America First Actually Means China First – by Dilip Hiro, Tomgram

America First Actually Means China First – Tomgram: Dilip Hiro

China: President Xi’ Jinping

He took a remarkable star turn at Davos — and, no, I don’t mean President Trump.  I was thinking about Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2017, when he claimed the title of globalist-in-chief in a highly praised speech to the world’s assembled CEOs and plutocrats.  He was then promoting a “community of shared future for mankind” versus you-know-who’s America First policies!  In the process, he won admirers galore.   

This year, he stayed home to oversee the development of yet more Confucius Institutes, China’s government-sponsored language-teaching programs that now exist in dozens of countries, and to supervise further planning on China’s ambitious projected 65-nation One Belt One Road initiative.

That’s the vast economic program meant to tie together much of Eurasia – as well as other parts of the planet, including former U.S.-dominated bailiwicks in Latin America and the Caribbean – in a Chinese-sponsored web of construction and trade projects that, if successful, might someday give “imperial” a new meaning.

This year Xi sent his key economic adviser to Davos in his place, ceding center stage to Donald Trump who flew in with seven cabinet members, didn’t drool or tweet insultingly on stage, and was similarly applauded by the globe’s leading billionaires as he declared America “open for business.” No matter that he was already planning for a State of the Union address that would highlight his desire to wall off his country and further shut it down to outsiders.

If you followed the America media, which simply can’t get enough of The Donald, day in, day out – [minute in, minute out?], you would have experienced his performance at Davos as a grand, not to say surprising presidential triumph of the first order in front of the very crowd of globalists he spent his election campaign blasting.

And if you had done so, you might well have been wrong because, even without Xi present, China, not Trump, was, as Ishan Tharoor of the Washington Post wrote, “the elephant in the room,” its “vast investments around the world and increasing geopolitical assertiveness … frequent subjects of panel debates and chatter at cocktail parties.” Keith Bradsher of the New York Times reached a similar conclusion, reporting that at Davos “geopolitical momentum lay with Beijing, not Washington” and that Xi, not The Donald, was once again the “real star” of the gathering.

And as TomDispatch regular Dilip Hiro, author [appropriately enough] of After Empire: The Birth of a Multipolar World, points out today, that’s just the beginning of the way President Trump has been ceding ground to the Chinese leadership.

Despite his regular attacks on China for committing the “greatest thefts in the history of the world,” when it comes to its trade policies with the U.S.A. – not to speak of that classic Chinese “hoax,” climate change – the president has, as Hiro vividly explains, turned out to be China’s greatest promoter on the world stage — and, as it happens, hasn’t done so badly for Russia either. Tom

Donald Trump Offers a Helping Hand to China and Russia

Giving American Isolationism New Meaning in the Twenty-First Century

By Dilip Hiro

In his State of the Union address, Donald Trump warned grimly of “rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values.”  In response, he demanded that Congress give ev en more money to “our great military” and fund the growth and modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, making it “so strong and so powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression by any other nation or anyone else.” And yet, in a near biblical performance in his first year in office, President Trump inadvertently rolled out a love-thy-enemy set of policies that only enhanced the roles of both of those challengers, favors never imagined by the Robert Mueller Russia investigation.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that last October in Beijing in his speech to the 19th congress of the Communist Party, Chinese President Xi Jinping displayed the sort of confidence that befits a true rising power on planet Earth.  With remarkable chutzpah, he anointed his country the leading global force on contemporary political, economic, and environmental issues by declaring, “It is time for us to take center stage in the world and to make a greater contribution to humankind.” With the unintended help of Donald Trump, he could indeed make it so.

Two months later in Washington, President Trump launched his National Security Strategy (NSS), an uninspired hodgepodge lacking in either vision or clarity. It did, however, return the U.S. to the Cold War era by identifying China and Russia as the two main challengers to its power, influence, and interests, though offering no serious thoughts about what to do on the subject – EXCEPT dump more money into the Pentagon budget and the American nuclear arsenal.

In reality, many of Trump’s actions, statements, and tweets in the months before the release of that document provided Beijing and Moscow with further opportunities to extend their influence and power.

On the eve of the anniversary of Trump’s first year in office, for instance, a Gallup survey of 134 countries showed a startling drop — from 48% under Barack Obama to 30% under Trump — in global approval of Washington’s role in the world.  For a president who values records, that was an achievement: the worst figure since Gallup started recording them in 2007. China, on the other hand, surged to 31% and Russia to 27%. And that was before President Trump referred to various unnamed African nations as “shithole countries.”

Here, then, is a list of favors that Donald Trump has done for America’s latest challengers and how they have reacted on what, after almost two decades of a sole superpower global order, is once again a planet with more than one world power.

Ditching the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] Trade Deal

Washington’s Climate Change Leadership Abandoned

China’s One Belt One Road Initiative

By the time President Xi formally launched the One Belt One Road initiative (OBOR) in September 2013 along the centuries-old Silk Road that once connected Europe to China, the cargo train service that linked Yiwu (a center for more than 70,000 wholesale suppliers and manufacturers southeast of Shanghai) to European destinations was already a year old.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen encapsulated a widely held view when he commented that “other countries have lots of ideas but no money, but with China when it comes up with an idea, it also comes up with the money.”

In this context, Donald Trump’s America First policies should be considered a truly “big league” bow to the rise of China.

And so it goes.  Though powerful and wealthy, the United States looks ever more alone.  Whether in its fruitless wars, in its remarkable focus on military power, in its dismantling of the State Department, in its urge to build walls of every kind and shut so many people out, in the president’s insulting tweets, comments, and phone calls, even in the “Trump Slump” in tourism, American isolationism — that well-worn phrase — is acquiring new meaning. While chanting his mantra of “America First,” Donald Trump has so far followed policies that have only eased the way fo r the Chinese Dragon to roar past Uncle Sam, with the Russian Bear not far behind.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176382/tomgram:_dilip_hiro,

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  • Clyde Duncan  On February 7, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    China’s Solar Power Dominance and Trump’s Trade Tariffs

    What are the consequences of the Trump administration’s tariffs on foreign-made solar cells?

    Samuel Corwin | The Diplomat

    With Western media reports about China’s environmental situation focusing largely on air and water pollution, the nation of 1.4 billion people often does not receive proper consideration as a leader in sustainability. Over the course of the last 15 years, however, China has rapidly ascended to the role of the world’s unequivocal solar energy leader.

    China’s solar market has been thrust into the international spotlight in recent weeks with U.S.A. President Donald Trump’s decision to levy protective import tariffs against foreign-manufactured solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules.

    While the tariffs, starting at 30 percent in the first year and dropping down to 15 percent by the fourth year, apply to imports from all countries, they are largely a response to cheap Chinese products and companies moving manufacturing operations into neighboring countries. But how did China’s solar products come to be the focus of international trade disputes? And what will happen next?

    Import tariffs levied against Chinese solar products are nothing new.

    In terms of jobs, as of 2016, the U.S. solar industry employed just over 260,000 people. Well over half of these jobs are in the installation sector. With the manufacturing processes increasingly automated, the United States of America is home to just 2,000 solar cell and panel manufacturing jobs, yet the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates that the new tariffs will cost the American solar industry 23,000 jobs.

    What Comes Next?

    In the near term, the Trump administration’s tariffs are widely expected to increase the cost of solar and hinder the pace of U.S. solar installations.

    Another potential consequence of the tariffs is a trade war with China and other countries, akin to the one started by the first round of tariffs in 2012. After the initial announcement of those duties, China implemented its own tariffs against U.S.-manufactured polysilicon used to make solar cells, crippling the U.S. industry.

    Due to the legally-ambiguous nature of the Trump administration’s tariffs, South Korea and Taiwan have already filed a legal challenge with the World Trade Organization. Based on America’s history in these types of cases, it would not be surprising for the United States to lose. However, the case will likely drag on for some time, by the end of which the tariffs would be nearing the end of their term anyway.

    The new tariffs are not completely without benefit, though. American-based solar manufacturers will have a short-term advantage and there will be some investments and jobs brought by foreign companies building factories in the United States.

    China, however, already has an essential monopoly on the global solar industry, manufacturing over 70 percent of the world’s solar panels and installing over half of them. These tariffs will not change that. Despite a short-term impact, China’s solar market, and the world’s, for that matter, will be just fine.

  • Leslie Chin  On February 10, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Guyana should apply to join the Chinese Belt and Road initiative. The Chinese have already built the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown and the Chedddi Jagan International Airport at Timheri so they are familiar with Guyana. A new flood proof capital city should be constructed near the airport with links to Georgetown, Linden, Bartica, Lethem and Brazil.

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