FP: Saudi Arabia wants to get even and bets on Putin

 Saudi Arabia wants to get even with insulting Biden and bets on Putin

Saudi Arabia wants to get even with US President Joe Biden for his unfriendly attitude towards the country. It makes a choice in favor of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, writes the American magazine Foreign Policy.The author of the article, Anchal Vohra, drew attention to the fact that Riyadh is in no hurry to meet the requests of Washington and London to increase oil production, citing obligations under OPEC+ .

The kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud sees an opportunity to get even with US President Joe Biden for what he sees as unwarranted insults and unfriendly attitude.

In particular the crown prince is unhappy with the fact that during the election campaign Biden called Saudi Arabia a “rogue”. And as president, he released a report that refers to the involvement of Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In addition, the Saudis believe that the White House is ignoring their concerns about the possible restoration of the Iranian nuclear deal, and also refuses to take action against the Houthis for attacks on their ships and cities.

“The Saudi Crown Prince has bet on Putin. He not only believes, but also hopes that the Republicans will win the midterm elections, and Biden will turn into a lame duck. By 2025, Mohammed bin Salman surely believes, Biden and the Democrats will lose power, and Putin will remain the president of Russia,” Treta Parsi, a professor at Georgetown University, told FP.

Eh, western “values”

Columnist Vohra concluded that in order to cooperate with Saudi Arabia to lower oil prices, the West may have to sacrifice its values. The problem is, in my opinion, that the West has no values. Just interests. That is why their allies can suddently turn into their enemies and the other way around. If their interests change then any of their allies will be sacrificed without any mercy.

“The Saudis have too much leverage to be taken into account in geopolitics and not put up with constant criticism for human rights violations,”

Biden, seizing the opportunity, should fundamentally rethink American relations with the Saudi monarchy, stop all arms sales and cancel contracts for the repair and maintenance of military equipment of this country.

The author is suggesting introducing tough sanctions against Saudi Arabia. Just like that. The country that served American interests in the Middle East is about to be declared an enemy. The country that supported the American military-industrial complex with tens of billions of dollars is about to be refused to maintain that equipment. Despite all contract having the maintenance of the equipment included.

After the “Arab Spring” Saudi Arabia began to strengthen relations with both Russia and China . The United States continued to provide support to the state, especially in the field of security. Because of this, according to FP, the Saudis had a feeling that the US needed the partnership more than they did.

FP notes that further strengthening of ties between Russia and Saudi Arabia will be a great loss for the US.

Negotiations about using Yuan for oil payments with China are happening in the background.

US a big winner of China-Australia trade war

American exporters are emerging as winners from the China-Australian trade war. US goods filling market openings caused by Beijing’s punitive tariffs on Australian goods

Statistics from the Chinese Commerce Ministry, General Administration of Customs of China and trade associations in Australia all show deep dives in the value of Australian exports to China in recent months. 

Australian exporters have been ensnared in a wider geopolitical feud over everything from Huawei’s reputed security risks to the pandemic to alleged foreign interference in local politics. Beijing has taken particular umbrage to Australia’s call for an independent investigation into Covid-19’s origins.

At the same time, American exports ranging from wine, beef, cotton, timber to coal have seen their market share in China grow since last year. US producers are filling the void left by the China-Australia trade row. Beijing has also pledged to buy more from the US as part of its first-stage deal to ease trade tensions with the US. 

Winemakers in Australia who compete with American producers worldwide for market share are particularly being hung out to dry. They exported wines worth a paltry A$12 million (US$9.1 million) to China between December 2020 and this March, representing just 4% of the amount shipped in the same period a year ago.

Chinese tariffs as high as 218.4% on Australian wines have slowed shipments to its usual largest overseas market to a trickle, according to the Australian government’s Wine Australia portal. 

Dramatic changes in the past 12 months

Australian wines used to enjoy zero-duty treatment under a free trade pact between Beijing and Canberra ratified in 2015. Canberra is now seeking redress from the World Trade Organization as it contests Beijing’s sanctions against its wines and other exports.  

Meanwhile, Australian barley and other agricultural products face tariffs of up to 80.5%, after Beijing concluded in May 2020 that China’s annual import of A$2 billion worth of such cereal grain from Australia as animal fodder and beer and beverage ingredient put Chinese farmers at a disadvantage due to Canberra’s supposed “rampant trade subsidies.”

China Customs data also show the nation’s meat imports from Australia dropped 8.5% in the first four months of this while Xinhua said China had stopped importing live lobsters since October as a precaution against “food safety risks.”

Recent price surges of iron ore, which represents the bulk of Australia’s exports to China, have helped to offset slumps across other categories and pushed the total value of exports to China in May up 55.4% to US$13.6 billion. 

American barley has become the new favorite of Chinese brewers and fodder producers after Beijing opened the door for more US agricultural products in May 2020. In March, the US Department of Agriculture also hailed a new monthly high in beef exports to China, hitting 14,552 tons.

The final quarter of 2020 was also a blowout season for American coal exporters when Chinese power plants were told to boycott Australian mined coal and tap other nations’ supplies.

Not just agriculture is hit

A power shortage at the time caused China’s imports of American coking and thermal coal to soar more than sevenfold over the previous quarter. The momentum lasted well into the first quarter of this year, with monthly average imports hovering at around 280,000 tons, according to Xinhua which cited data from China Customs. 

Altogether China imported US$73.59 billion worth of goods from the US in the first five months of 2021, up a whopping 59.8%. Australia’s corresponding total stood at US$62.37 billion, up 33.3%, the latest data from the General Administration of Customs show. 

Xinhua and state broadcaster China Central Television have suggested in recent op-eds and current affairs programs that Beijing should leverage its purchasing power to drive a wedge between Canberra and Washington as Australian businesses and politicians complain about US exporters exploiting their woes and undercutting their markets in China. 

Scramble for Africa? America and China proxy war


Tom Fowdy

is a British writer and analyst of politics and international relations with a primary focus on East Asia.


A new scramble for Africa? Events in Ethiopia show how America and China are fighting a proxy war for influence on the continent

Washington has long viewed the country as a crucial partner in a key region. However, the new sanctions it’s just imposed on the Addis Ababa government could backfire and push it closer to Beijing.

It’s been a weekend of extraordinary developments in Washington’s relationship with Ethiopia.

On Saturday, the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) secured a contract with a consortium of companies to fund the country’s 5G network. However, it is on the condition the money isn’t used on Chinese telecoms giants Huawei and ZTE. 

Then the very next day, the State Department imposed sweeping sanctions over Ethiopia’s government and army. As well as cutting international aid, over what it deems as human rights abuses in the Tigray region, where Addis has been fighting a conflict with a rebel regional government. Bloomberg reports that these sanctions may broaden to include blocking IMF and World Bank lending to the country.

The sanctions represent a potential turning point in US-Ethiopian relations. These have soured since the bloody Tigray conflict erupted last November. Thousands have been killed and about two million people forced from their homes. There are widespread reports of atrocities, ethnic violence, and alleged war crimes committed against civilian populations.

Washington has long viewed Ethiopia as a critical partner in East Africa. Because of fearing that any destabilization in the region could help Islamic militant groups such as Al-Qaeda and al Shabaab, stoke ethnic tensions, and threaten freedom of movement in the Red Sea

How can one make sense of Washington’s contradictory moves toward the country? President Biden has obviously been under some pressure from Congress to act on the civil war. However, the situation is neatly illustrated by one word: China. 

Simultaneously using sanctions and debt

The US wants to make inroads into Africa to thwart and compete with Beijing’s cozy relationships with many countries on that continent. Washington sees its foreign policy there through the lens of this rivalry. When US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with leaders of Nigeria and Kenya recently, he warned African nations to be wary of Beijing.

To try to assert strategic dominance, Washington is turning to its classic modus operandi of simultaneously using sanctions as leverage in order to influence Ethiopia’s foreign policy, while using debt as a means to procure political moves in its favor and to strengthen the private sector, particularly against Beijing. 

The DFC, America’s development bank, is one to watch. Established in 2019, it is an arm of the US government created to try to rival China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) in investing in developing countries. It has a more explicit political and ideological angle to it than Beijing’s program. It demands compliance with American strategic preferences in exchange for low interest loans.Also, it forces privatizations to the benefit of US firms. 

The BRI utilizes state owned companies to build projects, whilst the DFC pushes the American private sector. As an example, at the beginning of the year the DFC brokered a deal with the neoliberal government in Ecuador: offering to pay off its debt to China in exchange for signing up to the ‘Clean Network’ initiative (which excludes Huawei and ZTE from the country’s 5G network) and privatizing Ecuadorian oil companies to American investors. 

This partially reflects the pattern of lending brokered by Bretton Woods institutions in the 1980s, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which also leveraged neoliberal economic changes in the 1980s that weakened national economies in Africa but empowered foreign investors in the West. 

Washington accusing China of doing the very things that they do it themselves

It is an interesting contrast, and perhaps an ironic one, from what the US has claimed is “debt trap diplomacy” or “predatory lending” by China. Yet Washington uses conditional loans and sanctions simultaneously with Ethiopia. In a blatant attempt to secure growing leverage over the country. For example, sanctions relief may in time be brokered in exchange for compliance with anti-China objectives, something America has had little luck with in Africa, where many countries have long orientated themselves toward Beijing, not only due to it being a source of easy capital, but because of China’s principle of non-interference. 

This, of course, sets out some of the obstacles ahead for the US in Ethiopia. The sanctions it has imposed will not please Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. With its army sanctioned, which countries is Ethiopia going to turn to for arms? And which ones likewise support the idea of “sovereignty”? 

The answers are, of course, China and, to a lesser extent, Russia. This may mean while Ethiopia and other countries can leverage US investment, it may come at an unacceptably high price if it comes with political interference. However, it may also provide a tool for African countries to negotiate more squarely than Beijing. This is a deal the Chinese will watch closely. They will certainly be concerned about America making new inroads on the African continent.

In this case, foreign policymakers may dub these new developments a new “scramble for Africa”. That comes with the baggage of denying the agency of African nations themselves in the bid between superpowers to compete for influence. 

Time will tell which superpower will emerge victorious

Either way though, the US has set out a clear strategy on Ethiopia. Weaken the state (one that is often most favorable to China), strengthen the private sector and subsequently use sanctions to impose its own vision on reshaping this African country. Only time will tell what the results are. And which superpower eventually emerges victorious on the African continent.

Can Australia achieve economic growth without China?

By Stan Grant

China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil: What do these five countries have in common?

They are the future. Our future depends on them. They are not the West.

Collectively, they will account for more than half of all global growth through to 2024, according to figures from the International Monetary Fund. Think again about that: five countries, 50 per cent of growth.

The giant among the five is, of course, China. It has already surpassed the United States as the biggest engine of global economic growth — 28 per cent annually between 2013 and 2018.

By the end of this decade, China is expected to overtake America as the single biggest economy in the world. And of the other four countries — Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, India — each lists China as its biggest trading partner.

The IMF says there is no way the global economy can grow unless these countries also grow. Yet in this week’s budget, did we hear mention of any of them?

No. We did not even hear mention of China. Incredible, given China is Australia’s biggest trading partner, too.

How is Australia handling this hinge point of history?

Australia’s trade with China dwarfs its trade with any other country: more than $90 billion, an enormous 43 per cent of all our exports. For comparison, the next biggest market is Japan, at $19 billion.

Trade is equivalent to 45 per cent of Australian GDP and one in every five jobs in the country.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said this budget is about stimulating, spending and creating jobs. How do we seriously achieve that when our political leaders cannot speak to their counterparts in Beijing? 

In the meantime, we hear increasing talk of the “drumbeats of war”. How can we achieve economic growth and boost jobs when the Treasurer, in his budget speech, cannot mention China by name and instead makes allusions about a more dangerous world (read: China threat) and commits to ever more spending on our military?

This isn’t to deny that we live in a more perilous age or that an authoritarian China does not present a threat — or that we need to keep our defence force ready and equipped for any eventuality. But there are serious questions about how our political leaders are handling this hinge point of history.

China is an indispensable nation; our future depends on it. Our future depends on those other countries that make up half the world’s growth — countries we rarely even talk about.

This is not 1992. We have not just emerged from the Cold War; America is not the predominant or sole power in the world; this is not the end of history. We can no longer say, as Western political leaders did then, that China is on the wrong side of history.

The world is turning, history is turning

In its report The World in 2050, international professional services company PwC lists what will be the top 10 economies in the world:

1.China

2.India

3.US

4.Indonesia

5.Brazil

6.Russia

7.Mexico

8.Japan

9.Germany

10.UK

Where did the West go? The report says simply: today’s developing markets will be tomorrow’s economic superpowers.

Outside of the top 10, Vietnam, the Philippines and Nigeria will be the biggest movers in the rankings.

The report compares the E7 (emerging economies) with the G7. In 1995, the E7 were half the size of the G7; by 2015, the E7 had drawn level; by 2040, the E7 could be double the size of the G7.

A Rip Van Winkle “go to sleep and dream away the future” approach won’t work.

The West has been battered by war, growing inequality, stagnant wages, terrorism, economic collapse, declining democracy and rising political populism.

America — the so-called leader of the free world — is a country damaged by unending crisis.

President Joe Biden talks a good game about “America is back” and rebuilding alliances. But how does America lead a world where economic power has so dramatically shifted?

Betting against America

In his recent speech to Congress to mark the first 100 days of his presidency, Joe Biden said it was never a good idea to bet against America. But that’s precisely what many countries are doing.

China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative — one of the largest infrastructure and investment projects in history, covering 70 countries, 65 per cent of the world’s population and 40 per cent of gross domestic product — is a bet against America.

It is part of Xi’s China Dream of a rejuvenated nation, returned to the apex of global power.

Australia is caught in the crosshairs of this global historical turn. We are still a European outpost in Asia, a country with historical ties to Britain and all in with the US. 

It has served us well, but that world is passing. The geopolitical, economic and military plates are shifting as the world walks ever more treacherous fault lines.

But this isn’t the discussion we have been having post-budget.

Instead, we are talking about debt and deficit and vaccine rollout and possible election dates. Journalists are engaging in the usual round of predictable “gotcha” questions, and politicians are looking to score tit-for-tat political points.

All around us, the world we knew is giving way to the world we don’t truly understand, let alone are truly equipped for.

China, our biggest trading partner, is now a global Voldemort — he who cannot be named.

But call it what we will — or won’t — China looms over our world and it is dragging those other emerging economic giants along with it.

To stay with the movie analogy, for the West, there is no back to the future.


Source: ABC

How China won its war on poverty?

Documentary with Lawrence Robert Kuhn

When the history of the 21st century is to be written, there is no doubt that the story of China’s eradication of poverty – i.e. lifting about 700 million people out of it – will be seen as a milestone, a turning point for humanity.

China’s poverty rate fell from 88 per cent in 1981 to 0.7 per cent in 2015, as measured by the percentage of people living on the equivalent of US$1.90 or less per day in 2011 purchasing price parity terms.

On November 23rd 2020, China announced that it had eliminated absolute poverty nationwide by uplifting all of its citizens beyond its set ¥2,300 (CNY) per year, or less than a dollar per day poverty line.

This result has been achieved within just four decades, after Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping declared the Open Door Policy in December 1978.

Very few Western mainstream media have seen it fit to report this. We should wonder why.

US President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his war on poverty in 1964. At that time, the official poverty rate was about 15 per cent. 60 years later, it’s 12.3% – according to the US Census Bureau. These are national averages; poverty hits various social groups very differently. An interesting source here: “Approximately 16.4 million American children – 22 per cent of the population younger than 18 – live in poverty. The rate for people 65 and older is 8.7 per cent…”

At TFF we believe that China’s development – for good and for bad – is important for us all, for the world’s future and for a fair, broad-minded understanding of contemporary China. And that this speaks volumes about respect for human rights.

That’s why we give our visitors here a series of links (under the documentary) to more information. In this documentary, one of the most impressive Western connoisseurs of China, Lawrence Robert Kuhn, guides you to a broader understanding of the question that first comes to mind: How did the Chinese government and people go about achieving this amazing result?

 Jan Oberg, editor

This article was originally published by TRANSNATIONAL


On the other side we have “world’s only super-power” that has lost its own war on poverty (just as many other wars). United States declared unprovoked trade war (and even more fierce propaganda war) against China. It was all wrapped as something that “unpredictable” Donald Trump has done himself. As usual, that is not true. Here we have new president of US who is continuing exactly the same way.

According to US officials and numerous Think Tank organisations closely connected to American government and even their “deep state” – Chinese advance in technology or anything else is – challenge to America. They even claim it is targeting their “way of life” that they are forcing upon the rest of the world through their dominance in media, social media and Internet as a network itself.

Eurasia News Online


Biden sends warning to China on chips and rare earths

US President signs executive order for a review of supply chains for semiconductor chips, rare earth elements, pharmaceuticals and large batteries; said he would seek $37 billion to supercharge chip manufacturing in the US; gets bipartisan support for these efforts

(ATF) President Biden sent an effective warning to China on Wednesday February 24 as he signed an executive order for a review of supply chains that will cover semiconductor chips and rare earths.

Biden signed the executive order after a meeting with both Democratic and Republican politicians that he hailed as “like the old days” of agreeing on shared goals.

He did not mention China by name at the signing, but said: “We should not rely on a foreign country, especially one that does not share our interests or our values.”

Biden announced a 100-day review that will cover chips, rare earths, pharmaceuticals and the large capacity batteries that are key for electric vehicles. A broader one-year review will cover multiple other sectors including food production and technology.

The US President said he would seek $37 billion in funding for legislation to supercharge chip manufacturing in the United States as a shortfall of semiconductors has forced US automakers and other manufacturers to cut production.

“I’m directing senior officials in my administration to work with industrial leaders to identify solutions to the semiconductor shortfall,” Biden said on Wednesday. “Congress has authorised a bill but they need … $37 billion to make sure that we have this capacity. I’ll push for that as well.”

The executive order directs six sector reviews, modelled on the process used by the Defence Department to strengthen the defence industrial base. It will focus on defence, public health, communications technology, transportation, energy and food production. 

The United States has been besieged by supply shortages since the onset of the pandemic, which squeezed the availability of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment, hurting frontline workers.

Most pressing issues

A global chip shortage is the most pressing issue for US firms, with some automakers forced to temporarily suspend work and industry trade groups relentlessly urging action from the government. China is also scrambling to source more chips for its own industrial needs.

Biden’s new national economic council director Brian Deese moved last week to secure a greater share of chip supply from Taiwan for the US, while Japan and European countries are also trying to increase their supplies. Any moves by foreign governments to forge closer ties with Taiwan will almost inevitably raise tensions with China.

Rare earths could emerge as the next most important point of stress between the US and China, however. An internal debate appears to be taking place within China over whether or not to try to use an ability to control the price of many rare earths to demonstrate goodwill towards the new Biden administration, or as a weapon in an ongoing conflict with the US.

Reports said Chinese government officials recently asked industry officials how badly companies in the US and Europe, including defence contractors, would be affected if China restricted rare earth exports during a bilateral dispute.

China has in the past had mixed success in trying to use its dominance of rare earth production as a geopolitical tool, as previous price rises encouraged creativity in rare earth mining in other countries and ended up reducing the overall global Chinese share in some metals.

“Critical minerals are an essential part of defence, high-tech, and other products. From rare earths in our electric motors and generators to the carbon fibre used for airplanes — the United States needs to ensure we are not dependent upon foreign sources or single points of failure in times of national emergency,” a White House statement said on Wednesday before Biden signed the new executive order.

China has increased production quotas for the start of this year, but rare earth prices renewed their upward drive after the end of the recent Lunar New Year holiday, indicating that underlying demand will remain the main market driver – regardless of whether US/Chinese tensions mount or ease.