June 30th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY NSW electricity grid now at 'crisis point'

EDITORIAL China's pivotal role in Trump-Kim summit

CANBERRA OBSERVED Throwing our 8ยข in the ring over sale of ABC

OPINION Why populism has become popular among the populace

MEDIA Ramsay Centre gets all that' left from ABC's Drum

ENERGY Solar panels leave hidden carbon footprint

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson conviction conundrum

ENERGY Don't let our waste go to waste: energise it

OPINION We've moved from low standards to no standards

LITERATURE AND CULTURE Christian humour through the ages: Dante, Chaucer and Cervantes

ECONOMICS Trump, China, the WTO and world trade

WHY BREXIT? A tight little island


MUSIC Contrary emotions: Following and leading the beat

CINEMA Incredibles 2: Just the average family of superheroes

BOOK REVIEW The main driver of our foreign policy

BOOK REVIEW Commitment at risk of obliteration



EDITORIAL By-elections a trial run for next federal election

Books promotion page

China's pivotal role in Trump-Kim summit

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, June 30, 2018

While media coverage of the Singapore summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has focused on the idiosyncrasies of President Trump and the apparent lack of detail in the published agreement, there has been an almost complete blackout on the pivotal role of China in bringing about this meeting and how this meeting fits into the context of China’s growing role in the world.

It is very difficult to know what decisions are being made in Beijing, because the Chinese Communist Party is secretive and the party-controlled media simply reflects the party line. There is a complete lack of transparency about China’s national and international operations. However, we can draw important conclusions by looking at what China actually does, rather than what it says.

China exerts enormous influence over North Korea. In fact, despite China’s repeated claims that North Korea is out of its control, 90 per cent of North Korea’s trade is conducted with China, China has large military forces on the common border, and China is the major supplier of North Korea’s military. What this means is that North Korea is effectively a client state of Beijing.

It is significant that Kim visited China twice in the months before the meeting was convened, and he flew in a Chinese jet to and from Singapore. China also endorsed the agreement reached in Singapore. Moreover,  shortly before the summit, Kim sacked three of his top military leaders. They were clearly opposed to the proposed agreement with the U.S.

‘Special relationship’

It is also significant that Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed to have a special relationship with China’s President, Xi Jinping, despite China’s aggressive stance in the South China Sea, where China’s interests oppose those of the United States. Nor has it been affected by the huge trade imbalance in China’s favour that Trump has said he is going to reverse.

What this suggests is that China effectively ordered Kim to proceed to the Summit, and that the final terms of the agreement were really between China and the U.S.

One unanswered question is why China would need an agreement with President Trump when it categorically refused any such agreement with Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and their predecessors.

Again, it is not quite clear, but we can safely assume that China’s growth as a world power is threatened by Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again”, and the associated changes that he is seeking to make to the global economic order, in which China is now the largest player.

President Trump’s disruption of the global economic order was seen very clearly at the recent G7 meeting in Canada, where the U.S. took the unprecedented step of refusing to sign the meeting’s final communiqué, which endorsed the agenda of free trade and the free flow of capital around the world.

It is likely that North Korea is the bargaining chip that China’s President is using to reach an accommodation with Donald Trump.

As far as the U.S. is concerned, Donald Trump was elected President in 2016 on the promise of ending the de-industrialisation of America, and rebuilding American industry.

He promised to deal with the huge problem of illegal immigration into the United States, where there are an estimated 14 million undocumented immigrants, by preventing Latino immigrants coming to the U.S. from Mexico.

President Trump has spent the past 16 months implementing this program in the face of near-total opposition from the left-liberal American media. It is strange to watch the media’s appalled and angry fascination with a President whose preferred form of communication with them is through Twitter.

The results of Trump’s policy recalibrations speak for themselves.

On his watch, the American economy is rising at the fastest rate seen in decades. Since Trump took office, an additional three million new jobs have been created, and unemployment is now 3.8 per cent (compared with nearly 5 per cent when Obama left office and Australia’s official unemployment rate of 5.4 per cent).

The American oil and gas industry, which was growing following technological breakthroughs that enabled the extraction of cheap oil from shale, has now reached a point where the United States is a growing exporter of oil and gas, reversing an energy deficit which had existed for nearly 50 years.

This has kept billions of dollars, which previously went to the oil producers of OPEC, in the United States.

Trump has also carried through on his promises internationally, cutting funding for the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Accord. At the same time, he has attempted to rewrite the rules governing international trade, to reverse policies that allowed countries like China and the European Union to run massive trade surpluses with the United States.

These are the facts that will influence how Americans vote in the vital mid-term elections, to be held in about five months’ time.

Peter Westmore is publisher of News Weekly.

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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm