Sunday, 26 July 2020

Early Coronavirus chronology after COVID-19 found in Spain from March 2019

Wikipedia

Coronavirus fact check chronology


Very interesting development that a strain of the Covid-19 virus — SARS-CoV-2 — has been discovered in a frozen sample of sewage in Barcelona dating from 12th March 2019, indicating (as some scientists have posited) that the virus was already circulating the world before exploding so virulently in Wuhan in December 2019.

America needs to provide an explanation as to why they were able to brief NATO and Israel about the coming pandemic in November but failed to warn China in the middle of a vicious trade war. In a bonfire of the virus protection measures: Trump disbanded in May 2018 the pandemic team set up by Obama, slashed their Beijing CDC office until no staff remained by July 2019, threatened to pull out of WHO and defunded research.



This, of course, means that NATO member Britain was fully in the frame having being tipped off about the virus even before China. However, despite still messing up its handling of the outbreak at home, it is nevertheless prepared to scapegoat China at the behest of the Trump administration. Very noble, chaps. So glad to see we took back control!

To bolster Trump's accusations of tardiness, there are still claims  –  which I thought had long been put to bed – that China suppressed its whistleblower doctors. Of course, early fumbles with the novel coronavirus, and taking less than five weeks from initial discovery to full-on national lockdown and eventual eradication of the virus, can hardly compete in the criminal negligence stakes with America's six months of paralysis.

In a full frontal attack on Age of Enlightenment fact-based science, Trump went medieval on our collective ass. For tales of suppression of doctors, you need only look at the attacks on Dr Anthony Fauci, the World Health Organisation, hospital workers who warn about lack of PPE and scientists working with China in vital research, such as Dr Peter Daszak whose crucial work was defunded. The treatment of the Seattle doctor who realised, "It's just everywhere" in January is a case in point.


So to clarify the chronology of the virus's discovery in China, the following is gleaned from the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, WHO, Xinhua, Asia Review, Read Passage, The Lancet and others.


An "odd" lung infection is noted in the Wuhan hospital 18th December.

Dr Zhang Jixian sees a sick family 26th December and on 27th December, she reports the unusual pneumonia to her hospital boss and local health authority in Wuhan. The provincial CDC then initiates full scale research at the hospital.

By 30th December, the Wuhan Municipal Health Committee (WMHC) notifies its medical institutions. “The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issued an urgent notification to medical institutions under its jurisdiction, ordering efforts to appropriately treat patients with pneumonia of unknown cause.” (Xinhua)

On the same day, 30 December, Dr Ai Fen sends private message mentioning SARS to other doctors which is seen by opthalmologist Dr Li Wenliang.

Li sends a private WeChat message warning a group of eight medical colleagues incorrectly that it could be SARS and includes patients' private medical information - from there it goes viral. He is reprimanded by police on 3rd January and told to sign a pledge he won't do it again. (He tragically catches Covid-19 from a patient and dies 7th February.)

The WMHC issues a public notification on its Weibo account on 31st December when CCTV, CGTN and Reuters carry the story.

Same day, 31st Dec, China receives genome results from a commercial lab - the WHO is told (and then formally briefed 3rd Jan). US CDC learn from the 31st Dec reports and begin development reports for HHS on Jan 1st.

2nd Jan the WHO activates their incident management system.

On 3rd January, the US CDC chief Robert Redfield talks to China's CDC chief, George Guo. Redfield tells HHS secretary Alex Azar who then tells the White House and instructs his chief of staff to share the Chinese report with the national security council. [EDIT: The Washington Post reports that Azar did not "substantially" inform Trump until 18th January at Mar-a-lago. Azar “assured the president that those responsible were working on and monitoring the issue. Azar told several associates that the president believed he was ‘alarmist’ and Azar struggled to get Trump’s attention to focus on the issue, even asking one confidant for advice.”]

The virus genome is identified, sequenced and shared internationally in record time by 12th January.

China's genuine biggest blunder allows a public banquet in Wuhan to go ahead on 18th January. Local officials are later disciplined and sacked.

Evidence for human to human transmission is confirmed 20th January. [EDIT: Previous accusations of "crying wolf" over H1N1 Swine Flu in 2009 by the BBC among others: "They [WHO] frightened the whole world with the possibility that a major plague was on the way," means China and the WHO are ultra-cautious until they have scientific proof this time. However, they do NOT rule it out and on 14th January, the WHO tweets that as yet "Preliminary investigations ... have found no clear evidence" of h2h infection.]

Wuhan lockdown begins 23rd Jan when its air traffic is stopped. Two 1,000 bed emergency hospitals for confirmed cases are built in 10 days.

Complete China lockdown begins 1st February.

China reopens 76 days later having eradicated the virus but cautiously leaving the system in place to deal with flare-ups. It had a total of 86,000 cases with 4,653 deaths, most in Hubei.



COVID-19 origin: University of Calgary research shows SARS-CoV-2 may have been evolving slowly since 2013.

The Atlantic: Trump’s Break With China Has Deadly Consequences. After scuttling its partnership with Beijing on public health, the U.S. was unprepared for the pandemic.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

'Let's Blame China" an infantile disorder when Covid-19 comes knocking

How the White House turned "China bought us time" into "China lied, people died" and put the world at risk




"Let's blame China" has become the lazy go-to for so many politicians and media lacking the will to think outside the Trump admininistration box, it's tragic. Literally. Stupefied by the past three years of a vicious trade war on China, the commentariat allows information which could save our lives to be buried in the mush of memes and accusations put out by the various right-wing think tanks: from Bannon to the fugly Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC). Meanwhile, the bodies pile up.

Even LBC radio host James O'Brien, usually one who incisively questions the status quo, went on autopilot the other day to blame China's "appalling conduct" for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Blaming China is several degrees north of perverse when the US knew about the coming pandemic at least from November, even briefing NATO and Israel while keeping this vital information from the nation that would be the first to deal with it. 

Anyone scapegoating the country that lost thousands of lives and devastated its own economy in the drive to eradicate the virus and buy time for the rest of the world, needs to be reminded of what China learnt once they got on top of it. Because that's our collective knowledge, too. 

Up until Trump's U-turn in mid-March, most were impressed with the record time in which China identified, sequenced and shared the "strange pneumonia's" gene code as they struggled to make sense of what was happening since the first case was confirmed on 27th December. Having finally confirmed human-to-human transmission 20th January after initial confusion and missteps, they turbocharged their efforts. Three days later they shut down the city of Wuhan, and Hubei, a province of 66 million (about the same population as Britain), and halted its air traffic.


On 1st February China shut down the entire country of nearly 1.4 billion human beings in order to starve the virus of hosts in order, not just to contain it, but to wipe it out completely. I watched the webcam broadcasts of two mega-hospitals being built in 10 days, and wondered how – after witnessing these unprecedented feats by a fifth of humanity – anyone could ever return to the incessant dehumanising depictions thrust at us over the three years of Trump's trade war. 


We didn't have to wait very long. As early as January, Senator Tom Cotton; Steve Bannon; the Washington Times; Radio Free Asia; Fox 'News' and other right-wing mouthpieces had begun accusing China of creating the SARS-Covid-2 virus in the Wuhan lab: a patent falsehood now debunked by scientists and the Pentagon. Commie bashers hurled abuse and ridicule at the evhul totalitarian state for clamping down on freeberty, something we would never do in the West. Masks were depicted as a mark of subhuman Them versus superior Us, and we were assured that we would never see these symbols of Asian subjugation on the streets of Old Blighty.

Trump wasted precious time as Covid-19 seeded itself in the population leading to chaos and recriminations. Then on 13th March the president performed his reluctant U-turn and declared a national emergency, saying, "I don't accept responsibility at all." 

Cue blame game.

A week later on 20th March, the same day the UK went into lockdown and news emerged of US senators selling their stocks on the eve of the long-awaited crash finally triggered by the coronavirus Black Swan, the White House sent a cable to State Department officials, issuing "guidelines for how U.S. officials should answer questions on, or speak about, the coronavirus and the White House’s response in relation to China."

The Daily Beast reported that the cable's key talking points to be pressed home were that the Chinese government "... hid news of the virus from its own people for weeks, while suppressing information and punishing doctors and journalists who raised the alarm. The Party cared more about its reputation than its own people’s suffering."

However, Dr Zhang Jixian, the director of respiratory and critical care at Wuhan Hospital had raised the alarm on 27th December, informing the head of her hospital and the local health authorities that the "strange pneumonia" confounding the doctors was not the suspected return of SARS, but a "novel coronavirus". Far from being punished, she was rewarded and honoured for her diligence, an inconvenient fact ignored by Western press. 

The media preferred to turn the late opthalmologist Dr Li into a martyr as proof of a cover-up despite his WeChat message wrongly identifying SARS going "viral" in an email and threatening panicked flight of a possibly infected public after Dr Zhang had already reported her grim discovery. (EDIT: Dr Li's message was to a small WeChat group, a member of which shared it against his specific request.) The World Health Organisation, US CDC and press including Reuters knew of the novel coronavirus by 31st December. Dr Li wasn't arrested as claimed, but was heavy-handedly reprimanded by police on 3rd January — after work had begun on the virus and news was out — and told to sign a document pledging he wouldn't do it again. Tragically, he would become an early victim of the virus, catching it from a patient and dying on 7th February.

Americans would find suppression of critical medical information  nearer home in Seattle where Dr Helen Chu found early Covid-19 cases from as far back as January — "It's just everywhere already"— but was told to shut up and stop testing. Or watch the CDC's director Robert Redfield finally testifying to Congressman Harley Rouda in March that they had been wrongly diagnosing Covid-19 deaths as flu.


However, he who smelt it must have dealt it. Politico got hold of "a detailed 57-page memo authored by a top Republican strategist advising GOP candidates to address the coronavirus crisis by aggressively attacking China", dated 17th April.

The memo includes advice on everything from how to tie Democratic candidates to the Chinese government to how to deal with accusations of racism. It stresses three main lines of assault: That China caused the virus “by covering it up,” that Democrats are “soft on China,” and that Republicans will “push for sanctions on China for its role in spreading this pandemic.”

The document urges candidates to stay relentlessly on message against the country when responding to any questions about the virus. When asked whether the spread of the coronavirus is Trump’s fault, candidates are advised to respond by pivoting to China. “Don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban — attack China,” the memo states.

Other smears doing the rounds in a tsunami of hate included linking Chinese to filth and pestilence  — very Goebbels — by claiming Chinese eating bats started the outbreak when the heat of cooking would have killed the virus, and bats are eaten in Micronesia, Indonesia, Texas and Louisiana ... but not generally in China. [EDIT: Some minorities in southern China near the border eat bats but the wildlife trade was banned in January following the coronavirus outbreak.] 

In a piece headlined "'Don't defend Trump, attack China': Republican memo reveals coronavirus campaign strategy" the Independent pointed out more talking points and how Republican senatorial candidates were instructed to use them:

... the GOP's messaging effort to attack China for the coronavirus pandemic and blame the country's communist government leadership for "covering it up, lying, and hoarding the world’s supply of medical equipment."
 
...encourages candidates to promote unverified theories that the coronavirus is "likely the result of an accidental release by a Chinese research facility," which China and the World Health Organisation (WHO), among other groups, deny.


Even in Britain, the BBC continues to twist reality by excluding all mention of anything positive done by the most populous nation on Earth, rendering their reports absurd and denying Britons access to the Covid-19 roadmap drawn by China through their trial by fire. In post-Brexit Britain, results of this month's trade negotiations with the declining US superpower have been largely kept quiet but UK media exclusion of positive news from China and hostile reporting as our death toll rises to over 42,600, have generally not improved.

What this means is that, in the absence of vital information learnt by the Chinese as the first to grapple with the pandemic, the nations that set up China as the antagonist have had to reinvent the wheel, squandering months during which the virus has spread, killed people and may be mutating into forms against which the vaccines currently being developed may not work. Six months after the outbreak, we have only just been told that masks do indeed cut the spread of the virus. Yet one Chinese scientist had informed us on Twitter around February that research done at home in Cambridge indicated that as much as 70 per cent of the virus could be stopped with masks. 


If only Trump and Boris Johnson had dropped their egos and learnt, as decidedly non-authoritarian New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern had done, that a lockdown was immediately necessary, we too might only be stamping out flare-ups instead of sinking under the weight of death and sickness. Most Britons and Americans aren't even aware that the lockdown serves a purpose beyond just keeping case numbers down. The virus needs human hosts to survive, and therefore quarantine lockdown starves the virus to extinction. In China, this was achieved within 76 days.

Scientists are still trying to find out where the virus originated. Current research suggests that the Wuhan outbreak was the B-strain of a coronavirus originating in horseshoe bats that had possibly been circulating the world for years before mutating and erupting in Wuhan, the transport hub of America's upstart rival superpower, three years into a nasty trade war.

President Trump's administration knew about the pandemic threat in November, informing Israel and NATO — which means Britain knew in November and also failed to warn China. It closed down the pandemic team set up by Obama, cut the CDC office in Beijing to a third of its usual 47-team, slashed the funding for its Eco Health Alliance lookout in the Wuhan lab, and continues to trash-talk China. [EDIT: the Trump admin closed down the CDC's Beijing office completely by July 2019.] More to the point, the US couldn't even identify its own early cases, let alone develop a test that actually worked, or collaborate with China on any meaningful strategy for elimination of the virus. Injecting bleach doesn't count. Nor does gargling with anti-malaria tablets.

Some might categorise the US pirating Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) from other countries as "appalling conduct" while China was sending out PPE by the ton to Serbia, Iran, Italy, Cuba and a number of other countries, including a medical team dispatched to the UK which was ignored by most of the media. Confiscating PPE and ventilators from blue states and giving them to private outlets under control of your son-in-law and red states that voted for Trump is hardly pretty, either.

There are now 305,289 cases and 42,600 deaths in the UK; 2.32 million cases and 122,000 deaths in the US. Globally, nearly 9 million cases and 469,000 deaths.

But, yeah. Let's blame China.

EDIT 10th September 2020:

Confirmed: Trump admin knew of the Covid-19 dangers on 28th January but covered it up


We now know that Trump and his admin knew the dangers of Covid-19 from at least the 28th January when, according to the Washington Post, he was told at a top secret meeting:
“This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien told Trump ... “This is going to be the roughest thing you face.”

Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, agreed. He told the president that after reaching contacts in China, it was evident that the world faced a health emergency on par with the flu pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.


The Lancet: How China Managed COVID-19. Active case finding with case management: the key to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic

Sharp timeline observations by K J Noh: How to Yellow-Cake a Tragedy: the NY Times Spreads the Virus of Hatred, Again

Newsweek: China May Have Prevented Over 700,000 COVID-19 Cases With Its Strict Control Measures to Stop Spread, Scientists Say

Foreign Policy: China Deserves Some Credit for Its Handling of the Wuhan Pneumonia. Within weeks of detection of the initial outbreak in December in Wuhan, China has already identified the novel coronavirus ... Beyond the credit Beijing should rightly take for acting relatively swiftly on this disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) has also played a key supporting role.

LA Times: Trump administration ended pandemic early-warning program to detect coronaviruses

CDC: While China took days to identify the novel coronavirus (27th December to 8th January 2020) the US's CDC took six months to identify H1N1 Swine Flu in 2009 which had likely been circulating in different forms for years. Why the aggressive response to China on Covid-19 when they did so much better and faster?

FAIRNo, China Didn’t ‘Stall’ Critical Covid Information at Outbreak’s Start 

 PODCAST Media Roots Radio: Bannon, Tom Cotton, Bill Gertz & Anti-China Neocon Propaganda In the Wake of COVID19 (Part 1 of 2)


Sunday, 14 June 2020

Plague, protests and how the hybrid war on China is prolonging Covid-19 pain in the West

Covid-19 and the UK's missing PPE - NHS health-workers you need this!






I'm back after a long break following my bout of strange, dry bronchitis in December (Loved One had a dry hacking smokers' cough in parallel) which lost us Christmas and New Year, through the coronavirus crisis, a ramped up Cold War on China, and world-wide Black Lives Matter protests set off when African-American George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police on camera in front of us over an agonising 8 minutes and 46 seconds of horror, supposedly over a $20 bill.

I've been spending far too much time on Twitter. There's always somebody wrong on the internet, as the cartoon goes, but some of the toxic outbursts prompt a response before their narratives set like concrete. I should remind myself regularly that social media - especially the Twitter hellhole that hosts Trump - is a vast undifferentiated id. So what did I expect?

If it wasn't for the mainstream media (MSM) news blackout on all things positive about China, I might be more focused on getting my second poetry book out of the way so I could concentrate on my own writing, which I used to do for pleasure. However, in this science fiction writer's coma dream where we've all been trapped ever since David Bowie died in January 2016 and took all the cosmic glue with him, the sleep of reason has produced monsters of planet-destroying magnitude.

I was brought up to believe that the Fourth Estate — our print and broadcast journalism — was there to protect us, to defend science-based truth as we've known it for 400 years of the Age of Enlightenment. (Hah, as I write that I realise that's about the same timespan during which African-Americans have been enslaved and Jim Crowed in America, so maybe there's a clue in there, somewhere.) However, the complete partisan absence of media coverage of, for instance, Hong Kong's US NED-backed Trojan Horse protester violence — beating, maiming, incinerating, killing Chinese civilians for a whole year with not one death by cop — is a whole other revelation.



Along with locusts, floods, fires in Oz and first-born (loosely, Huawei's "detained" Meng Wanzhou and Hunter Biden) we added plague to our biblical disaster list in January. After some initial fumbles, by 12th January China managed to identify, sequence and share the gene code of the "strange pneumonia" novel coronavirus that's been circulating around the globe possibly for years when it erupted in a potent new strain in Wuhan. But – oy vey! – the co-ordinated Cold War hate-fest aimed at China, intensifying Trump's three-year trade war, has been as breath-taking as the Covid-19 disease.

This week there's been another city lockdown following Thursday's Covid-19 flare-up in Xinfadi, Beijing's major wholesale food market, imported on salmon or rainbow trout, possibly from Norway. Fish: cold, moist, on ice, an ideal transportation system for a virus. BTW, "Fish cannot be infected by coronavirus." Luckily, everything's in place to contain the outbreak so let's hope the US and UK are paying attention this time. More on America and its Thucydides Trap travails later.

In the UK, arrogance and incompetence from the Boris Johnson/Dominic Cummings government has brought Britain to its knees. Instead of learning from the Covid-19 road map drawn for us by China, as New Zealand's Jacinda Arden did, the political, media and even some of the science establishment got jealous and arsey about China's unprecedented lockdown of 1.4 billion human beings in order to contain the virus and starve it of hosts.

The mainstream media (MSM) mostly joined the news blackout on anything positive about China's management of the virus after Trump's U-turn in March led to co-ordinated attacks on China. While China sent a medical team to the UK at the end of March, along with PPE and 300 ventilators when hospitals were running out, the BBC countered with the bogus "faulty equipment" smear and the ever-hateful Guardian spun it as "China portrays itself as a global benefactor". Because, of course, the Yellow Peril can never act out of altruism, empathy, humanity, ethics or just plain practical understanding that the virus doesn't respect borders. Johnson dithered, caught the thing, nearly died himself, and has led us to having getting on for the worst death rate in the developed world: 41,662 to date (in a population of 66.6 million) with no end in sight. On top of which, to brighten your day, that's no light at the end of the tunnel. That's the Brexit train headed straight for us ...

For our frontline health, care-home and transport workers bravely serving the public in bin bags or nothing against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, I've presented the video at the top of the page to show the layers of Personal Protection Equipment required to keep you properly safe. This is the state-of-the-art PPE that stopped Chinese health workers dying. This is what you need, what you deserve. Make sure you get it.

EDIT: I've been advised that Hybrid Warfare is a more accurate description of what's happening than "asymmetric" so I've changed it to "hybrid" in the headline.

Study in The Lancet documenting how China managed the Covid-19 outbreak, published 4th June 2020: Active case finding with case management: the key to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic

Alibaba produced the Global MediXchange for Combating COVID-19 (GMCC) international resource for tackling the pandemic, including multilingual manuals on specific aspects available for download

Saturday, 5 October 2019

China: scapegoat and diversion from what ails western capitalism




We all know the United States of America was built on an ancient Native American burial ground, courtesy of European immigrants. Another original sin was slavery; kidnapping men, women and children from Africa for the brute workforce that built so much of America's wealth.

Then there's the 1 per cent ripping off the American people for decades, failing to invest in infrastructure, education, housing, healthcare while the richest 26 individuals took as much as the bottom half of humanity.

And now the US teeters on the edge of the worst economic recession since 1929. The national debt increased to $22 trillion with Trump adding over $2 trillion so far and China's new wealth is expected to pick up the declining superpower's tab as a result of Trump's trade war shakedown.



The next recession will have no China in shock absorber mode as the world's growth engine the way there was in 2008. By allowing other nations to devalue their currencies next to the yuan while China took a massive hit, they helped float the global economy out of the bankers' crash. The next time we hit the buffers, China can't keep us out of trouble because someone sawed off the branch we're all sitting on.

How can it be that in three years the whims and caprice of one man has brought us to the brink of a major recession against which we have no more ammo? Trump and his billionaire friends have the reckless assurance of men with access to luxurious nuclear shelters as far away as New Zealand who assume they can flit off and leave us to face the mess they created if this goes to a hot war. They probably think the planet is overpopulated anyway, so what's a population cull to them? Having tried to short China and Europe into the ground, they'll buy up everything at firesale prices in the wreckage they've made of our human society.

A whole new Orwellian narrative has been shaped to justify the coming grand larceny: Trump's US and its supporters at home and abroad accusing their mark of exactly the same crimes and misdemeanours of which they themselves are guilty.

Manipulating the currency? China spent vast amounts of its reserves propping up the yuan even under assault from Trump's trade war and resulting negative market forces. Trump's real demand isn't that China should stop manipulation (which isn't happening) but that it should start manipulating its currency upwards in favour of the dollar.

Theft of intellectual property? Hawkish commentators conflate actual theft (against which there are laws) with the agreed exchange of assets between one side that had cash (Edit: and access to their huge 1.4 billion market, a fifth of humanity) and one that had know-how. The Art of the Deal, remember? Besides which, the tech ship has sailed.

China has caught up and now outpaces the previous pack leader. America's security forces aren't that worried about Huawei spying on them. That's America's own trademark schtick as we know from a blizzard of information: Edward Snowden whistleblowing on the NSA, US tech's own back doors (hello, Cisco) and that pesky bug that sat on Angela Merkel's personal mobile for ages. No, America is alarmed because Huawei's new technology has overtaken the US with unhackable quantum cryptography at the core of 5G, which means they will no longer be able to spy on their friends, enemies and their own people. (See Crypto AG)

Cruelty? That good ol' Yellow Peril trope always comes in handy. China may be heavy-handed in dealing with murderous terrorist attacks and trying to avoid its own 9/11 but so far it hasn't bombed a string of third countries leaving depleted uranium, land-mines and cluster bombs to continue their destruction.

A manic energy has gone into turning China into America's dark mirror, eclipsing and absolving the US of its Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo horrors in the public eye. Reading claims about three million Uyghurs supposedly being tortured to death by nazis, I'm reminded of New Labour's dodgy dossier insisting on the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Chalabi's role banging the wardrum for the Iraq War.

In 2002, the year following the 9/11 attacks, the United Nations Security Council declared an official terrorist threat in a region of Stans that's been named "East Turkistan" [EDIT that's territory within China]:

'The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is an organization which has used violence to further its aim of setting up an independent so-called “East Turkistan” within China. Since its establishment, ETIM has maintained close ties with the Taliban, Al-Qaida (QDe.004) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (QDe.010). It was founded by Hasan Mahsum from Xinjiang, China, who was killed by Pakistani troops in October 2003. ETIM is currently led by Abdul Haq (QDi.268), who was also a member of Al-Qaida’s Shura Council as of 2005. ... In recent years, ETIM has set up bases outside China to train terrorists and has dispatched its members to China to plot and execute terrorist acts including bombing buses, cinemas, department stores, markets and hotels. ETIM has also undertaken assassinations and arson attacks and has carried out terrorist attacks against Chinese targets abroad. Among the violent acts committed by ETIM members were the blowing up of the warehouse of the Urumqi Train Station on 23 May 1998, the armed looting of 247,000 RMB Yuan in Urumqi on 4 February 1999, an explosion in Hetian City, Xinjiang, on 25 March 1999 and violent resistance against arrest in Xinhe County, Xinjiang, on 18 June 1999. These incidents resulted in the deaths of 140 people and injuries to 371.'

There have been many more since then.

Friendly advice on how to deal with jihadiism humanely and allowing Uyghur cultural integrity (the vast majority lead normal lives), should be welcomed, only not from the nation that's used two nuclear bombs on civilian populations, waged a vicious war in Indo-China, destroyed Iraq and Libya, and destabilised so much of the world while ripping off its own workers for decades. If peace could be achieved for Northern Ireland and South Africa, then maybe some sort of peace and reconciliation could be had here if Certain Parties stopped stirring it up.

Meanwhile, it's a year since Jamal Khashoggi was butchered in a Saudi consulate in Turkey but Trump rewards the regime behind the killing with more weapons, and now even plans to provide nuclear technology despite US bombs still killing citizens in Yemen.

At home, baby prisons, child death and disappearances; a president in thrall to the National Rifle Association (NRA) while mass shootings at schools and public places proliferate; deaths of African Americans by cops; a president expressing a raging tyrant's desire to maim, hurt, kill, destroy with dark age punishments such as snakes and alligators, flesh-piercing spikes and shooting migrants in the legs. Climate change, the environment, fossil fuels ...

Perhaps Trump is only clumsily trying to finish what Obama started with his pivot to Asia and setting up the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 2014, since when the US has poured $29 million into Hong Kong. I'm curious to see how Britain and America will deal with street protests when similar eruptions occur at home.

The Hong Kong protesters had me at democracy. There's an unpleasant authoritarianism in Chinese society (and increasingly out in the open in Britain and the US) that should be challenged from below. That's healthy. But they lost me at "Democracy" when that word is used as a Stars 'n' Stripes and Union Jack-waving euphemism for bringing back the old colonial oppressors ... as if Trump and Boris Johnson are really defending the principle of free speech. How much actual democracy did Hong Kong Chinese enjoy under British rule?

It is hardly a class war for liberation when HK protesters, who are not prospering under this vestigial British imperial system, refuse to take on the property tycoons who manipulated some of the most expensive real estate in the world. For a potted history and illuminating overview, read this:

'British imperialism, in the 155 years it ruled Hong Kong, denied rights to millions of workers. There was no elected government, no right to a minimum wage, unions, decent housing or health care, and certainly no freedom of the press or freedom of speech. These basic democratic rights were not even on the books in colonial Hong Kong.

For the past 25 years, including this year, Hong Kong has been ranked No. 1 in the right-wing Heritage Foundation’s list of countries with the “greatest economic freedom”—​meaning the least restraints on capitalist profit taking. Hong Kong’s ranking is based on low taxes and light regulations, the strongest property rights and business freedom, and “openness to global commerce and vibrant entrepreneurial climate … no restrictions on foreign banks.” For this Hong Kong is the “freest society in the world.”

This “freedom” means the world’s highest rents and the greatest gap between the super-rich and the desperately poor and homeless. This is what Hong Kong youth face today. But the youth are consciously being misdirected to blame the city administration for the conditions Hong Kong is locked into under the “One Country, Two Systems agreement.”'

Like Trump and Brexit, the Hong Kong protest is a revolution from the right. Trump just threatened to mention Hong Kong, but do us a favour and investigate the Bidens. All of this happening now just as America is hitting the buffers and China's economy and 1.4 billion-strong market presents a juicy prize.

As the late Hugo Young told me when we were concerned that his newspaper, the Guardian among several others, was blaming the UK Chinese for starting the 2000 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak (and for which Chinese Brits were vindicated) in a diversion for Tony Blair: "There are wheels within wheels." He had to tell the staff to knock it off around the same time that even more examples of anti-Asian bias emerged after a Readers' Editor's investigation.

As far as the bourgeois liberal commentariat goes ... now, him I miss.

Winston Churchill on the partition of China: "I believe in the ultimate partition of China—I mean ultimate. I hope we shall not have to do it in our day. The Aryan stock is bound to triumph."

New York Times Xinjiang papers "Absolutely no mercy" ... but for who? 

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Donald Trump's hostile takeover of the Chinese economy continues

Eternity in a grain of sand, heaven in a wild flower ... and revelation of character in a golf ball.

"People who cheat at golf also cheat at life."



Donald Trump cheats and Vladimir Putin stumbles. If you think playing hockey against Vladimir Putin is taking your life into your own hands, try playing golf with Donald Trump. MSNBC

Donald Trump's attempted hostile takeover of China's economy continues apace. The Chinese walked into an ambush when they presented their latest round of changes last week thinking they were still negotiating. Kicked off by Reuters' "exclusive" briefing by "three U.S. government sources and three private sector sources", the media then fell in with Trump and trade representative Lighthizer's narrative that the Chinese "reneged" on a deal that was already sewn up.

With two tweets on Sunday (provocatively, the 20th anniversary of the US bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade which killed three journalists) stating he was raising current tariffs on China from 10% to 25%, and planning the same for an additional $300 billion of Chinese trade, the President snapped his fingers and wiped $1.36 trillion from the world economy.
The Economist gives a more nuanced analysis, suggesting that there's more democracy in China's system than you'd think with a politburo that has to sign off on the final agreement. It may be Trump's Thanos dream to snap his fingers and make half the world disappear, but Xi can't do that. He has his own domestic audience to please.
Complicating matters, negotiations have been conducted in English, with the draft agreement (reportedly seven chapters and 150 pages) also in English. As it is translated into Chinese and circulated among more officials, changes are inevitable. “You can’t really renege on something that is a non-binding work in progress,” says James Zimmerman, a partner in the Beijing office of Perkins Coie, a law firm.
So why would China baulk at signing the deal as dictated by the US? They have been making rapid (for China) inroads on outright theft and copyright issues, as they should. But, having once been awash with dosh and not needing foreign capital, they used a barter practise of allowing American firms access in exchange for knowledge in the form of intellectual property (IP) transfer  – which is completely different and smeared as "theft" when these were terms negotiated by the companies in the course of business, and not a government requirement. Looks like The Art of the Deal only goes in one direction.

A major sticking point seems to be the demand that China should undermine its own economic model and no longer subsidise some of its industries, in the same way that, say, the US subsidises its own military or farming industries, for example. What do we think Trump's tax breaks did in allowing US companies to buy back their own stock?

So, double standards aside, China's economic basis is a matter of sovereignty on which China is not going to budge. Trump's China hawks know that. Trump now says he gave US business in China a year's notice to get out, so he knows where this is going and that it was never going to be sincerely resolved. The objective: smash open China's economy, a variant on the "kick their ass and take their gas" that destroyed Iraq and threatens Venezuela, Iran and others.

And do you really want your national wealth subject to a takeover by the same chancers who brought you the 1MDB scandal?

Perhaps this is why we need a World Trade Organisation with teeth so that the rule of law applies to all parties without the biggest one acting as plaintiff, judge, jury and executioner. No wonder he hobbled the WTO; a rule of law that applies to all may not be the kind of level playing field (or golf course) that Donald wants. How can China trust Trump, with his decades-long history of reneging on deals both private and public? Not even Mexico and Canada have escaped the Donald treatment and all his broken promises to remove tariffs.

Trump's subsequent twitterstorm of socialist pledges to use the hundreds of billions that China would pay through his new 'n' improved tariffs to make farmers rich as Croesus and give their produce to the poor was met with 360 degree incredulity. Americans know China doesn't pay Trump's tariffs and this means effectively a tax on their purchases, pushing up the cost for middle America by an estimated $767 per household. That's on top of the swelling national debt burden, up $9 TRILLION to $29 trillion since he took office.


Meanwhile, although an estimated 2% drop in China's GDP from 6 to 4% due to maximised tariffs will hurt, China has the resilience and scale to withstand the assault. It raised 800 million out of poverty and created a huge growing middle class of over 500 million, bigger than the entire population of the USA. No wonder some desperados want it all.

Now all the populists are getting in on the act. Not only Democrat Chuck Schumer, who originally signed off on Trump's trade war tariffs, but, disappointingly, Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders wants China named as a currency manipulator. This may have been apt a decade or more ago, but anyone who's been paying attention knows that for years China has been depleting its own currency reserves in order to prop UP the yuan. Slipping to 7 or more renminbi to the dollar would lead to capital flight, and is not very sensible for an economy trying to shift to domestic sales and imports rather than exports. If you want to discuss currency manipulation, what do you think Quantitive Easing is? Market forces?

The Democrats have to play ball (but not golf!) in order to stay in the game at the 2020 elections. You'd better get onside, Bernie, because if you challenge Don Caligula's right to China's wealth like Joe Biden has, you too might find Rudy Giuliani travelling to Ukraine to dig up the dirt. Or, even worse, he might sic Attorney General William Barr onto you.

Good golfing.

[Edit: Collective amnesia alert ... For decades we've known that the 1% and 0.1% sucked the wealth out of the US and failed to re-invest, hollowing out vast swathes of the country. The top 1% in America own as much as the bottom 90% with the 42 richest individuals in the world owning as much as the bottom 50% of humanity, but you never hear about the 1% any more. China represents a juicy prize as well as a handy scapegoat and a political diversion, all reminiscent of the 19th century Opium Wars and the American downturn in the 1870s which led to the US Exclusion Act of 1882.]

[A final thought ... Motivation, m'lud? China will account for 21% of global trade this year while the US is 7%. China owns $1.13 trillion of America's $6 trillion foreign-owned debt.]

Trump rumoured to be love-child of Captain Queeg and Thanos ... More news as it comes in ...

CNBC Ex-Reagan advisor John Rutledge: Trying to get China to change its economic policy in trade deal is ‘just nuts’. ... "This is not China reneging on the trade deal the last week. This is the hawks taking control, getting Trump’s ear and pushing the trade war off the edge of a table. This is not going to go away.”

China finally gets to defend itself in the FT. "Beijing says Washington changed terms on deal to buy more goods midway through discussions."

BUSINESS INSIDER China made 3 demands to end the trade war, only one of them is legit (sic): Mafia Don's shakedown. Exactly same set up as the 19thC Opium Wars. The US demands China buys stuff they don't need or can't afford, demands to smash open China market for US takeovers. There was no meaningful negotiation. This is why we need a World Trade Organisation to adjudicate.

FT Why China’s role as the world’s shock absorber is changing: How China put the brakes on the 2008 crash. "... despite softening exports, Beijing tolerated continuous currency appreciation. In effect, the rest of the world devalued against the renminbi. Put another way, the combination of an ever-strengthening renminbi and, by international standards, a relatively high inflation rate left China nursing significant competitiveness losses even as others made competitive gains. Had China not performed this role, the world would have faced a far greater crisis. ... China has been the shock absorber for the global economy, a punch bag seemingly able to soak up the recessionary blows that would otherwise have derailed global growth."

TALKING POLITICS PODCAST: Adam Tooze ( ) and Helen Thompson () on the US vs China. Calm and insightful but still buys in to the narrative that China changed a done deal at the last minute, which I think The Economist has put to bed. The question remains - Cui bono?

GUARDIAN editorial 10th May 2019: The Guardian view on US-China trade wars: don’t let them get started. The time has come to rewrite the rules so that the world’s largest economies are able to trade peacefully

Sunday, 3 February 2019

How's it hanging in Brexitland? Politicians fiddle while Brits stare catastrophe in the face


With mere weeks to go before Britain crashes deal-less out of the European Union, where are we now?

Britain is leaving the EU just as Japan's ground-breaking trade pact with the EU kicks in, making those combined forces the world's largest trading body and one in which we still (for a nanosecond or two) have a major say.

The rest of the world's trade is blowing up under US tariffs, trade wars and imminent hot wars, while the WTO, which is supposed to be our life-raft after Brexit, has been marked for death by Trump.

Theresa May's principle-free efforts to push through Brexit at all costs are so unpopular that there were suggestions she might even have to call upon the Queen to overrule Parliament and force it through by royal decree ... until 25 Labour rebels helped her out by abstaining or voting against Yvette Cooper's attempt to extend Article 50. If the Queen had done so, it would have been the first use of the royal prerogative of prorogation (shutting down Parliament) in 300 years.

Someone's taking back control, but it isn't us.

Meanwhile, facial recognition technology is forced on UK citizens in expectation of riots on a No Deal Brexit, with one guy in Romford fined on the spot £90 for not complying. Cold War plans are being revived to evacuate the Queen and the royals to "safety" and away from the civil unrest (in other words, legitimate protest) that the rest of us will be coping with.

Goodbye NHS, already eyed up by Farage et al for privatisation, the 80 per cent of our fresh food that comes from Europe, libraries, anything that gave some bare bones to the nation's infrastructure for working class people.  It was already being clawed back. Brexit accelerates the process.

Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn's Brexit-supporting coterie is co-operating with the Tories because they hope that in the ensuing chaos, they will win power. Triggering Article 50 and then doing the bare minimum in the Remain campaign to the extent that swathes of the population have no idea where Labour stands on Brexit, against a legally questionable Leave campaign, may have seemed like a good idea to Lexiteers stuck in the 1970s. However, I have news for them: this is the right's revolution. Not the left's.

Despite John McDonnell's touching faith that Labour MPs will never accept Theresa May's bribes, there are some like John Mann ("Show me the money!") willing to take the Tory shilling when much of the problem was created by Tory austerity in the first place. I am even more doubtful about good faith on offer after Corbyn took no disciplinary action against the 25 pro-Brexit Labour MPs — including 8 front-benchers — who refrained from voting or voted against Yvette Cooper's attempt to extend Article 50, a chance for a second referendum. As every good tailor knows, you have to measure twice and cut once to make sure. So what gives?

How will Labour play the post-Brexit unrest when the state rolls out its repression? Will Corbyn weep for the youth protesting against the very measures he helped usher in? If he gets voted in, he'll be the one wielding the power of the state. The squirmy squaring of that contradiction will be fascinating to watch.


The three-quarters of the population who did NOT vote for the permanent Brexit change to the constitution in the ADVISORY referendum, including the youth generation who weren't allowed to vote in 2016, have had their future ripped from them by charlatans who have already moved their money offshore, and applied for French/Irish/other European passports for themselves and their children. At least the wealthy will avoid the EU tax avoidance laws and get to buy up UK assets at firesale prices. After all, it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

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