Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Democrats, about that tax reform bill
  The unseen Republican political strategy
  as Ryan says minds are going to change

Here's everything you need to know about the Republican tax bill (aka the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017), the most significant tax reform in 30 years.

In early 2018 the federal withholding tables will be scaled downward (see IRS notice). By March 2018 almost all middle class folks who draw a paycheck will see an increase in their take home pay resulting from that reduction in federal tax withholding. Let me repeat this for the Democrats and cocktail party liberals out there. By March 2018 almost all middle class folks who draw a paycheck will see an increase in their take home pay.


Democrats are, and apparently will continue to be, telling those folks their extra take home pay will be reduced to nothing by 2027, or in some cases 2023, or 2025 or.... Well, it's complicated and it will be different strokes for different middle class folks.

And they'll be telling those folks, the majority of whom are personally in a-bit-to0-deep debt, that the federal government's debt is going to rise, by some number which no one knows.

And maybe those liberals will publish for each other to read some long working papers and brilliant magazine articles on the inequities of the tax bill.

In any event, the "pointed-headed intellectuals" will be telling each other how bad the tax bill is/was.

And they'll share that discussion with the middle class workers who will be puzzling how what they are being told relates to their reality - extra bucks in the paycheck. (Yeah, ok, their electronic payroll deposit.)

If asked about the possible disappearance of that extra take home pay, the Republicans will explain that if the Democrats in 2017 had just joined them in cutting taxes they could make the middle class tax cuts permanent - all it would require is a one time rule change. And they will explain that the voters could replace the Democrats with Republicans and that will get the job done.

And the middle class folks who might just vote for Democrats in 2018 because of morality issues will be asking those very same Democrats in 2020 if they're going make permanent the Republican tax cuts for the working folks. Because they know that almost every year income tax rule adjustments are approved and that sometimes, such as in the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 when a bunch of extra tax rebates were sent out, the deficit issue is ignored by Democrats.

After all, the tax cuts for the rich and corporations (who donate to the Democrats as well as the Republicans) are permanent. Why would the Democrats in 2020 oppose that for the working folks?

So to summarize, all you need to know is that in 2018 most folks will take home more income because of the Republican tax cuts. By 2020 they will understand that it was the Democrats who made their tax cuts temporary - Donald Trump will tell them it is true. And it might be the simple truth.

(Note, the 2017 tax return most people will file in April 2018 - as well as January 2018 payments for those who pay taxes quarterly - will continue to follow the 2017 current tax code.)

Some will argue that it's not going to be that simple as various deductions change in the bill. Right? The LA Times offers this information for some real Californians:
The first thing you notice that the only loser in the the new tax bill lottery was the couple that owns a house. As explained by the Times:
    Maya Bader, 39, and her husband Matthew Pratt, 41, bought a new house last year. Between mortgage interest, property taxes and California income taxes, they took more than $58,000 in deductions....
    The plan allows taxpayers to deduct up to $10,000 in combined property and state income taxes....
    But Bader and Pratt, like many Californians who own homes and have good incomes, will still lose. They deducted more than $26,000 in state income and property taxes last year....
    They’ll also lose out on a deduction for interest paid on a home equity loan....
    Richer child tax credits will shave $4,000 off their tax bill.
With this explanation we can see the reality of who loses. Let's begin with income:

To begin with, to be a loser among these four examples, your household income must be in the top 14%. And to be a loser you apparently have to be unaware of the 2008 housing market bubble crash and go deeply into debt to buy a very expensive house.

The couple that rents itemized less deductions and, because the tax plan almost doubles the standard deduction and puts them in a lower tax rate, they will do better seeing their net income rise about $500 per month (compared to the $125 decrease on the homeowner couple). But that means that their federal tax will drop from almost $41,000 per year to almost $35,000 per year.

What is obvious to many Californians is that the federal government tax policy will stop subsidizing unjustified housing price inflation harming lower income folks in California urban areas.

Both higher earning couples in the Times story itemized. In the first part of 2019, as tax filing season gets underway, those taxpayers will be figuring out on their tax returns whether to take the standard deduction or to itemize. The losers will continue to itemize, but the couple with the highest income will probably stop itemizing.

Based on past statistics indicated in the chart below, just consider how few voters will be interested in all the BS in the press about various deductions. But then the press has to fill either space (print media) or time (video news):

Again, the new plan nearly doubles the standard deduction and alters the available itemized deductions (though it does away with the exemption system). So that percentage of taxpayers who itemize likely will go down making tax filing simpler for more people.

And for the Millennials who likely will have to live with much of this tax bill for 30 years, it may be a winner for those working and/or trying to get an education or training as explained by CNN Money.

Regarding all the other stuff in the tax bill, the average American knows that most of the rich and some corporations will do better. As they always do, along with their accountants and tax attorneys.

Really old people with memories know that it was a Democratic Congress that passed the Revenue Act of 1964 when the top tax rate on the relatively few rich folks that liberals carry on about was dropped by 20%, and that the Democrats controlled the House in 1982 when it was dropped by another 20%  and that the Democrats controlled both the House and Senate in 1988 when it was dropped by another 22%. Thus despite the warnings of Republican Dwight Eisenhower, the Democrats dropped the top marginal individual income tax rate from 91% in 1960 to 28% in 1988.

Since then it has gone back up -1991 to 31% and 1993 to 39.6% -  so now this big tax cut drops it all the way down to 37% from 39.6%.

What exactly again is the problem with this again, Democrats?

If anyone thinks the general public will understand and remember the intricacies of this tax bill in 2020, they are deluded. Let me offer a recent article on the bill from one of my sources of information on matters related to municipal issues which discusses complex special provisions in the Bill almost nobody in the general public knows about like "the brand new Base Erosion Anti-abuse Tax" (BEAT), the fact that "engineers and architects won a special exemption in the tax bill", and other matters.

Finally, while some corporations are big winners, some policy surprises lurk in this bill, maybe even for Donald Trump supporters, maybe even for Donald Trump who is never going read it. Consider this article The GOP tax bill is a massive victory for globalization. The possibilities when considered over the long term could mean economic opportunities for struggling California corporations such as Apple and those opportunities could accrue to California with the right incentives.

This is why we see the headline Speaker Paul Ryan: 'Minds are going to change' on Republican tax bill.

Of course, we all know that for any number of reasons before November 2020 the world's economy could be hit by a recession/depression or the U.S. could be hit with runaway inflation or...not. But one of the lesser-known aspect of the plan could create major economic growth: the provision that lets companies fully deduct their investments in plant and equipment in one year. When accelerated depreciation was introduced in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, according to Tax Foundation modeling the long term impact was an increase in the GDP by 2.69%.

The thing is, that tax bill is a winner for the Republicans and particularly the Koch Neoliberals who already dominate politics in America.

And the bill is a winner because it represents a dozen compromises, where Republicans have had to compromise with each other which resulted in such things as tuition waivers continued, employer tuition assistance remains non-taxable, some state and local taxes remain deductible, etc. No Democrats were involved in the compromises.

Right now the Koch Neoliberals are cheering the current liberal media/politicians sexual morality campaign because they understand that the very-repugnant-to-them Roy Moore received the following vote:

Nonetheless, in 2017 it's the Democrats who are putting at risk the most Congressional and legislative seats in the sexual morality campaign.

The Republicans understand that for American voters in 2020 it will be all about "the economy, stupid" meaning how much money the folks take home. And they will be taking home more money because of the Republicans.

That's because Republicans understand if you don't win, you have no power. For Democrats, it's about some complicated discussion among the indignant, not winning.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Foolish planning and the inevitable wildfires
  What could have been learned from John
  Steinbeck about California's true climate

The smoke obscures our vision of reality when it comes to wildfires. This week while reading California's Climate Emergency in Rolling Stone I was confronted with this statement:
In the hills above the Pacific Ocean, the world crossed a terrifying tipping point this week.
As the largest of this week's fires skipped across California's famed coastal highway 101 toward the beach, rare snowflakes were falling in Houston, all made possible by a truly extreme weather pattern that's locked the jet stream into a highly amplified state. It's difficult to find the words to adequately describe how weird this is. It's rare that the dissonance of climate change is this visceral.
For years, climate scientists have warned us that California was entering a year-round fire regime. For years, climate campaigners have been wondering what it would take to get people to wake up to the urgency of cutting fossil fuel emissions. For years, we've been tip-toeing as a civilization towards a point of no return.

That time is now.
Well, yes and no. As John Steinbeck said "...God save me from amateurs. [...] They have the authority of ignorance, something you simply cannot combat."

California has a climate history clearly described in the writings of that California native Steinbeck, most significantly in his second novel To A God Unknown published in 1933 which tells an allegorical tale of the California experience.

The protagonist, Joseph, comes to California to create his future. He discovers a place of apparent wealth and promise. And indeed he appears to be achieving all that he dreams. But over time, tragedies strike and drought undoes his life work.

The story is about the arrogance of Californians who hold the belief that their efforts as humans, individually and collectively, create orderly wealth in a place where natural wealth has always existed in its own order of things.

Steinbeck later acknowledged that To A God Unknown was the hardest for him to write, taking him more years than his better known works. Part of the problem is that he initially tried to adapt a play written by a friend but kept adding context based upon facts as he understood them. And what he understood from the generations of Californians who preceded him was the truth about the land and the water, a truth we need to face.
    About every thirty years there have come periods of rainlessness to Central and Southern California. These desolating years seem to come creeping up out of the white desert to warn the west that it will one day die as the desert has died. They are like the Reminders of Death at an Egyptian feast ....
    And now the periodic drought had settled on the land. Little by little, year on year the water was sucked from the ground. The hills looked gaunt and hungry and pale. The bones of many thousands of starved cattle were whitening on the ground. Two families of Waynes packed up their possessions and drove away. Joe watched his dying land with terror and with loathing. - From an early draft of To A God Unknown by John Steinbeck
Sadly Joe's "terror" derived from a normal California weather cycle. Twenty years ago in 1993, Scott Stine, Ph.D, of the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at California State University, Hayward, completed a research study entitled "Extreme and Persistent Drought in California and Patagonia During Mediaeval Time" which was subsequently published in June 1994 in the academic journal Nature. In it he offers the evidence, now supported by others, that indeed before and after the year 1000 AD California had two droughts that lasted well over 100 years.

In May 2001 the website Sierra Nature Notes: The Online Journal of Natural History News in the Sierra Nevada published a followup article by Stine "The Great Droughts of Y1K" in which he explained what he believed to be the weather pattern associated with the 100+ years droughts:
    One may reasonably ask why these droughts occurred. The simple answer lies in the wintertime configuration of the "storm track" (a.k.a. the "jet stream" and the "polar front") over the northeastern Pacific. When the storm track persists over California for much of the winter (as it did, say, in 1982, ‘83, 86, and ‘96), many Pacific cyclones are steered over the state, and we accumulate much precipitation. When the track lies to the north of California, the fronts are steered away, and the region remains dry. This latter case prevailed during the 1976-77—the one period of our instrumental record dry enough to provide an analog to the Medieval droughts....
    Evidence is now emerging that the "dry-winter-in-California, wet-winter-in-Alaska" model holds true not only for 1976-77, but for much of upper Medieval time as well....
    ...Persistent droughts, moderate by Medieval standards but strident relative to our "normal" conditions of the past 150 years, drew lakes and rivers well below their modern levels on numerous occasions during the past two millennia, most recently during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Indeed, increasing evidence indicates that there is little that is climatically "normal" about the past century - and- a-half; it appears, in fact, to be California’s third- or fourth-wettest century-scale period of the past four or more millennia.
    Since statehood, Californians have been living in the best of climatic times. And we’ve taken advantage of these best of times by building the most colossal urban and agricultural infrastructure in the entire world, all dependent on huge amounts of water, and all based on the assumption [it] will continue as it has during the past 150 years. Yet even in these best of times we have run out of surplus water, and we fight over allocation.
So yes, Climate Change may very well be speeding up the return to an "upper Medieval time" dry weather period measured in centuries. We could, of course, have simply read Steinbeck's story which  begins as California migration stories begin and ends with an expression of regret:
   After a time of wandering, Joseph came to the long valley called Nuestra Señora, and there he recorded his homestead. Nuestra Señora, the long valley of Our Lady in central California, was green and gold and yellow and blue when Joseph came into it. The level floor was deep in wild oats and canary mustard flowers.
   Joseph leaned back against his saddle again, and suddenly he chuckled. "I will go," he said. "I will take every means. Look, Juanita. You know this place, and your ancestors knew this place. Why did none of your people come here when the drought started. This was the place to come."
   "The old ones are dead," Juanita said soberly. "The young ones may have forgotten."
   And time passed and Joseph grew grey too.... "I should have known," he whispered.... "I am the land," he said, "and I am the rain." - from To A God Unknown by John Steinbeck
Indeed, the young ones do "forget" in the sense that from generation-to-generation people start over by leaping at opportunities without studying to learn the lessons of all times before them. And so in California there was this:

When the dust came up, people were starving; they had no place to go. Naturally, they went in a direction where they would not suffer from cold: they went toward California. They came in the thousands to California. - John Steinbeck in an interview on British radio
Life's struggles brought millions of migrants from states east of the Rocky Mountains to California as recognized in the above John Steinbeck quote. It also brought millions of migrants (which the other migrants called immigrants) from other nations. And because from 1950 through 1988, the California economy was rich by all comparative historical standards, they kept coming.

Ignoring history and Steinbeck, Californians bought land and built buildings and were and are homeowners and businesses owners. Now they have to live with what always was the normal California climate. And they need to quit calling it a "drought" when history and science tell us most of the 20th Century was a very extended wet cyclonic period, an abnormal time.

What we cannot do honestly is blame it on Global Warming which at worst only accelerated an inevitable timeline.

And we are not going to "fix it" because we are the environmentally aware California.

In fact, as explained in the San Francisco Chronicle despite our environmental activism California is the source of more harm than ever and it is just possible that human population growth and related governmental planning for real estate development based on historical scientific studies going back as long as ...oh... a couple of decades is a cause:
Over the course of just a few weeks, a major fire can pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than California’s many climate change programs can save in 12 months. Scientists debate whether California’s vast forests are emitting more carbon dioxide through fires than they absorb through plant growth.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Art of the Pro-Communist Deal 
  President Trump enlists the United States in
  Xi Jinping's 21st Century World Vision as U.S.
  Pacific allies reject him, and by necessity us

Forty-five years ago, in 1972, President Richard Nixon made a historic trip to open a diplomatic relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Over the past two weeks, President Donald Trump also made a historic visit to Asia to:
  1. Bestow the U.S. government's endorsement upon Chinese President and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping's Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road Initiative by encouraging American companies to make billions of dollars in investments in the economy of the People's Republic of China, some directly funding the Initiative, some not so transparent.
  2. Grant the U.S. government's approval of People's Republic of China government-affiliated companies and banks making
    1. investments in a natural gas project in Alaska;
    2. investments in shale gas development and chemical manufacturing projects in West Virginia; and
    3. investments to be managed by Goldman Sachs in American companies across the manufacturing, industrial, consumer and healthcare industries.
  3. Incite the remaining 11 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) nations in Asia and the Americas to achieve agreement on the “core elements” of what is to be known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), an agreement that prior to Trump's insulting speeches was thought impossible after the U.S. withdrawal from the original TPP.
  4. Abide a polite but firm statement from Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang and a blunt statement from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte telling the U.S. to stay out of their dispute with China over the South China Sea as they wanted to avoid any chance of war, a position affirmed by President Xi.
These results, which are as surprising as was Nixon's 1972 trip, represent major reversals in American trade policy, foreign policy, and foreign investment policy. These "achievements" are considered below under the headings:
  • Trump's Surprising Endorsement of China's Belt and Road Initiative
  • How Trump Incited the TPP Deal's Anti-American Pacific Trade Wall
  • The Choice: War or The Pacific Americas Prosperity Neighborhood
  • Remembering The Nixon China Surprise

Trump's Surprising Endorsement of China's Belt and Road Initiative

As reported in the Chinese press this week, Trump and Chinese President and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping "witnessed the signing of deals worth US$253 billion on Thursday, making the US head of state’s visit to China one of the most fruitful for Chinese and US businesses in terms of the value of agreements struck."

Perhaps we need to back up here and make clear what really happened during this China visit. Sure, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, United States trade representative Robert E. Lighthizer and Jared Kushner were there. And sure the American media did not provide boring in-depth economic explanations focusing instead on the personalities, in this case Trump and Xi, and in Vietnam Putin.

But the important policy fact about the China visit was that 29 other persons were specifically included to accompany Trump in China in order to further what appears to be the Trump Deplorable Trade Policy (TDTP) including in order of their business or organization name:
  1.  Mr. Seifollah Ghasemi, Chairman, President & CEO, Air Products of Allentown, Pennsylvania
  2.  Mr. Keith Meyer, President, Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) of Anchorage, Alaska
  3.  Governor Bill Walker, State of Alaska
  4.  Mr. Donald Chen, President, Asia-Pacific, Archer Daniels Midland Company of Chicago
  5.  Mr. Daniel Revers, Managing Partner, Arclight Capital Partners, LLC, of Boston
  6.  Mr. Mitch Snyder, President & CEO, Bell Helicopter of Fort Worth
  7.  Mr. Kevin McAllister, President and Chief Executive Officer, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Renton, Washington
  8.  Mr. Jack Fusco, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cheniere Energy, Inc., of Houston
  9.  Mr. Timothy Tangredi, President & CEO, Dais Analytic Corporation of Odessa, Florida
  10.  Mr. Frederick Jones, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Delfin Midstream, LLC, of Houston
  11.  Mr. Andrew Liveris, Executive Chairman, DowDuPont of Midland, Michigan
  12.  Mr. Luka Erceg, President & CEO, Drylet, LLC, of Houston
  13.  Mr. David Messer, CEO, Freepoint Commodities LLC, of Stamford, Connecticut
  14.  Mr. John Rice, President & CEO, GE Global Growth Organization, General Electric, of Boston
  15.  Mr. Shane Tedjarati, President, High Global Growth, Honeywell of Morris Plains, New Jersey
  16.   Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, Chief Executive Officer, Goldman Sachs of New York City
  17.  Mr. Vance Hum, President and Chief Executive Officer, I.M. Systems Group, Inc., of Rockville, Maryland
  18.  Mr. Theodore Walker, CEO, Worldwide Property & Casualty, Partner Reinsurance Company of the United States of Greenwich, Connecticut
  19.  Mr. Steve Mollenkopf, CEO, Qualcomm, Inc. of San Diego
  20.  Mr. Nick Lisi, Executive Vice President , SAS of Cary, North Carolina
  21.  Mr. Kevin Smith, CEO, SolarReserve of Santa Monica, California
  22.  Ms. Li Zhao, Country Representative, Stine Seed Company of Adel, Iowa
  23.  Mr. John Garrison, President & CEO, Terex Corporation of Westport, Connecticut
  24.  Mr. Langtry Meyer, Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Texas LNG Brownsville, LLC, of Brownsville, Texas
  25.  Mr. Paul Doherty, President and CEO, The Digit Group, Inc., of Memphis, Tennessee
  26.  Mr. Gianluca Pettiti, President, Thermo Fisher Scientific of Waltham, Massachusetts
  27.  Mr. Jim Miller, Chairman, U.S. Soybean Export Council of Chesterfield, Missouri
  28.  Mr. Paul Koenig, CEO, Viroment of Minneapolis, Minnesota
  29.  Mr. Jose Emeterio Gutierrez Elso, President & CEO, Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC, of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania
Speaking alongside Trump in Beijing as the deals were announced, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi reportedly welcomed U.S. companies to participate in his ambitious “Belt and Road” infrastructure-led initiative. In one deal reported, China’s Silk Road Fund and General Electric signed an agreement specifically to cooperate in investments under China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” as it was defined prior to Trump's visit.

But other "deals" appear to be an expansion of the “Belt and Road Initiative” into the United States. Perhaps we need to back up again and provide a description of the Initiative from the Wikipedia entry:
    The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, better known as the One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBOR), The Belt and Road (B&R) and The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a development strategy proposed by China's paramount leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily the People's Republic of China (PRC), the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the oceangoing Maritime Silk Road (MSR). The strategy underlines China's push to take a larger role in global affairs with a China-centered trading network.

   The Belt and Road initiative is geographically structured along 6 corridors, and the maritime silk road.
  • New Eurasian Land Bridge, running from Western China to Western Russia through Kazakhstan.
  • China–Mongolia–Russia Corridor, running from Northern China to Eastern Russia
  • China–Central Asia–West Asia Corridor, running from Western China to Turkey
  • China–Indochina Peninsula Corridor, running from Southern China to Singapore
  • China–Myanmar–Bangladesh–India Corridor, running from Southern China to Myanmar
  • China–Pakistan Corridor, running from South-Western China to Pakistan
  • Maritime Silk Road, running from the Chinese Coast through Singapore to the Mediterranean
    The area of the initiative is primarily Asia and Europe, encompassing around 60 countries. Oceania and East Africa are also included. Anticipated cumulative investment over an indefinite timescale is variously put at US$4 trillion or US$8 trillion. The initiative has been contrasted with the two US-centric trading arrangements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

    The Belt and Road Initiative is expected to bridge the 'infrastructure gap' and thus accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific area and Central and Eastern Europe: World Pensions Council (WPC) experts estimate that Asia excluding China will need up to $900 billion of infrastructure investments per year during the next 10 years, mostly in debt instruments. They conclude that current infrastructure spending on the continent is insufficient by 50%. "The gaping need for long term capital explains why many Asian and Eastern European heads of state "gladly expressed their interest to join this new international financial institution focusing solely on ‘real assets’ and infrastructure-driven economic growth".

    The Global Times hosts a news desk dedicated to the Belt and Road Initiative.
The GE deal is the only one transparently constituting an investment in the Eurasian-Africa elements of the Initiative. As explained by Chinese State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE),  the Silk Road Fund and GE established a joint energy infrastructure investment platform. The Silk Road Fund was founded in December 2014 and is jointly backed by China's foreign exchange reserves, China Investment Corp, the Export-Import Bank of China and China Development Bank.

The SAFE statement said: "The two sides will make joint investment in infrastructure projects in the fields of power grid, new energy, and oil and gas, in countries and regions along the Belt and Road. The cooperation between the Silk Road Fund and GE will not only boost cooperation between high-end manufacturing companies from China and the US, but also promote economic development of the regions where their investment goes."

What is surprising about three of the other "deals" is that they constitute PRC capital investments in the United States when the Eurasian-Africa elements need substantial capital as described above. Let's look at those three "deals."

Perhaps the deal stirring the most interest in America's Rust Belt is the world’s largest power company by asset value, China Energy Investment Corp. owned by the PRC, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the West Virginia Dept. of Commerce on an $83.7 billion plan to invest in shale gas development and chemical manufacturing projects in West Virginia, with some possible benefit to Ohio and Kentucky

"This investment by China Energy is the culmination of years of relationship building, both by West Virginia University and the state,” WVU President Gordon Gee said. “It is also an excellent example of the possibilities that we have been discussing within the West Virginia Forward initiative with our partners at the state Department of Commerce and Marshall University.

“As I have traveled the state talking about West Virginia Forward, I have frequently said we need a ‘quick win.’ In the economic development world, this is a nearly unprecedented big win. The agreement, and the ramifications from it, will help move West Virginia forward for years to come.”

In another "deal", China’s top state-owned oil company Sinopec, Bank Of China,  and China Investment Corp (which reports to the State Council of the People's Republic of China) agreed to help the State of Alaska develop a $43-billion natural gas project in Alaska.

Alaska Governor Bill Walker and others participate in a an agreement signing ceremony while Presidents Trump and General Secretary Xi observe

In a news release issued by the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corporation created by the Alaska Legislature in 2010, Alaska Governor Bill Walker states: “This is an agreement that will provide Alaska with an economic boom comparable to the development of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System in the 1970s.”

From the news release we learn:
    Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), the State of Alaska, China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec), CIC Capital Corporation (CIC Capital), and Bank of China (BOC), today announced a joint development agreement to advance Alaska LNG, Alaska’s strategic gas infrastructure project.
    The agreement was signed in the presence of United States President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping, and expresses the common interests in the preparatory work of Alaska LNG.
    Alaska LNG is designed as a 20 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) integrated LNG system comprised of a three train liquefaction plant in Southcentral Alaska at Nikiski; an approximately 800 mile, 1.1 meter diameter gas pipeline; a gas treatment plant on the North Slope of Alaska; and various interconnecting facilities to connect the Prudhoe Bay gas complex to the gas treatment plant.
    Under the agreement, the parties have agreed to work cooperatively on LNG marketing, financing, investment model and China content in Alaska LNG, and get a periodic result by 2018.
    “Today’s agreement brings the potential customer, lender, equity investor, and developer together with a common objective of crafting mutually beneficial agreements leading to increased LNG trade between Alaska and China,” said Keith Meyer, president, AGDC.
    “Sinopec is interested in the possibility of LNG purchase on a stable basis from Alaska LNG,” said Sinopec.
    “CIC Capital is an experienced financial investor in the energy and infrastructure sectors and has long been interested in investing in American LNG infrastructure. CIC Capital is pleased to work with fellow industry and financial partners on this project,” said CIC Capital.
    “As the most internationalized bank in China, Bank of China is willing to facilitate the China-U.S. energy cooperation and provide financial solutions for this transaction by taking advantage of its vast experiences and expertise in international mega-project financing,” said Bank of China.
    Sinopec is a huge, state-owned, fully integrated energy and chemical company. Based in Beijing, Sinopec is the largest oil and gas company in the world by revenue with annual revenue of USD 455.49 billion.
    CIC Capital is China’s direct investment arm, which is mandated to make direct investments and manage bilateral and multilateral fund investments in order to pursue long-term financial returns and promote international investment cooperation. CIC Capital is a market-oriented commercial entity with a specialized mandate and global reach. As a long-term financial investor, CIC invests on a commercial basis.
    Bank of China is a state-owned commercial bank. Bank of China ranks top 10 largest banks in the world by market capitalization value and provides a comprehensive range of financial services to clients in 52 countries and regions around the world.
    The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) is an independent, public corporation of the State of Alaska, empowered to maximize the benefit of Alaska’s vast North Slope natural gas resources through the development of infrastructure necessary to move the gas into local and international markets. Visit for up to date information.
The purpose of the agreement is to develop natural resources located in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA), an area of land owned by the federal government and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which is located to the west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The State of Alaska entered into an agreement with Sinopec - a PRC-owned "energy and chemical company," CIC Capital - a sovereign wealth fund responsible for managing part of the People's Republic of China's foreign exchange reserves, "China's direct investment arm," and the Bank of China - a PRC "state-owned commercial bank."

At a minimum it is curious that the Republican President of the United States Donald Trump oversaw the signing of the agreement while sitting with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping.

The third "deal" which for all intents and purposes looks like the expansion of the Initiative into the United States occurred despite earlier opposition to Chinese investment in U.S. companies by the Trump Administration, Congress, and the Pentagon.

Goldman Sachs and China Investment Corp (CIC) signed a strategic agreement to establish a China and United States industrial cooperation fund. The Cooperation Fund will target $5 billion in commitments with a broad mandate to invest in American companies in the manufacturing, industrial, consumer and healthcare industries, among others, that have or can develop a material business connection to China. The Cooperation Fund is designed to enhance commercial linkages and promote market access for US firms in China and will seek to improve the balance of the US-China trade relationship.

“The China-United States relationship is one of the most important in the world and strengthening economic and trade cooperation is vital to the economies of both countries,” said Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. “The Cooperation Fund will increase Chinese investment in the United States, creating more opportunities for American workers and contributing to China’s economic transition and growth.”

“CIC has invested in the US for ten years and is committed to be both an investor and facilitator to develop a stronger China-US investment relationship,” said Tu Guangshao, Vice Chairman and President of CIC. “The partnership will help promote China’s supply-side structural reform and economic transition, and by investing in the US, it will act as a multiplier for business growth throughout the country.”

The deals endorsed by Trump and Xi could be valued as much as $250 billion. Sure Boeing won orders and commitments worth $37 billion at list prices for 300 jets, including 260 narrow-body Boeing 737s and a total of 40 wide-body 787s and 777s from state purchasing agency China Aviation Supplies Holding Co. Other "deal" signings overseen by Trump and Xi include:
  • Delfin Midstream has reached a preliminary 15-year sales deal to supply 3 million tonnes a year of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to city gas distributor China Gas Holdings (0384.HK) from 2021.
  • Air Products and Chemicals (APD.N)  signed an agreement with Yankuang Group for a $3.5-bln coal-to-syngas production facility in China and signed an agreement to form a $1.3 billion joint venture (JV) with Lu’An Clean Energy Company, which will significantly expand Air Products’ scope of supply serving Lu’An Mining (Group) Co., Ltd.’s syngas-to-liquids production in Changzhi City, Shanxi Province, China..
  • Cheniere Energy Inc (LNG.A) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China National Petroleum Corp [CNPET.UL] for long-term LNG sales and purchase cooperation.
  • Westinghouse Electric Co. signed contracts with China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Co. to build six AP1000 nuclear power plants in China.
  • Bell Helicopter, part of Textron Inc (TXT.N), reached a deal to sell 50 additional Bell 505 helicopters to Reignwood International, with Reignwood also being named the craft’s exclusive reseller in China.
  • Terex Utilities Inc. and Xuzhou Handler Special Vehicle (300201.SZ) signed a strategic letter of intent for Xuzhou Handler to buy 5,000 insulated aerial devices from Terex over five years worth $250 million.
  • Qualcomm (QCOM.O) signed three non-binding agreements to sell $12 billion of semiconductors to Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo over the next three years.
  • Ford Motor (F.N) and China’s Anhui Zotye Automobile (000980.SZ) have agreed to invest a combined $756 million to set up a 50-50 joint venture in China to build electric passenger vehicles. 
  • The United States soybean industry including Archer Daniels Midland Company has signed letters of intent worth more than $5 billion – a $1 billion bump from similar contracts signed a year ago - with Chinese importers covering the purchase of an additional 12 million tonnes of soybeans in the 2017/18 marketing year.
  • JD.Com Inc (JD.O) said it would purchase more than $2 billion of U.S. agriculture and food products over the next three years, including at least $1.2 billion of beef from Montana Stock Growers Association and pork from Smithfield Foods Inc. [SFII.UL].
  • Drylet LLC agreed to form a joint venture with Nanjing Hoyo Municipal Utilities Investment and Administration for wastewater treatment in China. Hoyo Municipal Utilities Investment and Administration will also become an equity investor in Drylet.
  • Software company SAS signed a cooperation agreement with Shenzhen Zhenghong Technology to establish the Big Data Innovation Center for Smart Manufacturing in Shenzhen. 
  • Caterpillar, Inc. (CAT.N) and China Energy Investment Corporation signed a five-year strategic cooperative framework agreement covering future agreements for mining equipment sales and rentals, technology applications and product support.
And looking at a cross-section of other industries represented at the signing is interesting.

For instance, Minneapolis waste water treatment company Viroment signed an agreement with Hangzhou Iron and Steel worth $800 million addressing textile and sewage sludges for over 800 plants. Viroment also signed a $100-million agreement with Guangye Guangdong Environmental Protection Group to address sewage sludge solids disposal requirements in South China.

The agreements will allow more than 800 textile companies in eastern China’s Zhejiang province and 80 waste water treatment plants in southern Guangdong province to install Viroment technology to help them comply with China’s environmental regulations.

“Right now we have no footprint in China, so this is our kick-off,” Viroment’s chief executive Paul Koenig said. “If Trump wasn’t coming, I don’t think we would have pushed to have [such] large deals in writing.”

“Everyone’s excited and everyone’s motivated … you can pretty much always add one or more zeroes when you’re dealing with China,” Koenig said.

Koenig will attend three more trade missions to China later this year, with ongoing plans to work with companies in Hebei province and major port city Tianjin, and eventually “tackle all of China”.

Smart city developer The Digit Group of Memphis, already having a presence in China, signed three contracts worth a combined $1.9 billion, including one to build a 200-hectare virtual reality theme part in the eastern city of Qingdao.

DowDuPont signed a tire contract with bicycle-sharing startup Beijing Mobike Technology Co. to develop lighter, more durable materials for tires and saddles, as well as coatings, adhesives and synthetic rubber. The U.S. company said the agreement creates incentives for U.S. exports of polyurethane and other products. DowDuPont began working with Mobike last year, and about 2 million bicycles already use their tires.

Honeywell International Inc. inked a memorandum of understanding with China’s Oriental Energy to cooperate on an ethane dehydrogenation project of 600,000 tons a year. Like DowDuPont, its deal also involves an existing Chinese partner. Honeywell announced in May that two Oriental Energy subsidiaries had licensed its technology to begin producing propylene. Honeywell also signed a service contract with Spring Airlines Co., China’s biggest budget carrier that flies over 130 routes with a fleet of Airbus A320 planes. The deal would further develop Honeywell’s ties to China’s aviation industry. The U.S. company is a supplier for the C919, a new single-aisle plane being produced by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd.

Sure, this seems like good economic opportunities for American companies. Still, creating a positive focus on trade with the People's Republic of China and having open public discussion of PRC Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping's 21st Century Silk Economic Belt and Road during Trump's visit is bit of a surprise. China's "Belt and Road" initiative is its economic centerpiece for the future of international trade.

From a policy standpoint, a U.S. President endorsing
  • a U.S. private company's involvement in the "Belt and Road" and 
  • Communist-PRC-owned companies investing in U.S. natural resources and businesses 
represents a significant pro-China turn-around from the Trans-Pacific Partnership goal of resisting China's effort to dominate world trade in the future.

Not that the Trump Administration has backed down from U.S. imports trade issues. Disputes over such imports such as hardwood plywood continue where it has been determined that the Communist government is subsidizing product production costs.

But in light of that, it seems like a questionable move to have Communist-PRC-owned companies directly involved in the U.S. economy, obtaining ownership interests in U.S. corporations.

As noted in the prior post With thoughtful Chinese characteristics a President tends his plan for 1.4 billion  people for 2020 ...and 2035 ...and 2049 President Xi heads a 7000-year-old autocratic nation and clearly with regard to economics and business thinks in time frames far longer than the next quarterly report.

In his three hour and 23 minutes speech at the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Party General Secretary Xi Jinping under the title Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era laid out his vision for the Chinese people. “The Chinese nation … has stood up, grown rich, and become strong – and it now embraces the brilliant prospects of rejuvenation … It will be an era that sees China moving closer to center stage and making greater contributions to mankind.”

How Trump Incited the TPP Deal's Anti-American Pacific Trade Wall

In contrast to how Trump helped the "deals" in China, Trump's first stop on his trip was in Japan where he went on the attack.

For the U.S., the Japanese trade deficit is second only to that with China and to Trump that means the other side is somehow breaking the rules.  He said the U.S. has "suffered massive trade deficits at the hands of Japan for many, many years".

"We want free and reciprocal trade but right now our trade with Japan is not free and it's not reciprocal and I know it will be and we've started the process," Mr Trump told the group of US and Japanese executives. He took aim at Japanese carmakers in Tokyo.

"Try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over. That's not too much to ask," the US president said at the briefing, adding, "is that rude to ask"?

Rude? Yes. But also downright ignorant of some troublesome facts - you know, facts that Trump's Deplorables won't accept - about Japanese automakers, the ignorance of which allows him to create the Trump Deplorable Trade Policy.

Data shows that in 2016, three-quarters of Japanese branded cars sold in the US were manufactured in North America. Last year, those carmakers built nearly 4 million vehicles and 4.7 million engines in the US and contributed $45.6bn in total investment through 24 manufacturing plants, and 43 research and development and design centers in the U.S.

The problem isn't the Japanese. The problem is Americans who are still buying cars from Japan, along with agricultural goods, electronic components and pharmaceutical products.

American-made cars can be sold in Japan. But in a country where people cram onto mass-transit, there is no demand for American cars. Only a delusional person or an ignorant President would think otherwise.

While listening to Trump's misinformation and insults, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hadn’t forgotten that it was Trump who pulled out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, a move the U.S. president once again defended Monday.

Abe spent significant political capital to back the deal, particularly among farmers who don’t want to see tariffs on agriculture lowered. Japanese officials also say the TPP would’ve helped narrow the trade gap.

So Prime Minister Abe and other Japanese officials spent most of their energy during Trump's China visit on a process known as “TPP 11” -- an attempt to keep the Trans-Pacific Partnership framework intact with 11 nations and definitely without the U.S.

Trump left Japan with no changes in trade policy, went to China and seemingly embraced China's trade leadership, then moved on from China to Vietnam.

In Vietnam, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum was meeting, a forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting is attended by the heads of government of all APEC members.

In 2014 Xi was pushing APEC members to create a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) saying that it is a "strategic initiative critical for the long-term prosperity of the Asia-Pacific". He touts it as as "an institutional mechanism for ensuring an open economy in the Asia-Pacific." It has been China's offer of an alternative to what was the American-led  TPP until Trump rejected it.

This year the APEC meeting was held in Danang, Vietnam. In contrast to endorsing the "Belt and Road", according to the New York Times:
    President Trump on Friday vowed to protect American interests against foreign exploitation, preaching a starkly unilateralist approach to a group of leaders who once pinned their economic hopes on a regional trade pact led by the United States.
    “We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore,” Mr. Trump told business leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Danang, Vietnam. “I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.”
    But taking the stage at the same meeting immediately after Mr. Trump, President Xi Jinping of China delivered a sharply contrasting message, championing more robust engagement with the world. Mr. Xi used his own speech to make a spirited defense of globalization, saying relations among countries should be “more open, more inclusive, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all.”
    Mr. Trump’s remarks were strikingly hostile for an audience that included leaders who had supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping 12-nation accord that was to be led by the United States, from which Mr. Trump withdrew immediately after taking office.
Trump's logical fallacy is clear to Vietnam. Vietnam is the source of smart phones (Samsung), clothing and shoes (such as Walmart, Zara, and North Face brands) for Americans as well as the rest of the world. Like those Japanese cars, ordinary Americans are buying Vietnamese imports, mostly because alternatives are unaffordable.

Before and after Trump's speech, TPP-11 members continued negotiations. Key decisions were made by the TPP-11 countries indicated in green on the map below including Japan fuming over the new insults, plus Canada and Mexico recently insulted regarding the NAFTA talks.

As we learned from the Financial Times article TPP deal ignites criticism of US isolation on trade the United States will likely be isolated in terms of Pacific trade, ironically except for China:
    A weekend move by Japan and 10 other Pacific nations to press ahead with a vast regional trade agreement without the US has prompted fresh criticism that Donald Trump’s “America First” trade policy is leaving Washington increasingly isolated.
    The 11 remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the Obama administration spent years negotiating and Mr Trump pulled out of on his third day in office, announced on Saturday that they had reached agreement on the “core elements” of a deal to proceed without the US.
    The group still has work to do, as Canada, Malaysia and Vietnam seek changes to an agreement they have rebadged — at Canada’s request — as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
    But officials said the plan was to sign a final agreement early next year, in a deal that would eliminate the tariffs on 95 per cent of goods traded in a bloc covering some 500m people and more than $10tn in economic output.
    “This will send out a very strong message to the US and to other Asia-Pacific countries,” said Toshimitsu Motegi, the Japanese economy minister.
It is not a coincidence that the Japanese economy minister spoke for the group, but that wouldn't be noticed by those embracing the Trump Deplorable Trade Policy as they would never believe how much damage is being done to their grandchildren's economic future.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership is different from that achieved at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency.

About 20 provisions that were once part of the TPP talks have been "suspended," according to a joint statement by the agreement’s member countries. And there are still four sticking points — including a commitment on coal that affects Brunei — to solve, but experts say a final deal could be announced as early as next year.

But of real interest because it would preclude future American participation, most of the provisions in the chapter on intellectual property have been “suspended,” meaning they likely will be excluded from future negotiations. This includes the proposed 20 year increase in copyright term and the introduction of criminal penalties for circumventing technological protection measures.

The effect will be to put differing trade walls between the United States and every one of those countries on the map above between now and 2020. What Trump is putting at risk with his nationalistic "America First" speeches are the exports from the Pacific States as explained in the Progressive Pacific Message website which includes this information:

Note that all but one of the largest markets listed for exports from these states are countries on that map above and none are in Europe or a country on the Atlantic Ocean.

Based upon Trump's tacit endorsement of "Belt and Road" funding by American companies, it seems the Trump Deplorable Trade Policy (TDTP) has a great big gap in the direction of China. In the tables above, China is the largest export market for Washington and Oregon, and second behind Mexico if you combine China and Hong Kong for California.

But based on Trump's attacks in Japan and Vietnam, plus his prior attacks on NAFTA countries Canada and Mexico, the  Trump Deplorable Trade Policy (TDTP) is a threat to the economic well-being of the Pacific States, China notwithstanding.

In 2015 the LA Times ran an Infographic piece West Coast ports: What comes in, what goes out and what it's worth providing look at the volume and variety of both imports and exports at the 28 ports along the West Coast totaling over $630 billion in 2014 including smaller ones like the Port of Kalama, Washington (total 2014 trade $3.0 billion, top export Soybeans, top import Rolled iron and steel).

Consider this from The Daily News Local ports worry over Trump’s possible steel tariffs:
    At Steelscape and its subsidiaries, steel imports support about 800 jobs in the U.S., including 270 jobs at the Port of Kalama. The company imports hot rolled steel coils, which are processed into cold-rolled, flat steel for building materials such as siding and roofing.
    Although the company gets a small amount of steel from domestic sources, imports are the bedrock of its business model. Steelscape says it can save about $60 to $100 per a ton of steel by importing it through the Columbia River docks rather than shipping it in over the Rocky Mountain.
It might be tempting to say that this discussion represents a typical West Coast State versus the rest of America dispute and that Steelscape should bite the bullet and buy American steel or get out of business. But actually, should lernin' be a goal, as one could learn from Pittsburg: Steelmaker USS-POSCO in international trade dispute bind the assumption that somehow buying "American-made" steel will improve net employment in the Rust Belt is a foolish fallacious thought process.

The Choice: War or The Pacific Americas Prosperity Neighborhood

Trump left Vietnam for a visit to the Philippines. Both the Philippines and Vietnam have recently seen China disrupt oil and gas exploration in disputed areas of the South China Sea. While the U.S. ordinarily doesn’t take a position on territorial disputes, it has aggressively challenged China for moves to assert control over areas also claimed in part by Southeast Asian countries.

In early September the headline was US Navy to conduct regular naval patrols in South China Sea. In early October the headline was US Navy destroyer sails near disputed islands in South China Sea. Now the headline is Trump Offers to Broker Peace in South China Sea as Trip Wraps Up.

Trump's association with the Alt-Right spokesman Steve Bannon creates fear in the Asia-Pacific region. It is likely that on his trip Trump doesn't remember this statement Bannon made on his radio show in a March 2016 discussion with Neoliberal Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation:
    We’re going to war in the South China Sea. I was a sailor there. We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years. There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face – and you understand how important face is – and say it’s an ancient territorial sea. That's a throwdown, is it not sir.
Yes, Bannon is no longer a part of the Trump Administration. But China, Vietnam, and Philippine officials aren't foolish and ignorant - they study everything said about the South China Sea associated with the Trump Administration. They know there is considerable evidence that Bannon is respected by Trump. One can imagine how eyes might glaze over when Trump offers to mediate the dispute at least partly because of Trump's ignorance about what's actually going on.

Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang at a joint press briefing in Hanoi in response to questions about Trump's offer to mediate said “I have shared my thoughts with President Donald Trump on the recent developments in this area,” adding that Vietnam wanted to settle disputes through “peaceful negotiations” in accordance with international law.

The Philippines' overlapping claims with Chinese claims which expand beyond the Philippines to Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, was not part of the 40-minute discussions in the South China Sea when Trump sat down with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for their first formal bilateral talks in Manila.

Regarding Trump's offer to mediate, Duterte said: “The South China Sea is better left untouched. Nobody can afford to go to war.” Duterte, who turned towards China since taking office last year,  noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping told him on Saturday that he also didn’t want to “waste the lives of my countrymen for a useless war that cannot be won by anyone.”

Robespierre Bolivar, spokesman of the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, announced Monday that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei) will "commence the negotiations on a substantive and effective code of conduct" based on a framework established with China last August.

A draft copy of the announcement released previously to the media said, "While the situation is calmer now, we cannot take the current progress for granted." The statement said it is "important that we cooperate to maintain peace, stability, freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the SCS [South China Sea], in accordance with international law. It is in our collective interest to avoid miscalculations that could lead to escalation of tensions."

China claims most of the South China Sea, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world. ASEAN member nations Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Brunei, as well as Taiwan also claim overlapping parts of the area.

A code of conduct would serve as a guideline for the competing claimants on how their sea vessels and aircraft can pass through the territory without any dispute.

In other words, as Trump runs around the world announcing the Trump Deplorable Trade Policy (TDTP) of forcing negotiated bilateral arrangements - a laborious one-by-one process with other nations - the other nations are continuing to move forward with multilateral agreements.

The TDTP is popular in parts of the United States where book lernin' is detested.But the rest of the world realizes that bilateral ultimately equates with war because factually in the 20th Century bilateral resulted in the killing 160± million people in wars.

The leadership of the rest of the world understands that the Trump Deplorable Trade Policy cannot even achieve the goal of more jobs sought by the Deplorables because it has no teeth. The only way to significantly alter the trade deficit is to get Americans to quit buying stuff made elsewhere or to put up tariff walls both of which would disrupt the ability of the poor and middle-class to afford things they purchase, most significantly things like clothing, toys, appliances, electronics, even food.

The question Americans have to ask is the Trump Administration aggressively pursuing Bannon's war or a Pacific Americas Prosperity Neighborhood. An Asia Times headline recently asked Are US naval assertions in the South China Sea necessary? noting "US freedom of navigation operations in the Spratly Islands are pre-emptive challenges to China's potential claims and thus are beyond normal international practice." The article clearly explains why the awareness of  Bannon's "let's get into a war with China over the South China Sea" policy makes Asian's nervous.

It should be making all Americans nervous also. The multilateral free trade movement which could create a Pacific Americas Prosperity Neighborhood is an alternative to bilateral aggression and war. Smart trade economics is an alternative to war. The Trump Deplorable Trade Policy (TDTP) is not only not smart trade economics, it is a previously-abandoned-20th-Century-formula-for-causing-wars.

Remembering The Nixon China Surprise

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, forty-five years ago, in 1972, President Richard Nixon made a historic trip to China.

For 23 years, Americans had been isolated from China by the U.S. government. As explained in the Wikipedia entry on Nixon's trip: "The American ruling class was concerned that communists might dominate schools or labor unions."

At the time, Nixon's trip seemed almost shocking because as the 1952 vice-presidential candidate on the Eisenhower ticket his strong anti-communist stance was important in garnering votes.

As noted in another Wikipedia entry on the trip: "Because Nixon had an undisputed reputation of being a staunch anti-Communist, he was largely immune to any criticism of being 'soft on Communism' by figures on the right of American politics."

Per Wikipedia: "'Nixon going to China' has since become a metaphor for an unexpected or uncharacteristic action by a politician."

When one considers Trump's campaign bluster against trade with China, the actual details of his trip to China seem almost as surprising as Nixon's, except the surprise is the level of Trump's failure to protect the interest of Americans other than corporation executives like those who went on to China with him.

What was troubling during the 2016 campaign was Trump's opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement which resulted in what was to be its defeat.

The TPP was intended to counter China's growing dominance in trade among Pacific nations. Trump further bolstered that Chinese dominance on his trip and is isolating the United States from some of its most important allies in the Pacific.

Of course, in 1972 Nixon had Henry Kissinger as his National Security Adviser organizing his China trip. Prior to becoming National Security Advisor Kissinger was director of the Harvard Defense Studies Program and the Harvard International Seminar starting in 1951.

As reported in September, Trump had Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State organizing his China trip. Prior to becoming Secretary of State Tillerson was Exxon/Mobil chairman and CEO. Tillerson joined Exxon Company USA in 1975 as a production engineer.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

"Clear waters and green mountains are mountains of gold and silver."
   Seeking a Beautiful China and California
   together in harmony for our grandchildren

    Pollution has become a scourge in China, the debilitating consequences of rapid industrial development. Chinese people are exceedingly displeased to see their air, water and soil so polluted, and the government has responded by elevating "Green Development", the third development concept, to highest national importance. One of the pioneers has been East China's Zhejiang province, where in 2005 Xi Jinping, then Zhejiang Party secretary, famously said: "Clear waters and green mountains are mountains of gold and silver." Putting the theory into practice, Zhejiang has pioneered an "eco-compensation" system, which enables regions to both preserve the environment and develop eco-friendly industries. - from "The five major development concepts" by Robert Lawrence Kuhn
Xi Jinping, of course, has been President of China since March 14, 2013. And if you haven't read the other posts here, you can click on the images above where you might learn about the most important government policy developments of the 21st Century to date which will impact on your grandchildren's generation. You will also learn about Xi, the fellow human overseeing the implementation of those policies.
Of course, these government policy developments have nothing to do with Donald Trump. And of course, they are too complex for social media. And of course, because their goals are targeted for 2049 China they have no real impact on the day-to-day lives of Americans today. So of course, Americans generally have no awareness of them.

In 2005 Xi Jinping, then Zhejiang Province Communist Party Secretary, was not even on any pundits radar though in 2002 Xi was elected a full member of the 16th Central Committee. His environmental statement quoted above "Clear waters and green mountains are mountains of gold and silver" was far from pandering to the popular thinking.

In the first decade of this century, climate change skepticism in China was worse than in the U.S. as discussed in The Convenient Disappearance of Climate Change Denial in China: From Western plot to party line, how China embraced climate science to become a green-energy powerhouse. Fortunately, as the article notes: "By the time China adopted its 12th Five-Year Plan in 2011, a green strategy had begun to crystalize."

Keep that 2011 year in mind as you read this posted two weeks ago in the South China News:
    Ten years ago [October 2007], as early autumn set in and the Communist Party of China prepared to convene its 17th National Congress in Beijing, the names of two Lis – Liaoning party chief Li Keqiang and Jiangsu party chief Li Yuanchao – were making the rounds as odds-on favourites to emerge from the scrum of candidates to be anointed supreme leader-in-waiting of the party’s Fifth Generation.
    Newly appointed party chief of Shanghai, Xi Jinping, was not expected to contend for the post. He had just been elevated to his position in spring 2007, was expected to continue serving as Shanghai party chief, and there was no prior precedent of a regionally based leader serving concurrently on the party’s Politburo Standing Committee – the party’s highest decision-making organ.
    By mid-autumn, the script had been re-written.
    In the ‘open audition’ selection process at the party congress for the 25-member Politburo, which for the first time allowed all Central Committee members to vote from a wider pool of candidates drawn from provincial and ministerial-level cadres, Xi won the most support.
    The day after the National Congress, at the First Plenum of the party’s 17th Central Committee, Xi was selected as the sixth-ranking member of the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee and executive secretary of the party’s Secretariat. Later that December, he was appointed president of the Central Party School – mirroring the path that Hu Jintao had taken during his elevation to the supreme leader-in-waiting position in the late-1990s.
    That Xi was neither a protégé of Jiang [Jiang Zemin, President from 1993 to 2003] nor belonged to Hu-linked groupings [Hu Jintao, President from 2003 to 2013] – and therefore his elevation was beholden to neither factional politics nor to the reigning supreme leader’s dictates, was also instrumental in his meteoric rise to the top.
Five months later, at the 11th National People's Congress in March 2008, Xi was elected as Vice-President of the People's Republic of China. By the time of that 2011 Five Year Plan, Xi's vision of "clear waters and green mountains" had become the basis for policy.

On 15 November 2012, Xi Jinping was elected to the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission by the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and on 14 March 2013 was elected President of the People's Republic of China by the 12th National People's Congress.

China is the largest country in the world in terms of population, second only to Russia in terms of land area, and the second only to the United States in terms of GDP (though China is firstcwhen measured by purchasing power parity). As noted in the May 23 post linked above, California and Californians need strong ties to China for economic growth and measures to reduce climate change impacts.

In the pictures at the top of this post, Governor Jerry Brown is shown during his June 2017 trip to China with Chinese  Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang (left) and with Chinese President Xi Jinping (right).

Shortly before meeting with President Xi, Brown, one of the co-chairs of a bipartisan group of U.S. Governors called the Climate Alliance,  signed an agreement providing that China and the Golden State will work together on cutting their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over time.

From renewable energy technologies to zero-emission vehicles, from low carbon infrastructures to electricity efficiency savings, a working group of top-level officials from both sides will continually plot ways to cooperate on climate measures and to zero in on initiatives that will help both countries cut their carbon footprints.

The agreement builds on subnational pacts Brown signed with officials in Sichuan and Jiangsu provinces earlier this week.

“California is the leading economic state in America and we are also the pioneering state on clean technology, cap and trade, electric vehicles and batteries, but we can’t do it alone,” Brown said before a Chinese delegation.

"I have proposed that California will cut its greenhouse gases 40 per cent below 1990 levels and that we'll have 50 per cent of our electricity from renewables," Brown told President Xi Jinping in a 45-minute meeting.

"To keep that goal, we need a very close partnership with China - with your businesses, with your provinces, with your universities," Brown said. 

"Nobody can stay on the sidelines. We can't afford any dropouts in the tremendous human challenge to make the transition to a sustainable future," Brown said during a green energy conference in Beijing. "Disaster still looms and we've got to make the turn."

Chinese President Xi expressed support for California to play a bigger role in promoting exchange and cooperation between China and the United States. He said he hoped California could continue to promote bilateral exchanges between localities and contribute more to China-U.S. cooperation in areas including technology, innovation and green development.  He welcomed California to join the Belt and Road Initiative.

Voicing appreciation of Xi's speech at the World Economic Forum annual meeting at Davos in January, Brown said California was willing to join the construction of the Belt and Road and was looking forward to a stronger cooperative relationship with China in trade, investment, clean technology and environmental protection.

Which brings us to the point of these posts. Climate change and economic issues in California are intricately tied to China. And going even further, understanding Chinese history, problems, and politics can help to understand the continuing political evolution of the United States and particularly of California. For example, consider the issue of multiculturalism.

China has about 7000 years of history, 1.4 billion people, and 56± ethnic groups. About 92% are considered Han Chinese while 8% are:

Ethnic Group
Major Areas of Distribution
Yunnan, Guizhou
Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Xinjiang
Guizhou, Hunan, Guangxi
Gansu, Xinjiang
Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang
Ningxia, Gansu, Henan, Hebei, Qinghai, Shandong, Yunnan, Xinjiang, Anhui, Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Shaanxi, Beijing, Tianjin
Taiwan (population not counted), Fujian
Guizhou, Guangxi
Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai
Xinjiang, Heilongjiang
Jilin, Liaoning, Heilongjiang
Yunnan, Sichuan
Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Hebei, Beijing, Inner Mongolia
Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hainan, Hubei
Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Qinghai
Yannan, Sichuan
Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang
Qinghai, Gansu
Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Guangdong
Guizhou, Guangxi
Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Yunan
Qinghai, Gansu
Hunnan, Hubei
Xinjiang, Liaoning, Jilin
Guangxi, Hunan, Ynnan, Guangdong, Guizhou
Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi
Guangxi, Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou

If one wants to talk about a "melting pot" and assimilation or multicultural diversity, China is the place to go, not the United States. DNA sampling indicates that the Han Chinese have about the same kind of historical experience as white European Americans - practically everybody is mixed because that is the result of constant human migration.

Language, however, does represent a clearer picture of multicultural diversity. Let's begin with this from the Microsoft Technet Citizenship Asia Pacific site Celebrating Linguistic Diversity on International Mother Language Day:

On 21 February, we celebrate International Mother Language Day, aimed at promoting linguistic and cultural diversity and multi- lingualism. A world map denoting the native languages spoken in different countries. Image courtesy of Daniel Dalet on

2,200—that is the estimated number of languages spoken in Asia Pacific, more than any other region in the world. Check out some interesting facts about Asian languages that you might have missed out learning in school:
  • Mandarin Chinese has the most native speakers of any language, with an estimated 12.5 percent of the world's population speaking it as their first language. If you are planning to pick up Mandarin, don’t be daunted by the fact that it has 50,000 characters—practice always makes perfect!
  • There are 830 listed languages in the island state of Papua New Guinea (PNG), accounting for the greatest concentration of linguistic diversity on Earth today. Sitting in what is known as a language hot-spot—an area where many languages face the threat of extinction—linguists from National Geographic’s Enduring Voices programme are surveying many in PNG to better understand the world’s languages and the forces that drive language extinction.
  • Asia is home to some of the world’s most endangered languages, including the Ainu in Japan, Dumi in Nepal and Manchu from China. The youngest speakers of these languages are often grandparents themselves, who are only able to speak them partially and infrequently.
While this rich variety of languages continues to shape and preserve the unique cultural identities of many Asian communities, language barriers can be a significant concern.
Within China there is a diversity of languages and cultures many as 292 living language identified though most are very small populations. The map below gives a sense of the areas where larger populations speak a language other than Mandarin which is spoken by 70% of the population:

This gives China problems as reflected in this 2016 story China aims to ease ethnic tensions with integration policy which is an indication that 7000 years of history still offers no solution to the "melting pot" versus "multicultural diversity" debate.

Pictures do appear in the press like the one on the right of police patroling the streets of the Muslim Uighur quarter in Urumqi after a series of violent incidents hit the Xinjiang region in the summer of 2013. China’s state-run media blamed around 100 people it branded as “terrorists” for sparking “riots” in the ethnically-divided region of western China.

On December 31, 2013, President Xi Jinping appeared on CCTV and extended his “New Year’s wishes to Chinese of all ethnic groups.”

The history is complicated as it is in the United States. As one commenter noted in Are Ethnic Tensions on the Rise in China? the answer is time frame dependent. From month to month the answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. Since the formation of the People's Republic of China in 1949 regarding the Tibetans and Uighurs, China saw major armed rebellions during the mid 1950s, the imposition of martial law in 1989, and the 1990s were particularly volatile with many clashes, bombings, and assassinations. So right now, ethnic tensions are not quite so tense.

But just like us, they will see pictures appear like the one above and in this modern age occasional disturbing videos. Because just like us, they find it complicated to bring humans together. It is what makes politics and governing difficult.

Xi clearly stated that he wants a "country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful." His Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road plan covering 65 nations, about 60 per cent of the world’s population and a third of global GDP, involves the integration of a large region into a cohesive economic area through building infrastructure, increasing cultural exchanges, and broadening trade (see more details in the May 23 post here). He invited California to participate when meeting with Governor Brown.

We in California need to understand China and its politics. And we need to understand it without a bias that derives from a mid-20th Century view of communism. As explained in the last post, the folks in charge over there are the ones who were shipped off to rural farms to work after their parents were arrested, imprisoned, humiliated, tortured, and in some cases killed. It's safe to assume that they want far better for the next generations.

We need to be seeking together in harmony a beautiful China and California with clear waters and green mountains for our grandchildren. Xi and Brown are making the effort. So should all of us.