Rising in the East
The world can radically change in 20 years. Just think how different Asia is today from what it was in 1990. A new global economic heavyweight has emerged from obscurity. America’s most important and longstanding ally in the Pacific has all but switched sides. And a defeated superpower has clawed its way back to prominence.
To most global prognosticators, the changes in Asia since the fall of the Berlin Wall are dumbfounding.
For example, who would have forecast the dramatic rise of China? Wasn’t it just a backward Communist regime with dirt roads, decrepit sanitation and millions of impoverished people?
Even 10 years ago, this Asian nation wasn’t but a second-rate power. Most analysts completely missed the boat on China. While Americans were focused on getting rich off the dot-com technology boom and the supposed new era of prosperity it would bring, 1 billion Chinese were building factories, developing businesses and creating real wealth. But when speculators are driving Nasdaq stocks up 100 percent per year, it is easy to miss even Earth-changing events.
Readers of the Trumpet, however, knew the dot-com revolution wouldn’t alter America’s economic direction. Bible prophecy indicated that history was moving on. Empires were growing elsewhere. From our earliest editions in 1990, we noted that America was a nation in decline.
Feeding the Dragon
Ten years later, in the September/October 2000 edition, the Trumpet warned, “America’s China policy is an exercise in self-deception.” That article pointed out that not only was China blatantly stealing American technology, but America was actually helping craft China into a dangerous competitor by “rebuilding its inefficient economy and enhancing its military capability.”
“A nation that permits other nations to steal from it and still maintain preferential trade relations as if nothing happened is a nation too absorbed in the pursuit of prosperity,” we warned.
As Stephen Flurry wrote the year prior in an article titled “Feeding the Dragon,” “It’s time for America to wake up to what it has created in Southeast Asia—a monster” (June 1999).
China has indeed become a monster—and one with an incredible appetite.
Take a good look. From having no highways 20 years ago, today it boasts more than 30,000 miles of them. And those roads bear the weight of tens of millions of cars. Each day Chinese factories churn out more than 25,000 cars—over 9 million per year. In 2009, China eclipsed America as the largest car manufacturer in the world. At the end of 2008, China had 147 airports. In the coming decade, it plans to build 97 more.
Each year, almost 8 million Chinese move from the country to the city. This urban migration is driving the construction of the equivalent of a Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia—from scratch, every year. Today, the United States has nine cities of over a million people. China has 160 of them.
It is little wonder that China now consumes one third of the world’s iron, steel and coal, over half the world’s cement, and is now the world’s second-largest oil user after America.
In 2008, China’s mushrooming economy grew at 21.5 times the rate of America’s. The most recent 2009 data show that China’s economy is growing at a 7.63 percent rate, while America’s economy is shrinking by 3.2 percent annually. China is now the third-largest economy in the world.
With its rapid economic growth, its military muscle has ballooned too.
In 2008, China overtook the United Kingdom as the world’s second-largest military spender. The People’s Liberation Army is now the largest standing army in the world, with around 2 million troops. But that is just a fraction of the soldiers China could field: It has 375 million men fit for military service.
One of the biggest growth areas in China’s military is its navy. It is building at least two aircraft carriers—possibly six—and currently has more submarines than any other Asian nation. It is using its navy to great effect, too.
To demonstrate China’s naval capabilities, in 2007 a Chinese submarine slipped undetected into the midst of a U.S. carrier battle group and then surfaced within torpedo range of the uss Kitty Hawk carrier. The incident, which set off a political firestorm in Washington and was a major embarrassment to the U.S. Navy, clearly illustrated China’s growing ability to challenge U.S. sea power in the Asian Pacific.
In November 2009, it was revealed that China had almost completed development of a mobile land-based anti-ship ballistic missile. U.S. military analysts claim that the missile is specifically designed to defeat U.S. carrier groups. Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budget Assessments in Washington, said that with the deployment of this system, China could turn the South and East China Seas into no-go areas for the U.S. Navy (Bloomberg, Nov. 17, 2009).
Of course, despite its growth, China still lags behind the U.S military overall. But for how long?
We reiterate the warning we gave almost 10 years ago: “Watch for China to continue to revive its economy and streamline its military as it exerts more power in Asia at the expense of American strength” (September/October 2000). Additionally, watch for future confrontations as China seeks to drive America from the Asian Pacific, consolidate control over resources and trade routes, and expand political influence.
But China isn’t the only Asian nation that has radically changed over the past two decades.
Japan’s recent transformation has come as an even greater shock for many people.
An Ally Slips Away
For over 50 years after its defeat in World War ii, Japan was a loyal supporter of U.S. policy. The island nation was home to thousands of American soldiers. It provided aid for American missions around the world. Militarily, it was America’s unsinkable aircraft carrier in the Pacific.
Economically, Japan was just as important. As the second-largest lender to the U.S., Japan bankrolled much of America’s consumption and prosperity. Americans bought Japanese products, and Japanese savers supported the value of the dollar by lending money to the federal government.
This economic relationship, along with Japan’s supposed fear of China, led many to conclude that Japan and America were symbiotically and indefinitely linked.
Time has proven this myopic forecast completely wrong.
The September/October 1995 Trumpet asked, “[W]here is Japan heading? What is going to be the future role of this new ‘global political superpower’?” Over the ensuing 15 years, we have used Bible prophecy to answer that question. Japan is shifting away from the U.S. and toward Asia. America will lose its staunchest Asian ally!
In 1999, when Japan began toying with the idea of rewriting its pacifist constitution and creating a larger military, the Trumpet warned: “Japan’s tendency to play down its past militaristic history is being overtaken by a need to reconfigure its security arrangements to reflect the impact of diminishing U.S. power and, in particular, the rise of China to great-power status in the Far East” (June 1999).
In the December 2000 edition, the Trumpet was even more specific on what would soon occur in the Land of the Rising Sun: “Watch for another change of government in Japan and a more aggressive approach by future administrations forced not only to consider hard decisions for economic restructuring, but also to face up to building a security and defense capability commensurate with the size of the world’s second-largest national economy.”
This past September saw the above forecasts play out. A most dramatic and historic event occurred. After a half-century of virtual single-party rule, Japan voted in new radical leadership. A new class of leaders govern Japan—and they are actively anti-American.
Yukio Hatoyama, Japan’s new prime minister, is threatening a split with America. Hatoyama blames America for the global economic crisis and says the U.S. is responsible for “the destruction of human dignity.” His finance minister is worried about the future value of the dollar, saying in May last year, during the run-up to the election, that his party would refuse to purchase any more U.S. treasuries unless they were denominated in Japanese yen.
“The financial crisis has suggested to many that the era of U.S. unilateralism may come to an end,” Hatoyama wrote in an August 26 New York Times article, “A New Path for Japan,” shortly before he came to power. “It has also raised doubts about the permanence of the dollar as the key global currency.”
But Hatoyama isn’t just charting a separate economic course for Japan. His election campaign also promised a more “independent” foreign policy from Washington and closer relations with Japan’s Asian neighbors.
Most alarming for American policy makers, Hatoyama has authorized a wide-ranging review of the U.S. military presence on Japanese soil. He wants U.S. soldiers out! Hatoyama also moved to quickly end Japan’s fueling support for the U.S. naval anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Additionally, both U.S. and Japanese officials confirmed last September that discussions were underway to remove all U.S. fighter aircraft from Japan.
Hatoyama’s policies have completely shocked U.S. policy makers. But they haven’t caught Trumpet readers off guard. “It is clear that strong economic, trade, political and cultural relations, combined with a mutual desire to marginalize American hegemony, are driving China and Japan closer together,” we warned in 2004. “Years ago, the Japanese predicted China would become a superpower and, accordingly, planned to ensure they would be close to Beijing when that time arrived” (July 2004).
That predicted day is here. While paying lip service to the Japan-U.S. security pact, Hatoyama himself wrote, “[W]e must not forget our identity as a nation located in Asia. I believe that the East Asian region, which is showing increasing vitality, must be recognized as Japan’s basic sphere of being. … I also feel that as a result of the failure of the Iraq war and the financial crisis, the era of U.S.-led globalism is coming to an end ….” Japan, he wrote, must “spare no effort to build the permanent security frameworks” essential to creating a new anti-dollar regional Asian currency shared by China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong (New York Times, op. cit.; emphasis mine).
Yes, America is about to lose its closest ally in the Pacific. The impact—economic, political and otherwise—is already hitting America.
Russia Is Back
Additionally, Trumpet readers were apprised in advance of the revolutionary resurgence of Russia over the past decade.
The Berlin Wall’s fall 20 years ago heralded the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the end of the Cold War. Russia shuddered with social upheaval and economic collapse as it embraced democratic reforms.
Throughout the 1990s, hyperinflation ravaged Russia. Money became near worthless as the prices of basic consumer goods soared. By the early 2000s, economists wondered if Russia would ever recover. In 2001, inflation still stood at over 20 percent annually. But the price of oil, one of Russia’s chief exports, languished at $16 per barrel.
“Russia Is Finished,” blared the cover of the May edition of the Atlantic Monthly that year.
“Is Russia Finished?” the Trumpet responded in June. Even amid the backdrop of Russian disintegration, the Trumpet stood by its prediction of a dramatic Russian revival. This article first acknowledged that “Russia’s sinking economy and its deeply concerning demographic challenge of a poverty-stricken, shrinking population spread over a heavily industry-poisoned, environmentally ailing and vast geography mitigate against this great country ever returning to superpower status.” But it proclaimed that this ailment wouldn’t last. It pointed to the developing “strategic partnership” between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Built on the back of Russian oil and German technology and investment, Russia would return to superpower status.
That imminent return to power was boldly announced in January 2004 by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry. “A new Russia has just been born,” he wrote. Talking about President Putin’s illegal confiscation of privately owned oil giant Yukos, he wrote, “Mr. Putin has just changed the course of world history. And Bible prophecy reveals exactly where it is leading.”
“Mr. Putin is going to control that asset, no matter how much Western powers thunder in protest. Oil profits will help to place Russia back on the world stage as a dominant world power,” Mr. Flurry continued. “A more dictatorial Russian government is coming fast, and you need to know where it is leading. That power will be able to challenge Europe, when nobody else can, including the U.S.”
Soon, Russia burst onto the world scene anew. Over the next five years, oil prices surged from $30 per barrel up to a high of over $140. Consequently, Russian confidence and power surged too.
After the Yukos seizure, Putin went on to consolidate his grip on the oil industry by seizing oil assets from British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and other privately owned Russian energy corporations. Many of these companies were combined into the two state-owned energy behemoths Rosneft and Gazprom—which Putin wielded like a war-hammer to batter opponents into submission.
In January 2006, after Ukraine’s newly elected, pro-Western government balked at paying gas prices that were much greater than those paid by the previous, pro-Russian government, Gazprom cut off Ukraine’s gas supply. Being in the midst of winter, Ukraine had little choice but to accept the higher prices. Georgia, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Armenia also fell victim to Russian energy extortion. The message from the Russian bear was clear: Get in line or get mauled.
Meanwhile, the Russo-German relationship flourished. When Gerhard Schröder stepped down from German politics, he immediately went to work for Russia, heading up a plan to bring Russian gas directly into Germany through the Baltic Nord Stream pipeline. In the future, Russia could cut off the gas to Ukraine or Poland and not affect its German collaborator.
Then in 2008, the accuracy of the Trumpet’s message became far clearer when Russia invaded Georgia. In a dramatic attack, Russia proved to the world that it was more than just an energy superpower, but a military one as well. Russia could invade an American ally and elicit nothing but bluster from the U.S. in response.
“This was the first military strike of a rising Asian superpower—and there will be more!” wrote Mr. Flurry in October 2008.
At the time of the invasion, Mr. Flurry also wrote that Germany’s response indicated it was probably complicit in Russia’s attack on Georgia, and that some kind of deal—in the spirit of the World War ii Molotov-Ribbentrop pact—had likely been cut between the two nations. A Russian-German pact is something the Trumpet has been predicting for years. In November 2000, for example, we warned, “The cozier relationship which is now developing between Chancellor Schröder and President Putin is a harbinger of the future alliance between those two nations, which they will seek in an effort to secure the line of division between the two.”
Just days later, geopolitical think tank Stratfor confirmed Mr. Flurry’s belief, saying that its sources inside Russia reported that the Kremlin had offered Germany a “security pact for their two countries.”
Russia’s attack on Georgia did one other thing: It awoke the world from slumber and brought many back to reality. They saw a nation filled with oil dollars and bristling with nuclear bombs. “Russia is back,” shouted global headlines.
Trumpet readers could have written that title 10 years earlier. Yes, despite the skeptics, Russia has taken its place among the great powers once again, just as Bible prophecy said it would.
Russia and China Unite
Based on a prophecy in Ezekiel 38:1-6, the Trumpet has consistently said that a great Sino-Russian East Asian combine would form in the end time. “… Russia and China will be completely united as one gigantic … Asian front,” we wrote in June 1999. “[S]everal smaller nations in Asia … will undoubtedly join the alliance.”
This prophecy came a step closer to fulfillment when the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco)—a grouping of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, plus Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran as observer members—started in 2001.
The sco began as a forum for China, Russia and Central Asian countries to resolve border issues after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Its focus then shifted to counterterrorism, security and economic cooperation. Today, it is a developing bloc of significant powers rising to resist Western domination, being used as a vehicle to counter nato and to impose the East’s strategy on the Islamic threat.
“Watch for the sco to grow more influential,” we wrote in January 2006. “With Russia and China at the helm, it is entirely conceivable that this organization could burgeon into a pan-Asian coalition.”
The sco’s development demonstrates the deepening of the biblically prophesied partnership between Russia and China, both of which will grow in wealth and influence in the years ahead, in part through such cooperation.
A lot can happen in two decades. As Asia shows, the world has changed. But the biggest, most dramatic, changes for Asia are still yet to come. The Bible paints a clear picture for China, Japan and Russia—and the prominent role Asia will play in end-time events.
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