EIR Daily Alert Service, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017


Volume 4, Number 230

EIR Daily Alert Service

P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390


The Reality We Helped Shape Is Asserting Itself

Nov. 19 (EIRNS)—The recently-concluded summit and raft of agreements signed between the Presidents of China and Panama, coming right on the heels of the historic Xi-Trump summit-plus, is an indication of how rapidly and profoundly the strategic situation is advancing. In less than six months, Panama went from having diplomatic relations with Taiwan and not with China, to signing 19 economic agreements with China—including Panama’s full participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, as a platform for all of Ibero-America to do the same—as well as adhering to the one-China policy.

Or, consider the breakneck speed at which China-Europe freight train traffic is increasing, where this year 3,000 trains traveling on 57 lines carried more cargo than the last six years combined. The Yiwu-Madrid line alone saw a 54% jump in cargo over last year.

The stunning speed and depth of events is leaving most people, including some of the major players themselves, feeling buffeted by developments. Don’t bother asking the principals why they are doing what they are doing: they don’t really know. By and large, they are ignorant of the cause of the changes underway—sometimes blissfully so.

Not so statesman and physical economist Lyndon LaRouche. His forecasts have repeatedly proven themselves accurate, both regarding the onrushing disintegration of the trans-Atlantic system, as well as the emerging New Paradigm and the shift of the center of gravity of strategic progress to China and Eurasia—as he delineated in great depth already in his 2004 The Dialogue of Eurasian Civilization: Earth’s Next 50 Years. He there states:

“Therefore, I emphasize an outlook which I have expressed in various earlier publications. How should we attempt to estimate, beforehand, why and how no less than those two generations ahead should judge the results of our agreement to act in concert now? The implicit basis for competent foreknowledge of the competence of our choices, lies not in the experience of the past, but the competence of our experience of the future. That is the crucial paradox with which this report challenges the sponsors of any dialogue of cultures; there lies the crucial paradox menacing any attempt to shape a functional quality of common agreement from within a dialogue of cultures. The best rule-of-thumb statement of the solution for the latter, crucial paradox, is V.I. Vernadsky’s systemic definition of the Noösphere.”

It has been those LaRouche forecasts, and the attendant political action that they required and inspired across the planet, that have played a critical role in shaping the reality which is now asserting itself. And it is the mastery of that LaRouche method by expanding numbers of members and supporters of the LaRouche movement internationally, that will shape the next step in the reality to be asserted—including the United States fully joining the Belt and Road Initiative, and the BRI’s expansion and evolution into a fusion-powered Space Silk Road.


China-Panama Relations Show How Fast the Belt and Road Initiative Is Changing the World

Nov. 19 (EIRNS)—On June 12, 2017, Panama announced that it had broken diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and established them with China, formally recognizing the one-China policy. Five months and five days later, on Nov. 17, Presidents Juan Carlos Varela and Xi Jinping signed 19 accords between the two countries, including a “Memorandum of Understanding of cooperation in the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative,” La Estrella de Panamá reported. The speed at which things are moving have caught friend and foe alike by surprise.

Xi’s comments to Varela upon signing the accords, emphasized the historic nature of the decision, paving the way for other countries in Ibero-America to also break with Taiwan, and for the whole region to finally get on board with the Belt and Road. “As the Chinese saying goes, a man who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man. Your political decision to establish diplomatic ties with China and visit China is a feat of heroism. Your contribution will go down in history.” Xi added, according to Xinhua’s paraphrase, that “China regards Latin America as an indispensable partner for the Belt and Road Initiative, and both sides should synergize development strategies to complement each other.”

Zhao Bentang, who heads the Latin America and Caribbean department of China’s foreign ministry, said: “If our Panamanian friends need, in the spirit of friendship and South-South cooperation the Chinese side is willing to assist Panama’s economic and social development to the best of our capacity.”

Varela said to Xinhua that “I’m sure that China and Panama will establish a very strong relationship, which will go well beyond the borders of both countries, and will help bring stability and peace to the region.” Varela also emphasized that the U.S. is a strategic ally of Panama—in other words, that he sees no contradiction between the Belt and Road policy and good, strategic relations with the U.S.

A report on Panama’s TVN-2 television on Nov. 17 pointed to the broader scope of what China is up to in the region: “China has proposed to build a new Silk Road. It has set its sights on Latin America. In Brazil, it has invested in bus and solar panel factories. In Argentina, it is purchasing soy and it built a rail network. In Peru, it invested in energy and aluminum; in Mexico, in auto assembly; in Venezuela, in petroleum; it also financed a bioceanic train to connect Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. A Chinese businessman also is behind the project to construct an inter-oceanic canal through Nicaragua; China promises Panama an unprecedented economic panorama. But it will be up to the authorities to ensure that those investments benefit all economic sectors.”

Xinhua also had an enthusiastic commentary headlined “China-Panama Relations Set To Open New Horizons,” which noted that “China-Panama cooperation and exchanges are promising and set to boom.” The article reported that, among the many deals, a Confucius Institute has been opened in Panama City, and stated that, “by aligning the Belt and Road Initiative with the country’s development plans, Panama 2030, the two sides will see new opportunities to develop bilateral ties.” Internationally, “Panama will take an active part in the construction of the China-CELAC Forum, and promote overall cooperation between China and Latin America.” CELAC is the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the China-CELAC forum was officially founded in July 2014 summit of the BRICS nations—Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa—in Fortaleza, Brazil.

Former French Prime Minister de Villepin Argues for European Commitment to Belt and Road

Nov. 17 (EIRNS)—On the sidelines of an international conference of think tanks in Beijing, former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told Sputnik: “The European Union should increase the level of its participation in the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. It could be reached by means of the European Investment Bank or, for example, of French Fund of Innovations [Fonds Pour les Innovations]. These instruments should cooperate more actively, implementing specific projects within the framework of the ‘One Belt, One Road.’ ”

De Villepin continued, “The European Commission and the governments of several EU states are concerned about investments of the Chinese companies in strategic spheres of economy. I am convinced that the European Union should not give up on other countries by introducing endless checks. The EU countries should build cooperation on a mutually-beneficial basis, just like China does.”

He hinted that these issues would be discussed during the upcoming visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to China, expected to be in January 2018. De Villepin also pointed to the issue of developing Africa: “The initiative proposed by [Chinese President] Xi Jinping to be implemented in Asia, should be implemented by us in Europe. The European Union should build closer partnerships and cooperation with the Maghreb and Africa in the manner of Chinese ‘Road and Belt.’ We could develop infrastructure in the African states that would be very beneficial for our enterprises and would give impetus to the economies of these countries.”

De Villepin, who served as French Prime Minister from 2005-2007 during the Presidency of Jacques Chirac, said such ties would be favorable both for Africa and Europe. “Africa is often perceived in terms of refugees and undocumented migrants. I think that we should get rid of these prejudices. We could create projects, in which the companies and institutions from both the European Union and the African states will participate. If our neighbors do not have stability, then there will be no stability in Europe as well,” de Villepin stressed.

Trump Trip May Play a Role in Improving Sino-Indian Relations

Nov. 18 (EIRNS)—Addressing the Center for Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies in the Language School at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi on Nov. 17, Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui suggested alternative routes to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, including changing the name of the economic corridor. “We can change the name of CPEC. Create an alternative corridor through Jammu and Kashmir, Nathu La pass, or Nepal to deal with India’s concerns,” Luo said, The Hindu reported. He also said he was keen on accomplishing a bilateral friendship and trade treaty during his stint in India. Nathu La (la is “pass” in the Sikkimese language) is the pass that connects China’s Tibet to India’s Sikkim in the northeast of India.

India’s official opposition to the CPEC stems from the fact that the economic corridor, linking China’s Xinjiang province to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan, enters Pakistan through the disputed Jammu and Kashmir territory, and presently under Pakistan’s occupation. If an alternative route, as suggested by Luo, works out between China and India, it is likely that India will not remain opposed to the corridor, which is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

In advancing his suggestion, Luo also referred to the changing situation in the world. He observed, that “there is a widespread change in world affairs since the coming to power of President Donald Trump of the U.S.,” and pointed to President Trump’s Nov. 8-10 visit to Beijing that proved that China is a reliable partner. “President Trump sealed $250 billion worth of trade deals with China during his trip. Would that be possible if China was a threat?” Luo asked, The Hinduquoted him as saying. As a result of this new development, Luo argued that China and India as growing economies must cooperate with each other.


Indiana Farmers Union Calls on Trump, Congress To Start Emergency Belt and Road Projects

Nov. 19 (EIRNS)—At its convention yesterday, the Indiana Farmers Union passed the following resolution addressed to President Trump and the U.S. Congress to take emergency action to defend American citizens against the effects of imminent financial blowout. The union’s chairman Jim Benham had presided over a presentation by the Schiller Institute’s Bob Baker outlining the success of Trump’s just completed Asia trip in establishing the potential for a “new era” of human history. The programs promoted by the resolution are consistent with the “Four Laws” to save the U.S.A. issued by Lyndon LaRouche on June 10, 2014, and they urge participation in China’s Belt and Road initiative.

“BE IT RESOLVED by the Indiana Farmers Union that it urges the Congress of the United States to recognize that the Trans-Atlantic financial system is on the verge of a new blowout, worse than that of 2007-2008. The conditions of life for the vast majority of Americans, farmers and workers have been steadily collapsing over the past two decades. U.S. economic policy has focused on protecting Wall Street’s speculative bubble, instead of protecting the general welfare and future posterity of the American people. We recognize that emergency action is now needed to preempt a new financial crisis, and to put Americans back to work rebuilding our nation and our future.

“To accomplish this, we ask President Donald Trump and the 115th Congress to pass and implement programs in four areas for economic recovery on an emergency basis, and to join a win-win economic development of the New Silk Road program for global cooperation of all countries as sovereign nations in large-scale infrastructure projects and economic development that is being implemented by many countries throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and, with the United States leadership and participation, throughout the world.

“The four areas define a coherent economic recovery program, rooted in the American System of economics: 1. Reinstate Franklin Roosevelt’s original Glass-Steagall law, separating commercial lending activities from Wall Street speculation; 2. Return to a Hamiltonian system of national banking; 3. Direct federal credit to projects and initiatives which create rising levels of productivity and incomes; 4. Launch a crash program for the development of fusion power and the rapid expansion of our space science program. America’s economic recovery will be greatly accelerated if the United States returns to its economic policy roots and joins the infrastructure building and economic development that has become the model from China’s win-win New Silk Road program of rapid economic development.”

Hurricane Costs of Neglecting General Welfare at $95 Billion Wealth, 300 Lives and Counting

Nov. 18 (EIRNS)—The White House on Nov. 17 asked Congress for another $44 billion in supplemental disaster assistance to help those hurt by recent hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, bringing the total appropriated and requested to $95 billion for the August-September hurricanes.

A number of members of Congress including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), and others immediately attacked the request as “wholly inadequate,” “a dereliction of duty,” etc. Leaving aside that there is some partisan posing and state pleading involved in these attacks, the fact is that there are $182 billion in formal requests outstanding to the White House and Congress from the affected states and territories, and these will not exhaust the needed investments in new storm-protection, power, and transportation infrastructure. The requests include $61 billion by Texas, $27 billion by Florida, and $94 billion by Puerto Rico.

So the cost of decades of neglect of the general welfare by elected officials, in the form of denial and indefinite postponement of needed protective and productive infrastructure, is $95 billion and rising fast from those hurricanes alone, as well as nearly 300 lives unnecessarily lost.

“The White House said it expected to seek additional funds after a fuller analysis,” The Hill reported Nov. 17. “White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan that the $44 billion ‘does not represent the final request.’ ”

Russian Ambassador Remarks on U.S.-Russia Relations: The Two Countries Can Work Together

Nov. 17 (EIRNS)—Russia’s Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov said yesterday that contacts between Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Donald Trump of the U.S. in Vietnam demonstrate that the two states can agree on joint work. “The recent contacts between the Russian and U.S. Presidents on the sidelines of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit in Vietnam and their joint statement on Syria have proven that our countries need each other and can agree on working together,” the ambassador said during the reception on the occasion of presenting his credentials to U.S. President Donald Trump. “Only through joint efforts can we come up with adequate responses to the challenges of today, chief among which remains global terrorism,” he said.

“I can assure you that the primary assignment that I have from my leadership is to fully develop our bilateral ties, to build a constructive, predictable and mutually advantageous model of cooperation,” he continued. “I am confident that everyone will benefit from good Russian-American relations, considering a special responsibility of our countries as permanent members of the UN Security Council for maintaining global peace and security.”

Antonov also acknowledged that “the environment for me to step in as a new Ambassador is far from favorable…. We have to deal with the heavy legacy we have inherited. Nevertheless, it is important not to shut off from one another, not to look back at the past, but rather to have a strategic vision of our common goals,” he went on.

“Though my work started in difficult conditions, I have to mention that I was given a positive and warm reception at the State Department and other agencies I have visited so far,” he said. “And it is worth noting that my American counterparts have shown their willingness to build a constructive dialogue.”

“It is a great honor for me and at the same time an incredible professional challenge to carry out a diplomatic mission in this country,” Antonov said. “It is worth mentioning that Washington, D.C. has the most qualified members of the diplomatic community I have ever seen. This city gathers foreign appointees from top government positions, which proves the significance that all countries attach to their relations with the United States.”

No, U.S. Generals Will Work With, Not Against Trump

Nov. 19 (EIRNS)—Over the last week, the fake news has trumpeted the charge that Gen. John Hyten, current head of the U.S. Strategic Command, and a former commander of USSTRATCOM, Gen. C. Robert Kehler (ret.), who have been responsible for commanding United States nuclear armed forces over the last 12 years, have threatened to resist President Trump’s illegal orders to use nuclear weapons. The overtones of some of the coverage is that such an order from Trump is imminent.

In remarks reported by CBS News, General Hyten described the actual way in which the President and his generals collaborate to lawfully discharge their duties.

“We’re not stupid people,” he said. “We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?” Hyten agreed with media badgering that nuclear operators would refuse to implement an unlawful order, but explained that the process in place to launch a nuclear strike would prevent such a situation from arising in the first place. “I provide advice to the President, he will tell me what to do,” Hyten added. “And if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up with options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated.”

Hyten said he has been trained every year for decades on the law of armed conflict and is thoroughly familiar with its principles. “Running through scenarios of how to react in the event of an illegal order is standard practice,” he said. “If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life.”


Corporate Debt Bubble: The Junk Is Starting To Get Thrown Out

Nov. 18 (EIRNS)—The U.S. corporate and “emerging market” junk debt markets have started to buckle in November, with European corporate junk next to go.

The superinflated prices in the nearly $3 trillion “junk debt” part of the $14 trillion U.S. corporate debt bubble—the part which grew by a startling $800 billion in the last year—is unable to withstand even the small and slow interest rate increases being dripped into the financial system by the Federal Reserve.

In the past week average yields jumped up to 3.8% from 3.3% in U.S. junk; a near-record $6.7 billion flowed rapidly out of junk bond investment funds, according to the Wall Street Journal Nov. 18. The paper quotes one analyst, “We’re seeing huge outflows from mutual funds and ETFs, so it’s triggering this domino effect.” In the telecom sector, which has about $400 billion of this debt, average interest rates rose faster, from 5.2% to 6.4%, and one big such debtor, Sprint, is increasingly likely to default. Another large junk bond issuer, the Noble Group, had its rating changed to “probable default.” The Financial Times posted an article Nov. 15 headlined, “Contagion worries rise after junk-bond sell-off.” Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph pitched in Nov. 16, that “the top of the astonishing post-Lehman boom in corporate credit has been reached.” He says that now “the credit markets have sharp antennae, and they are up.”

Former Reagan budget director David Stockman, in his “Contra Corner” blog Nov. 14, started with the astonishing fact that European junk corporate debt, two weeks ago, reached an average interest rate of 2%, below that of U.S. 10-year Treasuries. Stockman called this an incredible artifact of continuous money-printing of the European Central Bank’s continuing “quantitative easing” program. European junk debt is about $2.5 trillion total. But with interest rates half those of the same corporate junk in U.S. markets, Stockman says this bubble, after reaching bond prices as inconceivably high as the home prices and mortgage bonds of 2006-07, is ready to crash.

Venezuelan Default: Do Financiers in Glass Houses Really Want To Be Throwing Stones?

Nov. 18 (EIRNS)—This week started with S&P, Fitch and Moody’s declaring Venezuela to be in “selected” or “restricted” default, because it paid interest due on several state oil company (PDVSA) and government bonds more than the permitted 30-day grace period after the due date. The derivatives speculators cartel (aka the International Swaps and Derivatives Association) followed up, ruling on Nov. 16 that the late payment was a “default event,” thereby triggering payouts to holders of credit default swaps (CDS) on that debt.

CDS payouts are expected to only be around $1 billion, but bondholders could use these default declarations to “accelerate” payment, i.e. demand immediate payment on the full amount of the bonds. Since that would throw Venezuela’s full debt, estimated at around $150 billion, into default, and since Venezuela is still paying its debt, albeit late, with many of those bonds paying such usurious rates as 13% interest, the financial press is comforting itself that bondholders will not take that step, for the moment. Such estimates do not take into account the vulture funds, which are getting into the act, big time.

Add to this explosive mix the Trump administration’s economic warfare against the Maduro government, escalating the Obama regime-change policy against Venezuela. Sanctions imposed last August by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin are driving the country towards default. To avoid sanction trouble, Citigroup Inc. has closed some government accounts, Euroclear froze PDVSA bond payments, and Deutsche Bank stopping serving as a correspondent bank, making it harder for the government to make payments. The government called a bondholders meeting last Monday, Nov. 13, to begin talks on restructuring more than half of its debt, but under the sanctions, it is illegal for “U.S. persons” to engage in transactions which result in extending new debt to the Venezuelan government or state companies.

Venezuela made over $73.3 billion in debt payments over the last three years, leaving it so bankrupt that there are now virtually noimports entering the highly-import dependent economy. Starvation is spreading, and the death rate of children is beginning to rise, while the IMF is forecasting hyperinflation will hit 2,350% in 2018.

Russia and China have a different policy. Russia signed a restructuring agreement this week on the $3.15 billion Venezuela owes it, stretching out full payment to 10 years, with minimal payments for the first six years. A Foreign Ministry spokesman of China, which is reported to have some $60 billion in loans outstanding to Venezuela, said this week that “we believe that Venezuela’s government and people have the ability to properly handle their debt issue.”


Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri Was ‘Exfiltrated’ out of Saudi Arabia into Paris

Nov. 18 (EIRNS)—Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived in Paris this morning with part of his family. He is expected to stay until Wednesday, Nov. 22, and then return to Lebanon.

The French media are explicit about what happened. Le Mondereported, “Hariri was ‘exfiltrated’ from Saudi Arabia.” The term “exfiltrate” is used only when a prisoner, or someone who is in danger, is removed to safety by an operation carried out by secret services.

Clearly, French President Emmanuel Macron acted properly in this situation. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tried the equivalent of a putsch against Lebanon, by forcing the Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign. He wanted to provoke chaos and civil war, but Lebanese President Michel Aoun, by calmly denouncing the fact that Hariri was being blackmailed or held by the Saudi authorities who were threatening to destroy the Lebanese unity just regained a year or so ago, managed to rally most of Lebanon’s people to defend the country’s sovereignty.

A big problem with Macron, however, is his relationship to Iran. In a speech given in Dubai just prior to his impromptu trip to Riyadh on Nov. 9 to meet with Prince Mohammed about Saad Hariri’s situation, he lashed out at Iran.  Without any evidence, he accused Iran of firing the missile from Yemen that was aimed at Riyadh on Nov. 1. He also charged that Iran has “hegemonist views” respecting the entire Middle East following its successes in the war against ISIS. Macron is not proposing to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement with Tehran, but he is proposing that two “pillars” be added to that agreement: 1) sanctions to constrain Iran’s ballistic missile development; and 2) stopping Iran’s “hegemonist” actions in the Middle East.

Clearly Macron will have to choose in the period ahead between defending Lebanon, whose security is today ensured by the Christian/Hezbollah alliance, including Hezbollah’s special role in defense against Israel, and playing into the British-orchestrated Saudi hostility against Iran, which could lead to a new war.

Did Zimbabwe’s Military Preempt a Regime Change?

Nov. 17 (EIRNS)—The move by the Zimbabwean Defense Forces to launch its military operation in the country appears to have been aimed at preempting a British-orchestrated regime-change policy which was coming to a head. The policy began with what has been called “re-engagement,” which began in 2015 with the so-called Lima process. This followed nearly two decades of isolation and sanctions leveled against the country for so-called human rights issues. The re-engagement began with the country paying its arrears to the international financial institutions, such as the IMF and World Bank. As usual, this “re-engagement” policy was designed to end in regime change.

Targeting Zimbabwe has serious implications for the region. First, Zimbabwe is one of the most important allies of China in southern Africa and they consider each other “all weather friends”; in fact if it weren’t for China’s economic relations and investment, Zimbabwe would have collapsed. Second, Zimbabwe is extremely close to South Africa, in which Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF and South Africa’s ruling African National Congress go back to the days when the two liberation organizations were collaborating in their respective fight against apartheid regimes and the British. An anti-Zanu-PF regime-change in Zimbabwe could seriously weaken South African President Jacob Zuma and the pro-Belt and Road policy of the South African government, which along with China is also a member of the BRICS.

Re-engagement began turning into regime change on Sept. 6, 2016 when Her Majesty’s Chatham House/Royal Institute for International Affairs published a report, titled: “The Domestic and External Implications of Zimbabwe’s Economic Reform and Re-Engagement Agenda.” Two days later, on Sept. 8, 2016, Alex Vines, head of the Africa Program at Chatham House/RIIA presented the report in Washington, at the U.S. government-financed United States Institute of Peace, no doubt with the intention of its becoming policy if Hillary Clinton became President.

The Chatham House report in its diplomatic language makes clear that there can be no economic reform without “depoliticizing” the economy and “political reform” of the Zanu-PF and resolving the question of who would succeed the 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

By October 2016, opposition figures began to be invited to Chatham House. The following month, Chatham House hosted a conference with a gaggle of opposition figures and the Zimbabwe foundation called the SAPES Trust, which has been identified by the Zanu-PF as a “regime change” organization. According to their own statements, it was discussed at the conference that “reform” is being blocked by the older officers in the military and Zanu-PF who are the veterans of the liberation struggle.

Last month, in October 2017, then-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is part of the “old guard” mentioned above, presented a report to President Mugabe identifying the individuals in his cabinet and entourage, who were implementing the Chatham House policy from within Zanu-PF. Unfortunately, rather than removing those identified as traitors, President Mugabe removed Mnangagwa, shortly after which the military, which is the core of the Zanu-PF, launched its current military operation.


China-Europe Freight Train Traffic Is Booming

Nov. 19 (EIRNS)—China-Europe freight train traffic broke all records this year, with more than 3,000 cargo trains traveling on 57 lines between cities at either end—surpassing the past six years combined—according to a Nov. 18 Xinhua report. For example, freight on the Yiwu-Madrid line, only inaugurated in November 2014, rose 54% in the first ten months of 2017, compared to the same period of 2016. All of this, Xinhua noted, “is considered a significant part of the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Chinese urban rail transit is also booming. The executive vice president of the China Association of Metros, Zhou Xiaoqin, announced that, as of the end of June, 31 Chinese cities had urban rail systems in operation, with a total length of 3,965 km. Beijing and Shanghai each had systems exceeding 500 km in length. Another 53 cities have started building systems, and by 2020 the total length in the country should be over 6,000 km—more than 50% greater than today. The total now being planned comes to over 9,000 km. Urban rail systems have been growing steadily over the last 10 years, Zhou reported.

Putin Government Announces Russia’s Resumed Production of Tu-160 Supersonic Bombers

Nov. 19 (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin met in one of his many Kremlin photo-ops and brief public discussion sessions, this time with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who told Putin: “Mr. President, you adopted a decision to reinforce the Russian nuclear triad, including its air component and to resume the production of the Tu-160 strategic missile carrier on a new technical and technological basis.”

Rogozin explained that the Kazan Aviation Factory had “accomplished the very complicated challenge of recovering lost production techniques, including electron-beam welding, and handling titanium. The aircraft is equipped with innovative radio-electronic onboard avionics.” Rogozin added that the maiden flight of the Tu-160M2 will occur in February 2018. A clearly-pleased Putin replied: “Well, that is excellent. I congratulate the aircraft builders on this event… Excellent. Congratulations.”

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