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💱 China's Currency Falls To Lowest Exchange Rate In 11 Years
« Reply #840 on: August 05, 2019, 04:55:20 AM »

China's Currency Falls To Lowest Exchange Rate In 11 Years

August 5, 20193:24 AM ET
Emily Feng at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., March 19, 2019. (photo by Allison Shelley)

A man walks past China's central bank, or the People's Bank of China, in Beijing.   Andy Wong/AP

China's renminbi plunged to below seven per U.S. dollar on Monday morning, the lowest valuation for the renminbi in eleven years.

The slide in value comes as the U.S. and China remain locked in a trade dispute, leading some analysts to surmise that the devaluation is retaliation for additional U.S. tariffs announced on Chinese goods last week.

"The drop suggests that the central bank of China is willing to weaponize the currency in light of the trade war," says Andrew Collier, managing director of Orient Capitol in Hong Kong.

A weaker renminbi makes China's exports to the rest of the world cheaper and therefore more competitive against those of the U.S. That could encourage rising purchases of Chinese goods in the U.S. and elsewhere and further widen a growing trade deficit with China.

The U.S. trade deficit with China reached a five-month high in June, the most recent Commerce Department data.

China's currency fell below seven renminbi to the U.S dollar immediately after China's central bank lowered its daily reference rate Monday morning. This is the exchange rate for renminbi set by the central bank each day.
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The sudden tumble of the renminbi might only be temporary, as onshore and offshore renminbi exchange rates could pick up by the end of the day. However, the central bank's decision to lower the daily reference rate is a sign that China's leaders are willing to breach a threshold for the renminbi previously regarded as sacrosanct.

"[The central bank] has held off on doing this because it could be scaring people into moving more money offshore and also because it could inflame the Trump administration, because they see the depreciation of the currency as a way to artificially boost Chinese exports," says Collier. "This is certainly a weapon of last resort."

China has long artificially propped up the value of its currency above the symbolic seven-to-one threshold using a mixture of public and non-public methods, including ordering its massive state-run banks to buy up vast amounts of currency to strengthen the renminbi.

"The [Chinese] government has been, if anything, doing the opposite: protecting the renminbi from collapsing," says Jonas Short, head of China research at NSBO, an investment bank. "If you allow for the natural exchange rate for renminbi against the U.S. dollar, it should be about 7.2 to 7.3 per dollar."

China and the U.S. trade negotiators failed to reach a deal in an ongoing trade dispute during talks last week in Shanghai, agreeing to meet again in September in Washington D.C. The next day, President Trump tweeted that the U.S. would impose an additional 10 percent tariff on the remaining $300 billion worth of Chinese goods not yet taxed.

One of the U.S. key demands in trade talks is that China buy more American goods in order to narrow the trade deficit. In July, China announced it would make further purchases of American agricultural goods such as pork and soybeans, but U.S. Department of Agriculture data show those purchases have yet to materialize.

Amy Cheng contributed reporting from Beijing.
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💱 Hong Kong Strike Sinks City Into Chaos, and Government Has Little Reply
« Reply #841 on: August 06, 2019, 11:21:53 AM »

Hong Kong Strike Sinks City Into Chaos, and Government Has Little Reply

The general strike in Hong Kong on Monday was the last of three consecutive days of large-scale civil disobedience by antigovernment protesters. Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

By Austin Ramzy, Mike Ives and Tiffany May

    Aug. 5, 2019

HONG KONG — Antigovernment protesters in Hong Kong mounted their fiercest challenge to the authorities on Monday, disrupting more than 200 airline flights, occupying malls and blocking roadways and rail lines to snarl the commute for hundreds of thousands of workers.

The protesters called for a general strike in an effort to halt daily life across the semiautonomous Chinese territory, wielding a potentially powerful new tool in their weekslong campaign against the Hong Kong government.

Hong Kong’s values of efficiency, hard work and, increasingly, a dedication to public protest are colliding as protesters from across society test the limits of the city’s police force. Officers on Monday fired tear gas near shopping malls and residential areas and arrested at least 82 people, while the city’s leader warned that efforts to “topple Hong Kong” could destroy livelihoods and push the city “to the verge of a very dangerous situation.”
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Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, has earned a reputation as a tenacious politician in her nearly 40 years in government. But her close ties with China’s central leadership have made her a divisive figure at home.CreditCreditJerome Favre/EPA, via Shutterstock

Monday was the last of three consecutive days of large-scale civil disobedience intended to increase pressure on the government as it confronts Hong Kong’s worst political crisis since 1997, when it was returned to Chinese rule after more than 150 years as a British colony.


Many protesters said they felt they had no choice but to escalate their actions after the government was unswayed by peaceful marches in June that organizers said drew as many as two million people.
Locations of protests on Monday

By The New York Times

The protests began nearly two months ago in response to legislation, since suspended, that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, where the courts are controlled by the governing Communist Party. The movement, which has been driven by longstanding fears of deteriorating freedoms under Beijing’s rule, has expanded to include a variety of grievances, including the stalled expansion of direct elections and accusations of excessive force by the police.

It was unclear how many people heeded the call to strike. But protesters began the day by blocking roads and train doors using flash-mob-style tactics, while more than 200 flights at the city’s international airport were canceled as large numbers of air traffic controllers called in sick. An estimated 2,300 people in the civil aviation industry participated in the strike, according to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.


Mass rallies were held at more than half a dozen sites, including outside the government headquarters on Hong Kong’s main island. Officers fired tear gas at several locations across the city.

Later in the evening, protesters in the North Point neighborhood on eastern Hong Kong Island were briefly attacked by men wearing white shirts and wielding sticks in a scene reminiscent of July 21, when a pro-Beijing mob beat protesters and bystanders in the satellite town of Yuen Long.

Since the protests began in early June, the police have arrested 420 people and fired 1,000 rounds of tear gas, a spokesman said Monday.
ImageProtesters at the New Town Plaza shopping mall in Sha Tin on Monday. The mall was the site of a brawl last month between police officers and protesters that left more than two dozen people injured.
Protesters at the New Town Plaza shopping mall in Sha Tin on Monday. The mall was the site of a brawl last month between police officers and protesters that left more than two dozen people injured.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

That is significantly more than during Hong Kong’s last sustained protest movement in 2014, when the use of tear gas against pro-democracy demonstrators galvanized the public in support of a sit-in that lasted 79 days. The police fired a total of 87 tear gas canisters then, and only on that first night.

In recent weeks, the protesters’ anger has largely shifted to focus on the scale and intensity of the police response. On Monday they surrounded and vandalized several police stations, setting fires outside at least two of them. Supporters say the police have regularly shown restraint.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, warned Monday morning in her first public remarks in two weeks that the city “has become unsafe and unstable” and that “a series of extremely violent acts are pushing Hong Kong into very precarious circumstances.”


Mrs. Lam accused protesters of challenging Chinese sovereignty over Hong Kong, citing a slogan some of them chanted that is associated with an imprisoned activist who at one point advocated Hong Kong independence.

“They want to topple Hong Kong, to thoroughly destroy the livelihoods that seven million people cherish,” she said.
Police officers fired tear gas on Monday in an attempt to disperse protesters in Wong Tai Sin, a working-class residential neighborhood in Hong Kong.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Mrs. Lam is under pressure from China’s central government to bring the protests under control, and the Chinese military hinted last month that it could be called in to restore order. The Hong Kong government has repeatedly denied plans to make any such request.

The response by Hong Kong officials to the strike on Monday “was a disaster,” said Antony Dapiran, a Hong Kong-based lawyer and the author of a book about dissent in Hong Kong. “They came out with a fairly hard line, no concessions, nothing new.”

Mrs. Lam even faced criticism from establishment lawmakers. She “raised many questions at the news conference, but where are the solutions?” Ann Chiang, a lawmaker from Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, wrote on Facebook. “Disappointing!!!”

Mainland Chinese officials responsible for Hong Kong policy are scheduled to hold a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they will meet with Hong Kong delegates to the Chinese national congress in Shenzhen, just across the mainland border, the Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK reported.


The Hong Kong government also warned Monday that the unrest was affecting the local economy, including sales of luxury goods as mainland visitors choose to avoid the city, a concern that will garner little sympathy from protesters. Hong Kong stocks declined by almost 3 percent on Monday.
Protesters delayed trains all over Hong Kong on Monday, disrupting the morning commute for hundreds of thousands of people.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

“The movement has had a lot of impact on Hong Kong, the operation of the whole economy and the operation of many industries and businesses,” said Ivan Choy, a senior lecturer in government and public administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “But I think this is the right of Hong Kong people to demand more freedom and more justice in society.”

Some commuters complained about the transportation delays and confronted protesters. Vehicles plowed through barriers set up by protesters along roadways at least twice, sending demonstrators diving for safety. But even those facing delays said the government was to blame for failing to address public grievances.

“Carrie Lam has caused my absence today,” said Dancus Au, 24, an employee at a security company who was stuck in a subway station for hours in the morning.

He said Mrs. Lam had made a mistake by merely suspending the extradition bill rather than formally withdrawing it, as protesters have demanded.

“She should have said ‘withdraw’ at the beginning of this fiasco,” he said. “She is part of the root cause, while Beijing is another part of it.”

In recent weeks, protesters’ anger has largely shifted, concentrating on the scale and intensity of the police response. On Monday they surrounded and vandalized several police stations.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Labor unions said hundreds of thousands may have joined the strike, and some groups, like workers at Hong Kong Disneyland, did announce work stoppages. Others took a day of leave or called in sick to join the protests. After weeks of protests led largely by people in their teens and twenties, the general strike was seen as a way for middle-aged supporters of the movement to participate.

Janice Lau, a 38-year-old teacher, pumped her fist in the air in encouragement as she and her 6-year-old daughter, Zoe, watched protesters drag steel barricades to block traffic near the government headquarters in the Admiralty district.

“I’m proud of them,’’ she said. “Society forced them to do this, and they didn’t harm the society. These days, people are more afraid when the police appear than when protesters appear.”

Some businesses also closed. The Hong Kong Jockey Club, which has a government-granted monopoly on gambling, announced that off-site betting facilities would stop taking wagers by 6 p.m., citing safety concerns. At two luxury malls, Pacific Place in Admiralty and Lee Gardens in Causeway Bay, many shops were closed.

Chinese state media outlets, which have grown increasingly vocal in their condemnation of the protests, renewed their criticism on Monday.

The People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s outlet, criticized protesters who had thrown a Chinese flag into the Hong Kong harbor over the weekend, accusing them of wanting to end the “one country, two systems” arrangement that defines the relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing. Mrs. Lam also mentioned the incident in her remarks on Monday.


Since protesters started to increasingly target police stations this past weekend, officers have appeared to be more aggressive in making arrests. But the increased assertiveness risked further inflaming public sentiment, and at least one protest not originally scheduled for Monday was driven by anger over an earlier arrest.

“For me the most alarming thing is we’re kind of on a knife’s edge here — open disrespect for the police, police stations being targeted,” Mr. Dapiran said. “We are on the cusp of what could be a general breakdown of law and order. It hasn’t gotten there yet, but the government hasn’t done anything to stop it.”

Katherine Li and Ezra Cheung contributed reporting from Hong Kong. Elsie Chen contributed research from Beijing.
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💱 Trump Administration Labels China a Currency Manipulator
« Reply #842 on: August 06, 2019, 11:57:13 AM »
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⛩️ Hong Kong protests: Tear gas fired at demonstrators
« Reply #843 on: August 11, 2019, 11:06:21 AM »
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August 12, 2019 / 5:01 PM / Updated 3 hours ago
Asia shares tumble as Hong Kong unrest, Argentine peso crash unnerve investors
Stanley White

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares slumped on Tuesday as fears about a drawn out Sino-U.S. trade war, protests in Hong Kong and a crash in Argentina’s peso currency drove investors to safe harbors like bonds, gold, and the Japanese yen.

FILE PHOTO: Men walk past in front of an electric screen showing Japan's Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan skidded 1%. Chinese stocks fell 0.8%, while Hong Kong’s main market index tumbled more than 1% to a seven-month low.

“The protests in Hong Kong are negative for stocks, which were already in an adjustment phase because there is talk that the trade war will trigger a recession,” said Kiyoshi Ishigane, chief fund manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co.

Hong Kong’s airport, the world’s busiest cargo airport, reopened on Tuesday, which could ease some concern about the immediate economic impact of protests over the past two months.

The protests began in opposition to a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China but have quickly morphed into the biggest challenge to China’s authority over the city since it took Hong Kong back from Britain in 1997.

Japan’s Nikkei was also hit hard, down a sharp 1.5% and on course for its biggest daily decline in a week.

U.S. stock futures were 0.13% higher in Asia, but that did little to ease the mood.


Stocks in Singapore shed 1.1% to reach their lowest since June 6 after the government slashed its full-year economic growth forecasts. The city state is often seen as a bellwether for global growth because of its importance as a key trade hub.

The selling in regional markets came as Wall Street stocks took a beating on Monday, with the S&P 500 losing 1.23%.

Sentiment was already weak due to increasing signs that the United States and China will not quickly resolve their year-long trade war. Markets were hit with further turbulence after protesters managed to close down Hong Kong’s airport on Monday.

Traders were also on edge after market-friendly Argentine President Mauricio Macri suffered a mauling in presidential primaries, increasing the risk of a return to interventionist economic policies.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields were near the lowest in almost three years, gold was pinned close to six-year highs, and the yen was within a whisker of a seven-month peak versus the dollar in a sign of the heightened anxiety in financial markets already battered by global growth woes.

“Long-term rates will continue to fall, and stocks will adjust lower, but this is temporary. Major central banks are cutting rates, which will eventually provide economic support,” Mitsubishi UFJ’s Ishigane said.

Analysts said that trading could be subdued as many investors are off for summer holidays. Yet, there was no shortage of gloomy news for investors looking to catch their breath from several months of market ructions.

The Argentine peso collapsed overnight, falling to 55.85 to the dollar, after voters snubbed Macri by giving the opposition a surprisingly bigger-than-expected victory in Sunday’s primary election.

The Merval stock index <.MERV > crashed 30% and declines of between 18-20 cents in Argentina’s benchmark 10-year bonds left them trading at around 60 cents on the dollar or even lower.

Refinitiv data showed Argentine stocks, bonds and the peso had not recorded this kind of simultaneous fall since the South American country’s 2001 economic crisis and debt default.

The grim backdrop was enough to push investors into safe-havens, and U.S. Treasury yields dropped across the board on Monday as trade worries and political tensions supported safe-haven assets.

In Asia on Tuesday benchmark 10-year Treasuries yields fell to 1.6471%. On August 7 yields had skidded to 1.5950%, the lowest since October 3, 2016.

Spot gold rose 0.33% to $1.516.42 per ounce, near the highest in six years.

The yen last fetched 105.37 per dollar, and was within striking distance of 105.03, its strongest since the January 3 flash crash.

The Swiss franc, which along with the yen is considered a safe haven in times of trouble, traded at 0.9697 per dollar, near its highest in a year.

Oil prices edged slightly lower in Asian trading as expectations that major producers will continue to reduce supplies ran into worries about sluggish economic growth.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures fell 0.33% to $54.75 a barrel.

(Graphic: Asian stock markets link:

Editing by Shri Navaratnam
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‘Something extraordinarily bad is about to happen’: Huge Chinese military build-up filmed on Hong Kong border as all flights cancelled

Protesters shut down Hong Kong’s main airport again on Tuesday, forcing all flights to be cancelled for a second day

    Adam Withnall
    Asia Editor @adamwithnall

Large numbers of Chinese paramilitary forces have been filmed assembling just 30km (18.6 miles) from Hong Kong in the city of Shenzhen, as the UN warned Beijing to exercise restraint in its response to growing unrest in the territory.

Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the city had been placed on a “path of no return” after 10 weeks of increasingly disruptive protests.

Flights at the international airport in Hong Kong were cancelled for a second day, as thousands of demonstrators gathered in the departure hall at the main terminal despite the implementation of increased security measures designed to keep them out.
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Chinese state media described the build-up of armed police units, shown in videos gathering at an arena called the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre, as preparations for “apparent large-scale exercises”. Alexandre Krauss, a policy adviser for the EU’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, called the videos a sign that “something extraordinarily bad is about to happen”.

Similar exercises on 6 August featured up to 12,000 troops, according to the Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper, and featured armoured personnel carriers, helicopters and amphibious vehicles.
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The newspaper described the People’s Armed Police forces as being mandated by Chinese law for “dealing with rebellions, riots, serious violent and illegal incidents, terrorist attacks and other social security incidents”.

It is a further sign of Beijing’s waning patience with the unrest in Hong Kong, after the Chinese government said on Monday that the protest movement in the city had begun to show “sprouts of terrorism”.

While China defines terrorism loosely, it has previously used the term to describe non-violent opposition movements in minority regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang, justifying greater uses of force and the suspension of legal rights for detainees.

Speaking on BBC radio, Britain’s last governor of the city before the 1997 handover said it would be “a catastrophe for China and of course for Hong Kong” if there was a military intervention.

Chris Patten said it was counter productive of China to warn of “other methods” if the protests did not stop. “Since President Xi has been in office, there’s been a crackdown on dissent and dissidents everywhere, the party has been in control of everything,” he said.
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“I very much hope that even after 10 weeks of this going on, the government and President Xi [Jinping] will see the sense in establishing a way of actually bringing people together,” Lord Patten said.

Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at Soas University of London, said that despite repeated shows of force “we are still some distance from [Chinese] security forces being deployed in Hong Kong”.

“But it is much closer today than a month ago,” he added, when protesters targeted the main central government headquarters in Hong Kong and a Chinese flag was defaced.

Mr Tsang said the shift in China’s perception of the protests, rather than its troop movements, was the critical issue. “Beijing now sees events in Hong Kong as a ‘colour revolution’… part of an American-led global conspiracy which aims ultimately at regime change in China,” he said. “This is totally intolerable to Xi Jinping.”

In a statement, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that by conflating the Hong Kong protests with “terrorism”, China risked inflaming the situation.

She urged the authorities to exercise restraint and to investigate evidence of uses of excessive force by police – one of the protesters’ key demands.

“Officials can be seen firing teargas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occasions, creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury,” Ms Bachelet said, referring to videos of recent clashes in the city.

Ms Lam, however, reiterated her support for the police and their tactics, saying they have had to make on-the-spot decisions under difficult circumstances, using “the lowest level of force”.

During angry exchanges in which reporters repeatedly shouted over her, Ms Lam said dialogue would only resume “after the violence has been stopped, and the chaotic situation that we are seeing… subside”.

And she again dismissed calls for her resignation, saying that: “I, as the chief executive, will be responsible to rebuild Hong Kong’s economy ... to help Hong Kong to move on.”
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⛩️ China prepares its 'nuclear option' in trade war
« Reply #846 on: August 18, 2019, 12:57:39 AM »

China prepares its 'nuclear option' in trade war
Published time: 17 Aug, 2019 10:26

As the trade war continues to escalate, China is becoming increasingly active in Iran and is considering retaliating with what has long been described as the country’s ‘nuclear option’.

For the first of these projects - Phase 11 of the supergiant South Pars non-associated gas field (SP11) - last week saw a statement from the chief executive officer of the Pars Oil and Gas Company (POGC) that talks had resumed with Chinese developers to advance the project. Originally the subject of an extensive contract signed by France’s Total before it pulled out due to re-imposed US sanctions on Iran, talks had been well-advanced with the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to take up the slack on development. As per the original contract, CNPC had been assigned Total’s 50.1 percent stake in the field when the French firm withdrew, giving it a total of 80.1 percent in the site, with Iran’s own Petropars Company holding the remainder. At the same time, Iran was desperate to increase the pace of development of the fields in its oil-rich West Karoun area, including North Azadegan, South Azadegan, North Yaran, South Yaran, and Yadavaran, in order to optimise oil flows ahead of further clampdowns on exports by the US.
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China's other nuclear option in trade war with US – Rare earth materials China's other nuclear option in trade war with US – Rare earth materials

China, though, which at that time was engaged in just the opening shots of the trade war with the US was loathe to completely disregard all US sensibilities when it came to Iran but equally saw itself as a longstanding partner of the Islamic Republic, not to mention always being cognisant of its need to ensure diversity of energy supply. At that point, China agreed a trade-off with the US that in exchange for it halting active development of SP11 it would be allowed to continue its activities in North Azadegan and would be able to go ahead with its development of Yadavaran – the second of China’s major Iran projects. China told the US that its continued involvement in North Azadegan could easily be justified to anyone else who might be interested – such as the mainstream media – on the basis that it had already spent billions of dollars developing the second phase of the 460 square kilometre field. Similarly, China said at the time, its ongoing activities on Yadavaran could be justified by dint of the fact that the original contract had been signed in good faith in 2007, way before the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and thus, legally speaking, it had every right to go ahead.

The third of China’s major as yet unfinished projects in Iran was the build-out of the Jask oil export terminal, which – crucially, particularly in the current security situation – does not lie within the Strait of Hormuz or even in the Persian Gulf, but rather in the Gulf Of Oman. Even before the new US sanctions, the Kharg export terminal was not ideal for use by tankers as the narrowness of the Strait of Hormuz means that they have to go very slowly through it. With the new sanctions in place and tit-for-tat tanker seizures regularly occurring, China would have little choice but to put at least a couple of its own warships into the Gulf to safeguard their passage or stop buying Iranian oil entirely, neither of which Beijing particularly wants to do.
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So, according to the plans, a US$2 billion or so 1,000 kilometre oil pipeline will connect Guriyeh in the Shoaybiyeh-ye Gharbi Rural District, in Khuzestan Province (south-west Iran), to Jask County, in Hormozgan Province (south Iran), with any financing required over and above that provided for Iran to be made readily available  from China. Also to be constructed in Jask is an initial 20 storage tanks each capable of storing 500,000 barrels of oil, and related shipping facilities, at a cost of around US$200 million. Overall, the intention is for Jask to have the capacity to store up to 30 million barrels and export one million barrels per day of crude oil. There are adjunct plans to build a large petrochemicals and refining complex in Jask as well, with the prime market for produced petchems – including gasoline, gas oil, jet fuel, sulphur, butadiene, ethylene and propylene, and mono-ethylene glycol - again being China. According to a recent comment by the director of projects at Iran’s National Petrochemical Company, Ali Mohammad Bossaqzadeh, the project would be built and run by Bakhtar Petrochemicals Holding, although ‘other foreign companies’ may take part. In fact, according to the Iran source, China has also offered to send as many engineers and other professionals required in such a project to Iran for as long as necessary.
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Having said that, and aware of the leverage that it had with Iran as one of the very few countries still willing to engage in developing its fields in the midst of increasingly vigorously-imposed sanctions, China has sought deal sweeteners from Iran, and has been given them. In order for it to reactivate its development of SP11, China will get a 17.25 percent discount for nine years on the value of all gas it recovers. “This is the value of the gas as applied to CNPC’s cost-return formula against the open market valuation, and currently the net present value of the site is US$116 billion,” the Iran source told For its part, China has agreed to increase the production from its oil fields in the West Karoun area – including North Azadegan and Yadavaran - by an additional 500,000 bpd by the end of 2020. This dovetails with Iran’s plan to increase the recovery rate from these West Karoun fields that it shares with Iraq from the current 5 percent (compared to Saudi Arabia’s 50 percent). “For every one percent increase, the recoverable reserves figure would increase by 670 million barrels, or around US$34 billion in revenues with oil even at US$50 a barrel,” the Iran source said.
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China’s nuclear option of dumping US bonds would cause absolute chaos in global markets – expert China’s nuclear option of dumping US bonds would cause absolute chaos in global markets – expert

If there is any further pushback from the US on any of these Chinese projects in Iran, then Beijing will invoke in full force the ‘nuclear option’ of selling all or a significant part of its US$1.4 trillion holding of US Treasury Bills, with a major chunk of the paper due to be sold in September on this basis. This massive holding of these bonds - through which the US finances its economy and is an important factor both in the value of the dollar and therefore in the health of US international companies especially – has been used as a bargaining chip before by China, especially when it feels threatened. Back in 2007, just before the great financial crisis, a number of senior Chinese figures at various state-run think tanks – through which China often signals its big geopolitical threats – stated that the large-scale selling of this massive Treasury Bill holding would trigger a dollar crash, a huge spike in bond yields, the collapse of the housing market and stock market chaos.

Such a tactic would neatly fit into China’s overall strategy to have the renminbi challenge the US dollar’s status as the key global reserve currency and the prime currency for global energy transactions. “The long-planned sequencing for this was inclusion in the SDR {Special Drawing Rights] mix, which happened in 2016, increasing use as a trading currency, which followed that, use as the key currency of an international energy trading exchange, which has occurred with the creation of the renminbi-denominated Shanghai International Energy Exchange in last year, and the calls from big oil producers and other major trading nations to use the renminbi, which has been happening over the past few years,” the head of a New York-based commodities hedge fund told Only recently, Leonid Mikhelson, chief executive officer of Russian oil major, Novatek, said that future sales to China denominated in renminbi is under consideration and that US sanctions accelerate the process of Russia trying to switch away from US dollar-centric oil and gas trading and the damage from potential sanctions that go with it. “This has been discussed for a while with Russia’s largest trading partners such as India and China, and even Arab countries are starting to think about it... If they do create difficulties for our Russian banks then all we have to do is replace dollars,” he said. “The trade war between the US and China will only accelerate the process,” he added.

The trade war with the US, though, may be the very reason why this policy is not being pushed right now by China, Rory Green, Asia economist for TS Lombard told last week. “With the renminbi weakening, and set to reach 7.50 to the [US] dollar level if the US imposes 25 percent tariffs on all Chinese exports, it is more difficult for China to persuade the big oil producers like Russia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, to make the switch away from the dollar,” he said. “For China as well, the timing is not quite right, as its use of Eurodollar financing is currently significant, it has a lot of dollar-denominated bonds rolling over shortly, and its balance of payments needs a relatively healthy US demand profile, but China wants to get away from the dollar system and that is the overall direction of travel,” he concluded.

This article was originally published on
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⛩️ Hong Kong In The Crosshairs Of Global Power And Ideological Struggles
« Reply #847 on: August 19, 2019, 02:04:01 AM »

Hong Kong In The Crosshairs Of Global Power And Ideological Struggles
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
August 18, 2019 | , Newsletter

Anti-government protesters wave the American flag during a rally in Hong Kong earlier this month © Chan Long Hei/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Hong Kong is one of the most extreme examples of big finance, neoliberal capitalism in the world. As a result, many people in Hong Kong are suffering from great economic insecurity in a city with 93 billionaires, second-most of any city.

Hong Kong is suffering the effects of being colonized by Britain for more than 150 years following the Opium Wars. The British put in place a capitalist economic system and Hong Kong has had no history of self-rule. When Britain left, it negotiated an agreement that prevents China from changing Hong Kong’s political and economic systems for 50 years by making Hong Kong a Special Administrative Region (SAR).

China cannot solve the suffering of the people of Hong Kong. This ‘One Country, Two Systems’ approach means the extreme capitalism of Hong Kong exists alongside, but separate from, China’s socialized system. Hong Kong has an unusual political system. For example, half the seats in the legislature are required to represent business interests meaning corporate interests vote on legislation.

Hong Kong is a center for big finance and also a center of financial crimes. Between 2013 and 2017, the number of suspicious transactions reported to law enforcement agencies rocketed from 32,907 to 92,115. There has been a small number of prosecutions, which dropped from a high of 167 in 2014 to 103 in 2017. Convictions dropped to only one person sentenced to more than six years behind bars in 2017.

The problem is neither the extradition bill that was used to ignite protests nor China, the problems are Hong Kong’s economy and governance.

April, 2019. Demonstrators marched over the weekend to demand authorities to scrap the extradition bill [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]
The Extradition Bill

The stated cause of the recent protests is an extradition bill proposed because there is no legal way to prevent criminals from escaping charges when they flee to Hong Kong. The bill was proposed by the Hong Kong government in February 2019 to establish a mechanism to transfer fugitives in Hong Kong to Taiwan, Macau or Mainland China.

Extradition laws are a legal norm between countries and within countries (e.g. between states), and since Hong Kong is part of China, it is pretty basic. In fact, in 1998, a pro-democracy legislator, Martin Lee, proposed a law similar to the one he now opposes to ensure a person is prosecuted and tried at the place of the offense.

The push for the bill came in 2018 when a Hong Kong resident Chan Tong-kai allegedly killed his pregnant girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, in Taiwan, then returned to Hong Kong. Chan admitted he killed Poon to Hong Kong police, but the police were unable to charge him for murder or extradite him to Taiwan because no agreement was in place.

The proposed law covered  46 types of crimes that are recognized as serious offenses across the globe. These include murder, rape, and sexual offenses, assaults, kidnapping, immigration violations, and drug offenses as well as property offenses like robbery, burglary and arson and other traditional criminal offenses. It also included business and financial crimes.

Months before the street protests, the business community expressed opposition to the law. Hong Kong’s two pro-business parties urged the government to exempt white-collar crimes from the list of offenses covered by any future extradition agreement. There was escalating pressure from the city’s business heavyweights.  The American Chamber of Commerce, AmCham, a fifty-year-old organization that represents over 1,200 US companies doing business in Hong Kong, opposed the proposal.

AmCham said it would damage the city’s reputation: “Any change in extradition arrangements that substantially expands the possibility of arrest and rendition … of international business executives residing in or transiting through Hong Kong as a result of allegations of economic crime made by the mainland government … would undermine perceptions of Hong Kong as a safe and secure haven for international business operations.”

Kurt Tong, the top US diplomat in Hong Kong, said in March that the proposal could complicate relations between Washington and Hong Kong. Indeed, the Center for International Private Enterprise, an arm of NED said the proposed law would undermine economic freedom, cause capital flight and threaten Hong Kong’s status as a hub for global commerce. They pointed to a bipartisan letter signed by eight members of Congress, including Senators Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, and Steve Daines and Members of the House of Representatives, Jim McGovern, Ben McAdams, Chris Smith, Tom Suozzi, and Brian Mast opposing the bill.

Proponents of the bill responded by exempting nine of the economic crimes and made extradition only for crimes punishable by at least seven years in prison. These changes did not satisfy big business advocates.

Protesters hold a placard featuring U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. flags as they take part in a march at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, July 21, 2019. | Vincent Yu / AP

The Mass Protests and US Role

From this attention to the law, opposition grew with the formation of a coalition to organize protests. As Alexander Rubinstein reports, “the coalition cited by Hong Kong media, including the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Free Press, as organizers of the anti-extradition law demonstrations is called the Civil Human Rights Front. That organization’s website lists the NED-funded HKHRM [Human Rights Monitor], Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party, and the Democratic Party as members of the coalition.” HKHRM alone received more than $1.9 million in funds from the NED between 1995 and 2013. Major protests began in June.

Building the anti-China movement in Hong Kong has been a long-term, NED project since 1996. In 2012, NED invested $460,000 through its National Democratic Institute, to build the anti-China movement (aka pro-democracy movement), particularly among university students. Two years later, the mass protests of Occupy Central occurred. In a 2016 Open Letter to Kurt Tong, these NED grants and others were pointed out and Tong was asked if the US was funding a Hong Kong independence movement.

During the current protests, organizers were photographed meeting with Julie Eadeh, the political unit chief of US Consulate General, in a Hong Kong hotel. They also met with China Hawks in Washington, DC including Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Larry Diamond, a co-editor of the NED’s publication and a co-chair of research, has been openly encouraging the protesters. He delivered a video message of support during their rally this weekend.

Protests have included many elements of US color revolutions with tactics such as violence — attacks on bystanders, media, police and emergency personnel. Similar tactics were used in Ukraine, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, e.g. violent street barricades. US officials and media criticized the government’s response to the violent protests, even though they have been silent on the extreme police violence against the Yellow Vests in France. Demonstrators also use swarming techniques and sophisticated social media messaging targeting people in the US.

Mass protests have continued. On July 9, Chief Executive Carrie Lam pronounced the bill dead and suspended it. Protesters are now calling for the bill to be withdrawn, Lam to resign and police to be investigated. For more on the protests and US involvement, listen to our interview with K. J. Noh on Clearing the FOG (available on Monday).

Makeshift shelters at Tung Chau Street Temporary Market in Sham Shui Po. Photo: Nora Tam

What Is Driving Discontent in Hong Kong?

The source of unrest in Hong Kong is the economic insecurity stemming from capitalism. In 1997, Britain and China agreed to leave “the previous capitalist system” in place for 50 years.

Hong Kong has been ranked as the world’s freest economy in the Heritage’s Index of Economic Freedom since 1995 when the index began. In 1990, Milton Friedman described Hong Kong as the best example of a free-market economy. Its ranking is based on low taxes, light regulations, strong property rights, business freedom, and openness to global commerce.

Graeme Maxton writes in the South China Morning Post: “The only way to restore order is through a radical change in Hong Kong’s economic policies. After decades of doing almost nothing, and letting the free market rule, it is time for the Hong Kong government to do what it is there for; to govern in the interests of the majority.”

The issue is not the extradition proposal, Carrie Lam or China. What we are witnessing is an unrestricted neo-liberal economy, described as a free market on steroids. Hong Kong’s economy relative to China’s gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen from a peak of 27 percent in 1993 to less than 3 percent in 2017. During this time, China has had tremendous growth, including in nearby market-friendly Shenzen, while Hong Kong has not.

As Sara Flounders writes, “For the last 10 years wages have been stagnant in Hong Kong while rents have increased 300 percent; it is the most expensive city in the world. In Shenzhen, wages have increased 8 percent every year, and more than 1 million new, public, green housing units at low rates are nearing completion.”

Hong Kong has the world’s highest rents, a widening wealth gap and a poverty rate of 20 percent. In China, the poverty rate fell from 88 percent in 1981 to 0.7 percent in 2015, according to the World Bank.

China’s middle class. Alamy.

Hong Kong In The Chinese Context

Ellen Brown writes in “Neoliberalism Has Met Its Match in China,” that the Chinese government owns 80 percent of banks, which make favorable loans to businesses, and subsidizes worker costs. The US views China subsidizing its economy as an unfair trade advantage, while China sees long-term, planned growth as smarter than short-term profits for shareholders.

The Chinese model of state-controlled capitalism (some call it a form of socialism) has lifted 800 million people out of poverty and built a middle class of over 420 million people, growing from four percent in 2002, to 31 percent. The top twelve Chinese companies on the Fortune 500 are all state-owned and state-subsidized including oil, solar energy, telecommunications, engineering, construction companies, banks, and the auto industry. China has the second-largest GDP, and the largest economy based on Purchasing Power Parity GDP, according to the CIA, IMF and World Bank.

China does have significant problems. There are thousands of documented demonstrations, strikes and labor actions in China annually, serious environmental challenges, inequality and social control through the use of surveillance technology. How China responds to these challenges is a test for their governance.

China describes itself as having an intraparty democracy. The eight other legal “democratic parties” that are allowed to participate in the political system cooperate with but do not compete with the Communist Party. There are also local elections for candidates focused on grassroots issues. China views western democracy and economics as flawed and does not try to emulate them but is creating its own system.

China is led by engineers and scientists, not by lawyers and business people. It approaches policy decisions through research and experimentation. Every city and every district is involved in some sort of experimentation including free trade zones, poverty reduction, and education reform. “There are pilot schools, pilot cities, pilot hospitals, pilot markets, pilot everything under the sun, the whole China is basically a giant portfolio of experiments, with mayors and provincial governors as Primary Investigators.” In this system, Hong Kong could be viewed as an experiment in neoliberal capitalism.

The Communist Party knows that to keep its hold on power, it must combat inequalities and shift the economy towards a more efficient and more ecological model. Beijing has set a date of 2050 to become a “socialist society” and to achieve that, it seeks improvements in social, labor and environmental fields.

Where does Hong Kong fit into these long-term plans? With 2047 as the year for the end of the agreement with the UK, US and western powers are working toward preserving their capitalist dystopia of Hong Kong and manufacturing consensus for long-term conflict with China.

How this conflict of economic and political systems turns out depends on whether China can confront its contradictions, whether Hong Kongers can address the source of their problems and whether US empire can continue its dollar, political and military dominance. Today’s conflicts in Hong Kong are rooted in all of these realities.
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⛩️ China's Geography Problem
« Reply #848 on: August 19, 2019, 01:09:10 PM »
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⛩️ The End of China Inc? (aka...The Chinese are TOAST!)
« Reply #849 on: August 21, 2019, 05:20:31 AM »
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⛩️ Hong Kong braces for fresh protests as activists target airport
« Reply #850 on: August 23, 2019, 01:58:37 AM »

Hong Kong braces for fresh protests as activists target airport

Multiple protests planned on Friday, including a march by accountants and the so-called 'Baltic Chain' protests.
4 hours ago

Pro-democracy protesters said they plan to disrupt transport to the city's airport at the weekend [Vincent Yu/AP]

more on Hong Kong protests

    Hong Kong: Missing British consulate worker's supporters protest
    Hong Kong police in standoff with protesters after sit-in
    China confirms detention of UK's Hong Kong consulate employee
    UK 'concerned' about missing Hong Kong consulate employee
    2 days ago

Hong Kong is bracing for further demonstrations and a "stress test" of the city's international airport at the weekend, as nearly three months of pro-democracy protests showed no sign of abating.

Multiple protests are planned on Friday, including a march by accountants to the government headquarters and a "Baltic Chain" event where protesters will join hands across different districts in the Chinese territory.

In 1989 an estimated two million people joined arms across three Baltic states in a protest against Soviet Union rule, which became known as the Baltic Way or Baltic Chain.

Pro-democracy protesters have said they also plan to disrupt transport to the city's airport at the weekend.
Hong Kong protests: Youth try to define city's future (2:46)

"Go to the airport by different means, including MTR, Airport Bus, Taxi, Bike and Private Car to increase pressure on airport transport," they wrote online.

Hong Kong's international airport, one of the world's busiest, was forced to close temporarily last week and hundreds of flights were cancelled or rescheduled when protesters and police clashed.

The protests, which escalated in June over a now-suspended bill that would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China for trial, have grown into wider calls for political freedom.

The protests, which have drawn millions of Hong Kong residents onto the streets, have plunged the Asian financial hub into its deepest crisis since its handover to Beijing in 1997 and pose one of the biggest challenges to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he took power in 2012.
Protest demands ignored

On Thursday, student leaders have also announced a two-week boycott of lectures as the new school term is set to begin.

The unrest has been fuelled by broader worries about the erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" formula adopted after Hong Kong's return to China but not enjoyed on the mainland, including an independent judiciary and the right to protest.
China steps up threats to Hong Kong protesters (2:44)

The protests are already taking a toll on the city's economy and tourism, with the special administrative region on the cusp of its first recession in a decade.

Companies including the big banks and property developers have called for a restoration of law and order while exhibitors are seeing widespread cancellations of events.

In the most recent case, international jewellers have sought the rescheduling of a huge trade fair with up to 40 percent of exhibitors threatening to pull out.

Demonstrators on Friday and over the weekend are reiterating calls for the government to address their five demands: withdraw the extradition bill, an independent inquiry into the protests and perceived police brutality, a halt to descriptions of the protests as "rioting", a waiver of charges against those arrested, and resumption of political reform.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has offered talks with her critics, but so far she continues to ignore their demands.
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⛩️ Hong Kong Protests Continue | Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren
« Reply #851 on: August 23, 2019, 05:52:59 AM »
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⛩️ Hong Kong protests: Police use tear gas on demonstrators
« Reply #852 on: Today at 12:13:48 AM »
After 3 months, you would figure the Chinese Politburo would figure out Tear Gas is just not cutting the mustard.  They're gonna need a Bigger Boat.


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