Alert Reader based in China and heavily invested in Chinese manufacturing brokerage reports that Trump tariffs are exactly what has been needed to bring the Chinese to the table so as to correct the imbalance that may have been fair 30 years ago but is grossly unfair to US companies and workers now.
He reports that over 100 factories have closed overnight as US companies have started cancelling orders that would not arrive in time to miss the new 10% tariffs that start 24 September, and that the Chinese government is under massive pressure to work with Trump to avoid triggering the 25% tariff rate that would be implemented on 1 January 2019 if talks do not progress.
With BRI now at play, three implications and opportunities arise that transcend bilateral economic cooperation: infrastructural and trade interconnectivity, a closely-related “information Silk Road”, and Israel’s potential as mediator between the world’s two leading powers.
The nexus of infrastructure, transport and communications transmission routes paves the way for an unprecedented degree of interconnectivity embracing a community already exceeding 60 nations. China’s infrastructural footprint in Israel began with the Carmel Tunnels near Haifa in 2007, six years before BRI’s formal announcement. Yet, it is the projected “Med-Red” railway linking Eilat with Ashdod, reportedly to be constructed by China, that could transform Israel into a land bridge along the Maritime Silk Road.
A massive infrastructure push is underway across Asia. The region’s infrastructure market could grow by 8 percent annually over the next decade, rising to nearly 60 percent of the global total. All told, the region’s infrastructure needs are estimated to exceed $1 trillion annually. China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative is at the center of this push. Estimates vary, but all point toward an ambitious endeavor. Geographically, OBOR could span 65 countries responsible for roughly 70 percent of the world’s population. Economically, it could include Chinese investments approaching $4 trillion.
India’s Smart City vision is part of a larger agenda of creating Industrial Corridors between India’s big metropolitan cities in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision “Digital India,” has set an ambitious plan to build 100 smart cities across the country. Modi in his speech quoted, “Cities in the past were built on riverbanks. They are now built along highways. But in the future, they will be built based on availability of optical fiber networks and next-generation infrastructure.”
As this report spells out, “By 2030, Asia-Pacific countries will comprise nearly two-thirds of the global middle class, dwarfing the projected one-fifth for Europe and North America combined.” Along with climate change this is one of the great geopolitical meta-trends that will define the 21st century. In the U.S., one has to also add The Emerging White Minority Trend. And yet you will find barely a mention of this anywhere in corporate media. Why is that do you think? Austerity economics and deregulation have virtually destroyed the American middle class, certainly made it a shadow of its former self. In those European countries which embraced Austerity Economics a similar process has been going on. At the same time India, China, the Asia-Pacific nations, are creating a middle class that will dwarf its White counterpart. Power will shift. Our intransigence concerning climate change, means leadership will go elsewhere, and will increase the speed of this transfer. We are going into a different world. And because profit is our only cultural priority, we are doing it rather badly.
India-Russia-Afghanistan: India, Russia and Afghanistan quietly have created a triangular arrangement for providing arms aid to Afghanistan after NATO withdraws. None of the countries have made an official announcement. Only a small number of news services, including The Moscow Times and Pakistani newspapers, have published articles about it.
The arrangement was finalized in February when an India team visited Moscow, but it had been under discussion during the past year. It was one of the discussion items when President Karzai visited India last December.
Under the agreement, smaller arms such as light artillery and mortars will be provided by Russia and moved to Afghanistan from the north, while India paid Russia for the equipment. An inventory of Russian-made equipment in Afghanistan has been completed. Afghanistan has presented India with a list of requirements and Russia reportedly has made one or more initial shipments.
In India, climate change is forcing farmers to adapt in order to survive. While scientists race to breed a new batch of climate-resilient super seeds, locals are instead turning to the ways of their ancestors.
Saltwater intrusion, flooding, droughts, rising sea levels and violent storms wreak havoc on the agriculture of countries like India, forcing many to seek out more resilient seed varieties. Rice conservators like Debal Deb are helping to reintroduce traditional, salt-tolerant solutions for struggling farmers. “They are more precious than gold,” says a local affected by cyclone Isla four years ago. People like Deb say these seeds rival modern scientific billion-dollar investments, including GM. But scientists say reintroducing old seed varieties simply doesn’t produce enough to feed 9 billion people on a climate-changing planet.
India-Afghanistan: Indian Minister of External Affairs Slaman Khurshid said on 15 February that India will provide helicopters to Afghanistan.
“We are giving them helicopters and we will be supplying them very soon,” Khurshid told reporters accompanying him on a day-long visit to the Afghan city of Kandahar, where he inaugurated an agricultural university built with Indian aid. “We also have been giving them some logistical support and we hopefully will be able to upgrade and refurbish their transport aircraft.”
Khurshid did not specify the number or type of helicopters to be provided to Afghanistan. Nor did he elaborate on transport aircraft contracts.
The attached BBC report/video by John Simpson describing Afghan attitudes toward the US/UK exit struck me as bizarre. The weight of Simpson’s gist is that most Afghans do not want us to leave. But the report based most of its information on interviews in Kabul and only a short part (the wobbly part) on the countryside where the vast majority of Afghans live — i.e., Helmand. Simpson did not mention of Taliban strongholds in Kandahar and the border areas with Pakistan,nor did he mention the western areas like Herat, or the Northern areas. So I asked an Afghan friend who follows events in Afghanistan closely for his take on this report. Attached below the video link is my friend’s reaction and a NYT piece with yellow highlights.
(BBC) The BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson visited Kabul, a city he knows well, to discover what shape Afghan government forces are in and whether the Taliban could take over after UK and American troops leave.
Email from Mr. X
(a highly educated Afghan — ethnic Pashtun — an expat living in Europe)
Syria: President Bashar Asad Monday called for a battle against Wahhabism, the political and religious theology embraced by the Saudi Arabian government that backs the Sunni uprising against his regime.
“President Assad said that extremists and Wahhabi thought distort the real Islam, which is tolerant,” state news agency SANA reported. He underlined the role of men of religion in fighting against Wahhabi thought, which is foreign to our societies, according to Asad.
Wahhabism is an ultra-conservative Muslim tradition, which is predominant in Saudi Arabia and whose intolerant precepts govern Saudi religious, civilian and political life. It is a sect of Sunni Islam, whose leaders profess has no sects.