Archive for the WTO Category

“USAFRICOM and the Militarization of the African Continent: Combating China’s Economic Encroachment” by Nile Bowie [Globalresearch.ca]

Posted in Africa, Australia, Beijing, China, China-bashing, China-US relations, Economic crisis & decline, EU, European Union, Hillary Clinton, IMF - International Monetary Fund, Japan, south Korea, Syria, WTO on June 16, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

March 23, 2012

As the Obama administration claims to welcome the peaceful rise of China on the world stage, recent policy shifts toward an increased US military presence in Central Africa threaten deepening Chinese commercial activity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, widely considered the world’s most resource rich nation.

Since the time of the British Empire and the manifesto of Cecil Rhodes, the pursuit of treasures on the hopeless [sic] continent has demonstrated the expendability of human life. Despite decades of apathy among the primary resource consumers, the increasing reach of social media propaganda has ignited public interest in Africa’s long overlooked social issues. In the wake of celebrity endorsed pro-intervention publicity stunts, public opinion in the United States is now being mobilized in favor of a greater military presence on the African continent. Following the deployment of one hundred US military personnel to Uganda in 2011, a new bill has been introduced to the Congress calling for the further expansion of regional military forces in pursuit of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an ailing rebel group allegedly responsible for recruiting child soldiers and conducting crimes against humanity.

As the Obama administration claims to welcome the peaceful rise of China on the world stage, recent policy shifts toward an American Pacific Century indicate a desire to maintain the capacity to project military force toward the emerging superpower. In addition to maintaining a permanent military presence in Northern Australia, the construction of an expansive military base on South Korea’s Jeju Island has indicated growing antagonism towards Beijing. The base maintains the capacity to host up to twenty American and South Korean warships, including submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers once completed in 2014 – in addition to the presence of Aegis anti-ballistic systems. In response, Chinese leadership has referred to the increasing militarization in the region as an open provocation.

On the economic front, China has been excluded from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a trade agreement intended to administer US-designed international trading regulations throughout Asia, to the benefit of American corporations. As further fundamental policy divisions emerge subsequent to China and Russia’s UNSC veto mandating intervention in Syria, the Obama administration has begun utilizing alternative measures to exert new economic pressure towards Beijing. The United States, along with the EU and Japan have called on the World Trade Organization to block Chinese-funded mining projects in the US, in addition to a freeze on World Bank financing for China’s extensive mining projects.

In a move to counteract Chinese economic ascendancy, Washington is crusading against China’s export restrictions on minerals that are crucial components in the production of consumer electronics such as flat-screen televisions, smart phones, laptop batteries, and a host of other products. In a 2010 white paper entitled “Critical Raw Materials for the EU,” the European Commission cites the immediate need for reserve supplies of tantalum, cobalt, niobium, and tungsten among others; the US Department of Energy 2010 white paper “Critical Mineral Strategy” also acknowledged the strategic importance of these key components. Coincidently, the US military is now attempting to increase its presence in what is widely considered the world’s most resource rich nation, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The DRC has suffered immensely during its history of foreign plunder and colonial occupation; it maintains the second lowest GDP per capita despite having an estimated $24 trillion in untapped raw minerals deposits….The DRC holds more than 30% of the world’s diamond reserves and 80% of the world’s coltan, the majority of which is exported to China for processing into electronic-grade tantalum powder and wiring.

China’s unprecedented economic transformation has relied not only on consumer markets in the United States, Australia and the EU – but also on Africa, as a source for a vast array of raw materials. As Chinese economic and cultural influence in Africa expands exponentially with the symbolic construction of the new $200 million African Union headquarters funded solely by Beijing, the ailing United States and its leadership have expressed dissatisfaction toward its diminishing role in the region. During a diplomatic tour of Africa in 2011, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton herself has irresponsibly insinuated China’s guilt in perpetuating a creeping “new colonialism.”

At a time when China holds an estimated $1.5 trillion in American government debt, Clinton’s comments remain dangerously provocative. As China, backed by the world’s largest foreign currency reserves, begins to offer loans to its BRICS counterparts in RMB, the prospect of emerging nations resisting the New American Century appear to be increasingly assured. While the success of Anglo-American imperialism relies on its capacity to militarily drive target nations into submission, today’s African leaders are not obliged to do business with China – although doing so may be to their benefit. China annually invests an estimated $5.5 billion in Africa, with only 29 percent of direct investment in the mining sector in 2009 – while more than half was directed toward domestic manufacturing, finance, and construction industries, which largely benefit Africans themselves – despite reports of worker mistreatment.

China has further committed $10 billion in concessional loans to Africa between 2009 and 2012 and made significant investments in manufacturing zones in non-resource-rich economies such as Zambia and Tanzania. As Africa’s largest trading partner, China imports 1.5 million barrels of oil from Africa per day, approximately accounting for 30 percent of its total imports. Over the past decade, 750,000 Chinese nationals have settled in Africa, while Chinese state-funded cultural centers in rural parts of the continent conduct language classes in Mandarin and Cantonese. As China is predicted to formally emerge as the world’s largest economy in 2016, the recent materialization of plans for a BRICS Bank have the potential to restructure the global financial climate and directly challenge the hegemonic conduct of the International Monetary Fund in Africa’s strategic emerging economies.

China’s deepening economic engagement in Africa and its crucial role in developing the mineral sector, telecommunications industry and much needed infrastructural projects is creating “deep nervousness” in the West, according to David Shinn, the former US ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. In a 2011 Department of Defense whitepaper entitled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China”, the US acknowledges the maturity of China’s modern hardware and military technology, and the likelihood of Beijing finding hostility with further military alliances between the United States and Taiwan. The document further indicates that “China’s rise as a major international actor is likely to stand out as a defining feature of the strategic landscape of the early 21st century.” Furthermore, the Department of Defense concedes to the uncertainty of how China’s growing capabilities will be administered on the world stage.

Although a US military presence in Africa (under the guise of fighting terrorism and protecting human rights) specifically to counter Chinese regional economic authority may not incite tension in the same way that a US presence in North Korea or Taiwan would, the potential for brinksmanship exists and will persist. China maintains the largest standing army in the world with 2,285,000 personnel and is working to challenge the regional military hegemony of America’s Pacific Century with its expanding naval and conventional capabilities, including an effort to develop the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile. Furthermore, China has moved to begin testing advanced anti-satellite (ASAT) and Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) weapons systems in an effort to bring the US-China rivalry into Space warfare.

The concept of US intervention into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Uganda under the pretext of disarming the Lord’s Resistance Army is an ultimately fraudulent purpose…

…An increasing US presence in the region exists only to curtail the increasing economic presence of China in one of the world’s most resource and mineral rich regions…

…Since colonial times, the West has historically exploited ethnic differences in Africa for political gain….

In 1980, Pentagon documents acknowledged shortages of cobalt, titanium, chromium, tantalum, beryllium, and nickel; US participation in the Congolese conflict was largely an effort to obtain these needed resources. The sole piece of legislation authored by President Obama during his time as a Senator was S.B. 2125, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006. In the legislation, Obama acknowledges the Congo as a long-term interest to the United States and further alludes to the threat of Hutu militias as an apparent pretext for continued interference in the region; Section 201(6) of the bill specifically calls for the protection of natural resources in the eastern DRC.

The Congressional Budget Office’s 1982 report “Cobalt: Policy Options for a Strategic Mineral” notes that cobalt alloys are critical to the aerospace and weapons industries and that 64% of the world’s cobalt reserves lay in the Katanga Copper Belt, running from southeastern Congo into northern Zambia. For this reason, the future perpetration of the military industrial complex largely depends on the control of strategic resources in the eastern DRC…

…Under the younger Joseph Kabila, Chinese commercial activities in the DRC have significantly increased not only in the mining sector, but also considerably in the telecommunications field. In 2000, the Chinese ZTE Corporation finalized a $12.6 million deal with the Congolese government to establish the first Sino-Congolese telecommunications company; furthermore, the DRC exported $1.4 billion worth of cobalt between 2007 and 2008. The majority of Congolese raw materials like cobalt, copper ore and a variety of hard woods are exported to China for further processing and 90% of the processing plants in resource rich southeastern Katanga province are owned by Chinese nationals. In 2008, a consortium of Chinese companies were granted the rights to mining operations in Katanga in exchange for US$6 billion in infrastructure investments, including the construction of two hospitals, four universities and a hydroelectric power project.

The framework of the deal allocated an additional $3 million to develop cobalt and copper mining operations in Katanga. In 2009, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demanded renegotiation of the deal, arguing that the agreement between China and the DRC violated the foreign debt relief program for so-called HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) nations. The vast majority of the DRC’s $11 billion foreign debt owed to the Paris Club was embezzled by the previous regime of Mobuto Sesi Seko. The IMF successfully blocked the deal in May 2009, calling for a more feasibility study of the DRCs mineral concessions.

The United States is currently mobilizing public opinion in favor of a greater US presence in Africa, under the pretext of capturing Joseph Kony, quelling Islamist terrorism and putting an end to long-standing humanitarian issues. As well-meaning Americans are successively coerced by highly emotional social media campaigns promoting an American response to atrocities, few realize the role of the United States and western financial institutions in fomenting the very tragedies they are now poised to resolve. While many genuinely concerned individuals naively support forms of pro-war brand activism, the mobilization of ground forces in Central Africa will likely employ the use of predator drones and targeted missile strikes that have been notoriously responsible for civilian causalities en masse.

The further consolidation of US presence in the region is part of a larger program to expand AFRICOM, the United States Africa Command through a proposed archipelago of military bases in the region. In 2007, US State Department advisor Dr. J. Peter Pham offered the following on AFRICOM and its strategic objectives of “protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance, a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.” Additionally, during an AFRICOM Conference held at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller openly declared AFRICOM’s guiding principle of protecting “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market,” before citing the increasing presence of China as a major challenge to US interests in the region.

The increased US presence in Central Africa is not simply a measure to secure monopolies on Uganda’s recently discovered oil reserves; Museveni’s legitimacy depends solely on foreign backers and their extensive military aid contributions – US ground forces are not required to obtain valuable oil contracts from Kampala. The push into Africa has more to do with destabilizing the deeply troubled Democratic Republic of the Congo and capturing its strategic reserves of cobalt, tantalum, gold and diamonds. More accurately, the US is poised to employ a scorched-earth policy by creating dangerous war-like conditions in the Congo, prompting the mass exodus of Chinese investors. Similarly to the Libyan conflict, the Chinese returned after the fall of Gaddafi to find a proxy government only willing to do business with the western nations who helped it into power…

…The ostensible role of the first African-American US President is to export the theatresque [sic] War on Terror directly to the African continent, in a campaign to exploit established tensions along tribal, ethnic and religious lines. As US policy theoreticians such as Dr. Henry Kissinger, willingly proclaim, “Depopulation should be the highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World,” the vast expanse of desert and jungles in northern and central Africa will undoubtedly serve as the venue for the next decade of resource wars.

Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29919

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US blames Chinese firms for its own failure [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, China-US relations, State-owned Enterprise (SOE), USA, WTO on June 12, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Zhou Xiaoyuan (People’s Daily Overseas Edition)
16:11, May 24, 2012

Edited and translated by People’s Daily Online

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) recently issued a preliminary ruling, in its review of four countervailing investigations into laminated woven sacks and other products imported from China, to deem most of China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as public bodies. The ruling means that the United States will consider Chinese SOEs’ sales as subsidies from public bodies to downstream companies, and thus impose countervailing duties on imports of the products of these downstream companies.

= Most Chinese companies are market-oriented =

In its preliminary ruling, the DOC divided Chinese SOEs into three categories: enterprises wholly owned or controlled by the government, enterprises in which the government holds a relatively large stake and that are subject to governmental plans, and enterprises in which the government has little or no stake but enjoys de facto control. The first category of enterprises is deemed public bodies, and the third category is presumed as public bodies unless there is sufficient counter-evidence. Enterprises that are not involved in trade cases fall under the second category.

“It is undoubtedly untenable for the United States to deem all Chinese SOEs as government offshoots,” said He Maochun, director of the Research Center for Economic Diplomacy Studies at Tsinghua University, adding that the nature and structure of Chinese companies have changed profoundly in recent years, especially since the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization 10 years ago. When conducting investigations into Chinese companies, the United States failed to realize that the reform and opening-up policy has turned most Chinese companies into market-oriented joint-stock companies.

= US blames China for its own failures =

“The logic of the United States is based on an assumption that the American-style private economy is most reasonable and efficient. Other countries would go against the natural law if they let the public sector play a dominant role,” said Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

“During the subprime crisis, almost all key financial institutions and carmakers in the United States were found to be state-owned businesses. Should they also receive the same discriminatory treatments as their Chinese counterparts? ”

The United States has deliberately intensified trade friction with China since the beginning of the year…

Full article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90778/7826183.html

“US ‘should play constructive role in region'” – Editorial on US ‘return to Asia’ [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, China-US relations, Diplomat, South China Sea, Taiwan, US imperialism, USA, WTO on December 31, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Zhao Shengnan

BEIJING – China does not intend, nor is it able, to squeeze the US out of the Asia-Pacific region, which is big enough for both to coexist and cooperate, a senior diplomat said during a review of the diplomatic year.

China hopes the US can play a constructive role and respect China’ s core interests in the Asia-Pacific region, assistant Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said during the 2011 Review and Outlook diplomatic seminar held by the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing on Sunday.

When responding to the strategic shift by the US in the Asia-Pacific, Le said that the US actually never left the region and China is confident that any problem can be solved through cooperation instead of confrontation.

The strategic reengagement since 2010 by the US in the Asia-Pacific region has been widely interpreted as trying to counterbalance China’s rising clout in the region. Many Chinese experts consider this US policy shift to pose the biggest challenge for China’s future development.

“Because of our peaceful development and openness, China is able to ‘dance with the wolves’ like its economy has done during the past 10 years as a WTO member,” he said.

Diplomacy is not a zero-sum game in today’s increasingly integrated world, he said. China, unswervingly committed to peaceful development, never engages in aggression or expansion, and never seeks hegemony, he said.

“The world will be much safer with more cooperation, instead of weapons.”

There are two different perceptions about China’s diplomacy in 2011. The West is critical about what it claims is China’s tough foreign policy, while some domestic critics said that we are too soft in our diplomacy, Le said.

“The world has been through so much turmoil this year that I doubt that even a fortune-teller could have predicted it. So the hard-won achievements of China’s diplomacy cannot simply be defined as ‘soft’ or ‘tough’,” he said,

“We cannot say resolving problems through negotiation is a compromise which is ‘softer’ than military force. Being tough or not is never the diplomatic objective or standard to judge diplomatic accomplishments,” said Le, adding that both “toughness” and “softness” are just paths to create a favorable environment for domestic stability and economic development.

“Wisdom is more important than the fist,” he added.

More and more Chinese would like to express their opinion about diplomacy through the Net, especially on issues such as the $5.85 billion arm sales by the US to Taiwan and the South China Sea disputes. As for public requests for “showing our fist” or “teaching foreigners a lesson”, experts said China’s development and mutual dialogue are the best ways to solve problems.

As for US arm sales to Taiwan, China has to prepare for the long-term until China and the US become equal in national strength, said Yuan Peng, director of the American Studies Center at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“Besides reiterating our firm stance against it, what China needs to think about now is not immediate confrontation but how to optimize domestic economic structures and what are its inviolable interests to defend,” he said.

The rules also apply to the issue of the South China Sea, where confrontation is not inevitable, an analyst said.

With economic and technological advantages, China can set aside the disputes and develop it jointly with countries in the area, said Yang Yi, a rear-admiral and former director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the People’s Liberation Army National Defense University.

“Stressing domestic development, China can be confident about the final settlement of these disputes one day as its strength rapidly increases,” he said.

Wu Jiao and Zheng Yangpeng contributed to this story.

Article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90883/7680407.html

“Why Regime Change in Libya?” by Ismael Hossein-zadeh [Globalresearch.ca]

Posted in Africa, Algeria, Bahrain, Bolivia, Brazil, BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Cameron, Chile, China, Cuba, DPR Korea, Ecuador, Egypt, Evo Morales, Fidel Castro, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hugo Chavez, IMF - International Monetary Fund, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kim Jong Il, Libya, Morocco, NATO, Nicaragua, Nigeria, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Russia, Sarkozy, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, U.K., US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Venezuela, WTO, Zionism on September 19, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

June 20, 2011

In light of the brutal death and destruction wrought on Libya by the relentless US/NATO bombardment, the professed claims of “humanitarian concerns” as grounds for intervention can readily be dismissed as a blatantly specious imperialist ploy in pursuit of “regime change” in that country.

There is undeniable evidence that contrary to the spontaneous, unarmed and peaceful protest demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain, the rebellion in Libya has been nurtured, armed and orchestrated largely from abroad, in collaboration with expat opposition groups and their local allies at home. Indeed, evidence shows that plans of “regime change” in Libya were drawn long before the insurgency actually started in Benghazi; it has all the hallmarks of a well-orchestrated civil war [1].

It is very tempting to seek the answer to the question “why regime change in Libya?” in oil/energy. While oil is undoubtedly a concern, it falls short of a satisfactory explanation because major Western oil companies were already extensively involved in the Libyan oil industry. Indeed, since Gaddafi relented to the US-UK pressure in 1993 and established “normal” economic and diplomatic relations with these and other Western countries, major US and European oil companies struck quite lucrative deals with the National Oil Corporation of Libya.

So, the answer to the question “why the imperialist powers want to do away with Gaddafi” has to go beyond oil, or the laughable “humanitarian concerns.” Perhaps the question can be answered best in the light of the following questions: why do these imperialist powers also want to overthrow Hugo Cavez of Venezuela, Fidel Castro (and/or his successors) of Cuba, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Rafael Correa Delgado of Ecuador,Kim Jong-il of North Korea, Bashar Al-assad of Syria and Evo Morales of Bolivia? Or, why did they overthrow Mohammad Mossadeq of Iran, Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, Kusno Sukarno of Indonesia, Salvador Allende of Chile, Sandinistas in Nicaragua, Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras?

What does Gaddafi have in common with these nationalist/populist leaders? The question is of course rhetorical and the answer is obvious: like them Gaddafi is guilty of insubordination to the proverbial godfather of the world: US imperialism, and its allies. Like them, he has committed the cardinal sin of challenging the unbridled reign of global capital, of not following the economic “guidelines” of the captains of global finance, that is, of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and World Trade Organization; as well as of refusing to join US military alliances in the region. Also like other nationalist/populist leaders, he advocates social safety net (or welfare state) programs—not for giant corporations, as is the case in imperialist countries, but for the people in need.

This means that the criminal agenda of Messrs Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy, and their complicit allies to overthrow or kill Mr. Gaddafi and other “insubordinate” proponents of welfare state programs abroad is essentially part of the same evil agenda of dismantling such programs at home. While the form, the context and the means of destruction maybe different, the thrust of the relentless attacks on the living standards of the Libyan, Iranian, Venezuelan or Cuban peoples are essentially the same as the equally brutal attacks on the living conditions of the poor and working people in the US, UK, France and other degenerate capitalist countries. In a subtle (but unmistakable) way they are all part of an ongoing unilateral class warfare on a global scale — whether they are carried out by military means and bombardments, or through the apparently “non-violent” processes of judicial or legislative means does not make a substantial difference as far as the nature or the thrust of the attack on people’s lives orlivelihoods are concerned.

In their efforts to consolidate the reign of big capital worldwide, captains of global finance use a variety of methods. The preferred method is usually non-military, that is, the neoliberal strategies of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), carried out by representatives of big business disguised as elected officials, or by the multilateral institutions such as the IMF and the WTO. This is what is currently happening in the debt- and deficit-ridden economies of the United States and Europe. But if a country like Libya (or Venezuela or Iran or Cuba) does not go along with the neoliberal agenda of “structural adjustments,” of outsourcing and privatization,and of allowing their financial system to be tied to the network of global banking cartel, then the military option is embarked upon to carry out the neoliberal agenda.

The powerful interests of global capitalism do not seem to feel comfortable to dismantle New Deal economics, Social Democratic reforms and welfare state programs in the core capitalist countries while people in smaller, less-developed countries such as Libya, Venezuela or Cuba enjoy strong, state-sponsored social safety net programs such as free or heavily-subsidized education and health care benefits. Indeed, guardians ofthe worldwide market mechanism have always been intolerant of any “undue” government intervention in the economic affairs of any country in the world. “Regimented economies,” declared President Harry Truman in a speech at Baylor University (1947), were the enemy of free enterprise, and “unless we act, and act decisively,” he claimed, those regimented economies would become “the pattern of the next century.” To fend off that danger, Truman urged that “the whole world should adopt the American system.” The system of free enterprise, he went on, “can survive in America only if it becomes a world system” [2].

Before it was devastated by the imperialist-orchestrated civil war and destruction, Libya had the highest living standard in Africa. Using the United Nations statistics, Jean-Paul Pougala of Dissident Voice reports,

“The country now ranks 53rd on the HDI [Human Development Index] index, better than all other African countries and also better than the richer and Western-backed Saudi Arabia. . . . Although the media often refers to youth unemployment of 15 to 30 percent, it does not mention that in Libya, in contrast to other countries, all have their subsistence guaranteed. . . . The government provides all citizens with free health care and [has] achieved high coverage in the most basic health areas. . . . The life expectancy rose to 74.5 years and is now the highest in Africa. . . . The infant mortality rate declined to 17 deaths per 1,000 births and is not nearly as high as in Algeria (41) and also lower than in Saudi Arabia (21).

“The UNDP [United Nations Development Program] certified that Libya has also made ‘a significant progress in gender equality,’ particularly in the fields of education and health, while there is still much to do regarding representation in politics and the economy. With a relative low ‘index of gender inequality’ the UNDP places the country in the Human Development Report 2010 concerning gender equality at rank 52 and thus also well ahead of Egypt (ranked 108), Algeria (70), Tunisia (56), Saudi Arabia (ranked 128) and Qatar (94)” [3].

It is true that after resisting the self-centered demands and onerous pressures from Western powers for more than thirty years, Gaddafi relented in 1993 and opened the Libyan economy to Western capital, carried out a number of neoliberal economic reforms, and granted lucrative business/investment deals to major oil companies of the West.

But, again, like the proverbial godfather, US/European imperialism requires total, unconditional subordination; half-hearted, grudging compliance with the global agenda of imperialism is not enough. To be considered a real “ally,” or a true “client state,” a country has to grant the US the right to “guide” its economic, geopolitical and foreign policies, that is, to essentiallyforgo its national sovereignty. Despite some economic concessions since the early 1990s, Gaddafi failed this critical test of “full compliance” with the imperialist designs in the region.

For example, he resisted joining a US/NATO-sponsored military alliance in the region. Libya (along with Syria) are the only two Mediterranean nations and the sole remaining Arab states that are not subordinated to U.S. and NATO designs for control of the Mediterranean Sea Basin and the Middle East. Nor has Libya (or Syria) participated in NATO’s almost ten-year-old Operation Active Endeavor naval patrols and exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and neither is a member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue military partnership which includes most regional countries: Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania [4].

To the chagrin of US imperialism, Libya’s Gaddafi also refused to join the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), designed to control valuable resources in Africa, safeguard trade and investment markets in the region, and contain or evict China from North Africa. “When the US formed AFRICOM in 2007, some 49 countries signed on to the US military charter for Africa but one country refused: Libya. Such a treacherous act by Libya’s leader Moummar Qaddafi would only sow the seeds for a future conflict down the road in 2011” [5].

Furthermore, by promoting trade, development and industrialization projects on a local, national, regional or African level, Gaddafi was viewed as an obstacle to the Western powers’ strategies of unhinderedtrade and development projects on a global level. For example, Gaddafi’s Libya played a leading role in “connecting the entire [African] continent by telephone, television, radio broadcasting and several other technological applications such as telemedicine and distance teaching. And thanks to the WMAX radio bridge, a low cost connection was made available across the continent, including in rural areas” [3].

The idea of launching a pan-African system of technologically advanced network of telecommunication began in the early 1990s, “when 45 African nations established RASCOM (Regional African Satellite Communication Organization) so that Africa would have its own satellite and slash communication costs in the continent. This was a time when phone calls to and from Africa were the most expensive in the world because of the annual$500 million fee pocketed by Europe for the use of its satellites like Intelsat for phone conversations, including those within the same country. . . . An African satellite only cost a onetime payment of $400 million and the continent no longer had to pay a $500 million annual lease” [3].

In pursuit of financing this project, the African nations frequently pleaded with the IMF and the World Bank for assistance. As the empty promises of these financial giants dragged on for 14 years,

“Gaddafi put an end to [the] futile pleas to the western ‘benefactors’ with their exorbitant interest rates. The Libyan guide put $300 million on the table; the African Development Bank added$50 million more and the West African Development Bank a further $27 million – and that’s how Africa got its first communications satellite on 26 December 2007.

“China and Russia followed suit and shared their technology and helped launch satellites for South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Algeria and a second African satellite was launched in July 2010. The first totally indigenously built satellite and manufactured on African soil, in Algeria, is set for 2020. This satellite is aimed at competing with the best in the world, but at ten times less the cost, a real challenge.

“This is how a symbolic gesture of a mere $300 million changed the life of an entire continent. Gaddafi’s Libya cost the West, not just depriving it of $500 million per year but the billions of dollars in debt and interest that the initial loan would generate for years to come and in an exponential manner, thereby helping maintain an occult system in order to plunder the continent”[3].

Architects of global finance, represented by the imperialist governments of the West, also viewed Gaddafi as a spoiler in the area of international or global money and banking. The forces of global capital tend to prefer a uniform, contiguous, or borderless global market to multiple sovereign markets at the local, national, regional or continental levels.Not only Gaddafi’s Libya maintained public ownership of its own central bank, and the authority to create its own national money, but it also worked assiduously to establish an African Monetary Fund, an African Central Bank, and an African Investment Bank.

The $30 billion of the Libyan money frozen by the Obama administration belong to the Central Bank of Libya, which

“had been earmarked as the Libyan contribution to three key projects which would add the finishing touches to the African Federation – the African Investment Bank in Syrte(Libya), the establishment in 2011 of the African Monetary Fund to be based in Yaoundé (Cameroon) . . ., and the Abuja-based African Central Bank in Nigeria, which when it starts printing African money will ring the death knell for the CFA franc [the French currency] through which Paris has been able to maintain its hold on some African countries for the last fifty years. It is easy to understand the French wrath against Gaddafi.

“The African Monetary Fund is expected to totally supplant the African activities of the International Monetary Fund which, with only $25 billion, was able to bring an entire continent to its knees and make it swallow questionable privatization like forcing African countries to move from public to private monopolies. No surprise then that on 16-17 December 2010, the Africans unanimously rejected attempts by Western countries to join the African Monetary Fund, saying it was open only to African nations” [3].

Western powers also viewed Gaddafi as an obstacle to their imperial strategies for yet another reason: standing in the way of their age-old policies of “divide and rule.” To counter Gaddafi’s relentless efforts to establish a United States of Africa, the European Union tried to create the Union for the Mediterranean (UPM) region. “North Africa somehow had to be cut off from the rest of Africa, using the old tired racist clichés of the 18th and 19th centuries, which claimed that Africans of Arab origin were more evolved and civilized than the rest of the continent. This failed because Gaddafi refused to buy into it. He soon understood what game was being played when only a handful of African countries were invited to join the Mediterranean grouping without informing the African Union but inviting all 27 members of the European Union.” Gaddafi also refused to buy into other imperialist-inspired/driven groupings in Africa such as ECOWAS, COMESA, UDEAC, SADC and the Great Maghreb, “which never saw the light of day thanks to Gaddafi who understood what was happening” [3].

Gaddafi further earned the wrath of Western powers for striking extensive trade and investment deals with BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), especially with China. According to Beijing’s Ministry of Commerce, China’s contracts in Libya (prior to imperialism’s controlled demolition of that country) numbered no less than 50 large projects, involving contracts in excess of $18 billion. Even a cursory reading of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) strategic briefings shows that a major thrust of its mission is containment of China. “In effect, what we are witnessing here,” points out Patrick Henningsten, “is the dawn of a New Cold War between the US-EURO powers and China. This new cold war will feature many of the same elements of the long and protracted US-USSR face-off we saw in the second half of the 20th century. It will take place off shore, in places like Africa, South America, Central Asia and through old flashpoints like Korea and the Middle East” [5].

It is obvious (from this brief discussion) that Gaddafi’s sin for being placed on imperialism’s death row consists largely of the challenges he posed to the free reign of Western capital in the region, of his refusal to relinquish Libya’s national sovereignty to become another unconditional “client state” of Western powers. His removal from power is therefore designed to eliminate all “barriers” to the unhindered mobility of the US/European capital in the region by installing a more pliant regime in Libya.

Gaddafi’s removal from power would serve yet another objective of US/European powers: to shorten or spoil the Arab Spring by derailing their peaceful protests, containing their non-violent revolutions and sabotaging their aspirations for self-determination.Soon after being caught by surprise by the glorious uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, the imperialist powers (including the mini Zionist imperialism in Palestine) embarked on “damage control.” In pursuit of this objective, they adopted three simultaneous strategies. The first strategy was to half-heartedly “support” theuprisings in Egypt and Tunisia (of course, once they became unstoppable) in order to control them — hence, the military rule in those countries following the departure of Mubarak from Cairo and Ben Ali from Tunis. The second strategy of containment has been support and encouragement for the brutal crackdown of other spontaneous and peaceful uprisings in countries ruled by “client regimes,” for example, in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. And the third policy of sabotaging the Arab Spring has been to promote civil war and orchestrate chaos in countries such as Libya, Syria and Iran.

In its early stages of development, capitalism promoted nation-state and/or national sovereignty in order to free itself from the constraints of the church and feudalism. Now that the imperatives of the highly advanced but degenerate global finance capital require unhindered mobility in a uniform or borderless world, national sovereignty is considered problematic — especially in places like Libya, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries that are not ruled by imperialism’s “client states.” Why? Because unhindered global mobility of capital requiresdoing away with social safety net or welfare state programs; it means doing away with public domain properties or public sector enterprises and bringing them under the private ownership of the footloose-and-fancy-free global capital.

This explains why the corporate media, political pundits and other mouthpieces of imperialism are increasing talking about Western powers’ “responsibility to protect,” by which they mean that these powers have a responsibility to protect the Libyan (or Iranian or Venezuelan or Syrian or Cuban or …) citizens from their “dictatorial” rulers by instigating regime change and promoting “democracy” there. It further means that, in pursuit of this objective,the imperialist powers should not be bound by “constraints” of national sovereignty because, they argue, “universal democratic rights take primacy over national sovereignty considerations.” In a notoriously selective fashion, this utilitarian use of the “responsibility to protect” does not apply to nations or peoples ruled by imperialism’s client states such as Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. [6].

This also means that the imperialist war against peoples and states such as Libya and Venezuela is essentially part of the same class war against peoples and states in the belly of the beast, that is, in the United States and Europe. In every instance or place, whether at home or abroad, whether in Libya or California or Wisconsin or Greece, the thrust of the relentless global class war is the same: to do away with subsistence-level guarantees, or social safety net programs, and redistribute the national or global resources in favor of the rich and powerful, especially the powerful interests vested in the finance capital and the military capital.

There is no question that global capitalism has thus woven together the fates and fortunes of the overwhelming majority of the world population in an increasingly intensifying struggle for subsistence and survival. No one can tell when this majority of world population (the middle, lower-middle, poor and working classes) would come to the realization that their seemingly separate struggles for economic survival are essentially part and parcel of the same struggle against the same class enemies, the guardians of world capitalism. One thing is clear, however: only when they come to such a liberating realization, join forces together in a cross-border, global uprising against the forces of world capitalism, and seek to manage their economies independent of profitability imperatives of capitalist production — only then can they break free from the shackles of capitalism and control their future in a coordinated, people-centered mode of production, distribution and consumption.

Ismael Hossein-zadeh, author of The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave-Macmillan 2007), teaches economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

[Footnotes can be accessed at article’s webpage]

Article link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25317

Looking back on triumphs, problems of China’s 10 years in WTO [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Currency wars, Economy, Reform and opening up, WTO on September 16, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Yao Jingyuan (QStheory.cn)
August 12, 2011

Since its accession to the WTO in 2001, China has actively participated in the globalization process and made remarkable achievements in foreign trade, foreign capital utilization and international economic cooperation. Overall, the country has achieved rapid economic growth and carried out major reforms over the past 10 years.

Remarkable achievements

1) China’s foreign trade volume up from sixth place in 2001 to second place in 2010

China’s foreign trade has developed by leaps and bounds in the past 10 years…The country’s foreign trade volume ranked second in the world last year only after the United States.

2) China improves trade structure

Since its accession to the WTO, China has made great efforts to achieve a balanced trade structure…

3) Comprehensive improvement in scale and quality of foreign investments

China has utilized foreign investments to optimize its capital allocation, advance technical progress and perfect the market-oriented economic system…China has become the second largest foreign investment recipient country in the world. The means of utilizing foreign investments have been diversified.

4) Continuous increase in outbound investments

Following China’s accession into the WTO, the country implemented the “go abroad” strategy, made new progress in overseas cooperation and investment and further expanded the scale and efficiency of its “going abroad.” Despite the severe impact of the international financial crisis, China’s outbound investments and international economic cooperation have been on the rise, playing positive roles in promoting China’s stable and relatively rapid economic development.

5) Great contributions of foreign trade to economic growth and social progress

China has remarkably accelerated the pace of developing a market-oriented economic system over the past decade and has basically established an open-style economic system. It has put a relatively stable system in place to safeguard participation in globalization. China’s comprehensive strength has considerably advanced, and its national image has comprehensively improved…

Problems

1) The export-orientated and extensive development mode of China, which will go against a stable and sustainable economic development, has not been fundamentally changed.

2) China’s foreign trade is unbalanced, China’s trade surplus is too large, and the pressure on RMB appreciation keeps increasing. In addition, the expanding trade surplus will affect the independence of China’s macroeconomic policies, increase the money supply objectively and lead to a heavy pressure on China’s macroeconomic control.

3) China’s overall trade environment has not fundamentally improved, and import prices are rising much faster than export prices for China. Due to the low labor cost of China, the prices of China’s export products have been at a low level for a long time and the foreign trade environment is worsening for China too.

4) The expansion of China’s foreign trade scale depends on the processing trade too much, and the grades and added value of China’s export products are too low.

Prospects

In the future, China will continue to implement the mutually beneficial and open strategy and further raise the level of the opening-up. While maintaining a steady growth of foreign trade, China will further optimize and upgrade its foreign trade structure. Pushed by factors such as the increasing domestic demand, strengthening import-supporting policies and the rising prices of international bulk products, China’s imports re expected to grow faster than exports, and China’s foreign trade is expected to be further balanced. As the trend of global economic recovery [sic] becomes more obvious, the international market environment for China’s foreign trade will also gradually improve. The prospect of China’s foreign trade is optimistic.

(The author is a special analyst for the Counselors’ Office of the State Council)

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90780/91344/7567751.html

Why is foreign investment still strong in China? [People’s Daily]

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Economy, WTO on April 30, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

April 21, 2011

According to the statistics released by China’s Ministry of Commerce, China approved 5,937 new foreign-invested companies in the first quarter, up 8.8 percent year on year, and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in China has increased with a 29.4 percent year-on-year rise in the first quarter to 30.34 billion U.S. dollars,

By the end of March, China had approved 716,578 foreign-invested companies and used 1.08 trillion U.S. dollars of FDI.

Seek wider space for development

"The quick increase in foreign investment introduced by China in the first quarter was within the expectation because China has a big market as well as a large population.  However, its GDP per capita is lower than the half of world’s average, which also means it has great potential for development," said Zhang Hanya, the president of the Investment Association of China.

He also pointed out that some of China’s regulations on foreign investment in recent years did make some small foreign companies unhappy, but those measures are in line with the principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and promises from China.  He said they do not affect the investment from large transnational corporations.

Zhang said the world is currently walking out of the shadow of the financial crisis and needs more liquidity.  Therefore, China, with its stable politic[al] situation, fewer natural disasters and better environment for investment, has automatically become the priority for foreign investors.  Those foreign businessmen are going to seek much wider space for their development in China.

However, the major driver behind the increase in FDI in the first quarter of this year is due to the attractiveness of the domestic economy, said Mei Xinyu, a researcher from China’s Commerce Ministry.

Analysis emphasizes that despite the downturn the global economy, foreign enterprises in China are generally doing pretty well due to the quick recovery of China’s economy and the investment environment, which is constantly being enhanced. Some of enterprises became their mother companies’ cash cow.  China, which has great potential for development, has already become the "safe house" for international capital amid the financial crisis.

According to the "World Investment Prospects Survey 2010-2012" released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) last year, China tops the 14 other most attractive destinations for investment in the world and is the first choice of transnational corporations.

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Shoddy solar water heaters threaten industry reputation in China: association leader [Xinhua]

Posted in Alternative Energy, China, WTO on March 1, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) — Chinese quality supervision authorities must enforce compulsory standards for solar water heaters to prevent poor quality, counterfeit products undermining public confidence in the industry, said an industry association leader in Beijing Thursday.

However, proposals for mandatory standards could be two to three years away, delegates at a solar water heater quality forum heard.

China’s solar water heater producers were facing fierce competition from small workshops, which put inferior products on the market at very low prices, said Zhu Junsheng, director of the Renewable Energy Branch of the Chinese Association for Comprehensive Utilization of Resources.

On Feb. 13, China Central Television reported that small workshops in Haining City, southeast China’s Zhejiang Province, sold counterfeit brand solar water heaters.

Without automated production, the individual workshops produced substandard tank insulation, which failed to keep the water warm, and used inferior materials to make the inner container, which led to leakages.

Consumers, especially in rural areas, are attracted to the low prices, which put the brand names under pressure as their prices are almost double those produced in small workshops.

"We were shocked when we saw the news.  People might become skeptical of all products.  The melamine scandal did great damage to China’s dairy market, and we don’t want a similar problem in the solar water heater sector," Zhu said.

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