Its spy vs. spy with the U.S. and China...
A strategic mineral oxide, a major spy scandal, a suspicious suicide, and a White House meeting between President Obama and the incoming President of China, current Vice President Xi Jinping, all point to the major industrial espionage war currently being waged between China and the United States. And contrary to claims from the United States that China is conducting a major industrial espionage campaign against the United States, WMR's sources in China report that the current spy wars are a two-way street, with Washington as aggressive as China and possibly more so with an American scientist ending up dead with fingers pointing at the CIA and DuPont....
Over a period of several months, federal prosecutors in San Francisco have brought indictments against California businessman Walter Liew and his wife Christina Liew for criminal conspiracy to commit espionage against DuPont, as well as other charges. Just prior to Xi's visit to the United States, the Justice Department brought espionage charges against the Pangang Group, a Chinese state-owned steel-making enterprise based in Sichuan province, and three of its subsidiaries.
Two executives of Pangang were originally detained in the United States as part of the espionage investigation, however, they were permitted to return to China prior to Vice President Xi's visit.
In addition to the Liews and Pangang, indictments were also brought against two former DuPont employees who were allegedly part of the industrial espionage ring. The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, Melissa Haag, has vowed an aggressive campaign against Chinese industrial espionage and Walter Liew is accused of having as one of his Chinese interlocutors a current high-ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo.
To thicken the plot even further, Timothy Spitler, a former consultant to Liew and one-time DuPont chemical engineer, reportedly committed suicide in Reno, Nevada on January 30, just prior to the indictments being issued against Pangang and the two former DuPont employees. Spitler was scheduled to testify on behalf of the U.S. government against the Liews and the Chinese company. Few details have been published on the circumstances of Spitler's alleged suicide.
The high-stakes espionage between China and the United States concerns the mineral titanium oxide (TiO2), also known as titania, a mineral for which Spitler had expertise.
TiO2 has been at the forefront of Chinese research and development on titanium dioxide nano-photocyde technology that has been discovered by Chinese scientists to kill viruses and bacteria in air conditioning and waste water systems. Before China was devastated by the SARS and avian influenza outbreaks, Chinese scientists were light-years ahead of the United States and DuPont in research on nano-photocydes, especially at research centers in Fuzhou and Hong Kong. It was technology that the CIA, working through DuPont non-official cover intelligence agents, dearly wanted to get their hands on.
However, the U.S. industrial spies in China were not interested in TiO2 for safeguarding the environment but for something more in tune with U.S. interests: TiO2 is also an important component in military stealth technology that is used to defeat radar systems and a source for such strategic rare-earth minerals as neodymium, cerium, and lanthanum.
Spitler was a specialist in nanomaterials for DuPont and BHP Minerals. There are indications that in addition to supplying the FBI with information on the Liews and Pangang, he may have also stumbled across the CIA activities by DuPont China in acquiring secrets on Chinese stealth coating technology. Spitler's knowledge of such CIA activities under DuPont China cover, may have earned him a death sentence by the CIA's very active "wet affairs" element....
DuPont's own industrial espionage activities involving Chinese research and development into TiO2 is supplemented by DuPont's operations in Taiwan. DuPont maintains a large titanium dioxide plant in Kuan Yin, Taiwan. The CIA and its Office of Strategic Services (OSS) predecessor have long used DuPont for its weapons development programs in China. During World War II, DuPont produced for the OSS in China a high-explosive powder disguised as flour. The granular flour-like explosive, which matched the grayish Chinese wheat flour, was nicknamed "Aunt Jemima," and the flour could be baked into explosive biscuits and pancakes, which only became deadly when a detonator was attached to the baked goods.
Today, the DuPont white pigment and mineral plant in Kuan Yin is the home to one of the world's largest TiO2 plants and with a production rate of 60,000 tons a year, makes DuPont the world's largest producer of TiO2. Taiwanese chemical engineers for DuPont are well-placed to ferret out titanium oxide secrets from Chinese research centers across the Taiwan Straits for their own company and the CIA....
Haag, like her Chicago counterpart, Patrick Fitzgerald, appear more interested in aggressively protecting the interests of the CIA than in meting out fair and proper justice....
The fabled analyst who invented the “BRICS” term, and who has been kicked upstairs to the chairman’s seat at Goldman Sachs International (GS) in London.
Jim thinks that it is still early days for the space, and that these countries have another ten years of high growth ahead of them. As I have been pushing emerging markets since the inception of this letter, this is music to my ears. By 2018 the combined GDP of the BRIC’s, Brazil (EWZ), Russia (RSX), India (PIN), and China (FXI), will match that of the US. China alone will reach two thirds of the American figure for gross domestic product. All that requires is for China to maintain a virile 8% annual growth rate for eight more years, while the US plods along at an arthritic 2% rate.
“BRIC” almost became the “RIC” when O’Neil was formulating his strategy a decade ago. Conservative Brazilian businessmen were convinced that the new elected Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would wreck the country with his socialist ways. He ignored them and Brazil became the top performing market of the G-20 since 2000. An independent central bank that adopted a strategy of inflation targeting was transformative.
If you believe that the global financial markets are back into risk accumulation mode, as I do, then you probably should top up you Brazil position, as it has lagged the smaller emerging markets so far this year. Jim Chanos, you may be right about a China crash, but you’re early by a decade...!