Steps Up With Charm Offensive
Chinese leader profits from a geopolitical vacuum only
days before Donald Trump’s inauguration
By Pepe Escobar
January 18, 2017 "Information
He did it, his
way; Chinese President Xi Jinping descended on the Swiss
Alps; profited from a geopolitical vacuum only three
days before Donald Trump’s inauguration with the
Atlanticist West mired in stagnation and/or
protectionism; unleashed a charm offensive; and deftly
positioned China in the lead of “inclusive”
wide-ranging speech that went from global angst to
China’s new normal, Xi sounded all the right notes that
global capital needed to hear; protectionism is like
“locking oneself in a dark room,” and “no one is a
winner in a trade war.”
delved into the necessity of peace in Syria, the
perverse effects of the absence of financial regulation,
and the struggle for “balance between efficiency and
So onwards with
the fourth industrial revolution – and may China
Xi, the first
Chinese president to visit the turbo-capitalist World
Economic Forum talkfest, meant business from the start.
He arrived with
an 80-strong delegation that included Alibaba’s Jack Ma,
Dalian Wanda’s Wang Jianlin – China’s top two
billionaires – as well as Baidu’s Zhang Yaqin.
“globalist princelings” with the Trump camp, represented
by one of his official business advisers, Anthony
Scaramucci, founder of hedge fund SkyBridge Capital and
Salt, a not
exactly stellar Las Vegas investment conference (the
next one is at the Bellagio in May).
Where’s the ticket to the Rothschild
“humanized” Davos 2017 is very worried about saving the
world – or at least saving the wealthy from most of the
world. The WEF has suddenly discovered that
globalization as we know it fosters massive inequality,
as much as globalization’s self-appointed managers
remain inflexible about their moral right to bend whole
nations to their will, as the “miraculous”
numbers of the Irish economy attest.
Thus an alarmed
WEF is promoting at least six sessions discussing
inequality, from “Combating Rising Insecurity and
Inequality” to “Squeezed and Angry: How to Fix the
Middle Class Crisis,” starring IMF’s Christine “Vuitton”
Lagarde and a bunch of hedge funders.
And this while
Oxfam revealed to the world the real G8 of inequality –
as in those
individuals who own as much wealth as the poorest 50% of
the world combined. Call them the Kings of
Globalization – featuring, among others, Bill Gates,
Amazon supremo Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg,
Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Michael Bloomberg, .
neo-Dadaist fashion, there could not be a more graphic
emblem for inequality than Davos itself. To get a green
card all-area-access, mostly in and around the
Grandhotel Belvedere, corporations must become
strategic partners of the WEF.
The list is a
beauty. Each membership costs a whopping US$600,000,
allowing a CEO to bring up to four cohorts; but still
they must pay for each individual ticket. And even that
does not guarantee an invitation to the glitziest party
in town, thrown by Nat Rothschild in tandem with Russian
billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
who shelled out the cash will hardly resist the chance
to hear Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg (with a US$1.3
billion fortune) expand on how “older” global leaders
can profit from the optimism of youth. Eric Schmidt
(worth US$11 billion), chairman of Google’s parent
company Alphabet, is also in town, but this time he
opted for discretion.
Listen to the sound of my ‘win-win’
Xi was very
careful not to advertize a new “Chinese consensus,” or
model, as the model itself is being carefully, and
What stood out
in his presentation is that Beijing does not interpret
globalization in a Western, turbo-neoliberal sense.
indeed benefits. They also do mask the plunder of the
developing world’s resources via stealth “international
laws” and (now dead in the water) trade agreements such
as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
or the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), mostly for the
benefit of the West’s 0.01%, who then become alarmed by
Xi instead is
promoting the notion of serial win-win deals; and that’s
why his positioning is essentially the ultimate glorious
pitch for the New Silk Road, a.k.a. One Belt, One Road (Obor)
project, largely featured in the last part of his
about Obor as an essential tool to tweak the Chinese
model; develop the Chinese Far West; open an array of
Eurasian markets; promote the internationalization of
the yuan; and of course consolidate a major geopolitical
shift, not least by neutralizing most of the Obama/Clinton
“pivot to Asia.”
So when we get
the concerted firepower of the Asian Infrastructure
Investment Bank (AIIB); the Silk Road Fund; and the New
Development Bank (NDB) under Brics (Brazil, Russia,
India, China and South Africa), we have enough capital
to generate generous financing for an infrastructure
bonanza from China, across Central Asia, and all the way
to Western Europe and Eastern Africa.
Kazakhstan, for instance, there are more than 50 deals
valued at over US$20 billion in effect. The new peace in
Syria negotiations – Russia, Iran and Turkey – will take
place in Astana, not Geneva. Kazakhstan represents the
intersection of the New Silk Roads and the Eurasia
Economic Union (EEU). Russia and China are luring Iran –
and later on Turkey – into the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization (SCO) fold. Syria, pacified and rebuilt,
will be a key plank of Obor. It’s all interlinked.
So what China
is proposing has nothing to do with deglobalization.
It’s rather about “localization.”
But trade deals
never die. With the death of TPP, Xi had to extol the
merits of the pan-Asian Regional Comprehensive Economic
Partnership (RCEP), which excludes the US but crucially
merges all of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
members with everyone ASEAN has trade deals with; China,
India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
will be a boon for manufacturing within the
vastly complex and broader supply chain
across Asia, smashing tariffs across the
board. That will include China-India trade.
Yet it remains to be seen how Prime Minister
Make in India campaign will cope with
opening up its markets to Chinese imports.
of course, Xi had to refer to the yuan
question. The yuan is currently overvalued.
The People’s Bank of China does not want it
to slide down even further; its priority is
a stable exchange rate – to stabilize trade.
Still, Danske Bank strategist Allen von
Mehren, who’s usually spot on, predicts the
yuan falling to 7.26 to the US dollar by the
end of September.
Somebody’s got to explain all this to Trump,
implications included. It won’t be
Scaramucci. Not to mention Peter Navarro,
Wilbur Ross, “Mad Dog” Mattis or Michael
Flynn. It has to be global helmsman Xi in
Escobar is correspondent-at-large for Asia
Times. His latest book is
2030, published by Nimble Books.