Link back to the discussion thread.
- EU Gas Dependence On Russia Falls By 50% Oil Price
The European Union has reduced its dependence on Russian gas deliveries by 50 percent, but savings will be necessary to make up for the difference with alternative supplies.
This is what the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said this week in a blog post.
“We have already managed to cope with an overall reduction in the share of Russian gas imports from 40% at the beginning of the year to around 20% today, principally by buying more LNG, whose share of gas usage has doubled from 19% to 37%,” the EU’s top diplomat said.
- Europe has ramped up imports of Russian diesel as the EU struggles to wean off the country’s energy supplies Business Insider
Europe’s imports of Russian-sourced diesel spiked 13% last month as the continent struggled to wean itself off Moscow’s fuel in response to the war in Ukraine.
Russian-sourced diesel to Europe outpaced non-Russian-sourced diesel by nearly 200,000 barrels a day, according to a report published Tuesday from Vortexa, which tracks energy commodities. Overall, Europe’s imports of Russian diesel increased a staggering 23% from July 2021.
The uptick in Europe’s appetite for Russian diesel underscores the complexity of choking Moscow’s energy flows as its war in Ukraine rages on. The European Union pledged earlier this year to be 90% rid of Russian crude imports by the end of 2022 but has since struggled with skyrocketing prices and production constraints on alternative sources.
Because of the rising diesel prices, as well as refineries struggling to keep pace with demand, “it appears questionable whether Europeans will manage to carry through on the announced diesel import ban fully” Vortexa’s chief economist, David Welch, said.
- Russia is Europe’s biggest energy supplier - but the US is sending more gas by boat than Russia is by pipeline Business Insider
And they’re stealing that gas from other countries around the world, by the way.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has redirected energy deliveries around the world, and one result has been that the US is now sending more gas to Europe by boat than Russia is by pipeline, ICIS data shows, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Since 1967, Gazprom’s pipelines in West Siberia and the Yamal peninsula have delivered huge amounts of gas to Europe but that precedent has been turned on its head in recent months.
In July, US liquefied natural gas accounted for 13% of total supply to Europe, compared to 10% from Russian pipelines. Pipelines from Norway were the top source of gas to the continent, while other sources include North African pipelines and Qatar liquefied natural gas supplies, as well as domestic production.
Over the last six months, European wholesale gas prices have tripled as Moscow continues to tighten natural gas flows. State-run Gazprom, citing technical issues, cut Nord Stream 1 natural gas deliveries to Germany to 20% down from 40%.
The European Commission said that 12 member states are enduring severely reduced flows and a handful of nations have been entirely cut off. Just this week, Gazprom halted natural gas deliveries to Latvia.
- Russia says US has not offered to resume nuclear treaty talks Inquirer
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that the United States had made no approaches to resume talks on a new strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty to replace the so called 2011 “New START” deal.
U.S. President Joe Biden said he was ready to “expeditiously negotiate a new arms control framework” to replace New START when it expires in 2026, while President Vladimir Putin said there could be no winners in any nuclear war.
“It has become their habit to announce things over the microphone and then forget about them,” Lavrov said. “There have been no approaches to us to restart the negotiation process.”
- Russian soft drinks maker targets 50% of market to fill gap left by Coke, Pepsi Reuters
As the world’s biggest soft drinks makers cut their Russian ties, local producer Chernogolovka is aiming for a 50% share of the country’s near $9 billion market, its boss told Reuters.
A mass exodus of Western firms due to sanctions and restrictions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine has created an unexpected opportunity for Russian businesses and entrepreneurs.
Chernogolovka, named after the town outside Moscow where it was founded in 1998, makes snacks, bottled water, herby lemonades, energy drinks and, since May, Cola Chernogolovka.
The privately-owned company is more than doubling its business this year, its CEO Natalia Sakhnina said in an interview, and expects to reach a 30% market share within two years, up from around 8.5% at the end of 2021.
“We were, are and will be the main Russian producer of drinks,” Sakhnina said. “We hope and are working on gaining absolute leadership in the Russian market.”
- Inferno engulfs warehouse of major Russian online retailer RT
A huge fire has engulfed a warehouse of Russia’s leading e-commerce platform Ozon near Moscow, with hundreds of people forced to flee the site.
The blaze spans an area of 50,000 square meters, according to the emergency services. Around 1,000 people have been evacuated from the burning facility.
- NATO peacekeepers oversee removal of roadblocks in Kosovo EU Reporter
NATO-led peacekeepers backed with helicopters Monday (1 August) oversaw the removal roadblocks protesters had erected in north Kosovo. This is where political tensions flared for more than 20 years since a crisis ended with NATO airstrikes.
After the Kosovo government delayed the implementation of a decision which would have obliged ethnic Serbs (a majority in the north) to apply for documents or car license plates issued from Kosovan institutions, the barricades were removed.
This situation has rekindled faultiness between Serbia and Russia. Neither country recognizes Kosovo, which is Western-aligned and has blocked its attempts to join the United Nations. Kosovo is a country that has been recognized by over 100 countries. It seeks to join NATO.
After consultations with US ambassadors and EU ambassadors, the government decided to delay.
- EDF poised to cut nuclear power output as French rivers get too warm Guardian
The French energy supplier EDF has signalled it is likely to reduce output at its nuclear power stations on the Rhône and Garonne rivers as heatwaves push up river temperatures, restricting its ability to use the river water to cool the plants.
The state-owned company, Europe’s biggest producer of nuclear energy, said its power stations on the two rivers were likely to produce less electricity in the coming days, but would maintain a minimum level of output to keep the grid steady, Bloomberg News reported.
More heat is forecast in the coming days, with air temperatures of above 35C. The heatwave has led to lower water levels in the Rhône and Garonne rivers and raised the water temperature.
- German crematoriums have a problem RT
Crematoriums in Germany may have to fight for survival amid the deepening energy crisis, Reuters reported on Monday.
Reduced gas supplies from Russia and a feared possible complete cut-off may lead to a reduction in the number of functional crematoriums in Germany, the industry representatives have suggested to the news agency.
Amid the dwindling flow, crematoriums are switching off some furnaces, while keeping others running constantly, so these don’t cool down and require more gas to be reheated, Reuters writes. Not all crematoriums, however, have sufficient demand to justify the model, Svend-Joerk Sobolewski, chairman of Germany’s cremation consortium, told the agency.
In the event of any gas rationing, the sector should be prioritized because most crematoriums cannot function without gas, Sobolewski added.
“You cannot switch off death,” he explained.
Unless you’re Henry Kissinger, in which case, he has hidden his phylactery very well, and not all of us can afford an ancient tomb guarded by the souls of the damned.
- German ex-chancellor offers solution to EU’s energy crisis RT
Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has offered “the simplest solution” to Europe’s current energy crisis – to switch on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Nord Stream 2 “is ready,” the former chancellor told German magazine Stern in an interview published on Wednesday.
“The simplest solution would be to put the Nord Stream 2 pipeline into operation. If things get really tight, there is this pipeline, and with both Nord Stream pipelines there would be no supply problem for German industry and German households.” he said.
Otherwise, “you have to bear the consequences. And they will be huge in Germany, too,” Schroeder warned.
- German exports surge to record level in June, outlook still gloomy Reuters
The value of German exports jumped by 4.5% in June to hit a record level, though economists cautioned that much of the increase was likely due to soaring prices.
Exports rose for a third month in a row, beating forecasts for a 1% increase and pushing Germany’s seasonally adjusted trade surplus to 6.4 billion euros ($6.51 billion) in June, well above consensus for a 2.7 billion euro surplus.
Preliminary data last month had shown Germany posting its first trade deficit in more than 30 years, but the May figure of -1.0 billion euros was revised on Wednesday to a surplus of 0.8 billion euros.
“These figures should be taken with a grain of salt,” Thomas Gitzel of VP Bank said, saying that price increases could increase nominal export volumes without more goods actually having been exported. “Adjusted for prices, little is likely to remain of the export growth.”
- Sales of electric heaters soar in Germany amid winter gas crisis fears Euro News
Sales of electric heaters have surged as Germans prepare for a possible energy crisis this winter.
Some 600,000 heaters were sold in Germany in the first six months of 2022, according to market research firm GFK – a 35% increase from the same period last year.
“There has been a huge increase in sales of electric heaters in the last two months and the heaters [we] have on hand are running out,” said Frank Doring, owner of the Eisen Doring electrical store in Berlin.
“I can’t comment on when suppliers will bring in new heaters,” he added. “Because they are all already exhausted. This is a big problem.”
- Germany to Gazprom: Your turbine is ready, let us deliver it. NYT
Standing before a hulking metal turbine that normally propels natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany rejected Russia’s contention that technical problems were behind the sharp curtailment in gas flows to Germany.
He said the only reason the machine had not yet been returned to Russia after undergoing maintenance work is that Gazprom, Russia’s state energy giant, did not want it back.
The turbine, which is at the heart of a dispute between Germany and Gazprom, was on display Wednesday at a news event in the western city of Mülheim an der Ruhr, where it has been stored since it was returned from refurbishment in Canada.
Gazprom and Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s president, have blamed Siemens Energy, the turbine’s manufacturer, for delays returning it to Russia. They have repeatedly cited the need for “required documents and clarifications,” and said that its absence was the reason it slashed gas flows to 20 percent of capacity.
After weeks of releasing only terse responses, the German side seemed intent on calling the bluff of Gazprom and Mr. Putin.
“It is obvious that nothing, nothing at all stands in the way of the further transport of this turbine and its installation in Russia. It can be transported and used at any time,” Mr. Scholz told reporters. “There is no technical reason whatsoever for the reduction of gas supplies.”
Dude, Putin is helping you make a principled stand on Ukraine. Why argue with that? I’m sure you can burn that principled stand this winter and keep your people warm.
- Danish Gas Field Delays Restart as Energy Crisis Deepens Bloomberg
Denmark’s main natural gas field will remain idled until the winter of 2023-24, adding a fresh challenge to Europe’s energy crisis as Russia curbs deliveries of the fuel.
The first gas from the redeveloped Tyra field in the Danish North Sea will be delayed due to manufacturing and Covid-related supply chain disruptions, TotalEnergies SE said in a statement. The company is the largest shareholder in the consortium that owns the reservoirs.
The restart of the Tyra field was due to take place in June 2023, according to the Danish Energy Agency, which administers supply. The delay means the country will be vulnerable if flows from Germany are reduced, it said in a statement.
- Inflation will soar to ‘astronomical’ levels over next year, thinktank warns Guardian
Inflation will soar to “astronomical” levels over the next year forcing the Bank of England to raise interest rates higher and for longer than previously expected, according to a leading thinktank.
The National Institute of Economic and Social Research also forecast a long recession that would last into next year and hit millions of the most vulnerable households, especially in the worst-off parts of the country.
NIESR said gas price rises and the escalating cost of food would send inflation to 11% before the end of the year while the retail prices index (RPI), which is used to set rail fares and student loans repayments, is expected to hit 17.7%.
Stephen Millard, the institute’s deputy director, said the economy would contract for three consecutive quarters, shrinking the 1% by the spring of next year.
He added there will be “no respite” for British households and businesses from “astronomical inflation” in the short term and “we will need interest rates up at the 3% mark if we are to bring it down”.
- From badgers to bumblebees: how drought is affecting Britain’s wildlife Guardian
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has warned that some of our best-loved garden birds are already struggling, as they try to raise their second broods of young. Blackbirds, robins and song thrushes need regular summer rainfall, as this creates the damp conditions that bring earthworms and other soil-dwelling invertebrates to the surface of garden lawns.
Droughts mean that the worms stay down in the damper earth, meaning that the birds cannot catch enough to feed themselves or their chicks. This can lead to desperate measures: during the very dry spring and summer of 2011, hungry blackbirds even resorted to cannibalism, feeding on their own offspring. The charity RSPB advises putting out mealworms to provide an alternative food source for the birds.
Ground-feeding mammals such as badgers and hedgehogs are also suffering during this unusually dry weather; not just because they cannot get enough food, but also from overheating and dehydration. And while hot and sunny days may be better than wet and rainy ones for adult butterflies, as they fly from plant to plant to lay their eggs, they are bad news for caterpillars, which need plenty of foliage on their host plants if they are to feed and grow. A recent study showed that in the years following prolonged summer droughts, when plants die off early because of the heat, butterfly populations tend to fall.
Other insects find it hard to cope in hot weather, too, but for different reasons. Prof Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex points out that because bumblebees have furry coats – an adaptation to flying and feeding in cool conditions – they are unable to forage in very high temperatures.
As temperatures hit record levels, young house martins, swallows and swifts risk fatally overheating. In London recently, young swifts that had been forced to leave their nests before they were fully fledged were seen falling out of the sky. House martins are also unable to find enough mud to build or repair their nests.
- EU country threatens huge fines for violating energy rules RT
The Spanish government will reportedly issue huge fines for non-compliance with energy restrictions prompted by the ongoing energy crisis in Europe.
The penalties will range from up to €60,000 for minor offences, to a maximum of €600,000 for serious violations, Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported on Tuesday.
The government announced a set of measures on Tuesday aimed at reducing electricity consumption by businesses, citing “a real risk of a natural gas shortage during the coming winter”.
According to a decree published in the official state bulletin, shops, department stores, cinemas, hotels and public buildings cannot have air conditioning set below 27 degrees Celsius in the summer, heating above 19 degrees in the winter, the lights in shop windows must be turned off at 10 pm, and access doors to the premises must close automatically to ensure air does not get out. Businesses have been given seven days to adjust to the news measures, which will be in force until November 2023.
Shops and hotels are unimpressed with the new measures, El Mundo writes, as heat indoors is the biggest complaint of customers during the extremely hot summer. The Madrid Hotel Association told the newspaper that the “exaggerated and improvised” rules may harm tourism.
Asia and Oceania
I’m gonna put everything to do with Taiwan here, even the dipshittery articles.
- US’ one-China policy has not changed with Taiwan visit–Pelosi, White House Inquirer
More than two dozen Republican senators issued a statement in a show of bipartisan support for United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit shortly after she touched down in Taipei on Tuesday night (Aug 2).
“For decades, members of the US Congress, including previous Speakers of the House, have traveled to Taiwan. This travel is consistent with the US’ ‘one China’ policy to which we are committed. We are also committed now, more than ever, to all elements of the Taiwan Relations Act,” said the statement signed by 26 Republican senators, including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.
Mrs Pelosi said in a statement that her visit was one of several congressional delegations to Taiwan, and “in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy”.
“The United States continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo,” she said, adding that her visit “honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy”.
- Taiwan’s defense ministry: China aims to threaten key ports and cities with drills Inquirer
Taiwan’s defense ministry said late on Tuesday that China was attempting to threaten key ports and cities by announcing drills around the island in the coming days.
The defense ministry said in a statement the drills were aimed at psychologically intimidating Taiwan’s citizens, adding the armed forces had “reinforced” their alertness level and citizens should not worry.
It added on Wednesday that Chinese military drills have violated United Nations rules, invaded Taiwan’s territorial space and amount to a blockade of its air and sea, amid high tensions as U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits the island.
- China has banned more than 2,000 Taiwan food imports amid Pelosi’s visit as Beijing steps up trade weaponization Business Insider
China has banned thousands of food imports from Taiwan amid US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to the island.
In a statement issued Wednesday, China’s customs department said it has suspended imports of some fish and citrus fruits because they have repeatedly tested for excessive pesticide residues in the past year.
While China did not link the ban to Pelosi’s ongoing visit and has banned Taiwanese farm products in the past, citing similar reasons, the timing of the move has raised questions. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, said the import suspensions are politically motivated, according to a statement viewed by Insider.
The suspension comes after China banned more than 2,000 individual Taiwanese food imports, ranging from fresh produce to processed food like baby food, candy, and pastries, according to a Nikkei review of Chinese customs data. No reasons were given for the suspensions, per Nikkei. The ban was imposed on Monday, according to United Daily News.
- Factbox: Economic sanctions China has imposed on Taiwan over Pelosi visit Reuters
China on Wednesday suspended exports of natural sand to Taiwan and halted imports of fruit and fish products from the self-governed island as U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in a trip condemned by Beijing.
In a warning salvo ahead of Pelosi’s visit, Chinese customs had suspended imports from 35 Taiwanese exporters of biscuits and pastries since Monday.
In January-June, China’s imports from Taiwan reached $122.5 billion, up 7.3% from a year earlier, Chinese customs data showed. Top imported goods included integrated circuits and electronic components.
China’s commerce ministry said exports of natural sand - widely used for construction and in concrete - to Taiwan were suspended from Wednesday. Such a move was based on laws and regulations, the ministry said, without elaborating.
In March 2007, China halted exports of natural sand to Taiwan due to environmental concerns. The ban lasted for a year. According to Chinese official data, more than 90% of Taiwan’s natural sand imports came from China in 2007.
China also vowed to take “disciplinary actions” against two Taiwan foundations which it claimed had aggressively engaged in pro-independence separatist activities.
The two foundations - Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and Taiwan Foreign Ministry’s International Cooperation and Development Fund - will be banned from cooperating with any organisations, companies and individuals in the mainland, China’s state news agency Xinhua on Wednesday cited Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, as saying.
China will punish any mainland organisations, companies and individuals that provide financial support to or serve the two foundations, Xinhua reported, adding other measures will be adopted if necessary.
In addition, any deal or cooperation between four specific Taiwanese firms and mainland companies are not allowed due to their donations to the two foundations.
Executives at the four Taiwanese companies - solar producer Speedtech Energy Co., Hyweb Technology Co., medical equipment producer Skyla, and cold chain vehicle fleet management company SkyEyes - will be prohibited from entering mainland China.
- China’s economic sanctions on Taiwan over Pelosi visit ‘symbolic’, but could hit billions if tensions escalate SCMP
Mainland China could target hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Taiwanese investments and two-way trade if tensions with the self-ruled island worsen after a sharp slide this week due to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, analysts said.
But they are targeting the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and probably saving any moves against high-value exports or direct investments as a final move, the analysts added, as measures against Taiwan could ripple back to the mainland.
“[Taiwanese] companies are such an integral part of the Chinese value chain that it becomes difficult to put too much pressure on those trade routes,” said Zennon Kapron, the Singapore-based director of financial industry research firm Kapronasia.
The People’s Liberation Army kick-started large-scale military drills following Pelosi’s arrival on Tuesday night, while Beijing has already rolled out various economic sanctions.
- China may avenge Pelosi’s visit – just not how we might think RT
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made an unannounced but heavily anticipated landing in Taiwan on Tuesday, plunging US-China relations to a new low. Despite warnings from other top Washington officials, Pelosi has now become the highest-ranking US official to visit the island in 25 years – but the situation is far different now than it was then.
First, it should be recognized how consequential this decision is. For the US, it’s not that big of a deal. Congressional delegations, not just from the US but many Western countries, go to Taiwan frequently. It’s also seen as separate from official US government policy because the legislative branch of government is separate from the executive, which is tasked with managing foreign policy.
In fact, Pelosi noted this in a tweet when she first arrived on the island. “Our visit is one of several Congressional delegations to Taiwan – and it in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, US-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances,” she said.
But China doesn’t see it that way. And that’s because the situation now is far different than 25 years ago when then-house speaker Newt Gingrich visited Taipei. That’s primarily because the then-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party still maintained the ‘One China’ line, reached under the 1992 Consensus established by the National Unification Council of the Republic of China (official title for what Westerners refer to as Taiwan).
So, Gingrich’s visit was not seen as a recognition of separatist forces – because the ruling KMT saw itself as de jure rulers of China – and Pelosi’s is seen as an attack on China’s national sovereignty. China also sees the behavior of the administration as tacit approval of this attack on its sovereignty.
First of all, Pelosi took an official US government plane to Taipei which implies an official connection between officials in Taipei and Washington. Estimates put the cost of this trip for US taxpayers at about $90 million dollars. Part of the US’ ‘One China’ pledge is that it will only maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan.
At the same time, the US military – part of the administration – reportedly made plans to protect Pelosi’s plane in any emergency event and, to top it off, both Pelosi and US President Joe Biden are members of the same political party. This only underscores China’s insistence that the administration supports Pelosi’s actions.
Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan will undoubtedly plunge relations between Beijing and Washington to a new low. “The Taiwan question is the most important and most sensitive issue at the very heart of China-US relations. The Taiwan Strait is facing a new round of tensions and severe challenges, and the fundamental cause is the repeated moves by the Taiwan authorities and the United States to change the status quo,” an official statement by China’s Foreign Ministry says.
The question now is how things progress from here. Tensions are already near a boil. Over speculation of Pelosi’s visit, flights in China’s Fujian province near Taiwan were disrupted, Taiwan’s presidential office was targetted by an overseas DDoS attack and there was even a bomb threat sent to Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport. China has since announced a major military drill from August 4-7 that pretty much encircles the entire island of Taiwan and crosses Taiwan’s territorial waters.
It doesn’t appear that the US has planned for anything above military drills or diplomatic statements, and likewise, Beijing doesn’t seem likely to make any sudden, knee-jerk reactions to Pelosi’s visit. Chinese nationalist commentators like Hu Xijin of the Global Times have hinted at immediate military reactions – this appears unlikely.
The saying goes that revenge is a dish best served cold. And China certainly has a lot of time on its hands to let that dish languish, choosing a time and place of its own to react. One thing’s for sure, as Chinese commentators have said, this latest move could easily hasten the eventuality of reunification. There are internal political dynamics that suggest this, too, with public opinion on the mainland firmly in favor of pulling Taiwan back into Beijing’s orbit and President Xi Jinping looking to consolidate his legacy as one of China’s historic leaders.
In the second half of 2022, during the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, he is seeking a third term as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China – or possibly to be elected as the chairman of the Communist Party of China, a position abolished in 1982 and most notably held by Mao Zedong. Reunification, thus permanently ending the Chinese Civil War, would certainly put him among the most important Chinese leaders ever.
In terms of how China will hit back at the main perpetrator – Washington – this will likely be in the realms that it really hurts and where the US is already seeing the most destabilization – the economic and trade spheres. The US supply chain is infinitely intertwined with China and the ongoing trade war between the two sides has already been a major source of inflation.
With the flick of a pen, Chinese officials could seriously upset the US economy, exacerbate inflation and send Biden’s Democrats packing in this year’s midterm elections, which would also mean dethroning Nancy Pelosi as speaker. It’s anyone’s guess how things progress but this seems the most likely, in my view.
- Beijing summons US ambassador over Pelosi’s Taiwan bravado Merco Press
The Government of Beijing Tuesday summoned US Ambassador Nicholas Burns after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan despite China’s advice against it.
Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Feng, who has a background in US affairs, delivered the US diplomat his country’s strong condemnation for the move and pointed out that Pelosi’s act was a deliberate provocation, in serious violation of the one-China principle and the three joint China-US communiqués.
“This has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-US relations and seriously infringes on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Xie, who added that Pelosi’s trip “seriously undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” while sending a seriously wrong signal to separatist forces seeking “Taiwan’s independence.”
The Chinese official insisted that the US government must be held accountable for the lawmakers' trip as well as for other actions which constantly misrepresented and undermined the one-China principle, such as deleting key expressions in this regard from the US State Department’s website, such as placing Taiwan within its so-called “Indo-Pacific strategy.”
The US openly raised its ties with Taiwan, increased arms sales to the region, and supported separatist activities in favor of Taiwan independence, Xie said.
Xie also pointed out that the US government acquiesced rather than restrained Pelosi’s deliberate act, which has led to an escalation of tensions across the Taiwan Strait and seriously undermined China-US relations. He added that the US will pay the price for its mistakes and called on the administration of President Joseph Biden to “take practical steps to reverse the adverse effects stemming from Pelosi’s visit.”
“The US should not move further down the wrong path, aggravate tensions or make the situation across the Taiwan Strait and China-US relations irreparable,” Xie said.
- Taiwan says China provocation challenges international order Reuters
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said China’s notice that aircraft should not enter drill areas in waters near the island are a provocation that challenges international order, and Taiwan will stay in contact with countries including the United States to avoid escalating tensions.
- The damage from Pelosi’s unwise Taiwan visit must be contained WaPo
Successful foreign policy combines high principle with smart, timely execution. Tuesday’s visit to show solidarity with Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) demonstrated the former — but not the latter. The foreseeable reaction from China, which considers Taiwan a wayward province, is underway — including the announcement of provocative naval live-fire exercises in the island’s territorial waters after Ms. Pelosi’s visit ends. President Biden must limit the short-term damage and counter a likely increase in long-term Chinese pressure on Taiwan.
Of course we share Ms. Pelosi’s strong support for democratic Taiwan, her condemnation of the Chinese communist dictatorship and her belief, as she put it in an op-ed for The Post, that “it is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats.” What we do not comprehend is her insistence on demonstrating her support in this way, at this time, despite warnings — from a president of her own party — that the geopolitical situation is already unsettled enough. However much the 82-year-old Ms. Pelosi might want a capstone event for her time as speaker — before a likely GOP victory in November ends it — going to Taiwan now, as President Xi Jinping of China is orchestrating his third term, was unwise.
I didn’t even think of that. Was her entire fucking motivation to firmly engrave her name in history before she’s unseated, and her way of doing that was to either intentionally or unintentionally drastically escalate tensions between China and Taiwan? Somehow she’s even more ghoulish than I thought she was. If it was just old-person stubborness and stupidity then at least that’s a universal phenomenon.
Admittedly, Mr. Biden himself mishandled the situation by blurting out the fact “the military” was against Ms. Pelosi’s visit. This blunder made it harder for Ms. Pelosi to change plans without losing face and, more important, harder for Mr. Xi not to ramp up his response once she decided to go. Far better for the president to have told Ms. Pelosi, privately, personally and unequivocally, not to do it.
The top global priority for the United States now is Russia’s war in Ukraine and its accompanying fallout in global food and energy markets. The Biden administration can ill afford any distractions, much less a repeat of the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, which many Americans have forgotten, but which lasted eight months and two days. It began with Chinese missile firings off Taiwan in retaliation for a symbolic gesture — a visit by Taiwan’s president to Cornell University — and did not ease until after the Clinton administration mounted an enormous deterrent naval deployment.
China ultimately backed off. The Biden administration is now in the position of having to hope it can similarly maintain both peace and Taiwan’s territorial integrity against a China that is vastly stronger than it was a quarter-century ago and led not by the cautious Jiang Zemin but by the aggressive Mr. Xi. U.S. officials, and Ms. Pelosi, have communicated that her trip implies no change to the United States’ one-China policy. In a deterrent mode, the president has deployed a carrier group east of Taiwan.
The United States must never sacrifice its principles or cave to Chinese threats. All the more reason to prepare carefully where and when to confront China. No thanks to Ms. Pelosi, the Biden administration finds itself forced to react and improvise instead.
- Russia backs Beijing on Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, drawing the two countries closer together on issues like Ukraine Fortune
The Chinese government has at least one firm supporter in its escalating conflict with the United States over U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan: Russia.
“Everything about this tour and the possible visit to Taiwan is purely provocative,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov to reporters on Tuesday, before Pelosi arrived in the self-governed island.
Maria Zakharova, Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, used even stronger language, calling the U.S. a “state provocateur” and stating that Russia “confirms the principle of ‘one China’ and opposes the independence of the island in any form.” (“One China” refers to the position that mainland China and Taiwan are not two separate countries, but instead two governments in disagreement over who truly represents China.)
On Wednesday, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called Pelosi’s visit “an annoyance almost out of the blue.”
Russia’s support of Beijing on Pelosi’s Taiwan visit establishes another pillar of the two countries’ budding alliance and could motivate Beijing to more forcefully back Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“China’s government deeply values international diplomatic support from other governments regarding the Taiwan issue. Support from Russia and other states will be especially appreciated,” says Austin Strange, assistant professor of international relations at the University of Hong Kong. By supporting Beijing’s position on Taiwan, governments like Russia could “incentivize China’s government to offer more firm support for these states’ own interests,” Strange says.
Mainland Chinese officials have drawn parallels between the war in Ukraine and tensions over Taiwan. During a UN Security Council meeting last Friday, China’s ambassador to the UN argued that “while some country has repeatedly emphasized the principle of sovereignty over the issue of Ukraine, it has incessantly challenged the sovereignty of China over Taiwan.”
- This Is How the U.S. Will Stand With Taiwan NYT
Vladimir Putin’s brutal attack on his Ukrainian neighbors has sparked global outrage — and forged unprecedented unity — among the democratic nations of the world.
No, it hasn’t.
Not so with Xi Jinping, the hypernationalist president of the People’s Republic of China. Rather, he is no doubt taking notes and learning lessons from Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine to apply to his plans for Taiwan.
Man, if you think Xi is hypernationalist…
The United States and our partners in the international community need to do the same to develop and put in place a new and more resilient strategy for Taiwan while there is still time.
A clear lesson from the war in Ukraine is that authoritarian leaders have been emboldened in recent years by dysfunctional democracies and hesitant international institutions. Accordingly, the United States needs less ambiguity to guide our approach to Taiwan. In today’s world — with Mr. Xi’s China — a robust and credible deterrence to preserve peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait requires clarity in word and deed. President Biden vowed in May to use force to defend Taiwan — the third time he has said so, even though his aides have said the longstanding U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity has not changed.
The moral and strategic case for standing with Taiwan, whose people share our interests and our values, could not be clearer.
I don’t like the implications of that sentence. Taiwanese people are about to transmogrified into the “white person” umbrella as fast as the phrenologists can get over there. “Aha, yes, this bump on the sixth meridian of the second quadrant of the upper cranium is the ‘democracy bump’, which differentiates them from the Chinese across the strait”.
China is carrying out influence campaigns against Taiwan using cyberattacks and disinformation, deploying propaganda to reinforce its “one China” message, spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories to divide Taiwanese society and make it easier to gain control of the island. This is a plan of attack eerily reminiscent of Mr. Putin’s in Ukraine.
Man, it’s almost as if every country on the fucking planet uses propaganda campaigns, you complete fucking imbecile.
Making matters worse, Taiwan now also faces an aggressive Chinese military, which seems determined to be postured for an invasion in the coming years.
China’s rapid military buildup with new technologies and weapons deployed against Taiwan threatens to destabilize the entire Indo-Pacific. There are near daily Chinese military incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone and dangerous and unsafe Chinese Navy maneuvers intended to coerce and intimidate Taiwan on the high seas as well. Only a few weeks ago, 29 Chinese military aircraft, including six bombers, flew into Taiwan’s air defense zone — sending a clear message of a potential blockade — before returning to base. These are not the actions of a nation with a policy of maintaining peace and stability. These are the actions of a nation intent on aggression.
Moreover, Beijing’s recent threats over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan were as predictable as they were indicative of Mr. Xi’s truculence. But the United States must be clear: Using her visit as an excuse for performative sound and fury is simply that: a pretext for more aggressive steps that China has been preparing to take anyway. That is why Ms. Pelosi was right in not letting China decide who can and cannot visit Taiwan. The result of Beijing’s bluster should be to stiffen resolve in Taipei, in Washington and across the region. There are many strategies to continue standing up to Chinese aggression; there is clear bipartisan congressional agreement on the importance of acting now to provide the people of Taiwan with the type of support they desperately need.
We saw the warning signs for Ukraine in 2014 and failed to take action that might have deterred further Russian aggression. We cannot afford to repeat that mistake with Taiwan.
That is why I have worked with Senator Lindsey Graham to introduce the bipartisan Taiwan Policy Act of 2022.
Our legislation would reinforce the security of Taiwan by providing almost $4.5 billion in security assistance over the next four years and recognizing Taiwan as a “major non-NATO ally” — a powerful designation to facilitate closer military and security ties. It would also expand Taiwan’s diplomatic space through its participation in international organizations and in multilateral trade agreements.
Does this not violate the One China Policy? I guess it doesn’t really matter. America has always said one thing and done another.
The legislation would also take concrete steps to counter China’s aggressive influence campaigns, impose crippling economic costs if Beijing takes hostile action against Taiwan (such as financial, banking, visa and other sanctions) and reform American bureaucratic practices to bolster support for Taiwan’s democratic government. In short, this effort would be the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. policy toward Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.
While Beijing will likely rely on a planned narrative of blaming the United States for any aggression, the fact is that it’s China, not the United States, that has been steadily seeking to change the status quo with Taiwan.
The United States and our partners must remain cleareyed as we respond with measured steps during this critical window of opportunity — before China unalterably changes the cross-strait dynamic to its advantage and sets the stage for a possible invasion of Taiwan — to reinvigorate our diplomatic strategy. To work with Taipei to modernize its military to maintain deterrence. To combat Beijing’s political influence and misinformation campaigns. And to develop deeper ties between our two peoples.
As China challenges us across every dimension of national security — militarily, economically and diplomatically and on values — we are laying out a new vision that ensures our country is positioned to defend Taiwan for decades to come. Getting our strategy right is essential to deter and constrain Beijing’s problematic behavior and to encourage Mr. Xi to make different choices from Mr. Putin’s.
To be clear, the United States is not the world’s policeman. But surely we have a moral and practical obligation to stand with the people of Taiwan, who want only to be able to determine their own future.
If we do nothing, then we must be comfortable with effectively ceding Taiwan by letting China continue its unabated military, economic and diplomatic bullying campaign.
Mr. Putin’s delusions in Ukraine could not make the catastrophic global consequences of inaction clearer.
- Pelosi Has Nailed the Optics of Her Taiwan Trip Bloomberg
Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan may have been poorly timed, an unnecessary provocation, a reckless gamble, a grandstanding act or a combination of them all, depending on who’s talking. But there’s little doubt that the House speaker has done a good job so far of communicating the fundamental issues behind her trip, and why the island’s fate should matter to the world.
As Pelosi’s plane touched down in Taipei on Tuesday night, the Washington Post published an op-ed in which she laid out her rationale for making the journey, portraying the self-governed territory as a model democracy and free society that is increasingly menaced by its giant authoritarian neighbor. She recalled the origins of the US legislative commitment to support Taiwan’s defense, which from the start 43 years ago designated any attempt to change the island’s status by force as a threat to peace and security in the Western Pacific, and to American interests.
Pelosi’s insistence that her visit doesn’t contradict the one-China policy and that the US continues to oppose unilateral efforts to change the status quo will meet with cynicism in Beijing. In a statement issued shortly after her arrival, the foreign ministry said the trip was a “serious violation” of the two countries’ 1979 joint communique, which stated that the US would have only unofficial relations with Taiwan, an area China regards as its own. Nevertheless, Pelosi’s framing of the visit as a matter of shared interests and international solidarity amid a worldwide struggle between autocracy and democracy will resonate in a year marked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The optics of the speaker’s meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen were loaded with symbolism. Pelosi paid tribute to Tsai, saying, “We are so proud of your leadership, a woman president in one of the freest societies in the world.” The unspoken contrast was with the all-male leadership of the People’s Republic of China, where no woman has ascended to the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest political body, since its foundation in 1949. The understated presence and language of Taiwan’s popularly elected leader also stand in sharp relief to the bellicose rhetoric emanating from Beijing, which again repeated its warning that those who play with fire “will perish by it.”
The symbolism extended to the rest of Pelosi’s itinerary. The speaker also met Wu’er Kaixi, the exiled Tiananmen student leader,and Lee Ming-che, a Taiwan pro-democracy activist who spent five years in prison in China on subversion charges, as well as Lam Wing-kee, a Hong Kong bookseller who was detained in the mainland after selling works critical of the Communist Party elite, and subsequently fled to Taiwan.
These engagements ensure that almost any pictures or discussion of Pelosi’s visit will keep the focus indirectly on China — never mentioned, necessarily, but always there in the implied disparity between the freedoms of the island’s progressive and tolerant democracy, and the Communist system 100 miles across the Taiwan Strait. Even the anti-Pelosi demonstrators who gathered at her hotel chanting, “Yankee go home,” served to reinforce this message; their presence only underlines the fact that they enjoy a freedom proscribed in China. After all, no pro-Taiwan demonstration would be allowed to take place in the mainland.
I hate it when my freedom organ runs out of freedoms and I have to replenish it at the government freedom dispensary but - oh no - they’ve run out of freedoms! This is why communism doesn’t work, folks.
In that light, Pelosi’s trip can already be considered something of a public relations success. For sure, there will be a price to pay, and it may be too early yet to say whether that price is worth it. Several days of high tensions lie ahead. China’s planned military drills are more threatening than those it undertook in 1995 and 1996 in protest at former President Lee Teng-hui’s visit to the US, and the strength of its armed forces is far greater than then. China also has an array of other potential tactics to squeeze the island, including cyberattacks and trade bans. Still, on balance, it’s unlikely that Beijing wishes to see a wider conflict at this point. An accident that triggers unavoidable escalation is probably the biggest threat.
Meanwhile, in publicity terms, Beijing looks the loser. It may have stirred some patriotic fervor on domestic social media, but the rest of the world is more likely to recoil from the tactics of a government that seeks to gain by intimidation what it has failed to achieve through persuasion.
Man, that was a sudden shift from talking about China in the first sentence and America in the second.
If anything, that’s likely to buttress international support for Taiwan’s threatened democracy. Pelosi’s visit may prove a clarifying moment.
- Pelosi’s Taiwan visit ushers in new phase of China’s pressure campaign WaPo
The visit lasted barely 19 hours. But Nancy Pelosi’s contentious trip to Taiwan was a defining moment in the increasingly bitter rivalry between China and the United States.
A fuller picture of the Chinese response will emerge over the coming weeks and months, and there are already signs it will encompass greater economic as well as military coercion. Whatever the final shape of Beijing’s retaliation, Pelosi’s visit heralds a new phase in China’s efforts to control Taiwan’s fate — and those measures are likely to increase the risk of conflict with U.S. forces in the western Pacific.
Meeting on Wednesday with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the United States would not abandon Taiwan. “Now more than ever, American solidarity with Taiwan is crucial,” she said, describing a world facing a choice between democracy and autocracy. She said the American commitment to preserving Taiwan’s democracy was “ironclad,” although, in keeping with Washington’s approach of strategic ambiguity, she stopped short of pledging that the United States would defend the island militarily.
- In subtle dig at China, Pelosi visits Taiwan’s human rights museum WaPo
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met on Tuesday with prominent advocates for human rights in China while visiting the National Human Rights Museum in Taipei, after highlighting the stark contrast of Taiwan’s democratic reforms with the Chinese Communist Party’s intolerance for dissent.
The museum carries a collection of documents, oral histories and archives related to the White Terror — a nearly four-decade period of martial law that included suppression, violence and imprisonment by the Nationalist Party government (Kuomintang or KMT) against those perceived to be against its rule.
February marked the 75th anniversary of the Feb. 28, or 228, incident — a 1947 massacre in which the KMT killed up to 28,000 Taiwanese civilians following an attempted uprising led by those angered by exclusion from politics and business under Chinese Nationalist rule.
A 38-year period of martial law followed, which also brought silence over the massacre. As late as the 1980s, pro-democracy activism or calls for Taiwan’s formal independence led to arrests by KMT security agents, often under the guise of routing out Communists.
The tour involved a talk by Chen Chu, chairwoman of Taiwan’s Human Rights Council and president of the Control Yuan, the supervisory and auditory branch of government. She was a prominent political prisoner held and tried in the Jing-Mei detention center during a 1979 crackdown on democracy activists.
Made during the first trip to Taiwan by a U.S. House speaker in 25 years and amid loud opposition from Beijing, Pelosi’s tour of the facility was also an apparent dig at the Chinese Communist Party’s extensive efforts to suppress memory of dark periods in its history, as part of her long-running criticism of human rights abuses in China.
“America has also done bad things, you know, the perfectly normal and regular things like genociding tens of millions of native Americans and African slaves and their children, the direct and indirect murder of hundreds of millions of people around the world in general - but at least we admit doing it, sometimes, unlike those dastardly Chinese! Ask them what happened to the sparrows - you’ll be thrown into a gulag! Wait, wrong, uh, wrong propaganda… you’ll be vanished!"
- China and the US are facing off – and in Taiwan we are caught between them Guardian
It’s no secret why Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has been such big news. As speaker of the US House of Representatives, she is in direct succession to the presidency after the vice-president. No comparable visit by a US official has taken place for 25 years. On the eve of the visit, there was talk of a possible fourth crisis in the Taiwan Strait; Xi Jinping warned the US that it was “play[ing] with fire”. Some commentators have been hyperbolic enough to invoke the prospect of world war.
But for people in Taiwan, for now at least, life carries on as usual. Such is the nature of living in a nation that has long been seen as a geopolitical pawn. What the Taiwanese actually want, or how we feel, is eclipsed by the “great power” showdown on our doorstep.
China has announced it will be conducting live-fire exercises around Taiwan in the coming days in response to Pelosi’s visit. But there is also nothing new about Chinese military threats directed at Taiwan. Beijing considers the island to be sovereign Chinese territory, even though it is de facto independent; the US is Taiwan’s security guarantor in the event of a Chinese invasion. Taiwan believes China has had thousands of missiles pointed at us for decades. Meanwhile, in the past few weeks, the domestic news cycle in Taiwan has seemed more focused on celebrity gossip and plagiarism claims involving a mayoral candidate than global affairs.
Tensions certainly are on the rise. Last October, China sent a record number of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone. More recently, Chinese warships have been spotted off of outlying islands of Taiwan, such as Lanyu. But, still, these military threats often do not seem to register with the general public. Beijing has perhaps failed when it comes to establishing a narrative of escalating threats at Taiwan: for people here, the narrative is sometimes felt as one of endless repetition.
China claims Taiwan to have been part of its integral territory since time immemorial. The history is more complex. It was only incorporated into China during the Qing dynasty in the 17th century – but the Qing empire only controlled part of the island and did not seem particularly interested in it, ceding Taiwan to Japan after the Sino-Japanese war in 1895. After the Chinese civil war, which led to the triumph of the communists, control of Taiwan fell to the losing side, the Kuomintang (KMT), who brought a new wave of migrants but also subjected Taiwan to the period of authoritarianism known as the White Terror.
Okay, let’s talk about that, then.
Flash forward several decades and Taiwan is now a flourishing democracy.
Oh. Okay. I guess we’ll just, uh, skip over the White Terror.
The Democratic Progressive party, which emerged from Taiwan’s democracy movement, holds power. It currently advocates for maintaining the status quo, (which means the ambiguous position where Taiwan is de facto but not de jure independent). The KMT continues to be a political party, having reinvented itself as a political advocate of unification, though it has suffered a beating in recent elections and is trying to change its pro-China image. Most Taiwanese people seem to support the status quo too, with only tiny minorities wanting full independence or unification with China as soon as possible. The full picture is hard to ascertain since there are arguments that the Taiwanese would be more firmly pro-independence if there were no threats from China.
When news of Pelosi’s expected visit broke, I happened to be in Hualien, on the rural eastern seaboard, where the mountainous terrain that characterises central Taiwan meets the beach. As host to a number of military bases, Hualien is also where Taiwanese fighter jets would probably be deployed from, to conduct interceptions of Chinese planes in the event of a conflict or air intrusions.
I was there to observe the Qataban harvest festival of the indigenous Kebalan people. I had looked forward to learning more about how the Kebalan have kept their culture alive after centuries of colonialism from Han and other groups. Unverified disinformation circulated, meanwhile, on social media, such as the claim that all Taiwanese soldiers had their holidays called off and were being recalled to active duty. One of the community members I met was actually a soldier who had taken time off to participate in the festivities.
Some of the people I spoke to reflected on the effects tourism has on their ability to preserve their culture – Chinese tour groups having been a common sight in Taiwan before the pandemic. The issue points to part of Taiwan’s conundrum, in that it is deeply economically interlinked with China.
Immediately prior to the expected Pelosi visit, China announced import bans on 100 Taiwanese food products. Previous bans by China were aimed at pressuring farmers, fishers and other economically precarious groups into political compliance, for fear of being shut out of the Chinese market. China has also sought to use tourism for similar reasons.
Either way, I instead found myself on the fringes of the traditional ceremonies taking calls in the car park from international media. At one point, someone wandered over and asked what I was doing. They quipped that I should try to get the ceremony or the calmness of the beach in the shot – to show that, in Taiwan, life simply carries on.
- Dangerous Game: Pelosi Provokes China Over Taiwan Popular Resistance
- China’s Problem Isn’t Nancy Pelosi —It’s Turning Japanese Forbes
Xi Jinping has a growing list of things to worry about: Covid-19, crashing property values, inflation, Nancy Pelosi, you name it. But the Chinese president’s biggest problem might be in Tokyo.
Something strange is going on amongst Chinese banks: a whole lot of lending from institution to institution. Last Friday, bank-to-bank dealing in the overnight repurchase agreement market hit a record of more than $900 billion. This is what happens when you run out of productive things to do with the tidal waves of capital the central bank churns into the financial system.
It’s precisely the sort of “liquidity trap” about which John Maynard Keynes warned decades ago. It’s how credit-creation mechanisms freeze up. Students of Japan’s 2000s know the drill. They also know this is very much not where Xi wanted the People’s Bank of China—or his economy—to be in 2022.
As economist Ming Ming at Citic Securities tells Bloomberg, “excess cash is piling up in the financial system instead of being funneled to the real economy.” Despite so much PBOC-created cash sloshing around, China’s banks are resorting to the financial equivalent of talk amongst themselves.
For years now, economists like Nobel laureate Paul Krugman worried China might fall into a Japan-like funk. That was after the 2008 Lehman Brothers crisis, when the globe followed the Bank of Japan down the quantitative easing path.
The details of China’s quandary are different than what the Krugman’s of the world expected. Descending into deflation doesn’t seem to be Beijing’s challenge. Not with Russia’s Ukraine war sending prices of oil and other commodities skyward.
Yet the “pushing on a string” problem China faces is arguably the last thing Xi needs as growth flatlines at the worst possible moment given his political objectives.
- It’s time to start worrying about China again Business Insider
Awesome, nobody was doing this before! It was quite shocking, actually, how I’ve seen absolutely zero negative discussion of China in my entire life up until this point!
The US economy is already struggling as new GDP data shows multiple quarters of contraction. But it could face further pressure as developments in China — a familiar economic foe — threaten to spill over globally.
A few weeks ago, China reported GDP growth of 0.4% in the second quarter, falling short of the 1% projected by analysts polled by Reuters. It was the worst report since the country reported a 6.8% contraction in the first quarter of 2020 as it began battling the pandemic.
Additionally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just landed in Taiwan as part of her Asian tour, the highest-ranking US official to visit the island nation in 25 years. This has escalated tensions between the US and China, which views Taiwan — a self-governing democracy — as a Chinese territory. China has said it would view Pelosi’s visit as support for the island’s independence, and her visit “will lead to serious consequences,” according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
Both developments could have major economic and national security implications for the US and echo back to the last time China ruled economic news during trade wars with former-President Trump in which the two countries traded tariffs in attempt to each protect their domestic industries.
China accounts for a large chunk of US exports: The 3rd-biggest customer in 2021 at $151 billion through its purchases of goods like machinery, oilseeds and soybeans. And supply chain constraints hampering China’s economy are among the many factors pushing inflation in the US to record-high levels and feeding fears of a pending recession.
And whether it be next year or in a decade, if a Chinese invasion of Taiwan leads to something beyond a trade war, the economic ramifications could be substantial, to say the least.
- India’s faltering rice output can cause a new food crisis Al Jazeera
Rice could emerge as the next challenge for global food supply as a shortage of rain in parts of India, by far the world’s biggest exporter, has caused planting area to shrink to the smallest in about three years.
The threat to India’s rice production comes at a time when countries are grappling with soaring food costs and rampant inflation. Total rice planted area has declined 13% so far this season due to a lack of rainfall in some areas, including West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, which account for a quarter of India’s output.
- Filipinos most worried about ‘serious harm’ brought by severe weather Philstar
Filipinos are worried about the “serious harm” severe weather changes bring, the 2021 World Risk Poll by the Lloyd Register Foundation showed.
“For residents of the Philippines, the latest World Risk Poll shows that they live in fear of the devastating effects of climate change,” said Sarah Cumbers, director of evidence and insight at the foundation, which is an independent global charity focused on research work and education in the fields of science and engineering.
Its latest study showed that 67% of its Filipino respondents are worried about the effects of severe weather changes. This is 33% higher than the global average.
Only eight percent said they are not worried, while 25% are somewhat worried.
Meanwhile, over half or 62% of the respondents know someone who was already harmed by the effects of severe weather changes.
- Sri Lanka facing ‘great danger’, IMF talks to restart: President Al Jazeera
Sri Lanka will restart bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in August, its new president says, calling on the legislators to form an all-party government to resolve the country’s worst economic crisis in 70 years.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe made the remarks during his speech to open a new session of the parliament on Wednesday.
Wickremesinghe has been leading talks with the IMF to secure a four-year bailout programme that could provide up to $3bn. He told parliament the negotiations were progressing but did not provide a timeline for when a deal would be finalised.
- U.S. to resupply Saudi and UAE missile defense systems Reuters
The U.S. State Department approved the potential sale of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interceptors to the United Arab Emirates and Patriot missile interceptors to Saudi Arabia in separate deals worth as much as $5.3 billion, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
The potential deals, which would resupply key missile defense systems for the two countries, came just weeks after President Joe Biden’s July trip to the region. Biden had hoped to reach an oil production deal to lower gasoline prices as inflation hits 40-year highs and threatens his approval ratings.
- Israel limits civilian traffic around Gaza in fear of Palestinian reprisals MEE
The Israeli army blocked roads and halted rail services near Gaza for a second consecutive day on Wednesday, citing a risk of reprisals following the arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad member.
Bassam al-Saadi was detained on Monday during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, during which 17-year-old Palestinian Dirar al-Kafrayni was shot dead by Israeli forces.
- As Lebanon suffers an unprecedented food crisis, Ukraine uses Western support to block flour and wheat from its markets RT
A Syrian-flagged ship named the Laodicea that docked in the Lebanese port of Tripoli was detained last Saturday, preventing desperately needed flour and barley from reaching people in the Middle East. The move came after Western threats against Beirut and unsubstantiated claims from Kiev that the cargo was stolen from Ukraine. The ship, which has been on a US blacklist since 2015 for allegedly carrying shipments from sanctioned Crimea, is now under investigation.
On Friday, allegations emerged in Western media, citing the Ukrainian embassy in Beirut, that “stolen” flour and barley had been transferred to the Lebanese port of Tripoli and that Kiev had warned the Lebanese government against buying the grain. The news was said to have sparked protests from Western governments “warning” Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Abdallah Bou Habib, over the allegedly stolen cargo. It later turned out that Kiev possessed no evidence that the flour and barley aboard the ship was from Ukraine. Despite this, Lebanon has now seized the ship and will act according to legal proceedings on the issue, after reported Western pressure.
- Lebanon releases ship accused of carrying stolen Ukrainian grain MEMO
Lebanon’s Discriminatory Public Prosecutor, Ghassan Oueidat, allowed on Tuesday the release of the “Laodicea”, a Syrian-flagged ship, after it was seized over allegations by the Ukranian embassy in Beirut that it carried flour and barley stolen from Ukraine.
AFP news agency quoted a judicial official as saying that Oueidat allowed the “Laodicea” which docked in the northern port city of Tripoli last week, to set sail after investigations failed to prove it carried stolen goods.
“Preliminary investigations … did not reveal the existence of a criminal offence, or that the goods were stolen,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
- Iran calls for establishing technical-engineering consortiums with CIS members Tehran Times
Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Rostam Qasemi met with Director of the Intergovernmental Council of the Roads Management of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Bouri Karimov in Tehran on Tuesday to discuss the expansion of transportation ties among CIS members.
In the meeting, Karimov invited Iranian companies to participate in transportation projects of CIS member countries and Qasemi called for establishing consortiums comprised of the CIS states’ technical-engineering companies to collaborate in such projects, IRNA reported.
- Russia’s space agency to launch Iranian satellite into orbit Inquirer
Russia will launch a satellite on behalf of Iran into space on August 9, the Roscosmos space agency said on Wednesday.
The spacecraft, a remote sensing satellite called “Khayyam”, will be sent into orbit by a Soyuz rocket, Roscosmos said.
- Turkish inflation hits almost 80%, peak might be near Reuters
Turkish inflation rose to a fresh 24-year high of 79.6% in July, data showed on Wednesday as the lira’s continued weakness and global energy and commodity costs pushed prices higher, though the price rises came out below forecasts.
Inflation began to surge last autumn, when the lira slumped after the central bank gradually cut its policy rate by 500 basis-points to 14% in an easing cycle sought by President Tayyip Erdogan.
Month-on-month, consumer prices rose 2.37% in July, the Turkish Statistical Institute said, below a Reuters poll forecast of 2.9%. Annually, consumer price inflation was forecast to be 80.5%.
- Turkey’s rare earth find attracts interest and scorn from rival China MEE
When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the discovery of the world’s second-largest rare earth elements reserve in Turkey’s Eskisehir last month, a slew of experts and reports questioned the quality and reliability of the 694-million tonne deposit.
Now the man who is handling the mining operations has told Middle East Eye that he is 100 percent sure the Eskisehir reserve will provide a strategic advantage to Turkey, as it has the potential to become a player in the rare earth element arena dominated by China, which controls more than 90 percent of the market.
“You can understand whether a mining reserve is worthy by looking at the interest it receives,” said Serkan Keleser, the general manager of Eti Maden, the state company that is tasked with extracting the rare earth minerals in Eskisehir.
“We have several proposals from large companies based in China, Japan and the US to work with us on this mine.”
Geologists have known for decades that Turkey has some rare earth mineral deposits in Eskisehir, but the amount was estimated to be small.
However, Turkish geologists refused to ignore the possibility there may be more.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said surveys restarted in 2011, and more than 59,000 samples have been collected and more than 125,000 metres of drilling completed. “Thus, we are sure that this is what we say it is,” Keleser said.
Donmez said last month that the Eskisehir reserve has 10 out of 17 rare earth elements, which are used in a vast array of high-tech products, including cameras, telescopes, x-ray machines and missile guidance systems. The announcement raised eyebrows in Europe as well as China.
Beijing’s state newspaper Global Times has published two articles trying to play down the Turkish reserve, saying that China is the “only country” in the world with a “complete industrial chain” for producing rare earth elements, “a processing advantage that will not be simply diminished by the uncovering of any amount of rare-earth reserves”.
Despite the initial negative coverage, the Global Times quoted a Chinese energy expert in a second article, who said Turkey may seek to work with China to facilitate the exploration.
The Turkish energy ministry says it eventually aims to produce an annual 10,000 tonnes of rare element oxides in addition to 72,000 tonnes of barite, 70,000 tonnes of fluorite, and 250 tonnes of thorium, which is crucial for nuclear technology.
Critics say 10,000 tonnes of rare element production wouldn’t change much in a market that sees 280,000 tonnes of annual global production.
Okay, that’s not that much. Even so, I guess Erdogan is feeling real nervous about going too hard against NATO or the US right now.
- At least 24 people dead as flash flooding hits eastern Uganda Guardian
At least 24 people have died and more than 5,600 people have been displaced by flash flooding in eastern Uganda.
Two rivers burst their banks after heavy rainfall swept through the city of Mbale over the weekend, submerging homes, shops and roads, and uprooting water pipes. About 400,000 people have been left without clean water, and more than 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of crops have been destroyed.
Rescue efforts have been hampered by rainfall, with a number of areas still inaccessible.
- U.S. corporate profits, economic outlooks, surprisingly upbeat Reuters
Surprisingly? Corporations have been raising their prices far in excess of inflation ever since this crisis began. They’ve even been admitting it! It’s not even a conspiracy! They’re just saying it!
U.S. companies are reporting mostly upbeat news this earnings season, surprising investors who had been bracing for a gloomier outlook on both businesses and the economy.
More than halfway into the second-quarter reporting period, S&P 500 company earnings are estimated to have increased 8.1% over the year-ago quarter, compared with a 5.6% estimate at the start of July, according to IBES data from Refinitiv as of Tuesday.
- Approval For Battered Mountain Valley Gas Pipeline Could Be Accelerated Oil Price
The Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline project in West Virginia and Virginia could get an accelerated approval timeline under a side-deal between West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer separate from the climate bill, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing a summary of the agreement it had obtained.
Last week, in a U-turn, Senator Joe Manchin agreed to back the Democrats’ plans to pass legislation cementing hundreds of billions in climate change spending. Manchin sealed a deal with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on a bill involving $370 billion in climate spending.
- The Fed has pushed back hard on expectations it will pause rate hikes, with officials saying it’s ‘nowhere near’ done Business Insider
Federal Reserve officials have pushed back against expectations that the central bank will pause its interest-rate hikes sooner than expected, with one official saying the central bank is “nowhere near” done.
As the signs of an economic slowdown mount, investors have begun to expect that the Fed will stop raising rates in early 2023 and start cutting them again soon after in an effort to revive growth after it has squelched inflation.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell spurred those bets last week when he said it would likely be appropriate to slow the pace of rate increases in the coming months.
Yet Fed officials on Tuesday challenged the market’s view. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said the Fed is “nowhere near almost done” in a speech during a live LinkedIn interview with CNBC’s Jon Fortt.
- Venezuela’s Oil Exports Drop By More than A Third In July Oil Price
Venezuela’s crude oil exports fell in July, Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Tuesday, as oil markets are on the prowl for additional oil supplies to ease the tight market.
Venezuela’s crude oil industry has been suffering for years due to a lack of maintenance and investment, in-country chaos, and U.S. sanctions. In July, power outages disrupted the state-run oil company’s operations, dragging the country’s oil exports down by 27% from June levels to just 460,323 barrels per day of crude and refined products, according to Reuters. That’s a 38% drop from July 2021 levels.
According to OPEC’s latest MOMR, Venezuela’s crude production fell to 706,000 barrels per day in June, according to secondary sources, with only three rigs in operation, compared to the 25 rigs in 2019.
- Opec+ agrees small oil output rise in rebuff to Biden Guardian
The OPEC+ plan to raise oil output by a tiny 100,000 barrels per day is being described as ‘almost insulting’ to U.S. President Joe Biden after his trip to Saudi Arabia last month to persuade OPEC’s leader to pump more to help the U.S. and global economy, says Reuters.
The increase, equivalent to 86 seconds of global oil demand, comes after weeks of speculation that Biden’s trip to the Middle East and Washington’s clearance of missile defence system sales to Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates will bring in more oil.
- Diesel Shortage Deepens Global Dependency On U.S. Fuel Oil Price
A deepening dependency on U.S. diesel deliveries in many parts of the world could lead to problems in the coming months as domestic demand for the fuel increases while production fails to increase at the same rate.
Bloomberg reports that the United States is exporting diesel fuel at record rates, reaching 1.4 million bpd in July, which was the highest in five years, according to data from Vortexa.
U.S. diesel shipments go mainly to Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, but now they are going to Europe as well.
A lot of the increase is coming from Europe, which is seeking to replace Russian volumes with U.S. ones amid the Ukraine crisis and an oil and fuels embargo that will come into effect towards the end of the year.
- Let’s Not Mince Words While the Global Economy Heads South Bloomberg
Ben Bernanke wasn’t the biggest fan of labels. In 2008, the Federal Reserve chair urged Congress not to get hung up on the definition of recession. What mattered most was the financial pain and economic trouble — and working out how it came about and what to do about it.
His advice was stirring, given Bernanke’s former membership of the academic panel that declares the rise and fall of US expansions. It’s also relevant in understanding today’s travails. Much time has been spent on whether the American economy meets the practical definition of the R-word, or whether technicalities matter most. Do two consecutive quarters of decline in gross domestic product warrant the description, as is the case in many countries? We can always wait for the official call from the National Bureau of Economic Research, on whose business cycle dating committee Bernanke once sat. But the secretive group typically takes about a year to declare the onset of a slump and is dismissive of the two-quarter GDP metric.
Deliberating on tags can be a distraction. It’s better to focus on the substance of the problem: a pronounced and synchronized global downdraft that shows little sign of abating. China’s economic fragility was underscored on the weekend when reports showed manufacturing again contracting. That dashed hopes the economy was on the mend after struggling to grow in the second quarter. Sales at top property developers tumbled more than a third from a year earlier, and homebuyers are refusing to pay mortgages on some stalled projects. Beijing is crab-walking away from its target of around 5.5% growth this year. On Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported that top leaders told officials to regard the number as guidance rather than an ambition that must be achieved. Private-sector economists had for some months considered it fanciful.
The motor of the euro region, Germany, may already be in recession. With gas deliveries from Russia now a huge question mark, it would be unwise to anticipate a recovery before next year. GDP fell for two quarters in the US and Fed officials say they must restrain the economy further as the cost of reining in rapid price increases. There’s a lot riding on Friday’s employment report from the Department of Labor: Optimists point to robust jobs growth in June and an unemployment rate that’s near a five-decade low. Skeptics point to rising weekly jobless claims and say that the labor market is often a lagging indicator.
Outside US hiring, the outlook is more dour. The global economy will probably grow about half last year’s 6.1%, the International Monetary Fund projects. Not a disaster and still some distance from the 2.5% clip the lender uses to judge whether world commerce is underwater or muddling through. But the direction is worrying. The fund’s forecasts have been heading south for a while and officials sound gloomier almost by the month. The latest markdown, released last week, says things are likely to get worse before getting better. The march toward higher interest rates that typifies pretty much every economy — aside from miscreants like Turkey — will take a big toll. The IMF considers quashing inflation to be a vital prerequisite for economic stability, but isn’t pretending it’s cost free.
Economists at Bank of America Corp. fret that many forecasts are too rosy. Supply chain woes get plenty of oxygen, but a more profound shock is the rapid tightening of policy. Estimates of economic performance are flattering, the firm says, and bear great resemblance to those of monetary policy officials. “Not only are the growth outlooks optimistic, in virtually every economy the central bank wins the inflation battle without a recession,” wrote Ethan Harris, global economist at BofA, in a July 29 report. “Apparently fighting inflation is a fairly painless exercise.”
There are multiplying reasons to worry about the world economy as a whole, rather than as a series of independent fiefdoms. Too often the first questions directed at officials about the existence or otherwise of a recession has a Gotcha! flavor. Better to focus on the underlying conditions.
A touch of empathy is always useful, too. On July 15, 2008, with the bailout of Bear Stearns Cos. a few months old and the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. soon to crater world finance, Bernanke was confronted by Robert Casey, a Democrat senator from Pennsylvania, with the case of a constituent who put food fourth on her list of priorities behind house payments, daycare and gasoline. “I agree with you entirely that whether it is a technical recession or not, the combination of declining wealth, weak job market, rising food and energy prices, foreclosures, tight credit — all those things are putting tremendous pressure on families and explain why consumer sentiment is very low,” Bernanke told the Senate banking committee that day. “People are very worried. So I certainly would never make the claim that even if we were not in a technical recession that it was not a serious situation.”
The economy was subsequently declared to be in recession.
A lot of attention is focused on GDP, too, but the news isn’t great there, either. There appears little respite in Europe and important parts of Asia. Rather than laboring over textbook definitions or alphabetic monikers — remember the games in 2020 over whether the recovery was a U, L, V or W? — let’s accept this downdraft has a distressing geographic consistency. It’s cause for concern in any language.
- One of the world’s biggest shipping firms says there’s no telling when the bottlenecks disrupting global trade will ease up Business Insider
One of the world’s biggest shipping and logistics companies, AP Moller-Maersk, said it doesn’t know when the supply chain bottlenecks that are disrupting global freight trade will end.
In a report detailing its second quarter earnings, the Danish freight giant said continued congestion had increased the uncertainty surrounding the cost of shipping goods, known in the industry as freight rates.
“On the supply side, supplier delivery times remain lengthy, and it is still uncertain when capacity constraints including landside bottlenecks in trucking and warehousing will abate,” the report said.
The Ukraine War
- Donbass fighting is ‘hell’ – Zelensky RT
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said on Tuesday that the fighting in Donbass was “hell,” claiming that Kiev’s military remained heavily outgunned and even outnumbered by Russia and appealing to the US and its allies for even more weapons such as the HIMARS rocket launchers.
In a five-minute address to Ukrainians, Zelensky thanked US President Joe Biden and NATO for sending the rocket artillery, calling it “very effective” and vowing to inflict “more painful losses” on the Russians, whom he described as a “horde” of invaders.
“The word ‘HIMARS’ has become almost synonymous with the word ‘justice’ for our country,” Zelensky said.
The US has sent 16 of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems to Ukraine so far. Russia said it had destroyed four of them, though Ukraine and the Pentagon have denied this. Zelensky added that he was expecting even more weapons from the West and thanked the Ukrainian diplomats trying to arrange for additional shipments.
“Yet we are unable to break the Russian army’s advantage in artillery and manpower, and this is very much felt in the fighting, especially in Donbass. Peski, Avdeevka, other directions … It’s just hell there. It cannot even be described in words,” the Ukrainian president added.
- Spain won’t send tanks to Ukraine RT
Spain cannot send its Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine because they have not been used for years and might be dangerous for operators, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles told reporters on Tuesday.
Robles previously said in June that the possibility of sending the tanks “was on the table” after the Spanish newspaper El País reported that Spanish officials were considering sending about 40 German-produced Leopard tanks housed at a facility in Zaragoza.
“We are today looking at all the possibilities, but I can already say that the Leopards in Zaragoza that have not been used for many years cannot be sent because they are in an absolutely deplorable state,” Robles said on Tuesday at an air base in Torrejon de Ardoz, Madrid.
- US to provide Ukraine more lethal aid, including HIMARS ammo, Pentagon says EU Reporter
The Pentagon said on Monday (1 August) it would provide Ukraine a new security assistance package valued at up to $550 million, including additional ammunition for high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS).
Climate and Space
- Nature-friendly farming does not reduce productivity, study finds Guardian
Putting farmland aside for nature does not have a negative effect on food security, a study has found.
A 10-year project by the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology revealed that nature-friendly farming methods boost biodiversity without reducing average yields.
Scientists spent a decade intensively monitoring the impacts of a large government-funded experiment at Hillesden, a 1,000-hectare commercial arable farm in Buckinghamshire. Beginning in 2005, this involved creating several wildlife habitats, including seed-bearing plants for birds, wildflowers for pollinators and tussocky grass margins to support a range of birds, insects and small mammals.
In the longest-running study of its kind, researchers succeeded in boosting numbers of wildlife essential for agricultural production such as pollinators and predators of crop pests. Numbers of some butterfly species including the gatekeeper and green-veined white doubled, and birds that usually feed on insects benefited from the shelter provided by hedges and grass margins, including the great tit, up 88%, and blue tit, up 73%.
They also found that overall yields at Hillesden were maintained – and enhanced for some crops – despite the loss of agricultural land for habitat creation. The areas taken out of production were difficult and unproductive to farm, and the other areas benefited from boosted pollinator numbers and pest-eating birds and insects.
This runs contrary to claims made by many politicians that new post-Brexit agri-environment schemes would be “paying farmers to produce less food” and would damage food security. Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor currently running to be prime minister, recently said he would “protect” farmers from rewilding their land for nature.
- Global forest area per capita has decreased by over 60 percent, study finds Science Daily
Over the past 60 years, the global forest area has declined by 81.7 million hectares, a loss that contributed to the more than 60% decline in global forest area per capita. This loss threatens the future of biodiversity and impacts the lives of 1.6 billion people worldwide, according to a new study published today by IOP Publishing in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
Dipshittery and Cope
For bad takes, awful analysis that makes you wonder why these people get paid, predictions that reveal a staggering lack of knowledge, and hope for a future that would be worse than the present.
- Why All Is Not Lost For Democrats In The Midterms Huffington Post
Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott has been in the House of Representatives long enough to remember the drubbing the Democrats took in 2010. As a freshman in 1994, he witnessed firsthand Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution” sweep aside 40 years of Democratic control.
His advice for fellow Democrats once again facing an uphill battle to retain full control of Congress, which history says they are almost certain to lose?
“If you campaign, as Joe Biden says, against the alternative — not against the Almighty — we have a lot to campaign on,” Scott told HuffPost.
“If our focus is on what didn’t get done, people will not be impressed. If they look at what we have done, this is one of the most productive, progressive legislatures we’ve had in decades. So the question is how we’re going to campaign,” he added.
With a recent string of legislative victories — possibly capped off later this month by a huge climate tax and prescription drug pricing bill — Democrats are beginning to feel they have some big-ticket items they can take to the voters in November, even if it is not everything they would have wanted.
Add in a voter base energized by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and an uptick in polling on whom voters prefer to see control Congress next year, Democrats are beginning to feel something akin to hope.
“We feel good,” one Democratic House aide told HuffPost. “Who knows about November, but this definitely helps.”
To be clear, the path remains incredibly steep and the likelihood Democrats can buck the historic trend of the party that controls the White House suffering substantial losses in the House remains small. But, Democrats hope, it may not be as small as it was a few weeks ago.
While Biden’s approval rating remains incredibly weak — FiveThirtyEight’s approval rating tracker has just 40% of voters approving of his job performance, with 55% disapproving — the rest of the party is so far floating above the 79-year-old president electorally.
The generic ballot, which has become an increasingly important measure of the battle for the House of Representatives, is looking better for Democrats than it has in months. FiveThirtyEight’s generic ballot tracker has the two parties essentially tied at 44% of the vote.
The inability of House members, who command far less media attention than their Senate counterparts, to meaningfully separate themselves from the national party brand means Biden’s inflation-driven unpopularity is going to drag the party down more in the lower chamber than it will in the Senate. But political forecasters are increasingly skeptical of a total Democratic wipeout in November.
“The last few weeks have called into question the size of the impending ‘red wave,’” David Wasserman, the Cook Political Report’s House editor, wrote in late July.
“Not only has the Dobbs decision infuriated and energized Democrats, but Democrats continue to outpoll Biden’s approval on both the generic ballot and in polls of individual races,” he added, referring to the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Lenny, think of the ranch. Think of the rabbits and how cute they are. Don’t you want to feed them alfalfa? Lenny, don’t turn around, just think of the midterms, there’s still hope there. Just keeping looking straight ahead.