The last two weeks we’ve watched in awe the Chinese telling the US in Alaska that a more assertive China now is a reality as the empire has left it no choice. Of course the Alaska meeting was spiked with sanctions poison minutes before the meetings started, to present a strongman ‘advantage’ (or so they thought) to empire. This backfired spectacularly and lasted but 15 minutes of a blistering response by China, so perfectly translated by the Chinese translator that she immediately became a new sensation in the eyes of the Chinese people. The Chinese response is continuing and the stance is now permanent. I think it is fair to say that China will take no more empire so-called ‘rules-based’ international order.
We saw Mr.Biden calling President Putin a “killer with no soul”. We saw Russia moving away from empire, in action and in (less than diplomatic) words, with Foreign Minister Lavrov completing a triumphant visit to China directly after the Alaska meeting, and in press conferences making it clear that the petrodollar is now oh so last century news. New economic and financial mechanisms will put it in its place and we already see this. Take a look:
China signed a currency swap agreement with Sri Lanka before $3.7 billion of its foreign debt matures this year. Sri Lanka is entitled to a $1.5 billion swap facility from the PBOC, valid for three years. More than 22% of the nation’s foreign purchases were from China last year.
And then these wild two weeks ended with China and Iran signing a 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership, of course, not using any last century petrodollars.
The US fought back fiercely, with nothing else but rumors and the rest of the west sanctioned everything that they could possibly think of. The rumors and propaganda are about Xinjiang and included the bathwater and the baby, cold war style, threatening hot war style and seemingly quite out of step with developments in the rest of the world. We will look at the market fall-out in some detail.
But why now? Why did both Russia and China stand up and declare that they are here to stay, while we were used to a more muted approach from both?
James W. Carden and Patrick Lawrence considers that it is a deep disappointment with discovering the “retrograde character of the Biden administration’s foreign policies” “We thought too well of the United States” Mr Yang, Foreign Minister of China said. They had hopes for Biden, in other words. Given his fading competence, we ought to add, we think these policies will be shaped and directed in large measure by Blinken and Sullivan, with an adjunct role for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. This will prove another competence problem.
What has not had much media coverage, is foreign minister Wang Yi’s tour to the Middle East after the Iran agreement announcement. He visited Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman, all Belt and Road member countries. To cap off these two weeks of telling empire to become productive, take their rightful place in the world if they can, stop playing warmonger and policeman and economic hitman, the take-away statement from this tour is that Wang repeatedly said global powers should butt out of making the Middle East their arena for big-power rivalry.
(Imagine empire confusion while the penny drops that their empire is over. Anyone hearing someone playing the fiddle or more accurately the lute?)
A short video from Professor Bill Brown at Xiamen University in southeast China’s Fujian province about the changes in China after spending 33 years there.
The empire struck back with an all-out attack against the province of Xinjiang. The Xinjiang cotton industry was attacked with baseless rumors and propaganda about the Uyghur people and the propaganda and sanctions machines went into overdrive and we saw sanctions everywhere, mainly against anyone buying cotton from the region. It is quite ludicrous to pretend to care for the Uyghurs if your sanctions are designed to deprive them of their major industry and their income, which is from cotton. As fast as the western sanctions were announced, they were responded to with reciprocal sanctions. Mr.Lavrov already mentioned that there will be a concerted effort throughout the world to do away with unilateral sanctions, so, it is almost as if they do not matter, as no country in the world can or should spare the resources to manage all the sanctions.
But China is striking back hard. In addition, the cotton manufacturers out of Xinjiang are bringing legal action against Adrian Zenz, who stitched together the rumors of forced labor, labor camps, forced sterilization, and many others. If you do not want to watch this video, just take a scroll through the comments though.
The Chinese people got angry and a major market kerfuffle commenced and is still ongoing. For Australia with their thoughtless comments against China, their trade (excluding iron ore) has dropped by 40%.
H&M’s agony, Nike’s fear, the market strikes back. H&M craters after saying it would not source cotton from Xinjiang. All e-commerce platforms removed it from their websites. Searches for ‘H&M’ and ‘HM’ yielded no results, celebrities cut ties, and 200 million Weibo users boycotted H&M’s 450 stores. Nike and Adidas are under attack for using the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which stopped licensing farms in Xinjiang. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3126828/hm-under-fire-china-over-refusal-buy-xinjiang-cotton
A-list Uyghur stars Dilraba Dilmurat (Dílì Rèbā), an actress with a huge Han fan base, and Liú Yìfēi, who starred in Mulan, ended their business relationships with Adidas. Nike, Calvin Klein, and Converse have lost their Chinese brand ambassadors. https://supchina.com/2021/03/24/hm-faces-boycott-in-china-over-year-old-xinjiang-cotton-ban/
Japanese fashion retailer Muji, with 17% of its total sales from China, said its stores in China will continue carrying products made with Xinjiang cotton. The company has conducted due diligence on all companies in Xinjiang involved in its supply chain. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Retail/Muji-features-Xinjiang-cotton-as-Chinese-netizens-lash-its-rivals
“H&M, Nike, and others are now suffering heavy losses to their reputations in the Chinese market. Enormous investment in public relations has been destroyed instantly. They need to complain to Western society, because they know that, whether they are active or passive, they have indeed done something intolerable to Chinese consumers”. – Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202103/1219413.shtml
Why this focus on the Chinese province Xinjian? Is it really caring deeply about the Uyghurs? Of course not. This is not how empire conducts its business.
“The investments and the infrastructure development under the BRI will bring an explosion of growth in Xinjiang. It will not just become a wealthy region, it will become ‘Dubai wealthy,’ said engineer Robert Vannrox, “the West does not want this. The more Chinese investment pours into Xinjiang, the louder the anti-China propaganda becomes.”