OBAMA’S TOUR TO REINFORCE “PIVOT TO ASIA”

By Peter Symonds

Amid the on-going confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, President Barack Obama arrives in Japan tomorrow on the first leg of a tour of Asia that will also take in South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. Obama’s overriding aim is to signal his intention to press ahead with the “pivot to Asia,” which seeks to ensure US hegemony throughout the region.

Last October, Obama cancelled his trip to Asia, including his attendance at two key Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits, citing the government shutdown in Washington. His decision to proceed with the current tour, despite the escalating Ukraine crisis, is intended to reassure American allies that the US remains committed to its diplomatic offensive and military build-up in Asia against China.

Obama’s trip follows those by Vice President Joe Biden in December, Secretary of State John Kerry in February and Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this month, all of which deliberately intensified regional tensions with China. Biden’s trip coincided with Washington’s provocative response to Beijing’s declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea—the Pentagon dispatched nuclear capable B-52 bombers unannounced into the zone.

During Hagel’s trip to Japan then China, the defence secretary drew a direct parallel between Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, in response to the fascist-led coup in Kiev engineered by the US, and China’s territorial disputes in the South China and East China Seas with its neighbours, including Japan and the Philippines. While the US claims to be neutral in these maritime disputes, Hagel nevertheless accused Beijing of attempting to “violate territorial integrity” by force. Standing next to his Chinese counterpart, Hagel reaffirmed that the US was “fully committed” to its military alliances with Japan and the Philippines—in other words, would wage war against China should fighting break out.

Obama will land in Tokyo for the first full state reception for a US president since that of Clinton more than a decade ago. During the course of three days, Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will undoubtedly declare their complete commitment to the post-war security treaty between the two countries. The Obama administration has since 2009 pushed Japan to take a more aggressive stance in its dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, boost its military and ease constitutional and legal restrictions on the operations of its armed forces.

As the US seeks to reassert its dominant position in the Indo-Pacific, especially over China, tensions have begun to emerge in the alliance with Japan. Both countries are mired in a worsening economic crisis and are seeking to extricate themselves at the expense of their rivals. At this stage, the right-wing Abe government remains supportive of the US “pivot” but is exploiting the opportunity to remilitarise and mount its own diplomatic offensive in South East Asia, to prosecute Japanese strategic and economic interests, which do not always coincide with the US agenda.

Since taking office in December 2012, Abe has increased the Japanese military budget for the first time in a decade, established a US-style national security council, re-oriented military strategy to the country’s southern island chain opposite the Chinese mainland, and begun to revive the reactionary traditions of Japanese militarism. In just over a year, Abe has personally visited all 10 ASEAN members, and boosted security relations with them, particularly the Philippines.

The Financial Times yesterday commented: “It has been a rocky year for the US-Japan relationship, the bedrock of Asia’s security and the region’s half-century-long economic rise. Irritants range from stalled trade talks to the habit of senior Japanese leaders of dredging up wartime history.”

Obama is expected to put the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) high on the agenda for talks with Abe. An agreement on the TPP, which Washington regards as the means for reasserting American economic supremacy in Asia, was meant to be finalised by the end of last year but became bogged down, especially by disagreements between the US and Japan over agriculture and the auto industry.

A Washington Post opinion piece by former US national security adviser Tom Donilon highlighted the TPP’s central role as “the most important trade deal under negotiation today.” It would enforce US demands across the board, from trade and investment to intellectual property rights and corporate law. “A deal would solidify US leadership in Asia and, together with the negotiations over a free trade pact in Europe, put the United States at the centre of a great project: writing the rules that will govern the global economy for the next century,” Donilon stated.

On the eve of Obama’s visit, Abe again aggravated regional tensions over historical issues, by sending a religious offering on Monday to the Yasukuni Shrine to Japan’s war dead. Today, senior cabinet minister Yoshitaka Shindo further fueled the debate by heading a group of 147 lawmakers to visit the same notorious shrine. In December, Abe provoked protests from China and South Korea by making a personal visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which is a symbol of Japanese militarism. His visit gave the green light for a growing campaign in the media, by figures like Naoki Hyakuta, appointed by Abe to the board of the NHK public broadcaster, to whitewash the atrocities carried out by the Japanese military such as the Nanjing massacre.

The US State Department cautiously expressed its “disappointment” with Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine. In part, the Obama administration is concerned that relations between its two allies in North East Asia—Japan and South Korea—have effectively broken down. South Korean President Park Geun-hye, installed in February last year, has refused to meet with Abe, citing suggestions that Japan would revise its apology for the treatment of “comfort women,” including many South Koreans, who were forced to work in military brothels in the 1930s and 1940s. Obama was forced to act as mediator last month, bringing Abe and Park together for the first time, on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in The Hague.

More fundamentally, however, the tensions between the US and Japan reflect a widening gap between the interests of the two imperialist powers. The Financial Times commented: “Underlying these frictions is the question of how committed the two nations are to a partnership that looks like the remnant of a bygone era, forged when the US was the unchallenged regional power after the Pacific war.”

While Abe is not about to make a break with Washington, he has described his agenda as “escaping the post-war regime”—that is, a post-war order in which Japan relied on the US militarily in Asia and was prepared to play the role of loyal subordinate. The “post-war regime” was only established after a full-scale war, in which millions died, between the US and Japan over who was to dominate Asia, particularly China.

Obama’s aim in Tokyo will be to ensure continued US hegemony in every area—from the TPP’s economic agenda to the marshalling of Japanese rearmament to the interests of US imperialism in Asia.

CHINA DEFIES OBAMA’S SLOW ASIA PIVOT WITH RAPID MILITARY BUILDUP

By David J. Lynch – Bloomberg

President Barack Obama’s trip to Asia this week will be dominated by a country he’s not even visiting: China.

Each of the four nations on the president’s itinerary is involved in territorial disputes with an increasingly assertive China. And years of military spending gains have boosted the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army faster than many defense analysts expected, casting a shadow over relations between China and its neighbors and sparking doubts about long-term prospects for the U.S. presence in the Pacific.

“There are growing concerns about what China is up to in the maritime space,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “There’s a widely held view in the region that the U.S.-China relationship is tipping toward being much more confrontational.”

Obama arrives today in Japan, the start of a weeklong journey that also will take him to South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. On display throughout will be the challenge of managing the uneasy relationship with China, the U.S.’s No. 2 trading partner and an emerging rival for global influence.

For almost three years, Obama has sought to reorient U.S. foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific region after more than a decade consumed by war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Though the president says the change isn’t aimed at containing China — Sino-U.S. trade last year topped $562 billion, a 38 percent jump from five years earlier — administration officials recently toughened their response to China’s muscular foreign policy.

‘Aggressive Growth’

Danny Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asia, in February labeled China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea, hundreds of miles from its shoreline, as “inconsistent with international law.”

Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, told an Australian audience on April 9: “I am concerned by the aggressive growth of the Chinese military, their lack of transparency, and a pattern of increasingly assertive behavior in the region.”

The statements signaled mounting U.S. alarm following China’s establishment in November of an “air defense identification zone” in the East China Sea, which overlapped with Japanese and South Korean airspace.

China’s growing strength in recent years has spawned a welter of territorial conflicts. The most serious involve uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, which Japan controls as the Senkakus and China calls Diaoyu.

Expansive Claims

Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia are among the countries disputing China’s expansive claim to the South China Sea and its energy resources, while the Philippines last month filed a complaint against China with an international arbitration panel.

China and South Korea also have tussled over rights to a submerged formation that China calls the Suyan Rock and South Korea knows as the Ieodo.

Even as tensions in East Asia remain high, U.S. officials insist they can toggle between cooperation and confrontation in their dealings with the world’s second-largest economy.

“There doesn’t need to be tension and conflict,” said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser. “An emerging power like China does not inherently have to come into conflict with an established power like the United States.”

Still, during his visit to Manila, Obama is scheduled to give a speech to an audience of American and Filipino service members and veterans intended to showcase “our security cooperation in the current environment in the Asia Pacific,” Rhodes said.

New Agreement

Earlier this month, the U.S. and the Philippines agreed on the draft of a new accord that would give American forces their broadest access to Filipino bases in more than 20 years. The deal, which doesn’t involve the permanent stationing of U.S. troops in the Philippines, is likely to be announced when Obama reaches Manila on April 28.

Ely Ratner, a former State Department China analyst, said the deal is “significant as a symbol of the degree to which the Chinese have scared the region.”

As China has prospered, it has lavished resources on the military in a manner exceeded only by the U.S., which will spend $572 billion on defense this year. In March, China said it plans to increase the PLA’s budget by 12.2 percent this year to 808.2 billion yuan, about $130 billion.

“China’s military modernization has moved more quickly than most experts had predicted,” says Ratner, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Rising Outlays

While China spends on its military less than one-quarter what the U.S. will devote to the Pentagon this year, China’s outlays are rising as the U.S. cuts back. This year’s Pentagon budget is less than in fiscal 2007 and is probably headed lower as Congress seeks to curb federal deficits.

Rising spending over more than a decade has transformed China’s once-primitive military into a more capable, though still limited, force. And even as China’s economic growth slows, the military expansion is likely to continue.

State-owned Xinhua News Agency reported last month that Yin Zhuo, director of the Chinese navy’s expert-consultation committee, said China’s military spending remained “far from the level it needs to be as the country faces increasingly severe security challenges.”

Though China’s rearmament has stretched from ballistic missiles to new jet fighters, the defense buildup may be having the most immediate impact at sea. The PLA navy is being transformed from a coastal defense force into a fleet increasingly able to operate in distant waters.

Modern Vessels

China is replacing older ships with modern vessels capable of more ambitious operations, the U.S. Navy’s top China intelligence specialist told the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission on Jan. 30.

The U.S. Navy now regards about 65 percent of China’s destroyers and frigates as “modern” and expects that figure to increase to 85 percent by 2020, said Jesse Karotkin, senior intelligence officer for China in the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel toured China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, the first foreign military boss to board the warship. The invitation, a nod to U.S. demands for greater transparency about the Chinese buildup, may have provided limited intelligence gains.

“The Chinese did not allow the Americans to take any photos at all,” said Glaser, a former consultant for the U.S. departments of Defense and State.

Though the refurbished Ukrainian-made vessel is a visible symbol of China’s modernization, the carrier won’t be fully operational for several years, Karotkin said.

Even then, the Liaoning will be no match for the American Nimitz-class carriers, which are longer, bigger and carry more warplanes.

Peaceful Settlement

For now, U.S. officials aren’t emphasizing such comparisons. The U.S. hasn’t taken sides in the disputes between China and its neighbors, saying only that conflicts should be settled peacefully. Some in China worry that Obama may use the trip to endorse the stern language his aides have used and deal a blow to Chinese hopes for a stable relationship, Glaser said.

Jeff Bader, former head of Asian affairs for Obama’s National Security Council, told reporters at an April 17 briefing that the tougher administration statements reflect a “tactical” adjustment rather than a fundamental rethinking.

For now, both the U.S. and China appear determined to keep the relationship from deteriorating. Since October, Chinese naval patrols around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands have dropped from an average of a little more than one per week to one every couple of weeks, according to an analysis of Japanese Coast Guard data.

And this summer, the Chinese for the first time are scheduled to participate in a U.S. Navy-led exercise. The PLA navy is expected to send three ships to RIMPAC 2014, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, which occurs every two years off the Hawaiian Islands and is billed as the world’s largest naval warfare demonstration.

RUSSIAN LAWMAKER ALEXEI PUSHKOV: CONFRONTING BOTH RUSSIA AND CHINA ‘STRATEGIC MISTAKE’ FOR UNITED STATES

PUSHKOVAlexei Pushkov

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MOSCOW, (RIA Novosti) – The United States runs the risk of making a huge foreign policy blunder by simultaneously antagonizing two major world powers, Russia and China, a senior Russian lawmaker wrote on Twitter Monday.

“For the United States, Russia is an enemy and China is a potential enemy. But the confrontation course with both major powers is a strategic mistake,” Alexei Pushkov, who chairs the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s lower house, wrote.

US President Barack Obama denied last month that Moscow was Washington’s number one geopolitical foe, calling Russia “a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors, not out of strength but out of weakness.”

Washington’s relations with Beijing have also become strained, given a new US strategy in the Asia-Pacific region to contain China. During Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s recent visit to Beijing, his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan said that efforts to contain China would never succeed.

In remarks to Obama’s statement, Pushkov said by calling Russia a “regional power,” the US leader showed “the depth of his despair over the growing international role of Russia from Siberia to Ukraine.”

The fate of Crimea, formerly an autonomous republic within Ukraine and part of Russia since last month, has triggered the most serious geopolitical showdown between Moscow and the West since the end of the Cold War.

Obama has claimed the Russian population in Crimea was never under threat from the growing influence of ultranationalists on Ukraine’s political life, as Russia had repeatedly warned, and denounced Moscow’s move to protect its compatriots.

During a question and answer session with the public last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that trust between Russia and the United States had been lost to a great extent, but not due to Moscow. Restoring the trust between Russia and the US requires the elimination of all approaches based on double standards, the Russian president said.

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CHINA WILL ADVANCE THE PACE OF NUCLEAR ROLL-OUT

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the first meeting of the National Energy Commission on April 18 that China will launch a number of major projects to restructure its energy layout and achieve development with cleaner energy. China will push forward reform in energy production and consumption, and make energy use greener, he said.

China Daily reported that China is quickening its approvals for nuclear energy and will launch projects in coastal areas to ensure energy security and economic growth.

In a statement released yesterday, the commission said it discussed strategic problems in the development of the energy resources industry as well as some major projects. The launch of new projects will resume at the proper time and will adopt the highest international safety standards, according to the commission.

The latest approvals of nuclear plants and other energy projects are part of the government’s plan to push economic growth without resorting to massive stimulus.

As the fastest-growing atomic energy nation, China will launch another 8.6GW of capacity for nuclear power this year, according to the National Energy Administration. That is in stark contrast to the two reactors with 2.1GW of capacity approved in 2013.

Even so, experts argue that the country’s reliance on nuclear power is still small. Its 20 reactors in operation contributed only 1.2% of the country’s energy use in 2013, much lower than the world’s average of 9.8%.

Lin Boqiang, director of the Xiamen-based China Center for Energy Economic Research, said the central government has sent a clear signal that it is hastening the approval process of nuclear plants, which can increase clean power generation.

CHINA REFUSES EIGHT SHIPMENTS OF U.S. GMO CORN

Christina Sarich
Prison Planet.com

Never say never. Though already reported by NaturalSociety in the past, let’s not forget when China destroyed three shipments of US GMO corn. According to a law on Chinese books ,the Ministry of Agriculture must require environmental and food safety testing to verify data provided by the seed developer. This means that China is upholding the scientific method and is actually testing the claims of companies like Monsanto, Dow, and Syngenta, saying that ‘GMO is safe for humans and the environment” when we all know this to be untrue.

Corn is the number one crop grown in the U.S. and 88% of it is GMO.

The Chinese Minister of Agriculture is unable to issue a safety certificate unless these strict scientific proofs are utilized and therefore, three shipments of imported US GMO corn without relevant safety certificates and approval documents were destroyed.

This is a big concern for US exporters who have grown GMO crops, since China is a big consumer of genetically modified crops. The country, like our own, is already consuming large amounts of GM soybeans, even though experts are re-igniting the questions about just how safe these crops really are:

Read: China Refused ~900,000 Tonnes of U.S. GMO Corn

“Wang Xiaoyu, deputy secretary general of the Heilongjiang Soybean Association, a supporter of local non-genetically modified soybeans, recently told local media that people who consume soy oil made with genetically modified soybeans “are more vulnerable to developing tumors and suffering sterility.

Regions in China where consumption of GM soy oil are high such as the southern provinces of Fujian and Guangdong, there are much higher cancer rates. Local soybean industries are ‘dying’ and the country is relying on more imports, but genetically modified crops are being turned away.

Previously, China refused five total shipments of GM crops in just a month – all of it coming from the US. MIR 162 was found in one shipment – an ‘insect resistant’ GMO strain which the Ministry had yet to O.K.

Journalists from China believe that all future shipments of US corn, soybeans and other GM crops will face strict inspection. Already, more than 900,000 tonnes have been refused or destroyed.

CHINA, RUSSIA STRENGTHEN TRADE TIES AMID WESTERN SANCTIONS

With US calling for tougher sanctions on Russia, Moscow is turning to China for future business deals. RT’s business presenter Katie Pilbeam explains more. Russian President Putin will pay a visit to China next month to seal a gas deal. China expert Andrew Leung believes the doors are opening on a long partnership. This could shift international economic landscape.

CHINA BOAST: U.S. MARINES WOULD BE LIKE ‘MARCHING BAND’ IN ALL OUT FIGHT

Photo by: LCpl Thomas DeMelo Wissler

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By Miles Yu | The Washington Times

A casual remark by a U.S. general during a breakfast has made China mad, really mad, and Beijing’s response is far less than civil and humble.

On April 11, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the 18,000 Marines in Okinawa, Japan, told reporters at a Washington breakfast meeting that the Marines in the Pacific would quickly retake the Senkaku island group and return it to Japan if China were to invade it.

The statement was nothing new, as U.S. officials from the president on down repeatedly have told the Chinese that the United States would fulfill its defense treaty obligations to help Japan militarily in any conflict with China over the islands.

What apparently incensed the Chinese was what Gen. Wissler said next: “You wouldn’t maybe even necessarily have to put somebody on that island until you had eliminated the threat, so to speak.”

The Chinese military is supremely confident of its invincibility in the Pacific and is taking Gen. Wissler’s remark as a great insult.

The first return salvos were fired by the Communist Party-owned and operated newspaper Global Times.

“These U.S. warships roaming around here [in the East China Sea] are slowly being considered by us Chinese as our moving targets right in front of our eyes, and the [U.S.] bases in Okinawa as a whole are also no longer a big deal [to us],” said the newspaper in an April 15 editorial.

“When facing China, these U.S. soldiers are really not worth anything,” the Global Times said. “If China and the U.S. were to start an all-out fight, these American Marines would be more like a marching band, charging with others, but with their musical instruments in hands.”

Wissler seems still living in the 20th century. In the new century, he and his comrades in arms should see their own reflections in the water with which they use to wash their own feet,” said the Global Times.

NATIONAL SECURITY, REDEFINED

Beijing recently issued its broadest definition of “national security” — including virtually all aspects of the communist state’s daily routine and giving new meaning to China as a “national security state.”

Billed as the “National Security Path with Chinese Characteristics,” the new definition was announced by Supreme Leader Xi Jinping on April 15 at the first plenary meeting of the newly created, all-powerful National Security Commission.

It is significantly different from other conventional definitions of “national security” around the world in its comprehensive coverage and its dual emphasis on external and internal security.

To begin with, Mr. Xi listed 11 “security” areas in which China’s new national organization will operate and oversee — politics, territories, military, economy, culture, community, science and technology, information, ecology, natural resources and nuclear.

At the top of this security behemoth sits Mr. Xi as chairman of the National Security Commission — a position renders him the world leader with the most institutionalized and centralized powers.

In addition to being China’s national security czar, Mr. Xi is chief of the only real political party in China, president of the world’s most-populous nation, and commander-in-chief of the world’s largest military, while holding additional positions in charge of China’s foreign affairs and economic reforms.

PEPE ESCOBAR: CHINA/RUSSIA ‘DEAL OF THE DECADE’ AND EUROPE’S SECRET U.S. DEAL BLUES

While the West weighs up putting more spanners in the works with sanctions, Russia and China are getting on with business. The two are looking at a deal that could see gas pumped into the world’s most-populated nation for the next 3 decades. Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar told RT that Beijing’s stance on the global political arena is bearing fruit.

CHINA’S GROWTH SLOWS TO 7.4 PERCENT IN FIRST QUARTER


BEIJING (AP) — China’s economic growth slowed further in the latest quarter but appeared strong enough to satisfy Chinese leaders who are trying to put the country on a more sustainable path without politically dangerous job losses.

The world’s second-largest economy grew 7.4 percent from a year earlier in the January-March quarter, down from the previous quarter’s 7.7 percent, government data showed Wednesday. It matched a mini-slump in late 2012 for the weakest growth since the 2008-09 global crisis.

Beijing is trying to guide China’s economy toward growth based on domestic consumption instead of trade and investment following the past decade’s explosive expansion. The top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, last week ruled out new stimulus and said leaders will focus on “sustainable and healthy development.”

“Chinese growth held up better than expected last quarter and there are signs that downwards pressure on growth has eased somewhat,” said analyst Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

Retail sales and factory output were weaker than in the previous quarter but improved in March. On a quarter-to-quarter basis, economic growth from January to March slowed to 1.4 percent from the previous period’s 1.8 percent.

The data reflect official efforts to shift emphasis from investment-intensive industry to services such as restaurants and retailing that generate more jobs.

Credit growth slowed in March and the expansion of China’s overall money supply rose at its slowest rate since 1997. Housing sales in the first quarter declined 5.7 percent from a year earlier.

“The continued slowdown in money and credit growth is likely to keep exerting relentless downward pressure on China’s economic growth,” said Societe Generale economist Wei Yao in a report. “Without re-acceleration of debt growth, the economy is unlikely to stabilize for another quarter at least.”

Stock markets in Asia and Europe were mostly higher, shrugging off the Chinese figures because growth didn’t slow as much as forecast by analysts.

The latest economic growth is below the official annual target of 7.5 percent announced last month. But Chinese leaders appear willing to miss that target so long as the economy creates enough jobs to avoid potential unrest. In a sign of concern about employment, they launched a mini-stimulus in March of higher spending on building railways and low-cost housing.

“Policymakers appear comfortable with the current pace of growth,” said Pritchard. “The policy response to today’s numbers is likely to be muted.”

Some analysts said that with inflation relatively subdued at 2.4 percent in March, the central bank might respond by easing monetary policy and inject extra money into credit markets.

Domestic consumption is rising but more slowly than Beijing wants. In October, the government said consumption accounted for 55 percent of growth and investment for most of the rest. A government spokesman, Sheng Laiyun, said Wednesday the ratio for the latest quarter still was being calculated.

The quarterly expansion matched the third quarter of 2012, when growth tumbled after global demand for China’s exports weakened unexpectedly while the government was tightening lending and investment controls to cool surging inflation.

The past decade’s rapid growth, which peaked at 14.2 percent in 2007, was driven by an export boom and spending on factories, apartment towers and other assets. But that model is losing its ability to drive growth. It also left China with badly polluted air and water.

Chinese leaders have promised sweeping changes to make the economy more competitive and efficient, including opening more industries to private and foreign competitors.

They have issued a steady drumbeat of minor changes in recent months such as making it easier to register a business but more basic change such as in the state-controlled banking system is politically fraught and could take years.

So far this month, Chinese leaders have approved a tax cut for small businesses and agreed to create a railway development fund to receive 200 to 300 billion yuan ($35-50 billion) per year.

Last year’s economic growth of 7.7 percent was the strongest of any major economy but tied 2012 for China’s slowest expansion since the 1990s.

Weaker growth could have global repercussions, hurting Asian economies and others such as Australia and Brazil for which China is the leading market for iron ore, other commodities and industrial components.

Chinese imports suffered an unexpectedly sharp contraction of 11.3 percent in March in a sign of weak demand for raw materials in manufacturing and construction.

 

LAVROV IN CHINA: STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP, GAS, NUCLEAR, WAR DANGER

Xi Jinping Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on April 15, 2014 in Beijing, China.  Lavrov is on a one-day visit to China.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on April 15, 2014 in Beijing, China. Lavrov is on a one-day visit to China.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in China for discussions in preparation for President Putin’s visit next month. In an interview before meeting with his counterpart, Wang Yi, and President Xi Jinping, Lavrov told China Daily that the “Sino-Russia strategic partnership has reached an unprecedented height.”

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