Pepe Escobar: How Singapore, Astana, & St.Petersburg Preview A New World Order

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

Key economic forums in cities across Eurasia point the way to new power structures rising to challenge Western dominance...

Ahead of the crucial Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao this coming weekend, three other recent events have offered clues on how the new world order is coming about.

The Astana Economic Forum in Kazakhstan centered on how mega-partnerships are changing world trade. Participants included the president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Jin Liqun; Andrew Belyaninov from the Eurasian Development Bank; former Italian Prime Minister and president of the EU Commission Romano Prodi; deputy director-general of the WTO Alan Wolff; and Glenn Diesen from the University of Western Sydney.

Diesen, a Norwegian who studied in Holland and teaches in Australia, is the author of a must-read book, Russia’s Geoeconomic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia, in which he analyzes in excruciating detail how Moscow is planning “to manage the continent from the heartland by enhancing collective autonomy and influence, and thus evict US hegemony directed from the periphery.”

In parallel, as Diesen argues, Moscow aims “to ensure the sustainability of an integrated Eurasia by establishing a balance of power or ‘balance of dependence’ to prevent the continent from being dominated by one power, with China being the most plausible candidate.”

In a nutshell; this New Great Game installment revolves around “Russia’s strategy to enhance its bargaining power with the West by pivoting to the East.”

Concerning Astana, Diesen told me that the AIIB’s Liqun “took the hardest stance in defense of diversifying financial instruments, while Belyaninov was very critical of anti-Russian sanctions.”

Diesen argues that:The emergence of economic mega-blocks actually improves economic relations by creating more symmetry. For example, China’s CIPS (Cross-Border Interbank Payment System) undermined the ability of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) to be used for economic coercion, while CIPS and SWIFT still cooperate. Similarly, the EAEU [Eurasia Economic Union] gets its strength from the ability to integrate with other regions as opposed to isolating itself.”

And here’s the clincher: “China’s cooperation with the EAEU mitigates Russian concerns about asymmetries, and enables greater EAEU-BRI [Belt and Road Initiative] integration under the stewardship of the SCO. Also, unlike the EU, the EAEU provides great benefit to non-members (non-zero sum) by creating an effective transportation corridor with harmonized tariffs, standards, etc.”

Diesen remarked how Liqun, a key character in the whole game, “is very positive about the Eurasian Economic Union and insistent on the positive-sum game of integration of regions.” Liqun is “direct, honest and forceful” and does not refrain from criticizing the Trump administration, arguing “there is not a trade war between the US and China, it is a US trade war against the world.”

Add to the debate the crucial Astana headline, ignored by Western corporate media: Iran signed a provisional free-trade-zone agreement with the EAEU, lowering or abolishing customs duties, and opening the way for a final deal in 2021. For Iran, that will be a golden ticket to do business way beyond Southwest Asia, integrating it further with Russia and also Kazakhstan, which happens to be a key member of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

All about Eurasian integration

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is the annual Russian equivalent of Davos. Predictably, coverage on Western media was appalling – at best rehashing bits and pieces of the joint press conference held by presidents Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron.

There was no mention, as Asia Times previously reported, of how Moscow was instrumental in ironing out differences between North and South Korea at the Far East summit in Vladivostok last September, impressing the need for a win-win regional business plan; the integration of the Trans-Siberian with a future Trans-Korean railway, a key plank of Eurasia integration.

When it comes to tracking Eurasia integration, SPIEF is invaluable. The St Petersburg get-together has also been a traditional forum for key SCO discussions. One panel illustrated how the Shanghai forum is fast advancing on the trade and economic front; new members India and Pakistan are now very much active in the SCO Business Council. The discussion of the business, industrial and technological agenda for observer states was also important; that’s where Iran, a future full SCO member, fits in.

Eurasia integration also featured on another panel about new logistical routes opened by international transport corridors – very much the stuff BRI and the EAEU are made of.

And the BRICS revival was also part of the picture, as attested by this panel on the BRICS in Africa “leveraging the Fourth Industrial Revolution” for economic development, featuring the president of the BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB), Kundapur Kamath, and Jiakang Sun, the executive vice-president of Chinese giant COSCO Shipping Corp.

Yet the clincher in terms of possible game-changing relations between Russia and Europe came from Finance Minister and first deputy Prime Minister Anton Siluanov: “As we see, restrictions imposed by the American partners are of an extraterritorial nature. The possibility of switching from the US dollar to the euro in settlements depends on Europe’s stance toward Washington’s position.”

So once again the EU was on the spot – on both crucial fronts, Iran and Russia. Siluanov left the door wide open: “If our European partners declare their position unequivocally, we could definitely see a way to use the European common currency for financial settlements, such as payments for goods and services, which today are often subject to restrictions.”

Siluanov did not fail to mention that Russia, as much as China and Iran, is already bypassing the US dollar. That accounts for three crucial nodes of Eurasian integration, and that’s the way to go for BRI, EAEU, SCO and BRICS.

The Indo-Pacific enigma

Meanwhile, the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore has been the top venue for defense diplomacy debate in the Asia-Pacific since 2001.

With the “Indo-Pacific” concept is hyped to the extreme, it was up to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the keynote speaker, to strike a deft balancing act.

Even as Modi said the Indo-Pacific should not develop as an exclusive club, he took pains to stress that “Asia and the world will have a better future when India and China work together in trust and confidence. No other relationship of India has as many layers as our relationship with China.”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed the “Indo-Pacific” push as an “attention-grabbing idea” that will “dissipate like ocean foam,” as he hopes that the Quad – US, India, Japan, Australia – does not focus on targeting China, like the previous Obama administration “pivot to Asia.”

The problem is the Indo-Pacific focus, in practice, amounts to a military counterpunch to BRI, with no wide-ranging economic cooperation dimension apart from sketchy plans for a “new global infrastructure.” Compare it, for instance, with China financing over 130 projects within the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation framework, integrating Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam into the Chinese economy.

BRI is a multi-trillion-dollar, multinational, decades-long, inclusive project. As Wang Yiwei, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of the Renmin University of China, said “All SCO members are participating in BRI, and this organization [SCO] is the initiative’s security guarantee.”

Yet when it comes to the Indo-Pacific sphere, the US, Japan and Australia are not SCO members. And India still refuses to acknowledge the SCO is interlinked with BRI.

Moreover, everything about BRI cannot but clash front-on with the depth and reach of the US across Asia. So the security stress is inevitable. The 10-nation ASEAN, caught in the middle, is adopting at best a “wait and see” strategy. Indonesia at least is venturing a step ahead, promoting a non-confrontational “Indo-Pacific cooperation concept.”

The bottom line is that China’s relentless drive to multiply Chinese-organized solutions in international relations is unstoppable. As in Wang Yi’s discreet but forceful diplomacy leading to Kim Jong-un’s first visit to China; President Xi solidifying his role as the go-to leader of globalization 2.0; and the Chinese leadership as a whole arguing that the future of Asia-Pacific security cannot be hostage to a Cold War 2.0 mentality.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ warning to China in Singapore of “much larger consequences” if its sovereignty expansion across virtually the whole South China Sea is not contained may be an idle threat. Beijing has no intention to restrict freedom of navigation in the South China Sea; for a mercantile giant, that would be counter-productive. The whole game is about high-stakes geopolitical control. Even the new head of the renamed US Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip Davidson, had to admit to the US Senate that short of war between China and the US, Beijing will prevail in the South China Sea.

Welcome to the post-Westphalian world

In his latest, avowedly “provocative” slim volume, Has the West Lost It?former Singaporean ambassador to the UN and current Professor in the Practice of Public Policy at the National University, Kishore Mahbubani frames the key question: “Viewed against the backdrop of the past 1,800 years, the recent period of Western relative over-performance against other civilizations is a major historical aberration. All such aberrations come to a natural end, and that is happening now.”

It is enlightening to remember that at the Shangri-la Dialogue two years ago, Professor Xiang Lanxin, director of the Centre of One Belt and One Road Studies at the China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation, described BRI as an avenue to a ‘post-Westphalian world.’

That’s where we are now.

Western elites cannot but worry when central banks in China, Russia, India and Turkey actively increase their physical gold stash; when Moscow and Beijing discuss launching a gold-backed currency system to replace the US dollar; when the IMF warns that the debt burden of the global economy has reached $237 trillion; when the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warns that, on top of that there is also an ungraspable $750 trillion in additional debt outstanding in derivatives.

Mahbubani states the obvious: “The era of Western domination is coming to an end.” Western elites, he adds, “should lift their sights from their domestic civil wars and focus on the larger global challenges. Instead, they are, in various ways, accelerating their irrelevance and disintegration.”

Meanwhile, Eurasian integration, as depicted in Diesen’s book, is slowly but surely redefining the future.

Comments

Adolfsteinbergovitch Max.Power Fri, 06/08/2018 - 02:42 Permalink

The real change being: Putin's vision is actually not to create an empire à la USA, but rather a community of countries cooperating together through commercial activities. This is a real vision that could advance humanity because it does not concentrate power and wealth in a unique and exceptional country; but I'm not holding my breath. In this kind of environment sharks abound. 

P.s.: and yes, Astana is by and large a creepy Masonic city. 

In reply to by Max.Power

new game Adolfsteinbergovitch Fri, 06/08/2018 - 05:52 Permalink

if anybody reading this doesn't understand that another power will emerge and hijack it to their

own "national" gain with another swampy heathen cabel of crocks running the show for personnel gain, they are idiots.

and the ones behind the scenes will emerge and co mingle with their vast reserves of ill gotten wealth.

nothing changes behind the scenes in this rosey posey peppy hope and change bullshit rose colored article of complete bullshit.

one thing life has taught me is humans do shity things(at all levels) to control other humans for their own power and ego driven satisfaction at ANY cost. that includes killing, maiming, and not giving one shit about billions living a destitute life in poverty.

it is all about the yacht, a jet, 5 castles and 4 summer homes...

pure psychopathical narcissistic demons rise to this level of existence... 

government, especially!!! and corporate board rooms are the breeding grounds for these types.

i proof read and up voted myself-full disclosure....(lol)

In reply to by Adolfsteinbergovitch

NidStyles new game Fri, 06/08/2018 - 08:32 Permalink

I just want a sailboat large enough for my uses.

Yes, I am a psychopath, and when I needed help where were all of these love people at? The ones I met were try to get me to turn gay or pull homo tricks. Had everything stolen from me and whole group of people threatening me for some crime that they won’t tell me about.

 

I am done helping everyone. Their own bs ruined that for me.

In reply to by new game

. . . _ _ _ . . . NidStyles Fri, 06/08/2018 - 08:53 Permalink

You may remember the speeches given by Obama and Putin on the same day. While the world was watching them feud, Nazarbayev slipped in some doozies. (From my blog:)

With all the new investment opportunities (mostly from the USA) as well as the very close ties to Russia, it seems odd that Nursultan Nazarbayev (who also attended a NATO summit on Afghanistan in 2010) would say the things he said at the UN during a speech he gave on September 28th, 2015 (which, oddly enough, is not on the UN’s video channel,) to wit:

  • That the world should move towards a global currency (thus stripping the USA of its reserve currency status.)
  • That the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be removed from USA control and folded into the UN.
  • That the headquarters of the UN should be moved from New York to somewhere in Asia (he did not say where.)

Granted, these recommendations were to take place over a rather long period of time, nevertheless, it demonstrates either a cunning international play against the hand feeding it, or a willingness to accede to a plan already long in the making.

In reply to by NidStyles

Horseless Headsman new game Fri, 06/08/2018 - 09:20 Permalink

Mankind has a problem whenever more than two people get together to make a group. That is that some sort of power (economic, religious, military, etc.) becomes concentrated into a small number of positions . There are a number of sociopaths (some say 10%) in any group, and these people have a strong and focused interest in occupying the positions that let them control others. Given time in a large organization, the entire top controlling tier is composed of this sort of person. That is a bad condition, but when the sociopaths stop fighting amongst themselves and instead cooperate to enhance their power and position, it becomes terminal for the organization.

 

I think pretty much the entire world has achieved the final state for this iteration of civilization, and it won't be fixed without some "creative destruction". In whatever comes next, attention should primarily be given to avoiding concentrations of power, and for whatever it's worth, preventing sociopaths from gaining control.

In reply to by new game

silverer Sandmann Fri, 06/08/2018 - 09:19 Permalink

The US and NATO crapped all over the promises made to the Russians @ Gorbachev. It's a shame. Years of potential progress lost. Trillions wastefully spent on arms. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people killed in the middle east by the US and its allies. All for what? How did the world gain from that? Talk about going off the rails.

In reply to by Sandmann

Canadian Dirtlump Ignatius Fri, 06/08/2018 - 03:25 Permalink

Jachin and Boaz. Breathtaking. Astana has always been an NWO sinister site.

If we are talking about a post westphalian world then we are talking about the end of the nation state. Given the players involved and their weapons I doubt we will see a sino-russian conglomerate take over without a nasty fight. Gold wont have a bearing on that because despite it's economic significance the west has nukes.

Either way, bring it on. We should have political power centered locally, but we'll need to burn the world down before it gets there so yeah, let's do it - be it guided from Astana or Ames Iowa.

In reply to by Ignatius

reverendspooner Fri, 06/08/2018 - 03:31 Permalink

Kishore Mahbubani frames the key question: “Viewed against the backdrop of the past 1,800 years, the recent period of Western relative over-performance against other civilizations is a major historical aberration. All such aberrations come to a natural end, and that is happening now.”

Dot Indian giving all westerners masala chilly up the fundament. 

Ghost who Walks Fri, 06/08/2018 - 04:20 Permalink

Back to an old theme;

Its not the rules or who makes the rules that matter.

It's who has the power to create the paradigms? http://donellameadows.org/archives/leverage-points-places-to-intervene-in-a-system/

  • American politicians and their associated government agencies are still issuing rules and sanctions. i.e. No nuclear weapons for North Korea, but its okay for Israel to have them.
  • The Chinese are pushing the one-belt one-road paradigm. i.e. Lets trade together and build infrastructure, new industries and create development opportunities.

The theory of leverage points says that the Chinese are operating on a more effective level to change the system.

 

truthalwayswinsout Fri, 06/08/2018 - 06:33 Permalink

What the US needs to do is to change the equation.

Take NASA public and use the money as venture capital to commercialize space.  It would raise $800 billion, create 10 million jobs, pay off the national debt and save the environment and make it impossible for "Asia" to catch up.

gdpetti Fri, 06/08/2018 - 10:22 Permalink

I have to agree with Pepe's piece, but it seems none of these observers see the obvious 'climate change'.... which is why the OWO is being outed and taken down.... the rise of the East again is rather cyclical, but so is the return of Mother Nature to 'clean house'.... reset the field of play... as things transition to the next level of the game. Maybe it's all too 'woo-woo', but the archeological records speak quite well on the subject, whether or not we choose to believe them when they speak of such cataclysmic activity on the planet... .the usual 'rinse and repeat' cycle of nature... currently called the 6th Extinction... which is represented by the Ancient Cycle or Wheel of Life... gold, silver, copper and now iron.. which is ending... this time is different, it's the end of the Grand Cycle... at the beginning of which brought 'modern man' to this planet... guess what comes next.... go ahead... guess...

THis is what all that  Mayan 2012 was/is about... that date wasn't from the Mayans... it was a general dating as the planet goes into the transition.... moon based calenders have those adjustment periods.... like leap year... only this is for a long count calender, so it's years, not days.... and the 'signs' continue to increase.. Hollywood can portray them as positive or negative or both (2001:  Space Odyssey) etc.

I give PUtin and Xi credit for their survival and strength training against the Western led Axis of Evil... as their own countries haven't led the Axis in quite some time... so bravo... you survived the Dark Night of the Soul... but the reality around us isn't just the usual cycles of empires as they rise and fall.. we are at the Gates ... so to speak... the turning point... as the Iron Age ends... there is that transition period.. even the heavier manipulated/manufactured Western 'bible' mentions this 'thousand year period'.... amazing that so few bible thumpers remember it, but most of the important stuff in that book and most are just mentioned, not discussd...  not explained, at least not in public... but by now, who cares? with so little time left? with the 'gates' 'opening' up? and all the 'dirty laundry' spewing out of ancient closets? Which is one reason for the puppet masters to 'out', expose, dispose of their old puppets.. their OWO... as their NWO won't be able to hide... they can continue to lie, cheat and steal, but those informed will also be empowered.... at least to the extent of their consciousness of their situation allows... which is why we all here in 'Purgatory' to begin with.... an obstacle course... no pain, no gain... it's all a school.... a game..... how many can reach that 'brass ring'?

Pepe needs to wake up a little more and take a look around him at all the other BS.... the lies are everywhere and always have been... since this 'Wheel' began... since the "Fall"... currently, like at the end of the Matrix films... the program is ending... is being rewritten.... things will change... not just a Chinese led empire.... the SG rule that side and have since Purgatory was installed here.... the entire game is changing... the 'field' won't be the same.

JibjeResearch Fri, 06/08/2018 - 10:48 Permalink

I first read OBOR in 2011 or something.... then BRICS...

Then the SCO, then EEU ...

2013 more OBOR, now BRI ....

I saw this since 2013 ...

MAGA were so dumb.... retarded ... losers

BWahahah ahahahhahahha

 

Now, MAGA have no good solution against BRI which is the engine for Eurasians and eventually extended to Africa and CELAC.