By Jeff J. Brown
Pictured above: Pepe Escobar and yours truly sharing a parting souvenir, after our unforgettable, five-hour lunch at Brasserie Mollard, in Paris.
Sixteen years on the streets, living and working with the people of China, Jeff
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Pepe Escobar and I had our third meal together recently. We first began to make contact in 2013 – hard to believe it has been a decade – back when I was living in Beijing. While seemingly outdated in this day of WhatsApp and other social platforms, journalists and authors still do most of their fellow communication via email. That was and still is our case ten years later.
We met the first time in 2015, at the Crescent Moon Restaurant, in Ouigherville, a Xinjiang Muslim neighborhood in China’s capital. We savored their always incredibly delicious noodles and lamb shish-kebabs, while gabbing for couple of hours about our trades.
It was so memorable that a year later, we did a déjà vu redux at the same said Crescent Moon, ordering the exact same thing and gabbing even longer.
Email has been our communication lifeline since then. Pepe is a celebrated, global, roving journalist, who might be reporting from Kazakhstan and suddenly he’s in Brazil. Just this week he was in Turkey and POOF, now he is in Russia. In the meantime, my wife and I moved to Shenzhen later in 2016 and then onto Chiangmai, Thailand in 2019, whereafter we got stuck in France in 2020 with the plandemic lockdowns, so decided to retire here.
In the interim, we did an interview show together that tens of thousands of people around the world have watched/listened to/read,
Like me, Pepe has serious family connections in France and last month, I happened to see on Telegram that he was (suddenly!) in Paris. I blasted off an email to propose a third meal there, where I would take the train from Normandy for the reunion. I did, and we made it happen.
No unforgettable Ouigher noodles and grilled lamb this time, oh-no-no-no. Since trains from Normandy arrive to Paris Saint Lazare train station, Pepe proposed the much-touted Brasserie Mollard (www.mollar.fr), which is just across the street. For those of you who don’t know what historic Parisian brasseries are, they are 19th-prewar 20th century restaurants that reflect their times. When you think of Parisian brasseries, you recall Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Ford Madox Ford, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Henry Miller, James Baldwin and many more, not to mention famous musicians, artists, philosophers and scoundrels too numerous to mention.
There are two grades of brasseries: upscale and downscale. Depending on the ebb and flow of their financial situations, these notables would eat, drink, discuss, flirt and write where they could afford it. Henry Miller was a starving bohemian in his era of Parisian sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. I doubt he went to Mollard, but Sartre, Joyce and Fitzgerald probably did.
Because of the huge cost of maintaining these older, upscale brasseries, many have disappeared over the last 100 years. Ones like Mollard should be enshrined as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as far as I’m concerned, because once gone, they will never be replicated again.
Pictured above: the sumptuous, dreamy, historic Brasserie Mollard, Paris.
They will never be future Mollards, because they define the historical era of Western imperialism-colonialism. Even when the first Mollard was built in 1865, France was already a great imperial world power, second only to England. Before the British arrived in what is now New England, USA, people often forget that France colonized almost the entire eastern half of North America, and was already ensconced across the Caribbean, West Africa, Egypt, the Indian & Pacific Oceans, as well as Southeast Asia. It doesn’t stop there. For centuries, France has annexed islands in the Antarctic Oceans that you’ve never heard of.
Pictured above: France had the biggest colonial empire in the early 18th century, centered on North America and spanning the globe.
We cannot forget France diving into China in the Second Opium War, 1856-1860, to join Britain and the USA in the rape, plunder and Western illegal drug crime cartels, which lasted until the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. Global capitalism has been at war with communist-socialist China ever since.
When Mollard was founded, all of France’s global colonial empire was in place, less North America, except for the tiny enclaves of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, off the coast of Newfoundland, where I visited, and where Canadians can go spend euros buying French vittles and eat continental cuisine. The French lost real estate, yet the spirit of France lives on in independence-minded, francophone Québec, Canada and the rich and colorful Acadian/Zydeko culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, USA.
Of course, France’s crown jewel in 1865 was Algeria (1830-1960), a land mass four times as big as France itself – today Africa’s largest country, ever since Killary and Co. carved off oil-rich South Sudan in 2011, for easier rape and plunder. I call Algeria my salad days, the five years I spent living, working and traveling all over that country (1985-1990), not to mention French colonial Morocco and Tunisia, the latter two where I visited and worked often for 10 years (1980-1990), as well as much of Africa and Middle East.
France’s global empire reached its apogee in the first part of the 20th century, with the control of Syria and Lebanon, when it and Britain carved up Palestine with their secret 1915-1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. Still, in 1895, when Mollard was remodeled in its current Gilded Age glory, France had recently expanded to its greatest extent in Indochina, and Mollard’s glorious décor is a reflection of that imperial grandeur.
To this day, France’s overseas territories, the DOM-TOMs, are as much a part of Marianne’s Liberté-Égalité-Fraternité as Paris, Bordeaux and Mollard. They span the globe. There is not a French land where the sun is setting, that the sun is rising on another, on the opposite side our Pale Blue Dot.
Pictured above: when the sun is setting in the French Pacific, it is rising in the French Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
Charles de Gaulle liberated Algeria and officially gave French West Africa its nominal, flag-waving independence, but he understood how critical the latter was to the country’s financial survival. Thus, France diabolically came up with the French CFA franc, forced on 14 countries as a quid pro quo to claim postwar “freedom”. As the Rothschilds have always said, they don’t care who “governs” a country, as long as they control the money, it is they who truly call the shots. Ditto for hapless French West Africa, since the Central Bank of France runs their shows.
Pictured above: France still oppresses and colonizes West Africa, by controlling the finances of 14 countries. They will never be able to fully prosper, until they abandon the CFA franc.
Former French presidents François Mitterrand on the left and Jacques Chirac on the right, have both been quoted as saying that today’s France could not survive without (the rape and plunder of) West Africa. In other words, French colonialism lives on via financial control and currency manipulation. Needless to say, Britain is doing the same in East Africa and across the Global South, with the City of London sodomizing them via the IMF and World Bank; Uncle Slaughter has never stopped either, with Wall Street using the same imperial playbook in Latin America and elsewhere.
All of this was reflected on, as Pepe and I spent five glorious hours in grand style, soaking up wonderful Norman-oriented cuisine (both our French families have roots there). While waiting for our table, we could not help but notice the many Chinese tourists helping fill up Mollard to its Italian mosaic-and-mirrored six-meter-high walls and cupola ceilings. I had to laugh when a Chinese asked the lovely, Southern Asian maitresse d’ in broken English, if they had the menu in Mandarin. Sorry, French and English only. He and his cohorts pouted and stayed in line. They didn’t come this far to eat at Burger King, much less a downscale, Henry Miller brasserie.
As we ate, the mirror-lined walls gave us full view of more and more Chinese marching in to lunch. The place was packed to its imperial gills.
Before the covid plandemic, China was the world’s number one outbound tourist country, with over 700 million sorties a year (a big chunk going to Hong Kong and Macau)! That, and it was also the number three inbound tourist country, making for a huge, global economic impact. Given this level of travel fever now being restoked with China dropping its covid restrictions, Mollard and other tourist-frequented venues might think twice about offering Mandarin language menus, etc. China was already important to French tourism before covid, as France and Paris have long been the world’s number one inbound visitor country and city, respectively. Therefore, for years, Paris’ airports and metro have had signage in Mandarin.
The Chinese are back in the flesh and still the 21st century’s economic Big Kahuna, inbound and outbound. As Pepe and I discussed over lunch, 2022-2023 is a tectonic tipping point, with the West’s 500-year rape and plunder of the Global Majority showing serious signs of implosion. Mali, Burkina Faso and the Central African Republic have kicked out France’s occupying military and are hailing and thanking Russia and China for win-win, mutually beneficial cooperation. There is a never-ending red tide cascading over Latin America and the Caribbean. Southeast Asia is solidly socialist, including Buddhist Thailand, whose official religion is very leftist for its least fortunate. Even tiny Solomon Islands is standing up to the color-rev West, much of this happening in just the last few years. Other evidence abounds. What is so critical is that the multipolar trend is up, and the Western empire is cycling downward.
Five hours later, Pepe and I left Brasserie Mollard completely sated by the savory food, historic décor and full of hope for humanity in general, and for the Global Majority in particular. 2023 will continue to usher in unstoppable forces for equality and social justice.
Just you wait and see!
Do yourself, your friends, family and colleagues a favor, to make sure all of you are Sino-smart:
Google ebooks (Epub) and audiobooks:
44 Days Backpacking in China: The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=YBKHEAAAQBAJ
China Rising: Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=YNmLEAAAQBAJ
BIG Red Book on China: Chinese History, Culture and Revolution
Amazon print and ebooks (Kindle):
44 Days Backpacking in China: The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass
China Rising: Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations
BIG Red Book on China: Chinese History, Culture and Revolution
Praise for The China Trilogy:
Why and How China works: With a Mirror to Our Own History
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