This interview first ran in May 2015 on both The Saker’s flagship website and The Greanville Post. The Saker, as some of our audience already knows, is the nom de guerre of renowned independent geopolitical analyst Andrei Raevsky, a former Western military analyst of Russian descent, who is also the founding editor of the Saker network of sites, currently published in half a dozen languages around the globe, including Russian, Serbian, Spanish, French and Italian. The interviewee, Jeff J Brown, requires less introduction to our readers, as he has long served as our trusted Beijing correspondent and senior editor with The Greanville Post and editor in chief of China Rising, a fraternal/affiliated site. Both Jeff and Andrei are the authors of important volumes on the current situation in the world. The Saker recently published his Essential Saker essay collection, THE ESSENTIAL SAKER: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world while Jeff saw China Rising, Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations(Punto Press) appear in 2017. We are reposting this interview on account of its lasting relevance to ongoing events and vital insights into the personality of the chief shapers of contemporary history.—PG
Foreword by the Saker: Just as I was about to publish this interview with Jeff J. Brown, I got the following email from Larchmonter445:
Yang, the man in glasses next to the woman interpreter, is top Councillor for Foreign Policy and often deals as a second Foreign Minister. They hide his importance by describing his portfolio as less than his actions and interactions. He is a brain on policy formation.
I see this as the nuts and bolts of the upcoming SCO and actions against the Hegemon that they will coordinate in Iraq, Syria, Black Sea, Mediterranean and Pacific, as well as in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Ufa meetings are going to be huge. SCO and BRICS.
These guys know they are in an octagon with a Komodo dragon, the Hegemon. There is no way out but victory. If they lose, it is the end of their civilizations.
In this context, I think that the interview below is most timely and extremely interesting. I am immensely grateful to Jeff for agreeing to it.
The Saker:Please introduce yourself and explain your connection with, and experience of, China.
Jeff J. Brown: I have learned over the last 61 years that getting de-brainwashed takes a lot of effort, humility and personal courage. I get inspired reading about others people’s journeys to discovering the truth. Please allow me to share mine.
I grew up in Oklahoma, USA, in the 50s-60s. Red scare. Commies. Nuclear bomb shelters. Teachers practicing with us, “When you see the flash of light, duck and cover”. Sputnik. The space race. Kennedy (since learned it was a coup d’état). RFK and MLK murdered (since learned done by the deep state). Vietnam. Nixon. Sex ‘n drugs ‘n rock ‘n roll. Spent half my time in the city and half on a family farm. Driving a tractor, harvesting crops, cleaning manure out of animal pens, helping ewes give birth to newborn lambs at 3 am in the freezing cold, riding a horse, hunting and fishing – all this left an indelible mark on my psyche. Getting your hands dirty and living the science and art of agriculture will do that to you.
Got a BS (Oklahoma State, 1976) and MS (Purdue, 1978) in Animal Sciences, thinking I was going to go back home and farm. But the Brazilian community at Purdue adopted me and I quickly learned Portuguese, discovering that I had a knack for languages (along with all the hard work to learn). Went to Brazil to seek my fortune as a soybean farmer. Couldn’t get anybody to lend me the startup money. In retrospect, I am not disappointed. Had I done so, I would probably be impoverishing local natives, clearcutting rain forest and destroying the environment, while getting very rich, at the expense of the aforementioned. Looking back, it’s not what I want to be during my time on Planet Earth.
Brazil whet my appetite to see the world. I became a volunteer for the Peace Corps, in Tunisia, as an agriculture extension agent (1980-82), learning fluent Arabic, speaking, reading and writing. This background got me into international agricultural marketing in Africa and Middle East (1982-90). During this time, I learned French, met my Parisian wife in Algeria in 1988, whereupon, we left for China in 1990.
We lived in China 1990-97, during what I call the “Wild East Buckaroo Deng Days”. I learned Mandarin fluently and became a naturalized French citizen. I continued to work in ag marketing (which gave me the opportunity to travel over much of rural China) and then built and managed the first McDonald’s bakery in the Mainland. Our two daughters were born while we were in China at this time. Needless to say, these seven years are a huge part of our lives.
Then, my wife and I owned and managed a retail business in Normandy, France (1997-2001). Since I had left the US in 1980, we moved back to Oklahoma, so we could spend time with my parents. I actually returned on the first flight (United from Paris) that was allowed back into US airspace, a few days after 9/11 (now known to be a false flag coup d’état). What a symbolic way to return home, for what was to transpire.
The America I left and the one I came back to, were two different countries. I was shocked by how rundown everything was, all the poverty below the surface, how superficial and self-centered everyone was, and how reactionary and insular the people were. It was buy-buy-buy-me-me-me. Given our eclectic experiences, my wife and I were like exotic, Dr. Seuss creatures from an alien planet. We never fit in, but the time with all my extended family was wonderful. We built up a big real estate business and lost everything we owned in the 2008, thanks to the “Save the Big Banks” middle class implosion. Our plans of becoming teachers for our retirement years got moved up in a hurry. We started working in Oklahoma City urban, minority schools that same year.
In 2010, we moved back to Beijing to teach in international schools, bringing our younger daughter with us. As depressing as it was returning to America in 2001, it was just as amazing and jaw dropping seeing China, after being absent for 14 years. Wow! I so much wanted to share what was happening, thus, I started a blog, doing extensive research in the process. Then I took my solo trip across China in the summer of 2012, to journal about it. This morphed into my first book, 44 Days, whose travels are really a metaphor about discovering China in history and current events, and how it all relates to the West. I then began writing my column, Reflections in Sinoland ( http://44days.net/44-days-blog/ ), which will be edited into an ebook, for release in summer, 2015. My classroom experiences inspired me to develop a method to teach English, which was just published, Doctor WriteRead’s Treasure Trove to Great English.
“I was shocked by how rundown everything was, all the poverty below the surface, how superficial and self-centered everyone was, and how reactionary and insular the people were…”
After Xi Jinping was elected president of China, I was and am still so impressed with him, that I am now writing an historical fiction, Red Letters – The Diaries of Xi Jinping, which will be out in print and ebook, the summer of 2016. It involves a massive amount of research, but I’m having the literary time of my life.
My arc of personal enlightenment about how the world really works has been a long, slow hyperbolic curve that has skyrocketed upwards in the very recent past. In 1972, if my draft lottery number had been drawn, I would have patriotically gone to Vietnam. That year, I voted for Richard Nixon, not George McGovern. Working and living with peasant farmers for two years in the Peace Corps opened my eyes to how the other 80% of the world lives, as well as eight years traveling all over Africa and the Middle East. Since I was involved in agriculture, my work got me out of the big cities and into the hinterlands of each country where I traveled, so I got the see “the real” Africa and Middle East. It was very educational and humbling.
While sensing the inequities and injustices, I was still firmly rooted in the myths of America’s moral superiority and divine righteousness. It was not until we returned to the US in 2001 and living in Bush World for nine years, that I began to see the rot of empire. Still though, I clung to the nobility of the “democratic” process and the mainstream media’s mind numbing consensus. I still believed at the time that the New York Times and The Economist were cutting edge journalism.
It was when we came back to China in 2010 that all the scales really started cascading off my eyes, traveling, researching and writing. Since then, I have spent thousands of hours studying genocide, empires, societal collapse, war, capitalism, colonialism, socialism, communism, fascism, false flags, the deep state, etc. (see http://44days.net/?p=1828 ).
I had now given up on the US, but being a dual national French-American, I still clung to the illusion that Europe, with its socialism, UN Charter on Human Rights and the lessons learned from two world wars, was the world’s last great hope for moral recovery. And then, like an amped up Hurricane Katrina, came the Western junta’s genocide in the Ukraine. For months, I followed with morbid horror (and continue to do so), the ugly face of not only American, but European fascism. My utter disgust and disillusionment with my ancestral home, Europe, was bitterly expressed in a column I wrote in September, 2014 (see http://44days.net/?p=1938 ).
So now it is all very clear to me. Western colonialism, false flags and color revolutions have never stopped since 1492. The methods and instruments of destabilization, exploitation and resource extraction have simply adapted. Empire, with its capitalism, war and fascism, is a three-headed Hydra, and it is insatiable.
There is a titanic struggle for the soul of humanity, our survival as a species into the 21st century, and it is Western Empire versus China, Russia, BRICS, ALBA CELAC and NAM. It is Xi, Putin, Maduro, Castro, Correa, Kirchner, Zuma, Afwerki and all the hundreds of world leaders the West has assassinated or deposed, versus Obama, Cameron, Hollande, Merkel, Abe and their thousands of satraps in the hallowed hall of imperial power.
The world needs a million more voices like The Saker, Pepe Escobar, Andre Vltchek, Kevin Barrett, Rory Hall, Dave Kranzler, The Greanville Post (Patrice Greanville), and the many other journalist/authors involved in this worldwide struggle for humanity’s very survival. It is an honor to lend my voice from the viewpoint of China’s people and their leaders, the latter whom I wryly call Baba Beijing.
The Saker:There is very little known in the West about Xi Jinping (Larchmonter445 sent me a thick volume entitled “On Ruling the State” with 79 of Xi’s political articles but to my knowledge, it has not been translated into English). How would you describe the man, his ideas and his goals? What kind of man is Xi?
Jeff J. Brown: If you are a member of the Western elites, their military and/or the deep state, you should be very, very worried, now that Xi Jinping is in power (ditto Putin in Russia). To better understand Xi, it helps to know about his father, Xi Zhongxun, as Xi is a proverbial chip off the old block.
Xi Zhongxun was a committed revolutionary from an early age. He was sent to prison at the age of 14 for trying to poison a teacher, whom he and his schoolmates considered to be a lackey for the foreign colonialists. He joined the Communist Party of China behind bars, in 1928, at only 15 years of age. Quite an auspicious adolescence.
Xi Zhongxun was also a very successful military leader in the Red Army and had fabulous organizational and managerial skills. Without him setting up operations in Shaanxi Province, where Mao & Co. arrived after the Long March ended in 1935, the Red Army may not have been able to push on to defeat the fascist Japanese and KMT, and kick out the Western colonialists, towards eventual national liberation in 1949.
Xi père and Xi’s mother, Qi Xin, were unfailingly committed to the Party and the Chinese Communist revolution. Herculean and bitter personal sacrifices were made by Xi’s parents for their country and Party. All their lives, they never gave up on the cause of socialism for the Chinese masses, even though they were purged, imprisoned (father) and sent to hard labor on farms (mother), 1962-1976.
Xi’s father was also very empathetic, being a successful conciliator and negotiator in Western China, before and after liberation in 1949, with local Tibetans and Muslim Ouighers. Xi’s father avoided as much bloodshed as possible and the more violent aspects of revolution. It was Xi’s father, who Deng Xiaoping sent to Guangdong Province, across the border from Hong Kong, in 1978, to defuse the volatile discontent among the locals, who were clamoring over the border, into the British colony, seeking work and a better lifestyle. It was Xi’s father, not Deng, who came up with the brilliant idea to create little Hong Kongs inside Guangdong, where the masses could work and realize their dreams. Thus, Shenzhen and the other Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were signed off on by the National People’s Congress, Central Committee, Politburo and Deng. Deng & Co. didn’t have any money, but they had the power of the pen to make Xi’s SEZs legal. The rest is history.
Xi’s father was also incredibly well read and erudite. Their house was full of dog eared books. Xi Jinping was sent to the countryside in 1969, to work as a peasant for seven years, during the Cultural Revolution. Xi did backbreaking, barefoot labor and learned to live with fleas and lice, while developing his nascent leadership and managerial skills. He arrived with boxes of his father’s books to keep him company. He read every one of them, many in the evenings, reading out loud under a kerosene lamp, to his less educated rural neighbors.
To this day, Xi Jinping is probably one of the best read world leaders in office, having and continuing to read hundreds of Russian, Greek, French, German, English, Spanish and American classics (fiction and nonfiction), all the huge canon of Chinese works, as well being extremely well versed in Marxist-Leninist-Maoist writings. Xi even got an additional college degree in Marxist Theory and Law, 1998-2002, while he was governor of Fujian. He never stops reading and learning, claiming that it is his greatest personal passion.
It also needs to be pointed out that Xi Jinping, like his father, is a military man. He has been in the PLA since 1980 and held high level, military command posts everywhere he went throughout his 35-year career, at the local, provincial and finally, national level. His wife, famous revolutionary songster Peng Liyuan (she sings Russian folk songs like a native), is also a lifelong member of China’s military. Like Xi’s mother and father, he and Peng are proud Chinese soldiers and communists, through and through.
Finally, like his father, who also saw the highs and lows of the human condition, Xi Jinping’s broad life experiences and empathy make him an excellent judge of character, which is invaluable as a leadership trait. As president and top military leader of China, he is involved in choosing hundreds of team members, and he has a knack for picking the right people, as well as removing the ones who don’t perform.
So, all of this was imbued in Xi Jinping from birth. While a child of privilege, due to his father’s legendary standing in China’s modern history, his parents emulated and taught Xi Jinping empathy, frugality, simplicity, humility, hard work, sacrifice, fairness, reasonableness, tolerance for other people’s differences, a thirst for knowledge and loyalty to country, revolution and Party. If much of this sounds like Buddhism-Daoism-Confucism, well it is. When Xi was in Fujian Province, 1985-2001, he was in contact with many Taiwanese visitors. While an avowed atheist, Xi became very interested in this ancient foundation of Chinese society, which richly flavors Taiwan’s people. Today, Xi is reaching back to this tripartite cornerstone of Chinese civilization, to invoke his “moderately prosperous” Chinese Dream (much as Putin has with Russian Orthodoxy), and to hone his decidedly anti-Western Empire sentiments.
Lastly, unlike his father, who always preferred to work in the background, Xi Jinping is showing himself to be a master of media and public relations. He deftly uses TV and print media to the Party’s advantage. His books are being translated into several languages and, The Governance of China, has already sold four million copies overseas. The Chinese Dream of the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation, is also available internationally.
All of his books and speeches are now available for free via a phone app in China. Over the Chinese New Year, the Party produced three short animated cartoons that went viral, depicting Xi cleaning up corruption and working for the masses to achieve the Chinese Dream and Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation. His wife, Peng Liyuan, and Premier Li Keqiang, add savvy media support for Baba Beijing at home and around the world too. No other modern Chinese leader, apart from Mao, has used the media as masterfully as Xi.
As I have said in a number of radio shows and columns, the West has no answer for Xi Jinping (nor Putin, for that matter). The world is officially in the Xi Era (and you could just as well add, Putin Era). All of this will be fleshed out in fascinating detail, from his birth to the present, in Red Letters – The Diaries of Xi Jinping (including all those meetings and phone calls between Putin and Xi).
The Saker:Both Larchmonter445 and myself see the new relationship being built between China and Russia as one of symbiosis. Larchmonter445 speaks of a “double Helix” and I call a “symbiosis”. In my opinion, this symbiotic relationship between two empires/civilizations/superpowers is something unique in history and possibly one of the most important events in world history. Do you think that we are exaggerating the importance of what Putin and Xi have put in motion or not? If we are, how would you characterize and assess the type of relationship which is being built between Russia and China?
Jeff J. Brown: While clearly coming from very different backgrounds and civilizations, Putin and Xi have much in common philosophically, because so many of the aforementioned human values transcend cultures. The key is whether peoples’ leaders choose to follow them, and clearly the West’s haven’t done so, for the last 500 years. I think it is clear that Xi and Putin are trying to change the sordid dynamic of Western colonialism and are working hand in hand to make the 21st century different from the past.
Putin and Xi obviously like and respect each other as humans and leaders, but both countries and their peoples also have much in common. Yes, Russia and China committed genocide, as they expanded across Siberia, and out of the Yellow and Yangtze River basins, respectively, to create their “natural” borders. But other than China colonizing Vietnam from about 100BC-900AD, neither country poured across the planet like Europe and then America and Israel, devouring, like locusts, everything in their colonial/settler paths.
Also, both China and Russia have spiritual foundations that are different to the Catholic/Protestant/Jewish West, with China’s aforementioned 3-in-1 religion and Russia’s Orthodox Church. Yes, Russia has dirty hands for colonizing China, along with Westerners, during the 19th-20th centuries, but both countries can empathize with each other for constantly being invaded: Mongols, Japanese and Europeans. Both have had huge impacts on world philosophy, literature, the arts and music. Both countries have non-Latin languages, which are hard to learn for outsiders, making cultural connections with the rest of the world that much more difficult. Ironically, they often have to use an imperial European language to communicate with outsiders, even between themselves.
Appreciating all this commonality, it is an interesting speculation of history to wonder what would have happened if Mao and Khrushchev had not had their infamous, and ultimately, disastrous split in 1960. Just think of the possibilities for the world, if they had hung together against the West, especially now that we know Khrushchev was an early day Gorbachev, working tirelessly with John Kennedy behind the scenes for world peace, until America’s deep state coup d’état on Dealey Plaza, three years later.
So in fact, the Putin-Xi-Russia-China alliance is not an anomaly. It was simply put on hold for 55 years.
The Saker:There has been amazingly little coverage in the West of the new Russian Chinese Strategic Partnership (RCSP) and when there has been coverage of it, it was mostly looking at the tree and missing the forest, that is to say that contracts between the two countries were mentioned, joint military maneuvers described, and even some commentaries were made about a “rapprochement” between the two countries. But the staggering implication of the two countries essentially joining each other at the hip in economic and military terms are never discussed in the West. How much coverage of this new symbiosis has there been in China? Are most Chinese people aware of the fact that Xi and Putin have basically made the two countries interdependent?
Jeff J. Brown: You can talk to any Chinese person on the street and they know the score. Russia good. America bad. Right now, Western Europe is getting a pass, for the most part, in the media. Like Putin & Co., I think Baba Beijing is hoping that Europe, especially Germany, will break the chains of its demonic slavery to all things Uncle Sam, and come over from the dark side. That is still very much open to debate, especially after the shameless war crimes against humanity unfolding in the Ukraine, and now Macedonia, and Serbia, and Gladio, and NATO, and Greece, and NSA/MI6/BND – did I leave anything out?
Everytime Putin and Xi talk on the phone, every meeting between their foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Wang Yi, every Russian dignitary who comes to China for an official visit, everytime Baba Beijing sends someone to Russia for a tête-à-tête, every deal signed – it all gets reported in China on Page One. The May 9th, 70th Anniversary Great Victory Moscow parade, with Xi sitting on Putin’s right side, as they watched the PLA proudly marching on Red Square below, was an 18 month culmination of Baba Beijing planting in the consciousness of the Chinese their commonality with the Russians, in victory over fascism. This new consciousness is going to be brought to dizzying heights in Beijing, on September 3rd, when Putin sits with Xi on Tiananmen Square, as China celebrates its 70th anniversary and an official, new national holiday: “Victory in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and World Fascism”. By including Japan’s name in the new holiday, Baba Beijing is almost daring Western leaders not to attend the parade, thus bonding China’s and Russia’s unique role in World War II history. In effect, it is not Russia’s celebration, nor just China’s celebration. It is their and their peoples’ collective victory. The importance of these two parades, their massive show of military force and solidarity, in the face of Western Empire, cannot be understated.
The Saker: There is little doubt that the US has done everything possible to alienate and antagonize Russia. As for Europe, it has convincingly shown Russia that it is a US-run colony with no opinion or policy of its own. So the Russian re-direction to the East, South and North is rather easy to explain. But what has motivated China to decide to join Russia in such a symbiotic relationship? Did the USA not have much more to offer to China than Russia?
Jeff J. Brown: Both Russian and Chinese leadership know the classic book, Admiral Alfred Mahan’s The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783 (1890). Its thesis is simple: control the high seas around Russia, China and the rest of Eurasia/Middle East, and you control the human and natural resources of Earth’s biggest continent. Then, in post 1990 Russia and with China’s meteoric economic rise, both sides saw the light (actually, until Putin was elected Prime Minister/President in 1999-2000, it was Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbaev, who was reading Sea Power). At first independently, and then together, Russia and China informally wrote their own Eurasian manifesto: Western Empire can control the high seas around us, but they cannot control the landmass of our continent, unless we let them. And thus, organizations like China’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Belts and Roads Initiative (B&R), and Russia’s Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) have become part and parcel of Asia’s lexicon and vision.
Foreigners laugh when I say this, but the Chinese simply don’t like the West. And with America as the Empire’s viper head, Uncle Sam comes in last place. The Chinese understand history much better than Westerners. They will never forget their Century of Humiliation, 1840-1949, when the UK and the US engaged in what is called, “the longest running and largest global criminal enterprise in world history” – enslaving the Chinese people with opium. They, along with the European colonial powers, then proceeded to cart off the nation’s silver bullion and rob it of its agricultural, mineral, forest and human resources.
When the slave trade was abolished in the United States in 1865, it was the Americans who took this fabulously profitable business model to China, where US flagships kidnapped and enslaved an estimated one million Chinese coolies, who were sold all over the New World. The Americans raked in this filthy lucre, until they were shamed into finally stopping it in 1874.
During WWII, the Americans plied the corrupt Chiang Kai-Shek with billions in cash and weapons (much of which he stole or sold to the Japanese), to fight Mao and the Red Army. Then the US made sure that Chiang and his mafia KMT made it safely to Taiwan, to be the West’s “real” China.
Since liberation in 1949 up till today, the US has relentlessly tried to destabilize and overthrow China’s Communist government, via Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Burma, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and on and on.
For the Chinese, what is there to like about the West, especially the USA?
The Saker: You have recently recorded three very interesting radio shows about China and Russia (see here http://44days.net/?p=2439 , http://44days.net/?p=2451 and http://44days.net/?p=2493 ). Can you please summarize for us what you think the Chinese want from their relationship with Russia in the middle to long term? While the two countries will not fuse to become one, or even form a confederacy, do you think that China would be interested in joining the Eurasian Union or negotiate some kind of open borders agreement with Russia?
Jeff J. Brown: I earlier mentioned the CSTO, EEU, SCO and B&R. The first two are Russian inspired, the latter two are Chinese. The first of each pair is security and strategy oriented. The latter pair are trade based. During his May trip to Moscow with Putin, Xi stopped and met with Nazarbaev in Kazakhstan and then with Belarus’ President, Alexander Lukashenko. The Chinese press said they all talked about synthesizing these organizations into a holistic whole. Obviously, both sides want their influence, but I am confident they will sort it out. They have to. America’s Sixth fleet is parked off China’s and Russia’s Eastern shores, the US is militarizing Japan, threatening them both, not to mention, banks of NATO missiles are all pointed their way from Europe.
For cross border relations, rail and transport bridges are open across the Sino-Russian border. Just this week, China and Russia proposed a high speed rail line between Jilin Province (in Manchuria) and Vladivostok. The largest engineering project in human history, the gas and oil pipeline system between Russia and China is being built. All of this is going to continue to intensify and diversify. While I don’t think we will see a Maastricht Treaty, with the free movement of nationals moving from one country to another, I do foresee a day when Russia and China have a border like Canada and the US: no visa, register your passport and go through customs, coming and going. I think Mongolia will eventually be included in the deal.
The Saker: Russia and China have engaged in unprecedented joint military exercises and Chinese officials have even been given access to Russian strategic command posts. Russian and Chinese admirals have given joint reports to Xi and Putin during a video conference organized by the Russian military. Russia is now facing a direct US/NATO threat in Europe while China is threatened by the USA from Japan, Taiwan, Korea and over the Spratlys. If it ever came to a real, shooting, war between the USA and Russia or between the USA and China, do you expect that Russia and China would be willing to get involved and actively support their partners even against the USA?
Jeff J. Brown: Great question, Saker. If the US strikes either China or Russia first, it’s probably World War III and humanity ceases to function as we know it. While there is no announced treaty alliance, we have no way of knowing what Russia and China have agreed to secretly. It is also possible that China and Russia have told NATO’s back channels to the effect, “You mess with one of us, you deal with us both”. I’ve always wondered if that might be the case, given America’s reluctance to push the pedal to the metal in the Ukraine and the South China Sea. The helping China and Russia wouldn’t even need to fire a shot. Just use all their technology and tricks of the trade to neutralize NATO’s satellites, radars, communications, computer systems, etc. Or either one of them could start selling off their mountains of US Treasury debt. In fact, both of them may have told Obama that if he pushes too far, they will start dumping bonds. Napoléon Bonaparte famously said that whoever is the creditor calls the shots.
What if Russia feels the need to intervene militarily in the Donbass, or if the Americans can get the Japanese or Taiwanese to do something really stupid? Or of course, the tried a true method of manipulating history: a big, fat false flag in either region, to get the desired result? I guess we will find out the hard way. But think of it this way: the B&R/SCO-EEU/CSTO framework and all its tremendous synergies and potential, just dissolve away, if either China or Russia fall to Western Empire. If you were Putin or Xi, would you just stand there and let the 21st century and humanity go down the drain?
Then again, both getting involved probably means WWIII and we know how the history books will probably be written as a result, if there is anybody left to write them. What is so scary about all these ponderings is that while Putin and Xi are keeping their heads down and taking care of business around the Asian continent and across the planet, America is so wantonly reckless and out of control. Uncle Sam is like an overdosed meth freak on PCP. It makes me shudder.
The Saker:It is rather obvious that both China and Russia need a de-dollarization of the world economy, but that they don’t want to trigger such a brutal collapse as to crash their own economy. This is especially true of China which is heavily invested in the US economy. Russia is trying to slowly and smoothly pull herself out of the dollar-centered markets. What is China doing? Do you believe that there are plans in China to “de-Walmartize” the Chinese economy or is it still way too early for that?
Jeff J. Brown: Let’s face it, Saker, when the US dollar economy collapses, it could easily trigger WWIII. It is going to be that cataclysmic. And when it does happen, Israel knows they can start counting the days when the gates of Jerusalem change hands for the 45th time, in that city’s heralded 5,000 year history. Israel is at least as out of control as the US, maybe even more so. Their 200-300 undeclared nukes would surely make a mess of Mother Earth and what they started would surely trigger WWIII, with all the depressing outcomes to go with it.
So I think Baba Beijing, as well as everybody else in the world, Russia included, are hoping that the Western financial house of smoke, mirrors and cards can keep going on for as long as possible. Why? Because like ants harvesting for the winter, BRICS, CELAC, NAM and all the other anti-Empire coalitions are working feverishly to organize, plan, implement, found and institute as many entities, agreements and systems as possible, to soften the eventual economic Armageddon. Great examples include the Sino-Russian CRIFT (anti-SWIFT), UCRG (anti-big three credit agencies), BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Banco del Sur, PetroCaribe and on and on. Just today, China announced that it is setting up the world’s largest gold fund ($16.1 billion), with 60 countries already signed up, to develop gold mining and commerce along, where else – the Asian continent’s Silk Roads, which Admiral Mahan’s ghost can only dream about controlling.
About the Chinese economy de-Walmartizing itself: ironically, to get over the need to drive the economy based on exports and capital investment, Baba Beijing is doing everything in its power to increase internal consumption. Environmentally, with 1.3 billion citizens, that’s kind of a frightening thought, if the Chinese try to imitate the US model of gluttonous, Hampshire hog overconsumption. But the key words in Xi’s Chinese Dream are, “moderately prosperous, socialist society”. I believe Xi, with all his upbringing about frugality and simplicity, finds American “shop till you drop” consumerism to be a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. After 35 years of the Deng Era, with its crass, US style materialism, Xi is setting a new philosophical course for the Chinese nation: the very Buddhist mantra of “less is more”. A jet ski, a Harley and a SUV in the three-car garage are not going to buy you inner peace and happiness, nor is the newest model BMW or Hermes handbag.
The Saker: What about India in all this? There apparently still is a lot of suspicion in India about the true motives of the Chinese, not only about “South Tibet” and border issues, but also about Chinese support for Pakistan and a general suspicion that China might use military force as it did in 1962 and 1967. What are, in your opinions, Chinese goals towards India. Does China still have expansionist plans towards India? Are Indian suspicions still warranted? Furthermore, Russia, China and India are members of the BRICS. It appears to me that for Russia to achieve a comprehensive and long term peace treaty between China and India would be a top strategic objective as tensions between China and India only benefit the US Empire. Likewise, it appears to me that for China it would be far more important to achieve a comprehensive and long term peace deal with India than to resolve petty border disputes and give support to Pakistan. Am I correct here, or am I missing something? Do you think that Russia and the other BRICS countries have the means to push both China and India away from their current “cool and cautious” relationship and into a real alliance? What kind of relationship with India would China ideally want?
Jeff J. Brown: India truly is the $64,000 dollar, er, yuan/ruble question, isn’t it? We have to go back to postwar history to get a proper perspective. Comparing China and India since then, has been nothing but a study in contrast. India got its independence in 1947, two years before China’s. It was (and still is) the world’s largest “Western” democracy. China’s liberation launched one of the greatest experiments in human history, in political, social and economic revolution. India was the Crown Jewel of the British Empire, with decent infrastructure, governing bodies, institutions and “civil society”, at least among the country’s educated elite, who helped run India during the UK’s 300 year, colonial rule.
Mao inherited a devastated, 19th century hellhole, with drug addiction and almost no infrastructure, outside what the colonialists built to ship in the opium and haul off all the loot. The British Raj made sure he would leave a legacy of tension and religious strife, by partitioning off Pakistan and messing up the borders between India, China and Pakistan. The US made sure that the Communists had their anti-China, by helping Chiang Kai-Shek and his fascist KMT escape to establish Taiwan. Both China and India had vast land masses and huge populations to drive their economies.
Before Russia and China ended their split in 1989, Deng Xiaoping famously said that if the 21st century was to be Asia’s, then China and India had to do it together, to make it happen. But it hasn’t turned out that way, at least until now, has it? India had what the French call, a “champagne and caviar” revolution, where the local Indian colonial elite took over where the British left off. Departing Lord Mountbatten appointed Jawaharlal Nehru as prime minister, King George VI’s royal pick, Mr. Indian Establishment. The colonial hierarchy and all its institutions largely stayed, only to be managed by the Indian elite. This sclerotic, corrupt system was kept in place.
Contrast that to China’s dictatorship of the people, where Mao and the Communists cleaned up their political, social and economic house. Out with the colonial compradors and running dog capitalists, in with taking China from the 19th to the 20th century in one generation, standing tall and proud, without any help from the West. And they did it, with massive success across the country (listen to http://44days.net/?p=2386 for the amazing story). The Mao Era transformed China and dramatically improved the lives of the vast majority of the people, while “Western democratic” India floundered economically and politically, going through prime ministers like poop through a goose.
It was a bitter pill for Indians to swallow. And that was even before the Deng Era, with its double digit growth and another economic and social revolution, which world history had never seen before, and probably never will again. So, it is easy to see why Indians are a little bit touchy about comparing themselves to the Chinese, and why they have a bit of a chip on their shoulders. It’s only human nature.
Recently, more frustrations set in, with the Xi-Putin-China-Russia Express flying at breakneck speed. Wasn’t Russia India’s longtime friend? What’s going on? Again, the Indians felt slighted by the Chinese. However, it often boils down to leadership and India seems to have finally gotten a prime minister worth his salt, someone who can belly up to the geopolitical bar and state India’s case, Mr. Narendra Modi. With the Indian Grenadier regiment marching alongside China’s PLA in Moscow on May 9th, reciprocal Xi-Modi state visits, Putin’s state visit to Delhi and Modi’s scheduled two visits to Russia later this year, it looks like Deng’s vision may finally be realized. The Western Empire is still a dangerous giant straddling the world. I am sure that Deng is smiling in his grave, knowing that his China-India dream now includes China’s long lost socialist brother-in-revolution, Russia.
But it will not be all that easy. The British Raj intentionally left that terrible border legacy between China and India, and with Pakistan as well. China and India had a border war in 1962, which the Chinese won. Ouch. More Indian egos bruised. But India got even, taking back Sikkim in 1967. The fact that much of it is religiously fueled, makes it that much more intractable. Hindus believe that the map of India is in the shape of Bharat Mata, the Mother Goddess of India, and any land conceded to China or Pakistan is tantamount to removing part of her head. Nor are we talking about a few islands in the Amur River and some slivers of land between Russian, Mongolia, North Korea and China, all of which have signed formal treaties in the last 25 years, to settle their boundary disputes. Modi and Xi have 138,000 km2 on the table, with Tibetan Buddhists, Pakistani Muslims and Indian Hindus glaring menacingly over their shoulders. It’s a nightmare. The world’s highest highway, running between China and Pakistan over the Khunjerab Pass, then down to the Port of Gwadar, which the Chinese are managing? Baba Beijing pitched it to India first and was given the cold shoulder, largely due to public pressure on the government not to “give in” to the Chinese on the border dispute.
Leaving out Pakistan for the moment, the Indians have much more to lose over this than the Chinese. While it would be hard for China to give all its disputed land back to India, I think Baba Beijing could go to the Chinese people and explain why they gave back, not all, but more than half. I believe this is what Modi meant, when he gave his speech this month in Beijing, asking the Chinese to please consider India’s “special situation” (about the border dispute). He asked publically, like a gentleman, rebuffing India’s very vocal and volatile nationalists.
Huge steps were taken during Modi’s visit. There has been no diplomatic or military contact between China and India, since the 1962 and 1967 wars, to address the issue, just pot shots over each other’s heads and the occasional skirmish. Now there are red phones installed in Beijing and Delhi. Generals along the border will now regularly meet to discuss any sore spots. And most importantly, there will be high level, diplomatic discussions every six months, to specifically settle the border terms. The Raj was a demonic genius and it’s been a long, destructive half century.
The Indian-Chinese border dispute is the biggest weak link in forging an alliance between Russia, China and India. Russia, with its historical warm relations with India, has signaled a willingness to play the intermediary. Let’s hope these three countries prove the Washington-London-Paris-Tokyo consensus wrong. A locked-arm, trident alliance between China, Russia and India might even give Western Empire pause. Throw in Iran and maybe Uncle Sam might even want to sit down to talk.
The Saker: There are regular rumors and speculations about a new joint reserve currency to replace the dollar. Some speak of a Ruble-Yuan currency, others of a “BRICS” currency, possibly back by gold. This rumors are strengthened by the fact that both Russia and China have been and, apparently, still are buying all the gold they can. Is there support in China for such a “gold-backed BRICS currency basket”?
Jeff J. Brown: China and Russia are the two largest gold miners in the world. They are both buying gold at a prodigious rate (although I have not checked Russia’s purchases since the Western oil-ruble gambit was put into play). It is no secret that China wants to have as much gold as the US’s supposed 8,500MT. China’s gold reserves are a state secret, but estimates are Baba Beijing has somewhere around 3,500MT, maybe a little more. China will be required later this summer to officially declare its gold reserves, in order to have the renminbi considered as a currency in the IMF’s special drawing rights (SDR) basket. I think they will want to be able to say they have more gold reserves than #2 Germany, which officially has 3,400MT (if only the Bundesbank could get it out of American vaults, which seem to be having a hard time coughing it up).
There is a talk of the “Brisco”, a BRICS currency. The new BRICS NDB will help make that vision become a reality. That would pull in Russia and China together for trade and financing, along with India, Brazil and South Africa. Russia has apparently just invited Greece to join BRICS too, and would have not done so, without consulting the other members first.
Yuan-ruble trade will increase exponentially, when the gas and oil pipelines start flowing in 2018, with CRIFT and UCRG humming at full speed. But I don’t think Russia and China are envisioning a “Ruyuan” binational currency. There is just not enough critical mass there. The Brisco seems much more fungible and international.
The Saker:Lastly, what kind of future do you see for China in the next couple of decades? Where is this country headed and what kind of role do you think it sees for itself in the future world?
Jeff J. Brown: For hundreds of years, China had the world’s largest economy. Finally in 1872, in the depths of opium addiction, coolie slavery trade and extractive colonialism, it fell from its longstanding pinnacle, against the rapidly expanding settler/colonial American Empire. So, China is accustomed to greatness. Becoming the world’s biggest Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) economy last year just feels natural around here, and that Century of Humiliation was simply a nadir not to be repeated.
China had the world’s greatest naval fleet 200-300 years before Europe, possessed gunpowder and invented firearms. They sailed all up and down the Asian, African and Middle Eastern coasts and into the Indonesian archipelago, long before Columbus. Unlike the West, it only wanted one thing: win-win trade and cultural exchanges. Other than Vietnam, China has never had imperial ambitions, nor a hegemonic drive to control the world’s resources, while enslaving the natives who owned them. It has always been, “Let’s do business”. Xi’s “win-win” diplomacy is not Potemkin fluff. Baba Beijing means what it says. Xi and Li Keqiang (China’s Premier) are crisscrossing the globe, signing billions upon billions of bilateral and regional trade, energy, aerospace, infrastructure, cultural, educational and scientific deals, all at lightning speed. But historically, this is what the Chinese have always been doing with the outside world, for the last 3,000 years: Maritime Belts and Silk Roads.
Saker, whether the West likes it or not, Napoléon’s oriental sleeping lion is back in historical form. The West has two choices: come to the negotiating table with BRICS or take our Pale Blue Dot down in a fog of nuclear oblivion. The Empire is so evil and corrupt, I’m leaning towards the latter scenario, to be honest. But I am also an eternal optimist. Here is to hoping that some superhero, American Vasili Arkhipov or Stanislav Petrov (they both defused potential nuclear war with the US, back in the day) can somehow short circuit the Joint Chiefs of Staff/CIA/Wall Street deep state, which has been ruling the United States since WWII, and bring humanity back from the brink.
Either way world, welcome to the Xi Era – and the Putin Era – and with fingers crossed – the Modi Era too.
Greetings from the belly of the New Century Beast, China.
—Jeff J. Brown Beijing, 2015.5.25
ABOUT THE PRINCIPALS
Andrei Raevsky, aka The Saker, is an ex-military analyst who was born in Europe to a family of Russian refugees. He now lives in Florida where he writes the Vineyard of the Saker blog and is a regular contributor to various leading independent publications. The international community of Saker Blogs includes, besides the original Saker blog, French, German, Russian, Oceania, Serbian and a Spanish-language Latin American member.