Africa Feeds the Chinese Dragon

Africa Feeds the Chinese Dragon

JOHN LUKUWI/AFP/Getty Images

Days after being elected, Chinese President Xi Jinping travels to Africa.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first visit to Africa on March 24 highlights China’s increasing influence over African resources. Over the past decade, China has worked to strengthen ties across Africa through trade and infrastructure deals. And considering that Xi was officially sworn in as president a mere 10 days prior to the visit, the trip also shows where China’s economic focus lies.

Xi’s tour will send him from Tanzania to South Africa, then on to the Republic of Congo. The choice of nations is not coincidental. All three nations are serving to further China’s trade dominance of the African continent and thereby propel the Chinese economy to new levels.

Some African nations will advocate China’s actions as an effort to foster mutual economic growth and encourage independent and sustainable development for their growing nations. However, examining China’s involvement to this point will show that it is the one getting the better end of the deal. Any benefits to the Africans are coming as a side benefit to China’s purposes.

The first stop on the president’s tour was Tanzania. Xi spoke before Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete at a conference center in Dar es Salaam. The center was built with Chinese money and served as the perfect platform for Xi’s comments. Paying for conference centers is one of many generous “gifts” of the Chinese to the Tanzanians. Since the African country’s departure from British rule in 1961, China has invested in over 100 vital economic initiatives, many of which have been agriculture-based.

These initiatives have helped Tanzania build a more solid economic foundation. Why the acts of generosity from China? The truth is, Sino-Tanzania relations benefit Tanzania short-term, China long-term.

As far as infrastructure is concerned, China plays the “good Samaritan” card. It sees that Tanzania is poor and lacking in basic transportation needs, so the Chinese build roads and railways across the nation. This benefits Tanzania. But what do these roads and rails carry? The tracks are laid so that raw goods can flow straight to the docks, onto a ship, and off to China. “Today, China is reviving [a] partnership with Tanzania by investing heavily in its infrastructure,” said Jonathan Holslag, head of research at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies. These railways may then provide a link to Chinese-run mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

China is Tanzania’s largest trading partner and second-largest source of investment. Bilateral trade reached us$2.47 billion in 2012, up 15.2 percent from the year before. China has exploited Tanzania’s lack of basic consumer goods. China exports vehicles, machinery and the light industrial goods necessary for Tanzania’s day-to-day functioning in exchange for the nation’s valuable minerals.

Tanzania has reserves of coal, gold, iron, steel, phosphate and crude oil. So long as China can keep Tanzania reliant on the basic consumer goods and infrastructure it supplies, it can ensure itself access to the raw materials it wants.

“China will continue to offer, as always, necessary assistance to Africa with no political strings attached …. We get on well and treat each others as equals,” said Xi in his address on Monday. The statement was met with thunderous applause. Of course they really can’t be called equals. China’s aggressive consumption of African minerals has brought colonization back to Tanzania.

The African people were quick to throw off the “shackles” of European and British colonialism, and China was more than willing to lend a helping hand. China assisted many African nations in their transitions, which earned it its current “hero status” among the poor nations. China was, at the time, a small economic power itself. It was embraced as a friend, a nation that could replace the European influence. Most African nations have not awakened to the fact that China is no longer that small friend it once appeared to be. It is now the second-largest economy on Earth, capable of throwing its weight around and making demands.

One outspoken critic of the Chinese influence in Africa is the governor of Nigeria’s central bank, Lamido Sanusi. “This African love of China is founded on a vision of the country as a savior, a partner, a model. But working as governor of Nigeria’s central bank has given me pause for thought,” he said. “We cannot blame the Chinese, or any other foreign power, for our country’s problems. We must blame ourselves …. That said, it is a critical precondition for development in Nigeria and the rest of Africa that we remove the rose-tinted glasses through which we view China.”

Another Chinese economic policy also comes into play with regard to Africa. Many nations that assist with development projects in African nations do so under certain prerequisites. There must be assurances of proper administration by the ruling powers. Aid is withheld when conditions are broken. All the while, China undermines such policies by turning a blind eye to things like government corruption. The Chinese are far less scrupulous about who they deal with.

The second nation the Chinese president will visit is South Africa, meeting with President Jacob Zuma. Last year, trade between the two was some $59.9 billion. That equates to nearly a third of all Sino-African trade. It is not a partnership China wants to see dissolve any time soon.

While there has been a great degree of trade going on between China and South Africa, there has been resistance to Chinese advancements into the nation. According to the South African Institute of Internal Affairs, “Chinese investment in S.A. is smaller than S.A.’s into China. Despite the strong Chinese appetite for S.A. mining resources and the attractiveness of its open market, S.A.’s significantly more complex socio-economic structure … has largely constrained the expansion of Chinese interests in Africa’s largest economy” (Aug. 29, 2010). Xi’s arrival may be a sign that China has plans to increase its presence in the nation.

One nation that will undoubtedly be seeing more of China in the coming months is the Republic of Congo. The third and last stop on Xi’s African trip is one of the most underdeveloped nations in Africa. Many regions of the nation lack a proper road network.

China imported 5.4 billion tons of oil from the Republic of Congo last year. While this is a comparatively small amount—only 2 percent of China’s imports—there is room for expansion. The Republic of Congo has one of the largest and deepest ports in West Africa. Combine that with the fact that one of the nation’s two natural oil basins has never been tapped before, and the opportunity for growth in trade is obvious. All the underdeveloped nation needs is capital.

Xi may have alluded to a new-found interest in the Congo when he said, “China sincerely hopes to see faster development in African countries and a better life for African people.” If China steps up its work in the Republic of Congo, watch for it to employ the same tactics it used in Tanzania. Infrastructure and cheap goods will be exchanged for the raw materials that China is gobbling up across the continent.

The recently elected Chinese president’s visit to these three nations sheds light on the booming economic power’s broader strategy for Africa. Chinese imports from Africa are skyrocketing. 2012 saw China import an immense $113 billion worth of materials from Africa. It holds the title of Africa’s largest trading partner. According to Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, 2011 saw trade between Africa and China reach $166 billion. China had invested $45 billion by June 2012 and $15 billion of that was direct investment.

China is growing. It consumes more raw materials than ever because of its industrial and economic boom. It is gazing hungrily at resource-rich Africa and planning its future expansion. But there’s more to the situation than just tapping African resources. China has an important role to play in the fulfillment of prophecy in the latter days. Read Russia and China in Prophecy and see for yourself what China is planning to do with the resources it is devouring.

What Next? Europe After Cyprus

What Next? Europe After Cyprus

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How the events of last week have changed the euro crisis

The dust is still settling around the new Cyprus bailout. But already there are three significant developments that show us where Europe will go from here.

The first is that Jeroen Dijsselbloem has gone from being an unpronounceable name to one of the most hated men in Europe. Why? On March 25, Mr. Dijsselbloem, who chairs the group of eurozone finance ministers, said that the Cyprus bailout is a template that can be used in other countries.

Here’s the offending comment:

If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be “Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalize yourself?” If the bank can’t do it, then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we’ll ask them to contribute in recapitalizing the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders.

In our daily monitoring of the German press, we’ve sensed a hardening of tone and rhetoric throughout the crisis.
Open Europe
All eurozone countries guarantee the first €100,000 (us$128,290) in their nation’s bank accounts. Anything above that is “uninsured.” When Mr. Dijsselbloem says “we’ll ask” uninsured deposit holders to “contribute,” he’s saying that if Spain gets into trouble, those with more than €100,000 in the bank could lose their money.

Other European leaders have been doing all they can to get out the opposite message: Cyprus is a one-off. If Mr. Dijsselbloem is telling the truth, it would be madness to keep more than €100,000 in any bank in Southern Europe. But if people start taking their money out of Southern Europe even faster than they already are, as Dijsselbloem is encouraging them to, it could take the crisis to a whole new level.

As Business Insider put it: “Really, Dijsselbloem? Why would you say something like that?”

French President François Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have already contradicted him. Dijsselbloem has put out a statement that says—kind of—that he didn’t really mean what he said earlier, but it’s a fudge that has left everyone confused. The bottom line seems to be this: Europe is planning on repeating Cyprus, but it doesn’t want to spark a panic by making that too clear.

The second new development is the introduction of capital controls in Cyprus. Draft proposals leaked online indicate that Cypriots face tough restrictions on how they can use their money. Those traveling abroad can take only €1,000 ($1,282) at a time. An exception has been made for students, who can take €5,000 out of the country per quarter. Within Cyprus, each individual is limited to €5,000 ($6,414) in credit or debit card transactions a month. People may deposit checks into bank accounts, but cannot cash them.

According to the draft, these controls will be in place for seven days. But Cyprus is clearly planning to keep at least some of them in place for the long haul. What’s the point in detailing the amount of money students can take out per quarter, if the controls are only in place for seven days?

These capital controls will also encourage people to get their money out of Southern Europe. If you see a crisis approaching Spain, would you leave your money there and risk only being able to get it out of your bank a trickle at a time?

Dijsselbloem’s statement and the capital controls increase the divide at the heart of the euro. A German euro in a German bank account is becoming much more desirable than a Cypriot, Greek or even Italian euro. The euro crisis will move even faster from now on.

But the most important change is the change of attitude within Germany.

Think tank Open Europe reports that “the Germans themselves are remarkably united over the agreement.”

“In fact, the feeling is that Germany, collectively, just got a fair bit more assertive over its eurozone policy,” it writes.

Germany’s Social Democrats and Greens will join the government in supporting the deal. “In our daily monitoring of the German press, we’ve sensed a hardening of tone and rhetoric throughout the crisis, not least in response to the overtly anti-German tone of many of the anti-austerity protests in the south,” writes Open Europe.

Thomas Straubhaar, director of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics, called the bailout deal a “turning point” in Die Welt. “Up until now, the bankrupt countries have been able to use fear of a domino effect to extort Europe,” he wrote. “That is now over because the strong eurozone countries have the better hand—and they should not be afraid to play it” (translation by Open Europe).

The think tank concludes: “The implications of a Germany more prepared to assert its viewpoint has huge implications for the future of the eurozone and the EU as a whole.”

It’s right. As a result of Cyprus, the eurozone is a lot more volatile, and Germany is more assertive.

Obamacare to Hit Your Pocketbook—Big Time

Obamacare to Hit Your Pocketbook—Big Time

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In case you are one of the dwindling few who still believe that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) won’t massively impact you, a new study demolishes that idea.

The study by the Society of Actuaries finds that insurance companies will have to pay out an average of 32 percent more for medical claims under President Obama’s signature healthcare overhaul.

And you can take it to the bank that those health insurance companies will pass on as much of those costs to you as they can.

Amazingly, the Obama administration is still claiming that costs will go down—even though insurance cost estimates have continued to rise each year after passing the act.

cbs News summarizes:

The study says claims costs will go up largely because sicker people will join the insurance pool. That’s because the law forbids insurers from turning down those with pre-existing medical problems, effective January 1. Everyone gets sick sooner or later, but sicker people also use more health care services.”Claims cost is the most important driver of health care premiums,” said Kristi Bohn, an actuary who worked on the study. Spending on sicker people and other high-cost groups will overwhelm an influx of younger, healthier people into the program, said the report.

Basically, the law mandates that insurance companies become charities that cover everyone’s medical needs, regardless of age or medical history. But charitable work costs money too—especially when it is covering astronomical medical costs often associated with people who have pre-existing conditions.

Those costs will simply be passed on to everyone else who is in the medical insurance pool.

Politicians’ claims that premiums will not go up will be exposed as lies once actual costs start hitting policy holders more dramatically later this year. Some costs have already hit as companies have raised fees in anticipation of Obamacare-mandated price caps.

The report says that by 2017, medical costs will jump by 62 percent for California, 67 percent for Maryland, and around 80 percent in Ohio. Some few states will see the cost of medical claims decline.

Meanwhile, the deadline to buy health insurance, or pay the government penalty is nearing. Beginning next year, an individual with $50,000 annual income would pay a $500 penalty. In 2015 it bumps up to $1,000 and then jumps to $1,250 in 2016. After that, the penalty increases each year with the inflation rate. For married couples, the penalties double.

The timing of Obamacare could hardly be worse, from an economic point of view. With the economy struggling to avoid recession, these increased costs will hit both the private sector and are already incentivizing companies to shift workers from full-time employment to part-time. Consumer spending is already struggling as people cope with official unemployment at 7.7 percent and real unemployment more than twice that level.

The Affordable Care Act may be attractive to people who don’t have insurance and are old or already sick because they will now be able to buy coverage. For everyone else, prepare to open your pocketbook—big time.

Super Draghi Calls the Tune in Cyprus

Super Draghi Calls the Tune in Cyprus

DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Image

Mario Draghi rides to the rescue in Cyprus.

So a deal is done on the Cypriot economic debacle. But in the end, when push came to shove, it was not the troika, nor Merkel, nor Putin, least of all Cyprus’s president, Anastasiadis, but that Jesuit son of Rome, ecb head Mario Draghi, who flung down the gauntlet to the embattled island nation with an ultimatum that had one news source describing it as “acting with unprecedented severity.”

The suave, sophisticated Italian president of the European Central Bank threatened Cyprus with a complete cessation of funding if the government did not agree to the EU’s stringent bailout terms.

Cyprus, as we have long predicted, is but a vassal state of the European Union now, its future at the behest of the Rome/Berlin axis.

We are yet to see what secret deal has been concluded with Russia to protect the substantial funds that nation has on deposit in Cypriot banks.

But of real significance is the reality that the Rome/Berlin axis has now secured the crucially strategic Mediterranean Sea as EU territory, complete with the island stepping stones to Africa and the Middle East—Malta, Greece and Cyprus, through control of both the Greek and Cypriot economies, and strong influence over that of Malta.

That, as Spiegel maintains, “the real loser is the eurozone” is quite obvious to any analyst of this situation. That such an outcome was by deliberate design, is not so apparent.

Ex-EU official and eurozone whistle-blower Bernard Connolly, in his sizzling account of the Catholic German elites who constructed the eurozone for their own imperialist, Holy Roman ends—The Rotten Heart of Europe—claims that the euro was designed to fail from the beginning.

As he mentions in his further account of the euro project, Circle of Barbed Wire, “the erm [European Monetary Union] and its transmogrification into a coming monetary union … was always going to be, and was always intended to be, disastrous ….”

Disastrous, that is, for those nations now caught in its imperialist maw, directed to act at the diktat of the Rome/Berlin axis—Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Greece, Cyprus—and whichever unfortunates are next on the Euro agenda.

When former European Convention Chairman Valery Giscard d’Estaing and former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt held a summit at Aachen, seat of Charlemagne’s empire, to conclude their personal agreement on the erm, d’Estaing observed that “Perhaps when we discussed monetary problems, the spirit of Charlemagne brooded over us.”

Duped by Germany into believing that the creation of the German Reich was a bold step in taking a recently united German nation in 1871 on the path to a new federal union akin to the United States, U.S. President Grant failed to see the powerful influence of imperialist German elites behind the vision of a Reich that was to become, as Connolly writes, “Prussian-dominated, personal, dynastic, authoritarian and illiberal” (ibid).

Unfortunately, Washington has again failed to deduce the true nature of the beast arising in Europe. The latest imposition of onerous conditions slapped on Cyprus by the ecb, to “save” it from total financial disaster, is but a reminder that, in Bernard Connolly’s terms, we ought “to see the ‘European flag’ for what it is: a circle of barbed wire.”

The implication is that Europe is becoming one giant concentration camp, destined to act under the iron rule of the Rome/Berlin axis, a virtual resurrection of the old Holy Roman Empire.

Mario Draghi, the “war dragon” of the eurozone, has called the tune yet again on European finance, and it won’t be his last act by far as European elites extend their circle of barbed wire of European regulation around the Continent. Inevitably, Draghi’s latest action on the Cyprus debacle is but one more step toward the fulfillment of the great prophecy of Revelation 13:15-17.

Read our booklet Germany’s Conquest of the Balkans for the history and prophecy relating to these vital events developing daily in Europe, events destined to affect your life increasingly as the months ahead race by toward the grand fulfillment of that ultimate prophecy which declares the imminence of the return of the Savior of mankind foreshadowed by them.

These are indeed the “signs of the times”!

Chicago Schools Face Shutdown

Chicago Schools Face Shutdown

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Chicago plans massive cutbacks in the number of schools for 2014.

Chicago officials announced plans to close 54 schools, which include a total of 61 school buildings. The schools are set to close by August according to the announcement that came on March 21. The decision will go to a vote on May 22.

If the decision is passed, it will be the largest single closure of school buildings in the history of the United States. In the past, the district has never closed more than 11 schools in a single year. According to Chicago Public Schools, the closure will amount to 10 percent of all elementary school facilities.

Teachers, parents and unions have attacked Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision to close the schools. The officials insist the cuts must be made to help close the $1 billion budget deficit. Each school closing is expected to save $500,000 to $800,000. “Consolidating schools is the best way to make sure all of our city’s students get the resources they need to succeed in the classroom,” said the mayor.

Administrators previously warned that up to 129 schools were at risk of closure due to lack of students. Enrollment has plummeted an astonishing 20 percent over the past 10 years.

Aside from closing schools, Mayor Emanuel could cut the excessive wages of unionized teachers that is sucking school budgets dry. According to the Washington Post, the median salary of teachers in Chicago is $71,017. The median household income in the city is only $46,877. “Chicago teachers make significantly more than average, no matter their education or experience level,” reports the Washington Post.

Despite excessive compensation, in September last year Chicago teachers staged protests against unfair wages. Upset with the offered 16 percent pay increase, they demanded a 35 percent hike—even with the nation struggling to emerge from recession, and with national unemployment above 14 percent (U6 measure).

Teacher financing doesn’t stop with pay rates. Over the years, unions have worked to secure sweetheart retirement deals for teachers—at taxpayers’ expense.

In 2011, a teacher retiring after 30 years of work could expect an annual pension payment of $77,496. For every dollar of salary that is paid to a Chicago teacher, it costs the city 46 cents for the future pension benefit.

Nearly 50 percent of education dollars from the state will go to teacher pensions by 2014.

In years past Chicago made deals with teachers’ unions that are now haunting taxpayers and city employees. Record numbers of teachers are retiring. According to radio station wbez, the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund estimated that 2,000 teachers plan to retire by the end of summer break. That is a 40 percent jump over 2011. All these teachers will be drawing on their generous pension plans.

Meanwhile, sky-high teacher compensation has done little for students. In 2012, Chicago public schools’ graduation rate was a mere 60 percent!

School closures cause side effects beyond budget battles.

“There is no way people of conscience will stand by and allow these people to shut down nearly a third of our school district without putting up a fight,” said Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, in a news conference just before the closures were publicized. “Most of these campuses are in the black community.”

Poorer districts will be hit hard. The population levels in poor neighborhoods have declined due to factors such as “white flight.” To overcome this, officials consolidate schools and bus students in to them.

“These actions unnecessarily expose our students to gang violence, turf wars and peer-to-peer conflict,” Lewis went on to say. “Some of our students have been seriously injured as a result of school closings.”

As the third-largest city in the United States, Chicago serves as a barometer for many of America’s sprawling cities.

Budget problems are weighing on school districts across the country. Taxpayers are beginning to pick up the tab for excessive pay packages agreed to by corrupt politicians and extorted by greedy unions.

America’s education system is in shambles and needs a complete overhaul. For a look at what the foundation of education should be, read Education With Vision.

New Chinese President Honors Russia With His First International Trip

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow on Friday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The trip to Russia is Xi’s first international visit since taking office on March 14.

The scale of Friday’s reception underlined the close ties between the two Cold War-era rivals. The countries now cooperate closely on energy interests and their shared aspiration to curtail the influence of the United States around the world.

Putin was quick to stress the “development of Russia-China relations” ahead of the negotiations.

Xi echoed Putin’s sentiments, adding that his visit would “help to reach certain results that will benefit our relations and countries.”

The negotiations are set to focus on oil and gas as China seeks to secure new energy resources to fuel its growing economy. Russia is interested in securing a share of China’s giant energy market.

Bilateral trade between the Asian giants has been steadily growing, reaching $88 billion last year. Weapons trade between the two may also be set to increase. Russian arms trade officials said they have recently signed a tentative deal with China to deliver a batch of Russian Su-35 fighter jets.

The Trumpet has long predicted that the relationship between Russia and China will grow close. Watch for Moscow and Beijing to cooperate more and more, economically, politically and militarily. As they do, expect Europe to unite around Germany. These geopolitical trends are leading to a clash between these two power blocs. For more information, read Russia and China in Prophecy.