China

$119,050,900,000: Merchandise Trade Deficit With China Hit Record Through April

The U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China set a record through April, hitting $119,050,900,000 for the first four months of 2018, according to data released today by the Census Bureau. From January through April, the Census Bureau reports, the United States exported $42,291,500,000 in goods to China while importing $161,342,400,000. In other words, when measured by dollar value, the United States bought about 3.8 times as much in goods from China as China bought from the United States. Prior to this year, the record for the highest trade deficit with China in the first four months of the year came in 2015, when it hit $115,320,000,000 in constant April 2018 dollars (adjusted using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator). The Census Bureau has posted online the month-by-month U.S.-China trade data going back to 1985. In all 34 years from 1985 through 2018, the U.S. has run a merchandise trade deficit with China in the January through April period. The last time the U.S. ran a merchandise trade surplus with China in any given month, according to the Census Bureau data, was in April 1986, when the U.S. ran a $54,000,000 trade surplus with China. In every month since then, the U.S. has run a merchandise trade deficit with China. In 1985, the first year for which the Census Bureau has posted the data online, the U.S. ran a January-through-April merchandise trade deficit with China of $240,000,000 (in constant April 2018 dollars). The $119,050,900,000 U.S.-China merchandise trade deficit in January through April of this year is 496 times that amount. In January through April of 2017, the U.S. ran a $109,120,000,000 merchandise trade deficit with China (in constant April 2018 dollars). Through all of 2017, the U.S. ran a merchandise trade deficit with China of $375,576,400,000 (in 2017 dollars). This resulted from the U.S. importing $505,470,000,000 in goods from China, while exporting only $129,893,600,000. In 2017, according to the Census Bureau, the top products the U.S. imported from China (by dollar value) were cell phones and other household goods ($70,359,818,000); computers ($45,515,206,000); telecommunications equipment ($33,490,521,000); computer accessories ($31,648,577,000); toys, games and sporting goods ($26,751,412,000); apparel, textiles, nonwool or cotton ($24,137,388,000); furniture, household goods ($20,669,126,000); other parts and accessories of vehicles ($14,406,417,000); household appliances ($14,138,581,000); and electric apparatus ($14,080,858,000).

This crazy, WAY out of balance, trade deficit with China has been going on for over 30 years, and has only gotten worse..  Thank goodness Trump is finally addressing this issue!

NASA Chief Bridenstine Warns China Pulling Ahead of U.S. in Some Areas of Space Race

Sunday on AM 970’s “The Cats Roundtable” hosted by John Catsimatidis, newly appointed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said China was pulling ahead of the United States in some aspects of the ‘space race.’ When asked about China, Bridenstine said, “They have been focused on the moon, and they have been focused on other aspects of space that maybe we have not been focused on.… They’ve got a lander on the moon now with a rover. This year they’re planning to land for the first time in history on the far side of the moon with a robot.” He added, “They are certainly doing things, maybe a little differently than us. I wouldn’t say they are ahead of us, maybe they’re ahead of us in some areas, and we are ahead of them in other areas. But they have a very methodical, planned out plan to do space exploration in a major way. And this president wants to see the United States of America lead again in space.”

And we need to..  For FAR too long we’ve been reactive.  It’s time we were proactive in space…and take the lead in all areas of space both civilian (i.e. NASA) and military (i.e. U.S. Air Force Space Command and the U.S. Army’s Space & Missile Defense Command or SMDC, both of which are in Colorado Springs, CO).

China engaged in massive theft of US technology, analysts reveal

China is engaged in large-scale theft of American research and technology from universities, using spies, students, and researchers as collectors, experts told Congress on Wednesday. Compounding the technology theft, the administration of President Barack Obama weakened U.S. counterintelligence efforts against foreign spies by curbing national-level counterspy efforts, a former counterintelligence official disclosed during a House hearing. Michelle Van Cleave, former national counterintelligence executive, said shortly after the creation of the office of the director of national intelligence in 2004, a national counterspy program against foreign spies was restricted during the administration of President George W. Bush. “Unfortunately, the backsliding continued under President Obama,” Van Cleave told two subcommittees of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Van Cleave said a directive issued by then-DNI James Clapper in 2013 and still in force reduced the national counterintelligence program authority by directing all counterspy programs to be run by individual departments or agencies. “The national head of counterintelligence was rebranded director of a security and CI center, his duties further dissipated by the fixation on leaks and insider threats driven by the grievous harm done by Snowden, Manning, et al,” Van Cleave said, referring to intelligence leakers Edward Snowden, an NSA contractor, and Army Sgt. Bradley Manning. “Gone was any dedicated strategic [counterintelligence] program, while elite pockets of proactive capabilities died of neglect,” she said. “Read between the lines of existing CI guidance and you will not find a whiff of a national-level effort left, other than caretaker duties such as taking inventory and writing reports.” Several intelligence and security experts testified during the hearing that China poses the most significant threat of technology theft from an estimated $510 billion spent annually on U.S. research and development. “China has a government-directed, multi-faceted secret program whose primary task is technology acquisition, as well as a highly refined strategy to develop and exploit access to advantageous information through the global telecommunications infrastructure,” Van Cleave said. Along with Russian intelligence agents, Chinese technology spies have developed specific lists of technology for theft. Beijing uses clandestine agents, front companies, and joint research ventures in the theft program. “Indeed, the United States is a spy’s paradise,” Van Cleave said. “Our free and open society is tailor-made for clandestine operations.”

Indeed..  To read more of this outstanding, yet shocking, analysis by best-selling author Bill Gertz, click on the text above.  Bill knows his stuff..

Mozart’s childhood violin heads to China

The violin that Mozart used as a child left Friday for a state visit by Austrian government members to China, where a seven-year-old girl will play it for President Xi Jinping. The girl, Anna Caecilia Pfoess, “will accompany us… as a musical ambassador and represent Austria as a land of culture,” President Alexander Van der Bellen said. “She will do it quite brilliantly, I am sure,” Van der Bellen told reporters before the 200-strong delegation of politicians, business people and others departed. “#Music is a common language understood and appreciated the world over,” he added on Twitter alongside a photo of the grinning seven-year-old clutching the instrument and wearing traditional Austrian garb. The violin is believed to have been made in the 1740s and until 1820 belonged to Mozart’s sister Maria Anna, nicknamed Nannerl, also a child prodigy. Since 1896 it has been in the collection of the Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, and is normally on display at the museum in the house where the composer was born. Pfoess will perform at Sunday’s state banquet attended by Xi and Van der Bellen, playing pieces by, unsurprisingly, Mozart but also other Austrian and Chinese composers.

🙂

US ignores China ‘at our peril’ and lags on missile tech, Pacific commander warns

The top U.S. military commander in the Pacific warned Congress that American missile technology had fallen so far behind China due to a decades-old arms control treaty with Russia, the United States may not be able to win a future war against Beijing. “China’s intent is crystal clear. We ignore it at our peril,” Adm. Harry Harris, recently nominated by President Trump to be his next ambassador to Australia told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. “China’s impressive military buildup could soon challenge the United States across almost every domain,” Harris warned. Harris said the United States is blocked from fielding ground-based intermediate range missiles because of the intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty. China is not a party to the agreement between Washington and Moscow signed in 1987 banning short and intermediate range ground-launched missiles with ranges between 310 and 620 miles and 620 to 3,420 miles. The treaty does not cover sea-launched or air-launched missiles. Harris said better than 90 percent of China’s ground-based missiles would violate the INF treaty. China’s pursuit of state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles that travel over 7,500 miles per hour through space and could potentially break through the current U.S. missile defense shield worries the Pentagon. “I think that China’s hypersonic weapons development outpaces ours now, and I think we are falling behind,” Harris warned. A similar view was held by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, on Tuesday during testimony by the nation’s spy chiefs: “I feel we may be buying the best 20th-century military that money can buy when many of the threats in the 21st century will be in cybermisinformation, disinformation, and we need to be better prepared.” Intelligence chiefs warned this week China could turn U.S. telecommunications networks into a spy network, warning Americans not to use certain Chinese cellphones made by Huawei and ZTE. They also raised alarm bells about academics and Chinese students sent to the U.S. to gather secrets for the Chinese government. Admiral Harris, who oversees 375,000 military personnel and is responsible for threats to the U.S. across 100 million square miles – half of the earth’s surface – is known as a China hawk. Last week, President Trump nominated him to be ambassador to Australia. Harris also weighed in on the other major threat to the United States in the Pacific. He warned lawmakers not to be fooled by North Korea’s recent charm offensive during the Winter Olympics. Harris said Kim Jung-Un ultimately wants “reunification [with South Korea] under a single Communist system,” what his grandfather and father failed to do. Harris said he rejected the notion that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions were solely about regime survival, but instead intended to “blackmail” South Korea and other countries in the region, including the United States. Should war break out on the Korean Peninsula, Harris said the number of people requiring evacuation would be “staggering.” 200,000 American civilians would have to be evacuated from South Korea. 1 million Chinese. 60,000 Japanese would all require immediate evacuation. “The Republic of Korea and Japan have been living under the shadow of [North Korea]’s threats for years, and now that shadow looms over the American homeland,” said Harris. He and others on the House Armed Services Committee warned about being lulled into complacency by North Korea’s presence at the Olympics under a unified Korean flag. Vice President Pence today, just back from South Korea, explained how he gave Kim Jong Un’s sister the cold shoulder. “I didn’t avoid the dictator’s sister, but I did ignore her. I didn’t believe it was proper for the USA to give her any attention in that forum,” said Pence. Harris also told lawmakers he was concerned about the growing threat from Russia and China in outer space. “We’ve been led astray by viewing space as some kind of a fuzzy panda bear thing,” said Harris. “I think the Chinese … the Russians and others, they view space as the ultimate high ground. They are preparing for battle in space.”

And we fail to look at it in a similar manner “at our peril.”  The good Admiral is exactly right.  Having spent a couple years in the space industry as an Army officer, I personally can attest to the importance of viewing Space as the “ultimate high ground.”  The Russians, Chinese, and to a smaller extent even the North Koreans see it exactly that way.  It’s WAY past time we got our act together and addressed our military space programs with a sense of urgency.

Report: China Moves 300,000 Troops Closer to North Korean Border

China is reportedly moving missile defense batteries and troops closer to its border with North Korea, a potential sign that Beijing anticipates either a large refugee wave north or a military disturbance triggered by the belligerence of communist dictator Kim Jong-un. The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited Radio Free Asia (RFA) in a report Monday, stating that RFA had compiled evidence that China had “late last year deployed another missile defense battery at an armored division in Helong, west of Longjing in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture.” The “North Korean source in China” speaking to RFA also noted that Pyongyang had observed the movement of 300,000 troops closer to the North Korean border and “missile defense batteries near North Korean reservoirs by the Apnok and Duman rivers.” The batteries would prevent the violent outpouring of those reservoirs into China in the event of an airstrike. On Friday, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper reported that Beijing was also investing in establishing nuclear monitoring stations throughout the world, but especially near North Korea, to more rapidly gather information about a potential airstrike. While carefully noting that “detection is not targeted at any particular country,” the newspaper noted that the planned 11 nuclear monitoring stations “are responsible for detecting nuclear activities in neighboring countries, including North Korea.” The People’s Daily claims the monitor plan “shows China’s commitment to global nonproliferation.” Taken in tandem with reports of military movements near North Korea, however, this development indicates concern that a major military or political event in North Korea will impact China significantly. Another state newspaper, the Global Times, remarked on U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last week that “risks of US military action are growing.” Trump singled North Korea out as the world’s most egregious human rights abuser, celebrating the plight of North Korean refugees who risked their lives to escape. In December, Chosun Ilbo reported that China is not only using its military assets to prepare for a potential catastrophe in North Korea; the newspaper cited Japanese media that had revealed evidence of China’s building massive refugee camps near the North Korean border, some that could welcome up to half-a-million refugees. Officials reportedly ordered the construction of such camps in Jilin, the same city where state media published a citizens’ guide to surviving a nuclear war triggered by North Korea. The state-run Jilin Daily published an article in December suggesting citizens “close their windows and doors during an emergency and immediately take a shower and wash out their mouths and ears after being exposed to radiation.” It mentioned potential regional tensions without blaming North Korea directly. While state media remained subtle about government fears regarding North Korea, communist academics made clear in December that they believed Kim Jong-un’s regime could not be trusted to keep China out of a major regional war. “North Korea is a time bomb,” remarked Professor Shi Yinhong. “We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator.” China, North Korea’s largest trade partner, almost single-handedly keeps Kim’s economy afloat. Through a tense year for Kim and President Trump, who has not shied away from challenging the autocrat, China stuck by North Korea, increasing trade to the fellow communist country. Beijing has abided by some United Nations sanctions, however, and forced businesses on North Korea’s border to limit their contact with the regime. According to Radio Free Asia, businesses along the border “are now being severely hurt as wider customs controls are established along the border, sources working in the area say.” Many of these businesses traffic in goods that are not obvious candidates for sanctions, such as cosmetics and paper. RFA suggests that those impacted on the ground have soured on North Korea’s government, as its belligerence has triggered the sanctions. Dictator Kim Jong-un has rejected all attempts by the global community to convince the country to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons program and has continued testing ballistic missiles and suggesting that their ultimate destination will be the United States. On the other side of the border, RFA reported that Pyongyang is “stirring up anti-China sentiment among ordinary citizens through conferences and lecture sessions as the closed, authoritarian country’s economy bears the brunt of tough new economic sanctions supported by its longtime ally.” North Korea rarely confronts China on international platforms, but even this line was crossed in 2017, when the Korean Central News Agency accused China, without naming the country, of “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” by agreeing to abide by U.N. sanctions.

Definitely something to keep an eye on…

China secretly bought North Korean coal as US watched from above: report

At least six cargo ships linked to China furtively violated U.N. sanctions by taking on North Korean coal late last year, potentially providing a significant boost to the rogue regime’s coffers, the U.S. alleges. The U.N. Security Council in August hit North Korea with sanctions that were projected to cut nearly $1 billion from its annual exports revenue of roughly $3 billion, banning exports of coal, iron ore, and other products. The move, which China ultimately endorsed, came after the isolated country fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles that raised international tensions. But the six vessels, which the U.S. tracked by satellite and formally reported to the U.N. as sanctions violators in December, defied the sanctions by bringing North Korean coal to Vietnam, Russia, or other ships in mid-sea transfers, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing U.S. officials. The paper found that the six ships are either managed or owned by Chinese companies or firms registered in Hong Kong. The U.S. also sought to have four other ships that have no apparent connections to China labeled as sanctions violators. One of the Chinese-linked cargo ships, the Glory Hope 1, began violating the sanctions just days after they were passed in August, U.S. officials said, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Chinese-owned ship flew a Panamanian flag and turned off its automatic identifying transmitter as it headed into a North Korean port on Aug. 7, the Journal reported. Meanwhile, the U.S. was watching from above, using spy satellites to observe the ship that officials estimate could hold up to $1.5M worth of black-market coal. The Glory Hope 1 loitered for an extended period at a Chinese port after arriving from North Korea, U.S. officials told the U.N. U.S. officials suspect the unusual maneuver was a ruse to make it appear that the crew was taking on Chinese cargo, according to the Wall Street Journal. All U.N. members would have to ban the Glory Hope 1 and the other five ships from their ports in order to formally designate them as sanctions violators. China’s foreign ministry told the Journal that it fully complies with U.N. resolutions. Several of the ship-owners and managers linked to the ships have reportedly been questioned by Chinese authorities. U.S. National security advisor H.R. McMaster last month threatened harsh consequences for ships that continue to defy the sanctions. “A company whose ships would engage in that activity ought to be on notice that that might be the last delivery of anything they do for a long time, anywhere,” McMaster said.