Silky Road to Glory
By Pepe Escobar
November 16, 2014 "ICH"
If there were
any remaining doubts about the unlimited stupidity
Western corporate media is capable of dishing out,
the highlight of the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing has been
defined as Russian President Vladimir Putin
supposedly "hitting" on Chinese President Xi
Jinping's wife - and the subsequent Chinese
censoring of the moment when Putin draped a shawl
over her shoulders in the cold air where the leaders
were assembled. What next? Putin and Xi denounced as
a gay couple?
Let's dump the clowns and get down to the serious
business. Right at the start, President Xi urged
APEC to "add firewood to the fire of the
Asia-Pacific and world economy". Two days later,
China got what it wanted on all fronts.
1) Beijing had all 21 APEC member-nations endorsing
the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) -
the Chinese vision of an "all inclusive, all-win"
trade deal capable of advancing Asia-Pacific
cooperation - see
South China Morning Post (paywall). The loser
was the US-driven, corporate-redacted, fiercely
opposed (especially by Japan and Malaysia) 12-nation
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). [See also
2) Beijing advanced its blueprint for "all-round
connectivity" (in Xi's words) across Asia-Pacific -
which implies a multi-pronged strategy. One of its
key features is the implementation of the
Beijing-based US$50 billion Asian Infrastructure
Investment Bank. That's China's response to
Washington refusing to give it a more representative
voice at the International Monetary Fund than the
current, paltry 3.8% of votes (a smaller percentage
than the 4.5% held by stagnated France).
3) Beijing and Moscow committed to a
second gas mega-deal - this one through the
Altai pipeline in Western Siberia - after the
initial "Power of Siberia" mega-deal clinched last
4) Beijing announced the funneling of no less than
US$40 billion to start building the Silk Road
Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk
Predictably, once again, this vertiginous flurry of
deals and investment had to converge towards the
most spectacular, ambitious, wide-ranging
plurinational infrastructure offensive ever
attempted: the multiple New Silk Roads - that
complex network of high-speed rail, pipelines,
ports, fiber optic cables and state of the art
telecom that China is already building across the
Central Asian stans, linked to Russia, Iran, Turkey
and the Indian Ocean, and branching out to
Europe all the way to Venice, Rotterdam, Duisburg
Now imagine the paralyzed terror of the
Washington/Wall Street elites as they stare at
Xi's "Asia-Pacific Dream" way beyond East Asia
towards all-out, pan-Eurasia trade - with the center
being, what else, the Middle Kingdom; a near future
Eurasia as a massive Chinese Silk Belt with, in
selected latitudes, a sort of development
condominium with Russia.
Vlad doesn't do stupid stuff
As for "Don Juan" Putin, everything one needs to
know about Asia-Pacific as a Russian
strategic/economic priority was distilled in his
intervention at the
APEC CEO summit.
This was in fact an economic update of his by now
speech at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi in
October, followed by a wide-ranging Q&A, which was
also duly ignored by Western corporate media (or
spun as yet more "aggression").
The Kremlin has conclusively established that
Washington/Wall Street elites have absolutely no
intention of allowing a minimum of multipolarity in
international relations. What's left is chaos.
There's no question that Moscow pivoting away from
the West and towards East Asia is a process directly
influenced by President Barack Obama's
self-described "Don't Do Stupid Stuff" foreign
policy doctrine, a formula he came up with aboard
Air Force One when coming back last April from a
trip to - where else - Asia.
But the Russia-China symbiosis/strategic partnership
is developing in multiple levels.
On energy, Russia is turning east because that's
where top demand is. On finance, Moscow ended the
pegging of the rouble to the US dollar and euro; not
surprisingly the US dollar instantly - if only
briefly - dropped against the rouble. Russian bank
VTB announced it may leave the London Stock Exchange
for Shanghai's - which is about to become directly
linked to Hong Kong. And Hong Kong, for its part, is
attracting Russian energy giants.
Now mix all these key developments with the massive
yuan-rouble energy double deal, and the picture is
clear; Russia is actively protecting itself from
speculative/politically motivated Western attacks
against its currency.
The Russia-China symbiosis/strategic partnership
visibly expands on energy, finance and, also
inevitably, on the military technology front. That
includes, crucially, Moscow selling Beijing the
S-400 air defense system and, in the future, the
S-500 - against which the Americans are sitting
ducks; and this while Beijing develops
surface-to-ship missiles that can take out
everything the US Navy can muster.
Anyway, at APEC, Xi and Obama at least agreed to
establish a mutual reporting mechanism on major
military operations. That might - and the operative
word is "might" - prevent an East Asia replica of
relentless NATO-style whining of the "Russia has
invaded Ukraine!" kind.
Freak out, neo-cons
When Little Dubya Bush came to power in early 2001,
the neo-cons were faced with a stark fact: it was
just a matter of time before the US would
irreversibly lose its global geopolitical and
economic hegemony. So there were only two choices;
either manage the decline, or bet the whole farm to
consolidate global hegemony using - what else - war.
We all know about the wishful thinking enveloping
the "low-cost" war on Iraq - from Paul Wolfowitz's
"We are the new OPEC" to the fantasy of Washington
being able to decisively intimidate all potential
challengers, the EU, Russia and China.
And we all know how it went spectacularly wrong.
Even as that trillionaire adventure, as Minqi Li
analyzed in The Rise of China and the Demise of
the Capitalist World Economy, "has squandered US
imperialism's remaining space for strategic
maneuver", the humanitarian imperialists of the
Obama administration still have not given up,
refusing to admit the US has lost any ability to
provide any meaningful solution to the current, as
Immanuel Wallerstein would define it, world-system.
There are sporadic signs of intelligent geopolitical
life in US academia, such as
this at the Wilson Center website (although
Russia and China are not a "challenge" to a supposed
world "order": their partnership is actually geared
to create some order among the chaos.)
this opinion piece at USNews is the kind of
stuff passing for academic "analysis" in US media.
On top of it, Washington/Wall Street elites -
through their myopic Think Tankland - still cling to
mythical platitudes such as the "historical" US role
as arbiter of modern Asia and key balancer of power.
So no wonder public opinion in the US - and Western
Europe - cannot even imagine the earth-shattering
impact the New Silk Roads will have in the
geopolitics of the young 21st century.
Washington/Wall Street elites - talk about Cold War
hubris - always took for granted that Beijing and
Moscow would be totally apart. Now puzzlement
prevails. Note how the Obama administration's
"pivoting to Asia" has been completely erased from
the narrative - after Beijing identified it for what
it is: a warlike provocation. The new meme is
German businesses, for their part, are absolutely
going bonkers with Xi's New Silk Roads uniting
Beijing to Berlin - crucially via Moscow. German
politicians sooner rather than later will have to
get the message.
All this will be discussed behind closed doors this
weekend at key meetings on the sidelines of the
Group of 20 in Australia. The Russia-China-Germany
alliance-in-the-making will be there. The BRICS,
crisis or no crisis, will be there. All the players
in the G-20 actively working for a multipolar world
will be there.
APEC once again has shown that the more geopolitics
change, the more it won't stay the same; as the
exceptional dogs of war, inequality and divide and
rule keep barking, the China-Russia pan-Eurasian
caravan will keep going, going, going - further on
down the (multipolar) road.
Pepe Escobar is the author of
Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving
into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007),
Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the
surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and
Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd
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