Saturday, December 8, 2018
By Curtis Stone
China went from being one of the poorest countries on the planet to one of the most powerful. China’s remarkable development has pulled hundreds of millions of its citizens out of poverty and greatly contributes to global peace and prosperity. But this significant impact has also triggered a negative response in some quarters of the United States. In his book The Hundred-Year Marathon, Michael Pillsbury, director for Chinese strategy at the Hudson Institute, sounded a clarion call: China has a secret 100-year plan built on a series of strategic deceptions to supplant the United States as the world’s superpower. The rise of China, in his view, is a threat.
In his book, Pillsbury writes that China experts have a duty to increase understanding between China and the United States, but ironically, his way of increasing understanding between the two countries is distorting China’s intentions and labeling it as a threat so as to increase fear. “We have our work cut out for us,” Pillsbury wrote, arguing that China has pulled the wool over Americans’ eyes. More interesting is a report by The Washington Free Beacon in 2015, which wrote that Mao Zedong put into action a “strategic deception program” to dupe the West into thinking that China was a helpless victim. “And therefore, the United States has to help them, and give away things to them, to make sure they stay friendly,” Pillsbury was quoted as saying at the time.
This is not to say that everything in the garden is rosy; China and the United States have their fair share of challenges and the transition from a unipolar world to a multipolar one is full of its own set of challenges. But this reality is a far cry from saying that China has been following an elaborate plan to supplant the United States.
The most important question that flows from this discussion is whether China is a threat. It is clear from Pillsbury—who US President Donald Trump praised as “the leading authority on China” and who US Vice President Mike Pence cited in his “China speech”—that some people in Washington believe China is a threat and thus want to contain China. In the 2017 US National Security Strategy, for example, the US government warned that China is out to challenge American power and influence around the globe.
Despite all the hoopla surrounding China’s rise, Americans should not be worried about it, because China has no plan of displacing the United States. In fact, China has been very clear about its intentions. At the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in October 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion “no matter what stage of development it reaches.” Furthermore, China has demonstrated in both words and actions that it is willing to work with the United States to try to replace conflict and confrontation with win-win cooperation.
The claim that China is carrying out a century-long plan to displace the Unite States is utter nonsense.
In 1949, Mao Zedong announced the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), marking the end to a century of humiliation at the hands of foreign aggressors. Deng Xiaoping, who put forward the policy of reform and opening-up, then paved the way for the nation to become rich. China “has stood up, grown rich, and become strong,” Xi Jinping said in October 2017, adding that China now “embraces the brilliant prospects of rejuvenation.” In that process, China has formed various national development plans, both long-term and short-term, but not a single one was ever designed to challenge the United States.
Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, said it nicely when he told reporters on Nov. 9 in Washington, DC, that development is for the Chinese nation. “Everything that we do is to deliver a better life for the Chinese people, to realize rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. It is not intended to challenge or displease anyone,” he said.
For those who are not familiar with it, the “Two Centenary Goals” are an important part of China’s overall development plan. The first of the two goals is to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the time the CPC celebrates its centenary in 2021 and the second is to turn China into a modern socialist country by the time it celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of the PRC in 2049.
It has nothing to do with challenging the United States for dominance, and distorting the aim of such efforts is a distortion of the truth.
“For China, our only goal is for people to have a better life. We don’t want to challenge or replace anybody else in the world. We want to build a community of nations for shared future together with all the rest of the world, including the US,” Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the United States, said in an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace in October when asked about The Hundred-Year Marathon, which Wallace noted is a popular book. Its popularity is unfortunate, because misunderstanding China makes it easy for those in Washington who want a “new Cold War” with China to push an anti-China agenda.
A more realistic understanding of China is needed, because the common interests between China and the United States far outweigh their differences. As Yang pointed out, a healthy China-US relationship is in the best interest of the two peoples and the world and both history and reality prove that cooperation is the only right choice for the two countries. “Win-win can lead to a better life,” he said.
Not too long ago American political scientist Joseph Nye pointed out that unlike the former Soviet Union, China and the United States have deep economic and social ties. He then posed a question: “Can we learn to cooperate and compete at the same time?”
There is no doubt that China and the United states compete in some areas, but that does not make them adversaries. If the goal of China experts is to reduce misunderstandings between China and the United States, a good first step would be to stop blurring the lines between real and fake. Hyping up the China threat might be good for book sales, but creating fear about China only increases misunderstandings between China and the United States—the largest developing country and the largest developed country in the world.
#YellowVests #LesGiletsJaunes #France - #French unrest: #Macron too arrogant to quell the riots, analysts say
As France braces for Saturday's 'Yellow Vests' rally, President Emmanuel Macron shunned the chance to address the discontent, sending his PM to the front lines. The president's arrogance could be making matters worse, experts say.
Chants of 'Macron resign!' have become common among yellow-clad protesters opposing the French President's pro-business reforms – but the man at the center of the people's grievances is nowhere to be seen. After condemning the violence which marred last Saturday's protest, Macron is keeping an extremely low profile and will not address the nation until Monday, to avoid "adding fuel to the fire," according to the National Assembly president, Richard Ferrand.
While the 40-year-old evades the spotlight, his prime minister, Edouard Philippe, has been filling the void, announcing a rollback of Macron's tax and other policies as a concession to the protest movement. With the leader of France's largest opposition party, the center-right Republicans, demanding that Macron speak out, Belgian journalist Luc Rivet told RT that it might be better for the French leader to keep mum, considering his extremely low appeal and the air of entitlement he carries.
"If it is for talking as he has talked until now: distant, arrogant, refusing to budge or explaining that he understood, just that he simply needs to use a better pedagogy, then indeed he should shut up," Rivet said.
The journalist argued that the French president, a bright student and later a banker, has "practically never been in contact with the real people" and was not only slow to respond to the protests, but did it in a manner that alienated even more people, by lecturing them on environment.
"It is only in the second week that he perceived the danger for his presidency, but then his pride – you can even say arrogance – made him answer in a lengthy explanation of why the fuel taxes were necessary for the environment," Rivet told RT.
Rivet believes that Macron's unpopular government might survive the vote of no-confidence planned for Monday since his La République en Marches party still has the majority, but a "revolutionary situation" is still brewing in Paris and "it is probably the PM who will have to resign."
'Macron has to seriously revise his 'president of the rich' image'
A government overhaul is a possible solution to quell the mayhem in the streets, but it won't be enough, since the problem is not only with Macron as a politician, but also as a person, Sergey Fyodorov from the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences told RT.
"Historically, it is the prime minister who becomes a scapegoat, but it wont's solve the problem because people are dissatisfied with Macron himself," Fyodorov said. There are several scenarios for the future, including a dissolution of parliament and snap elections, which are likely to tie the president's hands, and "in any case it will be a tipping point in Macron's presidency."
"He will have to make serious changes with respect to his policies, reforms and his image as well, because many view him as arrogant, consider him to be the 'president of the rich', who does not grasp the needs of the people."
The consequences of the ongoing unrest, which has grown to incorporate a variety of social and economic causes, are hard to predict but it may not only undermine Macron's rule, but also the French government system as a whole, Fyodorov said, arguing that the Macron government was too late with the reversal of some of its most controversial policies, "having underestimated the scale of the protest."
"This is a very explosive situation the likes of which France has not seen in a while," he said.
"This is a major political crisis and I don't see the president and his supporters – less and less numerous – able to handle it," Alain Corvez, a former adviser for the Defense and Interior ministries, agrees.
Corvez told RT that he views the protests that have gripped France as "a protest against Brussels's oligarchies." The 'Yellow Vests' may not express it outright, but they clearly understand "that France, as other European nations, are no more sovereign."
Apart from rolling back planned tax hikes, the government froze electricity prices for six months, promised to increase the national minimum wage and agreed to kick-start national debate on taxation and public spending.
While some of the moderate representatives of the Yellow Vests urged protesters to stay off the streets of Paris this Saturday amid fears of riots and violence, thousands are expected to turn up. The government has deployed 89,000 police nationwide and also called in armored vehicles belonging to the French Gendarmerie to dismantle the barricades.
Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner said that he believes there would be "only a few thousand people," but they will be "ultra-violent."
"According to our information, radicalized and rebellious people will try to mobilize tomorrow," he said on Friday.
Meanwhile, support for the movement among the French populace has been overwhelming. About 68 percent said that they support the protest on the eve of Saturday's 'Act IV', according to a new poll conducted by Opinionway for LCI television and released on Friday.
#YellowVests #giletsjaunes - #France - Police repel Paris protesters attempting to converge on France's presidential palace
By Angela Charlton and John Leicester
The rumble of armored police trucks and the hiss of tear gas filled central Paris on Saturday, as French riot police fought to contain thousands of yellow-vested protesters venting their anger against the government in a movement that has grown more violent by the week.
A ring of steel surrounded the president's Elysee Palace — a key destination for the protesters — as police stationed trucks and reinforced metal barriers throughout the neighborhood.
Saturday's yellow vest crowd was overwhelmingly male, a mix of those bringing their financial grievances to Paris — the center of France's government, economy and culture — along with groups of apparently experienced vandals, who tore steadily through some of the city's wealthiest neighborhoods, smashing and burning.
Police and protesters also clashed in the southern French cities of Marseille and Toulouse.
The government's plan was to prevent a repeat of the Dec. 2 rioting that damaged the Arc de Triomphe, injured 130 people and tarnished the country's global image. But although Saturday's protest in the French capital started out quietly, by late afternoon at least 551 people had been taken into custody and 60 people had been injured, according to Paris police and hospitals.
Some stores along the city's elegant Champs-Elysees Avenue had boarded up their windows as though bracing for a hurricane, but the storm struck anyway, this time at the height of the holiday shopping season. Protesters ripped off the plywood protecting the windows and threw flares and other projectiles as they were repeatedly repelled by tear gas and water cannon.
All of the city's top tourist attractions — including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum — shut down for the day, fearing the kind of damage that had hit the Arc de Triomphe. Subway stations in the city center also closed and the U.S. embassy warned its citizens to avoid all protest areas.
Yet in a sign of the financial disconnect that infuriates many of the protesters, within a block of the famed boulevard, people were sitting in Paris cafes, drinking cocktails and chatting.
Amid the melee, President Emmanuel Macron remained invisible and silent, as he has for the four weeks of a movement that started as a protest against a gas tax hike and metamorphosed into a rebellion against high taxes, eroding living standards and what many see as his inability to address the concerns of France's regions and ordinary people.
Before the clashes, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner had urged calm.
"I ask the yellow vests that want to bring about a peaceful message to not go with the hooligans. We know that the hooligans are only strong because they hide behind the yellow vests, which hampers the security forces," he said.
Even as blue armored trucks rumbled over cobblestone streets and police moved yet again against protesters on the Champs-Elysees, an even larger environmental march moved peacefully Saturday toward the city's distant Republique Plaza.
A scattering of yellow vests, as well as women, children and retirees, were among the 17,000 participants marching to demand action against climate change. One sign read "No climate justice without fiscal and social justice." The march came in support of U.N. climate talks taking place in Poland.
National police estimated the number of protesters in Paris at 8,000, although the yellow vests said their numbers were far higher and Associated Press reporters saw city streets densely crowded with thousands of people. French authorities deployed 8,000 security officers in the capital alone, among the 89,000 who fanned out around the country
France's yellow vest protesters include people with views that range from the far right to the far left. The leaderless group is united primarily in its sense that Macron and his government are out of touch.
"We are here to tell (Macron) our discontent. Me, I'm not here to break things because I have four children so I am going to try to be safe for them, because they are afraid," said protester Myriam Diaz. "But I still want to be here to say 'Stop, that's enough, this has to stop.'"
Cyril, a 25-year-old garbage truck driver, came from Normandy with three other demonstrators to Paris. He said he earns $1,625 a month despite working 45 hours a week and has decided not to have children because doesn't feel he can earn enough to raise them.
This was his third weekend of protesting in Paris.
"I've come to defend myself," he said, adding that Macron's mistake was trying to reform the French economy too quickly. "He's done more in 18 months than the others in 30 years."
Macron on Wednesday agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike, which aimed to wean France off fossil fuels and uphold the Paris climate agreement. Many economists and scientists say higher fuel taxes are essential to saving the planet from worsening climate change, but that approach hasn't defused the popular anger.
The renewed violence in Paris gave the impression of a government that is powerless against the uprising.
Protesters who came to Paris from Normandy described seeing officers block yellow-vested passengers from boarding public transportation at stops along their route. The national gendarme service posted a video on Twitter of police tackling a protester and confiscating his dangerous material, which appeared to be primarily a tennis racket.
Four people have died in accidents since the unrest began Nov. 17 and Christmas markets, national soccer matches and countless cultural events have been canceled due to the protests.
Protesters also blocked roads, roundabouts and tollbooths elsewhere in France and offshoot movements have emerged in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Belgian police fired tear gas and water cannon Saturday at yellow-vested protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Charles Michel after they tried to breach a riot barricade. The protesters in Brussels threw paving stones, road signs, fireworks, flares and other objects at police and about 100 were detained, many for carrying dangerous objects.
According the ocean, U.S. President Donald Trump seized the moment to criticize the 2015 Paris climate accord, which he is pulling the United States out of, in a series of tweets Saturday.
"People do not want to pay large sums of money ... in order to maybe protect the environment," he tweeted.
#YellowVests #giletsjaunes - #France - ‘#Macron’s arrogance unites us’ – on the barricades with France’s gilets jaunes
By Angelique Chrisafis
Grassroots citizens’ revolt against fuel tax rises has morphed into president’s biggest crisis.
“I’m prepared to spend Christmas protesting at this roundabout with my children – we won’t back down and we’ve got nothing to lose,” said the 41-year-old, who voted for Macron in last year’s presidential election. “He gave good speeches and I really believed his promises that he would change France. But not any more.”
Céline, a classroom assistant for children with special needs, earns €800 (£710) a month. She cannot afford rent so lives with her four children in a relative’s house in the suburbs of Toulouse, in the south-west of France.
“Macron’s first move in office was to slash the wealth tax for the mega-rich while cutting money from poor people’s housing benefits,” she said. “That is a serious injustice. The country is rising up and he’s staying silent, he’s hiding in an ivory tower, that’s what disturbs me, he’s not taking responsibility.”
At the roundabout barricade in Lespinasse, 20 people from surrounding villages – builders, nurses, workers in the local aviation industry – protested near a crucial fuel depot, wearing the yellow high-visibility vests that define France’s gilets jaunes movement. Passing trucks and cars beeped in support. Drivers leaned out of their windows and shouted “Don’t give up!”This grassroots citizens’ protest, which began as a spontaneous revolt against fuel tax rises last month, has morphed into an anti-government and anti-Macron movement and is now the young centrist president’s biggest crisis. The demonstrators say that Macron is an arrogant would-be monarch. He presents himself abroad, they say, as a progressive hero who can hold back the tide of nationalism, but at home he symbolises a distant political elite, stoking distrust and pushing people towards populism.
[Macron] misread these protests … he thought he was the saviour of France
“I always feared that there was an element of dictator in the way Macron did things,” said Robert, 64, a leftwing Toulouse carpenter and cabinet maker. “He’s well-presented and he speaks nicely – but he misread these protests because he thought he was the saviour of France. He wasn’t listening, he forgot the human factor.”
Last Saturday saw the worst street unrest in central Paris in decades, as fringe elements of the otherwise peaceful protesters fought running battles with riot police and set cars alight. Tourist attractions and museums in Paris will be closed on Saturday, and the government has warned that thousands of rioters might come to the capital to “smash” or even “kill”. Yet gilets jaunes across France are determined to march in towns and cities this weekend anyway.
Crucially, the government fears violence not just in Paris but outside it. Local government offices were torched in the small central town of Puy-en-Velay last weekend. In Toulouse, there were running battles with riot police with several injured. Motorway toll-booths have been burned down and vandalised in southern France, and when high-school students staged demonstrations this week against university and school reforms, riot police fired teargas at several demonstrations. The entrance hall of a high school in Blagnac outside Toulouse was burned to the ground.
One transport worker in his 20s who took part in a street march in the small country town of Montauban in the south-west said he was shocked by the teargas. “Things will kick off for sure again this weekend, there could be violence anywhere in France,” he said.
The roundabouts and motorway toll-booths that gilets jaunes continue to blockade are often near small towns and villages that do not normally make the news. Main cities are often far away, meaning residents cannot work or take children to school without a car – hence their fury at fuel tax rises.
Demonstrators of all backgrounds and political views seem united on one point – a personal disgust with Macron, whose “arrogance” they cite from televised examples, including the time he told an unemployed person to just “cross the road” to find a job, or when he wagged a finger to tell pensioners they shouldn’t complain. Then there is the outrage over refurbishments to the Élysée Palace and the construction of a holiday pool in the presidential summer retreat. One poll this week showed Macron’s approval ratings down to 18%.
“This is now about so much more than fuel tax,” she said. “We seem to live in a world gone mad where the rich pay next to nothing and the poor are constantly taxed. We’ve had enough of the elite.”Isabelle, 41, a single mother, had never taken part in a protest movement before. She works at a sandwich stand at Toulouse airport for the minimum wage – less than €1,200 a month – and her daily shifts begin at 3am. She was among many who had deliberately spoiled her ballot paper in last year’s presidential election final round, unwilling to choose between Macron or the far-right Marine Le Pen.
The gilets jaunes movement is unlike any other seen in postwar France because it sprang up online without a leader, trade union or party behind it. Along the barricades there is a broad mix of people, some apolitical, some on the left who feared nationalism, some who had voted for the nationalist Le Pen, some environmentalists. Many were against the European Union, feeling it enshrined rampant capitalism.
One 24-year-old philosophy student said: “This feels like a historic moment in France. I’d liken it to the Arab spring – a kind of revolution that started online.”
Although the demonstrators have complained that poor people bear the brunt of France’s high taxation, they are still attached to public services. A banner on a building in Lespinasse read: “We want a train station.” Across France, rural areas have complained about depleted public services. There was a sense that public money was being misspent and used primarily to maintain the plush lifestyle of a political elite.
“Hospitals are understaffed and under financed,” said a 39-year-old nurse from a Toulouse hospital. “But what has united everyone is Macron’s arrogance. He has made the tension worse, like a little king pitching himself against a whole nation. Macron has held us to ransom saying he was the only one who could hold back nationalism and Le Pen, but he has no credibility at all in France.”
Fabien Mauret, a self-employed builder, was cooking sausages on a barbecue for the protesters. “I think we’ve got to the point of no return,” he said. “Before, there were the rich, the middle and the poor. Now it’s the very rich and the poor, nothing in between.”
He used to vote Socialist but now he votes Le Pen. “These roundabout protests are jolly. But the government knows that demonstrations could get ugly. I don’t think that’s a good thing, but it’s the reality.”
Raymond Stocco, 64, who used to work in aircraft maintenance, suggested the mega-rich should be forced to pay back the tax breaks they had enjoyed over the past four years. “Macron’s big mistake was treating people in France as if we were stupid,” he said.
In this corner of rural and suburban south-west France, protesters planned to expand to blockading hypermarkets as a way to force people back to small local shops.
Many said the movement will last, in part because of the community feeling it had engendered. Alexandre, a retired trucker who lived in a caravan, was spending his 63rd birthday at the barricade. “I’m less lonely when I come here to talk politics to everyone,” he said.
#YellowVests #giletsjaunes - #France protests: #Paris descends into violence as ‘gilets jaunes’ demonstrators say ‘Macron is just part of the rich’
‘Now I wouldn't vote for anyone’ after disappointment at president's performance, mother-of-six working two jobs tells The Independent.The elegant streets of central Paris were transformed into something like a war zone as anti-government protesters gathered to demonstrate for the third consecutive weekend, prompting unprecedented police action.
Wealthy Parisians and affluent tourists who would usually fill the pavements of the capital remained behind the doors of their apartments and hotels as violence flared, with more than 600 people eventually arrested in the capital alone.
Out on the graffiti-laden, boarded-up streets about 10,000 less privileged people from the outer suburbs and elsewhere in the region – who have now come to be known as the “gilets jaunes” – returned, bearing their fluorescent jackets and chanted repeated calls for Emmanual Macron to resign.
A minority took a more forceful approach, setting objects alight in the middle of the road, ripping down signs and smashing shop windows. The police, with about a dozen officers on almost every street corner, flanked by rows of vans and in some cases armoured vehicles, were ready to act.The crack of tear gas canisters was heard throughout the day, and police also used the tactic of “kettling” demonstrators, herding them into a small space and then, in some cases, firing rubber bullets at the crowd.
The Independent spoke to one young protester moments after he was shot in the leg by a rubber bullet and left struggling to walk following a kettling incident. Brandon, 22, had to be treated by medics who were among the protesters.
His friend Romain, 24, said: “The police were advancing in on us and we walked forward a bit, but we didn’t throw stones or anything like that. We were about 50m away from them and they shot at him, just like that.”
The final major stand-off took place beneath the lights of the Champs Elysees, with a row of six police vans and several dozen officers facing protesters carrying a large banner calling for France to hold an emergency election. The demonstrators eventually dispersed after officers fired tear gas canisters into the crowd.Not all protesters were rioting. Many said they had come to carry out a peaceful protest against not only the rise in fuel taxes but the cost of living in the country more broadly.
Sandine, a mother-of six living in the suburbs of Paris and working as a school cleaner and dinner lady, said she was “sick and tired” of struggling to keep her head above the financial waters. She claimed that although she had steered clear of rioting, she had still been subject to police brutality. “I’m not here for the riots. But last week we were here, and even though we weren’t rioting the police were tear-gassing us for the whole day, and in a way I can understand why people do get violent. I think the police response is stronger today,” she said. Discussing her loss of hope in politicians, Sandine said: “I voted for Macron, but I regret it. I’m anti-Le Pen so I didn’t have a choice. I thought Macron was young and he would do good things, but he’s just part of the rich. Now I wouldn’t vote for anyone.”
Alexis, a 21-year-old construction worker who lives on an estate near Disneyland Paris, and attended the protest with his parents, said: “I can’t live on my salary. If it wasn’t for my parents I would probably be on the street. The government needs to help us. I can’t even afford to take my girlfriend out for dinner. The only meal I can afford to make is pasta.
“That’s why I’m here. I’m not here to riot, I’m not a rioter. I grew up in an estate but I’m not a rioter. I just want to be able to live, to survive.“I voted for Macron, and it was a mistake. We were all wrong. Now, we need to do something. He needs to help his people. We should not be treated like animals.”
But the protests will likely be remembered less for the pleas from the peaceful demonstrators, and more for the violence and hugely tightened security that came alongside them.France’s interior minister Christophe Castaner said 135 people had been injured during the day, including 17 police officers, and that police had arrested close to 1,000 amid “exceptional” security measures.The level of violence appeared to be less than that of a week ago, when Paris witnessed its worst unrest since the 1968 student riots, though major clashes also took place in Lyon, Toulouse and Bordeaux.
Mr Castaner said about 120 demonstrators and nearly 20 police officers had been injured across France on Saturday. Nearly 1,000 people were arrested after police found them carrying potential weapons such as hammers and baseball bats.
Edouard Philippe, the prime minister, said police would remain vigilant through the night as some protesters continued to roam Paris.
Groups of young people, many of them wearing masks, continued their skirmishes with police around the Place de la Republique as some shops were looted.