On March 22, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken authorized sanctions against Wang Junzheng, the secretary of the Communist Party of China’s Committee of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), and Chen Mingguo, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau (XPSB).
These sanctions, Blinken said, were because Wang and Chen are accused of being party to “genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.” The US Treasury Department followed suit with its own sanctions.
Wang and Mingguo responded by condemning these sanctions, which were not only imposed by the US but also by Canada, the UK and the European Union. Wang called the sanctions “a gross slander,” while Chen said he was “very proud of being sanctioned by these countries.”
In October 2011, then-US secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced a “pivot to Asia,” with China at the center of the new alignment. Clinton said many times – including in Hawaii in November 2011 – that the administration of former president Barack Obama wanted to develop “a positive and cooperative relationship with China,” the US military buildup along Asia’s coastline told a different story.
The 2010 US Quadrennial Defense Review noted “China’s growing presence and influence in regional and global economic and security affairs” and called it “one of the most consequential aspects of the evolving strategic landscape.” In 2016, US Navy Admiral Harry Harris, head of the Pacific Command, said the United States was ready to “confront China,” a statement given strength by the US military buildup around China.
The administrations of Donald Trump and Joe Biden have largely followed the “pivot to Asia” policy, with a special emphasis on China. The United States has been struggling to keep up with China’s rapid scientific and technological advancements and has few intellectual or industrial tools in place to compete.
This is the reason it has tried to stall China’s advances using diplomatic and political power, and through information warfare; these elements comprise what is called a “hybrid war.”
Prior to a March 2019 event co-hosted by the US Mission to International Organizations in Geneva, most people the US were largely unaware of the existence of the Xinjiang region in China, let alone of the 13 million Uighur people (one of China’s 55 recognized ethnic minorities).
Given that the Uighurs are the demographic majority in this westernmost province of China, the official name of the administrative unit is the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Zenz is also associated with the conservative defense-policy think-tank the Jamestown Foundation, founded by William Geimer, who was close to the US administration of the late Ronald Reagan.
Zenz and Ethan Gutmann, another researcher at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, continued to repeat their conclusions regarding “genocide” in Xinjiang to the US Congress and in a range of mainstream publications.
In June last year, then-US secretary of state Mike Pompeo attacked the Chinese government, basing his statements on Xinjiang on the “German researcher Adrian Zenz’s shocking revelations.”
Zenz provides a set of scientifically dubious and politically charged papers, which are then used as fact by the US government in its information war against China. Anyone raising questions about Zenz’ claims is, meanwhile, marginalized as a conspiracy theorist.
Diplomatic and economic warfare
The US government’s information warfare against China has produced the “fact” that there is genocide in Xinjiang. Once this has been established, it helps develop diplomatic and economic warfare.
On March 22 this year, the same day as the US sanctions, the Council of the European Union unilaterally imposed asset freezes and travel bans on four Chinese government officials, including Wang Junzheng and Chen Mingguo as well as Wang Mingshan and Zhu Hailun.
The United Kingdom and Canada also joined in this venture that day. It appeared to be a coordinated attempt to portray China as a country violating human rights. This assault came soon after China had achieved a major human-rights goal, lifting 850 million people from absolute poverty. The US government and its media outlets tried to challenge this remarkable achievement.
Trump had pushed a trade war with China as soon as he came into office in January 2017; his policy framework remains in place under Biden.
To draw together the trade war and the Xinjiang information war, in mid-December 2020, Zenz and the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy (formerly the Center for Global Policy) released an intelligence brief on “coercive labor in Xinjiang.”
The claims in this briefing – building on a 2019 Wall Street Journal article on supply chains and Xinjiang – created a media firestorm in the West, amplified by Reuters and then picked up by many widely read outlets. It led to the US government ban on Xinjiang cotton.
A third of the world’s textiles and clothing come from China, with the country accounting for US$120 billion worth of exports of these products per year and $300 billion in exports of all merchandise annually.
According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, 87% of China’s total cotton output comes from Xinjiang. Most of the high-quality Xinjiang cotton – and the textiles produced from it within China – go to Western apparel companies, such as H&M and Zara.
In 2009, many of these companies created the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which has – until last year – been upbeat about developments in Xinjiang (including co-ops of small farmers in Xinjiang). As recently as March 26 this year, the BCI made a clear statement: “Since 2012, the Xinjiang project site has performed second-party credibility audits and third-party verifications over the years, and has never found a single case related to incidents of forced labor.”
Despite the BCI’s recent confident statement and its optimism, things are rapidly changing for Xinjiang cotton farmers as the BCI appears to get on board with the United States’ intensifying hybrid war on China. The BCI closed down its page on its work in China, accused China of “forced labor” and other human-rights violations, and set up a Task Force on Forced Labor and Decent Work.
Officials of Xinjiang’s government contested these claims, saying that much of the field labor for cotton in Xinjiang has already been replaced by machines (many of them imported from the US firm John Deere).
A recent book edited by Hua Wang and Hafeezullah Memon, Cotton Science and Processing Technology, confirms this point, as do a range of media reports from before 2019. But facts like these don’t seem to stand a chance in the overwhelming information war. Xinjiang – two and a half times the size of France – is now at the epicenter of a cold war not of its own making.
This article was produced byGlobetrotter, which provided it to Asia Times.
Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter.
Jie Xiong is a Chinese technologist, translator and editor. He has participated in the digitization process of multiple leading enterprises in China. He is a founder of Shanghai Maku Cultural Communications Ltd, a company that introduces China to Global South readers.
Ben Kielesinski: The man who took the world on an adventure
Throughout the pandemic many people have been unable to travel and explore the world as they would like.
One TikTok user, Ben Kielesinski, has been taking his followers on adventures around his home city of Vancouver, BC, and has amassed millions of likes along the way.
His father gave him a love of the outdoors as a child, which left him as a teenager. However since Covid-19 swept the globe, Ben has rediscovered his love and respect for nature and is passing that on to his followers.
Three major investors have backed GlaxoSmithKline’s board amid fears that a US hedge fund is plotting to force through an audacious shake-up of the drugs giant.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that BlackRock – GSK’s biggest investor and the world’s largest asset manager – plus its fifth largest shareholder Dodge & Cox, along with Royal London, have all contacted the pharmaceutical firm’s chairman to pledge support ahead of a battle with Elliott Management.
Speculation is rife that activist Elliott is set to push for a dramatic new plan that could see the FTSE100 firm sold off in parts or swallowed up by a foreign rival. It has even been suggested that a bitter battle could lead to the end of the Glaxo name.
Plot: It has even been suggested that a bitter battle could lead to the end of the Glaxo name
City sources said shareholders in the £69billion company had urged chairman Sir Jonathan Symonds to stick to the strategy of overhauling its drugs pipeline and splitting the group in two next year. The backing of the trio of investors – particularly BlackRock, which has a gigantic £4billion stake – is a huge boost for GSK’s under-fire management.
Chief executive Emma Walmsley’s master plan for splitting the company involves spinning off GSK’s consumer healthcare arm, which was formed in a £10billion joint venture with US giant Pfizer. It would then be floated as a separate company.
After demerging the consumer division – with brands including Sensodyne toothpaste and Panadol paracetamol – GSK would be left as purely a pharmaceuticals and vaccines business.
Elliott has been keeping quiet about its intentions at GSK since emerging last month as a new multibillion-pound shareholder. But several well-placed bankers and investors told The Mail on Sunday they thought the activist would push for more than simply accelerating Walmsley’s demerger plan. Walmsley has faced criticism for moving too slowly.
Elliott, founded by Wall Street billionaire Paul Singer, has a reputation for sparking major strategic overhauls after waging successful campaigns against other corporates including yogurt giant Danone, drinks maker SABMiller and hospitality firm Whitbread.
One top ten investor said: ‘Elliott is in it for a fast buck. That’s its modus operandi. It’s in it for shareholder returns as fast as it can get. Splitting in two more quickly isn’t going to make a difference. If you shake up management, again that will cause a hiatus.
‘It’s plausible it could be looking to break the company up even more, or get it to merge with another company.’ But the source added: ‘Would the UK Government allow Glaxo to be sold to a foreign company? That’s very unlikely.’
A rival activist fund manager said: ‘Elliott has probably got a buyer to do a merger for the pharma business in the States. There will be synergies. It’ll be a mega-cap.’ Another large investor said Elliott was unlikely to want a merger with AstraZeneca, adding: ‘I can’t see the boards being willing to throw in the towel.’
Samuel Johar, chairman of executive search firm Buchanan Harvey, said: ‘GSK has been poorly managed for at least 15 years. Therefore, it is not a surprise that an activist like Elliott has arrived at the scene.
‘I think it is the end of GSK and a great British icon. It is highly likely that it will be broken up and sold. It would be very tragic for the UK.’
Senior sources with knowledge of Elliott’s approach played down the idea that it would push for a piecemeal sale or break-up. But they questioned whether speeding up the demerger was ‘technically possible’.
Walmsley is due to present her long-term outlook to investors on June 23. As head of the world’s largest vaccine maker, she has been criticised for failing to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and instead assisting France’s Sanofi on a jab which has not yet come to market.
A senior City source said: ‘Glaxo’s plan is all about improving the commercial side, beefing up the drugs pipeline and breaking off the consumer business. They must not get distracted.’
Walmsley has been criticised for saying: ‘I’m not a scientist, I’m a business leader.’ But Symonds later defended her.
Sir Philip Hampton, the former GSK chairman who hired Walmsley, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘She’s strategically strong, but the company is doing a surprising number of challenging deals. That isn’t her main background.’
GSK’s shares have fallen 19 per cent since Walmsley took charge in 2017.
A GSK spokesman said: ‘Our shareholders are keen for us to deliver and we are making good progress.’
Elliott, BlackRock, Dodge & Cox and Royal London declined to comment.
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Record breaker rides Alton Towers Nemesis rollercoaster 64 times in six hours
A record-breaking daredevil has braved the terrifying Nemesis rollercoaster 64 times in six hours – despite suffering from vertigo.
Thrill-seeker l Shawn Sanbrooke has broken the world record for rollercoaster riding after taming the Alton Towers ride which has 3.5 G-force.
And the previous record was set by none other than Shawn himself. The 29-year-old managed to complete 63 laps of the 32m high ride in Stoke-on-Trent in 2019.
Shawn knew he could beat his own crazy record and the intrepid Staffordshire vlogger took advantage of the park being quiet when it reopened, according to the Stoke Sentinel.
He managed to complete 64 laps this time, in just six hours, but admitted he felt like he’d been on ‘a very heavy night out’ when he returned home. What’s even more remarkable is that Shawn actually suffers from vertigo – an inner ear problem which causes extreme dizziness.
He said: “It’s arguably one of the most intense rides in the country now. It’s no easy feat. It’s strange, I actually have a medical condition that stops me from driving. I have dizziness, I have vertigo.
“Everyone always thinks that I’m nuts for going on rollercoasters, but it doesn’t make those symptoms any worse.
“When people come off rollercoasters and say they’ve got a headache or they feel a bit dizzy, I already feel that way. I don’t know if that helps.
“As soon as I got home and lay in bed I felt as though I’d been on a very heavy night out. I was spinning, I was dizzy, but I managed to beat the record.”
Shawn has a season pass for Alton Towers, which has ten main rollercoasters including the Nemesis, an inverted coaster that has a drop speed of 50mph. Riders experience approximately 3.5 times the force of gravity on the one-minute, 20-second ride.
“It was torrential rain. I was the only person not wearing a poncho because if I left the queue to go and buy a poncho then I would have wasted laps. I didn’t have any food, I didn’t stop for any dinner, didn’t stop for any toilet breaks.
“I was on Nemesis, coming out walking back around, and going back on from 10am until 4pm when the park closed.”
Rolls-Royce in talks with Boeing for a ‘clean sheet’ jetliner
Beoing’s new 797 mid-sized jetliner could be powered by advanced Rolls-Royce UltraFan engines, according to statements made by the British engineering giant’s CEO, Warren East, at the company’s annual meeting.
Working on the project would give Rolls an edge as it battles to survive the Covid crisis. It currently only supplies engines for large aircraft.
Rapid advances in technology mean that smaller planes can increasingly fly long-haul routes, meaning jumbo planes will be needed far less in the coming years.
During Rolls-Royce’s annual meeting, East was quoted to have said:
“It is fairly well documented that Boeing is exploring the opportunity for a new aircraft…like the other engine manufacturers, I am sure, we are in dialog with Boeing about that.”
East said the company’s engines spent 60% less time in the air during the first four months of 2021 than in the same period of 2019, before the pandemic hit.
“We faced unprecedented challenges in 2020 with events that were beyond our control,” East said.
The company hopes that this impressive UltraFan powerplant will power both widebody and narrowbody aircraft – versatility that would match the nature of Boeing’s NMA (new midsize airplane) anticipated to be designated the 797.
This is a sharp turnaround from 2019 when Rolls-Royce withdrew its bid to supply powerplants for Boeing’s NMA. Media reports at the time suggest Rolls-Royce believed its UltraFan engine would not be ready in time.
With Boeing hit hard by the 737 MAX crisis and then the global health crisis, priorities have been shuffled around.
Indeed, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun decided to return to the drawing board after taking the top position at the company, opting to start clean.
In January 2020, the company chief said the following during an earnings call:
“Since the first clean sheet of paper was taken to it, things have changed a bit … the competitive playing field is a little different … We’re going to start with a clean sheet of paper again — I’m looking forward to that.”
It wouldn’t be a huge stretch to suspect that other respected engine makers such as General Electric (GE) and Pratt & Whitney (PW) are also currently in talks.
Boeing has hinted at building a new plane for years that would sit between its 737 MAX single-aisle and 787 Dreamliner wide-body, but it hasn’t settled on any plan that it’s made public.
The crisis that followed two crashes and a worldwide grounding of the MAX interrupted its initial plans for the midrange plane, and the coronavirus pandemic has since roiled the marketplace.
In the meantime, chief rival Airbus SE has racked up orders with its A321neo, a plane that sits virtually unopposed in that space.
Toulouse, France-based Airbus said this week that the A321 variant now accounts for more than half its backlog in the A320 family.
Leading conservatives Raisi and Larijani enter Iran presidential race
“I have come as an independent to the stage to make changes in the executive management of the country and to fight poverty, corruption, humiliation and discrimination,” the 60-year-old Mr Raisi said in a statement on Saturday before registering his candidacy.