November 17, 2011
The news was shocking: China’s military was going to permit the enlistment of recruits with tattoos on their bodies!
Yet the New York Times, with all its resources and talent, fails to cover the story with a good dose of intercultural awareness.
The Chinese have long had a saying: “Just as one does not make nails out of good iron; one does not make a soldier out of a good man.”
That is how much the Chinese culture despises soldiering as a career. In fact, the first Prime Minister of newly independent Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, knew that in order to build a strong military (which was necessary given the political instability in that region in the 1960s) out of a population that was predominantly ethnic Chinese, the country had to practice conscription (see section titled “Jobless Instead Of Soldiers”).
As the mainland Chinese economy surged forward in the last two decades, the Chinese middle class has grown multi-fold. As is the case with any rapidly industrializing country, Chinese youth are increasing looking for jobs that do not require them to toil in the elements. You may say that Chinese youth, having been born and brought up in an era of prosperity unlike their parents’ generation who grew up under the disastrous Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, are getting “soft.”
Also, East Asian societies have long associated tattoos with secret societies (better known as the mafia here). People with tattoos are frowned upon and even discriminated against in the job markets. Compare that to contemporary America, where a tattoo is a symbol of self-expression or may be in honor of a dead friend or relative.
So the Chinese military is scraping the bottom of the barrel for its military enlistments. American politicians and policy-makers seem to be alarmed at that prospect. Should they be?
They might be better off spending the time understanding how the Chinese think.
China’s military is developing electromagnetic pulse weapons that Beijing plans to use against U.S. aircraft carriers in any future conflict over Taiwan, according to an intelligence report made public on Thursday.
Portions of a National Ground Intelligence Center study on the lethal effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons revealed that the arms are part of China’s so-called “assassin’s mace” arsenal – weapons that allow a technologically inferior China to defeat U.S. military forces.
EMP weapons mimic the gamma-ray pulse caused by a nuclear blast that knocks out all electronics, including computers and automobiles, over wide areas. The phenomenon was discovered in 1962 after an aboveground nuclear test in the Pacific disabled electronics in Hawaii.
The declassified intelligence report, obtained by the private National Security Archive, provides details on China’s EMP weapons and plans for their use. Annual Pentagon reports on China’s military in the past made only passing references to the arms.
“For use against Taiwan, China could detonate at a much lower altitude (30 to 40 kilometers) … to confine the EMP effects to Taiwan and its immediate vicinity and minimize damage to electronics on the mainland,” the report said.
The report, produced in 2005 and once labeled “secret,” stated that Chinese military writings have discussed building low-yield EMP warheads, but “it is not known whether the Chinese have actually done so.”
The report said that in addition to EMP weapons, “any low-yield strategic nuclear warhead (or tactical nuclear warheads) could be used with similar effects.”
“The DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile has been mentioned as a platform for the EMP attack against Taiwan,” the report said.
According to the report, China’s electronic weapons are part of what are called “trump card” or “assassin’s mace” weapons that “are based on new technology that has been developed in high secrecy.”
“Trump card would be applicable if the Chinese have developed new low-yield, possibly enhanced, EMP warheads, while assassin’s mace would apply if older warheads are employed,” the report said.
According to the report, China conducted EMP tests on mice, rats, rabbits, dogs and monkeys that produced eye, brain, bone marrow and other organ injuries. It stated that “it is clear the real purpose of the Chinese medical experiments is to learn the potential human effects of exposure to powerful EMP and [high-powered microwave] radiation.”
The tests did not appear designed for “anti-personnel [radio frequency] weapons” because of the limited amounts of radiation used.
However, the report said another explanation is that the Chinese tests may have been research “intended primarily for torturing prisoners,” or the tests may have been conducted to determine safety or shielding standards for military personnel or weapons.
The medical research also appeared useful for China’s military in making sure that EMP weapons used against Taiwan and “any vulnerable U.S. aircraft carrier would not push the U.S. across the nuclear-response threshold,” the report said.
“China’s [high-altitude] EMP capability could be used in two different ways: as a surprise measure after China’s initial strike against Taiwan and other U.S. [aircraft carrier strike group] assets have moved into a vulnerable position, and as a bluff intended to dissuade the United States from defending Taiwan with a CVBG,” the Pentagon acronym for carrier strike groups.
The bluff scenario would include China’s announcement of a resumption of atmospheric nuclear testing and warn of tests during a specified period and then attacking Taiwan’s infrastructure with conventional forces.
China then would wait and see whether the U.S. carriers were deployed to defend Taiwan.
The report concluded that China could consider using EMP weapons against Taiwan’s electronic infrastructure or against U.S. carriers if a conflict breaks out in the Taiwan Strait.
“The minimization of military casualties on CVBG assets is calculated to lessen the likelihood of a U.S. nuclear response to a Taiwan strike employing nuclear EMP,” the report said. “The minimization of casualties on Taiwan is calculated to lessen the animosity among Taiwan’s population over forced reunification.”
Taiwan broke with mainland China after nationalist forces fled to the island when communists seized power in 1949.
The United States is bound by a 1979 law to prevent the forcible reunification of the island with the mainland, and China has said it is prepared to use force to claim the island.
Peter Pry, a former congressional aide who helped direct a commission on EMP several years ago, said the commission found that China plans for nuclear EMP strikes against the United States, as well as Taiwan and carrier forces, are part of its military doctrine and exercises.
“There is also evidence that China is developing, or has already developed, super-EMP nuclear weapons that generate extraordinarily powerful EMP fields, based partly on design information stolen from the United States,” Mr. Pry, president of the group EMPact America, said in an email.
Mark Stokes, a former Pentagon specialist on China’s military, said the report’s details on high-powered microwave are new.
The same state-run institute, the China Academy of Engineering Physics, that makes China’s nuclear warheads is also a center of microwave weapons research, he said.
Microwave weapons would be used to shut down enemy radar, communications, computers and other electronics in an opening salvo. The weapons also could jam electronics of attacking aircraft and anti-radiation missiles, and as an anti-satellite weapon, degrade sensitive satellite electronic systems, he said.
Richard Fisher, a China military analyst, said EMP warheads are likely to be an option for China’s new DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile for the purpose of attacking large U.S. Navy ships without inflicting immediate massive casualties.
“Less is known about the longer-term effects on personnel of this kind of radiation attack,” said Mr. Fisher, who is with the International Assessment and Strategy Center. “The more powerful nuclear-propelled neutron bomb was designed specifically for killing personnel without a massive blast.”
– Prophecy News Watch
June 22, 2011
By James Lewis
What do you call it when Bill Ayers, Jodie Evans, and Code Pink collude with Hamas in a disguised suicide attack on Israel? You call it “A Peace Flotilla.” Or at least our incorruptible media do.
The left has conducted agitprop operations against the West with enormous success over the last few decades. Even when the Soviet Union crumbled, the Western left kept indoctrinating Western schools and universities, until the point where now Karl Marx is the most publicly admired “philosopher” in a formerly free country like Britain. The American left got Obama elected in the disguise of a mainstream American politician, after all.
Obama has now pulled out the rug from Israel’s defenses, established since 1949, by telling that country to retreat to its ceasefire lines of the 1948 War of Independence. And now the left-fascist alliance is conducting another “Peace Flotilla” operation against Israel’s shoreline.
Obama has done exactly nothing to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, soon to be within range of the entire Middle East, then Europe, then us. Once they have long-range missiles they can reach our shores with just a little bit more thrust in mid-trajectory. Yesterday Iran tested its long-range missiles with a successful satellite launch.
The United States will therefore be within range of Iranian nuclear weapons within a few years, just as it will be within range of North Korean nukes. We used to think that China could be convinced to hold the North Koreans back. But now an American nuclear scientist has been allowed to see North Korea’s new enrichment plant, and he is convinced those shiny high-tech centrifuges could have come from only one place: China.
That means China has been using North Korea as a trouble-making proxy all along. China can pretend to be peaceful, while keeping the West coping with North Korean provocations.
North Koreans have helped to build Iran’s and Syria’s nuclear and missile plants, and their deeply buried tunnel complexes. That has been Chinese-North Korean technology for a long time, and they are the experts on it.
The Iranian thrust toward nukes and missiles has also been aided by China. Chinese and Russian technicians have built the Bushehr nuclear reactor, now scaring the willies out of the Sunni Arabs. Iran and North Korea are acting as Chinese proxies, even as China is becoming more dependent on Middle Eastern oil and African minerals. This weekend’s “summit” among China, Russia, and Iran’s Ahmadinejad confirms the new Left-Fascist Axis.
This is a replay of the Hitler-Stalin Axis of 1938, and it means the same thing. While Hitler and Stalin hated each other, they were hoping to knock the West over quickly, and then have it out against each other. It might have worked until Hitler decided to assault Stalin instead. These are routine great power gambits.
The new anti-Israel flotilla is therefore the publicity front of a new, anti-Western crusade. Europe is now utterly decadent and unwilling to defend itself. Once the left-fascist alliance can crush Israel, they already have Europe completely undermined, between its socialist and Islamist infiltrations. Fifty-three million Muslims are now in Europe, out of 330 million Europeans. But the Muslims are ready to die for Allah, and the Europeans wouldn’t die to save their own families.
In spite of the fact that Obama continues to destabilize the Middle East, and that Obama has totally undermined Israel’s longstanding negotiating position, the Israelis are still hoping that America will not abandon them. I sincerely hope they are building up all their alternatives in weapons, supplies, and new alliances — because if Obama gets reelected they will have four more years of a ruthless enemy in the White House.
Four more years is long enough for Iran to build nuclear might and to keep rejiggering the Middle East according to its long-stated desires. Ultimately Iranian radicals will also fight Sunni radicals, with both sides being equally willing to die for Allah. By that time both sides will have weapons of mass destruction. It’s happening now.
May 02, 2011
Xinhua: ‘Huge Warship on the Verge of Setting Out, Fulfilling China’s 70-Year Aircraft Carrier Dream’The title is a translation of the caption for photos circulated on April 7, 2011 by Xinhua, the New China News Agency.The pictures and text were reproduced by Western media, as well as India’s Daily News and Analysis website. Xinhua — which is now completing a headquarters building in New York’s Times Square for the upcoming launch of its English-language cable news channel — reports that China’s reconditioning of the former Soviet carrier Varvag will be completed by the end of this year. The ship has a ski-jump design, similar to that of the now-retired British carriers, rather than the catapult design employed by American supercarriers and France’s nuclear-powered supercarrier, the Charles de Gaulle..If successfully put into service, the Varyag will be China’s first aircraft carrier. The United States has eleven nuclear-powered supercarriers, together with several conventionally powered helicopter carriers.Four American supercarriers are presently deployed overseas. Three more are in their U.S. home ports and available for deployment. Four are in dry dock.The Chinese began training pilots for carrier operations in 2008. In 2009, Brazil signed a deal to train China in carrier operations. In February, 2011, a British newspaper reported that the Chinese had constructed a concrete carrier flight deck on land to begin training its carrier pilots and carrier operations personnel. Also in February, 2011, a Ukrainian court sentenced a Russian national to six years imprisonment for selling aircraft carrier secrets to China.The carrier’s complement of planes and helicopters is being supplied by Russia under a previously-announced deal. The ship is now being fitted with electronics and weapons, including phased array radar.Sea trials will follow in 2012, a Chinese government spokesman said.The ship was purchased, in an unfinished condition, from Ukraine in 1998. The purchase price reportedly included the complete Soviet blueprints for a finished carrier. At the time, China said the unfinished, conventionally-powered carrier would be converted into a floating hotel/casino. Two other former Soviet aircraft carriers have become floating amusement parks in China.Release of the Xinhua photos followed on a minor dust-up during U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ last visit to Peking in January. It was during that visit that China announced it had just successfully tested its new stealth jet fighter. At the time, China’s president told SecDef Gates that he was unaware that the stealth fighter had been tested.According to Jane’s Fighting Ships, when it’s commissioned into the Chinese Navy (a department of the Peoples Liberation Army), the Varyag will probably be re-named the Shi Lang and assigned Pennant No. 83. Shi Lang was an admiral of the Ming-Qing dynasty who conquered Taiwan in1681 and annexed it to the Chinese Empire.Nothing inscrutable about that.
April 25, 2011
China: ‘Happy Easter. You’re under arrest.’
Chinese authorities arrested dozens of “unregistered” evangelical Christians as they tried to hold services outside of an “unauthorized” church on Easter Sunday.
“Godless, heathen commies” may be an outdated epithet – but it fits. The Telegraph:
Dozens of Chinese Christians were arrested on Sunday when police prevented an evangelical Protestant church from holding its Easter Sunday service, as the state continued its attack on protests against one-party rule.
Security forces clashed with followers of a growing underground Protestant movement that was blocked from moving into a new meeting hall near Beijing, leading to three weeks of confrontation with the communist authorities.Worshippers from the Shouwang, or “watch tower”, church were taken away in buses, some defiantly singing hymns. Church leaders had issued a “fire and brimstone” cry for the congregation to worship outside the building even if it meant arrest and prosecution.
“The devil Satan has taken advantage of the authority God has granted to the national government and is seeking to destroy God’s church,” Pastor Jin Tianming wrote. “His devil’s claws have finally been revealed. Satan get thee behind me!”
Up to 500 members of the Protestant house church movement, unregistered assemblies of worshippers that the government bans to prevent the rise of opposition, have been detained in recent weeks. Yesterday’s arrests were a continuation of the authorities’ increase in repression of dissenters to stop any chance of a revolution such as those seen in North Africa and the Middle-East.
They may as well try and stop the tides. There are an estimated 40 million underground Christians in China – unregistered, unauthorized, and in constant danger of harassment, arrest, and even prison. The Communists have correctly analyzed the threat; the Christians cannot be allowed outside of the box the authorities have locked them in because the gospel of Jesus Christ is, at bottom, the gospel of freedom; very powerful stuff in a state that locks down the human soul and stifles the human spirit.
No power on earth has yet stopped the march of Christianity – not the Soviets or Communists, not the Romans, or Nazis, or the barbarian hordes of the Dark Ages. Somehow, someday, the Good News will overwhelm its enemies in China and people will be free to worship as Christians.
When that day comes, China itself will be free.
The leaders of the world’s largest emerging economies gather this week in southern China for what could be a watershed moment in their quest for a bigger say in the global financial architecture.
Thursday’s summit comes at a crucial moment for the expanded five-member bloc known as the BRICS, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China, and, for the first time, South Africa.
Chinese President Hu Jintao, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and South African President Jacob Zuma will attend.
With the G-20 group of major economies seeking to remake parts of the global financial architecture, it’s time for the BRICS to test whether they can overcome internal differences and act as a bloc pursuing common interests.
“The key priority is for the BRICS to put creative ideas on the table rather than just react defensively to proposals put forward by the advanced economies,” said Cornell University economics professor Eswar Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China Division.
Though largely an ad-hoc grouping at present, the BRICS have the potential to emerge as a new force in world affairs on the back of their massive share of global population and economic growth. With the inclusion of South Africa, the group accounts for 40 percent of the world’s people, 18 percent of global trade and about 45 percent of current growth, giving them formidable heft when dealing with the developed economies.
Thursday’s one-day meeting in Hainan’s resort city of Sanya marks only the group’s third annual summit, while moves to lend it greater structure, such as establishing a permanent secretariat, remain under discussion.
At bilateral talks Wednesday, Hu and Medvedev pledged to boost economic relations, while Zuma said on arrival that the meeting was “a historic moment for South Africa.”
The five countries are loosely joined by their common status as major fast-growing economies that have been traditionally underrepresented in world economic bodies, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
All broadly support free trade and oppose protectionism, although China in particular has been accused of erecting barriers to foreign competition. In foreign affairs, they tend toward nonintervention and oppose the use of force: Of the five, only South Africa voted in favor of the Libyan no-fly zone.
Yet, while the economies of Brazil, Russia and South Africa are driven largely by raw material exports, India and China — the world’s second-largest economy — are oriented more toward manufacturing and services. Brazil and India are also concerned over large trade deficits with China that critics say are supported by a deliberately undervalued yuan.
Politically, Brazil, India and South Africa are functioning democracies, while China, and to a lesser extent, Russia, are authoritarian states characterized by heavy government control over the economy and civil society.
The very lack of a common cultural, political or geographical identity brands BRICS as a new type of grouping forged by nontraditional concerns such as trade barriers and monetary policy, said Li Yang, a finance expert and vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
“The fact that they are grouped together shows the impact of new factors on international relations,” Li said.
In approaching G-20 reforms being proposed by France, which holds the body’s rotating presidency, the BRICS can already point to China’s success in advancing a 6 percent shift in voting rights at the IMF that would give it the third-largest say in decision making after the U.S. and Japan. That move also creates seats for Brazil, Russia, India and China on the IMF’s expanded 10-member governing board, while reducing the influence of Britain, France and Germany.
A key concern now will be stemming inflation and pushing back against debt-fueled expansionary monetary policies being pursued by developed nations that now suffer from negative or anemic growth. With about 40 percent of world reserves lead by China with $2 trillion, the BRICS countries share a concern over exchange rate volatility and macroeconomic instability in the developed world.
Other priorities include reducing economic imbalances and volatility in commodity prices, pushing for even greater influence in the IMF and other bodies, and gaining a say in the potential introduction of new reserve currencies, possibly including the Chinese yuan.
Manbir Singh, a top official in India’s Ministry of External Affairs, said discussions should also cover global security, climate change, and social development goals.
At this juncture, the five need to answer some fundamental questions about the future of their bloc, such as whether to plan for a permanent organization or to admit new members, said Zhang Yuyan, director of China’s Institute of World Economics and Politics.
“They need to decide whether to focus on boosting coordination among their members or simply representing emerging economies in their dealings with the developed nations,” Zhang said.
Regardless of the outcome of such debates, the growth of the BRICS represents an important attempt to create new centers of influence and prevent domination of the world economic order by one or two major players, said South Africa’s ambassador to Beijing, Bheki Langa.
“This formation plays a very important role in rebalancing the balance of forces on the world stage,” Langa said.
– Prophecy News Watch
CHURCHES ATTACKED IN CHINA, ZIMBABWE
The Church of England issued a prayer for Prince William and Kate Middleton last Thursday in advance of the young couple’s April 29th wedding. The prayer petitions God through Jesus Christ for William and Kate’s lifelong faithful union. The people of England may or may not serve God through Jesus Christ, but the national church does claim Him. In the meanwhile, in China and Zimbabwe, police raided the prayer services of congregations who gathered in the name of Jesus. While religious freedom remains on paper in many countries of the world, there is little freedom in reality.
Chinese police raided the outdoor prayer service of an unregistered church in on Sunday, detaining more than 100 churchgoers when they tried to meet on a Beijing bridge. The 8-year-old Shouwang Church has struggled to find locations for its 1000-member strong congregation to meet because the Chinese government has pressured landlords to not rent to the church.
As the church members began to gather at 8:30 am, plain clothed police officers stormed in to make arrests. The church goers were loaded into busses and vans, many singing hymns, and were taken to a local school. There most were questioned and released. One pastor is still under house arrest.
The raid is part of a crackdown against activists and intellectuals that has been taking place since February. While churches have been allowed more freedom in recent years, the recent aggression has targeted churches that do not place themselves under the control of the government.
“The authorities give more slack to religious organizations than they used to a decade ago, but they want to harness them to state control,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a senior Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Religion is a business now. The government sees that and wants to get in on it. If a church refuses to come into the fold or locks horns with authorities, persecution can be severe.”
Bob Fu, of the China Aid Association, said police not only interrupted the meeting, but blocked church elders from leaving their homes.
“Many members of the church are professionals and students, and some are human rights lawyers, which also makes the church a target,” Fu said.
A truckload of riot police stormed a prayer meeting held in a Harare suburb on Saturday and assaulted worshipers gathered to pray for peace. The police rushed into the Nazarene Church in Glen Norah and used tear gas to force the worshipers, including community leaders, out of the church hall. The police then fired tear gas canisters at homes and other local churches and eventually drove numbers of people out of the suburb. The police even arrested passersby who walked by the church after the congregants had been arrested or chased away.
The purpose of the service was to pray for peace in Zimbabwe with a theme “Saving Zimbabwe . . . the unfinished journey.” The meeting was also meant to commemorate the shooting of Gift Tandare at the March 11, 2007 Save Zimbabwe Prayer Meeting, as well as the arrest and torture of another 100 rights activists.
“We are still trying to locate those arrested,” said Alec Muchadehama, a human rights lawyer at the protest. “What has happened today shows that Zimbabweans still have a long way before they can attain their freedoms. They cannot be guaranteed freedom of assembly. A peaceful prayer for a peaceful nation is dispersed violently, that can only happen where there is no rule of law.”
President Robert Mugabe’s policies have been blamed for the deterioration of the nation from the once prosperous “breadbasket” of Africa into a torn country struggling against economic ruination and tyranny.
Please continue to pray for the persecuted Church around the world. These church families in China and Zimbabwe are still suffering tonight, with loved ones arrested and held in unknown locations. They are still shaken and uncertain about what awaits them next. In the darkness, however, the light of God shines brightest. The Chinese church members have already declared that they will continue to meet, despite the crackdown. May the God of Comfort soothe their hearts and give them courage and confidence in His power in their lives, as well as in their cities and countries.
• Chinese Police Detain Members Of Unregistered Church – Los Angeles Times
• Police Violently Suppress Prayer For Peace – Kubatana.net
• Protesters Clash With Police In Zimbabwe – CNN
• Chinese Christians Arrested For Trying To Hold Open-Air Service – The Guardian
• Church Of England Offers A Prayer For Prince William And Kate Middleton – CBS News
• Chinese Shouwang Church Vows to Hold More Services – BBC News
April 09, 2011
The Way to Compete With ChinaLike two heavyweight boxers ready to do battle, the US economy appears pitted against the Chinese. And, increasingly America’s intellectual elite’s have their money on the Chinese. Americans are bombarded by the “new normal” orthodoxy that ours is a nation in decline.But, if we had the political will to do so, we could throw the knock-out punch. America’s key to winning is cheap energy. The Congressional Research Service reported that the United State is tops in energy resources.And here’s why that’s so important. China’s advantage is cheap labor. America’s is abundant energy. We can out-produce them. Energy accounts for much more of the cost of manufactured goods than labor does. And we have more energy than any other country. Would that a GOP presidential candidate put those facts together. America can have its cake and eat it too: high wage job and economic growth. The United States is doomed to President Obama’s “race to the bottom” only if we continue to embrace his energy policies.If the United States maximizes its energy resources we can have cheap gas, high paying jobs and manufacturing supremacy. Oil, specifically, is that important. It far exceeds the cost of labor. Take, for instance, a water bottle. Researchers Peter Gleick and Heather Cooley from the Pacific Institute argue against bottled water because it’s oil intensive.In 2007, US consumers purchased more than 33 billion liters of bottled water, or 110 liters (30 gallons) per person. The total energy required to produce 33 billion liters is equivalent to 32-54 million barrels of oil (although not all the energy used comes from oil). Energy to produce bottled water accounts for about one-third of one percent of total US energy consumption.And bottled water is just one example of oil dependence. It’s a well known fact that higher gasoline prices almost always foreshadow a recession. Why? Gasoline prices have a disproportionately powerful affect on consumer behavior. On Wall Street and in Washington we’ll be told not to worry, since the proportion of a consumer’s income spent on energy has be declining in the past decade. But, leave New York and Washington — and their higher than average incomes — and see what’s happening in fly-over country. Consumers are cutting back, sentiment is declining. Americans are increasingly fearful — they can’t live without gasoline, nor it seems can they afford to live with it. Their helplessness breeds fear. An aggressive energy policy that allowed America to use its resources would reverse these trends. It is intuitively obvious that cheap energy leads to prosperity. Lower pump prices encourage Americans to buy larger, more profitable vehicles. This leads to expanded production, more jobs, and high wages. These workers may also go out and buy a boat. And now, more than ever, political constituencies can be combined to fight the elites and the environmental extremists. Global climate change is a science in disrepute. On cheap energy many union and Tea Party members could find common ground. And even in some liberal corners the current budget cutting can be used to argue against the policies of energy high jacking.A cheap gas focus would also improve our nation’s foreign policy. How many Americans would lament buying less oil from the Saudi’s and thus help defund Islamic terrorism? Millions of us would welcome a “hands-off” approach to the Middle East. The Chinese however, don’t have that luxury. Let them buy from and be beholden to the Saudis. America need not have these problems.It’s hard to conceive of a more important issue than cheap energy. Conservatives need to make the argument that it is our moral duty to the world to use our energy resources. It is just and right that Americans bring prosperity and innovation to mankind. How else can we ever hope to improve education and raise health standards, absent a growing economy?America is truly a blessed nation. Those who first settled this land were awed by the beauty and resources. But, America’s elites have kidnapped our resources. They are holding the nation hostage. And a few such Al Gores have become billionaires in the process. Now is the time to shake off a decade of government induced economic decline and put our resources to use. We can lower US energy costs, and thus out manufacture and out produce all comers.America has the energy resources to fund a new American Century.But do we have the political will to build the coalitions — conservatives and labor — necessary to win the day?
A severe drought is threatening the wheat crop in China, the world’s largest wheat producer, resulting in shortages of drinking water for people and livestock.
China has been essentially self-sufficient in grain for decades, for national security reasons. Any move by China to import large quantities of food in response to the drought could drive international prices even higher than the record levels recently reached.
”China’s grain situation is critical to the rest of the world – if they are forced to go out on the market to procure adequate supplies for their population, it could send huge shockwaves through the world’s grain markets,” said Robert Zeigler, the director-general of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Philippines.
Advertisement: Story continues below The state-run media in China warned this week that the country’s major agricultural regions were facing their worst drought in 60 years. On Tuesday, the state news agency Xinhua said that Shandong province, a cornerstone of Chinese grain production, was bracing for its worst drought in 200 years unless substantial precipitation came by the end of this month.
World wheat prices are already surging and have been widely cited as one reason for protests in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world. A separate UN report last week said global food export prices had reached record levels in January.
The impact of China’s drought on global food prices and supplies could create serious problems for less-affluent countries that rely on imported food. With $2.85 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, China has ample buying power to prevent any serious food shortages.
”They can buy whatever they need to buy, and they can outbid anyone,” Mr Zeigler said. China’s self-sufficiency in grain prevented world food prices from moving even higher when they spiked three years ago, he said.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Tuesday that 5.2 million hectares of China’s 14.2 million hectares of wheat fields had been affected by the drought. It said that 2.6 million people and 2.8 million head of livestock faced shortages of drinking water.
Chinese state media are describing the drought in increasingly dire terms.
”Minimal rainfall or snow this winter has crippled China’s major agricultural regions, leaving many of them parched,” Xinhua reported. ”Crop production has fallen sharply, as the worst drought in six decades shows no sign of letting up.”
Xinhua said that Shandong province, in the heart of the Chinese wheat belt, had received only 1.2 centimetres of rain since September.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation, in its ”special alert”, said the drought’s effects had been somewhat tempered by government irrigation projects and relatively few days of sub-zero temperatures. The agency went on to caution that extreme cold, with temperatures of minus 18 degrees, could have ”devastating” effects.
Kisan Gunjal, the organisation’s food emergency officer in Rome who handles Asia alerts, said that if rain came soon and temperatures warmed up, then the wheat crop could still be saved and a bumper crop might even be possible.
Typically, world food reports barely mention China, partly because many details of the country’s agriculture production and reserves are state secrets. But China, in fact, is enormously important to the world’s food supply, especially if something goes wrong.
The heat wave in Russia last summer, combined with floods in Australia in recent months, has drawn worldwide attention to the international wheat market, because Russia and Australia have historically been big exporters.
But China’s wheat industry has existed in almost total isolation, with virtually no exports or imports, until last year, when modest imports began. Yet it is huge, accounting for one-sixth of global wheat output.
The database of the UN’s food agency shows that in 2009, the last year available, China produced about twice as much wheat as the US or Russia and more than five times as much as Australia.
Currently the ground in the country is so dry from Beijing south through the provinces of Hebei, Henan and Shandong to Jiangsu province, just north of Shanghai, that trees and houses are coated with topsoil that has blown off parched fields.
China’s national obsession with self-sufficiency in food includes corn. Little known outside of China, the country’s corn industry grows one-fifth of the world’s corn, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s statistics. China’s corn crop is mostly in the country’s northern provinces, where the drought is worst now.
Gunjal said the success or failure of the corn crop, as well as the rice crop, would depend mostly on rainfall this spring and summer, not the shortage of rain this winter.
– Prophecy News Watch
When borrowing money it’s always good to have a Plan B in case a big creditor pulls the plug. That should be true whether the sum is a few thousand dollars or about a trillion, the size of the United States government’s debt to China.
With Chinese President Hu Jintao visiting Washington, it is worth asking about U.S. officials’ Plan B just in case one day relations take a surprise turn for the worse and Beijing dumps its holdings of U.S. treasuries.
China is officially the United States’ biggest foreign creditor, with roughly $900 billion in Treasury holdings — or over $1 trillion with Hong Kong’s holdings included.
That means it could do severe damage to U.S. debt markets if it suddenly started selling large amounts.
Most experts say if there were signs of this happening, the U.S. government would go for a combination of persuading Americans to buy more U.S. debt, the same way they did in World War II, and finding friendly foreign governments to make additional purchases.
Banks could be called on to increase their holdings of treasuries, and as a last resort, the Federal Reserve could also be called on to fill the gap, though this could risk turning any dollar weakness into a slump.
“The U.S. government should have and maybe still could call on the people of the U.S. to invest in U.S. debt,” said David Walker, a former U.S. comptroller general who heads an advocacy group calling on the government to curb the U.S. budget deficit and borrowings.
To be sure, the idea that China would suddenly sell its U.S. debt holdings is almost unimaginable to some.
After all, any weakening in the U.S. debt markets and the resulting global markets turmoil, including likely weakness in the dollar, would bounce back on China and could hurt its economy badly, especially as the United States is such a huge Chinese export market.
It likely would take something like a massive rise in tensions over an issue like Taiwan or oil exploration in disputed areas of the South China Sea, including possible military confrontation between the two nations. Such a confrontation would also make it easier for Washington to appeal to the American public to buy its debt for patriotic reasons.
But Beijing could also justify pulling back sharply from U.S. Treasuries if the dollar were to plunge, perhaps because of Washington’s failure to curb its budget deficit and debt.
“I worry that we could be at a tipping point,” said Eswar Prasad, a Brookings Institution economist and former International Monetary Fund official with responsibility for China.
“If the Chinese say ‘We’re not buying any more Treasuries,’ this could act as a trigger around which nervous market sentiment coalesces,” he said. “People could start wondering how the U.S. is going to finance its deficit.”
APPEAL TO OTHER COUNTRIES
In 2009, economist Brad Setser suggested the United States could establish emergency currency swap lines with political allies if a country like China ever abandoned the U.S. debt market.
But the list of countries prepared to step in as buyers when U.S. Treasury officials try to hawk U.S. debt or seek foreign currency loans has probably changed somewhat since Europe became mired in a debt crisis.
Since Setser’s proposal appeared in a memo published by the Council on Foreign Relations, Germany has had to throw billions of euros behind other euro zone countries’ debt to keep the euro zone intact. With other European countries drawing on swap lines established by the Fed, they are hardly in a position to support the United States.
Japan could step in with some additional purchases, but they may be limited, given it has a massive domestic debt burden and is currently campaigning for more Japanese savers and companies to buy its own debt.
Other countries in the region that already buy large amounts of U.S. Treasuries to try to keep the value of their currencies from climbing, such as Thailand and India, or countries with large sovereign wealth funds, such as Singapore, could also be called on to increase their purchases.
Then there are the oil producers in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have traditionally been seen as American allies. Together, the region’s oil producers hold around $210 billion in Treasuries.
“These countries all have a massive amount of dollars invested in Treasuries already,” said Eric Stein, vice president and portfolio manager at Eaton Vance in Boston. “It would be hard for them to commit to incrementally increase their holdings.”
Nevertheless, analysts think a pledge by several major powers to support U.S. debt prices with scheduled purchasing operations could calm the Treasury market.
The price for the United States could be high, though. One banker who wished to remain anonymous suggested that in an extreme scenario, the United States might even need to peg the dollar to a basket of other currencies to reassure foreign investors that their purchases would not suddenly devalue.
Another quick fix would see the Fed step in — again.
After all, at $600 billion, the size of the Fed’s second quantitative easing program, announced November 3, is larger than the total amount of Treasuries China bought in 2010.
According to Treasury data released on Tuesday, China’s gross purchases of long-term Treasuries totaled roughly $260 billion from January to November last year, with China remaining the largest single holder of Treasuries.
But Fed purchases might only work if inflation were still low and the economic recovery sluggish.
Otherwise it might backfire as the perception that the Fed was printing money and devaluing the dollar could cause the currency to take a big hit and bring down other U.S. assets, including treasuries, with it.
“The Fed could try to intervene, but if that led to higher future inflation expectations, it would not hold down rates but rather push them up,” said Benn Steil, senior fellow and director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Treasury officials already tout the increasing demand for Treasuries from U.S. domestic savers. But Walker, the former comptroller general, sees potential for a more aggressive effort to market Treasuries to Americans that could help shift the government away from dependence on foreign creditors.
In his view, the efforts would have to include an appeal to patriotism and come with a longer-term plan to rein in the budget deficit.
“What we need to do is have a plan that’s reasoned, reasonable, can reassure our foreign lenders and also demonstrate to the American people that Washington can get something done,” Walker said.
Eaton Vance’s Stein said U.S. banks could also be pressured, or even forced, to buy more treasuries as part of their capital cushions.
“It seems maybe on some level unbelievable that that would happen in the U.S.,” Stein said. “But other countries even now, if they can’t find anyone to take down their paper, will turn to domestic banks.”
– From Prophecy News Watch