Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 22, 2020

China's Move In Hong Kong Illustrates The End Of U.S. Superiority

Blaming China for the Covid-19 pandemic is false. But the U.S. will continue to do so as a part of its larger anti-China strategy.

As the U.S. is busy countering the epidemic at home China has already defeated it within its borders. It now uses the moment to remove an issue the U.S. has long used to harass it. Hong Kong will finally be liberated from its U.S. supported racists disguised as liberals.

In late 1984 Britain and China signed a formal agreement which approved the 1997 release of Britain's colony Hong Kong to China. Britain had to agree to the pact because it had lost the capability to defend the colony. The Sino British Joint Declaration stipulated that China would create a formal law that would allow Hong Kong to largely govern itself.

The 'Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China' is the de facto constitution of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. But it is a national law of China adopted by the Chinese National People's Congress in 1990 and introduced in Hong Kong in 1997 after the British rule ran out. If necessary the law can be changed.

Chapter II of the Basic Law regulates the relationship between the Central Authorities and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulated that Hong Kong will have to implement certain measures for internal security:

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People's Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies.

Hong Kong has failed to create any of the laws demanded by Article 23. Each time its government tried to even partially implement such laws, in 2003, 2014 and 2019, protests and large scale riots in the streets of Hong Kong prevented it.

China was always concerned about the foreign directed unrest in Hong Kong but it did not press the issue while it was still depending on Hong Kong for access to money and markets.

In the year 2000 Hong Kong's GDP stood at $171 billion while China's was just 7 times larger at $1.200 billion. Last year Hong Kong's GDP had nearly doubled to $365 billion. But China's GDP had grown more than tenfold to $14,200 billion, nearly 40 times larger than Hong Kong's. Expressed in purchase power parity the divergence is even bigger. As an economic outlet for China Hong Kong has lost its importance.

Another factor that held China back from deeper meddling in Hong Kong was its concern about negative consequences from the U.S. and Britain. But under the Trump administration the U.S. has introduced more and more measures to shackle China's development. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act passed last year by the U.S. Congress demands that the U.S. government reports on Hong Kong and punishes those who it deems to be human right violators. The sanctions against Chinese companies and especially Huawei, recently expanded to a total economic blockade of 5G chip deliveries to that company, demonstrate that the U.S. will do anything it can to hinder China's economic success.

The Obama administration's 'pivot to Asia' was already a somewhat disguised move against China. The Trump administration's National Defense Strategy openly declared China a "strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea".

The U.S. Marine Corps is being reconfigured into specialized units designed to blockade China's access to the sea:

Thus, small Marine forces would deploy around the islands of the first island chain and the South China Sea, each element having the ability to contest the surrounding air and naval space using anti-air and antiship missiles. Collectively, these forces would attrite Chinese forces, inhibit them from moving outward, and ultimately, as part of a joint campaign, squeeze them back to the Chinese homeland.


The 'Cold War 2.0' the U.S. launched against China will now see significant counter moves.

Last year's violent riots in Hong Kong, cheered on by the borg in Washington DC, have demonstrated that the development in Hong Kong is on a bad trajectory that may endanger China.

There is no longer a reason for China to hold back on countering the nonsense. Hong Kong's economy is no longer relevant. U.S. sanctions are coming independent of what China does or does not do in Hong Kong. The U.S. military designs are now an obvious threat.

As the laws that Hong Kong was supposed to implement are not forthcoming, China will now create and implement them itself:

The central government is to table a resolution on Friday to enable the apex of its top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), to craft and pass a new national security law tailor-made for Hong Kong, it announced late on Thursday.

Sources earlier told the Post the new law would proscribe secessionist and subversive activity as well as foreign interference and terrorism in the city – all developments that had been troubling Beijing for some time, but most pressingly over the past year of increasingly violent anti-government protests.
According to a mainland source familiar with Hong Kong affairs, Beijing had come to the conclusion that it was impossible for the city’s Legislative Council to pass a national security law to enact Article 23 of the city’s Basic Law given the political climate. This was why it was turning to the NPC to take on the responsibility.

On May 28 the NPC will vote on a resolution asking its Standing Committee to write the relevant law for Hong Kong. It is likely to be enacted by promulgation at the end of June. The law will become part of Annex III of the Basic Law which lists "National Laws to be Applied in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region".

Under the new law the U.S. will have to stop its financing of student organization, anti-government unions and media in Hong Kong. The opposition parties will no longer be allowed to have relations with U.S. influence operations.

The U.S. State Department promptly condemned the step:

Hong Kong has flourished as a bastion of liberty. The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its international obligations, and respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties, which are key to preserving its special status under U.S. law. Any decision impinging on Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms as guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law would inevitably impact our assessment of One Country, Two Systems and the status of the territory.

We stand with the people of Hong Kong.

It is not (yet?) The Coming War On China (video) but some hapless huffing and puffing that is strong on rhetoric but has little effect. No U.S. action can prevent China's government from securing its realm. Hong Kong is a Chinese city where China's laws, not U.S. dollars, are supreme.

The U.S. seems to believe it can win a cold war with China. But that understanding is wrong.

On the economic front it is not the U.S. that is winning by decoupling from China but Asia that is decoupling from the U.S.:

Since the US-China tech war began in April 2018 with Washington’s ban on chip exports to China’s ZTE Corporation, “de-Americanization of supply chains” has been the buzzword in the semiconductor industry.

Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia purchased about 50% more Chinese products in April 2020 than they did in the year-earlier month. Japan and Korea showed 20% gains. Exports to the US rose year-on-year, but from a very low 2019 base.

China’s imports from Asia also rose sharply.

When the U.S. prohibits companies, which use U.S. software or machines to design and make chips, from selling them to China then those companies will seek to buy such software and machines elsewhere. When the U.S. tries to hinder China's access to computer chips, China will build its own chip industry. Ten years from now it will be the U.S. which will have lost access to the then most modern ones as all of those will come from China. Already today it is China that dominates global trade.

The chaotic way in which the U.S. handles its Covid crisis is widely observed abroad. Those who see clearly recognized that it is now China, not the U.S., that is the responsible superpower. The U.S. is overwhelmed and will continue to be so for a long time:

This is why I don’t see the talk about a possible “Cold War 2.0” as meaningful or relevant. If there were to be any sort of “cold war” between the United States and China, then U.S. policymakers would still be able credibly to start planning how to manage this complex relationship with China. But in reality, the options for “managing” the core of this relationship are pitifully few, since the central task of whatever U.S. leadership emerges from this Covid nightmare will be to manage the precipitous collapse of the globe-circling empire the United States has sat atop of since 1945.
So here in Washington in Spring of 2020, I say, Let ’em huff and puff with their new flatulations of childish Sinophobia. Let them threaten this or that version of a new “Cold War”. Let them compete in elections– if these are to be held– on versions of “Who can be tougher on China.” But the cold reality shows that, as Banquo said, “It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

In his 2003 book After the Empire Emmanuel Todd described why the U.S. was moving towards the loss of its superpower status:

Todd calmly and straightforwardly takes stock of many negative trends, including America's weakened commitment to the socio-economic integration of African Americans, a bulimic economy that increasingly relies on smoke and mirrors and the goodwill of foreign investors, and a foreign policy that squanders the country's reserves of "soft power" while its militaristic arsonist-fireman behavior is met with increasing resistance.

The Covid-19 crisis has laid all this bare for everyone to see.

Will the U.S., as Todd predicted, now have to give up its superpower status? Or will it start a big war against China to divert the attention elsewhere and to prove its presumed superiority?

Posted by b on May 22, 2020 at 17:41 UTC | Permalink

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All those above who predict a US-China war really haven't got it right. Firstly, it may be that the people around him in Washington, like Pompeo, are gung-ho for war, but Trump himself isn't. OK for a single night's big bang, if there aren't any consequences, as happened in Syria. But otherwise he prefers economic warfare, which he has by now declared on most of the world.

The other side is to think of China's position. China really doesn't have the imperial ambitions the US accuses them of, by projection. They are in fact pursuing traditional Chinese policies, recovering territory lost in the weakness of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The empire is the national territory. The exceptions are Tibet and Xinjiang, which are indeed colonial territories, but traditional ones.

Otherwise, the Chinese policy is produce and export to the ignorant foreigners who will buy whatever we produce. It started with rolls of silk exported to Rome across Asia on camel-back. It continued with the export by sea of porcelain. According to the art historians there are two classes of porcelain - imperial, destined for the court, and export, cr*p for the others. I don't really believe what the art historians say, but that's what they think. What's the difference from what Huawei is doing today?

Other Chinese initiatives, like Belt and Road, are just derivatives from that basic attitude.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 23 2020 19:09 utc | 101

"“If our tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world face trouble caused by the Americans, they [the United States] will also be in trouble,” Rouhani told Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during a telephone conversation, Tasnim News reported."


Posted by: arby | May 23 2020 19:24 utc | 102

re Posted by: Laguerre | May 23 2020 19:09 utc | 101

There's another interesting factoid, which will resonate today. The Chinese were very good at keeping industrial secrets. They only exported the finished products, which no-one could copy. It took half a millennium before someone got away with silk-worm eggs to Byzantium. Porcelain, end of the 17th century before the secret got out. Before that Muslims had to make do with imitations based on local technology, as indeed did late medieval Europe.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 23 2020 19:38 utc | 103

Quiet day so some Off Topic stuff"
· May 17
Knives are out? Opposition leaders have lobbied the Trump administration to change direction in its Venezuela policy and replace self-proclaimed @jguaido. (says a lot that the opposition leader is picked in Washington...)"

Posted by: arby | May 23 2020 19:56 utc | 104

Venezuelan/Iran tanker news

Posted by: arby | May 23 2020 20:06 utc | 105

Gruff @ 79

It was about 55 years ago I figured out exceptionalism was a crock of shit.

Fifty years ago figured out it was rare indeed to find someone who ever, even occasionally, thinks for themselves.

There’s no way I could ever spin some cant so it would please you. You are going to rattle along with the same shopworn threadbare ideology forever and imagine yourself enlightened.

My words propaganda? Maybe you should notice that no one else, not here, not elsewhere, is saying what I am saying. Use your eyes. Just open your eyes and look around. What your eyes show you is not going to line up with pre-digested ideological hokum you and the rest of the crew here are peddling. I could spend quite a while pointing out plainly visible things which are not as your program would have them. Just simple visible to the eye things you look past every day. And it would do nothing but piss off the lot of you because you are locked into a purely verbal universe. Like every journalist or politician.

Posted by: oldhippie | May 23 2020 20:11 utc | 106

The inevitable war with China isn't a matter of personalities of the leaders of either the empire or China, nor is it based upon what the military strategists for the empire think they can get away with. That inevitable war is based upon economic necessity. China has to continue economic development in order to provide decent lives for all of its people. The empire must continue to exist in order to maintain the wealth and privilege of the global capitalist elites and their favorite vassals. These two imperatives are mutually exclusive.

It isn't even about territory or even spheres of influence. Territory is irrelevant to modern empire, and spheres of influence will invariably follow economic power. China needs that economic power not to dominate the world, but simply to uplift its own massive population.

Something the empire fanbois need to consider is that the economic power to accomplish that economic uplift is also enough to squash the empire like a little bug, if that is what the Chinese decide they must do. The fanbois like to dismiss the fact that China is already crushing the US in GDP(PPP) because they have a fetish for US$. The fact is, though, that when the Chinese build an aircraft carrier or nuclear submarine or equip their troops, they don't pay for those things with US$, but rather with RMB. The more that the US tries to "decouple" from China, the less significant US$ are to China.

China builds ten warships per each one that the US builds. They also manufacture more regular commercial ships than any other country. The United States is not even in the top twenty shipbuilding nations. Croatia builds more ships than the US does. Even Nigeria builds more ships than the US does. If the Chinese switched to wartime production of military ships then the US Navy would be absolutely massacred. Every ship that the US lost would take years, or even decades in the case of aircraft carriers, to replace, while China could be cranking them out by the dozens. China already has a 300+ ship navy, and America has been struggling since the days of Reagan to achieve that.

What's more, the US cannot soon expand its shipbuilding capacity. America no longer even produces enough steel to accomplish that, so before America can build more ships it needs to build more steel mills. There are not even enough skilled machinists and welders in America's burger-flipping, latte-mixing, paper-pushing workforce to ramp up production.

Meanwhile China is pushing out literally millions of STEM graduates with strong work ethics and boundless enthusiasm for the future. Watch for America's STEM graduate counts to drop dramatically as Chinese international students start feeling unwelcome there and other international students become leery of catching diseases in America. Those millions of STEM grads in China are fertile breeders of invention, and America's increasing aggression against their country is providing them with the mother of that invention (necessity).

Clearly, any shooting war with China that goes more than a couple days will go very, VERY badly for the empire. America's less insane military commanders are well aware of this fact. Despite this reality, America will continue escalating its aggression against China to hot war because it has no alternative.

Posted by: William Gruff | May 23 2020 21:16 utc | 107

Lizzie DW @ 73:

Suggest you try reading some of Jeffrey J Brown's books on China. Brown is US-born but has lived in Beijing for several years. You may discover who really are the more repressed people out of the Chinese and the Americans.

Posted by: Jen | May 23 2020 21:42 utc | 108

@Posted by: Stonebird | May 23 2020 15:42 utc | 88

the only long term solution to US military might is to make the US incapable of paying for it

Needs emphasizing. I intended to say much the same in a reply to @vk | May 22 2020 21:02 utc | 27, but you have saved me the work. The financial crumbling of the US is coming. For example, last year's repo crisis happened because nothing was accepted as security for an overnight loan. Even US Treasury bonds, supposedly the safest security of all, were rejected. Hence the repo market froze. When nobody would take a T-bill, even overnight, you knew a cataclysmic crash was coming.

Two more comments to vk. The US's abundance of arable land and the two oceans will be good for the country's survival, but are they adequate for a global superpower? I doubt it. Especially when the US is unable to continue pulling in a vast amount of goods from the rest of the world, "paying" with printed dollars.

The US's large military is also overblown. Yes, it can inflict tremendous damage in a first wave, but suppose the victim isn't instantly ruined. (A huge country like China can sustain a lot of punishment and still be able to fight back.) If the US wanted to keep to conflict going, it would have to make more arms. And that's the problem. The U.S. Military's greatest weakness? China "builds" a huge chunk of it. Of course, there is a move to decouple the U.S. from China.

If the decoupling failed, attacking China would be quite disastrous. Even if China didn't respond, the U.S. wouldn't have much to fight with after a while. If the U.S. attacked China, it would be taking a long walk on a short plank.

If the decoupling succeeded, the question would be, how long would it take? Probably decades. Where would China be by then?

Posted by: Cyril | May 23 2020 23:07 utc | 109

Sorry to be late responding, hopehely @ 83. Thanks for your comment. It is not a stupid comparison. The author is not framing her article in terms of planetary destruction or the other events you list. Her observation is, as evident from the quote, with respect to numbers of humans and the effect this single source destruction of this many persons in the US will have on, as b puts it, US superiority.

I would add, as you bring up other mortality rates that factor into the US statistics, that we have already discussed the studies separating out covid fatalities from the average normal morbidity rate. And found this year in this country to be very different.

I found the projection (which I hope can be avoided) to be startling enough that it might help us avoid calls to be less cautious as our numbers of fatalities decline. If we don't, the projection/prediction may indeed occur, and then it will not be the comparison you may address as stupid. There is, after all, precedent for such an occurrence.

Posted by: juliania | May 23 2020 23:46 utc | 110

William Gruff @107--

The Outlaw US Empire has already lost. And soon it's going to lose its remaining public support. On the fishing charter I went on yesterday was a bumper sticker proudly displayed on the cabin's interior: "I Love My Country; But I Fear My Government." What cannon fodder's available will be via the "Economic Draft," which itself is even declining for several important reasons; and IMO the Hate China crap won't work. And the Empire's parasitic Financialized economy is destabilizing itself and can't continue much longer. I consider the Outlaw US Empire's condition to be Terminal and now residing in Hospice where it will remain until it finally perishes.

China however is in the beginning stages of growing another Dynasty, similar yet different from those before. The collective Wisdom of China's leaders and its citizens if it could be put on a balance scale opposite those of the West would make China's advantage quite visible. In Escobar's essay he references a Singapore-based member of China's Diaspora, Wang Gungwu, links to his book and to a recent interview with him. The bias of the publication is clearly presented within the first sentence of the first question:

"The Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed anti-China and anti-Chinese sentiments around the world."

No, it has not. What was unleashed against China was a propaganda campaign begun by the Outlaw US Empire in order to deflect blame onto China for Trump's Treasonous Do Nothing Policy. The framing and Wang's answers not to fight the framing but to keep his critique within it displays his sagacity. IMO, it's very difficult for Wang to criticize China while living in Singapore which is China's model. But the interview does offer a different perspective and other points Pepe didn't highlight.

The last major point I see being in China's favor is its credibility versus the Outlaw US Empire, especially with Eurasian nations. Allied with China's credibility is the upward mobility China intends to generate via its BRI, of which Russia and all BRI signatories want to realize. The Colonial and Parasitic Financial Capitalism of the West isn't at all wanted, nor is the warfare that enforces it. The historical Reality is the West could never Win by playing fair. That changed with the advent of the UN and its Charter. It isn't anywhere near perfect, but its done okay for 75 years; the world would be a lot worse off if there wasn't a UN.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 23 2020 23:48 utc | 111

I will just add to these thoughts that it was not so long ago that we watched videos of the reverberating tsunami after the huge undersea earthquake that wreaked such havoc around the Pacific. I remember the curious folk who saw the first sign of it as the ocean retreated further by far than it normally did at low tide. Some folk knew what this meant, and they headed for high ground as fast as they could. Others were curious and even walked out onto the sea bed.

They died.

Please, people; b has warned us; stay safe.

Posted by: juliania | May 23 2020 23:59 utc | 112

What we ought to be grateful for, both to China and Russia, is that for whatever reason, each country in its confrontations with the US has had a genuine concern for the people and has held back from answering insult with insult even at this last series of provocations against China. And I would also include Iran and Iraq in this, with the murder of Soleimani. It is apparent these countries and their leaders are more civilized than our leaders, from whom we have suffered more than two decades of shame.

It may be that down the road the US will be able to express their gratitude for this forbearance. It mirrors Russia's forbearance towards Ukraine. And from my reading lately, I'll call it Confucian, but it has a Western analogue: be the change you want to see.

Posted by: juliania | May 24 2020 0:13 utc | 113

US are preaching human rights is like a whore preaching chastity.

Posted by: fayez chergui | May 24 2020 0:33 utc | 114

Posted by: William Gruff | May 23 2020 21:16 utc | 107

Excellent recap of the situation. Well said.

The only issue I might have is *how* a war with China would go. I frankly can't see it staying "conventional" for more than a few weeks or a month. Modern "hot" war is *so* violent, with modern weapons able to destroy entire armadas of ships in minutes. So what happens if the Chinese sink an entire US fleet in 24-48 hours of the conflict, inflicting ten thousand US casualties at one blow, with the US retaliating by, say, bombing a Chinese naval base killing ten thousand Chinese troops? Rinse and repeat for, say, a month.

How soon does this thing turn nuclear with those sorts of casualties on both sides?

I think the main reason the US doesn't attack North Korea is because of Pentagon war games that show fifty thousand US casualties within the first ninety days of the conflict. Even Trump doesn't want to risk that level of US casualties on his watch (at least not with an election coming up.) War with China would be massively more disastrous. The US electorate would be in literal *shock* at this level of hot war, being used to losing a thousand or less casualties per *year* in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Even a conflict with Iran wouldn't be on this level (although it would be a lot worse than Iraq and Afghanistan combined.)

Not saying this would temper the US need to do it, but I fear that any such war would become nuclear fairly quickly. I suppose it is possible that both countries might limit that to "tactical" nukes on military targets at first, and avoid "counter-city" attacks. But unless one side decides to ramp down and negotiate and the other side agrees, I think it would be spasm war sooner or later. And the US has *much* more to lose than China in that sort of thing.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 0:38 utc | 115

Posted by: oldhippie | May 23 2020 20:11 utc | 106

Amazing how not one word of that post contained any actual content. Talk about "propaganda". This was just simple rambling, self-righteous BS.

What was that George Carlin line (again)? "Man, the Sixties were good to you!" "Oldhippie", indeed... About the same level of intellectual content as Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver) from the old "Dobbie Gillis" TV show (if *anyone* here is old enough to remember that one!)

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 0:42 utc | 116

Posted by: JC | May 23 2020 18:54 utc | 98 I believe China has about three to over five hundred nuclear warheads

Three hundred is the accepted total - more than enough provided enough survive a US first strike to be a credible second-strike threat to the US.

The US of A and Russia Federation almost the same quantity, US of A probable more."

Try *way* more. US and Russia have over five thousand each, Russia slightly more. And many of those are on submarines not susceptible to Chinese first or second strike. The submarine forces of the US and Russia are what has kept us out of nuclear war - so far. A credible second-strike threat is the key. This is why Israel has bought three German diesel submarines and allegedly developed nuclear warheads for cruise missiles they can fire from those subs. China also has this capability, but with fewer subs than the US.

"What they have is more than enough to end civilization. Who wanna live in a world like Chernobyl nuclear disaster?"

Won't happen. "Nuclear winter" is not scientifically proven as far as I know. It's all "models" and speculation. A war between China and the US would probably kill one- to two-thirds of the US population and probably at most that much in China. That would still leave half a billion people in China, very pissed off at the remaining US citizens. But the rest of the world's population - probably four-fifths or more - would survive (even if the cancer rate goes up significantly and reduces longevity for them for a generation.)

Not good, my friend.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 0:54 utc | 117

The article's link about Asia decoupling from the US, led me to this:

"Israeli research debunks Sinophobic narrative - A university study found that 70% of infected Israelis had a SARS CoV-2 variant that originated in the US"

That's reminiscent of another article from early March that reported that a Taiwan virologist found that "the type infecting Taiwan exists only in Australia and the US and, since Taiwan was not infected by Australians, the infection in Taiwan could have come only from the US."

"The basic logic is that the geographical location with the greatest diversity of virus strains must be the original source because a single strain cannot emerge from nothing. He demonstrated that only the US has all the five known strains of the virus (while Wuhan and most of China have only one, as do Taiwan and South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, Singapore, and England, Belgium and Germany), constituting a thesis that the haplotypes in other nations may have originated in the US."

What is the proportion of COVID-19 cases in the US that relate to the strain in China, and are those cases perhaps more on the US west coast than the US east coast and NYC?

What is the distribution of the different strains in the US? Is there perhaps a more virulent strain in the east of the US and Canada than in the west? In the US, NYC has been the epicenter, while in Canada, it has been Montreal - meanwhile cities on the Pacific coast like San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver - that presumably have greater travel with China - have not had as many cases.

Would love to read b's take on the different variants or strains or haplotypes of SARS CoV-2.

Posted by: Canadian Cents | May 24 2020 1:53 utc | 118

Looks like Trump blinked

The oil tanker Fortune encountered no immediate signs of U.S. interference as it eased through Caribbean waters toward the Venezuelan coast and Venezuelan officials celebrated the arrival.

Posted by: krypton | May 24 2020 2:15 utc | 119

what the marines are doing are just spreading themselves out the exact same way that japan did half a century ago. nothing new. they would be smart to just build up hawaii, but the real reason this is not happening is because they want to try to influence these china leaning countries. it is not working. no one swims upriver unless they want to drown.

Posted by: jason | May 24 2020 2:18 utc | 120

@ 119 krypton,
we were using the open thread for that topic....
"james | May 21 16:42 @ 88

i don't think the usa is going to board the iran ships...

So ... you think they will sink them? Hehe ... just kidding.
IMO they will board - but not in international waters. They'll do it in Venezuelan waters under the pretext that the Maduro government is an illegal narco state and Iran is a terrorist state.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 21 2020 18:27 utc | 96" lets see if they make it to port... jackrabbit thought as described above..

Posted by: james | May 24 2020 2:51 utc | 121


don't let the Gruffs and the Hacks bring you down. we are all, to varying degrees, performing our learned helplessness by choosing false targets and attacking. when things get serious there will be no online connectivity and "smart" people searching for validation on online forums.

Posted by: lizard | May 24 2020 3:24 utc | 122

Below is a link to a Xinhuanet posting about the HK security issue

Seven questions about China's HK national security legislation, answered

While China may not be intimidated into BS nuke treaties as b describes in the current thread, in this situation they are adopting the strategies of empire as a defense agains efforts to undermine their social cohesion.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 24 2020 3:50 utc | 123

james | May24 2:51 @ 121

Perhaps I should explain why I predict a boarding.

If Juan Guaidó, who is recognized as the Venezuelan leader by USA and dozens of other countries (mostly USA allies and economic dependents), authorizes boarding the Iranian ships for inspection then USA will have the legal justification that it needs (despite many people seeing this as bogus).

Venezuelan forces might object and might attack USA forces. But that would be spun as an unjustified attack on US forces, as would an Iranian retaliation.

Such attacks would prompt USA to seize the ships. Making the acute energy shortage in Venezuela even worse. Naturally, the resulting hardships would be blamed on Maduro.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 24 2020 4:15 utc | 124

Juliania @ 78:

This "sea challenge" as you call it has been part of US power projection since a former US President (Theodore Roosevelt, I believe) first sent a fleet of US warships on a world tour back in 1906 or when a couple of warships under Commodore Perry's command docked in a harbour in Japan in 1851.

Posted by: Jen | May 24 2020 4:33 utc | 125

Jackrabbit @ 124:

Suppose Johnny Bat-boy Guano authorises US boarding of the Iranian tankers; Iranian retaliation could take the form of trapping any US warships in Iranian waters or pounding another US military base in Iraq or Saudi Arabia. Anywhere the US is perceived to be weak and the US probably does not know how Iranian strategic thinking works or what is considered "weak".

Posted by: Jen | May 24 2020 4:39 utc | 126

Jen | May 24 4:39 @ 126

Yeah, there are possible repercussions. But IMO USA very much wants 1) to maintain/increase the pressure on Venezuela, and 2) a reason to blame any war that might occur on it's adversaries in order to rally public support and troop morale.

I can't say that my prediction is certain to occur but it is consistent with USA/Trump intentions. And I put no store in the foolish notion that Trump won't do anything before the elections.

Also, in any war scenario I don't expect any invasion of Iran or Venezuela. Just even greater pressure via blockade and destruction of vital infrastructure (like refineries).


Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 24 2020 5:14 utc | 127

Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 24 2020 5:14 utc | 127 Also, in any war scenario I don't expect any invasion of Iran or Venezuela.

In the case of Iran, I suspect the US will have no choice but to "invade" - at some point and to some degree. The problem is the closing of the Persian Gulf. Iran can easily do that. Colonel Lang over at SST claims the US Navy can keep the shipping lanes open. But he's clueless. The only US minesweepers are all old *wooden* ships (metal is not recommended against magnetic mines!) that should have been mothballed decades ago. And the last time the US conducted minesweeping exercises in the Gulf, they missed finding half of the dummy mines they laid. So much for US Navy competence...

So now the Gulf is closed and oil prices spike. Despite whatever economic problems there are that might reduce oil prices, they'll likely spike high enough to be a problem for the world's economy and for the US economy and the US electorate/consumer (if not for oil company profits.) So the US needs the Gulf opened and can't do it with its Navy or Air Force. They can't destroy all the small boats and fishing boats Iran can use to dump mines, not can they find all the caves and bunkers on the Iranian coast where anti-ship missiles can be launched, making US Navy ships in the Gulf doing mine-sweeping sitting ducks.

So they're going to have to put thousands of Marines right *on* the Iranian coast. And those boys are going to have to deal with about a million (or more, depending on whose estimates you believe) of Iranian Basij militia attacking them along with whatever is left of the Iranian regular military and IRGC forces. So you can count on thousands of US casualties per year (as opposed to Iraq and Afghanistan where the casualty rates were far lower.)

Unless, of course, the US just decides to let the oil price spike without actually trying to put troops inside Iran. Good luck with that. Maybe that's why they want a war sooner, since the coronavirus effects on travel among other things has reduced the oil prices down to a level where a war might not spike them too high. But then the economy already sucks for the same reason, so...

Occupying Iran is impossible, of course. The land area is too big and the population is too big. Tehran itself is thirty million people.

But unless the US puts troops inside Iran from somewhere - Turkey, Iraq, the 'stans, or wherever - the US is not going to be able to come *close* to defeating Iran from the air and sea. As you say, the US can bomb the crap out of Iranian infrastructure. And they will. That's never going to cause Iran to surrender or even negotiate.

So the US will eventually - in about ten or twenty years, like Afghanistan - be forced to withdraw. In fact, I suspect the Iran war will be called the "New Thirty Years War", because that's probably how long it will last.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 5:53 utc | 128

Posted by: Jen | May 24 2020 4:39 utc | 126 Iranian retaliation could take the form of trapping any US warships in Iranian waters or pounding another US military base in Iraq or Saudi Arabia.

Iran is not going to give the US a *direct* excuse to launch an all-out war on Iran. Iran was very careful to measure its retaliation for the Soleimani assassination - missiles at a base carefully targeted to *not* kill *too* many Americans.

Iran is willing to fight if attacked. They are not willing to make it look like they provoked the attack or over-reacted to a provocation.

If the US seizes *civilian* ships at sea under some bogus legal pretense - which they already did in the Med, as everyone no doubt remembers - Iran will retaliate by seizing US - or US allied - *civilian* ships in the Gulf. They won't try to attack a US military ship, because a US military ship will fight back and can call on resources throughout the Middle East for immediate assistance - which will escalate really fast to a point where Trump can claim he has justification for a major retaliation directly against Iran's territory. The neocons and Israel who are pushing Trump for war would just *love* that!

"the US probably does not know how Iranian strategic thinking works or what is considered 'weak'."

Correct. Iran is a master at asymmetric warfare. But they will measure their response to a hair below what they feel will cause a full-scale war. Only a country run by complete idiots would risk full-scale war with the US if they can avoid it - unless the "idiots" are Russia or China, who aren't afraid of the US. No country wants a million of its citizens and its civilian infrastructure destroyed over some tankers or a perceived blow against their prestige.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 24 2020 6:03 utc | 129

Look, all this chat about US "war" capabilities against an array of opponents should be seen in the light of:
In the event of a "nuclear" war the estimated casualties are 93 million in the first 45 minutes of fighting. (In this scenario - one "small" tactical nuke is the starting point - NOT a fully fledged pre-emptive strike).
The US can only hit countries that are weaker without everything going nuclear. This also means those that do not have their own Nukes, but have US ones on their soil, become prime level targets, as well as the originating country.

Nukes leave a radioactive sequel. There was a strong possibilty that early "tactical" nukes were trialed in Iraq (2nd war.). There was speculation then, based on photos of smallish mushroom clouds near Fallujah and from inside an exploding ammo dump. What is sure is that the present day rates of cancer and deformed births are still very high today. (Even if the official reason is the use of DU munitions (depleted uranium)).

For the principal "actors" in a conflict situation, this leaves asymetrical warfare as the only viable substitute: Sanctions (blockades), Monetary pressure, Guerrila warfare. provoked civilian "disobedience" as a tactic and so on.

We know all about those tactics, they have become "standardized to the point where the colour of the flag is chosen in advance. (Question; what is the colour of Guiado's flag., off-white?)

So China and Russia are following a policy of "decoupling". While the US is still fighting the last (power projection) war.
In answer to Cyril | May 23 2020 23:07 utc | 109.
It seems to me that both sides are decoupling, but the Chinese and Russians have been at it longer. The present kerfuffle about Honk Kong, is more a question of the access of the Uber-rich (deeper state) to the Chinese financial assets and criminal fortunes, than it is about "Democracy or whatever".

Posted by: Stonebird | May 24 2020 9:38 utc | 130

JR, I'm quite sure the Iranians are not bluffing and I am fairly sure the US knows that.

"Fars News Agency
Iranian President Warns US: If Our Oil Tankers in the Caribbean or Anywhere in the World Get into Trouble by the Americans, Tehran Will Definitely Retaliate

Posted by: arby | May 24 2020 12:50 utc | 131

"Fumes & scuffles as riot police fire tear gas amid renewed anti-govt unrest in Hong Kong "


Posted by: arby | May 24 2020 12:57 utc | 132

@ jackrabbit... thanks for your additional comments and thoughts... this is just a general comment.. it seems the usa works hard to imply some legal superiority in a number of instances, but so much of it is coming out of washington which neo cons seem to think is the center of the world... the example of putting up a leader - guaido - and funnelling money that belongs to venezuala to him - well you know how an ordinary person would view this if you gave the money you owed to someone else.... like i say, the usa is one bullshit country and the fact canada signs onto this bullshit doesn't go un noticed by me either... but to my point... i think they call this new reality of the neo cons - lawfare.... we make the laws and this is the new reality.... we are a rule based law abiding country.... the bullshit is laid on very thick..

i think the jig has been up for guaido for a while now... the guy is a complete laughing stock, stooge for the empire and most people see this...

Posted by: james | May 24 2020 16:31 utc | 134

arby | May24 12:50 @ 131

Yeah, I don't think they are bluffing.

james | May24 16:31 @ 134

At some point a country loses credibility with bluster after bluster.

<> <> <> <> <>

Everyone was expressing outrage that USA might stop the Iranian tankers on the high seas. I realized that was not the likely means of stopping the tankers. Much more likely that it occurs in Venezuelan waters with Guido's approval.

If USA fears the Iranian response in Middle East, then they would also fear the possibility that this missile tech could be transferred to Venezuela. Making a stopping of the tanker(s) even more likely.

There's 4 more tankers coming. Maybe they will stop of these?

Or maybe their whole focus is on bringing down China now. Chinese economic power underpins all resistance to the Empire.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 24 2020 17:31 utc | 135

"Iranian President Warns US: If Our Oil Tankers in the Caribbean or Anywhere in the World Get into Trouble by the Americans, Tehran Will Definitely Retaliate"

Tehran does not say that the yanks can cause trouble if they say their rules based order says they can.

"Iranian President Warns US: If Our Oil Tankers in the Caribbean or Anywhere in the World Get into Trouble by the Americans, Tehran Will Definitely Retaliate"

Posted by: arby | May 24 2020 18:45 utc | 136

An excellent analysis on Hong Kong and China b. Speaking of which, I am waiting to see what happens in Vancouver on Wednesday...

Decision on Future of Meng Wanzhou Extradition Case Next Week

"A BC Supreme Court judge will deliver a highly anticipated ruling next week that could spell the end of attempts to extradite Huawei excecutive Meng Wanzhou to the US..."

Posted by: John Gilberts | May 25 2020 0:30 utc | 137

Much of the Hong Kong news coverage says the resistance to Beijing is largely due to the prospect of Hong Kong citizens being packed off to the Mainland for show trials under CCP laws that do not apply in Hong Kong.

How does such a large point of conflict not appear in this long article? Is it a subtext being avoided?

Posted by: Liberty Blogger | May 25 2020 11:02 utc | 138

If COVID-19 has been eradicated in China, I have a US Bank in Hong Kong I would like to sell you.

Posted by: Liberty Blogger | May 25 2020 11:05 utc | 139

"If COVID-19 has been eradicated in China, I have a US Bank in Hong Kong I would like to sell you."

Posted by: Liberty Blogger | May 25 2020 11:05 utc | 139


I'll take it!

I will send you $20 in cash, check or US postal money order.

First, of course, I will need proof that you own the bank, and that it is unemcumbered.

Posted by: AntiSpin | May 25 2020 16:34 utc | 140

Thanks b for this article, first time I learn about HK failing to fulfil these elementary contractual commitments. They can count themselves lucky they've been dealing with China, not the US, else they'd long be ruing their choices from smoking ruins.

The decline of the empire has come a long way. Just a few years ago, holding that view outside of a few well-informed blogs such as this one was viewed as outlandish and besides reality. Now the developments come hard and fast and even minor players on the global stage feel emboldened versus the hegemon. Not some major players such as Germany though, but that's another (sad) story.

As for financial indicators of the decline and to comment on @Cyril | 109:

the recent developments in the repo markets so far seem to indicate the deflation of the Everything Bubble, not so much yet the decline of the dollar and US government debt.
As the bubble-fueled economies have started to turn sour about a year ago (Germany and South Korea were the earliest indicators of slowing), credit quality has been deteriorating.

That means where before on junk bonds trading at say $100, banks in the repo market would lend perhaps $80. Now those repo lenders are becoming more cautious and only offer say $50 on the same junk bonds. If you still need $80 to conduct business, that's a problem. US treasuries are very close substitutes to dollar currency and to my knowledge still excellent collateral. The problems are starting for the marginal repo market customers that have been expanding on late-bubble-stage dubious collateral and now see their access to (affordable) liquidity dwindling.

Thanks to the ECB's insane policy, a single-digit percentage of Euro junk (sic) bonds had been trading at negative yields, the rest not much above zero. If this perverse distortion at some point corrects, it'll have violent effects of all sorts.

Posted by: Leser | May 25 2020 16:43 utc | 141

HK protesters are Empires useful idiots and will be discredited and abandoned just like other empire's allies- the Kurds in Syria/Turkey.

Posted by: Lewis | May 26 2020 6:42 utc | 142

Hong Kong protesting idiots should learn from the fact that their sponsor US of A is a psychopathic mass murdering genocidal terrorist country that has blood of millions of innocent people on its hands. The US/UK western evil empire is racist , full of bigotry and cannot stomach the truth about their evil criminality around the globe. They are terrified of truth and they smear and demonize China, Russia etc for standing for justice ,truth and equality among all humanity. All the US/UK and their criminal allies knows is mass killing , genocide, looting and monetary slavery of the world.
Since World War Two the U.S./UK and their criminal allies has killed an estimated 30 million people, none of whom were ever a threat to the US/UK people. Ethically, morally and probably legally every US/UK people are guilty of war crimes. The German people were not let off the hook after WW2. The US/UK people stand guilty, as charged.
U.S. government is a pathological liar. It uses countless Big Lies and distortions used by both right wings of the US one-party state to advance its imperial agenda.
The past two decades have been especially rich with its lies. George W. Bush winning the election in 2000 was a lie. The attacks of 9/11 were lies, the invasion of Afghanistan was based on a lie, Iraq weapons of mass destruction were a lie, Iran’s nuclear weapons program is a lie, the Katrina Hurricane response was a lie, the Russian invasion of Georgia was a lie, the 2009 bailout of the Wall Street was based on lies, the Ukraine coup was lied about, Gaddafi’s Viagra was a lie, the moderate rebels was a lie, the lie that Venezuela is a threat to the US is a lie, the White Helmets are a propaganda lie, Russiagate is a lie, the Douma chemical attack was a lie, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons report was a lie, the torture of Chelsea Manning is lied about, the Julian Assange lie is a lie.

It is a shame the US and its criminal allies (UK, Canada, Australia, Israhell etc), blame China for COVID-19 , yet its the US who created it at Fort Detrick (North Carolina) , then released it on China during world military games in Wuhan Oct 2019. Bill Gates even ran a simulation exercise in Oct 2019 termed Event 201, of a virus named SARS-2 covid, where he predicted pandemic deaths of 65m people. The virus later appeared in China in 2019 Dec after the 300 US servicemen have infected the staff at The Orient Express in Wuhan where they stayed during world military games in oct 2019. Corona deaths started in US North Carolina around Fort Detrick in Sept 2019 of which 14000 died and US lied to the WHO that these deaths were from Influenza. CDC director refuted these lies and confirmed to US corrupted greedy Congress that the deaths were due to Corona Virus (Covid-19)in Mar 2020. So the master arsonist, lights the fire, then blames the victim china for it. This is just how psychopathic the US is.
Very precise! Bill Gates is a psychopath criminal hell bent on wiping out humanity especially the 90 % of world population he calls ‘’useless eaters’’. Look up agenda 2030 or 2020 ID ONLINE. He has already tried to bribe Nigerian government this month with 10M USD, to test poison laden corona vaccince (containing glyphosate etc) on unsuspecting Nigerian population! Italian MP Sara Cunial is right, Bill Gates should be arrested and hanged for murder in African, India etc. His country, the US is the number one thieving looting criminal, terrorist, dictatorship nation with fake democracy in the world. Currently the US is stealing Syria’s oil in broad day light backed up by its criminal allies UK, Australia Canada etc. It instigates wars of aggression against innocent civilians in foreign nations, and funds and props up despotic brutal regimes, dictators around the world. This is accomplished through its CIA run fake NGO USAID, NED etc. The US has murdered millions of human beings since WII and continues to commit genocide and war crimes undercover of its fake criminal R2P extra territorial criminal interventions. Yet there is no meaningful opposition among the US population against US war crimes and acts of aggression, mass murder, genocide and heartless psychopathy even in these times of COVID-19? See how the US and its populace is happy to kill innocent women and children by blocking COVID-19 MEDICAL AID to Iran, Venezuela, Cuba etc ? Including stealing medical kits meant for other countries that are in need of help.
Americans are sick at heart and soul, they are psychopathic mass murderers and heartless killers, Just look at the mass shootings!! The US is one sick psychopathic nation whose leaders commit mass murder, lies and deceive the world non stop, alongside its five eyes criminal allies UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc. All should be tried for war crimes and mass murder under Nuremberg international law!!! Right now the US is busy training ISIS terrorists at Al-Tanf Syria illegal US occupation base, then unleashing them on Syria , middle east, Africa, asia , south America etc. to commit heinous crimes (decapitating women and children's civilian heads, eating their brains , rape and murder etc. see this link- https://www.globalresearch.... Who would trust the US and its evil deception in trade, media , wars of aggression, poison medicine made by its criminal pharma companies, poison food agriculture by its evil Monsanto etc? Remember the war of lies based on fake narrative of Iraq's saddam's WMD, Libya and Gadafi soldiers using Viagra to rape women? Kuwaiti princes posing as some poor girl lying on tv about babies being removed from incubators? And what about the latest Syria's Assad being falsely accused of chemical attack in Douma with corrupt OPCW producing now thoroughly debunked criminal fake report to instigate war against Syria? Now US is stealing Syria's oil in broad daylight backed by criminal allies UK, Australia, Israhell etc? What about US training and funding terrorists aka moderate rebels in Altanf illegal US invasion camp in Syria, then unleashing it on Syria and beyond? Lastly, have you seen US destructive wars based on pure lies on Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan , Yemen, Somalia, Congo, South America , Syria etc. etc

Posted by: Lewis | May 26 2020 7:01 utc | 143

I can understand Fiberty Flogger being eager to unload Hong Kong financial assets as those have been losing global significance and value for some time, but that poster's concern that foreign financing of black shirt neo-Nazis is to be outlawed and that those hired thugs will be subject to prosecution for fire bombing shops and train stations seems odd. Perhaps the poster is a champion of the "freedom" to assault random people and destroy arbitrary public and private property? Well, as they say, "Think global, act local." The poster should perhaps try fire bombing a nearby bus stop to get his feet wet in the behavior that he supports.

Posted by: William Gruff | May 26 2020 13:06 utc | 144

"UK ruled Hong Kong without a trace of democracy or human rights but is now ‘deeply concerned’ at China’s security proposals "


Posted by: arby | May 26 2020 19:41 utc | 145

An assortment of protest videos from Hong Kong. Note the organized umbrella protesters who hide the nastiness from cameras.
scroll down a bit


Posted by: arby | May 26 2020 19:47 utc | 146

WOW, Xi finally, calling the bluff of another murica puppet.

Who could think that?

Posted by: TheHegemonIsFalling | May 27 2020 18:00 utc | 147

The US has limited superiority enabled by its criminality, deception in trade, media, finance, looting of other countries resources, funding and using terrorists to destabilise other nations and committing genocide globally through its war of terror. It is a parasite that should be squashed and if China can do it, the whole world should rally behind China.
Globally, it is widely believed that the United States tends to use terrorist organizations as hired guns in order to pursue its own interests all over the world. Since September 11, 2001, the White House has been implementing its expansionist policies, under the guise of the ‘War on Terror’, to seize natural resources and riches of other nations. And this was especially evident after the US interventions in Libya in 2011 and then Syria, and Washington’s actions in Afghanistan and the entire Middle Eastern region.
The sheer length of the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and Washington’s inability to achieve its desired goals all point to the true motives behind the US ‘War on Terror’. At first, the United States and its allies decided to use al-Qaeda (terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) to destabilize the situation in the region and overthrow legitimate governments there. Then, after the plan failed, the US helped establish the Islamic State (also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation), which was to be used as a direct means of intervening in the region.
Such an approach was clearly evident in Syria where, throughout the conflict, the United States illegally supplied tons of weapons, worth billions of dollars, to terrorists from Daesh. The CIA and the Pentagon used various schemes to bring arms from Eastern Europe and the Middle East to the war zones. Only in 2015, Washington supposedly provided Daesh militants with $500 million in funding. According to a US Defense Department Inspector General report, from 2017 to 2018, the Pentagon lost track of more than $700 million worth of weapons and equipment
It’s hardly a secret that Washington did not only help jihadists financially but would also regularly save their lives by evacuating them from dangerous areas and transporting them to US military bases, where they were subsequently trained. Afterwards, these militants could kill Syrian soldiers who essentially stand between Washington and Syrian crude oil. Numerous reports in various media outlets have, on many occasions, exposed USA’s clandestine schemes in Syria. And still, Washington continues to openly provide direct and indirect support to terrorists.
It has already been reported earlier that, according to a former colonel of the Syrian Armed Forces, Sultan Aid Abdella Souda, detained for desertion, “there is a direct connection” between militants in Idlib and the United States. The US trains the militants in Idlib to stage attacks on oil/gas and transportation infrastructure, and to plan and carry out acts of terror in the territories under the control of Syrian government forces.
Recently, schemes used by US armed forces to operate in Syria in order to justify their presence in the country came to light. A key witness for Damascus and a former field commander of Syria’s armed opposition, Hannam Samir (also known as Abu Hamzi) has shared his views on US military tactics in the region. He has affirmed that the Pentagon and the CIA have established networks for recruiting mercenaries in southern Syria. Hannam Samir also talked about the logistics of supplying Islamist terrorists with weapons. He was the commander of an outpost near the Rukban refugee camp. According to his statements, instead of trucks full of humanitarian aid, convoys with weapons and food travelled unimpeded through guard posts and the camp, where the US al-Tanf military base is also located. Using recruited “moderate opposition” as cover, Americans, at some point in time, stopped fulfilling any of their promises, with salaries and food provided only once in three months. Disagreements arose among field commanders and, subsequently, Abu Hamzi and his unit decided to defect and surrender to Syria’s governments forces. Unquestionably, all of the evidence pointing to Washington’s ties with terrorists instead of US efforts to wage war on terror, should be made publicly available and used during international court proceedings as proof of USA’s dirty policies in the Middle East.
The US and its vassal puddle UK arrogance is shameless. Instead of mutual cooperation, they intimidate china with war, sanctions including using terrorists to try and destabilise Hong Kong and Ugur region.
China is strong and has already won the moral high ground against the known US terrorist state .

Posted by: lewis | May 28 2020 7:01 utc | 148

@56 occupatio: In the words of the late, great William Blum:

Q- Why will there never be a coup d'état in the United States?

A- Because there's no US embassy in Washington.

Posted by: Gene Poole | May 28 2020 10:41 utc | 149

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