cooperation, technology exchange, expansion of military and technical cooperation), the trip of the head of the Chinese military department to Moscow is symbolic in itself. China is staking on military-strategic rapprochement with Russia. Continuing to push for the peaceful return of Taiwan "to the motherland," Beijing is preparing for a military option. The West massively declared that together China and Russia will withstand "any Ukrainian provocation." One might add that they will also withstand a Taiwanese provocation. In March 2023, China announced an annual defense budget of 1.55 trillion yuan ($224.8 billion), a nominal increase of 7.2 percent over the 2022 budget. China's defense spending has increased fivefold in the past two decades, from $50 billion in 2001 to $270 billion in 2021. But these are the official figures. However, back in 2002, the U.S. Defense Department reported that China's actual defense spending may have been four times its officially announced budget. If this is true, it is close to U.S. military spending. China already surpasses the United States in some types of non-nuclear weapons, in particular, in the number of modern warships. China has acquired systems that can guarantee the destruction of U.S. aircraft carrier groups on the approach to Taiwan, block enemy space groups, etc. China's strategic nuclear forces are being modernized and expanded at an accelerated pace, but they are still inferior to American forces in numbers and other characteristics. Here China may need a Russian strategic nuclear umbrella at an urgent moment. Perhaps this subtle issue is also a subject of Sino-Russian dialogue. If Bolton and people like him at the top of the U.S. do not understand that their actions are strengthening the military alliance between the PRC and Russia, it is a disaster. At least let them listen to U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns: "The Soviet Union was a colossal power. Its nuclear scale, its military capabilities were enormous. But the PRC is infinitely stronger than the Soviet Union ever was. And this is based on the extraordinary strength of the Chinese economy - its scientific and technological research base, its innovative potential, and its ambition in the Indo-Pacific region to become the dominant power in the future. I do think the challenge from China is more complex, has deeper roots, and is a great challenge for us in the future." It is China's goal to put the U.S. in a situation where they will see that the opponent they are facing is head and shoulders stronger. It is all in the tradition of Chinese martial arts: to win without taking the sword out of its sheath.

The Big Technological Leap

How Beijing is going to win in the confrontation with the West. According to Western experts, the Chinese company BYD will produce more than 2 million vehicles powered by alternative energy sources this year and will leave the U.S. Tesla far behind. Last year, BYD increased its output of electric cars and hybrids by 211 percent; about the same growth is expected this year. Chinese automaker Geely produced 251 percent more electric cars in 2022 than the year before, while Changan produced 134 percent more. Tesla was able to increase its production by only 40 percent, and German Volkswagen by 10 percent. Tesla, faced with fierce competition from the Chinese, is forced to reduce the price of its electric cars for the third time in order to avoid being pushed out of the largest Chinese car market. Overall, China produces more alternative energy cars than the rest of the world. What does that mean? It means that no "green transition" outlined by Europe would be possible without China. BYD hasn't shown much interest in foreign markets yet, but that could change overnight. Especially since other Chinese electric car manufacturers, including luxury ones (such as Red Flag) and electric supercars, are already successfully selling their products in European countries. Even Chinese electric buses are supplied to Europe. In order to replace internal combustion engines according to the plans existing in the European Union, they will simply have to buy Chinese products. Especially since they are much cheaper, and the technical characteristics are not inferior to Tesla. It is also important that the Chinese have almost complete control over the market for the production of electric batteries, and also part of the raw materials for their production. And the batteries are the most expensive and important element of an electric car. The main indicator, i.e. the mileage and fuel efficiency, depends on its technological effectiveness. The U.S. also wants to build an economy based on clean energy. But they can't avoid China, as well. For example, Ford is relying on China's Contemporary Amperex Technology, the world's largest battery manufacturer, to build an electric car battery plant in Michigan. This is just one example of U.S. dependence on China, which did not begin yesterday. Previously, much of the research and development of clean technology was done in U.S. laboratories, but U.S. companies often turned to China to convert these products into commercial offerings. And times have changed. Over the past decade, the Chinese government has invested hundreds of billions of yuan in subsidies to support the production of environmentally friendly products. China accounts for at least 60 percent of the world's capacity for solar panels, wind power system components and batteries. If you want to develop, go to the Chinese. These days, at the ongoing Shanghai Auto Show, the same company, BYD, presented production samples of electric cars with sodium-ion batteries. And this is the breakthrough the world has been waiting for, which will provide the Chinese manufacturer with an undeniable competitive advantage. The fact is that sodium is about 50 times cheaper than lithium, which is now more often used to make batteries for vehicles. Only God knows what other surprises are in store in the Chinese automotive industry. After all, the automotive industry is a cluster of scientific and technological progress, an indicator of the level of technology and production development. Meanwhile, Chinese scientists are the most advanced in curbing the steady thermonuclear reaction. Their thermonucleus "burns brighter and shines longer" than anywhere else. The Chinese plan is to have an experimental thermonuclear power plant by 2035, which will usher in an era of limitless energy, and commercial operation of such plants is scheduled to begin by 2050. How the West will be able to respond is not yet very clear. There is currently a debate in the West about whether to develop artificial intelligence, while China has already put in place a national AI development plan, intensifying work in this area. This extensive program, called Artificial Intelligence for Science, is overseen by China's Ministry of Science and National Natural Science Foundation. According to China's Xinhua news agency, "the plan aims to force the use of AI capabilities to achieve scientific and technological breakthroughs in key areas of science and technology, such as drug development, gene research and biological breeding." For sure, the plan will not stop there; it will also include research in thermonuclear technology and military-technical sphere. In Russia, about 3 billion rubles, or about $40 million, was allocated for developments in the field of artificial intelligence in 2020, in the U.S. - about $6 billion, China - $14.3 billion. China is betting on AI as one of the leading factors in economic development. Having created the world's most powerful supercomputers, Chinese researchers are working intensively to create artificial intelligence and introduce it into the economy, as well as using AI to solve the most important challenges facing humanity. But the national plan for the development of artificial intelligence is only one area of research and development (R&D) in the PRC. China is already the world's second-largest digital economy and is leading the way in building digital infrastructure, having created, for example, the world's largest fiber-optic network. Almost 1 billion Chinese use the Internet. More than 700 thousand 5G communication stations have been built, and about 300 million users are already connected to them. China has also mastered all the space technologies, leading the world in some areas. In 2025, it is planned to land Chinese astronauts on the moon and start building a lunar base. China's total R&D spending in 2022 was nearly 3.09 trillion yuan (about $456 billion), an increase of 10.4% over 2021. Characteristically, R&D spending in 2022 exceeded 2.55% of the country's GDP, more than China spends even on defense. And R&D spending is growing by about 10 percent annually. In 2020, they reached 2.44 trillion yuan (2.4 percent of GDP), twice the country's defense budget. Their share is constantly increasing. And this shows that China intends to make technology development the basis of the economy and the main driver of its development, to become the leader of the global technology race. Since 2015, the country rose from 29th to 14th place in the world innovation ranking, becoming the world's largest supplier of patents and inventions. This allows the country to occupy leading positions in various technological areas. In the Nature Index 2022 ranking of the world's top 25 science cities, there are nine Chinese ones. There are 8 such centers in the USA, 2 in Great Britain, and one each in Japan, Germany, South Korea and Switzerland. Science cities are determined by the number of scientific publications and citations of scientific data of scientists living in these cities. So, the 9 cities in China have the largest concentration of scientists who publish the results of their research in the world's publications. Thus, China's share of global technology spending increased from 5 percent in 2000 to 23 percent in 2020. As the American magazine Foreign Affairs predicts, by 2025 China will overtake the U.S. on this indicator. China has everything for this: resources, management system, brains, incentives for growth. One example. The global giant, China's Huawei, has already surpassed Western competitors in many areas, most notably in the creation of 5G technology. But the West fears not only its dependence on their developments, but also that the Chinese giant's successes provide an amazing example to the world - an example of a people's enterprise. The fact is that Huawei is owned by its employees, who have shares in the company and have a vested interest in its success. Having made a great technological leap, China can completely surpass its competitors. China will once again become the center of the world and the most powerful economic and technological power, as it was before the Western barbarians came to the Celestial Empire, when China produced up to a third of the world's GDP. Actually, the sun rises in the East, not in the West, as we have been assured for the last 150 years.

China re-confirmed as center of the world

European leaders, in succession, danced round the Chinese leader, who then sent his defense minister to Russia. Since Xi Jinping's re-election to the top government positions in March, he has made only one visit abroad. Which one everyone knows very well. Moscow. And then the Europeans began to pay frequent visits to Xi. A prominent English newspaper even made an analogy of a century ago, when foreign ambassadors went to the Celestial Empire with gifts and sought the emperor's favor. By the way, if anyone does not know, in those days (before the invasion of the Western barbarians) China produced up to 35 percent of world GDP. But let us return to the XXI century. The last among the Western visitors was an exalted lady from Germany, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Chancellor Scholz, as we remember, had been to Beijing earlier. And he achieved something in economic terms, because he did not put much emphasis on politics. There is a video of the joint press conference of the two foreign ministers, the German and Chinese. Lacking diplomacy, Baerbock admonishes his colleague about the plight of the Uighurs, demands the status quo on Taiwan, calls for pressure on Russia, and advocates economic freedom in China. All this is in the spirit of the recently adopted by the FRG concept of containment of China and looks more like a report to the Washington "regional committee": you see, we are fighting for "democracy" on your instructions, we are not afraid of anyone. Qin Gang, Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China, listens quietly and responds with the following sentence: "We need talks on an equal footing with mutual respect, without condescending lectures." And invites the German woman to leave. Out of the hall for now. Baerbock represents those (mostly American-oriented) forces in Germany who demand a divorce from China. China has been and remains Germany's most important trading partner. The deterioration of political relations cannot but affect economic relations, and this fundamentally contradicts the interests of Germany. So does the refusal to trade with Russia. According to Xinhua, trade between Germany and China reached 297 billion euros last year. In 2022, the Germans traded with the U.S. for only 247 billion euros. Germany imported from China 191 billion euros. According to the conclusions of German analytical centers (such as the Kiel Institute for the World Economy), not to mention business, many groups of goods from China are indispensable for the German economy. If the Germans can somehow replace Russian pipeline gas for higher prices, there will be nothing to replace, for example, electric batteries and solar panels. China is practically a monopolist here. The whole concept of green development, which, incidentally, is promoted by the Green Party's representative Baerbock, would collapse. The contradiction is obvious. According to forecasts by the IMF, China is expected to grow its GDP by 5.2% this year; Germany's will fall by 0.1%. What will happen to the German economy if they break ties with China? The answer is clear. Do you want to grow with China or fall with the rest of the civilized world? The rhetoric of the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who was accompanied by French President Macron on a trip to Beijing in order to demonstrate EU unity in the face of the "Chinese dragon," was in a similar vein. The German candidate for the position of NATO head with the protection of Washington clearly showed that she didn't care what would happen to EU-China trade relations and what would happen to Europe if they "cancel" China as well as Russia. It has already been widely written that the Chinese allegedly humiliated Leyen by not giving her the proper honors. But this is not true. The EU representative was only part of President Macron's delegation, and Beijing received her strictly according to diplomatic protocol. Politely. But if Beijing wants to really respond to the attacks of the EC president, it will be done in a sophisticated Chinese way, and the whole world will see it. By the way, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, whose visit to Beijing will soon take place, assesses the situation a bit differently: "China and the EU have a strong economic relationship, especially in terms of trade. Our total trade reached almost 850 billion euros in 2022. But these exchanges are increasingly unbalanced to our detriment. Our trade deficit has reached a high of 400 billion euros, or 2.3 percent of our GDP." This is about the fact that the Old World has less and less to offer to a developing China and is becoming increasingly dependent on it. A deficit is a deficit, but if Brussels really does decide to slaughter this chicken, it will mean the end of Europe's prosperity. And not even the U.S. will help. As for the United States. Against the background of tensions between Beijing and Washington and the sanctions war, trade between the world's two largest economies declined in the first quarter of this year by as much as 13.1%, to $161.587 billion. The trade turnover surprises with a monstrous imbalance - the Chinese supplied goods worth $115.237 billion (-17% year-on-year), and imported $46.350 billion worth. French President Macron was much more pragmatic in Beijing. He did not lecture Xi Jinping on domestic Chinese politics, because he knew it was pointless. Thus, he was honored with Chairman Xi's smile and a chamber tea ceremony, which can be regarded as a sign of respect according to the Chinese canons. The political outcome is a joint declaration of 51 points. But the main purpose of this visit was to strengthen economic relations. And it was successfully fulfilled. Eighteen major contracts were signed. In particular, it concerns the creation of a new assembly line at the French aircraft manufacturer Airbus's plant in Tianjin, which will double capacity for production of A320 models. French energy company EDF has signed a contract with China's nuclear power flagship CGN to build new nuclear power plants. There is also a major contract between L'Oréal and Alibaba, and others. As a result, the French president has made two principled political statements, which boil down to the fact that Europe must reduce its dependence on the United States and avoid being drawn into a confrontation between China and the United States over Taiwan. Chairman Xi did not say a word to Macron about distancing himself from Russia. He only promised to call President Zelensky sometime. When he got the time. The outcome of Macron's visit to China irritated many American and British commentators and media. The New York Times published a scathing article titled: "French Diplomacy Undermines U.S. Efforts to Curb China. The Telegraph wrote: "Macron humiliated himself - and the EU." "That might have been the case if the French president's main goal was to influence China's policy toward Russia and bring peace to Ukraine. But that's not exactly what Macron had in mind in Beijing," commented The Asia Times. "France has always maintained a sense of pride and refused to submit completely to the United States. France has no reason to view China as an object of containment, as the U.S. does, rather than as a source of strength to carry out normal cooperation with China," China's Global Times wrote. - Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, is more aggressive because the interests of the EU as an institution are separate from those of its member states. Macron's behavior in Beijing was assessed by Charles Michel, president of the European Council: "As to the question of relations with the United States, it is clear that some European leaders would not say the same thing as Macron, but I think that quite a few really think the way he does." On the face of it, one could say that China has driven a wedge between Europe and the United States. But the truth is more complicated than that. According to the Western media, one of the tasks of European politicians in Beijing is to dissuade Xi Jinping from military support for Russia. And here is the result - China's president sends his defense minister to Russia. This is General Li Shangfu's first visit abroad, which also tells a lot. Obviously, this trip is aimed at the implementation of agreements between President Putin and President Xi (of which we do not know everything). It has already been officially announced that the trip will serve to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries. An important nuance: Minister Li was previously responsible for China's military-technical cooperation with Russia. Obviously, even now he will talk not only about joint exercises, and not about supplies of Chinese vacuum cleaners and coffee grinders to Russia. *The two characters (zhongguo) for China translate as "the middle, central state."

What will Taiwan choose: prosperity or war?

Recently, some officials and experts have been worried about a possible Chinese attack on Taiwan. What would that mean? This was fueled by President Xi Jinping's traditional statements in which he calls on the military to strengthen its defense capabilities and always be ready to respond to threats. What can be done: the world is still learning to understand China and only a few can correctly interpret the words of China's political beau monde. More often than not, they are interpreted literally, or too straightforwardly, without context. In fact, the call for war with Taiwan sounds ridiculous from the Chinese point of view: how can we attack ourselves, the Chinese might ask? After all, the people of China rightly consider the island as their ancestral territory, as one of their provinces. Yes, it is now illegally and temporarily alienated, under the protectorate of Washington. But this is only temporary. And Taiwan is also home to Chinese, half-brothers. How can they be attacked? The Chinese People's Liberation Army, of course, will tirelessly prepare to liberate Taiwan from the yoke of the U.S. occupiers and their mercenaries. But this does not mean that Chinese tanks are about to move into Taiwan right across the strait. The conditions under which China will use military force against Taiwan are clearly spelled out in China's constitution and military doctrine. One would like to think that both Taipei and Washington know about these conditions, and the red lines will not be violated. So there will probably be no need to use military force. Taiwan itself will fall into Beijing's hands like a ripe fruit. At the same time, U.S. military aid and mountains of American weapons on the island will remain gathering dust under the covers. But for this to happen, China will continue to put military, sanctions and political pressure on the current Taiwanese regime. From the latest. On April 9, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry recorded the approach of 58 PLA aircraft to the island. The whole armada of fighters, strategic bombers and military transport aircraft crossed the so-called midline of the Taiwan Strait and entered the island's air defense identification zone. Yesterday there were 78 such planes. And at the same time, large-scale maneuvers of the Chinese navy are taking place around Taiwan, which is practicing actions to surround the island. According to the Chinese Ministry of Defense, this is "a warning to the separatist forces advocating the independence of the island, as well as a necessary measure to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the PRC. So far, U.S. ships regularly pass near Taiwan Island, a province of China, without Beijing's permission. And the U.S. officially acknowledges this. That is, they deliberately enter territorial waters, violating the sovereignty of China. China is not yet ready to respond accordingly, although after Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan last year the Chinese military demonstrated how they could block navigation in this area. By declaring the area as a place for large-scale exercises, the Chinese military severely restricted the passage of ships. By the way, the naval blockade may be the non-lethal means of returning Taiwan "to the bosom of the motherland." After Pelosi's visit, China in fact narrowed the so-called territorial waters of Taiwan, placing them under the control of its navy. Now the occasion for similar action was the Taiwanese president's trip to the United States. "A third person in the U.S. government, U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met publicly with Tsai Ing-wen, and officials as well as congressmen contacted her, giving Tsai Ing-wen a platform for separatist statements about 'Taiwan independence,'" the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded. - "The essence of this step is that the U.S., in collusion with Taiwan, is condoning separatist efforts to advocate "Taiwan independence" under the pretext of "transit" to engage in political activities in the United States, to conduct official contacts between the United States and Taiwan, as well as increasing the level of substantive ties between the United States and Taiwan, which seriously violates the one-China principle and the provisions of the three Sino-US joint communiqués, seriously undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and sends a fundamentally flawed signal to the separatist forces advocating "Taiwan independence". China categorically opposes this and strongly condemns it." But this is not just another Chinese warning. It is an excuse to tighten the noose around Taipei's neck even tighter. The Chinese navy immediately stepped up its activities near the coast of Taiwan. "The Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong was sent to intercept" the American aircraft carrier Nimitz, which was on a course for Taiwan. China has imposed sanctions on a number of American organizations and individuals. Economic sanctions against Taiwan and U.S. companies and representatives who violate PRC sovereignty are constantly expanding. Characteristically, almost simultaneously with the Taiwanese leader's trip to the U.S., the deputy chairman of Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang party was in China. He met with Chinese high-ranking officials, and a large group of Taiwanese businessmen accompanied him on a tour of China, establishing new business contacts. In 2024, Taiwan (like Russia, by the way) will elect the leader of the country. The candidate from the Kuomintang party (the same one that, after breaking with the Chinese Communists on procedural issues and then losing the civil war, moved to Taiwan and proclaimed its own Chinese state there) is the head and founder of Foxconn,the largest, even by world standards, manufacturer of Taiwanese iPhones. His surname is appropriate - Guo, and his name is Taimin (surnames are always the first character of the Chinese, I should point out). Not long ago this Taiwanese presidential candidate said: "It is dangerous to vote for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which promotes Taiwan's independence and opposes China. We cannot allow the DPP to continue to rule, we cannot allow our sons and daughters to live under a hail of bullets." And he is not some Yanukovich. He is quite a pragmatic and intelligent comrade, since he founded and runs such a company. He and his colleagues simply realized that it was time to end unnecessary confrontation with the mainland. They, along with a considerable number of Taiwanese Chinese, realize that it is better to forget the old quarrels in the name of the island's future prosperity as an alternative to war and destruction in the name of illusory "democratic values" in the service of American interests.  In Taiwan, more and more people are beginning to understand that under the guise of fighting good against evil, they will be used as Ukrainians to "contain China." In addition, Taiwanese have before their eyes the example of Hong Kong, where after returning to the PRC little has changed. In fact, Taiwan is faced with a choice: peaceful life in the unified Chinese state, the global leader, or war and destruction in the name of illusory values.

China turns against the dollar

Brazil and China have concluded an agreement on the use of yuan in trade transactions. What would that mean? The other day, during the Brazil-China business forum in Beijing, China's Vice Minister of Commerce Guo Tingting, as if by the way, announced the abandonment of the dollar in mutual trade between the two countries. According to him, a joint clearing house has been established, and now the countries will be able to conduct cross-border transactions directly without having to convert their currencies into U.S. dollars. "An agreement has been signed with Brazil on payment in yuan, which greatly facilitates our trade. We are going to expand cooperation in food and minerals, to look for exports of high value-added goods from China to Brazil and from Brazil to China," the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo quoted the minister as saying. In fact, it is about the transition to national currencies in mutual trade and the creation of technical mechanisms of payments (instead of any SWIFT). It is noteworthy that the Chinese media do not pay much attention to this news. Or they don't want to advertise it much. However, this event is not an ordinary one, although it is among very similar ones. The fact is that the trade turnover between the two countries has reached $150 billion (may readers forgive the reference to American units). But, by all appearances, this figure will soon be counted exclusively in yuan. It should be taken into account that China is Brazil's largest foreign trade partner, with the largest volume of Brazilian exports going to the neighboring United States. Correspondingly, American dollars come from there. Trade with most of Brazil's partners, including in Latin America, is counted and conducted in dollars. But despite this, Brazil has decided to switch to yuan in its relations with China. It is clear that the initiator of this transition was Beijing. It is also obvious that this is more than a political decision. Difficulties in the transition to national currencies in mutual trade, for example, between China and Russia, are that Chinese private and state companies are interested in obtaining a freely convertible currency. As a rule, they trade all over the world, and the proceeds from their goods should be allowed into international turnover. And there, as we know, the dollar reigns. Or it used to be. If Brazil decided to switch to yuan, other countries that have close trade relations with Beijing may follow suit. Brazil is a member of the BRICS, and we can assume that other members of this organization are next in line. First of all, Russia, which has long been working with China to transfer trade to the yuan and rubles. At the end of last year, 50 percent of mutual settlements were made in national currencies. In the EAEU, three-quarters of all trade is conducted in national currencies. There are two more important points here. Brazil will have the yuan, and it will be able to pay with it to Russian suppliers. And this is followed by the natural circulation of the yuan. Brazil is increasing its oil production and supplying it to China and other countries. We can assume that this will have some effect on the global energy market. Official Washington remains silent on the matter. However, China and Brazil's move to trade in national currencies was commented by Elon Musk, who does not go for a word in his pocket. As the billionaire wrote on Twitter (the social network is blocked in Russia), because of the "clumsy" U.S. policy more and more countries are trying to abandon the dollar. According to Musk, combined with Washington's excessive government spending, which now shifts part of the inflation rate to other countries, this could become a "serious problem." To be objective, the problem did not appear yesterday. It only worsened with the imposition of large-scale sanctions (in fact, a trade war) against China by President Trump's administration. And after the start of the U.S. hybrid war against Russia, it reached its peak. More and more nations are cautiously reducing their trade in U.S. dollars, that toxic currency. Who knows what the next country will fall under the hot hand of Washington and lose their savings in "greenbacks" overnight? The ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia) have recently announced the transition to national currencies. The trade volume of the association is about $500 billion. What will happen when China begins to trade with these countries in national currencies? After all, ASEAN is China's largest trading partner, with trade volume exceeding $975 billion. This is much more than with the EU ($847 billion). It is worth recalling that China is actively working to convert energy trade with OPEC countries into national currencies. Such an agreement already exists with Saudi Arabia. And this is already undermining the binding of the energy market to the dollar, behind which the full collapse of the "greenback" looms. Today, 40 percent of the world trade - about $10 trillion - is settled in dollars. Half of it is accounted for by Western countries, and about half - by the so-called non-democratic countries. If it goes at this rate, then in a couple of years the circulation of the dollar will be limited to the so-called collective West. And the members of this dollar community will have to look for yuan and other rupees to buy something on the world market. And no U.S. military bases scattered around the world will help the dollar. Now about assets. China, which back in 2019 was the main holder of U.S. government debt securities, with $1.2 trillion, has now reduced its securities portfolio to $800 billion. And continues to get rid of them. Now the biggest creditor of the U.S. is their vassal, Japan. But they are also getting rid of so called "treasuries". Other holders are doing the same. To summarize, China has begun (or intensified, as one likes) its all-out campaign against the dollar as a reserve currency, to strengthen the yuan as such. Of course, this big campaign or leap will not end tomorrow. Consider that China itself has relied on the dollar for decades, trading with the rest of the world in it. In the PRC, people who have holdings in the U.S. currency, conducting all business in it, probably much more than in Russia. And "foreign agents" are a dime a dozen there. However, among the key decisions on restructuring the management made by the top leadership of China not so long ago, there is the following: to create a special commission under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on finance. It will be transferred from the People's Bank of China (the equivalent of Russia's Central Bank) the supreme control over finance, securities and other currency exchanges. This super-mega-regulator, apparently, will have to ensure the smooth movement towards financial sovereignty and detachment from the dollar. And there will be fewer "foreign agents" in this area.

Submarine turns yellow

The UK upgrades Taiwan's submarine fleet. A cross-party group of British MPs visited Taiwan. Everything would be fine, but the main item on the program of the visit, which greatly excited China, was the discussion of the submarine fleet development program. The head of the delegation, Conservative MP Bob Stewart, said that Taiwan "is at the forefront of the struggle for democracy and is ready to take any action to protect it." Last year, exports of British technology, equipment and components for Taiwanese submarines increased manifold. In the first nine months of 2022, the British government approved the transfer of 25 licenses worth 167 million pounds ($206 million). That's more than the previous six years put together. There is some more recent data, which has not yet been confirmed by the Taiwanese side, but in general the vector is clear. By comparison, in 2008, when the modernization program was born, Britain allocated 3.3 million pounds for it. In 2017, Taiwan officially announced the creation of a serious submarine fleet. There are plans to test the first prototype of a new submarine in September and to launch the first of nine submarines in 2025. The Chinese Foreign Ministry expectedly issued a statement: "If this is true, it is a serious violation of the one-China principle, undermines China's sovereignty and security interests, and undermines peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait." But different states have different approaches to the "one China" principle. Western countries in one way or another have demonstrated their support for Taiwan without recognizing its independence. The UK, too, has no official diplomatic relations with the island, but maintains serious trade relations and de facto even has a hidden embassy in Taipei. The British government issued a statement that "exports to Taiwan are under control, and compliance with arms and dual-use goods regulations is checked on a case-by-case basis. Then why is there such a demand for licenses? According to open data of the Export Control Organization, which is a structure of the UK Department for International Trade, all 25 licenses fall under the categories of "components for submarines" and "technology for submarines. However, it is not specified which companies get the right to export licenses and what specific equipment is meant. One license, labeled ML9, includes "combat ships, special shipping equipment, components and other surface vessels. The other, ML22, is for "technology necessary for the development, manufacture, installation, repair and maintenance of equipment or software. According to the British military list, special permission is required to export all this goodness. It is also true that it is not in the best interest of both sides to share the details of the supply package. Tobias Ellwood, head of the Defense Committee of the House of Commons, visited Taiwan in December 2022 and told Reuters then: "Any announcement of the specifics of our exports could lead to disclosure of confidential information about Taiwan's defense capabilities, and so the UK government's caution in discussing these exports is justified." In general, British parliamentarians and experts of all levels have frequented the island. An official representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry even said: "We urge the British side to refrain from any form of special exchanges with Taiwan, as they send false signals to separatist forces."   Not many people heed these appeals. Last November, Rishi Sunak recalled a term that his predecessor David Cameron coined in 2015. Sunak stated literally the following: "The so-called 'Golden Era' of relations with China is over. The naive idea that successful trade could lead to social and political reform has also been buried. We recognize China's policy as a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a policy that leads to even greater authoritarianism." Britain periodically publishes its vision of the world order, or more precisely, its vision of itself in the surrounding world, in the Integrated Review (security, defense, development and foreign affairs policies). Sunak, despite clearly tightening his narrative on China compared to the pre-election campaign, did not refer to China as a "threat," although his predecessor, Liz Truss, had intended to prescribe exactly that definition in the Integrated Review. Former Tory leader Ian Duncan Smith believes that Sunak's "systemic challenge" is about nothing. "China understands strength and clearly sees weakness. And this is nothing but a manifestation of weakness.» Indeed, in the circles of British defense experts there is an understanding that, although, geographically the closest threat to them is Russia, if the Arctic ice continues to melt, the Chinese submarine fleet will immediately find itself off the shores of Europe. And this year's Integrated Review notes that a possible conflict in the Indo-Pacific region could have more serious consequences than the crisis in Ukraine. Speaking of this region, it should be noted that the British submarine fleet should soon double - by 2030, the first new submarines will already be in service. By 2040, under the Aukus (Australia-UK-US) pact, Australia will receive new submarines not only from British designs, but also from British Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems factories. Taiwanese submarines could also be helpful.

Russia becomes China's main ally

Divorce from the West is happening before our eyes. "A landmark visit" - such an epithet was considered appropriate for the state visit of the Chinese President to Russia by Chinese Ambassador in Moscow Zhang Hanhui. The Chinese love round numbers, they put symbolism in them. And exactly ten years have passed since Xi Jinping's first visit to Russia as the head of state. And again, Xi is in Moscow, starting a new stage of cooperation. Is this not history? At first glance, this may appear to be an emotional overreaction and an expression of the Chinese penchant for magnificent epithets. But in fact, the head of the Chinese diplomatic mission in Russia, a professional Russianist who came to Russia from the position of deputy foreign minister of the PRC, feels and understands the situation deeper than others and possesses information that is inaccessible to many others. However, we mere mortals can see some clear signals of the urgency of this visit with the naked eye as well. It would be a desire. For example, the visit takes place against the background of fierce demonization of Russia by the West. It is conducted immediately after Xi's re-election to a third term as the leader of the party and the state. Moreover, according to Chinese sources, the visit was rescheduled as early as possible and prepared in a hurry. In diplomatic practice, the direction of the first visit indicates foreign policy priorities. These priorities can be seen especially clearly against the background of overt threats from the United States, which were heard even during Xi Jinping's visit to Russia. At the same time, the Chinese leader is imperturbable and does not make any reverences to the West. It should be recalled that US Secretary of State Blinken's visit to China was canceled not long ago, and talks between the Chinese President and the US President were postponed indefinitely. According to the U.S. side, "due to the busyness of President Xi Jinping." All of this confirms the words spoken during the Russia-China talks about the strategic choice of the two countries to "deepen relations of strategic partnership in a new era." "The two countries, being the largest neighbors and partners in comprehensive strategic interaction, consider each other as a priority in their diplomacy and foreign policy. China has always pursued an independent foreign policy. Strengthening and developing relations with Russia is China's strategic choice based on its own fundamental interests and the general trend of global development," Xi Jinping said in Moscow. There were other, no less striking statements from both sides about the depth and substance of Russian-Chinese relations. But that is not the point. More than once or twice we have heard: China has a strategic partnership with a hundred other countries in addition to Russia; China's main economic interests are in the West; there will be no break with the United States. But it is enough to look at two documents of the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued on the eve of the Chinese leader's visit to Russia to be convinced of the radical change in the situation. Whereas previously, criticizing the West, Chinese diplomats used polite expressions such as "the countries concerned," here even the titles do not contain any half-tones or hints: "American Hegemonism and its Dangers" and "On the Inferiority of American Democracy. We are talking about fundamental and insoluble contradictions. As they say, the masks have been thrown off. The visit overturned all previous perceptions of the sluggish historical process. China's divorce from the West is taking place before our eyes, and it is initiated by the West and quite intensively. Russia is becoming (dare I say it) China's main strategic ally. China needs Russia in the current global confrontation. China needs Russia's energy resources, military technology and nuclear shield. And if anyone did not believe Xi Jinping's words that China and Russia "stand back to back," it is now obvious. This is also evidenced by the agreements reached. Both those that are embodied in signed documents and those that are not publicized. The latter include the military-technical sphere.  The two sides signed a "Joint Statement of the PRC and the Russian Federation on Deepening the Relationship of Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Cooperation, Entering a New Era" and a "Joint Statement of the PRC President and the Russian President on the Development Plan for Key Areas of China-Russia Economic Cooperation until 2030." The plan for further development of bilateral relations and cooperation in all areas for the near future is outlined. Now it would be logical for Russia and China not only to stop counting their trade turnover in dollars, but to abandon it in mutual settlements altogether. Apart from the obvious moral and effective support for Russia in an acute period, the visit is also historic because it would have a strong impact on quite a number of developing countries that cluster around China or oscillate between it and the West. The signal has already come from Indonesia, the world's seventh-largest economy. President Joko Widodo urged citizens to stop using foreign payment systems, such as MasterCard and Visa, and switch to credit cards issued by domestic banks. "Everyone in Indonesia should be able to use Indonesian-made credit cards so that we can be independent," he said. "Be very careful. We must keep in mind the U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia. Visa and Mastercard could be a problem." Apparently, soon it will not be Russia, but the West, with its hypocritical moralizing, that will be left in isolation. It seems that a new era is indeed coming.

Friendship is not against the USA, but for the sake of common interests

Xi Jinping, China's leader, is to pay a state visit to Moscow early next week. Here are the words from the transcript of the Russian-Chinese talks last December 30, published on the Kremlin website: "We are expecting you, dear Mr. President, dear friend, we are expecting you next spring with a state visit to Moscow," Vladimir Putin said to Xi Jinping during the videoconference. In general, this could be regarded as quite an ordinary event. Mutual contacts between the Russian and Chinese leaders take place regularly, usually two visits a year, excluding meetings on the margins of international summits. According to Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui, there have been about 40 such reciprocal visits since 2013, when Xi Jinping became the head of the country. But today is a special situation. First, this visit is the first foreign trip of the Chinese president since his reelection to his third term. In diplomatic practice, this is considered a signal: this direction of foreign policy is regarded as a priority. The fact that Xi's trip to Moscow will take place during the acute phase of the special military operation that Russia is conducting in Ukraine, essentially fighting for its interests against the collective West, adds a special character to the trip. The trip also has great significance against the background of the sharp deterioration of relations between China and the United States and the intensification of Western sanctions against Beijing. In this regard, there is a widespread version that the Chinese leader will "promote" the proposed plan for the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Ukraine. It is written that this plan is allegedly not beneficial to Russia. Well, the Chinese peace proposals may become a topic of discussion during the upcoming Russian-Chinese talks. Chinese diplomacy has just been brilliantly demonstrated by the reconciliation of bitter enemies, Saudi Arabia and Iran. An agreement for the full restoration of diplomatic relations between these countries was signed in Riyadh under the mediation of the head of the CPC Central Committee's Foreign Affairs Commission, who moved to that post upon the completion of his tenure as China's foreign minister. "The deal brokered by China overturns Middle East diplomacy and challenges the United States," said the New York Times in its assessment of Chinese peacemaking efforts. So why shouldn't China mediate on Ukraine as well? Another widespread version of the main theme of the talks says that in Moscow, Russia and China will establish an even closer alliance. It is often added: finally. All we can say about this is that certain circles not only in Russia but also in China are in favor of such an alliance, including a military one. However, the leadership of the two countries has repeatedly assured that a bloc policy is not our choice and that both countries do not consider it possible and necessary to bind their hands and feet. According to Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, this is "not an exclusive bloc, but an honest partnership. "Relations between China and Russia are based on the principles of non-alignment and non-confrontation. We are not friends against anyone, we do not threaten anyone. And no one can break us up," the diplomat said. And it seems quite reasonable. It is hard to imagine how the world would change if such an alliance were indeed established, and a dozen countries that are not under American protectorate would also join it. In addition, the current basic treaty between China and Russia already contains a provision on mutual support for the protection of state unity and territorial integrity. There is also a point of view in Russia that China is not an ally and not a friend. It is said to be acting exclusively in its own interests. Although it is not clear why a sovereign country should compromise its interests, even if it is in favor of a friend, nevertheless Xi Jinping's trip to Moscow immediately after his reelection demonstrates this friendship. Consequently, Russian and Chinese interests largely coincide. The confirmation of this thought is in the words of the President of Russia, who in December 2022 announced the Chinese leader's visit to Russia: "You and I share the same views on the causes, course and logic of the ongoing transformation of the global geopolitical landscape, in the face of unprecedented pressure and provocations from the West, we defend the principal positions and protect not only our interests, but also all those who stand for a truly democratic world order and the right of countries to freely determine their fate." According to the Russian leader, the visit will demonstrate "to the whole world the strength of the Russian-Chinese ties on key issues." Didn't the President of China, after his re-election, first of all go to the United States or Europe, where, according to the logic of many commentators, are the main economic interests of China? Chinese Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui succinctly explains the philosophy of our relations: "We are more than allies, we stand back to back. In this sense, it is useful to quote the popular Chinese (Xiangsu) newspaper South China Morning Post: "Xi Jinping's trip would be an important event in Chinese diplomacy with far-reaching consequences for his international position and ties with the United States and other major powers. Such a visit would underscore Beijing's strategic choice to stand with Moscow in its geostrategic rivalry with the West and send a message of defiance." And the answer to the question of why China is doing this is contained in the words of the head of Chinese diplomacy Qin Gang: "The more lack of stability in the world, the more important it is to strengthen Russian-Chinese ties. According to him, the U.S. has "lost all common sense" in its approach to relations with China. "Washington's preached "competition" with China is nothing but an attempt to contain and suppress China, and its rhetoric of "non-conflict" suggests that China will silently tolerate attacks. But this is simply impossible!" - stressed the head of the Chinese foreign ministry.

America, hit the brakes!

Washington calls Beijing the main enemy, Chinese officials accuse Americans of provoking direct confrontation. In recent months, since the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China, everyone with little interest in politics must have concluded that relations between Washington and Beijing have sharply deteriorated. The statements of high-ranking officials on both sides, additional U.S. sanctions against China and some actions by U.S. lawmakers testify to this. The U.S. National Security Doctrine last year called China a strategic (the only one capable of challenging) adversary. But the projection of this definition at the highest levels of the U.S. establishment is impressive, showing a deep hatred that reaches the point of hysteria. How, China dares to challenge? Then it must not only be contained, but destroyed. At the very least, destroy its ability to resist America. "Communist China is the strongest and most disciplined enemy we have ever faced," said Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. - Never in my life did I think Americans would look up into the sky and see a Chinese spy balloon looking at us. It was a national embarrassment. I can't believe Joe Biden is letting China get away with it. Chinese companies now own more than 380,000 acres (1,538 square kilometers - Auth.) of American land, some right next to our military bases. We must never allow the enemy to buy land in our country. The definition of "enemy" in relation to China is increasingly common in the American political lexicon. The Chinese threat is seen not only in China's high-tech companies, but literally in everything Chinese that, for obvious reasons, surrounds Americans. From the latest news. The U.S. Congress passed a special resolution to investigate ... Chinese port and storage cranes. It is strongly suspected in the U.S. that they not only monitor all U.S. trade, but already almost control it. This hysteria, however, mirrors the views of the American electorate. According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans continue to view China as the greatest enemy of the United States for the third year in a row. Today more than 50% of Americans said that China is their country's worst enemy. Only 32%, however, put Russia in first place. Interestingly, the North Korea, which held the palm of power among U.S. antagonists (for example, in 2018 the DPRK was considered the main enemy by 51% of Americans), is now disliked by only 7% of Americans. But in China, which for many decades has avoided direct, even verbal confrontation with the United States, apparently realized that the conflict cannot be avoided and it is better to prepare for it and prepare the population. And during the main political event of the year in China - a session of the National People's Congress - we heard unusually harsh statements. Moreover, they do not use the definitions typical of the diplomatic Chinese like "the countries concerned," but refer directly to the United States. Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang frankly warned of a clash with the United States if Washington did not stop its efforts to contain Beijing, stressing the Chinese Communist Party's concern about escalating tensions between the rival superpowers. "If the United States does not hit the brakes, but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing, and there will surely be conflict and confrontation," Qin Gang said. - What is the point of making loud statements about respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity in the issue of Ukraine, but then not respecting China's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the issue of Taiwan? Why, on the one hand, do they demand that China should not provide weapons to Russia, and on the other hand, sell weapons to Taiwan in long-term violation of the joint communiqués?" There is also a reference to Russia: "Thanks to China and Russia joining forces, the movement toward a multipolar world and a more democratic international system has gained momentum, and global strategic balance and stability have gained a guarantor. The more turbulent the world becomes, the more China-Russia relations must move forward." The fact that this was not an impromptu speech by the minister, but a new vision of foreign policy is evidenced by the words of the newly reconfirmed as Chairman of the CPC, Xi Jinping, addressed to the delegates: "The Western countries, led by the United States, are carrying out a comprehensive containment, encirclement and suppression of us." Chairman Xi, in his usual diplomatic manner, confined himself to this. Or maybe we don't know everything he said on this subject. But a number of principal decisions adopted by the National People's Congress indicate that China is about to undergo profound reforms. Not the least of their objectives: to concentrate power, rebuild the economy and the financial sphere in the face of the beginning global confrontation with the United States. Of course, Minister Qin Gang makes a diplomatic curtsey toward the United States: "What should define China-U.S. relations are common interests, shared responsibility, and friendship between our peoples, but not the domestic politics of the United States and the hysterical new McCarthyism." Indeed, China is ready to reduce the heat of passion and not to move from peaceful competition to confrontation. But the answer is contained in the words of Michael Gallagher, head of the newly created U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Existing Threat (Chinese). It is no longer a question of some kind of containment, but of "an existential struggle over what life will look like in the twenty-first century." In fact, he is right. Conflict is inevitable on ideological grounds as well. The problem is to prevent the entire human civilization from perishing in this confrontation.

Blinken was told in Astana: We do not need to be protected from Russia

On February 28, the head of the U.S. Department of State paid an official visit to Kazakhstan and simultaneously held a meeting in the "C5+1" format. In other words, the Secretary of State spoke with colleagues from five countries of the former Soviet Union – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. On the one hand, this visit follows the old (and even outdated) strategy of isolating Russia around the world, in which Blinken rushes around the continents trying to force everyone to "cancel Russia." On the other hand, the visit is within the framework of the new tactic of enforcing anti-Russian sanctions, which means twisting arms and blackmailing those who have the audacity to trade with Russia. As for Central Asia, the task here is difficult, to say the least. Since the beginning of the special military operation, all five former Soviet republics in Central Asia have not supported any UN resolution condemning Russia for its actions in Ukraine. Including the most recent one, which called on Russia to withdraw its forces and surrender. It also turns out that the anti-Russian sanctions had an extremely positive effect on the economies of these countries, which are successfully taking advantage of opportunities to make money by circumventing these sanctions: parallel exports to Russia and exports of our products, including to the EU. And in this area the Americans have little prospect of convincing our neighbors. After all, Russia accounts for 60-80 percent of trade of these countries. Gas for the eastern regions of Kazakhstan, markets, transit revenues – all this is Russia. According to the President of Kazakhstan Tokayev, the GDP of this country grew by 4 percent last year, which is a lot for a pandemic year. And this is the official data. In Kazakhstan, they say that Russia makes a significant contribution to economic (and technological) growth. The situation in the other countries of the so-called "C5" is similar. The only difference is that a large part of their GDP is created by migrants from these countries working in Russia and sending their salaries back home, for example, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The Americans have only some forceful methods of pressure, up to and including the military. But how can this be done when there is a Russian military base in Tajikistan and the region is part of the CSTO sphere of responsibility? Blinken, of course, hinted at secondary sanctions in Astana. But somehow passively, as if he knew in advance that threats would not achieve much here. Judging by the reports, he could not offer anything in return, except promises of investment. Nevertheless, during all the talks and press conferences, Secretary of State advertised the Initiative for Economic Stability in Central Asia that was launched by the US State Department last year: $25 million was allocated for it, and Blinken promised to add another $20 million this year. It turns out to be $9 million per country. Not much. In this program behind beautiful words about "diversification of trade routes, expansion of investments in the region, and employment opportunities by providing the Central Asian population with practical skills for modern labor market" is laid the well-known American methods of interference in internal affairs of sovereign states. The allocated millions will mostly go to structures and NGOs close to the U.S., but it is mere pennies compared with $6 billion, which was enough for Ukraine to "decide on its European future." Instead of carrots, Blinken showed a touching concern for independence, supposedly for which Washington genuinely cares "in connection with the imperial ambitions of Russia and China." The U.S. White House envoy urged Central Asian states not to fear Russia because Americans "are willing to guarantee their sovereignty." This message caused bewilderment not only among local political analysts, but also among participants of the "C5" meeting. It turned out that they are not afraid of Russia. It is well understood in Kazakhstan that if Russia had somehow encroached on this sovereignty, it could easily have used last year's rescue of Tokayev from reprisals (including physical) during the uprising – up to and including replacing him with a politician loyal to Moscow. And the CSTO Allied Forces, which were 90 percent of Russian troops, could still be in the republic. Well, there are already anecdotes and jokes all over the world about the sovereignty of countries ensured by the U.S. Therefore, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in oriental style, cordially thanked Blinken "for consistent and unwavering support of independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty". But Mukhtar Tleuberdi, head of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, gave a substantive answer: "We don't see or feel any risks or threats from Russia at the moment," he said at a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. According to the minister, Kazakhstan is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and the CIS, "so we see relations with Russia as an alliance that functions within these multilateral structures." "Kazakhstan continues to pursue a multi-vector foreign policy, thereby trying to maintain a system of checks and balances to ensure mutually beneficial cooperation with all countries of the world," added Tleuberdi. This is not only about Russia, but also about China, which also plays an important role in the region and will not allow the U.S. to strengthen its influence. Incidentally, Kazakhstan, as well as other states in the region, supported China's peace plan for the settlement in Ukraine. Actually, in Astana, Blinken was orientally polite, if not to say obsequious. He even forgot about the "bloody January" of 2022 in Kazakhstan, about the usual accusations of human rights violations, he abandoned the eternal calls for democratic reforms, the release of political prisoners and similar American chatter. Even on the State Department website, information about meetings with President Merziev of Uzbekistan is limited to general phrases about an exchange of views and Washington's support for reforms in that country. We can assume that no breakthroughs have been achieved here either. But it should be noted that Washington's level of diplomacy seems to be constantly not just deteriorating, but culminating in its imperial vision of the world space. In preparing for Blinken's visit to Central Asia, the State Department failed to take into account that the foreign ministers of these countries are not at all equivalent to Blinken himself in terms of influence on policy. They are merely officials who carry out the will and instructions of the presidents. Therefore, the arrival of an overseas guest is certainly an important and notable event for the region, but more of a ceremonial nature. Maybe this is why Moscow practically ignored the visit of the State Secretary, seeing no special significance or danger in it. However, it does not mean that Russia can relax here. The U.S. will continue to try to drive a wedge between Moscow and its traditional partners in Central Asia. Washington's pressure on them will increase.

India knows which side of history is right

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in Bangalore went so far as to make direct threats against the official delegation of Russia. Last meeting of the G20 finance ministers and heads of central banks in Bangalore, India, did not bring many surprises. Despite the efforts of the Indian presidency and most of the representatives to work out a joint position on the key problems of the world economy, the final communiqué could not be adopted. After all, consensus is a prerequisite for its adoption. However, not only Russia, but also China could not agree to the introduction in the economic communiqué of purely political points concerning the conflict in Ukraine. Accordingly, for the third time (earlier in Bali, in Washington – in 2022), the final communiqué was replaced by a statement of the chairman, in this case by India. This happened despite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's direct call for the G20 financial leaders to focus on "the world's most vulnerable citizens" and not politicize the economic agenda. Opening the meeting in Bangalore, Modi said that the COVID-19 pandemic and "growing geopolitical tensions in different parts of the world" have led to unsustainable debt levels in several countries, disruptions in global supply chains and threats to food and energy security. It would seem that such topics cannot afford delay. Nevertheless, representatives of the G7 insisted on the Ukrainian agenda here as well. The Russian Foreign Ministry's official statement on the occasion emphasized the West's destabilizing role in the failure to adopt collective G20 decisions. During the meeting, representatives of financial institutions of the G20 countries developed measures for the growth of the global economy and financial markets. The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the BRICS countries and especially the Indian presidency have made a positive contribution to this project. But ... "Our opponents, first and foremost the United States, the EU and the G7, are still not slowing down in their paranoid attempts to isolate Russia and shift the blame for the provoked problems in international security and the world economy onto it," the statement read. "We urge the collective West to abandon their destructive course as soon as possible, realize the objective realities of a multipolar world, and start building normal relations with new centers of power in the international arena, such as Russia, on the principles of sovereign equality of States," the Russian Foreign Ministry added. A similar protest against the actions of the West followed from the Foreign Ministry of China. "Here we see a shift in the Chinese position, and that is very unfortunate," German Finance Minister Linder lamented, while officials from Russia, China's strategic partner, insist that discussions should concern only "technical issues of the international financial architecture. So, the U.S. and its allies (or, more correctly, vassals) on all international platforms set a goal of forcing everyone and everything "to stand on the right side" of history, twisting the arms of those who do not agree. And regardless of the subject of discussion: politics, economics, climate, humanitarian issues. The hypocrisy has no limits. In particular, here is a passage from the proposed points of the communiqué: "Peaceful resolution of conflicts, efforts to resolve crises, as well as diplomacy and dialogue are vital" and "Today's era should not be a war." Who would argue with this, if we discard double standards and if we were not talking solely about Ukraine. We are told about peaceful conflict resolution, crisis management and diplomacy by those who rejected all of Russia's peace proposals, who forced Kiev to withdraw from peace talks last year. It is inconceivable that similar points appeared in the communiqués of international meetings during the U.S. and coalition attack on Iraq. There was no condemnation during the destruction of Libya by NATO and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. And only because then NATO burned and killed supposedly in the name of democracy, while now Russia has opposed the sacred principles of the "free" world. But this approach is no longer acceptable to everyone a priori. The West has failed to twist India's arm. Prime Minister Modi's speech to the Bangalore summit is a vivid example of this. There is no condemnation of Russia in it. Indeed, as G20 chair, India is interested in compromises and signing final documents. But, as they say, everything has a limit. And this limit was also marked during the just-concluded visit of the German Chancellor to New Delhi. Scholz failed to put India on the right "side of history," although he made attractive offers to the Indians, including in the trade, economic and defense sectors. But a country with a population of 1.4 billion that is rapidly developing (and without Western aid), but faces considerable social and economic problems, believes that "one old friend is better than two new ones." India remembers its colonial past and is not ready to exchange its time-tested friendship with Russia for short-term promises, behind which there is political pressure. Minister Siluanov and Central Bank Governor Nabiullina were not present at the last G20 financiers' meeting in Bangalore. Although it is said that the Indian side would like to see them there. But taking into account the situation in Moscow they decided to lower the level of representation. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to visit Delhi on March 1. In addition to meetings with Indian counterparts, he will take part in a meeting of heads of diplomatic missions of the G20 countries. It is expected that the main topics of talks with Indian Foreign Minister Subramaniam Jaishankar will focus on trade and investment, transport and logistics cooperation, as well as the use of national currencies in mutual settlements and promising projects in the field of energy. "The ministers will exchange views on current international issues, including interaction in the framework of the Indian presidency of the SCO and the G20, as well as coordination of approaches in the UN, BRICS, RIC (Russia, India, China)," said the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova. A number of regional issues will also be discussed, in particular the formation of a security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, the situation in Afghanistan and the situation in Ukraine. We remember Western countries' provocations against Lavrov in Bali in 2022. Nevertheless, he decided to personally present the Russian position. Let's see what will happen in India. One can get an impression of how the representatives of the so-called "free democratic world" behaved in Bangalore from the reports in the Western press. Here, for example, is what The New York Times writes. "I urge Russian officials here at the G20 to understand that their continued work for the Kremlin makes them complicit in Putin's atrocities," U.S. Treasury Secretary Yellen said in a closed-door meeting, as a Treasury Department official told the newspaper. – They are responsible for the lives and economic damage to Ukraine and the world. It is clear that there is no question of diplomacy here. Instead, there is a hint of a direct threat to people who are simply doing their jobs, and a call for treason. But unlike the meeting in Washington last year, where the Yellen-led "fighters for good against bad" tried to boycott the heads of the Russian delegation, in Bangalore they listened intently to what the Russian representatives had to say. The behavior of Yellen and her Western colleagues (including Canadian Finance Minister Freeland, the successor of the Ukrainian Banderites) had no effect on the Russian delegation. But Western methods and policies are a clear lesson not only for non-Western members of the G20, but also for the rest of the world. The approach of the global South was recently formulated by Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. In short: The West has colonized us, killed and robbed us, and now it demands that we support it in a war against Russia, which has never colonized or humiliated us and, on the contrary, has supported our quest for independence and justice. According to Indian Foreign Minister Subramaniam Jaishankar, who will chair the forthcoming meeting of heads of diplomatic missions in Delhi, "Europe must stop thinking that Europe's problems are problems of the world and that the problems of the world are not problems of Europe." To paraphrase in a modern way in the style of the old Reagan: There is something more important for the collective South than Ukraine.