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New Asian contracts to double Russian gas project’s revenue – Reuters

RT | January 26, 2023

The Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is expected to generate twice as much revenue in 2023 compared to its earnings before the Ukraine-related sanctions rained down on Russia’s energy sector, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing industry analysts.

The boost is attributed to long-term contracts with clients from the Asian region, along with higher global energy prices.

Renewed deals with Asian buyers are expected to secure demand for up to 6.5 million tons of the super-chilled fuel annually from Sakhalin 2, according to calculations by the agency and contractual volume data provided by the GIIGNL international group of LNG importers.

The contracts could earn up to $4.5 billion in revenue for Sakhalin 2 shareholders, which include state-run energy giant Gazprom and Japanese companies Mitsubishi and Mitsui, according to Masanori Odaka, a senior analyst on Rystad Energy’s gas and LNG team.

The enterprise is expected to generate another $7.45 billion in 2023 if production remains in line with 2022, while its sales on the spot market are retained at 4.9 million tons, Alexei Kokin, chief analyst at Russia’s Otkritie brokerage, told Reuters.

On Thursday, Sakhalin Energy, the operator of the project, said it produced 11.5 million tons of LNG and some 3.7 million tons of its Sakhalin blend crude oil at the Sakhalin-2 facilities in 2022, exceeding its production plan. That is 10% more than the project produced in the previous year.

The company had managed to continue production despite “a period of unprecedented pressure from external factors on production and economic activity,” according to Andrey Oleinikov, Sakhalin Energy’s managing director.

According to the company’s statement, LNG and oil shipments in 2022 were delivered to the buyers on time in full compliance with the terms of Stock Purchase Agreement, while its production remained on schedule. The major markets for exports are Japan, China, South Korea and Indonesia, Sakhalin Energy said.

January 26, 2023 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Goodbye empire? US sanctions are failing in the face of multipolarity

By Felix Livshitz | RT | January 25, 2023

Foreign Affairs, a highly influential US magazine – effectively a US empire house journal – has published an article detailing how sanctions are quickly losing their efficiency as a weapon in Washington’s global arsenal.

Published by the Council on Foreign Relations NGO, Foreign Affairs provides space for officials within the US military industrial complex to communicate with one another on matters they believe to be of the utmost significance. Therefore, it is important to pay attention when the magazine makes major pronouncements on any issue.

It recently published an appraisal of US sanctions – the conclusion being that they are increasingly ineffective, have prompted Beijing and Moscow to create alternative global financial structures to insulate themselves and others from punitive actions, and that Washington and its acolytes will no longer be able to force countries to do their bidding, let alone destroy dissenting states, through such measures in the very near future.

The article begins by noting that “sanctions have long been the US’ favored diplomatic weapon,” which “fill the void between empty diplomatic declarations and deadly military interventions.” Despite this, it predicts “the golden days of US sanctions may soon be over.”

These “golden days” were the immediate post-Cold War era, when Washington was “still an unrivaled economic power,” and therefore could at the press of a button cripple each and every overseas economy, in theory. This was due to “primacy of the US dollar and the reach of US oversight of global financial channels.”

As international trade was overwhelmingly conducted using dollars, Washington could stop any country from exporting or importing any and all goods it wished, whenever it liked. Even then, Foreign Affairs recalls, US leaders themselves worried if sanctions were applied too liberally. In 1998, then-President Bill Clinton claimed his government was “in danger of looking like we want to sanction everybody who disagrees with us.”

The Foreign Affairs article says Clinton’s fears were “overblown,” but this is precisely what came to pass. Governments, and the countries they represented, have been sanctioned for pursuing the wrong policies, refusing to be overthrown in US-backed coups and military interventions and showing any degree of independence in their domestic or foreign dealings whatsoever. In the process, millions have died, and even more lives have been ruined for no good reason.

This approach has backfired, and badly. In response, states “have begun to harden their economies against such measures.” For example, after the US cut off Iran from the SWIFT global banking system, many other countries took note. Restricting China’s access to numerous technologies as part of the new Cold War has also served to place both Washington’s allies and adversaries alike “on notice their access to crucial technology could be severed.”

Beijing and Moscow lead the way in the push to create “financial innovations that diminish US advantage,” creating a raft of “currency swap agreements, alternatives to SWIFT, and digital currencies” that serve as “preemptive measures” against any “potential penalties” down the line.

Currency swaps, which connect central banks directly to each other and eliminate the need for trades between them to be dollar-backed, have been eagerly embraced by China. It has signed deals of this kind with more than 60 countries across the world, thereby enabling its companies “to circumvent US financial channels when they want to.”

In 2020, Beijing settled more than half its annual trade with Moscow in currencies other than the dollar, making the majority of these transactions totally immune to US sanctions, and that figure has only risen ever since. In March that year also, the China and Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization officially prioritized development of payments in the local currencies of its members.

Beijing and Moscow are also, Foreign Affairs reports, “busily preparing their own alternatives” to various Western-dominated international systems. Their alternative to SWIFT, the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System, isn’t yet a match in terms of transaction volume, but that’s not the point. It prevents them, and any state or organization enrolled in the framework – 1,300 banks in over 100 countries already – from being unable to make international financial transactions, should they be cut out of SWIFT.

Similarly, China is expanding the reach of the digital renminbi, the currency issued by Beijing central bank, at home and overseas. More than 300 million of its citizens already use it, and a billion are forecast to by 2030. The currency is completely sanctions-proof as the US has no ability to prevent its use, and Beijing has encouraged several countries to pay for its exports exclusively using it – “other such deals will probably follow,” Foreign Affairs predicts.

The American empire’s obsessive reliance on sanctions has now created a Catch-22 situation, by the magazine’s reckoning. The already hostile relations between the USA, China and Russia mean Moscow and Beijing are pushing ahead with this revolutionary effort no matter what. If “things get worse,” they’ll simply “double down on their sanctions-proofing efforts,” taking more and more countries with them.

“These innovations are increasingly giving countries the ability to conduct transactions through sanctions-proof channels. This trend appears irreversible,” the article bitterly concludes. “All this means that within a decade, US unilateral sanctions may have little bite.”

It is all these developments, along with Moscow’s economic pivot eastwards after the 2014 Ukraine coup, and move towards self-sufficiency in energy and food and in other vital resources, which account for the embarrassing failure of US-led sanctions against Russia.

Western leaders, academics, journalists, pundits and economists promised when these sanctions were imposed that they would soon lead to Russia’s total political, economic and military collapse. They have not, demonstrating that elites in Europe and North America do not understand the global economy they claim to rule. They should get to grips with the new reality they inhabit in short order, though – for a multipolar world has begun to emerge in 2022, and it is here to stay.

How rapidly US elites are reckoning with the radically different reality in which they are now forced to operate is ironically underlined by how quickly the author of the Foreign Affairs article, Agathe Demarais, seems to have completely changed her tune on the subject of sanctions. On 1 December, less than a month earlier, she authored a piece for Foreign Policy – another US empire in-house journal – that offered a radically different take on the matter.

Boldly declaring “sanctions on Russia are working” in the headline, Demarais dismissed suggestions punitive Western measures were intended to “force Putin to back down and pull out of Ukraine,” or to provoke “regime change” in Moscow, or to prompt “a Venezuela-style collapse of the Russian economy,” despite the fact every single one of these outcomes was explicitly cited as a motivating factor behind the sanctions by Western officials, pundits, and journalists at the time.

Instead, she argued, sanctions were effective in the quest to “send a message to the Kremlin” that “Europe and the United States are standing with Ukraine.”

Whether or not Kiev will be thrown under a bus by its Western backers in due course, and the anti-Russian measures will endure after the war is over, seems to not matter so much, though – for, as Demarais was herself forced to acknowledge less than four weeks later, the effectiveness of sanctions is rapidly diminishing. The speed of this about-face could well be an indication of how irresistibly the multipolar world is coming to be.

January 25, 2023 Posted by | Economics, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Lavrov: US Crossing Red Lines by Threatening Other Countries Not to Work With Russia

By Petr Beryshnikov – Sputnik – 23.01.2023

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in this year’s BRICS host state, South Africa, on Monday morning to discuss bilateral relations as well as coopeation within the BRICS.

Western countries, namely the US and the UK, are crossing all red lines by exerting pressure on the states that cooperate with Russia, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a joint press conference with his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor after their meeting in Pretoria on Monday.

“[The US] is publicly saying that those who cooperate with Russia will regret it,” he said, anwsering to Sputnik’s question at the press conference. “Through threats and pressure, the US, and the British too, are crossing all red lines.”

Lavrov stressed that the West undermines the democratic principles in terms of international relations, noting that the US, as well as the EU appeal to democracy only when it suits their interests.

Answering the reporters’ questions, the minister also drew attention to the issues concerning the export of Russian grain and fertilizers in the context of the world food crisis and anti-Russian sanctions. He noted that although such exports are not prohibited by the Western sanctions, the latter create logistical, financial and freightage problems. Lavrov stressed that Russia is ready for international cooperation to overcome these issues – among others, noted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – but the West does not seem to be willing to participate.

“As for Russian fertilizers, grain, no efforts by the UN helped the European Union and the United States remove obstacles to our exports,” he said.

He also noted that only 20,000 of 280 thousand tonnes of fertilizers, which Russia agreed to provide to the poorest states for free, left the European ports.

“It’s been about half a year since President Putin drew the attention of the world community to this initiative. During this time, out of 280,000 tons, only 20,000 tons were sent from the Netherlands to Malawi – well, […] such an agreement was reached three months ago, and the cargo itself was transported only very recently,” he underlined.

According to Lavrov, less than 10% of grain exported under the so-called Black Sea grain deal goes to the poorest countries, with almost a half being directed to the EU and roughly the same amount to prosperous developing countries.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, aslo known as the “grain deal”, refers to an agreement between Russia and Ukraine with the participation of Turkey and the UN. The goal of the initiative is to help tackling the world food crisis by allowing grain exports from the Black Sea ports, which were initially blocked during the conflict in Ukraine.

Talking about the food crisis, the minister also responded to claims made by the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who said that Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine and “weaponization of food has exacerbated food insecurity and caused untold suffering”.

According to Lavrov, it is “hard to comment” on Yellen’s statements, which he called a “slogan” and cited UN data indicating that the world food crisis started before the special military operation in Ukraine and was caused by “uncontrolled emission of money” in the West as well as “politicized and uncompromising transition to so-called green economy”.

Yellen had made her statements during her January African tour, which is widely seen as part of “Biden’s big push” into Africa in an effort to counter Chinese and Russian influence on the continent.

Talking about the West’s pressure on African countries, Lavrov also touched the matter of western criticism of the Russia-China-South Africa naval drills scheduled to take place in February.

“As for naval exercises, I think there is nothing even to comment on. Three sovereign countries conduct exercises without violating any norms of international law. I don’t understand how they can cause a ‘mixed’ reaction,” Lavrov told reporters, adding: “US colleagues believe that only they can conduct exercises around the world. Now they are actively engaged in naval exercises within the framework of the Indo-Pacific strategies around China, in the South China Sea, in the Taiwan Strait, and this does not cause any mixed reaction from anyone,” the diplomat noted.

Thandi Modise, South Africa’s minister of defense, earlier said that Russia could be Africa’s key partner in terms of military cooperation. She also recently stated that the US, in its turn, “threatens Africa, not just South Africa, of having anything that is even smelling of Russia”.

In her turn, South Africa’s foreign minister stressed the importance of the exercises for her state, saying that South Africa’s military conducts drills “as part of agreements with many countries worldwide”. Naledi Pandor said that in contrast to the current criticism of the three-lateral exercises, “no-one asked questions” when South Africa took part in drills with the US or France.

“These are all part of exercises we undertake […] to be able to respond to a range of situations, including disaster management, which our military often plays a role in addressing. So, I just think it’s important that we regard all countries as sovereign nations and not stop doing so when it suits us,” she underlined.

According to Lavrov, Russia is actively developing military cooperation with its BRICS partners such as China, South Africa and India, noting that this cooperation is “nothing new”. He said that the exercises are “transparent” and called for the western states to respect their foreign counterparts.

“If you respect other countries, let them pick their sides,” the minister said, concluding: “We simply advocate for each country to have its own rights in the international system, as stipulated by the UN Charter.”

On Monday, Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in South Africa, which became the first destination for him during his African tour.

In summer 2022, Sergey Lavrov conducted a major African tour, visiting the Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Ethiopia and Egypt. In September 2022, he also held talks with South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Russia and the South African Republic established their bilateral diplomatic relations in 1992. Being two key nations of the BRICS group, which also encompasses Brazil, India and China, Moscow and Pretoria promoted their bilateral relations to the level of the comprehensive strategic partnership in 2013.

South Africa is Russia’s key partner in scientific and educational spheres and one of the key trade partners on the African continent along with Egypt and Algeria. The two sides have also been actively promoting relations in the military dimension as well as in other fields. Moscow and Pretoria share common views on the core principles of the world order, coordinating their positions and actions by means of regular bilateral diplomatic dialogue, at the United Nations, as well as within such formats as BRICS and G20.

The country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, first visited Russia in 2019, when he participated in the first Russia-Africa summit held in Sochi. Pretoria is also expected to participate in the second Russia-Africa summit which will be held in Saint Petersburg in July.

January 23, 2023 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Taiwan bloodbath might suit US decision-makers just fine

Wargames point to heavy losses in a conflict with China, but that’s unlikely to discourage America’s war advocates

By Tony Cox | RT | January 21, 2023

Most sane human beings would shudder to think about the carnage that would result from a US-China war over Taiwan. For the warmongers and military-industrial-complex profiteers in Washington, the bloody prospects are something to contemplate and calculate with a mixture of anticipation and opportunism.

No matter how they run the various scripts, the computers and the human analysts spit out findings that ought to be sobering for policy makers and generals alike. Consider, for example, this month’s wargaming report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a US think tank that considers its mission to be defining the “future of national security.”

CSIS studied 24 different scenarios for a US-China conflict following a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. The gist of its findings was that the invasion would fail, but at an enormous cost to all parties involved. The US and Japan would lose dozens of warships, including two American aircraft carriers, hundreds of planes and thousands of troops. Taiwan would be left in ruins, “without electricity and basic services.” The think tank sees the dust clearing with Beijing’s vaunted naval forces “in shambles,” hundreds of ships and aircraft lost, and tens of thousands of Chinese troops either dead or captured.

I would argue that the outcome would be worse for the US and its allies (more on that later), but even if we accept a Washington-centric, rose-colored view of the conflict for discussion’s sake, it would seem like the sort of catastrophe that would terrify leaders on all sides – and spur them to ease tensions in the region. However, the scary thing is that if we consider Washington’s tactics past and present, America’s real decision-makers might actually be encouraged and emboldened by the CSIS’s projections.

When there’s money to be made and more power to be secured, Washington’s rulers have no qualms about getting thousands – or even millions – of people killed or maimed. That’s especially true of the smaller allies that they vow to support. From the South Vietnamese to the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds to the Afghans who sided with the West against the Taliban, many a little brother can testify to how big brother emboldened him to fight, pledging to have his back, only to throw him under the bus when it came time to skedaddle.

As former South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu put it after being betrayed by the US, “It is so easy to be an enemy of the United States, but so difficult to be a friend.”

The CSIS report paints a grim picture of the heavy losses that Japan and especially Taiwan would suffer. But from a US perspective, the allies’ devastation would be a small price to pay for feeding the American war machine.

We’re seeing the same thing play out today in Ukraine, where US politicians have spoken openly of what a great deal it is for the Pentagon to help kill Russian forces without putting any of its own troops in harm’s way. Washington helped lay the groundwork for the conflict by pushing for the expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders and helping to overthrow the elected government of Ukraine in 2014. Having achieved their desired proxy war, US leaders are trying to prolong it to weaken Russia’s military and generate more profits.

This isn’t altogether good news for the people who have to actually fight this bloody conflict. Big brother is happy to keep it going to the last Ukrainian. Little brother – the Ukrainian forces, for whom the US and its allies profess to care so deeply – just gets to die. Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov admitted in a January 5 TV interview that Kiev’s forces are “shedding their blood” for NATO, which probably didn’t give much satisfaction to the troops whose bodies littered the streets in Soledar when Russian forces captured the strategic city a week later.

That doesn’t mean Washington is terribly reluctant to get its own forces killed. In fact, their deaths can sometimes be useful enough in advancing an agenda. In the early days of World War II, then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt faced strong public opposition to joining the fight. A Gallup poll in May 1940 showed that 93% of Americans opposed entering the war with troops. One week after Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, 91% said they agreed with the president’s decision to declare war on Germany and Japan.

Some historians argue that this catalyzing event, Roosevelt’s “day that will live in infamy,” didn’t happen by accident. In their view, which is considered a conspiracy theory by most other historians, Roosevelt’s administration sought to provoke Japan into attacking the US and to ensure that losses would be severe enough to make even isolationist Americans beg for war.

One of the leading advocates of this view, the late Robert Stinnett, author of ‘Day of Deceit’, described an October 1940 memo from the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) that detailed how the US would push Tokyo’s back against the wall. The plan included giving all possible aid to the Chinese national government led by Chiang Kai-shek; making arrangements with British and Dutch forces for use of their bases in Southeast Asia; deploying US destroyers and submarines to the Orient; keeping the main strength of the US naval fleet in Hawaii; insisting that the Dutch refuse all Japanese demands for economic concessions, especially oil; and embargoing all trade with Japan, in cooperation with the UK.

The memo was never publicly adopted, but Stinnett writes that Roosevelt and his cabinet saw and approved it (though the “presidential routing logs” he cites as evidence are not provided).

Unbeknownst to the Japanese, Stinnett and other supporters of the ‘Pearl Harbor advance-knowledge theory’ claim, the US broke their communications codes, so their hand was exposed as Washington’s policies pushed Emperor Hirohito’s empire closer and closer to an overt act of war against America. Ironically, the ONI memo’s author, Lieutenant Commander Arthur McCollum, oversaw the routing of communications intelligence to Roosevelt during the run-up to the Pearl Harbor attack.

According to Stinnett, key intelligence was withheld from the top US commanders in Hawaii, US Navy Admiral Husband Kimmel and US Army Lieutenant General Walter Short, even as the movements of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s attack fleet were being monitored in the northern Pacific. When the bombs started dropping on a sleepy Sunday morning, US forces in Hawaii were caught off guard.

The attack killed 2,403 Americans, including 68 civilians, and destroyed or damaged 19 US Navy ships and hundreds of aircraft, but Roosevelt had his way. Congress voted the next day to declare war on Japan, which meant the US was essentially at war, too, with Tokyo’s ally, Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler made it official three days later, declaring war on the US on December 11. And with US industry ramping up to build new warships, aircraft and other weaponry, the Great Depression was finally over.

While Stinnett and others like him are dubbed revisionists, and their claims are widely refuted citing questionable sourcing and factual errors, it’s not difficult to understand how US warmongers can salivate over a horrific and devastating event on the scale of Pearl Harbor.

Consider the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a foreign policy think tank whose founding statement in 1997 was signed by such political heavyweights as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. John Bolton, the future national security advisor, was among its directors. In a report written in September 2000, PNAC wrote that in order to create “tomorrow’s dominant force,” the necessary transformation of America’s military would take a long time, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”

One year later, by which time Cheney had become vice president and Rumsfeld was secretary of defense, America had its new Pearl Harbor: the September 11 terrorist attacks on Washington and the Pentagon. Even the casualty total was similar, with 2,977 victims killed.

Aided by a sudden outbreak of bipartisanship in Congress, President George W. Bush’s administration leaped into action, firing up the war machine and trampling civil liberties in the name of national security. The US also followed through with a regime-change war in Iraq, as contemplated in the PNAC document.

The CSIS report, titled ‘The First Battle of the Next War’, predicts that 3,200 US troops would be killed in a Taiwan Strait conflict with China in just three weeks, while thousands more would be wounded. And after decades of operating with dominant firepower, the US Navy and Air Force would be staggered by the losses they’d suffer against China’s powerful forces.

It’s easy to imagine how war profiteers would see opportunity in such a situation. Just replacing the lost weaponry would be a bonanza for defense contractors. The aircraft carriers alone would cost more than $13 billion each. But it wouldn’t stop there.

For years, some US lawmakers have complained that even as Washington spends more on defense than the nine next-biggest military budgets combined, the Pentagon isn’t working aggressively enough to expand its forces and develop new weaponry to counter China’s rise. Imagine the spending binge that would ensue with the US military reeling from a fierce battle with Beijing.

The CSIS also predicts that the Chinese Communist Party would be destabilized by a failed invasion of Taiwan – surely an encouraging prospect for US policy makers. However, the study seems to overlook how catastrophically wrong the war could go for the US and its allies. Just as Washington has shrugged off escalation risks in its Ukrainian proxy war with Moscow, the CSIS suggests that a battle over Taiwan could be contained to that region and finished relatively quickly.

China is a nuclear-armed superpower that has grown weary of Washington’s unipolar worldview. Its leaders think in terms of centuries, not two- or four-year election cycles, and they likely wouldn’t consider losing an option in Taiwan. Through trade sanctions alone, China could wreak havoc on the US. Beijing also has allies and nuclear weapons. What if nuclear-armed North Korea saw this as a good time to attack Japan or South Korea? Wars tend to be full of surprises and unforeseen consequences.

Unfortunately, with so much to potentially be gained, US decision-makers appear to be recklessly provoking China. Washington wouldn’t publicly proclaim a policy of trying to instigate war with Beijing, just as it didn’t announce a plan to trigger a Japanese attack. However, we need only watch US actions to guess at its intentions.

For instance, was there some legitimate benefit contemplated when 82-year-old congressional leader Nancy Pelosi disregarded China’s warnings and visited Taiwan last August? Did she bring the countries closer to war or further from it? The result was China’s decision to dramatically increase drills in the Taiwan Strait and sever military and climate ties with the US.

The same questions might be asked about Washington’s “freedom-of-navigation” exercises in the region, such as when the US Navy sent warships through the Taiwan Strait earlier this month. Do such actions create more risk of conflict or less? What was the point? On the latter question, a US Navy spokeswoman said, “The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.”

When the US was doing the same sort of thing in 1940-41, the provocations near or within Japanese waters were called “pop-up cruises.” Roosevelt advocated the tactic, saying, “I just want them to keep popping up here and here and keep the Japs guessing.” Kimmel, who later became a scapegoat for the Pearl Harbor attack, was among the critics of the pop-up strategy, saying, “It is ill-advised and will result in war if we make this move.”

Like the sailors, soldiers and civilians whose lives were ended or shredded that day, Kimmel paid a price for the US war-instigation policy when he lost his command. But the heavy losses were a price worth paying, at somebody else’s cost, for the war planners in Washington.

Tony Cox is a US journalist who has written or edited for Bloomberg and several major daily newspapers.

January 21, 2023 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

US-China unlikely to find breakthrough during Blinken’s upcoming visit to Beijing

By Ahmed Adel | January 18, 2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will try to prevent China from deepening its cooperation with Russia during his visit to Beijing. Although it will not succeed, Blinken hopes that perhaps other topics could de-escalate the trade war and lessen tensions over the Taiwan issue, and in this way, also incentivise Beijing’s move away from Moscow.

Politico reported that Blinken will visit China on February 5-6, where he will meet with his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang. This meeting was later confirmed by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It does raise the question why Blinken is seemingly desperate to meet with the Chinese foreign minister in Beijing. The US Secretary of State will likely try to divide Russia and China by raising the issue of Ukraine. Specifically, the US envoy may condemn the growing partnership between Moscow and Beijing, as it has done many times before, but offer incentives to move the Asian country away from Russia.

None-the-less, it is unlikely to work since China’s position is very firm and fully sympathises with Russia’s concerns about NATO’s encroachment and encirclement.

It is also speculated that during Blinken’s visit, the Americans would try to tactically reduce the extent of the trade war launched by former US president Donald Trump. Although the US are in public denial about it, policymakers in Washington are undoubtedly frustrated that the trade war against China and sanctions on Russia have failed to weaken them. In fact, this two-pronged American economic aggression has instead deepened trade ties and cooperation between the #2 (Russia) and #3 (Chinese) ranked military powers.

The visit will also relate to Taiwan. The US wants to find out if there is any possibility of a compromise or move following the victory of the staunchly “anti-China” Republicans in November’s midterm elections. They are even stepping up their military aid program to Taiwan and preparing for a visit by new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The visit is expected to take place in February or March.

Perhaps the Biden administration, along with Blinken, are trying to soften the future actions of the Republican-held House of Representatives. The problem for Washington is that the Chinese do not distinguish between Congress and the Office of the President. For Beijing – both offices are considered the official position of the US, even if it is contradictory.

It cannot be overlooked that Blinken’s visit will come before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow in March. For this reason, it is expected that the Secretary of State will try to conduct exploratory activities to find out what will happen when the Russian and Chinese leaders meet.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on January 17 that Beijing hopes for the US to adopt a correct perception, stick to dialogue rather than confrontation, and pursue win-win results rather than a zero-sum game.

“It is hoped that the US can work with China to fully deliver on the important common understandings reached between the two heads of state, and bring China-US relations back to the track of sound and steady growth,” Wang stressed.

Politico said in a report that Blinken’s “much-anticipated” trip to Beijing is a follow-up to the meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping had with his US counterpart Joe Biden in Indonesia in November 2022. At the time, Biden pledged to “maintain open lines of communication” with China despite worsening bilateral tensions.

According to Politico, some US observers, like former deputy assistant secretary of state Susan Shirk, believe that the visit will test China’s “moderate” foreign and domestic policies to satisfy the US. However, such a notion is ridiculous and unhelpful in recovering bilateral ties as it once again signals to China to compromise on its values and instead adhere to Western liberalism.

In fact, it is the US who is more desperate to repair relations with China, especially considering their own economic problems. The problem Washington has is that it does not want to compromise on the tensions it has created for itself.

“The Biden administration needs to bring back economic confidence, so what the US needs to do at the moment is to make full use of engagement with China to fix the damaged supply chains and save its own economy which is certainly in trouble. For instance, they should cancel the restrictions and sanctions that target China’s development but in fact harm the US economy as well,” The Global Times reported.

As mentioned though, despite the US needing to overcome this impasse, it is also stubborn and uncompromising in its endeavour to limit Chinese influence and preserve a unipolar world system. Biden has described China as the US’ only long-term competitor for global leadership and is orientating US foreign policy around this challenge, even whilst simultaneously attempting to contain Russia.

Although Blinken’s trip will also be the first by a top US official to China since Washington accused the country of perpetrating genocide against the Muslim Uyghurs, a charge rejected by Beijing, there is unlikely to be a major breakthrough during Blinken’s meetings with Chinese officials.

Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.

January 18, 2023 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

China urges Israel to stop ‘incitement’ to avoid escalation

MEMO | January 16, 2023

China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qin Gang, urged Israel on Sunday to stop its “incitement” in order to avoid escalation with the Palestinians, news agencies have reported.

In a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo, the Chinese minister called on Israel to “stop incitements and provocations, and to refrain from taking uniliteral actions that could worsen the situation.”

Referring to the recent provocative incursion at Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israel’s far-right Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Qin Gang reiterated the importance of “maintaining the status quo” in Jerusalem.

He also reiterated China’s longstanding position on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the “the two-state-solution and the land-for-peace principle.” The international community, he added, should find a “just” solution for the Palestinian people through a return to the negotiation table and resumption of the peace process.

January 16, 2023 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Will Japan and India become permanent members of the UN Security Council?

By Petr Konovalov – New Eastern Outlook – 14.01.2023

On December 12, 2022 in London, during a meeting of the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, its head, James Cleverly, said that he was in favor of expanding the number of permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) by including Japan, India, Brazil and Germany.

The British diplomat believes that the current world order allows a much larger number of people to live much better than before, but today it needs some changes. According to Cleverly, the UK is interested in reflecting the needs of as many countries as possible in the UN. He also noted that the inclusion of Japan, Brazil, India and Germany would allow London to expand interaction with these countries and thus accelerate the growth of global prosperity.

The British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs said that the established system of international relations, which was approved as a result of the victory of the Allies after the Second World War, is allegedly outdated due to the fact that since 1950 the volume of world trade has increased by about 40 times, which has led to a radical change in the balance of power in the world. Furthermore, he emphasized that demographic changes had also made their own adjustments to the modern world order.

The rhetoric of the British leadership is quite logical. The UK no longer represents the military and economic power that it used to be during the second half of the previous century. London is aware that it needs allies to support it internationally. The countries listed by James Cleverly, which, in his opinion, should become permanent members of the UN Security Council, maintain close relations with the US and the UK and are highly likely to pursue a common policy with London and Washington on many issues.

In accordance with the norms of international law, the UN Charter can be revised only with the unanimous consent of all the permanent members of the UN Security Council. France, which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and is loyal to the policy pursued by Washington and London, will support the proposal of the UK, however, Russia and China, who are also permanent members of the UN Security Council, may not approve its expansion, as this may upset their geopolitical plans.

Russia welcomes the inclusion of India and Brazil in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council. The Russian Federation has fairly warm relations with these states, and it is unlikely that Moscow will have any international disputes with them in the foreseeable future. Back in 2010, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was serving as Prime Minister of the Russian Federation that year, during a meeting with Indian diplomats, said that India should be included in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council. Subsequently, the Russian president has always adhered to this rhetoric. As for Russian-Brazilian relations, they have always been at a high level, and Lula da Silva, elected for the third time as President of Brazil in October 2022, is known for his pro-Russian views. During the previous presidency of Lula da Silva, the international organization BRICS was created (in 2006), which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Consequently, the Russian Federation is likely to approve the inclusion of Brazil in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council.

However, the Kremlin has a negative stance when it comes to the inclusion of Germany and Japan in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council, since these states are pursuing an unfriendly policy towards Russia, and Tokyo completely casts doubt on the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, claiming control over the Kuril Islands.

It should be noted that the inclusion of Germany, Brazil, Japan and India in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council is not beneficial for China either, since these states maintain good relations with the United States and will adhere to a pro-American position in numerous international disputes.

Germany and Brazil are in close economic relations with London and Washington and therefore, with a high degree of probability, they will act in the interests of the US and the UK if they become permanent members of the UN Security Council. Of course, China will prevent such a development of events.

In China, the memory of Japan’s war crimes against the Chinese population during the Second World War is still fresh. Beijing also disapproves of Tokyo’s pro-American policy and is wary of the impressive number of US military installations in Japan.

Relations between Beijing and New Delhi are also at a fairly low level. India and China are competing for influence in places like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The Chinese authorities do not want the strengthening of Indian international influence and will do everything in their power to prevent India from being included in the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council.

It is important to emphasize that skirmishes have periodically occurred between Indian and Chinese border guards over the past 45 years. As recently as December 9, 2022, another conflict broke out between the military of China and India along the Indian line of actual control in the Tawang district in the west of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in an area of the disputed territory. As a result of the collision, the military personnel of the two countries were slightly injured.

Despite the rationality of the idea of expanding the list of permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia and China are unlikely to take such a step. Russia will not vote for granting this privilege to Germany and Japan, which today openly support the Ukrainian army participating in hostilities against the Russian Armed Forces. In turn, China is not interested in increasing the clout in the international arena of Tokyo and New Delhi, which are on cool terms with Beijing. Also, China will not give an opportunity to Germany and Brazil to become permanent members of the UN Security Council since both countries sympathize with the policies of the states of the Western bloc. As noted above, without the unanimous consent of all the permanent members of the UN Security Council, changes in the norms of international law are impossible.

The West is pursuing its own interests and engaging in geopolitical confrontation with China through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), which includes Australia, the US, Japan and India. Within the framework of this organization, annual military exercises of the participating countries are held.

On May 24, 2022, a QUAD summit was held in Tokyo, the main agenda of which, according to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, was to discuss how to counter the growth of China’s influence in East and Southeast Asia.

As it stands now, there will be no expansion in the number of countries that are permanent members of the UN Security Council any time soon, since this comes into conflict with the plans of several current permanent members of the UN Security Council. However, the absence of Japan and India in the UN Security Council is offset by their participation in the QUAD, as well as their close cooperation with the United States in the field of defense.

January 14, 2023 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

From Unipolar World to Multipolarity: Why US Attempts to Intimidate Africa Won’t Work

By Ekaterina Blinova – Samizdat – 12.01.2023

South Africa has criticized Washington over its pressure campaign on African nations for maintaining relations with Russia. Defense and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise was quoted as saying that the US threatens African nations over “anything that is even smelling of Russia.”

South African Defense and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise’s criticism was sparked by reports concerning a delivery of “unidentified” cargo to the Simon’s Town naval base in December 2022 by an alleged Russia-flagged merchant ship.

In November, when the US learned that the vessel in question was headed toward South Africa, the US Embassy alerted Pretoria that the ship had been subject to Washington’s sanctions since May 2022. In accordance with US laws, Washington can impose restrictions on any entity, person or country that provides services to a sanctioned vessel.

The US press said that the embassy received no response from the South African government, adding that the alleged sanctioned freighter was accepted at the nation’s port in December.

Addressing the issue earlier this week, Defense and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise told US media that “whatever contents this vessel was getting were ordered long before COVID,” and lambasted Washington over the unjustified pressure the latter has imposed on African states maintaining ties with Moscow.

Since the beginning of Russia’s special military to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine in February 2022, the US has been trying to isolate Moscow and disrupt its cooperation with the Global South.

Earlier, on April 27, 2022, the US House of Representatives passed the HR 7311 Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act with a bipartisan 419-9 majority. The legislation was aimed at sanctioning African nations over cooperating with Moscow. It was later referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations by the US Senate and appears to be on hold.

Washington’s Tools of Coercion

“One of the leverages is fear of sanctions,” Eguegu Ovigwe, a policy analyst specializing in geopolitics and African affairs at Development Reimagined, told Sputnik. “I think HR 7311 – that is the act where the US secretary of state developed strategies which were submitted to Congress, an implementation plan, of course, to counter the so-called malign influence of Russian activities in African countries. So that really gives a legislative backing or legislative framework to potential sanctions that the African countries may come under if they continue to have a relationship with Russia that the US doesn’t like.”

Washington’s hypocrisy is obvious, according to Ovigwe: on the one hand, the US asserted to African nations that it wouldn’t force developing countries to choose between Russia and China or the United States; on the other hand, US House lawmakers almost unanimously passed legislation aimed at punishing Africans for maintaining ties with Moscow.

“[I]t is not the place of the United States to dictate what supposedly sovereign countries should do,” stressed the analyst. “This is the extraterritorialization of US law. So, if the US passes a law, that’s for the US; it has nothing to do with bilateral relations between two other countries.”

In addition to sanctions, the US could cut African nations off its global economic programs, according to Ovigwe. For instance, the Bill Clinton era’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) provides duty-free treatment for goods of designated sub-Saharan African countries (SSAs). Earlier this month, Burkina Faso, a desert landlocked African country located in the Sahel, was officially removed from the program by the US for not meeting the initiative’s requirements. Last year, the Biden administration also terminated the AGOA program for Ethiopia, Mali, and Guinea over what it called “unconstitutional change in governments” and “the gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

Washington may also reduce or nullify foreign direct investment (FDI) to some African countries to twist their arm into halting relations with Moscow, Ovigwe continued.

Still, the scholar does not think that removal from AGOA or lack of US investments could spell doom for the continent. The crux of the matter is that there are enough global players interested in Africa’s growing market and rich natural reserves who are willing to fill Washington’s shoes, according to him.

Africa’s Alternatives & Opportunities

Africa has far more promising development projects than the AGOA: in May 2019, the African Union (AU) kicked off the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which looks to create a single continental market with a population of about 1.3 billion. It could become by far the world’s largest free trade area, bringing together the 55 countries of the African Union (AU) and eight (8) Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

“I don’t think many countries will be losing sleep, fearing that they’re going to be kicked out of AGOA, with the wealth of opportunities which may present themselves,” Ovigwe noted.

Remarkably, the US rushed to embrace the AU’s project in December 2022, with the White House saying that the initiative “present[s] an extraordinary opportunity for the US to invest in Africa’s future.”

The US has long been lagging behind the EU and China in terms of trade with the continent. While the US trade with Africa reached $83.6 billion in 2021, it pales in comparison with the EU’s €288 billion ($306 billion) and China’s $254 billion in the same year.

When it comes to FDIs, China, a US major geopolitical competitor, is currently investing heavily in Africa, noted Mikatekiso Kubayi, researcher at the Institute for Global Dialogue associated with UNISA and research fellow at the Institute for Pan African Thought and Conversation.

“China continues to be the leading source of FDIs in Africa and has a pipeline of projects, particularly in infrastructure,” Kubayi told Sputnik. “Africa’s relations with China continue to deepen. This relationship can yield great benefits to both parties in joint research and development, manufacturing in Africa, and an African market that is expected to reach 2.5 billion in population by 2050. African wealth in minerals such as rare earths and others are all thoroughly purposefully explored for practical action and development.”

Multipolarity is Answer to Intimidation

Washington’s unipolar approach creates an uneven playing field for developing countries as the US is still communicating with the Global South from a position of force, according to the observers. In contrast, the multipolar vision ensures equality and fair conditions for all players.

“The recent G20 summit reiterated the importance of multilateralism and the United Nations in its declaration,” Mikatekiso Kubayi underscored. “BRICS – which China and Russia are members of – emphasized the need to deepen and improve the practical experience of multilateralism with the United Nations at its center. The changing geopolitical landscape is changing precisely because of the realization that it does not benefit the majority of the world.”

The US attempts to coerce Africa into submission, including through anti-Russia legislation targeting the continent, “do not seem to generate confidence and positivity,” Kubayi warned.

Meanwhile, unlike the Group of Seven (G7) which appears to be a closed club of Western industrialized nations plus Japan, BRICS has the potential to grow and develop by adding new members, according to Ovigwe. Previously, Argentina, Iran, and Saudi Arabia signaled their interest in becoming BRICS members.

“You have emerging multilateral platforms like BRICS, for instance, that have so much momentum, and seem to be more open to emerging powers, more focused on issues that are really important to the majority of the world,” Ovigwe stressed. “One of the trends we might see going forward is countries tilting more towards these new and emerging multilateral platforms because they want it to be accessible to them. G7 is not going to be expanded – it has already contracted from G8 to G7.”

The scholar added that he hopes the global system moves towards more new, open, and more dynamic platforms like BRICS.

A multipolar world is taking shape, offering new alternatives and opportunities to developing states and thwarting attempts to intimidate global players by sanctions and use of force, according to the observers.

January 12, 2023 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. Government Identified as Original Source of Lab Leak Theory. What’s Really Going On?


Where did the lab leak theory come from? Who first promoted the idea and why? The answer to this question is surprising – and may be the key to unlocking the mystery of the origin of COVID-19.

The first known mention of the idea that the coronavirus may have originated in a Chinese lab appeared on January 9th 2020 in a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA). This was just days after the virus had first entered public consciousness, and at the time, no deaths had yet been reported and few people were worrying about the virus – including, it seems, the Chinese, who were claiming it wasn’t even clear whether it was spreading between humans.

Seemingly unhappy about the lack of alarm, RFA ran a comment from Ren Ruihong, former head of the medical assistance department at the Chinese Red Cross, who said she was confident it was spreading between humans. She also asserted it was a “new type of mutant coronavirus”, and immediately, without pausing for breath, raised the possibility it was a result of a Chinese biological attack on Hong Kong using a virus developed in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Bear in mind this was before a single person had been reported as dying from the virus, and no solid evidence was presented for the claim. It is the first time the WIV and the idea of a lab origin of the virus are mentioned in the media. The report then implies the WIV is hiding its involvement – though the basis for this insinuation is tenuous, to say the least.

Ren said. “They haven’t made public the genetic sequence, because it is highly contagious. From what I can tell, the patients caught it from other people. I have thought that all along.”

She said the lack of fatalities didn’t indicate that the virus was less deadly than SARS, just that antiviral medications have improved in the past 10 years or so.

Ren said she also regarded the relatively high number of infections in Hong Kong with suspicion, given that there had been no reports of cases anywhere in between the two cities, in the southern province of Guangdong, for example.

“Genetic engineering technology has gotten to such a point now, and Wuhan is home to a viral research center that is under the aegis of the China Academy of Sciences, which is the highest level of research facility in China,” she said.

Repeated calls to various numbers listed for the Wuhan Institute of Virology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences rang unanswered.

However, an employee who identified herself as a senior engineer said she knew nothing about the virus.

“Sorry, I… I don’t know about this,” the employee said.

Over the following two weeks RFA pushed hard on the idea of a Chinese biowarfare lab origin, and its reporting was picked up by the Washington Times on January 24th, which quoted Dany Shoham, an “Israeli biological warfare expert”.

The deadly animal virus epidemic spreading globally may have originated in a Wuhan laboratory linked to China’s covert biological weapons programme, according to an Israeli biological warfare expert.

Radio Free Asia this week rebroadcast a local Wuhan television report from 2015 showing China’s most advanced virus research laboratory known [as] the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Radio Free Asia reported.

The laboratory is the only declared site in China capable of working with deadly viruses.

Dany Shoham, a former Israeli military intelligence officer who has studied Chinese biowarfare, said the institute is linked to Beijing’s covert biological weapons programme.

“Certain laboratories in the institute have probably been engaged, in terms of research and development, in Chinese [biological weapons], at least collaterally, yet not as a principal facility of the Chinese [biological weapons] alignment,” Mr. Shoham told the Washington Times.

Why did Radio Free Asia and the Washington Times introduce and promote the idea of Covid as a Chinese bioweapon? RFA appears to have done so in order to counter the Chinese lack of concern about the virus, hence the heading: “Experts Cast Doubts on Chinese Official Claims Around ‘New’ Wuhan Coronavirus.” The Washington Times report indicates at one point it is in response to rumours “circulating on the Chinese Internet claiming the virus is part of a U.S. conspiracy to spread germ weapons”, citing an unnamed “U.S. official”.

One ominous sign, said a U.S. official, is that false rumours since the outbreak began several weeks ago have begun circulating on the Chinese Internet claiming the virus is part of a U.S. conspiracy to spread germ weapons.

That could indicate China is preparing propaganda outlets to counter future charges the new virus escaped from one of Wuhan’s civilian or defence research laboratories.

Why is the report anticipating “future charges” of a lab leak – particularly when it is in the process of making such charges?

The words of the anonymous U.S. official appear to state the Chinese rumours began “several weeks ago”, right back at the beginning of January or end of December; however, oddly, the article was soon updated to delete the words “since the outbreak began several weeks ago”, for reasons that are unclear.

In any case, the really strange thing about these “rumours circulating on the Chinese Internet” is that no evidence of them has ever been produced or found. Indeed, all the places you might expect to mention them do not. For instance, in February 2021 the DFRLab of the Atlantic Council published a lengthy document in conjunction with the Associated Press summarising all the “false rumours” and “hoaxes” regarding the origins of Covid. Its large research team scoured the internet for all rumours connected with Covid origins – yet the section on China doesn’t mention anything about these alleged January rumours of U.S bioweapons.

Another example is Larry Romanoff, an activist who writes on various ‘conspiracy theories’ and who has lived in China for many years. His columns in early 2020 on the Global Research website attacking the American position were tweeted out by senior Chinese figures, but he never mentions anything about these alleged early rumours on the “Chinese Internet”, which he surely would have done.

In addition, the rumours claim has never been repeated by any intelligence sources; this was the only time it was made.

Why then did RFA introduce the lab-engineered virus narrative, even before the first death? Why was it trying to ratchet up alarm? And why did the unnamed U.S. official claim to be responding to Chinese rumours that turned out not to exist?

The plot thickens when you realise that Radio Free Asia is a U.S.-Government-funded media outlet that is essentially a CIA front, once named by the New York Times as a key part in the agency’s “worldwide propaganda network”. As Whitney Webb pointed out right back in January 2020, though RFA is no longer run directly by the CIA, it is managed by the Government-funded Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which answers directly to the Secretary of State – who, at the outset of the pandemic was Mike Pompeo, whose previous job was as CIA Director.

This means we can see that the Covid lab origin narrative originated with the U.S. Government’s security services, and did so very early, prior to the first death, as part of a deliberate effort to increase alarm in China and elsewhere. It was also designed to counter the anticipated claims, which had not yet been made (though the anonymous U.S. official falsely claimed they had been), that the virus was a U.S. biological attack.

That the U.S. Government would be the source of the lab origin theory is no doubt surprising to many people, given that within weeks the same theory would be dismissed by Government officials as a ‘conspiracy theory’ and forcibly suppressed. In its place, official U.S. channels would endorse the wet market natural origin theory and seek to close down further debate and investigation. So what’s going on?

Here’s one possible explanation, which makes sense of all the known facts – though is admittedly highly disturbing. It may not be correct, but I confess I cannot currently think of a better one. Perhaps someone else can.

The explanation is that the Chinese lab origin narrative was put out by U.S. intelligence in early January as a cover story. A cover story for what? For a U.S. biological attack on China. As a cover story for an attack, it serves four key purposes. First, it preempts allegations of a U.S. attack (and indeed the anonymous U.S. official falsely claimed these had already been made). Second, it anticipates the need to explain the non-natural origin of the virus, which would be expected to be discovered, as a natural origin manifests differently to a non-natural origin – a natural origin should have animal reservoirs, early genetic diversity and evidence of adaptation to humans, which are lacking for SARS-CoV-2. Third, it spreads alarm in China – one of the purposes of the attack. And fourth, it justifies the U.S. and other countries activating biodefence protocols to defend themselves from any blowback – which we know is exactly what they did, and that they treated it as a matter of national security, not public health.

The idea that the U.S. might deliberately release a virus in China might seem far-fetched to some. However, it’s well known that the Pentagon intensified its research into bat-borne viruses in the years approaching the pandemic. Though it said this was solely for defensive purposes given the supposed risk of bats being used as “bioweapons”, scientists have previously warned, in the journal Science, that another supposedly defensive Pentagon programme, DARPA’s “Insect Allies” programme, appeared really to be aimed at creating and delivering a “new class of biological weapon” and that it revealed “an intention to develop a means of delivery of HEGAAs for offensive purposes”. In addition, the Iranian Government was so convinced that its early COVID-19 outbreak in February 2020, which killed a significant number of its senior leaders, was due to a U.S. biological attack that it lodged a formal complaint with the UN. Such allegations don’t prove anything of course. But together these concerns do suggest that such an attack is not outside the realm of possibility and should at least be considered as an explanation for the origin of the virus.

But if the lab leak was the intended cover story, why was it shortly afterwards suppressed as a ‘conspiracy theory’? It is a matter of public record that this occurred largely due to the efforts of Anthony Fauci, Jeremy Farrar and other Western scientists, who organised a scientific cover-up of evidence that might implicate their complicity in the gain-of-function research that they suspected may have created the virus. Did they know about the attack? There’s no evidence they did. Which means they would also have been in the dark about the intended cover story. Indeed, one of the conspirators, Christian Drosten, in one of the disclosed emails directly asks the group where the “conspiracy theory” of a lab origin has come from. Farrar and Fauci, for their part, appear to be genuinely exploring the origin questions in their emails (while clearly aiming for a particular answer).

The fears of this group of scientists about being implicated in the creation of the virus led them to organise a highly effective effort to dismiss and suppress the lab origin theory. This intervention greatly complexified the cover story, with the result that the output from the U.S. intelligence community (IC) became confused and inconsistent. In what follows I enumerate the six main interventions of the U.S. intelligence community during the pandemic and suggest what likely lay behind them. They are:

  1. The November 2019 secret intelligence report claiming to show a large respiratory outbreak in Wuhan that was used to brief the U.S. Government, NATO and Israel. Importantly, the alleged evidence for this outbreak has never been produced, and what evidence there is suggests that in reality there was no detectable outbreak in Wuhan in November 2019, meaning the report appears to have been largely a work of fiction.
  2. The January 2020 introduction and promotion of the Chinese lab origin story, as set out above.
  3. The early April 2020 media briefings from unnamed intelligence sources about the November intelligence reports noted in (1) above. These briefings were particularly odd because by that point the main origin story being pushed by official U.S. channels was the wet market theory, which this information contradicted because it implied a large outbreak (an “out of control” epidemic and “cataclysmic event”) well before the wet market outbreak in December.
  4. The late April and early May 2020 public endorsement by the U.S. intelligence community of the wet market natural origin theory. This contradicted both the early April anonymous media briefings in (3) and the lab origin story in (2), while at the same time embarrassing Mike Pompeo and President Trump who were at the time strongly pushing the lab leak theory.
  5. The August 2021 declassified intelligence report on Covid origins, which gave a somewhat mixed picture of how the intelligence community assessed the lab leak theory. What the report was sure to make clear on the first page, however, is that the virus was “not developed as a biological weapon” and it was “not genetically engineered”. The report says that a small number of IC elements thought the virus might have escaped from a lab (though as a natural, not engineered, virus); in particular the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), which was responsible for the November 2019 secret intelligence report and (presumably) the April 2020 anonymous media briefings, endorsed this theory with “moderate confidence”. Note that by this point the lab leak theory was back in play following the WHO origins investigation in February 2021.
  6. The October 2022 Senate minority report, which for the first time set out the evidence in favour an engineered virus and a lab leak. U.S. biodefence bigwig Robert Kadlec was behind this report and it notably did not mention the November 2019 U.S. intelligence report, which appears to have been entirely ‘forgotten’ (indeed, it has never been officially acknowledged). It also made no reference to the United States’ considerable involvement in bat coronavirus research in the years prior to the pandemic. We should also note that the evidence presented in the report of an alleged safety breach at the WIV in November 2019 was all assembled retrospectively – there is no suggestion that such evidence was known at the time, and the report makes clear that all its information comes from publicly available sources, stating: “This report has reviewed open source, publicly available information relevant to the origins of the virus.”

So here’s what I suggest was really going on with these often curious and clashing IC interventions.

The November 2019 secret intelligence report (1) was intended to forewarn the U.S. Government and its allies of the potential need for epidemic countermeasures given the risk of blowback from the attack. While blowback was probably not expected (after all, SARS and MERS never troubled Europe and America), it was obviously a risk. Note that those responsible for the November 2019 report had to know there wasn’t really any evidence of an outbreak in Wuhan at that time, and thus that their report was based on fabrication. This appears to implicate the NCMI, which produced the report, in the attack.

The early April 2020 anonymous media briefings (3) about the November 2019 intelligence reports were most likely an attempt by the intelligence community (or, rather, the NCMI) to point out that they did try to warn everyone about the virus and the need to prepare. This would explain why they went ahead with the anonymous briefings despite, by that point, those briefings contradicting the new ‘official narrative’ that the virus came from the wet market.

The official endorsement by the intelligence community in late April and early May 2020 of the wet market theory (4) would then have occurred because of a switch amongst most of the intelligence community to the narrative created and endorsed by Anthony Fauci, Jeremy Farrar etc. Those in the IC not involved in the attack (likely the vast majority) had probably figured out what was going on, i.e., the lab leak theory was a cover story put out by reckless colleagues, and would be very aware of the terrible fallout should the truth become known. Hence also the suppression around this time within the U.S. Government of all Covid origins investigations, which a senior Government official said would only “open a can of worms“.

This tension between IC elements then continued with the 2021 declassified intelligence report (5), with most of the IC claiming not to know anything, but the NCMI still believing the lab leak was the best cover story and wanting it back in play.

By the time of the October 2022 Senate report (6) the natural origin theory was clearly collapsing. This report then represents an effort by some within the intelligence community to bring back the lab leak as the cover story, while directing all attention to China and the WIV and away from the U.S.

How plausible is all this? It certainly fits the evidence, though perhaps there is another, more innocent way of explaining it all.

However, those who would like to exclude the possibility of a U.S. biological attack – and indeed, I would like to exclude this – need to answer at least two key questions:

1. Why was the U.S. concerned about and following an outbreak in Wuhan in November 2019 which all the available evidence shows was not detectable at the time? Why did the U.S. falsely claim there was a signal of a large, worrying outbreak and brief allies about it?

2. Why did U.S. security services begin spreading rumours about the virus being engineered in China at the beginning of January, even before the first death had been reported, when they had no evidence of this (at least, they have never explained how they knew it) and no one else was worried about it, and based on the false claim that rumours were already being spread in China about a U.S. bioweapon?

Let’s be honest: it’s not looking good.

January 11, 2023 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Britain and Japan to sign defense pact

UK and Japanese troops will be deployed on each other’s territory, as Tokyo deepens its alignment with NATO powers

RT | January 11, 2023

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, will sign a major defense agreement on Wednesday, Sunak’s office has announced. With Britain and its NATO allies focused on opposing both Russia and China, Japan is deepening its cooperation with the Western military machine.

The ‘Reciprocal Access Agreement’ will allow both countries to deploy troops on each other’s soil, and to hold “larger and more complex” joint military exercises, according to a statement from Downing Street.

While Japan already hosts around 50,000 US troops, Wednesday’s signing will make the UK the first European nation to have a reciprocal access deal with Japan. Australia has had such an agreement with Japan since 2007, although this pact became non-binding when it was renewed in October.

The signing comes a month after Japan, the UK, and Italy announced that they would team up to develop a sixth-generation fighter jet, merging separate national jet programs.

These developments mark a significant step by Japan away from its post-WWII constitution, which commits the country to a pacifist foreign policy and mandates that its military be a strictly defensive and peacekeeping force.

However, Japan joined the renewed Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – a loose military alliance with the US, India, and Australia explicitly aimed at countering China in the “Indo-Pacific” region – in 2017, and in December announced a doubling of its military budget, citing missile “missile threats” from China and North Korea.

Tokyo also joined the West in sanctioning Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, and plans on stationing supersonic missiles near Russia’s northeastern islands. Moscow considers this plan to pose “a serious challenge” to its security.

Sunak and Kishida are set to discuss both Ukraine and China on Wednesday, with the British prime minister’s office stating that they would talk about “the need to maintain our collective support” for Kiev and strengthen its military.

January 11, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Top USMC commander in Japan says Pentagon preparing for war with China

By Drago Bosnic | January 11, 2023

The United States is now publicly discussing the “containment” of China with its Asia-Pacific vassals. On January 8, the Financial Times reported that the supreme US Marine Corps commander for Japan gave very direct statements regarding Pentagon’s China strategy. Lieutenant General James Bierman thinks there are “numerous parallels” between Ukraine and Taiwan and admits the US is preparing what he dubbed “a counter-China theater” by strengthening coordination with its regional satellite states.

“The US and Japanese armed forces are rapidly integrating their command structure and scaling up combined operations as Washington DC and its Asian allies prepare for a possible conflict with China such as a war over Taiwan, according to the top Marine Corps general in Japan,” the FT report states.

Japan has indeed become more active, as its new government decided to abandon the economy-focused policies Tokyo practiced since WWII ended. The historic shift doesn’t only include (re)militarization, but also an increasing rivalry with three regional powers – China, North Korea and Russia. Apart from a break with its military neutrality, as Tokyo is massively increasing its defense budget, USMC Lieutenant General Bierman confirmed that Japan is exponentially expanding its role in joint military operations with America.

In what can only be described as a complete break with even a semblance of diplomatic etiquette, the US general spoke in a very direct and rough manner, particularly in regards to the ongoing arming of Taiwan, claiming this serves “to prepare” the island similarly to how the Kiev regime has been since 2014. His exact statement was as follows:

“Why have we achieved the level of success we’ve achieved in Ukraine? A big part of that has been because after Russian aggression in 2014 and 2015, we earnestly got after preparing for future conflict: training for the Ukrainians, pre-positioning of supplies, identification of sites from which we could operate support, sustain operations. We call that setting the theatre. And we are setting the theatre in Japan, in the Philippines, in other locations.”

The interview is scandalous, to say the least, as it can hardly be considered anything else but an attempt to provoke China. This is further reinforced by the US general’s explicit comparison of Taiwan and Ukraine, which is a textbook example of how the political West generates conflicts that then turn into open warfare. Bierman’s position as the commander of the Third Marine Expeditionary Force and USMC Forces Japan makes these statements all the more disturbing and alarming, especially to Beijing, which has been making strides to improve relations with the US.

As the general casually admitted the political West spent years preparing the Kiev regime for war with Russia (while feigning “efforts for a peaceful resolution“), his comments about Taiwan are quite revealing and will surely be taken very seriously in China. Even the FT, one of the flagships of Western mainstream media, admits that Bierman’s statements are an “unusually frank” comparison with Ukraine. To make matters worse, he didn’t stop there, but made several more controversial “frank comments”. The FT claims the general’s further statements were as follows:

“When you talk about the complexity, the size of some of the operations they would have to conduct, let’s say [in] an invasion of Taiwan, there will be indications and warnings, and there are specific aspects to that in terms of geography and time, which allow us to posture and be most prepared… …You gain a leverage point, a base of operations, which allows you to have a tremendous head start in different operational plans. As we square off with the Chinese adversary, who is going to own the starting pistol and is going to have the ability potentially to initiate hostilities… …we can identify decisive key terrain that must be held, secured, defended, leveraged.”

The aforementioned preparations also include the Philippines. Manila reportedly plans to allow US forces to double their prepositioned weapons and logistics in the island country. In addition to five Filipino bases, the Pentagon will gain access to five more, all of which will be part of the “China containment effort”. Bierman also “cautioned” the US regional vassals “not to overestimate the Chinese military”, claiming that “the PLA should not be fearfully seen as being 10 feet tall”.

It’s quite clear the general couldn’t have possibly acted on his own when giving such statements, indicating that the Pentagon refuses to deescalate the ever-growing tensions in the increasingly contested Asia-Pacific region. If Washington DC continues with these aggressive Sinophobic policies, Beijing is extremely unlikely to stand idle. China’s aim is a peaceful settlement with Taipei and this isn’t just its official position, but a clearly defined goal. Beijing has consistently been working to achieve this through diplomatic and economic means. For decades, it invested heavily in improving ties with the island, offering unparalleled autonomy.

On the other hand, America has been “discouraging” Taipei from signing any deals with China. This has prompted Beijing to further invest in its military might. Although China’s primary focus is economic development, it also had to make plans for strategically important contingencies such as further arming of Taiwan, to say nothing of the US-backed independence movement which has gained traction in recent decades. Although it hasn’t given up on a diplomatic solution, as it’s still investing in a “soft power” approach towards its breakaway island province, China still needs to mitigate the disastrous effects of the significant US regional influence.

Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

January 11, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , | 2 Comments