In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Posts Tagged ‘Chinese soft power’

The Scottish referendum and the decentralization of Britain

Posted by seumasach on September 28, 2014

Cailean Bochanan

28th September, 2014

When Nicola Sturgeon spoke back in January of the inevitability of change whatever the outcome of the referendum and appealed to the “No” campaign to come forward with their proposals for further devolution to Scotland she must have known that a response would be forthcoming. All political parties had been focused for some time on the issue of the decentralization of the British state and the referendum was to be the cue for these ideas to come to the fore. However, from the point of views of both campaigns this issue was to become the elephant in the room that no one wanted to see. The “Yes” campaign , notwithstanding Sturgeon’s remarks, continued to insist that it was all or nothing for Scotland, that not only was further devolution not on the agenda but that a “No” vote would see the rollback of devolution already conceded. The “No” campaign evoked the enduring stability of the union and an era of innocence in which good old Great Britain was not about to be eviscerated. As a result, it was only when “panicked” representatives of the leading UK parties came to Scotland late in the campaign, following polls suggestive of a “Yes” vote, that it became evident to all that further devolution was indeed on the agenda. The “panicked” UK leaders, far from making up policy on the hoof, were, however, merely putting forward what they had always intended in an opportune manner which would give themselves credit post-referendum. They were also shoring up the position of Alex Salmond and the SNP post-referendum who could claim that their campaign and a surge in support had forced the hand of the Westminster establishment.
That major constitutional change was on the cards was made clear in a speech in April by Labour leader, Ed Milliband, a speech which was studiously ignored by everyone. In it he blamed overcentralisation for all Britain’s ills and promised to devolve power and spending to English cities and regions. He also revealed the real point behind this “bringing of power to the people” as the Tories like to call it:
“With power of this sort comes responsibility.
These changes will only bring new jobs, greater prosperity, if the towns and cities are willing to put the private sector at the heart of decision making.”
Welsh Conservative leader Stephen Crabb was to pick up on the same theme as he launched the pre-panic, Tory devolution response in July,:
“I am very comfortable with the way devolution is developing. It is quite an exciting landscape that is emerging for devolution. So fiscal devolution I see as particularly important because of strengthening accountability for devolved government.”
This, he thought, would help to “challenge socialist orthodoxy” citing the influence of leading Thatcherite ideologue,Lord Brian Griffiths, in his conversion to devolution.

Any doubts about major constitutional change were dispelled in Cameron’s speech following the announcement of the referendum result. He called for English votes on English issues, effectively a call for English devolution. It also launched the 2015 election campaign with a shot across the bows of the Labour as Cameron sensed blood and seized the moment when the Labour/Tory duopoly gives way to a Tory/SNP axis which could dominate Britain for a long time to come. Labour’s hesitancy regarding English devolution doesn’t mean they won’t support it: they have no choice, but they wish to delay it beyond the next election. If Milliband has written their suicide note in the above mentioned speech they can be forgiven for pacing the room in a state of high agitation before finally putting the bullet through their head.
The British ruling class have embarked upon a major transformation of Britain. Milliband’s speech gives an indication of what they have in mind. The essence of this change is more easily grasped within the context of US politics and the politics of the Republican right. The goal is the end of Big Government. As Britain heads towards another crisis resembling that of 2008 it will face similar dilemmas to those they faced then. In 2008 they bailed out the banks without taking control of them. This time overwhelming popular pressure could force their hand and result in nationalization. Similar pressures could lead to renationalization of the utilities and even land and the housing stock. These measures are unacceptable and dangerous to the post-Thatcherite oligarchy. By devolving spending and tax raising powers to the regions they are vetoing that particularly noxious, in their view, outcome. Admittedly, the state is bankrupt anyway but they will not be presiding over the bankruptcy of Britain with the tax-payer as the priority creditor, the state taking on our assets and our debt to our international partners being resolved through intergovernmental negotiation as I have been proposing for some time. Instead, they will proceed through “the market”.
It could be objected that there is little left to privatize. But Britain’s privatization programme is really just a corporate welfare scheme whereby public funds are transferred to private companies. The companies would not otherwise be making money. This process is inordinately expensive to the British state and is not sustainable. The British state will then withdraw its largesse and as it does so foreign states or their agencies will take its place. This process is already well underway as James Meek has documented and is about to accelerate dramatically. The British oligarchy instead of going down for a very, very long time have opted to be bought out by the Chinese and retired to the Cayman Islands.
It is a great irony that the “yes” campaign regard further devolution as a well earned consolation prize and continue to shout betrayal in the form of its non-implimentation. They have been joining in the fun too, dancing on the the grave of the Labour Party but it is also the grave containing the corpse of their neo-Keynesian spending strategies. The active component of the “yes” campaign is basically on the left, contemptuous of Scotland’s national status except when referring to it, hilariously, as “one of the richest nations on earth”, and these heady days have been like the last faint echo of Blair’s, 1997 “Things can only get better” surge, before we finally sink into the abyss. So they’re celebrating their own demise too: it’s just one internal contradiction too far.
That the coming crisis of Western imperialism will have a neo-liberal solution is at first sight dismaying but it has its logic. I was a struck by the insistence of a Chinese academic, speaking at at Glasgow University’s Confucius Institute, on the resolution of Britain’s debt and current account deficit with China via the market. What, I thought, did we have to sell back to them. Not much, but we can let them relocate factories which produce for our market to Britain. That way, they don’t have to accept sterling fiat money in payment and we can start to correct our trade deficit. That is definitely win-win. They can also facilitate this by taking control of our utilities and building other essential infrastructure. Finally, they can take over our banking system, after its major shareholders and creditors have taken the hit,opening up control of a significant portion of Britain’s land and real estate for re-industrialization. The British government has already taken us some way down this path and we have signed a formal strategic partnership with China and are now proud issuers of Renminbi-denominated UK government bonds. Other sovereign wealth funds will, of course, participate. Just as free-market ideology furnished us with a cover for imperialism in the 18th and 19th century, so it now provides a cover for a policy for end of empire. This is anxiously sought by the Chinese and the Global South and their investments will not be just about profit but drawing the sting out of Anglo-American imperialism. In exchange for life-saving inward investment Britain will de facto renounce its imperial or hegemonic project and become a neutral, demilitarized state. Perhaps Scotland could become a Chinese concession just as we once had concessions in China. That would be poetic justice and leave us staring survival in the face.
The constitutional transformation will go through and it will also be as many have pointed out a dog’s dinner. But the goal is purely negative from the point of view of the British oligarchy: to veto Big Government. However, it contains other potentialities as Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein was quick to grasp when he pointed out that, despite the “no” vote, “the British state is not static”. Britain is not suitable for federalisation and the regionalization of England is a completely synthetic agenda which is being foisted on a reluctant people. Hence another irony: the “No” vote may be the real “break up of Britain” agenda. The constitutional agenda compromises Britain’s sovereignty and at a certain point when all the wars and tumult of empire are a fading memory that issue of sovereignty will return and, in all likelihood, resolve itself as four sovereign nations in these islands.

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India welcomes BCIM initiative

Posted by seumasach on July 4, 2014

India okay with BCIM, wants details on China maritime silk road

Times of India

30th June, 2014

BEIJING: India today backed China’s initiative to build a regional economic corridor also linking Bangladesh and Myanmar, but sought more details from Beijing about its plans for a Maritime Silk Road (MSR) before deciding to take part in the endeavour.

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China pivot fuels Eurasian century

Posted by seumasach on May 20, 2014

“Meanwhile, a discombobulated America seems to be aiding and abetting the deconstruction of its own unipolar world order, while offering the BRICS a genuine window of opportunity to try to change the rules of the game.” 

Pepe Escobar

Asia Times

A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass – at the expense of the United States. 

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Russia and Nicaragua to cooperate on construction of interoceanic canal

Posted by seumasach on May 18, 2014

Russia Beyond The Headlines

14th May, 2014

During Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s recent visit to Nicaragua, the two sides discussed prospects for bilateral cooperation. One major project that will unite Moscow and Managua for the next several years is the so-called Interoceanic Grand Canal, a new alternative to the Panama Canal.

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Chinese, Nigerian leaders vow to expand cooperation

Posted by seumasach on May 8, 2014

Wake Up From Your Slumber

7th May, 2014

Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Wednesday called for strengthening traditional ties between China and Nigeria and exploring new space for cooperation including aviation and aerospace, in a bid to lift the bilateral strategic partnership to a higher level.

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Frankfurt issues first bond backed by Chinese currency

Posted by seumasach on May 6, 2014

Deutsche Welle

2nd May, 2014

Frankfurt is joining London, Singapore and Hong Kong in the fast-moving market for bonds denominated in the Chinese currency, the renminbi. Germany’s KfW development bank announced it was issuing a two-year bond with the volume of 1 billion renminbi at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

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China-Africa to ink 60 agreements during Li’s trip

Posted by seumasach on May 6, 2014

The Chinese government has been battling to address these concerns raised by an unbalanced pattern of trade, even as it finances massive infrastructure projects in the continent. Chinese President Xi Jinping said in February this year that China, which has long been accused of using Africa as a source of natural resources and a market for its goods, will aim to make the continent more self-reliant.

BRICS POST

4th May, 2014

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday morning left Beijing for a four-nation Africa visitaccompanied by his wife Cheng Hong, state media reported.

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Emerging dynamics of petro-yuan standard

Posted by seumasach on April 4, 2014

Jim Willie

Goldseek

4th April, 2014

The shocks will be many as the USDollar struggles and falls off the global financial stage in full view. The desperate maneuvers like in Syria and Ukraine should be seen as last ditch efforts to save a dying system. For two decades the USDollar has been defended by military means. Worse, for 50 years the USGovt has been a hidden nazi enclave of wicked fascists who have hidden behind their overt disdain for communism, with Kissinger the flag bearer, with Brzezinski the ideologue, with Papa Bush the executor, with narcotics and genetics and gold thefts their principal agenda. The official US support of fascist regimes includes a list of nations as long as your arm. Since 2008 when the Lehman kill was executed in order to rescue Goldman Sachs, when Fannie Mae was hidden under the USGovt roof to prevent its $trillion fraud from being exposed, and when AIG was tucked in the USFed basement closet for ample monetized rescues to patch the derivative black holes, the Anglo-American banking system has indeed been going through trials and tribulations, leading to its death throes. The climax of the banking system death process is upon us finally, the fibrillations of sudden illiquidity against the backdrop of relentless unforgiving insolvency so evident to those with eyes that function. Never before has the USGovt been so plain in its fascist ways, with abuses on domestic soil and installed nazi regimes on foreign soil. They kill economies systematically. They wage war relentlessly, using it as a business initiative. They control bank movements obsessively. They monitor human movement compulsively. In Kiev were seen the swastikas on armbands. The name Neo-Con is derived as a more palatable version of Neo-Nazi. The game is over for their captured gutted violated USDollar kingdom in a veritable killing field of nations.

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Bank of England agrees Chinese London currency clearing hub

Posted by seumasach on March 27, 2014

Just as we once controlled “concessions” in China we can expect to see China doing the same thing here. We are, after all, completely bankrupt and becoming ever more so, with China as our main creditor. The programme for the decentralization of the British state now underway could facilitate this by dividing Britain into economic zones run by devolved assemblies. These in turn could negotiate concessions with China and other international partners. Tariq Ali perhaps hinted at this in an interview about Scottish nationalism:

JF: Do you think British elites are worried about the prospect of independence?
TA: Sections of them probably are, because they will see it as a blow to British pretensions.  But I think there may well be a section of the elite that might well say, Fine, it will save us money, it will stop the subsidies, etc, and Scotland doesn’t make much money anyway.  This is the section of the elite which believes that the only way forward is effectively to sell the British economy and the cities of the South to the rich, to oligarchs from various nationalities, Ukrainian, Russian, Arab, etc, who dominate large parts of the financial markets in London today.  That section of the elite, which thinks this is the future, won’t care at all, whatever they say in public.

BBC

26th March, 2014

The Bank of England has agreed a deal with the People’s Bank of China to make London a hub for Chinese currency dealing.

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China’s People’s Daily slams West’s ‘cold war mentality’ over Ukraine

Posted by seumasach on February 27, 2014

SCMP

27th February, 2014

China’s top newspaper criticised the West on Thursday for remaining locked in a “cold war mentality” against Russia in the contest for influence over Ukraine, calling for the shackles of such outmoded thinking to be cast off to deal with the crisis.

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China starts to make a power move against the U.S. dollar

Posted by seumasach on February 21, 2014

This looks like a good moment to curb CIA activities in Ukraine and Venezuela

Investment Watch

20th February, 2014

In order for our current level of debt-fueled prosperity to continue, the rest of the world must continue to use our dollars to trade with one another and must continue to buy our debt at ridiculously low interest rates.  Of course the number one foreign nation that we depend on to participate in our system is China.  China accounts for more global tradethan anyone else on the planet (including the United States), and most of that trade is conducted in U.S. dollars.  This keeps demand for our dollars very high, and it ensures that we can import massive quantities of goods from overseas at very low cost.  As a major exporting nation, China ends up with gigantic piles of our dollars.  They lend many of those dollars back to us at ridiculously low interest rates.  At this point, China owns more of our national debt than any other country does.  But if China was to decide to quit playing our game and started moving away from U.S. dollars and U.S. debt, our economic prosperity could disappear very rapidly.  Demand for the U.S. dollar would fall and prices would go up.  And interest rates on our debt and everything else in our financial system would go up to crippling levels.  So it is absolutely critical to our financial future that China continues to play our game.
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