As China Hosts the SCO Summit, Washington's Belligerence Towards the Eurasian Giants Predictably Accelerates Moscow and Beijing to Ever Closer Cooperation
Before President Putin heads to Qingdao for this week’s meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Russians learned more about the man with whom he boasts a warm friendship — Xi Jinpeng. Including young Xi, who was born into a prominent Chinese Communist Party (CCP) family, experiencing exile to the village of Liangjiahe and grinding rural poverty during the Cultural Revolution. Putin has described Xi as the only world leader he has celebrated his birthday alongside (with vodka toasts at the 2013 APEC summit), and a man of his word. Putin made the remarks in an interview with China Media Group Television President Shen Haixiong 慎海雄, who leads Beijing's new consortium of China Central Television, China National Radio and China Radio International. Putin also spoke of Chinese businessmen's love for the Russian ice cream he brings as gifts for his state visits to China. The only headline the interview produced in Western media, for the most part, was Putin's description of Trump holding face to face talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore as 'courageous'.
Softball interviews aside, Putin is coming to China at an auspicious time. Washington is turning the screws on Europe with sanctions designed to block Iranian oil sales to refineries on the Continent, which until new refining arrangements are made is likely to drive up the cost of Chinese crude imports from Persia. While European leaders led by Angela Merkel and Emanuel Macron expressed defiance against the Americans reimposing sanctions on Tehran after tearing up the JCPOA, many French companies like Total are quietly folding to U.S. pressure. At the same time, Russia has been shifting its own oil exports from its traditional European markets to China, and the Russians are ideally positioned together with their partners in Belarus and Turkey to refine Iranian products that EU refiners won't touch, for fear of sanctions. This will likely mean more Russian, Kazakh and Iranian crude that Europe won't be buying flowing to India and China via rail and tankers. And of course, all sides of the Eurasian energy trade nexus at the heart of the OBOR will be adding to their gold stockpiles.
Several American diplomats are being sent home from the U.S. consulate in the southern Chinese manufacturing hub city of Guangzhou near Hong Kong, reportedly suffering from the same mysterious ultra-sonic induced illnesses that the State Department previously reported in Cuba. Washington's rhetoric toward China on non-North Korea fronts remains bellicose, with Secretary of Defense James Mattis renaming PACOM as 'Indo-Pacific Command'.Mattis also slammed China's build up of reefs and shoals into bases in the South China Sea during the 17th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue on June 2 in Singapore.
While Washington sends warships past Chinese military and coast guard managed islands, on the other side of the planet, NATO is conducting exercises in the Baltics and Poland near Russia's borders, in preparation for even bigger drills this autumn. Poland is seeking to permanently host a U.S. armored division on its territory a few hours drive from Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad. The Trump Administration is also pushing for an expanded NATO rapid reaction force with numerous battalions and supporting combat aircraft capable of deploying within 30 days. In his annual televised Q&A session with pre-selected members of the press and public, Putin addressed a question from a Donbass based journalist about whether the Ukrainians (presumably with Washington's full backing) will launch a general offensive coinciding with the World Cup opener in mid-June.
Comparable Russian and Chinese Emphasis on National Sovereignty as the Only Path to Peace and Global Development
In response to American provocations, Putin stuck to the script he used during his first post-reelection trip abroad, to Austria. Putin insists that contrary to the U.S. rhetoric about Washington upholding a 'rules based international order' against challenges from Moscow and Beijing, its the Americans doing the disrupting and costing Europeans a lot of money. Rather than dismantling the European Union as Austrian journalist Armin Wolf implied is Moscow's goal, Putin affirmed that Russia wants the EU to be stable and prosperous, pointing to the high percentage of Kremlin currency reserves placed in the euro.
During the CGTN interview, Putin spoke about sovereignty -- a key principal of Chinese diplomacy and domestic messaging to its people -- and the merging of the Eurasian Economic Union with Bejiing's One Belt One Road (OBOR) mega-project:
“I believe that either Russia will be sovereign, or there will be no Russia at all. And, of course, the Russian people will always opt for the first. I think the Chinese people will too. We have no other option,” Putin said, stating that no sanctions or foreign pressure would force them to abandon their independent course.
Closely following the policies of some other country and lacking one’s own has not proven to be fruitful for others, he believes. “Those who followed the US lead, they themselves are beginning to suffer from what the United States is implementing with regards to these countries,” Putin said, without giving any concrete examples.
As for the two powers’ ambitions, Russia and China strive for close cooperation for the whole of Eurasia and beyond, Putin said, adding that China’s One Belt, One Road initiative “matches our efforts to build the Eurasian Economic Union.” - RT
Another point China and Russia are making in tandem: the Americans are demanding Europe comply with sanctions in order to cynically create unfair advantages for their own companies. You can comply and be a good 'Atlanticist' who follows 'EU solidarity', or you can join the Belt and Road to look after your own country's fully legitimate, sovereign interests and tell Washington to take a hike. China's diplomacy, which had previously been understated and repetitious in its emphasis on international law and order, has become more willing to challenge the Americans, even as Beijing targets U.S. soybean farmers from the red state heartland in the ongoing global trade war.
How China and Russia Integrate Their OBOR/EEU Package Approach to Europe
As London Paul has said time and again on the RogueMoneyRadio program, Putin and Xi are working very closely together both through their personal rapport and through their teams. Part of that coordination includes messaging to Europe, the primary audience for Russian and in countries where Russia is disliked like Ukraine or Poland, Chinese soft power and economic projects. Integrating the EU, which American backed Kiev liberals if not western Ukrainian nationalists desperately want to join, into the One Belt One Road (OBOR), would be a backdoor way of reintegrating Ukraine into the Eurasian economic space. It isn't as if Ukraine's trade with Russia ever stopped, even at the height of the Donbass war in 2014-15, it's just that it collapsed compared to pre-war 2013 levels under President Viktor Yanukovych.
The point is, China can, so long as it proceeds quietly without drawing too much ire from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, make overt investments into Ukrainian agribusiness that Russia cannot. The same goes for Poland, another country sensitive to large scale Russian investment but open for business with the Chinese. The Sino-Russian 'double helix' of course, can turn in the other direction, with historic Russian cultural influence in countries like Greece and Serbia compliments China's high speed railway from the Pireaus to Budapest project.
Surkov's Essay About Russia's Destiny to Turn East, Until the West is Ready to Accept the Russians and Chinese as Equals
As President Putin's longtime adviser Vyachislav Surkov wrote in a widely discussed and misunderstood article in April, Russia has permanently fallen out of love with the West. That does not mean that the Slavic Orthodox Christian majority Russian people no longer consider themselves to be Europeans and part of European civilization. Europe will remain closer geographically to the vast majority of the Russian population, over 85% of the country, which lives west of the Urals. As a German speaking Teutonophile, Putin reflects this enduring Russian belief in the idea of themselves being inseparably part of the greater European family, even if Russians have often been scorned as lesser relatives or defamed in Napoleonic and Nazi propaganda (later rehashed by Ukro-Nazi LARPers) as a barbaric Mongol-Tatar Asiatic threat to the Continent.
Surkov's main point, widely distorted in RFE/RL accounts and by many Russia watchers, was that Russians are no longer in awe of the US as some were in the late 1980s early Nineties perestroika days following decades of Soviet isolation. Nor does Western Europe hold quite as strong an allure even over the intelligentsia as it once did, in Surkov's reckoning. Instead Russia must, like Turkey, must find its own path between the East and West, increasingly embracing the former while not forgetting the latter.
The failures of the EU in a decade since the global financial crisis hit, the mass influx of humanity from the U.S.-led hot and proxy wars in the Mideast and impoverished Africa, plus the rampant youth unemployment across southern Europe's downtrodden 'PIIGs', have finally caught up with the European Dream. Only a diminishing number of Russian liberals and Alexey Navalny supporters still wonder why Russia cannot simply surrender to the Americans in Cold War 2 and become a giant Sweden or another Canada. The fact that this was already tried during the Yeltsin era, and resulted in mass poverty and the exploitation of a defeated former superpower's resources, remains unacknowledged by this highly visible but shrinking group of Russians.
The Chinese dream, and open admiration of China's one party state model, is becoming more common on Russian television. A significant portion of Russian nationalists, still unwilling to shake Brezhnev era legacy fears of the Chinese achieving a long term demographic conquest of Siberia (which even the late Alexander Solzhenitsyn feared, perhaps due to Russian monks prophesying a second 'Mongol yoke' even prior to the Bolshevik revolution), nonetheless recognize China as an indispensable partner. Where this is leading is hard to say, but the tougher U.S. policy gets as the neocons and fake liberal RussiaGate fanatics demand, the firmer will be the Russian-Chinese response. Up to and including joint military exercises and aerospace/armaments integration, with extensive intelligence sharing against U.S. Cold War 2 aggression.
Anglo-American dominance of the global information space via the popularity of English and the bribes a fast fading world reserve currency can pay remains a prime target of joint Moscow-Beijing efforts to break the info blockade using the Internet, while limiting (especially on the Chinese side) Western efforts to incite their populations against their respective governments. The decline of the pure fiat non-sovereign crypto currencies, which many strongly suspect began with Satoshi Nakamoto as the anonymous front for a DARPA/NSA experiment, is linked to the Eurasian giants desire to build their own secured blockchains. Xi's remarks emphasizing the importance of the blockchain to China's future, echoing Putin's own statements after his famous SPIEF 2017 meeting with ethereum co-creator Vitalik Biturin, underscore London Paul's contention on this subject.
Blockchain can improve the cause of honest governance in both countries, thereby allowing Russia to stabilize the question of succession and 'cadre building' after Putin leaves the political stage. Ultimately, establishing their own sovereign cryptocurrencies and blockchains to cut down on corruption would finally bury the ability of the Anglo-Americans to undermine the Eurasian giants, forcing even the hardliner post-Western elites to recognize the futility of zero sum military competition with the East.
Man of the People:
Russian Television Documentary Shows Xi Jinpeng's Humble Origins Story
The excerpt about the hardscrabble internal exile of young Xi by the Maoists from The Chinese Dream, translated into English, is reproduced below (with accompanying subtitled video):
Xi Jinping, 2004 interview, television archive, Yan'an: "My fundamental ideas were formed on the Shenbei plateau. My whole life-path was decided there."
Xi Jinping was born in Beijing in June 1953. His father was one of the central figures in the Chinese Communist Party and held high-profile political posts. Everything changed in the early 1960's when Xi Jinping’s father was accused of involvement in an anti-party plot, purged from all leadership positions, and kicked out of Beijing.
Shortly after, a group of educated urban youths, including Xi Jinping, was sent for “re-education through labor” to the Shaanxi province. He realized this was a totally different world when locals saw him feed a dog with a piece of stale bread.
Xi Jinping: “I wouldn’t say we were wasteful. But that bread was old and wasn’t edible anymore. When I was going through everything in my bag, I found that piece of bread and gave it to a dog standing by the door. The locals, however, had never seen or eaten bread before. They asked me ‘What is it?’ ‘it’s bread’, I said.
Someone told a dozen of villagers about what they saw. Those then shared the news with another hundred people. So the rumor started that a group of young people, who feed dogs with bread, has come to the village. As if we were different or had done something abnormal.”
Xi Jinping and his comrades arrived in Liangjiahe on January 23, 1969. At the time, the area was rural, didn’t have any roads, electricity, or stores. We're the first Russian journalists to reach the area. Xi Jinping recalls how difficult it was for someone who grew up in the Chinese capital to adjust to the rough living conditions of a poor, remote village. He was living in a typical cave home dug into the hillsides.
A wood board served as an entrance door to the cave and was usually covered with a piece of paper on the inside. Xi Jinping and five of his friends lived here for over two years. A straw-mat and a quilt spread over clay bricks was their bed. The seven years of the younger Xi’s country life began here.
This was Xi Jinping's first address in Liangjiahe. China's future leader's sleeping position was second-closest to the hearth.
In the next five years, he lived in a few other homes. Xi Jinping admits that the first few months of living in the village were a shocking experience for him. Besides the cold, lack of space and basic amenities, community dwellers had to put up with malnutrition and flea bites.
Xi Jinping: “I couldn’t stand fleas. My skin was very allergic to them. They bit my skin into swathes of red sores that became blisters that burst. It was very painful. But after three years it changed. If I got a flea bite, I didn’t have an allergic reaction. It was as if my skin had changed.”
Back then, local peasants mostly ate gruel of cornmeal, wheat, and millet. In the spring, when the community ran out of food, in order to survive people ate wild plants and herbs.
"There's a saying: 'In January you're rich, in February poor. And around March or April, you're half-dead.' We saved food for those who worked in the fields. So women and children had to live by begging. We slowly got used to living there and learned things. We ate everything we were given, since we didn't have much of a choice.
The best was the food that other villagers gave to us. My favorite dish was pickled vegetables. Sometimes I still think about those pickled vegetables. We didn't have meat for months. But when we finally got some, we couldn't resist it. We would cut a piece and eat it raw."
Li Jinlian met Xi Jinping in 1969 when he and his team attended her wedding. According to Li, in those times, a work day began early. You weren't allowed to be late. Otherwise, you could get fined.
Li Jinlian, a Liangjiahe dweller: "I remember Xi as a hard-working, modest man. He always treated others with respect and was willing to do any kind of work. For example, when he had to carry manure over to the mountains, he would always take full baskets. And when it was something else, he would always carry heavy baskets. I remember how his shoulder got rubbed sore from carrying all the weights. But he kept working through the pain."
There's a Chinese saying: “When drinking water, think about the person who built the well.” The well built by the young Xi Jinping when the village was out of water is now a local point of attraction. It even has a memorial tablet. According to locals, the village now boasts a small smithy thanks to the young man from Beijing and his organizational skills.
Xi Jinping: "At first I didn't know how to do anything and had to rely on others a lot. But later on, I slowly learned things. Now I can do just about anything. For example, I can spin a yarn. I'm still not very good at knitting woolen socks. But I can mend rips in clothing quite well."
Xi Jinping admits that the exhausting agricultural work was one of the major hardships for urban youths. Neither he nor his friends were ready for it. There was no machinery, and they had to do everything manually, using the most basic tools.
Reflecting on that period of his life, Xi Jinping once said: “I thought a lot about whether I should live or die. In the end, I concluded that I should direct all of my energy towards helping my country and its people.”
For centuries, local peasants produced flour by spinning these heavy millstones with the help of donkeys and mules. For a few years, that was the only way Xi Jinping and his comrades could grind the grain. However, one day something remarkable happened.
In 1974, the government decided to reward Xi Jinping for his hard work with a fantastic prize: a new motorcycle. However, to everyone’s amazement, Xi Jinping politely declined the personal gift. Instead, he asked for a mechanic mill that all the villagers would be able to use. And that's the story behind the first flour and maize milling machine in Liangjiahe.
In 1975 Xi Jinping finally got permission to return to Beijing. He enrolled to a chemical engineering program at Tsinghua University. Shortly after, his father was fully rehabilitated and released from prison.
Throughout his life, Xi Jinping held many positions in various cities and provinces of China. But he didn’t forget the Liangjiahe villagers. For example, after they sent him a letter, Xi Jinping helped the village get electrified in 1988. He last visited Liangjiahe in February 2015, this time in the capacity of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and President of the People's Republic of China.
The whole village was there to greet him. The locals are very proud of having a leader who once lived and worked in their village. They see him as a native, who truly cares about all the concerns and needs of the nation.
The full documentary in Russian is here, which even non-Russian speakers can follow if interested in the visuals. When an English subtitled full version is posted on YouTube, it will be reposted here: