Biden and the Middle East: Misplaced optimism

Khalil al-Anani

25 November 2020

The Arab region in general will not rank high on the list of foreign priorities for the incoming US president

US president-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on 19 November (AFP)

There has been a state of optimism in the Arab world since the announcement of Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s win in the US presidential election.

Even if the optimism is justified, especially in light of the disasters and political tragedies that the Arab region has witnessed and lived through over the past four years under President Donald Trump, this optimism is somewhat exaggerated. Some believe that the region under Biden will witness radical changes, breaking with Trump’s negative legacy – but I don’t think that will happen.

We need to dismantle the various issues that Biden is expected to engage with over the next four years in order to understand whether the situation will remain as it is, or undergo radical change. 

During the Biden era, the Arab region in general is not expected to rank high on the list of US foreign priorities. There are many reasons for this, including Biden’s vision, which does not stray far from the view of former US President Barack Obama on global issues and international conflicts, with Asia and the Pacific given priority over all other matters. 

The US relationship with China is an important file for any US administration, whether Republican or Democratic. As the rise of China represents an economic and security threat to the US, the Obama administration moved its foreign-policy compass towards China and the Pacific region. For Biden, China will continue to represent a top priority. 

The issue has become even more urgent in the wake of Trump’s more hostile policies towards China over the past four years. Observers will be watching as to whether Biden can put an end to what the average US citizen sees as Chinese encroachment and hegemony in global markets, at US expense. Some saw Trump’s China policies as a historic victory, due to the imposition of tariffs on US imports from China. 

The importance of accountability for China might be one of the few issues that has consensus among Americans of all orientations, but there are differences in how the issue is approached and handled. While Republicans, especially under Trump, use the confrontational method through the well-known strategy of “maximum pressure”, the Democrats prefer dialogue and cooperation with Beijing.

Iran, Israel and Arab authoritarians

In the Arab region, the three issues expected to dominate Biden’s agenda are the US relationships with Iran, Israel and the authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

We may witness an important shift in US policy towards Iran, especially on the nuclear file and Trump-era sanctions, which resulted in unprecedented levels of pressure on Tehran since the unilateral US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018.

It is expected that Biden will bring the US back to the nuclear deal, but with new conditions – unless the Trump administration, in alliance with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, launches military strikes, as Trump has reportedly contemplated.

Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem in 2010 (Reuters)
Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem in 2010 (Reuters)

As for the US-Israel relationship, and in particular the issue of a two-state solution and normalisation with Arab countries, we can expect the status quo to continue. Despite Biden’s embrace of the two-state solution and rejection of Israeli attempts to impose a fait accompli on Palestinians, Biden is not expected to prevent Israel from annexing parts of the occupied West Bank.

US pressure on more Arab countries to normalise with Israel, as Trump pushed with the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, may diminish. But this does not mean the Biden administration would impede any such normalisation. On the contrary, Biden welcomed the Gulf normalisation deals with Israel.

The issue of Israel’s security and qualitative superiority is a subject of agreement among Republicans and Democrats alike; none can imagine this changing under the Biden administration.

Condemnation without action

As for the US relationship with Arab authoritarian regimes, particularly with respect to support for human rights and democracy, while Biden may not support human rights violations – especially in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – he is not expected to exert great pressure on these countries if the violations continue.

A Biden administration, for example, would not likely cut off military aid to Egypt, or halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia or the UAE as an objection to the Yemen war or their miserable record on issues of democracy and human rights – despite Biden’s pledge to the contrary during his election campaign. 

Statements and condemnations may be issued from time to time, but it is unlikely that they will translate into real policies and actions. While Biden will not consider someone like Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi his “favourite dictator”, as Trump did, he will not likely sever the relationship or punish Sisi seriously for his flagrant violations of human rights in Egypt.

Perhaps optimists in the Arab world should be wary of getting too hopeful about the incoming Biden administration and the potential for regional change. If it is true that the number of bad guys around the world will decrease due to Trump’s departure from power, this does not necessarily mean that the good guys will make a comeback with Biden coming to power.

Khalil al-AnaniKhalil al-Anani is a Senior Fellow at the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies in Washington DC. He is also an associate professor of political science at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. You can follow him on Twitter: @Khalilalanani.

Why Trump Has Been Unable to End Endless Wars. US Troop Withdrawals from Afghanistan?

By Keith Lamb

Global Research, November 19, 2020

The Times of London reported, on November 16, that Trump’s recent installation of loyalists in top Pentagon jobs is likely to be for the purpose of fulfilling his long-term pledge to bring an end to the U.S.’ “endless wars”. It is expected that Trump will order the withdrawal of 4,500 troops from Afghanistan and so end 19 years of occupation.

There are two prominent objections to Trump’s likely proposal. Firstly, a swift withdrawal of U.S. forces, that would have to take place before January, will bring logistical chaos. However, the daily state of chaos which occupation brings to the lives of millions is barely considered.

Secondly, an “early” withdrawal will disrupt efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. Christopher Miller the current U.S. Acting Defense Secretary sent out a memorandum saying, “we are on the verge of defeating Al Qaida and its associates, but we must avoid our past strategic error of failing to see the fight through to the finish.” A fair point, but if not now then when? Furthermore, who gets to define when a mission is accomplished?

If 19 years of occupation, by the mightiest military force of our modern age, has not led to a suitable conclusion then unlikely will another year make any difference. The fact is the U.S. occupation, of Afghanistan, has been an unmitigated disaster that next to Libya, Syria, and Iraq represents a litany of the greatest human rights violations of the 21st century.

There are now 2.7 million Afghani refugees worldwide while Afghanistan’s GDP per capita stands at a paltry $531. Afghanistan now cultivates over two-thirds of global opium and has 2.4 million opium addicts. Tragically, the U.S. spent $52 billion occupying Afghanistan, in 2019, which is more than twice Afghanistan’s GDP at $20.68 billion.

With the devastating suffering which occupation has brought to the Afghani people, notwithstanding the criticisms of an abrupt exit, Trump’s efforts to bring an end to the occupation of Afghanistan and end U.S. wars are commendable.

In contrast, unlikely will the mild-mannered, but often hawkish, Biden take the same line. While he has not always supported military action he nevertheless believes in the U.S. hegemonic right to use hard force. For example, Biden supported the catastrophic 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq and he pushed for NATO’s expansion eastwards.

However, Trump’s actions, in regards to Afghanistan, may be too little too late. Instead of concentrating on ending U.S. global occupation, he has been busily engaged with a self-destructing economic war with China who could have been a useful ally in ending the Afghanistan quagmire. Why then has President Trump been distracted by China at the expense of fulfilling his pledge to “bring home the troops”?

Trump’s problems stem from being able to recognize the unease of working-class America that arise from both national and transnational capital, i.e. the one-percent, while concurrently being beholden to the propaganda of the one-percent used to control the ninety-nine percent.

For example, Trump, in contrast to previous presidents, captures the zeitgeist of a large section of traditional working-class Americans who serve in the military. It is they who make needless sacrifices, through their blood and taxes, for the service of an elite who care little for their subaltern. However, due to Trump’s billionaire status, and his own willingness to swallow the propaganda fed to the working-man, he has been ideologically crippled.

Firstly, being a billionaire, he has been unable to see that unfettered U.S. capital, both in their national and transnational forms, represents the nucleus of where the U.S.’ primary contradiction emanates from. On one hand, Trump has supported capital with avaricious tax breaks. On the other hand, the military-industrial-complex, that has resisted Trump, is a business itself that feeds on the suffering of never-ending wars.

Secondly, Trump’s rightly sees that the American worker has been disempowered due to U.S. transnational capital shifting production to Asia. However, Trump unfortunately falls into the trap of jingoism by predominantly vilifying China for events beyond China’s own control. China then is as much an innocent party as the American working-class who are taught to hate China.

In addition, Trump, when it suits him, is quick to criticize the disseminating of “fake news” by the U.S. mass-media itself controlled by transnational capital. However, Trump like much of the U.S. working-class has nevertheless been indoctrinated to accept simplistic narratives this mass-media propagates. It is these narratives which justify and distract Americans from their home-grown problems which stem from U.S. class contradictions.

For example, the mass-media’s constant China-bashing, which has been a feature long before Trump’s arrival, along with their support of U.S. foreign interventions work hand in hand. Threats are used to justify war at an ideological level, to the masses, while the war itself is used to achieve the strategic and economic goals of the one-percent.

In addition, foreign threats and wars work to distract Americans from their own deep-state’s machinations. This in turn drums up a national fanaticism that provides an “emasculated” working-class with a masculinized American identity linked to the U.S.’ global supremacy and “righteous wars”. Trump, of course more than any other president, has tapped into this masculinized American “tough man” image.

While the existence of a corporate media, along with deep-state interests, negate U.S. democracy and make the country ungovernable for the ordinary citizen, it is, these same external influences which form the “embodying features” of Trump who being from the swamp has been unable to extradite himself from the swamp.

Thus, the very quagmire that is U.S. democracy and that is Trump is also the quagmire of Afghanistan today. Regrettably, transnational capital, who Trump calls the globalists, has played Trump well throughout his presidency. As such, unless serendipity allows the U.S. to withdraw from Afghanistan, in the next two months, Biden, who cannot be accused of being ideologically naïve will be ready to take over the reins from where Bush and Obama left off which is the never-ending journey to war.

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Featured image is from InfoBricsThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Keith Lamb, Global Research, 2020

Trump Must Choose Between a Global Ceasefire and America’s Long Lost Wars

الفائز بِكُرة من لهب

أميركا 2020: الإمبراطورية كما لم تُرَ من قبل!

الأخبار

 وليد شرارة 

الثلاثاء 3 تشرين الثاني 2020

الفائز بِكُرة من لهب

المرشّح الفائز في الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية، أكان جو بايدن أم دونالد ترامب، سيواجه تحدّيات وصعوبات داخلية وخارجية، نُدِر أن واجه مثلها رئيس أميركي منذ نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية. فالذي سيتربّع على مقعد رئاسة الإمبراطورية الأميركية المنحدرة سيجد نفسه أمام شرخ داخلي لا سابق له بين «أميركتين» يخشى الكثيرون أن يفضي إلى نزاعات أهلية دامية ومديدة، وأمام مشهد دولي تتسارع فيه ديناميات صعود المنافسين، مع ما تحمله من تهديدات بالانزلاق الى صدامات مباشرة معهم يصعب التنبّؤ بنتائجها، بالتوازي مع مسار تفكّك التحالفات الموروثة من حقبات سابقة، وتصاعد الصراعات بين أفرقاء إقليميين ودوليين تتراجع قدرة الولايات المتحدة على التحكّم فيها. الفوز في الانتخابات الرئاسية، في مثل هذا السياق العام، قد لا يكون أكثر من «هدية مسمومة»، تمثّل مقدمة لسلسلة من الانتكاسات والإخفاقات سيتحمّل مسؤوليتها رئيسٌ سيجد نفسه مضطراً إلى الأخذ بخيارات أحلاها شديد المرارة.


نُذُر النزاعات الداخلية
معدّلات المشاركة المرتفعة والمفاجئة في الانتخابات الرئاسية مفاجأة غير سارّة بالنسبة إلى دونالد ترامب. سبق لهذا الأخير أن حذر، خلال مهرجان انتخابي يوم السبت الماضي، من وقوع «أحداث شديدة السوء» في حال إعلان هوية الفائز يوم 3 تشرين الثاني، متوقعاً أن تَعمّ الفوضى بلاده. لَمّح ترامب، في أكثر من مناسبة في الأسابيع الماضية، إلى احتمال وقوع عمليات تزوير بسبب التصويت عن بعد، وهو احتمالٌ نفاه مدير «أف.بي.آي» المُعيّن من قِبَله، كريس وراي. هو يعلم أن نقطة ضعفه الأبرز، التي استغلّها منافسه الديمقراطي بقوة، هي إدارته الكارثية لجائحة كورونا وتداعياتها المُروّعة إنسانياً واقتصادياً واجتماعياً في الولايات المتحدة، والتي أدت إلى تعبئة قطاع وازن من الرأي العام ضدّه. «مجموعة الأزمات الدولية»، التي تُعنى عادة بتحليل خلفيات النزاعات في البلدان «النامية» واقتراح آليات لحلّها سلمياً، أصدرت، في خطوة وُصفت بـ»الاستثنائية» من قِبَل رئيسها روبرت مالي، تقريراً يشير إلى احتمال وقوع «اضطرابات وأعمال عنف واسعة» في الولايات المتحدة على خلفية الانتخابات والتشكيك في نتائجها من قِبَل كتل وازنة من الأميركيين. التقرير، الذي نشرت «الأخبار» يوم الإثنين أهمّ ما ورد فيه، يُركّز على أن رفض ترامب لنتائج الانتخابات واحتمال إقدامه على الطعن في نتائجها أمام القضاء، إضافة إلى عوامل أخرى: «غرق الولايات المتحدة بالأسلحة وسجلها السوداوي السابق في الحروب الأهلية، والقتل العشوائي، إضافة إلى الصراع الطبقي الحادّ والعبودية وغيرها، وتنامي الحركات المنادية بتفوّق العرق الأبيض في عهد ترامب، وتزايد الظلم العنصري ضدّ السود ووحشية الشرطة، جميعها أسباب تُرجّح إمكانية حدوث أعمال عنف».

ستدخل الولايات المتحدة في فترة طويلة من غياب الاستقرار السياسي


وحتى إذا نجح الفريق المنتصر في الانتخابات في تجاوز مرحلة من الصراع الداخلي المحموم، فإنه سيجابَه خلال سنوات حكمه بمعارضة داخلية عنيدة من قِبَل قطاع وازن من المجتمع والنخبة السياسية الأميركيَّين. يصحّ هذا الكلام على ترامب وبايدن على حدّ سواء. المنتصر بينهما سيُتّهم بعدم تمثيل الإرادة الشعبية «الحقيقية»، وبـ»التضحية» بالمصالح الوطنية على مذبح مصالحه الخاصة ومصالح القوى السياسية والاجتماعية الداعمة له. ستترتّب على هذا الاستقطاب الداخلي العميق مساعٍ من الفريق المعارض لإفشال السياسات التي يعتمدها ذلك المنتصر بغية إضعافه وإلحاق الهزيمة به في المستقبل. بكلام آخر، ستدخل الولايات المتحدة في فترة طويلة من غياب الاستقرار السياسي، «الضروري لحسن سير النظام الديمقراطي» بحسب تعبير مُنظّريه، وتزايد للتناقضات الداخلية ستكون له انعكاسات سلبية على موقعها الدولي.

خطر الانزلاق إلى حرب مع الصين
العداء المستشري والمتزايد للصين في النخبة السياسية الأميركية، بجناحَيها الديمقراطي والجمهوري، وارتفاع مستوى التوتر معها في جوارها المباشر، في بحر الصين وحول تايوان، والإصرار على تشديد الضغوط والعقوبات التجارية والاقتصادية عليها بحجة انتهاكها لحقوق الإنسان في هونغ كونغ والسين كيانغ، جميعها عوامل تجعل من إمكانية الانزلاق نحو صدام مفتوح معها فرضية واقعية. قبل تناول المعطيات التي قد تدفع في هذا الاتجاه، لا بدّ من إدراك أبرز سمة في الوضع الدولي الراهن، وهي الانتقال من هيمنة أحادية إلى انتشار وتوزّع القوة على الصعيد الدولي، مع صعود دور أطراف جدد، وفي مقدّمتهم الصين، وتحوّلها إلى منافس من المستوى نفسه، ورفض القطب المهيمن سابقاً، وهذا هو الأهمّ، التسليم بالانتقال المذكور. مثل هذا السياق هو الذي يؤسِّس تقليدياً للنزاعات والحروب.
يرى كريستوفير لاين، أستاذ العلاقات الدولية في جامعة تكساس، في مقال لافت في العدد الأخير من «فورين أفيرز» بعنوان «العواصف القادمة»، أن فرضية استحالة الصدام المباشر بين القوى العظمى، والتي سادت بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية، أساساً بسبب خطر الإفناء المتبادل الناتج عن امتلاك كلّ منها للسلاح النووي، باتت غير مطابقة للوقائع الراهنة، وأوّلها التطور الهائل الذي تمّ في مجال الأسلحة النووية التكتيكية، والذي يتيح المجال لاستخدامها بشكل محدود، ومن دون الذهاب إلى درجة الإفناء المتبادل. الحُجّة الثانية التي تورَد أيضاً من أنصار استحالة الصدام المباشر هي تداخل المصالح الاقتصادية بين الأطراف الدوليين، وفي حالتنا هذه بين الولايات المتحدة والصين. يؤكد لاين ما سبق أن أشار اليه العديد من الباحثين، من أن مسار فسخ للشراكة بين البلدين قد بدأ في السنوات الماضية، وأن تفكيك شبكة المصالح الضخمة المشتركة يتسارع في الآونة الأخيرة، وبقرار من قيادتَيهما. علاوة على ذلك، فإن وجود مصالح مشتركة وروابط اقتصادية وثقافية عميقة لم يمنع الحرب بين بريطانيا وألمانيا في 1914، على رغم غياب أيّ أسباب مباشرة لها، كالنزاع الحدودي أو التنافس للسيطرة على بلد ما، بينهما. يردّ الأكاديمي الأميركي الدافع الرئيس للحرب إلى تعاظم القدرات العسكرية، خاصة البحرية، لألمانيا، وكذلك الاقتصادية والصناعية، وما مَثّله من تحدٍّ لقوة مهيمنة كبريطانيا، بدأت تشعر في تلك الحقبة بتراجع قدراتها. وهو يعتبر أن «هذه المسارات الانتقالية من النادر أن تتمّ بشكل سلمي. القوة المسيطرة عادة ما تكون متغطرسة، وتعطي دروساً لبقية دول العالم حول كيفية إدارة شؤونها، وتتجاهل مخاوفها وتطلّعاتها. مثل هذه القوة، بريطانيا في الماضي، أميركا اليوم، تقاوم بعناد انحدارها، والقوة الصاعدة متلهّفة للحصول على ما تعتبره حصتها العادلة من المغانم، أكانت في ميادين التجارة أم الموارد أم مناطق النفوذ». الرئيس الأميركي المقبل سيكون أمام تحدّي إدارة الصراع مع الصين، مع ضبط سقفه للحؤول دون الانزلاق نحو الحرب معها.

مسار تفكّك التحالفات
يُلام ترامب باعتباره مسؤولاً عن إضعاف تحالف الولايات المتحدة مع بقية الديمقراطيات الغربية بسبب تعريفه الضيّق للمصالح الأميركية ورؤيته «المركنتيلية». في الحقيقة، فإن الخلافات الاقتصادية والتجارية بين واشنطن وشركائها الأوروبيين، والتباينات المتزايدة في المصالح، ظهرت بوضوح للعيان منذ رئاسة أوباما، وتفاقمت بطبيعة الحال مع ترامب. في حال بقاء الأخير في السلطة، فإنها مرشّحة للمزيد من التفاقم، مع ما يستتبع ذلك من تداعيات على التحالف. في حال انتصار بايدن، وعلى رغم إعلانه نيّته «ترميم» العلاقات مع هؤلاء الشركاء، فإن طموحه إلى اتباع «سياسة خارجية لصالح الطبقة الوسطى» يعني التشدّد في مفاوضاته التجارية والاقتصادية معهم، والسعي إلى منع نموّ علاقاتهم مع منافسيه الدوليين كروسيا والصين. وتأتي النزاعات بين الدول الأعضاء في «الناتو»، كتلك الدائرة في ليبيا أو شرق المتوسط، لتُضاعف من صعوبة الحفاظ على تماسك الحلف في ظلّ التناقضات المتنامية في مصالح بعض أعضائه.
حقيقة الشرخ الداخلي في الولايات المتحدة، ومخاطر التدحرج نحو نزاع مدمّر مع الصين والاتجاه إلى تزايد الصراعات والنزاعات بين العديد من اللاعبين الدوليين، وحتى غير الدوليين، في أنحاء مختلفة من العالم، ستجعل من الفائز في الانتخابات الأميركية كَمَن فاز بِكُرة من لهب.

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The limits of Chinese power

October 08, 2020

The limits of Chinese power

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Everything about US-China hinges on the result of the upcoming US presidential election.

Trump 2.0 essentially would turbo-charge its bet on decoupling, aiming to squeeze “malign” China on a multiple Hybrid War front, undermine the Chinese trade surplus, co-opt large swathes of Asia, while always insisting on characterizing China as evil incarnate.

Team Biden, even as it professes no desire to fall into the trap of a new Cold War, according to the Dem official platform, would be only slightly less confrontational, ostensibly “saving” the “rules-based order” while keeping Trump-enacted sanctions.

Very few Chinese analysts are better positioned to survey the geopolitical and geoeconomic chessboard than Lanxin Xiang: expert on relations between China, US and Europe, professor of History and International Relations at the IHEID in Geneva and director of the Center for One Belt, One Road Studies in Shanghai.

Xiang got his PhD at SAIS at Johns Hopkins, and is as well respected in the US as in China. During a recent webinar he laid out the lineaments of an analysis the West ignores at its own peril.

Xiang has been focusing on the Trump administration’s push to “redefine an external target”: a process he brands, “risky, dangerous, and highly ideological”. Not because of Trump – who is “not interested in ideological issues” – but due to the fact that the “China policy was hijacked by the real Cold Warriors”. The objective: “regime change. But that was not Trump’s original plan.”

Xiang blasts the rationale behind these Cold Warriors: “We made a huge mistake in the past 40 years”. That is, he insists, “absurd – reading back into History, and denying the entire history of US-China relations since Nixon.” And Xiang fears the “lack of overall strategy. That creates enormous strategic uncertainty – and leads to miscalculations.”

Compounding the problem, “China is not really sure what the US wants to do.” Because it goes way beyond containment – which Xiang defines as a “very well thought of strategy by George Kennan, the father of the Cold War.” Xiang only detects a pattern of “Western civilization versus a non-Caucasian culture. That language is very dangerous. It’s a direct rehash of Samuel Huntington, and shows very little room for compromise.”

In a nutshell, that’s the “American way of stumbling into a Cold War.”

An October Surprise?

All of the above directly connects with Xiang’s great concern about a possible October Surprise: “It could probably be over Taiwan. Or a limited engagement in the South China Sea.” He stresses, “Chinese military people are terribly worried. October Surprise as a military engagement is not unthinkable, because Trump may want to re-establish a war presidency.”

For Xiang, “if Biden wins, the danger of a Cold War turning Hot War will be reduced dramatically.” He is very much aware of shifts in the bipartisan consensus in Washington: “Historically, Republicans don’t care about human rights and ideology. Chinese always preferred to deal with Republicans. They can’t deal with Democrats – human rights, values issues. Now the situation is reversed.”

Xiang, incidentally, “invited a top Biden adviser to Beijing. Very pragmatic. Not too ideological.” But in case of a possible Trump 2.0 administration, everything could change: “My hunch is he will be totally relaxed, may even reverse China policy 180 degrees. I would not be surprised. He would turn back to being Xi Jinping’s best friend.”

As it stands, the problem is “a chief diplomat that behaves as a chief propagandist, taking advantage of an erratic president.”

And that’s why Xiang never rules out even an invasion of Taiwan by Chinese troops. He games the scenario of a Taiwanese government announcing, “We are independent” coupled with a visit by the Secretary of State: “That would provoke a limited military action, and could turn into an escalation. Think about Sarajevo. That worries me. If Taiwan declares independence, Chinese invade in less than 24 hours. “

How Beijing miscalculates

Unlike most Chinese scholars, Xiang is refreshingly frank about Beijing’s own shortcomings: “Several things should have been better controlled. Like abandoning Deng Xiaoping’s original advice that China should bide its time and keep a low profile. Deng, in his last will, had set a timeline for that, at least 50 years.”

The problem is “the speed of China’s economic development led to hot headed, and premature, calculations. And a not well thought of strategy. ‘Wolf warrior’ diplomacy is an extremely assertive posture – and language. China began to upset the US – and even the Europeans. That was a geostrategic miscalculation.”

And that brings us to what Xiang characterizes as “the overextension of Chinese power: geopolitical and geoconomic.” He’s fond of quoting Paul Kennedy: “Any great superpower, if overstretched, becomes vulnerable.”

Xiang goes as far as stating that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – whose concept he enthusiastically praises – may be overstretched: “They thought it was a purely economic project. But with such wide global reach?”

So is BRI a case of overstretching or a source of destabilization? Xiang notes how, “Chinese are never really interested in other countries’ domestic policies. Not interested in exporting a model. Chinese have no real model. A model has to be mature – with a structure. Unless you’re talking about export of traditional Chinese culture.”

The problem, once again, is that China thought it was possible to “sneak into geographical areas that the US never paid too much attention to, Africa, Central Asia, without necessarily provoking a geopolitical setback. But that is naiveté.”

Xiang is fond of reminding Western analysts that, “the infrastructure investment model was invented by Europeans. Railways. The Trans-Siberian. Canals, like in Panama. Behind these projects there was always a colonial competition. We pursue similar projects – minus colonialism.”

Still, “Chinese planners buried their head in the sand. They never use that word – geopolitics.” Thus his constant jokes with Chinese policy makers: “You may not like geopolitics, but geopolitics likes you.”

Ask Confucius

The crucial aspect of the “post-pandemic situation”, according to Xiang, is to forget about “that wolf warrior stuff. China may be able to re-start the economy before anyone else. Develop a really working vaccine. China should not politicize it. It should show a universal value about it, pursue multilateralism to help the world, and improve its image.”

On domestic politics, Xiang is adamant that “during the last decade the atmosphere at home, on minority issues, freedom of speech, has been tightening to the extent that it does not help China’s image as a global power.”

Compare it, for instance, with “unfavorable views of China” in a survey of nations in the industrialized West that includes only two Asians: Japan and South Korea.

And that brings us to Xiang’s The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics – arguably the most important contemporary study by a Chinese scholar capable of explaining and bridging the East-West political divide.

This book is such a major breakthrough that its main conceptual analyses will be the subject of a follow-up column.

Xiang’s main thesis is that “legitimacy in Chinese tradition political philosophy is a dynamic question. To transplant Western political values to the Chinese system does not work.”

Yet even as the Chinese concept of legitimacy is dynamic, Xiang stresses, “the Chinese government is facing a legitimacy crisis.” He refers to the anti-corruption campaign of the past four years: “Widespread official corruption, that is a side-effect of economic development, bringing out the bad side of the system. Credit to Xi Jinping, who understood that if we allow this to continue, the CCP will lose all legitimacy.”

Xiang stresses how, in China, “legitimacy is based on the concept of morality – since Confucius. The communists can’t escape the logic.

Nobody before Xi dared to tackle corruption. He had the guts to root it out, arrested hundreds of corrupt generals. Some even attempted two or three coups d’état.”

At the same time, Xiang is adamantly against the “tightening of the atmosphere” in China in terms of freedom of speech. He mentions the example of Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew, an “enlightened authoritarian system”. The problem is” China has no rule of law. There are a lot of legal aspects though. Singapore is a little city-state. Like Hong Kong. They just took over the British legal system. It’s working very well for that size.”

And that brings Xiang to quote Aristotle: “Democracy can never work in bigger countries. In city-states, it does.” And armed with Aristotle, we step into Hong Kong: “Hong Kong had rule of law – but never a democracy. The government was directly appointed by London. That’s how Hong Kong actually worked – as an economic dynamo. Neoliberal economists consider Hong Kong as a model. It’s a unique political arrangement. Tycoon politics. No democracy – even as the colonial government did not rule like an authoritarian figure. Market economy was unleashed. Hong Kong was ruled by the Jockey Club, HSBC, Jardine Matheson, with the colonial government as coordinator. They never cared about people in the bottom.”

Xiang notes how, “the richest man in Hong Kong only pays 15% of income tax. China wanted to keep that pattern, with a colonial government appointed by Beijing. Still tycoon politics. But now there’s a new generation. People born after the handover – who know nothing about the colonial history. Chinese elite ruling since 1997 did not pay attention to the grassroots and neglected younger generation sentiment. For a whole year the Chinese didn’t do anything. Law and order collapsed. This is the reason why mainland Chinese decided to step in. That’s what the new security law is all about.”

And what about that other favorite “malign” actor across the Beltway – Russia? “Putin would love to have a Trump win. The Chinese as well, up to three months ago. The Cold War was a great strategic triangle. After Nixon went to China, the US sat in the middle manipulating Moscow and Beijing. Now everything has changed.”

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

September 16, 2020

By Godfree Roberts selected from his extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China

This week’s selection includes a separate explanation on just how the Chinese Communist Party and Government operates.  For those that visit these weekly Sitreps to learn, this may put an end to the regular discussion items of just how bad the CCP is.  You did know that China has six political parties, did you?  The people that I’ve consulted say the following:  China’s system works for China.  We do not suggest you adopt our system, so, there is no reason for you to insist we adopt yours.

From a regular Twitter Feed by ShangaiPanda, here is how it actually works, by meritocracy.  What this means is that Xi Jinping for example already had 40 years experience in governing, before he was both selected, and elected to his position.

From Godfree’s newsletter which is just brimming with interesting items this week, we’ve selected items about:

  • space,
  • Islam, communism and the BRI,
  • trade war and trade deficit,
  • and a highly educational piece by ‘Chairman Rabbit’, who analyses America from a Chinese perspective.

On studying China it is good to remember that unlike many other countries, China as a country holds together from two perspectives, a long lasting civilizational unity, as well as a sovereign state.


 Space – high technology that is green technology

China has safely landed a reusable spacecraft which it claims will provide a “convenient and inexpensive” method of getting to and from space. The craft launched on September 4th and landed on September 6th after spending two days in orbit, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. Very little is known about the spacecraft, including even its basic design. There are no picture or renders of the craft, but there have been rumors it is a spaceplane similar to the Air Force’s X-37B. A Chinese military source told the South China Morning Post they could not provide details on the mission but that “maybe you can take a look at the US X-37B.”[MORE]

Islam, Communism and the BRI

The significance of having 52 Muslim countries (37.6%) that comprise 87.5 per cent of World Muslims in the BRI alliance, is not lost on the United States and its allies who are not particularly pro-Islam, which may explain their sudden interest to ‘care’ about the plight of Muslims in Xinjiang! Soon after the Bolshevik uprisings, Communism and Islam seemed destined to liberate the Muslim world from European Imperialism, but that was not to be due to their ideological differences. This presented an opportunity to the United States and its allies, where they coopted anti-Communist Jihadism to disrupt Communism.  This had the unintended consequence of being the impetus for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which presented the U.S. and its allies with new challenges.

Soon after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Communism and Islam were the impetus for revolutions against European imperialism in Egypt, Iraq, India, Caucasus and Central Asia, and the Indonesian Archipelago. However, divergent views about Communism proved divisive among Muslims (who are also quite divergent in their theological interpretations of Islam) and this quasi- ideological alliance was all over by the onset of the Cold War.  Those irrevocable divisions may have been due to the essence of Islam’s socio-economic and political system.  It is more consultative (‘Shoura’ or democratic theocracy) and entrepreneurial in nature, which is more compatible with social democracy and capitalism, than with communism’s autocratic state planned economy.

The other reason for such failure is the proactive role of the United States (and some Western Europeans, like Britain and France) in using Christian missionaries and NGOs in intelligence gathering while spreading Christianity in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America. In the 1970s, it was revealed that the CIA sponsored missionaries in Kerala and Nagaland to not only block the advance of Communism in India, but also to establish sufficient tensions between India and China and prevent any regional stability that continues to our present day.

In the 1980s, the CIA’s material support to the Afghan Mujahideen (and by default the Afghan Arabs, like Osama Bin Laden and his followers, who were rounded up from the different Arab and Muslim countries by their intelligence services and sent to Afghanistan, via Pakistan for their paramilitary training by the ISI, in the hope that they would never come back) only exacerbated extremist violence ever since. In the 1990s, the predominantly Muslim former Soviet Republics of Central Asia; Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and other Islamic countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan opened their doors to Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi Islam (probably with the ‘blessings’ of the CIA).

This resulted in an upsurge of Islamist fundamentalism and separatist movements in central Asia, like al-Qaeda affiliated Turkestan Islamic Party(TIP), Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), which have presented a challenge to China and others in the region. Since the rise of anti-Communist Jihadism in the 1980s and its coopetition by the Anglo-Americans to disrupting Communism ever since may have been the impetus for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The $8 trillion investment by China in its bold, innovative and strategic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) alliances with 138 countries comprising 51.7% of world GDP offers an infrastructure backbone of maritime, land and digital trade alliances. The BRI alliances represent 4.8 billion people (61.7%) of the world population.  Of which an estimated 1.4 billion (29.2%) identify as Muslim and are part of the 52 member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), including all 22 Arab countries.

China’s BRI strategic alliances with Arabic and Muslim countries can only help neutralise the existential threat of global Islamist fundamentalism in the long-term by spreading economic prosperity and alleviating poverty. Also, it will not only bring prosperity and stability to China’s underdeveloped north-western part (Xinjiang holds 1.33% of China’s population and contributes 1.35% to China’s GDP), but also to (its ideological partner in the new world order) Russia, and other BRI partners on its western border.

Coupled with technological innovations in global cross-border trade and finance, the BRI projects would no doubt accelerate global economic growth and revive China’s historical legacy in boosting entrepreneurships without compromising necessary protections of the weak. Those infrastructure-driven alliances are building a global community with a shared future for mankind.  This is so important at a time when our world is divided by poverty, crippling national debts and the rise of ultra-nationalism.

The clash of civilizations, anti-(Muslim)-refugees’ sentiment and Islamophobia are just symptoms of the rise in white supremacism and alt-right extremism sweeping the Anglo-American and European nations. Those groups subscribe to a conspiracy theory of cultural and population replacement or nativism, where white European populations are being replaced with non-Europeans (predominantly Muslim Arabs from Syria and elsewhere) due to the complicity of ‘replacist’ elites.

For example, the ‘Génération Identitaire’ (GI) movement in France, which considers itself a ‘defender’ of the European civilization has affiliated youth groups in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.  This heightened sense of ultra-nationalism is driving Western democratic politics away from economic concerns, in favour of issues related to culture and identity. No doubt, Anglo-American and European anxieties about China’s technological, economic and geopolitical dominance may be rooted in their innate fears about being displaced by an Asian culture and the potential spread of Socialism with Chinese characteristics to the 138 countries that joined the BRI alliances, after having spent a good part of over 70 years fighting Communism.

America’s continued rise as a world power—from the 1890s through the Cold War—and its bid to extend its hegemony deep into the twenty-first century through a fusion of cyberwar, space warfare, trade pacts, and military alliances – is now limited by the reality that it has to dismantle China’s BRI alliances as it did to the USSR. This is why the ‘five eyes’ alliance is going on the offensive with (a) sanctions and visa restrictions for Chinese officials, (b) bans on China’s technological 5G innovations (Huawei, Tik Tok and WeChat under the guise of ‘National Security’ concerns), (c) tariffs trade wars, and (d) a particular focus on ‘human rights’ in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The significance of having 52 Muslim countries (37.6%) that comprise 87.5 per cent of World Muslims in the BRI alliance, is not lost on the United States and its allies who are not particularly pro-Islam, which may explain their sudden interest to ‘care’ about the plight of Muslims in Xinjiang! Thus, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the sole purpose of those disruptive policies by the “five-eyes” alliance is to intensify the global anti-China sentiment that is already aggravated due to COVID-19, and to inflame Muslim sentiment in particular, so as to torpedo China’s largest economic and geopolitical Belt and Road alliances.[MORE] [George Mickhail is an LSE trained academic and a geopolitical risk analyst with 30 years’ experience in major global accounting firms and business schools.]

Trade War and Trade Deficit

The US trade deficit with China widened in July – an embarrassing situation for President Trump, who Taiwan’s Liberty Times said had been left  with a ‘green face’ (a crude expression that makes plain this is a bad outcome for him). When the US President campaigned four years ago, he strongly accused China of seizing American wealth in what he hailed as “the biggest theft in history.” After his election, he maintained this position against China. However, the latest data will hardly please him. The United States had a $31.6 billion trade deficit with China in July, which was an 11.5% increase from June. The paper noted that before the outbreak of the coronavirus, the US trade deficit with China was narrowing, but it has gradually expanded since the epidemic spread. Data released by the US Census Bureau on Thursday showed that the trade deficit with China in Q2 increased by 36.8% compared to Q1. The deficit in July was 4.36% larger than that in July 2016.[MORE]

‘Chairman Rabbit’ Analyzes America

Editor’s Note: Tu Zhuxi (Chairman Rabbit) is the nom de plume of Ren Yi, a Harvard-educated Chinese blogger who has amassed more than 1.6 million followers on Weibo who seek out his political commentary, much of which falls under a genre we might facetiously call “America-watching.” 

Today, I scrolled through the interview Professor Ezra Feivel Vogel gave with the Global Times: “90 year-old Professor Vogel: Unfortunately, there is a possibility of armed confrontation between the United States and China.” The veteran professor—who has researched China and East Asia all his life and promoted the development of ties between the United States and China—conveyed intense unease after witnessing two years of sharp downturn in Sino-U.S. relations under the Trump Administration. He could not bear not to air his concerns. 

This interview comes at an opportune time. As you can see, I have excerpted a short comment from the interview. This excerpt perfectly echoes the content I have wanted to expand on these last two days:

Vogel: There is a new article in the Atlantic magazine by James Fallows that gives the most comprehensive explanation of what has happened. And it clearly is the Trump administration.

Before the coronavirus, there had been plans in earlier administrations for dealing with an epidemic. We had a good overall plan. Trump did not use those plans at all. He even acted when he first heard about the coronavirus pandemic as if there was not a big problem. So things were delayed. It clearly is Trump’s responsibility.

At the time of writing, the United States has around 3.8 million confirmed cumulative cases, 140,000 deaths, and a daily increase of about 64 thousand cases. The diagnosis of experts and intellectuals around the United States: this is all due to the Trump Administration.

First of all, the United States’ so-called “good overall plan” for epidemic response was targeted towards a type of infectious disease that resembles the flu in infectiousness, hazard, and lethality. The United States after all has quite a few documentaries and special television programming about pandemics, and every year in every corner of the country drills are held about pandemics, but all of these were with the assumptions of a flu-like disease. COVID-19 was not within the expectations of an American plan for epidemic response, and indeed was beyond the response plan of every country in regard to an infectious disease with respiratory transmission. COVID-19 is an especially potent epidemic, a disease with an extraordinarily high death rate. The epidemic response plan that the United States currently had in place was entirely insufficient for COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci brought up this topic several times in the last few months, especially in the early stages of the epidemic: the American system and design is either insufficient or entirely ineffectual against COVID-19. Dr. Fauci was speaking only from the standpoint of public hygiene and healthcare system and his analysis did not broaden past these considerations.

I have been following the news, media, and commentaries of the U.S. right and left. Criticisms of the epidemic response have generally been from Democratic Party, anti-Trump, and/or liberal-aligned intellectuals. Even after several months, I have rarely encountered essays or discussions that analyze in-depth the full extent of the difficulties facing the U.S. COVID-19 response by synthesizing broader observations on the nation’s political system, society, governance, culture, and economy.

Basically, all the analyses have taken the question and subsumed it under the issue of “political leadership”—usually pointing towards the President, the White House, and state governors. The majority of these analyses lay blame onto the very person of Trump.

Basically, all the analyses have taken the question and subsumed it under the issue of “political leadership”—usually pointing towards the President, the White House, and state governors. The majority of these analyses lay blame onto the very person of Trump.

According to this logic, the reason for the U.S.’s weak response to the epidemic is Trump and Trump alone. If only there was only another person in charge, the U.S. could have defeated COVID-19.

Readers who follow me should know my methods well: I have always begun my analyses from a sociological point of view. How could the U.S. use influenza as the primary lens to understand COVID-19, and how did this understanding influence the U.S.’s subsequent responsive actions? I have since wrote many essays on this topic, for example my April 1st, 2020 essay: “Can the United States Shut Down Entire Cities and Thoroughly Practice Social Distancing Like China? A Discussion of American Exceptionalism” (link in Chinese).

In that piece, I argue that due to the U.S. political and legal system, enacting a comprehensive and stringent social distancing program, including measures such as quarantining cities, is simply not possible.

In the next few months, I will continue my analysis and extend towards the political level. Not too long ago, I collected a few writings into this listicle: “13 Reasons for the Ineffectual Response towards COVID-19 of the United States and ‘Society Construction’ During an Epidemic” (link in Chinese).

I summarized thirteen reasons for the U.S.’s weak response to the epidemic:

  1. Government system: the separation of powers between the federal, state, and local governments
  2. Government system: the separation of powers between the legislative, executive, and judiciary bodies
  3. Wide racial and class disparities
  4. A culture that understands individualism as a cardinal virtue, even to the point of opposing social or collective interests
  5. An overwhelmingly one-sided emphasis on political and civil rights
  6. “Gun culture”: the spirit of Manifest Destiny, rugged individualism, and militarism
  7. “Bible culture” and anti-intellectualism
  8. A pluralistic society without common understanding or consensuses
  9. A government and media that intensifies rather than ameliorates social tensions
  10. A values system that does not respect the elderly and does not assign elders special protections
  11. Family structures which are not suited to fighting against COVID-19
  12. The precarious economic situation of the United States’ middle and lower classes (like walking on a tightrope, i.e. living from paycheck to paycheck or credit problems)
  13. Other cultural factors, such as resistance against wearing masks

There are certainly many more reasons than the ones I have listed. But what I wish to express is that the U.S.’s weak response to the epidemic is the combined result of political, legal, social, cultural, economic, and other factors. The White House, as one of the holders of broad public authority (the executive section of the federal government), has in fact significantly limited power over this broader structural context.

The U.S. cannot manage stringent social distancing, large-scale quarantines of cities, nor restrictions on interstate travel. Health QR codes on mobile devices are entirely impossible with citizens’ insistence on privacy protections. A vast society led primarily by individualism and anti-intellectualism can hardly speak of epidemic management. These factors are not problems that can be resolved with the changing of a president. I believe that even if it were Obama, Hillary, or Biden as president, they would not be able to reverse the tide of the battle against COVID-19, even if they would be slightly more effective—for instance if they had taken the initiative and emphasized the importance of masks. This is because fighting an epidemic does not depend on the lobbying or practices of a president, but rather on the public health and prevention system of an entire country, one which from top to bottom must act in unity and move together. Public authority must comprehensively, effectively, and consistently implement policies (such that each locality will not have its own variant policies), and also cannot allow any level of the judiciary to interfere in the problems of any level of government. On the balance between citizen and society, preparations must absolutely be made to cede rights to the collective. “Political and civil rights” must in these times yield way.

The very design of U.S. political and legal institutions is meant to inhibit collective rights. Balance of powers is at the core of American governance. Political and civil rights are the bedrock of American political values. To deny these values equates to the very denial of the U.S.’s fundamental being.

The very design of U.S. political and legal institutions is meant to inhibit collective rights.

Therefore, to take the U.S.’s weak response to the epidemic and shove it at “political leadership” and at the feet of Trump is not merely skin-deep, but avoids the real problem and focuses on easy answers. It is simply not looking at the substance of the situation.

For several months I have followed U.S. political commentaries on the left and right, and I can confirm I have not seen any analysis of depth. The overwhelming majority of analyses are overly narrow and concrete, pointing at an individual perhaps. Rare is the person who can leap outside the U.S. political structure and carry out a detailed assessment from a third point-of-view. Why? I summarize two reasons:

(1) Americans are sort of like the baffled participant in a game; sometimes the onlookers see more of the game than the players. Americans honestly believe that the American system is exceptional, the best in the world. This is an earnest and steadfast faith, an authentic “self-confidence in path, self-confidence in principles, self-confidence in system, self-confidence in culture” [the “Four Self-Confidences” of Xi Jinping Thought]. They simply cannot bring themselves to doubt or oppose the American system. Since the American system is perfect, once the epidemic creates problems, by the process of elimination, Americans reason that the problem must stem only from electing the right or wrong politician. From this line of thought, pick out the one who has the most power: this is Trump’s fault. After him, perhaps we blame the governor of Florida, DeSantis. This is about as deep as the majority of Americans introspect.

(2) Criticizing the American system is a serious political error. It’s taboo. This is because it is anti-American, “unpatriotic,” “un-American.” It is a stance that doubts the very foundations of the United States. So when there is an elephant in the room in regards to the American system, everybody can see it but dare not speak up. I believe that the majority of people do not even see this elephant in the room because they have been so thoroughly brainwashed by the perfection of the American system. It is only a minority of people who can see this. These people very well could be Democrats or liberal intellectuals. This small number of people aware of reality cannot point out the elephant, however, even if they can see it. This is because pointing it out cannot change the situation on the ground, yet will still result in censure and criticism. One would rather polish a cannonball and lob it at Trump.

In summary, if we compare China with the United States, we would discover an interesting phenomenon.

When Chinese people criticize, they are accustomed to focusing criticisms on the system. “Systemic problem.” “Systemic-ism .” Even though there are indeed problems at the individual level, these problems are thoroughly rooted in the larger system. “Because the system produced this type of person,” “because the system could not restrain or check this particular person.” At any rate, any analysis fundamentally leads back to systemic problems.

When American people criticize, it is focusing the problem onto the physical body of an individual politician. It is not the system at fault, because the system is already perfect or close to perfect, so it can only be a problem birthed from the politician: this pundit’s personality is bad, their abilities did not cut it. All criticisms are of this sort. With that, if an impotent pundit is continuously elected or re-elected—for instance if Trump is re-elected, then this is a problem of the voters. But at this time, the analysis simply cannot proceed further. In the calculus of American political values, the political values of every person are equal: one cannot belittle the voters. In 2016 during the presidential race, Hillary Clinton belittled Trump’s supporters and faced an overwhelmingly negative backlash, costing her the ultimate price (this could perhaps be why she lost the presidential race). What is left then is to criticize the political influence of the media, campaign funding, and interest groups. But even here the analysis must end. Within the proscribed limits of the dialogue, it is easy to enter into another level of analysis—for example, could it be that the U.S. electoral system has fundamental faults? If one gets to this level, it touches upon the very body of U.S. democracy and its electoral system. One would be entering a live mine zone, teetering on the edge of political error.

In this sort of environment, Americans naturally will avoid hard problems and search for easy answers. They will not explore systemic problems, but rather focus their entire attention on electoral solutions.

Under this existing electoral process, one can only, perhaps, push their preferred candidate onto the political stage and wish only for their own candidate to ascend to the office, so that in the next few years that candidate can advance their own political programs and thereby protect the interests of the candidate’s supporters. In this sort of environment, Americans naturally will avoid hard problems and search for easy answers. They will not explore systemic problems, but rather focus their entire attention on electoral solutions.

Therefore, American politics are entirely driven by the short-term. They will look at long-term problems as a certainty before avoiding them, exerting only in order to resolve short-term problems. Even though there are scholars and intellectuals who can produce long-term analyses of wide historical and societal scale, this sort of analysis remains locked in the library and Ivory Towers, away from the stain of political practice.

The American “Revolution”

In the week after the conclusion of the 2016 election in the United States, Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders published his book Our Revolution. As everybody knows, 2016 was the contest between Trump and Clinton. Yet Bernie Sanders was the more extreme, more left (called a “socialist”) candidate of the Democratic Party, who was ultimately knocked out by the mainstream Clinton in the primaries. But he retains many fans among the Democratic Party’s “progressive wing”, including many youth. In his book, he introduced his thoughts as well as his explanations and analyses on all sorts of issues of the day, including the wealth gap, race relations, environmental problems, healthcare problems, the problem of media and interest groups binding politics, gender pay disparity, and the problem of Wall Street and big corporations.

Sanders’ diagnosis of American problems intersects with Trump: it is only that while Sander’s target audience was quite broad (for example, minorities, vulnerable groups, and women), Trump’s was much more parochial. On similar problems, Trump would provide right-wing resolutions to his limited audience of voters, but Sanders provided left-wing resolutions to his broad audiences—because of this, he was smeared as a “socialist”. Of course, during Sander’s entire campaign, there remained an unspeakable doubt: that is, can a big-city Jewish American ‘elite’ from Brooklyn, New York actually win the votes to be elected as President of the United States? This same problem may apply to Michael Bloomberg. To date, it seems this question answers in the negative.

But I do not wish to talk about Sanders’ propositions or ethnicity, but rather his slogan: “Our Revolution”.

“Our Revolution” has now become a left-wing action organization with roots in the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign, and it continues to organize movements within the Democratic Party and in other broader social contexts.

“Our Revolution” has three key actions: “Win on our issues,” “Transform the Democratic Party,” and “Elect progressives up and down the ballot.”

It is of note that Sanders is the most mainstream American politician to date to support the idea of a revolution. However, what I wish to point out to Chinese readers is that this concept of “revolution” is nothing more than propagating his own thoughts and policy proposals to a wider audience, in order to get his own people elected and achieve electoral success himself.

People more familiar with Chinese political discourse should know the difference between “revolution” and “reform.”

Revolution is overturning and starting over again: toppling the old system and the old order, and constructing a new system. Revolution is often violent, of great force, compelled, and refuses to abide by the present system. From the standpoint of Marxism, revolution is class struggle, a fiery worker’s movement. From the standpoint of Leninism, it is a violent movement. From the standpoint of Mao Zedong:

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

In the Chinese context, and indeed in the majority of cultural and social contexts, “revolution” is an intense action: revolution demands the overthrowing of the present system. Abiding by the present system, or moving within the current system and order, can only be reform.

But it is different in the United States. In the United States, challenging and overthrowing the system is taboo. It is simply impossible. This is because the American system is considered sacred, perfect. It is only particular individuals who have problems, only particular problems that cannot be handled well. The system itself has no problems. Therefore, all actions can only be carried out within the purview of what the system allows. The only path is by election—use a successful election to construct the starting point and foundations of societal change.

The American system is considered sacred, perfect. It is only particular individuals who have problems, only particular problems that cannot be handled well. The system itself has no problems.

Because of this, in the political rhetoric of Bernie Sanders, we see not a radical revolution or transformation, but a complete obedience to the American system. Due to the American people’s 100% approval and obedience to the system, any possibilities that people may have substantive critique or doubts vis-à-vis the system are cut off, and no action can be taken. The American system has completely limited their space for movement. Even “radicals” similarly can only raise high the banner of the American system, and can only work and influence society within designated limits: by pushing their own candidates in elections.

A few weeks ago, the police brutality case of George Floyd caused massive numbers of Americans to take to the streets and protest without ceasing.

Yet have we seen any protestor put out protest against the very structure of America’s political system, institutions, and government? Will there be any person who comes and burn the Constitution? Burn the American flag? Will there be any person who will put forth concrete plans of actions towards subversion?

There wasn’t any. The protestors could only protest a few “conditions.” Each path towards resolution is diverted back into elections.

The United States uses the separation of powers mechanism to spread the vast majority of social contradictions among the politicians of the various local jurisdictions. Through the possibility of election, in order to resolve these contradictions, the people complain while pointing at the politicians, not the institutions themselves. In the end, the people believe they hold the power and can influence politics through the vote, carrying on their lives under this sort of hope.

The most awe-inspiring politics indeed is this: one in which people believe they have the power and thus maintain steadfast hope in the future, while at the same time changing nothing about the current situation.

A few weeks ago, when riots erupted all around the United States, Secretary of State Pompeo could still proudly boast and simultaneously demean China: Wehave freedom of assembly, expression, and freedom to protest.

The American system has already developed to this point: simply give the people freedom of expression and freedom to protest so that they can feel themselves righteous and superior, after which they may do as they wish.

I have before written an essay “From ‘Moral Licensing’ and ‘black-clad warriors’ to the ‘Sick People of Hong Kong’” in which I explained the concept of moral licensing:

“People believe that if they had prior done something good, they can then possibly condone themselves (or even indulge themselves) when in the future they do something not as good (even actions that do not conform to one’s own or the public’s moral standards).”

The circumstances surrounding the system of the U.S. are such: if we allow people expression, allow them to freely scold the government, this grants the people “political and civil rights.” This itself grants the American system moral superiority; it is the ends not the means. Afterwards, the government need not do anything further: “half-heartedly listen yet decide to do nothing.” That there have been so many racial conflicts and riots in the past few decades demonstrates that this kind of “expression” does not bring any substantive political transformation. American society has not experienced any fundamental changes. The people who can bear it no more cannot help but take to the streets after many a hard years.

The U.S.’s electoral system is a systemic, national form of “moral licensing”:

First, it grants people the right to vote, grants people a few nominal political and civil rights, allowing the people to feel that they have power and agency and thereby perceive moral self-satisfaction.

Afterwards, the politicians and elites can recount the greatness and glory of the system, right and proper as it is. “We allow African Americans to go out on the streets! So our system is progressive.” “We had Obama as president, how can our society be discriminatory against African Americans?”

The first stage of American politics is taking “the right to express concerns” and equating it with “measures to resolve the problem.” I allowed you to express your opinion, so all is well.

The second stage of American politics is taking “the right to express concerns” and using it as legitimization for “tacit allowance of the bad.” I allowed you to express your opinion, and I even allowed a black president, so what are you babbling about?

As one can see, the separation of powers and electoral system in the United States has created a perfect “cognitive trap” — people believe that this system can endlessly empower individuals and provide limitless potential and possibilities, that it can change anything. This system is in fact like a black hole, taking all the potential and sucking it in and dispelling it — even if it means there will be no changes in reality.

This system is in fact like a black hole, taking all the potential and sucking it in and dispelling it — even if it means there will be no changes in reality.

I believe that there will not be an insurrection in the U.S. because there is no power in the U.S. that can overturn or transform the American system. The American system is too powerful, it can already change the meaning of words: turning “revolution” into reforms hemmed in by the limits of the electoral system. This is indeed an extraordinarily powerful system.

Only an enormous outside pressure can cause the United States to change.

China is just such a pressure currently placed on the United States. In the beginning, the pressure was indistinct, unclear, but now it grows more apparent as China continues its rise.

Why Can’t America Criticize Its Own System?

Apart from “empowering” people, giving them the fantastic illusion of grasping political power and being able to influence it, the American electoral system is also importantly related to the system’s construction of an American person’s identity.

As I have written two days prior in the essay “Why the United States Does Not Understand China — From the Original Intention of the Communist Party of China, to European Civilization, to American Politics”, the United States is an multi-national country, assimilating many people from different ethnicities, nationalities, cultures, and societies. To bind these people together, a country cannot rely on blood ties, shared ethnicity, or shared culture, but instead on shared political values—the approval of the Constitution of the United States, and the approval of the foundational political values of the United States.

Political values and the American system: these two formulate the “national identity” of the United States.

Disavowing the American system is tantamount to disavowing the American national identity, necessarily meaning being anti-American.

Every civilization must construct its own foundations for national identity.

The national identities of European countries lay upon race, blood, and land, and, after, language and culture. Denying one’s race, blood, land, and language is to go against one’s own national character, and is hardly acceptable.

China is also multi-national, its national identity based more on culture and language; one able to integrate into the Chinese nation is one who can be accepted. Land is secondary, and ethnicity and blood ties may also be factors. But in summary, the inclusiveness of the Chinese people is quite potent, with ethnicity, blood ties, and other such factors relatively weak considerations. From the point-of-view of Chinese people, disavowing Chinese culture, history, tradition, or the perception of China’s territory and borders, is what it takes to disavow or be disloyal to China.

From the standpoint of the United States, ethnicity, blood, land, language, culture, and history are not key factors; only political values are. To disavow the American system is to disavow the American “nation.”

From the standpoint of any nationality, for one to deny their own national character is very much unacceptable, no matter if it is Europe, China, or the United States. The distinction from Europe and China is that the American nationality is built on the foundation of a political system and values.

In what circumstances then does a society or a nationality go against and disavow their own nationality?

I am currently of the belief that it is only in a cross-ethnic or transnational international setting where one could find serious frustrations which could produce such a self-disavowal.

Only in facing an enormous failure can there possibly be a self-disavowal, even a “self-hatred”.

China’s concept of nationality is built on culture and civilization. In the past two hundred years or so, China has suffered foreign invasion and bullying, thoroughly fell behind and received thrashings, and as a result came to doubt much of its own system and culture. This type of self-doubt and self-disavowal has persisted onto the present day. Chinese people tend to search for their own “inherent weaknesses” among their traditional culture.

Once the Chinese economy grew, and subsequently once its global standing rose, people began to change, becoming self-confident, and more were able to see the good aspects of Chinese traditional culture and contemporary societal practices.

The U.S. is similar. The American concept of national character is its own system and political value. Nothing short of a severe frustration of the American system, perhaps by China comprehensively catching up to or surpassing the United States, perhaps even failing in a competition or struggle with China, would possibly wake up the Americans to their senses. The basis for the United States’ own “four self-confidences” is its absolute leading role in the world for the past close to a century. The U.S.’s strength made people believe that the American system must be superior, and based on this they came to believe that America’s national character must be superior. The U.S. vigilantly guards against and attacks any other country that could challenge its national might, because any challenge would undermine the supposed superiority of the U.S.’s national character.

The U.S. vigilantly guards against and attacks any other country that could challenge its national might, because any challenge would undermine the supposed superiority of the U.S.’s national character.

If China one day rises and is to enter conflict with the United States and comes to outdo the American system, then for certain it would deal a huge blow to the self-confidence of the American people.

Only in such a time may the American people perhaps engage in deeper introspections on their system and models, and thereby possibly search for and implement necessary reforms.

I believe that American politics and society have extraordinarily powerful inertia and cannot initiate any self-led, self-directed adjustments in the short-term, unless there is outside pressure.

China’s rise is by now inevitable and will come to pressure the U.S. more as time goes on. At a certain point, the U.S. will be forced to confront and rethink their own system, to seek more changes and reforms. This is precisely like the period at the end of the 70s and beginning of the 80s, in which the U.S. confronted the rise of Japan in industrial and commercial matters. Thus, the U.S. increasingly scrutinizing China is only a matter of time.

As China continues to grow stronger, its influence on international affairs will naturally grow larger as well. At the same time, the United States will experience a relative decline, its soft power and political influence around the world will face relative decline as well. China can indeed throw out or act as a challenge, check, or supplement (the terminology is not important) to the American model in the future, and proceed on a path distinct from that of the West.

The path China takes will also influence the course of human development in the future, and indeed may be a course we will get to see in our lifetimes.

Finally, if there is a lesson that China must draw from the U.S. concerning principles of political systems, it must be that we must constantly remember to remain humble. Under no circumstances can we allow ourselves to become complacent and lose our vigilance. We must constantly look at our shortcomings, search for reforms and improvements, and consistently upgrade ourselves. “Four self-confidences” of course is vitally important, but we must at the same time retain our characteristically Chinese low-key, pragmatic, cautious, modest, and moderate dispositions.

We must never emulate the Americans in their blindness, arrogance and self-importance, lack of introspection, or their coarse self-confidence.[MORE]

Translated by Sean Haoqin Kang. The original Wechat blogpost, “American ‘Revolution’: The ‘Systemic Trap’ and the Lessons China Must Draw” can be found here (link in Chinese).


Selections by Amarynth

Battleground South China Sea?

By Stephen Lendman

Source

US hostility toward China’s growing political, economic, technological, and military prominence risks possible direct confrontation between both nations.

China seeks peace and cooperative relations with other countries in stark contrast to Washington’s aim for unchallenged dominance by whatever it takes to achieve its aims. 

Last week, Trump regime envoy for arms control Marshall Billingslea said (nuclear-capable) intermediate-range missiles may be deployed in the Indo-Pacific close to China’s territory.

Its Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian denounced what’s likely coming, saying the following:

“China decisively condemns the US’s plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific Region, and expresses its sharp displeasure with constant pressure on China and the neighboring countries, as well as with constant provocations at China’s borders.”

Noting that deployment of these missiles will affect Russia’s security, its Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova expressed concern, saying:

“We must also take into account that such armaments will also create additional risks for our territory as well, including objects of strategic importance, which would naturally require taking necessary response measures – which I would call compensatory.”

On August 2, 2019, Trump formally abandoned the landmark 1987 INF Treaty — based on phony accusations of Russian violations, invented ones because no real ones exist.

Responding to the unacceptable Trump regime action, Sergey Lavrov said the US began violating the INF Treaty “in 1999 when it began trials of combat unmanned flying vehicles with specifications similar to those of ground-launched cruise missiles banned by the treaty,” adding:

“Later it started using target missiles, ballistic target missiles, for testing its missile defense system, whereas starting in 2014 it began deploying in Europe launching pads for its positioning areas of missile defense – Mk 41 launching pads, which may absolutely be used without any changes and to launch Tomahawk medium-range cruise missiles.”

“That is a direct violation of the treaty. Such systems have already been deployed in Romania, are being prepared for deployment in Poland, as well as in Japan.”

The US under Republicans and Dems is a serial violator of treaties, conventions, bilateral and multilateral agreements, as well as the rule of law overall domestically and geopolitically.

Its provocative actions threaten world peace and stability.

In response to the likely deployment of US intermediate-range missiles close to the borders of China and Russia in the Indo-Pacific, Vladimir Putin said this action will result in a symmetrical response and create new threats.

On Friday in response to repeated US anti-China provocations, PLA spokesman Senior Col. Li Huamin said the following:

“Ignoring the rules of international law, the US side has repeatedly provoked troubles in the South China Sea, exercising navigational hegemony under the pretext of ‘freedom of navigation,” adding:  

“We urge the US to stop such provocative behavior and restrict its maritime actions to avoid possible military accidents.”

What the Pentagon calls “routine freedom of navigation” is highly provocative in the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, and other international waters close to the territory of nations it wants transformed into US vassal states.

On August 26, the PLA launched two missiles into the South China Sea, including an “aircraft carrier killer,” in response to unacceptable Pentagon aerial spying in no-fly-zone airspace during live-fire Chinese military exercises.

China’s Foreign Ministry called the US action a “naked provocation” that risked a possible “accident,” adding:

The PLA “will not dance to the US’ tune,” stressing that it should “pull itself out of the swamp of anxiety and paranoia.”

Time and again, provocative US intrusions occur in parts of the world not its own that heighten tensions and risk direct confrontation with nations it doesn’t control.

On Friday, the PLA said it expelled the USS Mustin guided missile destroyer from Chinese territorial waters near its Xisha Islands.

The PLA accused the Pentagon of breaching international law by its South China Sea provocations on the phony pretext of freedom of navigation — adding that its actions threaten China’s sovereignty and security.

According to China’s official People’s Daily broadsheet on Friday, the Pentagon unacceptably “sent military aircraft to the region more than 2,000 times  in the first half of this year alone,” adding:

“The US tries to drive wedges between China and related Southeast Asian nations, push those countries to the front, and enlist them as pawns in its anti-China agenda.”

“Washington’s malign scheme to make the South China Sea another anti-China battleground will certainly fail.”

The US is a warmaker, not a peacekeeper in the Indo-Pacific or anywhere else.

The South China Sea and Persian Gulf are the world’s top hot spots.

If global war occurs by accident or design, it’ll likely be launched by the US in one or both of these areas.

What’s unthinkable is possible because of US rage for global dominance — pursued by endless wars by hot and other means that risk destruction of planet earth and all its life forms if things are pushed too far.

China: everything proceeding according to plan

China: everything proceeding according to plan

August 24, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission by the author and first posted at Asia Times

Let’s start with the story of an incredibly disappearing summit.

Every August, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) converges to the town of Beidaihe, a seaside resort some two hours away from Beijing, to discuss serious policies that then coalesce into key planning strategies to be approved at the CCP Central Committee plenary session in October.

The Beidaihe ritual was established by none other than Great Helmsman Mao, who loved the town where, not by accident, Emperor Qin, the unifier of China in the 3rd century B.C., kept a palace.

2020 being, so far, a notorious Year of Living Dangerously, it’s no surprise that in the end Beidaihe was nowhere to be seen. Yet Beidaihe’s invisibility does not mean it did not happen.

Exhibit 1 was the fact that Premier Li Keqiang simply disappeared from public view for nearly two weeks – after President Xi chaired a crucial Politburo gathering in late July where what was laid out was no less than China’s whole development strategy for the next 15 years.

Li Keqiang resurfaced by chairing a special session of the all-powerful State Council, just as the CCP’s top ideologue, Wang Huning – who happens to be number 5 in the Politburo – showed up as the special guest at a meeting of the All China Youth Federation.

What’s even more intriguing is that side by side with Wang, one would find Ding Xuexiang, none other than President Xi’s chief of staff, as well as three other Politburo members.

In this “now you see them, now you don’t” variation, the fact that they all showed up in unison after an absence of nearly two weeks led sharp Chinese observers to conclude that Beidaihe in fact had taken place. Even if no visible signs of political action by the seaside had been detected. The semi-official spin is that no get-together happened at Beidaihe because of Covid-19.

Yet it’s Exhibit 2 that may clinch the deal for good. The by now famous end of July Politburo meeting chaired by Xi in fact sealed the Central Committee plenary session in October. Translation: the contours of the strategic road map ahead had already been approved by consensus. There was no need to retreat to Beidaihe for further discussions.

Trial balloons or official policy?

The plot thickens when one takes into consideration a series of trial balloons that started to float a few days ago in select Chinese media. Here are some of the key points.

1. On the trade war front, Beijing won’t shut down US businesses already operating in China. But companies which want to enter the market in finance, information technology, healthcare and education services will not be approved.

2. Beijing won’t dump all its overwhelming mass of US Treasuries in one go, but – as it already happens – divestment will accelerate. Last year, that amounted to $100 billion. Up to the end of 2020, that could reach $300 billion.

3. The internationalization of the yuan, also predictably, will be accelerated. That will include configuring the final parameters for clearing US dollars through the CHIPS Chinese system – foreseeing the incandescent possibility Beijing might be cut off from SWIFT by the Trump administration or whoever will be in power at the White House after January 2021.

4. On what is largely interpreted across China as the “full spectrum war” front, mostly Hybrid War, the PLA has been put into Stage 3 alert – and all leaves are canceled for the rest of 2020. There will be a concerted drive to increase all-round defense spending to 4% of GDP and accelerate the development of nuclear weapons. Details are bound to emerge during the Central Committee meeting in October.

5. The overall emphasis is on a very Chinese spirit of self-reliance, and building what can be defined as a national economic “dual circulation” system: the consolidation of the Eurasian integration project running in parallel to a global yuan settlement mechanism.

Inbuilt in this drive is what has been described as “to firmly abandon all illusions about the United States and conduct war mobilization with our people. We shall vigorously promote the war to resist US aggression (…) We will use a war mindset to steer the national economy (…) Prepare for the complete interruption of relations with the US.”

It’s unclear as it stands if these are only trial balloons disseminated across Chinese public opinion or decisions reached at the “invisible” Beidaihe. So all eyes will be on what kind of language this alarming configuration will be packaged when the Central Committee presents its strategic planning in October. Significantly, that will happen only a few weeks before the US election.

It’s all about continuity

All of the above somewhat mirrors a recent debate in Amsterdam on what constitutes the Chinese “threat” to the West. Here are the key points.

1. China constantly reinforces its hybrid economic model – which is an absolute rarity, globally: neither totally publicly owned nor a market economy.

2. The level of patriotism is staggering: once the Chinese face a foreign enemy, 1.4 billion people act as one.

3. National mechanisms have tremendous force: absolutely nothing blocks the full use of China’s financial, material and manpower resources once a policy is set.

4. China has set up the most comprehensive, back to back industrial system on the planet, without foreign interference if need be (well, there’s always the matter of semiconductors to Huawei to be solved).

China plans not only in years, but in decades. Five year plans are complemented by ten year plans and as the meeting chaired by Xi showed, 15 year plans. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is in fact a nearly 40-year plan, designed in 2013 to be completed in 2049.

And continuity is the name of the game – when one thinks that the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, first developed in 1949 and then expanded by Zhou Enlai at the Bandung conference in 1955 are set in stone as China’s foreign policy guidelines.

The Qiao collective, an independent group that advances the role of qiao (“bridge”) by the strategically important huaqiao (“overseas Chinese”) is on point when they note that Beijing never proclaimed a Chinese model as a solution to global problems. What they extol is Chinese solutions to specific Chinese conditions.

A forceful point is also made that historical materialism is incompatible with capitalist liberal democracy forcing austerity and regime change on national systems, shaping them towards preconceived models.

That always comes back to the core of the CCP foreign policy: each nation must chart a course fit for its national conditions.

And that reveals the full contours of what can be reasonably described as a Centralized Meritocracy with Confucian, Socialist Characteristics: a different civilization paradigm that the “indispensable nation” still refuses to accept, and certainly won’t abolish by practicing Hybrid War.

China Newsbrief & Sitrep

China Newsbrief & Sitrep

August 12, 2020

By Godfree Roberts from his newsletter

This week we focus mainly on China’s development and business.

We still see signs of an unrestricted and type of unformed war on China that is described by many names, examples cold war or, hybrid war.  The main characteristic of this war is where nothing that disrupts the enemy is off limits.

Despite an unprecedented downturn in US-China relations during a pandemic, US businesses are not leaving the China market. This was a major finding of an annual survey of members released today by the US-China Business Council (USCBC), a trade group representing more than 200 businesses, many of them global brands with decades of China experience.  

https://www.uschina.org/media/press/pandemic-and-politics-aside-us-china-trade-ties-continue

Extracts from Here Comes China

Excellent overview – How Did China Succeed? | Joseph E. Stiglitz  on China’s Economic System

Although Stiglitz is a world banker, he holds different views from the trademark, neoliberal Washington consensus, specifically an economic ideology holding that while people should own the value they produce themselves, economic value derived from land (including all natural resources and natural opportunities) should belong equally to all members of society.  His wide overview here on the growth of China makes sense and is easy listening.

China’s central bank has taken the lead in digital currencies. What does it mean for businesses?  by Jemma Xu and Dan Prud’homme

Outside  China, digital currencies are fraught with incredible risk. In this void, China’s Digital Currency Electronic Payments offers the public confidence unobtainable by private digital currencies. DCEP is itself a stablecoin, but one backed 1:1 by the PBoC with fiat Chinese yuan/renminbi. Its system follows a “two layer” approach. First, and critically, because it is a sovereign digital currency, the PBoC is the only issuing party. Second, to expeditiously diffuse the currency, the central bank issues DCEP to select retail banks and non-financial institutions (e.g., Alibaba, Tencent, and Union Pay) in China with strong pre-existing mobile payment networks, who then merely distribute the currency to the general public. Businesses across China will be required by law to accept DCEP as payment.

Besides the regulatory legitimacy, many factors position DCEP to become the world’s most widely used digital currency:

  • the Chinese state’s track record of rapid institutional innovation;
  • Chinese public support of institutional experimentation;
  • Chinese firms’ strong competitiveness in digital ecosystems and
  • capabilities to quickly adapt to changing technological paradigms and institutions;
  • a massive Chinese population who quickly adopts new digital technologies, and
  • lead the world in adopting mobile payment applications.

Although central banks in several other countries have also been studying digital currencies, none have taken the lead to actually develop and rollout a CBDC at the scale occurring in China. DCEP will be used for purchases in all sectors across the country. To start, as of mid-2020, DCEP has been piloted in the Chinese cities of Shenzhen, Chengdu, Suzhou and Xiong’an – potentially reaching over 42 million people, more than Canada’s entire population. Elsewhere in China, DCEP is already in the process of being piloted in the restaurant and hospitality sectors, with foreign multinationals such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway already signing up to participate. Further, DCEP trials are already being conducted around China to reimburse public sector employees’ travel costs. Yet other pilot initiatives, such as a commitment to use DCEP at venues for large-scale upcoming events in Beijing, are in place.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government recently proposed the creation of a regional digital currency backed by the Chinese RMB/yuan, Japanese yen, South Korean won, and Hong Kong dollar – with DCEP at the centre. And China’s multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) offers a network to extend DCEP in countries around the globe.

Businesses should prepare for DCEP’s rollout in two main ways. First, they must ensure that they have appropriate infrastructure in place to accommodate DCEP, such as digital wallets. Contracts with third-party financial custodians can also be helpful. On the upside, to facilitate swift legal compliance with DCEP – considering that its acceptance is being required by law in China – the Chinese authorities may integrate DCEP with popular existing digital wallets already widely used by many businesses in China, namely Alipay and Wechat Pay.

Second, businesses may need to explore interoperability options when conducting cross-border trade. Such action may be needed in the longer term if DCEP leads to an alternative international payments system vis-à-vis the current US-led system, which is a probable prospect.
Meanwhile, firms who timely prepare for China’s DCEP rollout can seize several significant opportunities. First, as previously alluded to, the expansion of DCEP will facilitate the internationalisation of the yuan/renminbi. In doing so, the Chinese currency will provide a strong alternative institution to rival the current USD-dominated international payments system.

Third, by facilitating direct transactions between digital wallets, DCEP will eliminate sizeable banking clearing and settlements costs. In other words, ‘payment is settlement’ with no need for separate clearing and settlement processes.

Fourth, DCEP will offer firms new ways of raising capital and secondary trading via the issuance of digital securities and disintermediated trading on exchanges. Digital securities are regulated financial instruments such as equities or bonds where the transaction and shareholder details are recorded on the blockchain ledger. As a stable currency, DCEP will be used to reduce or eliminate the clearing and settlement processes associated with trading digital securities on secondary exchanges. In turn, this will provide firms and investors easier access to digital financial instruments.

Fifth, DCEP’s development will catalyse fintech innovation, giving rise to hybrid products that draw on both traditional markets and digital currencies. Greater numbers of innovative structured products are appearing in the digital currencies market, where the underlying asset is a native digital currency, such as Bitcoin, but the payoffs are based on traditional structured products. DCEP will serve as a reliable alternative underlying-asset in the future, stimulating the creation of more hybrid financial products.
Fifth, and not least, aggregate demand may rise as a result of DCEP’s rollout. DCEP adoption will allow governments to rapidly deploy “helicopter money” to the public without requiring bank accounts. This will empower the previously unbanked to form a new group of consumers.[MORE]

Debt – People criticizing China’s debt see only the debit side of the ledger. If they look at the credit side, they would see offsetting assets. One of those assets is the $20 billion Three Gorges Dam, which generates 100 billion KWh which it sells for US$0.084/KwH, bringing in $8.4 billion every year. Three Gorges tours earn another $3 billion, and flood mitigation and irrigation enhancement save another $3 billion, as the current flooding demonstrates. That’s valuable debt!

China pledged to invest $5.8 billion in the construction of the Moscow-Kazan High Speed Railway. The railway will be extended to China through Kazakhstan. The total cost of the Moscow-Kazan high speed railroad project is $21.4 billion. [MORE]

The Caspian Sea is becoming an alternative to the Suez for shipping between Europe and China, and a great deal of activity is taking place there. Four major Belt & Road routes and one significant Indian route make up the five East-West intersections that the Caspian is shortly to provide, with the potential for a sixth should plans to create a canal between the Caspian and Black Seas come to fruition. [Download Chris Devonshire-Ellis’ Report]

The Port of Beirut poses the biggest geostrategic threat to American power projection because China’s Silk Road is fast creeping towards the docks at Beirut Port. The US, having recently forced Israel to cancel its Haifa rail contract with China, has dampened the Chinese advance in the eastern Mediterranean, and what remains now in the path of the US is the Beirut Port. The US must either invade it to block the Chinese geostrategic mission creep, or else destroy it.[MORE]


See everyone next week for the regular Here Comes China newsletter.  It is a pleasure to work with Godfree and to collate the main points for The Saker Blog.

amarynth

Reply by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova to a media question on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement on US-Chinese relations

Source

Reply by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova to a media question on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement on US-Chinese relations

July 26, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Question: Can you comment on the recent statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the US-Chinese relations?

Maria Zakharova: We noted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks on US-Chinese relations made on July 23 at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.

We were surprised by the defiant tone of Mr Pompeo’s statements, which predictably contained crude references to China, its social and political system and its leaders. Unfortunately, these things are common in US foreign policy diplomacy these days.

The tension in relations with Beijing being provoked by Washington, in addition to harming the United States and China, is also seriously complicating international affairs. These two countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council and play an important role in global affairs. Together with the other Security Council members, they bear a special responsibility for maintaining global stability.

We regard Pompeo’s statement on the possibility of dragging Moscow into the US anti-Chinese campaign as yet another naive attempt to complicate the Russian-Chinese partnership, and drive a wedge into the friendly ties between Russia and China. We intend to further strengthen our cooperation with China because we regard this cooperation as the most important factor in stabilising the situation around the world.

الصين تسرّع الخطى عالميّاً فهل يُسرّع لبنان؟

ناصر قنديل

رسمت الصين كقوة صاعدة على المستوى الاقتصادي الدوليّ مشروعها للانتقال خارج الحدود من خلال ما عُرف بخطة الحزام والطريق، الذي يتوزع على محاور عدة أبرزها خطوط سكك حديد وجسور بريّة ضخمة، وطرق بحريّة حديثة بمرافئ مجهزة، تؤمن ربط الصين بأجزاء القارة الآسيويّة كلها وصولاً إلى أوروبا من نوافذ متعددة أهمها روسيا وتركيا، وبمشاركة دولتين أوروبيتين هما اليونان وإيطاليا انضمّتا إلى الخطة الصينية، وفتحتا الباب لاستثمارات صينية تعبيراً عن ذلك، وتقع باكستان آسيوياً في قلب الخطة الصينية عبر استثمار يقارب مئة مليار دولار في مرفأ غوادر، بينما جاء الاتفاق الموقع بين الصين والعراق والذي بلغت قيمته خمسمئة مليار دولار، تطال بناء كل شيء في العراق من الجامعات إلى المستشفيات وسكك الحديد والكهرباء ومحطات المياه وخطوط النفط والغاز، والتي شكلت وفقاً للخبراء سبباً لتحريك الضغوط تحت عنوان ثورة الشارع على حكومة الرئيس عادل عبد المهدي وصولاً لاستقالته، ولا يتبرأ الأميركيّون من مسؤوليتهم عن إسقاطها، من دون أن يتمكن خليفته مصطفى الكاظمي من التبرؤ من الاتفاق الذي وقعه سلفه.

مع غموض مصير الاتفاق الصيني العراقي وبقائه فوق الطاولة، يثبت اتفاقان صينيان كبيران، كل منهما بخمسمئة مليار دولار، واحد مع إيران والآخر مع روسيا، وفيهما عناوين في حقول الطاقة وصناعة الطائرات المدنيّة، وصناعة تكنولوجيا الاتصالات، وتجهيز المرافئ وبناء شبكات متطوّرة لسكك الحديد ومدن سياحية، وعبرهما تصل الصين إلى حدود أوروبا من خلال روسيا، وإلى مياه الخليج وحدود المتوسط عبر إيران، ومن خلالها نحو العراق أو تركيا أو كليهما، بينما يتشارك الروس والإيرانيّون في تشجيع الصين على الاستثمار في سورية، خلافاً لكل التحليلات التي تتحدث عن تضارب مصالح على هذا الصعيد.

يناقش بعض اللبنانيين الانفتاح على الصين بسذاجة وجهل، متخيلين أن الحديث يجري عن دولة نامية، حيث يقع هذا البعض في أوهام ماضي التفوق الأوروبي التقني والصناعي، والتفوق الأميركي الاقتصادي، متجاهلين معنى انضمام إيطاليا لمبادرة الحزام والطريق الصينية، ومتجاهلين معنى نشر أبراج شركة هواوي الصينية في سويسرا وبريطانيا وألمانيا، لاستثمار تقنية الجيل الخامس من أجهزة الاتصالات، الذي يشكل محور الثورة العالمية في التكنولوجيا، ونقطة الارتكاز في الاقتصادات الرقمية الحديثة، ومتجاهلين أن صناعة الدواء العالمي، بما في ذلك الأميركي والأوروبي تتم بنسبة 90% في المصانع الصينية، وأن شركات أميركية عملاقة مثل أبل تصنّع هواتفها الذكية في الصين، وأن مرافئ عالمية كبرى مثل بوسطن وأمستردام تعمل بمعدات صينية بنسبة 80%، وأن اكبر مخزون عالمي من السلع والأموال والمعدات الصناعيّة موجود لدى الصين، وأن الاستثمار الأكبر في سندات الخزينة الأميركية هو الاستثمار الصيني بقيمة تزيد عن ثلاثة تريليونات دولار.

لبنان الذي يملك قيمة استراتيجية في موقعه على البحر المتوسط، وكان الصينيون قد أعربوا عن اهتمامهم بمرفأ طرابلس وبخطوط سكك الحديد وبناء مدن صناعية حرة، يملك أيضاً قيمة مضافة يمثلها القطاع المصرفي الذي ورّطه أصحابه والقيّمون عليه سياسياً ومالياً بعملية تدمير ذاتي، يمكن أن يشكل مصدر اهتمام صيني عبر عن نفسه بسعي الصين ضمن عروضهم للبنان بامتلاك مصرف ومؤسسة مالية، هذا بالإضافة لتوافر أجيال من خبراء بالتقنيات الحديثة في المعلوماتية والاتصالات بين متخرجي الجامعات من اللبنانيين، يندر وجود مثله في العالم العربي يؤهل لبنان لتشكيل منصة تقنية متقدمة للعالم العربي في مجال اقتصاد المعرفة.

الغباء وحده قد يحول دون إفادة لبنان من الفرصة الصينية، بما فيها ما سيحصل عليه إذا وضع ذلك شرطاً لاتفاق اقتصادي استراتيجي، لجهة طلب توظيف صيني برقم قد يصل إلى عشرين مليار دولار في سندات الخزينة اللبنانية بفائدة منخفضة ولمدة تزيد عن عشر سنوات، ما يؤهل لبنان السيطرة على أزمة الديون، والسيطرة على سعر الصرف، فهل يملك اللبنانيون شجاعة الإقدام، أم أن لدعوات الحياد علاقة بمسعى تعطيل هذا التوجّه، تحت شعار الهوية الدينية مرة والثقافية مرة؟

Bridging China’s past with humanity’s future – Part 2

Source

June 29, 2020

Bridging China’s past with humanity’s future – Part 2

by Straight-Bat for the Saker Blog

This will be presented in 3 parts and in 3 different blog posts

PART – 1 can be found here


PART – 2

5. POST-DENG CHINA

Post-Deng China witnessed three variants of socio-economic trajectories associated with three different Leaders. Even though the economic programme of reform initiated by Deng went on unhindered, there were significantly different style of implementation of the same. A brief recapitulation is noted below:

A.  Jiang Zemin (till 2003)

In 1997, after Deng’s departure Jiang Zemin became the paramount leader of China. Both – the economic reforms and the deep-rooted problems of economy – accentuated during Jiang’s stewardship. There was marked increase in political corruption, inter-regional imbalance and inter-class imbalance in growth, rural migration into urban areas, unemployment, inequality and wealth gap, and crime rates across China. During 1998 and 1999, many SOE were privatized with massive lay-offs and asset transfer to private businessmen, many others were restructured to make them profitable. The employee welfare and social welfare system which were embedded in SOE (since the Mao era) were completely dissolved – this also created a low-income urban working class. The government followed a policy of retaining the crucial sectors within state-owned enterprises while small and medium SOW were either privatised or closed down. Crucial sectors or ‘commanding heights’ were:

  • Nation-wide service networks like railways, aviation, telecommunication, electricity etc.
  • Mining and exploration coal, oil, and natural gas
  • Basic metal processing like steel, and aluminium
  • Basic hydrocarbon processing like refinery and petrochemicals
  • Heavy industrial machinery such as machine tools, power generation equipment, rolling stock
  • Infrastructure engineering and construction – roads, railways, ports, dams
  • Significant consumer durables like automobiles
  • Military machinery

Apart from reducing the number of SOE (from 262,000 units employing 113 million in 1995-1997 period to 110,000 units employing 64 million in 2007-2008) and restructuring bigger SOEs, the government reduced tariffs, trade barriers, regulations; reformed banking system. The average return on assets in SOEs soared from 0.2% in 1998 to 5% in 2007. In the same period, the SOEs’ profits rose from 0.3% to 6.6% of GDP. Funds continued to be poured into SEZ and export-oriented manufacturing industry. As per Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, Hong Kong-Taiwan-Japan-South Korea-Singapore contributed about 71% of the FDI that flowed into China between 1990 and 2004. To sum it up cogently, it can be said that government of China pursued neoliberal economic agenda along with consulting advice from USA bankers and capitalists. China joined World Trade Organization in December’2001. During the period 1990–2004, China’s economy grew at an average rate of 10% per year.

A very interesting observation can be made related to the foreign relations during Jiang era – all foreign trips by the leadership and communication with foreign media were consciously made to revolve around China’s (the then) economic growth model and the imperatives. Incidents like USA bombing of China embassy in Belgrade, and collision with USA aircraft near Hainan Island were played down after some exchange of documents. Apparently, the top leadership aimed only at maintaining the stability of the government and the economy.

Very significant transformation took place in the CPC itself – from being a party of predominantly peasants and workers, CPC converted itself to a party with large number of middle-class petty bourgeois. This class evolved during the industrial restructuring of 1990s, who came out as the main beneficiary due to their entrepreneurship and connection with the then local and central leadership of CPC, and more importantly this class acted as a robust base of CPC in the urban regions of China.

B. Hu Jintao (2003 to 2012)

Hu Jintao had to continuously swim against the tide of domino effect from the (capitalist) economic reform and opening which was primarily initiated by Deng in 1979. During October’2003 Third Plenum, amendments to the constitution were discussed – an overarching government economic policy would be introduced to reduce unemployment rate, to re-balance income distribution, and to protect the environment. Also private property rights would be protected. Due to widespread poverty, inequality, and discontent the Chinese Government was forced to seek a balanced society above all. Using the concept of “socialist harmonious society”, balanced wealth distribution, improved education, and improved healthcare were assigned high priority.

During 1995, exports from East Asian countries to China were not very significant percentage of their total exports (Japan exported 4.95%, South Korea exported 7.0%, Taiwan exported 0.3%, Singapore exported 2.3%). In 1995, Chinese total exports were worth about 149 billion USD. However, by 2013 there was an explosive growth in exports from East Asian countries to China as a percentage of their total exports – (Japan exported 18.1%, South Korea exported 26.1%, Taiwan exported 26.8%, Singapore exported 11.8%). And, in 2013, Chinese exports to the world were worth about 2210 billion USD (a little over 30% of the value were exported by wholly foreign-owned enterprises, and 12% of the value were exported by joint ventures between foreign-owned and China-owned enterprises). Apparently, during this period China evolved as ‘core’ and East Asia as ‘periphery’ in a new sub-system within the overall world-system (with USA and west Europe as ‘core’ and rest of the world as ‘periphery’).

China’s GDP grew 10.1%, in 2004, and 10.4% in 2005 in spite of attempts by the government to cool the economy. And, in 2006 trade crossed USD 1760 billion, making China third-largest trading nation in the world. Again, in 2007 China registered 13% growth in GDP (USD 3552 billion) becoming world’s third largest economy by GDP. According to UN estimates in 2007, around 130 million people in rural areas of the backward inland provinces still lived in poverty, on consumption of less than $1 a day, while about 35% of the Chinese population lived under $2 a day. Chinese government’s official Gini index peaked at 0.49 in 2008– 2009 and thereafter declined only marginally, to 0.47 in 2014. The Global Financial Crisis in 2008 revealed the innate weakness of Chinese economy – export-oriented economy depends upon economic conditions in foreign countries much more than internal consumption. Government of China took highly effective policy decisions about economic stimulus and implemented those effectively (however, it also increased the already high debt burden). The stimulus (about US$600 billion at the then-current exchange rate) involved state investments into physical infrastructure like railway network, roads, bridges and ports, urban housing complex, easing credit restrictions and lowering tax on real estate. As per National Bureau of Statistics of China, in 2010, GDP of China was Yuan 40850 billion, which can be broken down into following expenditure categories:

  1. Household Consumption Expenditure – Yuan 14146.55 billion (34.63% of GDP)
  2. Government Consumption Expenditure – Yuan 6011.59 billion (14.71% of GDP)
  3. Gross (Fixed) capital formation – Yuan 19186.69 billion (46.96% of GDP)
  4. Net Exports of Goods and Services – Yuan 1505.71 billion (3.68% of GDP)

Household consumption has not increased substantially with economic growth – may be one of the reasons were wages and salaries of working class didn’t move upwards with same pace. Even though the reforms helped to improve the socio-economic indicators, taking into consideration the difference between coastal region and inland regions as well as between urban and rural regions, China could hardly overcome the poverty and inequality predominantly in the inland and rural regions.

By 2011, there were less than 10 out of 40 major industrial sectors in which SOE accounted for more than 20 percent of output. Another significant statistics of 2012 on industrial enterprises (as per National Bureau of Statistics, China) shows:

State-owned EnterprisesPrivate-owned EnterprisesPrivate-owned FDI Enterprises
Total Asset (billion Yuan)31,20915,25517,232
Profit (billion Yuan)1,5182,0191,397

The above statistics might suggest at the first glance that, state-owned enterprises are laggard in profitability. However, such conclusion will be clearly wrong if it is noted that there exist wide difference of asset ownership across various sectors – in mining and extraction of coal, petroleum, natural gas etc. SOE commands 93% of sector-specific assets, while in textiles sector Private enterprises commands 90% of sector-specific assets. Different sectors of industry have different profit-capital asset employed ratio.

C. Xi Jinping (2013 onwards)

Since around 2010, Chinese government and CPC has been busy implementing economic policies that will pursue ‘economic growth based on domestic consumption’ while maintaining the decades old export-oriented economy. With Xi Jinping at the top chair, a long pending but top priority task was undertaken – war against corruption and nepotism. CPC took strong measures so that corrupt among ruling party cadres and government officials were identified and punished, Marxist principles were enforced as guideline for CPC so that the society and economy can be steered towards equality and justice. CPC has also became proactive in taking actions to enhance its geopolitical and geo-economic base throughout the world. Simultaneously, Chinese government has taken concrete measures to modernize all wings of military through research and development of 5th generation stealth military aircrafts, naval ships, nuclear submarines, hypersonic missiles, anti-satellite missiles, as well as procuring most lethal S400 air defence system and electronic warfare systems from Russia.

However, China has performed extremely well in reduction of poverty. In 2015, World Bank Group estimated that only 0.7% of Chinese citizens live below extreme poverty line of $1.9 (2011 PPP) per day, while 7.0% of Chinese population live below lower-middle poverty line of $3.2 (2011 PPP) per day. Such rapid poverty-reduction is an unparalleled achievement in the history of mankind.

As per National Bureau of Statistics of China, in 2019, GDP of China was Yuan 99492.74 billion (by expenditure approach), which can be broken down into following categories:

  1. Household Consumption Expenditure – Yuan 38589.56 billion (38.78% of GDP)
  2. Government Consumption Expenditure – Yuan 16559.90 billion (16.64% of GDP)
  3. Gross (Fixed) capital formation – Yuan 42862.78 billion (43.08% of GDP)
  4. Net Exports of Goods and Services – Yuan 1480.50 billion (1.49% of GDP)

Compared to 2010 statistics, in 2019 the household consumption has moved upwards at almost 39% of GDP. However, the 2019 figures of household consumption below 50% of GDP can’t be considered as healthy neither gross capital formation more than 30% of GDP can be termed as balanced growth. This is not to say that, the period of 1970-1975 was better because household consumption component was around 60 – 65% of GDP (GDP itself was very low).

The inequality between urban and rural remained too glaring even in 2019 – as we can note in the following data as per National Bureau of Statistics of China (2019 data),

  1. Per Capita Disposable Income Nationwide – Yuan 30,733
  2. Per Capita Disposable Income of Urban Households – Yuan 42,359
  3. Per Capita Disposable Income of Rural Households – Yuan 16,021
  4. Per Capita Expenditure Nationwide – Yuan 21,559
  5. Per Capita Expenditure of Urban Households – Yuan 28,063
  6. Per Capita Expenditure of Rural Households – Yuan 13,328

The growth model chosen by Deng and reinforced by Jiang has already run out of steam. It had its own utility to provide mass employment and to build the fixed capital for the national economy. Chinese government need to pivot economic growth on domestic consumption as soon as possible without damaging the export sector much. To boost consumption, ‘demand’ for goods and services will have to be enhanced – in China, ‘purchasing power’ is the key for boosting demand and hence, domestic consumption. Income of ordinary citizens should be increased through forced regulations whereby the surplus from industrial operation (that is pocketed by the capitalists for accumulation of capital) will be distributed to the working class. Similarly for the agricultural sector, government should provide much higher procurement prices for agricultural produces. Another key area that needs government intervention is social security and welfare system, whereby housing-education-healthcare for all rural and urban people living with daily expenditure below USD 10 will be arranged by the government (against a token amount of annual insurance premium). Most of such people will be confident enough to spend instead of saving money for rainy day. The well-entrenched capitalist elites will resist because such steps would restrict their continuous capital accumulation process – however, China being a socialist peoples’ democracy, it has to give priority to the common people.

BRI – Challenge to Current World-system?

Belt and Road Initiative (formerly One Belt One Road – OBOR programme) of China actually is a framework wherein investments amounting to anything between one to two trillion USD in different countries of Asia, Europe, Africa, South America will be done in primarily government-to-government projects. When successfully implemented, may be around 2035, BRI will completely transform the economy and comfort of peoples in more than 100 countries. Investments are mainly channelled into physical infrastructure, mining and exploration, power generation, industrial production hub, agricultural production hub, and communication network. BRI, instead of moving away from existing liberal capitalist economy, predicates on existing capitalist system with more inclusive agenda compared to Zionist Capitalist dominated financial system – thus BRI projects attempt to alleviate poverty and unemployment in participating states without bothering about the government ideology.

BRI benefits China in primarily four ways:

  1. Corridors like CPEC (through Pakistan) and CMEC (through Myanmar), when fully established, will provide alternate trade routes for China-based companies to import energy and raw materials as well as export finished goods through Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal respectively; the corridors will circumvent the ‘choke point’ of Malacca Strait
  2. China-Mongolia-Russia and China-Central Asia-West Asia corridors will be channel for further Chinese investments across Asia; in the long run exports and imports among these Eurasian states will experience quantum jump
  3. ‘State capitalism’ will get a boost with most of the BRI projects being G-to-G kind; most of the participant governments will control the new projects thereby reproducing the production relations of capitalist society with the ‘state’ playing the role of capitalist who will make ‘profit’ and accumulate ‘capital’
  4. Enhance Chinese ‘image’ through socio-cultural exchange
  5. Enhance Chinese ‘influence’ through government-to-government contacts

There are more BRI corridors as well as ‘Maritime Silk Road’ planned as part of BRI. I would not get into the details of such a mammoth programme (consisting of hundreds of gigantic projects) which itself is a separate subject. However, it will be very interesting to analyse if and how BRI will pose a challenge to the existing world-system coordinated by the Deep State.

BRI follows the traditional capitalist economic model of ‘profit’, but unlike the Zionist Capitalist propelled system, BRI system aim for nominal profit margins that will create a tremendous ‘pull factor’ among the developing countries to seek BRI projects. Another key difference is: BRI system is radically different from existing capitalist system by shunning hegemony and force BRI promotes harmonious global integration. In all probability, BRI will create a ‘benign core’ and ‘exultant periphery’ in a global scale which uncannily resembles the Confucian concepts of family and state governance. The existing hegemonic world order and the Deep State will find it very hard to digest such decline of their stature and the formation of a new core-periphery. However, by no means will this new development threaten to upend the existing Zionist Capitalist world order – the new core-periphery will form a significant non-imperial sub-system within the existing world-system. USA, 5-Eyes, and Israel will have to share the hegemony with China being the BRI core and Russia as the semi-periphery (with low population count and hence limited domestic market, Russia can’t play much bigger role).

In practice, post-WW II world order has seen the working of core-periphery system with USA (and NATO) enforcing their will on the weak countries on the ‘periphery’ whenever a threat to the primacy of ‘accumulation capital’ was perceived by the Deep State cabal. The Deep State capital, through control of the media and academia, ensure that such threat to capital gets portrayed as a threat to ‘democracy and human rights’ which in turn provides a moral high ground to the Hegemonic superpower to invade any country at will. In the BRI system such supremacy of capital is not expected simply because Chinese outlook on ‘world-system’ was built typically on Confucian praxis.

Significant observations on post-Deng China:

1. CPC central committee in a conference in 2015 formulated eight principles of ‘socialist political economy with Chinese characteristics’:

  1. Sustainability Led by Science and Technology
  2. Orienting Production to Improve the Livelihood of the People
  3. Public Ownership Precedence in National Property Rights
  4. The Primacy of Labour in the Distribution of Wealth
  5. The Market Principle Steered by the State
  6. Speedy Development with High Performance
  7. Balanced Development with Structural Coordination
  8. Economic Sovereignty and Openness

Undoubtedly the above eight principles (like Buddha’s ‘asta-marga’ teaching) are very sound principles – but these are not focussed to Marxist ideology in a sense that, any other liberal democratic capitalist political party can also follow such principles for an effective management of economy and society. CPC leadership should take into account the core ideology of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Mao to explore that, the owners of capital can never reconcile with the proletariat and petty-bourgeois (as petty-bourgeois, I’m meaning only the middle-income group of rural land-holding peasants and urban professionals and self-employed people who own very little capital to earn their livelihood) – the theory of historical materialism clearly and correctly predict that, in the long-run, the capitalists will continue to accumulate capital with endless exploitation of 90% of the population, eventually they will overrun the CPC setup (as insider like CPSU in Soviet Union, or as outsider like Solidarity Movement in Poland) and create a state which will be ‘liberal capitalist’ in letter and spirit. Mao and Deng differed only on strategy to achieve Marxist economy and classless society, they never differed in the end objective – successive CPC leaders shouldn’t forget to take note of that.

Questions will be raised, ‘why then Mao didn’t create a classless society since 1950 or why Mao also tried for accumulation of capital to begin with’ or for that matter, even before Mao, ‘why in 1921 Lenin was staking on new economic policy (NEP) to introduce free market and capitalism under state control’?

To seek the answer, let’s visit the greatest leader of transformation – Lenin. Lenin considered the NEP as a strategic retreat from principles of socialism – Bolshevik party leaders had to create the “material basis” of economic development in Soviet Union before they could initiate the first stage of socialism to be followed by the second stage. This was exactly the situation for Mao and Deng in China who wanted to first create the basic building block for Chinese economy for which the forces of production were either outdated or non-existent. Interestingly, both CPSU and CPC tried to create ‘communes’ as an ideal communist construct for the rural regions and agricultural sector – primarily due to mismanagement among the party members and lack of indoctrination among the rural population, both the experiments failed. More valid question however remains, ‘why both CPSU and CPC got lost in the quagmire of ‘initial capitalistic development’ and never returned to their end objectives’ even after there was basic level of ‘fixed capital formation’ in Soviet Union by 1960 and in China by 2010! May be because geopolitical events were unsurmountable. To best of my knowledge, this question remains unanswered till date.

2. Another issue related to very high exports and some trade surplus obscures two significant points:

(a) China (with a GDP of Yuan 99,492.74 billion i.e. USD 14,140 billion) in 2019 not only exported goods and services worth USD 2,486.69 billion, but the import was also huge at USD 2,135.74 billion (as per National Bureau of Statistics of China). Even if the overall export surplus is not substantial, when the values are grouped continent-wise, large imbalance due to export surplus can be noted for Oceanic and Pacific Islands (about USD 64 billion), Europe (about USD 95 billion), North America (about USD 330 billion), while marginal imbalance of USD 5 – 10 billion export/import surplus exists in case of Asia, Africa, Latin America. Moving deeper at a country-level, one would find more imbalances. The main reason is that, the sourcing requirements of China (energy, raw materials, manufacturing components, foodstuff, etc.) and sourcing countries are, most of the time different from the nature of exported item (manufactured finished goods), quantity and destination where export opportunity exist.

(b) More often than not, the economists forget to mention that the imports of China has multiple categories including import by foreign-owned export-oriented enterprises for value addition before exporting goods, import by Chinese-owned enterprises for value addition before dispatching for export as well as for domestic selling, import of plant and machinery etc. for capital formation, and import for direct household consumption. Contrary to that, export has almost single dimension – manufactured finished goods, primarily consumer goods with some industrial goods as well. There is overwhelming dependence on exports which jeopardise Chinese economy to the extent that, without continuous growth in demand from foreign countries, Chinese economy will encounter slow growth. In future, there can be scenarios where trade partner countries (other than USA) may reduce good imports from China in order to produce within their country (to reduce unemployment).

3. Trade surplus resulting from the exports and high internal savings empowered the east Asian countries like Japan and China to accumulate largest forex reserves (together they account for more than USD 6 trillion) which were used to purchase USA Treasury bonds. USA Treasury bonds are issued by USA government to cover fiscal deficit – thus China and Japan are largest creditors of USA. With this arrangement of deficit financing successive USA government has been reckless to cut taxes (of oligarchy) and increase direct government expenditure to keep voters happy. The prices of east Asian exports into USA were kept low to keep it attractive in the USA market. Finally, more demand of east Asian goods increased trade surplus and more trade surplus meant more purchase of Treasury bonds. A two-way mutual relation between USA and China-Japan thus helped USA engage in end-less wars as well as keep inflation within USA low, hence, even if USA leaders take anti-import posture that will be only to please the constituency of nationalist voters. However, China will not only be at the receiving end if and when exports get restricted suddenly, China should be prepared for the worst scenario when, in future, USA will simply refuse to pay for their debt.

China will have to take a serious initiative on how US Dollar can be removed from world’s reserve currency status. Along with Russia, China should look into the possibility of introducing a new international currency which will be backed by gold – this action will not lead to a socialist economy, but this action will certainly work towards curbing the USA government’s undue advantage of printing as much fiat Dollar as possible using the global reserve currency without gold-backing status.

4. Indisputably China achieved incredible feats in economic growth and socio-economic indicators during past few decades. But such achievements to a large extent depended also on credit policy (apart from FDI and export). As a result, China’s total debt burden including households, government (central, regional, local), non-financial industry sector (including real estate), and financial sector has been rising over the decades albeit slowly. Apparently, in 2019 beginning, Household debt rose to more than 50% of GDP, Government debt crossed 50% of GDP, Financial sector debt rose to more than 40%, non-financial Industry sector breached 150% of GDP. As a whole, Chinese government is in a precarious position to control such huge debt (total crossing 40 trillion USD) – with strict control economic growth will be at stake. Even though the government of China have been periodically trying to deleverage the economy with control measures, economic growth trounced all such attempts till date.

The problem of bad debt first hit the Jiang government in late 1990s. The non-performing loans (NPL) caught the leadership’s eyes back then. And to address the burning issue, in 1999 asset management company was created, which absorbed Yuan 2 trillion bad loans from state-owned banks leaving the banks normal and healthy. For Chinese government NPL issue will continue to be a thorn in the flesh.

5. Maritime border disputes in South China Sea and East China Sea have historical roots when Japan displaced European powers from these two sea regions. It is also true that, after WW II most of the littoral countries (except Vietnam and North Korea) were/are backed by the Deep State and were/are armed to the teeth. However, it will be a monumental milestone for Chinese diplomacy and indeed, image, if China can resolve the maritime border issues without conflict, and if required, sharing the under-sea resources with the littoral states.

On the land border disputes, China resolved all but the dispute with India. The land border was drawn by the British colonial power who ruled most of south Asia till 1947, but Chinese government never accepted the border. Chinese government should keep no stone unturned to bring India-Pakistan-China on the same discussion table with UNO as observer. It will be beneficial for all three countries if they settle the dispute once for all through mutual concessions using give-and-take policy. A border war for a land with little economic value (but high geopolitical strategic value) makes no sense.

6. During 1700 to 1840 China was world’s biggest economy and second largest land empire. However that position didn’t deter the European powers from rampaging at their will inside Chinese territory. Chinese empire lost the edge because of inability to keep track with global technological changes. For the European powers, advancements in few industrial and military technology proved decisive. Keeping such watershed moments in view, government of China should make extraordinary arrangements (like special task force etc.) to bridge manufacturing technology gaps which have been pointed out by McKinsey Global Institute in “China and the world” report published in July 2019, some of which are:

  1. Electronic Components
    1. Display
    2. Integrated circuits
  2. Pharmaceuticals
    1. Small-molecule drugs
    2. Biomolecule drugs
  3. Genomics
    1. Gene sequencing
    2. Gene editing

The above mentioned elements are not necessarily of military in nature – the backwardness in military technology are well-known which are being addressed by Chinese government since past two decades, jet engines with thrust-vectoring control technology among the most significant ones.

6. GEOPOLITICS 1930 ONWARDS

With the setting up of Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Switzerland in 1930, the disputes and tussle among the most prominent Jewish and Anglo banker families (like Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan, Warburg, Lazard, et al.) over type of business, geographical region of influence, and share of banking sector operations got resolved. The Zionist Capitalist elites were fully united in words and deeds notwithstanding the occasional rivalry and difference of opinion between followers of two camps: Rothschild and Rockefeller. The long-term objective of the Zionist Capitalist Deep State clique (representing primarily the Jewish, Anglo, Dutch, French, German oligarch and aristocrat families who had accumulated wealth and have been engaged in business in banking-land-industry-trading) after WW I has been to establish a hegemonic world order which would:

  1. own ‘political process and power’ in every society/country on the earth
  2. own ‘economic process and wealth’ in every landmass/country/ocean on the earth
  3. control ‘socio-cultural process and population’ in every region/country on the earth

I find it difficult to consider that, ‘winning’ political power anywhere in the world, has ever been an objective of the Deep State – they want to ‘own’ the process through which any political party may be made to ‘win’ or ‘loose’ power depending on short-term and long-term interest of the Deep State.

The Zionist Capitalist Deep State crystallized in its existing form when WW II started in 1936 (with signing of anti-communist pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan). Expectations of the Zionist Capitalist Deep State were destruction of powerful societies (non- Anglo/Jewish/Dutch/French) who had potential to develop advanced economy, and expansion of Zionist Capitalist empire:

  1. combatants Fascist Germany and Communist Soviet Union decimating each other’s (i) military forces, (ii) physical infrastructure, and (iii) population across entire Eurasia;
  2. combatants Fascist Japan and Nationalist China decimating each other’s (i) military forces, (ii) physical infrastructure, and (iii) population across entire East Asia;
  3. stages (a) and (b) would be followed by occupation of whole Europe and Asia by the ‘benevolent’ Anglo-American military who would claim that they have ‘liberated’ these ancient civilizations from the ‘authoritarian dictatorships’ of fascism and communism;
  4. stage (c) would be followed by establishment of ‘liberal democratic capitalism’ version of empire (as against ‘colonial extractive capitalism’ version) in whole Europe and Asia to continue plunder of wealth in maximum possible way;

Unfortunately half of the objectives remained unfulfilled in the WW II that was over by 1945 – because of two political parties: Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU) and Communist Party of China (CPC) whose top leadership mobilised their countrymen in collective patriotic spirit, Soviet Union and China didn’t capitulate but their direct adversaries (Germany and Japan) were trounced. Phase II became a necessity for the Deep State.

WW II – Phase II:

Phase II of WW II was initiated as soon as phase I was over. ‘Operation Unthinkable’ was planned by most ardent imperialist Churchill in order to launch a surprise attack on Soviet Union to achieve the original objectives that Hitler failed to achieve, but dropped. Realising that a military block consisting of all societies that join together as Zionist Capitalist Deep State would be more effective to demolish: (a) morally and militarily supreme power like Soviet Union which recuperated economically,

(b) new power like Communist China (where by January’1949, Peoples Liberation Army already won three major campaigns in last strongholds of Kuo Mintang party in east and south regions of China), NATO was formed in April’1949.

To achieve the long-term objective of hegemonic world order as well as the four WW II objectives, the Deep State displayed creativity in designing and deploying diplomatic, political, economic, cultural tools and methods that proved to be highly durable and extremely effective:

  1. UNO and its key sister organizations were established to control the international political incidents in all regions across the globe
  2. Through WBG, IMF, ADB global banking and financial companies spread its tentacles to every region of the world to control natural resources and economy
  3. US Dollar as the foreign currency exchange basis across the globe – not only the gold backing was withdrawn from Dollar in 1971 by USA government, but the hegemon also manipulated the Arab rulers to use Dollar as currency for most crucial commodity trading (of petroleum)
  4. Trade pacts like GATT, WTO, and similar other pacts driven by USA-West Europe-Japan were implemented so that the hegemonic power maintains their hold over global trade
  5. Promotion of ‘periodic election’ plus ‘market economy’ plus ‘private ownership’ masquerading as ‘Democracy’ across the globe
  6. Promotion of literature-cinema-fine arts that revolves around sex-drug-commercial duplicity in all major languages across the globe
  7. Promotion of mainstream media for broadcasting and publishing round-the-clock propaganda on the above mentioned tools (i) to (vi) in all major languages across the globe
  8. Promotion of academic institutions and intellectual for propagating curriculum on the above mentioned tools (i) to (vi) in all major languages across the globe
  9. Promotion of religious fundamentalist groups (male chauvinists with belief in illusory past glory from society which profess religious faiths like Sunni Islam, in Catholic Christianity, in Puritan Christianity, Brahminical Hinduism etc.) as well as ethnic fundamentalist groups (believing superiority of his/her ethnicity) in all regions across the globe
  10. Development of highly complex computerised system and other industrial technology to replace human labour in every sphere of productive work as much as possible

During the ensuing four and a half decades- from 1945 to 1990- major tasks accomplished by Deep State were:

  1. The Zionist Capitalist elites located primarily on either side of the Atlantic (who were driving force for aristocratic groups like Bilderberg Club, Club of Rome, Trilateral Commission as well as think-tanks like Council for Foreign Relations) were immensely successful in mobilising most of the academic institutions and media entities across world to spread propaganda among the people world-wide about ‘failure’ of socialism/ communism/ Marxist principles in Soviet Union and east European countries as well as China. While it was true that these countries which were devastated during WW II couldn’t provide the standard of living as west European imperialist/colonialist countries could offer to their citizens, these socialist countries provided all basic amenities of life to all its citizens.
  2. In most unfortunate turn of history, in the second half of 1950s CPSU led by Khrushchev (a closet Zionist) denounced Stalin’s leadership in Soviet Union that not only defeated the most cruel war machinery ever built on earth but became the second superpower of the world by 1945 (in 22 years after Stalin got the top leader’s position). This created an unbridgeable ideological gap between CPSU and CPC that divided the entire socialist/communist movement across the globe. After removal of Khrushchev from the position of top leader in Soviet Union political situation was salvaged internally, however, China became completely blind about the changing landscape of Soviet Union. The lack of trust of Chinese leadership in Soviet leadership was utilised by the Deep State elites in the 1980s to bleed Soviet Union in Afghanistan and Angola.
  3. By 1960 most of the Asian, and African countries got freedom from the west European imperialist/ colonialist powers like UK, France, and Belgium etc. Most of these countries were ruled by nationalist party who heavily mixed socialist ideological tenets with their nationalist creed. Most of these countries, backed by Soviet Union, had highly corrupt ruling party. Such leaders easily became prey for the global capitalist-imperialist elites, and simultaneously those semi-literate societies came under the spell of ‘Hollywood’-promoted illusion and ‘drug-sex-violence’ kind of culture. The significant block led by Soviet Union and relatively small islands of Chinese sphere came to a crossroads – they were falling behind in harnessing technological progress in economic growth, which resulted in relatively low standard of living of majority population while government officials and ruling party leaders led much better life.
  4. Deep State tried hard to manipulate the policy of government and bureaucracy as well as to co-opt the key political parties across all countries so that they can create pro-USA, pro-5 Eyes, pro-Israel policies as well as anti-Soviet Union anti-China policies. Simultaneously, oligarch-aristocrat families and elite individuals with servility towards Zionist Capitalist ideology (i.e. capitalist enterprises, private ownership, European ‘liberal imperialism’) were promoted in political leadership-bureaucracy-judiciary in those countries so that they can convert the policies into actions to advance interests of global oligarchy.
  5. In many large countries across the world, the Zionist Capitalist Deep State manipulated domestic politics to overthrow patriotic and incorruptible leaders who couldn’t be co-opted by them – Congo, Iran, Indonesia, Chile, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, etc. The Deep State mainly mobilised the country’s military forces to grab state power by killing the top leader(s) and by creating a repressive environment. Sometimes that would include mass murder of leaders and members of socialist party/communist party – in Indonesia, in the 2nd half of 1960s, between one to two million members of communist party were killed by military junta. In all the above mentioned cases, soon after coming to power the military junta would create economic policies that would favour the MNC from USA, 5 Eyes, west European countries, and simultaneously reduce contacts with Soviet Union and China.
  6. Developing conventional, nuclear, biological, chemical, and other special weapons and building a military force based on land, marine, air, and space that will be able to dominate every other country in every region, and if necessary, the military force can take punitive actions against any country including carrying out ‘first strike’ against other nuclear powers like Soviet Union and China without any possibility of retaliatory strike. USA built over 700 military bases all over the world.

The Deep State operatives were very successful in their original plan of wrecking Soviet Union from within. In the beginning of 1980s two leaders got into powerful political positions in the Soviet block – Yuri Andropov became top leader of CPSU and Lech Walesa became top trade union leader in Poland, Such high-ranking anti-socialist leaders quickly made inroads into state structure and policies in Soviet Union and Poland. After Andropov handpicked Gorbachev to lead CPSU, it was only a matter of time for the Deep State to wrap-up the socialist experiment what was known as USSR. Gorbachev and his so-called reformist clique systematically incapacitated Soviet economy, and also actively promoted downfall of governments in every east European country which were led by socialist party aligned with CPSU. This clique was helped by professionals from USA and west Europe. They also pinned hope that CPC leader Zhao Ziyang will become the ‘Gorbachev of China’ to bring down the government ruled by CPC – however this was a complete failure as Zhao himself confided with Gorbachev that ‘Deng was the top leader’ in a meeting when Tiananmen Square protest was raging in Beijing in 1989. Without a single gun-shot being fired by the military wings of Zionist Capitalist cabal, the Soviet Union dissolved itself between 1990 to 1991 CE – the phase II of WW II came to an end. Instead of serious introspection and course correction among ruling party officials and government departments to design policies keeping pace with socio-economic changes and technological changes, all these ‘reformist’ leaders decided that the best way to (personal?) growth was to join hands with Zionist-Capitalist world order after bringing down the governments ruled by their own party communist/socialist party.

By 2020 whole Europe and half of Asia had been occupied by the ‘benevolent’ Anglo-American NATO military who claimed that they guarantee ‘independence’ of those ‘liberated countries’ from the clutch of ‘authoritarian’ communism, and they also ensure that ‘liberal democratic capitalism’ version of empire will suck the land and citizens dry. No wonder, Soviet WW II war memorials and monuments have been systematically destroyed in east Europe – how long the Deep State would tolerate anti-zionist anti-capitalist flag hoisted by Soviet Red Army in Europe with immense sacrifices and sufferings by Soviet leaders, soldiers and people?

Concomitant with the complete control of all political parties (across the wide spectrum of their professed ideology) on both sides of the Atlantic: North America, South America, Europe, the discerning Zionist Capitalist cabal maintains a complex cobweb connecting all key members and rotating them from one role to another. Thus a retired Director of intelligence department of USA will occupy the chair of Chairman of a big financial investment firm as well as the role of a university Professor! The cabal maintains a carefully constructed façade where professionals from different spheres of society jointly appear as a highly educated, experienced and intelligent wing – industrialists, bankers, politicians, bureaucrats, military officials, business managers, legal and media professionals, academicians, NGO managers, cinema directors and artists all walks of life are present.

[ Link: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-10/does-bilderberg-really-run-world-one-chart-help-you-decide ]

Interlude?

After Soviet Union was pulled down, the corrupt and treacherous Soviet leaders and their lackeys backed by the Zionist Capitalist oligarchy and elites ripped apart the socio-economic fabric of Russian society. The state exchequer was looted blatantly, the natural resources were divided among the Soviet elites-turned-businessmen, the industrial capital largely destroyed or privatised without any meaningful payment to state, workers were retrenched or pauperised without regular wages, and peasants were left without proper means of cultivation. Not only peoples tried to earn livelihood offering sex-drug-smuggling etc., but steep drop in birth rates across all splinter provinces of USSR made it to appear like entire Eurasian landmass will get depopulated within two generations. The Deep State also tried to split Russia (which, after the USSR dissolution, became largest state in Eurasia) into 4 – 5 regions through creating and aiding regional separatist movements with help of the 5th column elites and oligarchy within Russia. Without funding, military capabilities of Russia went into oblivion. Technological research and development as well as manufacturing of defence machinery came to a dead end. Demoralised troops and open corruption became symbolic of Russian military.

So, were the different factions of Zionist Capitalist cabal content with the successful closure of the WW II by 1991? What were they thinking about the glaring failure of destroying the CPC rule in China? Apparently, the Deep State was not only happy with their performance in destroying the CPSU and Soviet Union, they were also very confident about China becoming a ‘normal country’ with full-scale liberal democratic capitalist system of economy and periodic elections to elect governments that will be run by the Zionist Capitalist world order staying behind the curtain (as it happened for all countries in the world in 1992 except China-Vietnam-North Korea-Iran-Zimbabwe-Angola-Cuba). We need to ask ourselves, how the Deep State was so confident that China will be on board with them.

1978 onwards the drive towards industrial capitalism in China using the global finance owned by the Zionist Capitalist bankers and industrialists was initiated by Deng and followed up by Jiang Zemin in such earnestness that, the Deep State representatives like Kissinger and Financial Institutions like JP Morgan had to conclude that Chinese acumen for business and trade will transform the society into a capitalist society. Japan was anyway part of the world order triad i.e. USA-West Europe-Japan, and with China’s entry, the triad would have become USA-West Europe-East Asia. Chinese government went all-out to create a ‘happy hunting ground’ for global Zionist Capitalist interests which wanted more and more profits towards endless accumulation of capital, and hence were busy shifting their manufacturing base to China to harness low-cost labour and slack regulations. By 2008, i.e. after 30 years of reform, China became third largest economy in terms of GDP nominal (as per IMF estimates USD 4604 billion) and largest export base in the world (In 2007-2008, its Export-to-GDP ratio reached 32%, and its Exim-to-GDP ratio was 59%), but it also became a society where inequality was one of the highest in the world – China’s Gini coefficient (a measure of inequality – ‘0’ represents perfect equality, ‘1’ represents perfect inequality) rose from about 0.3 in early 1980s to 0.49 in 2008. The media, academia, multilateral institutions funded by the Deep State went all-out to woo the CPC leaders towards ushering a new era of ‘political reforms’ after such a brilliant success of ‘economic reforms’ – by ‘political reforms’ they meant introduction of multi-party election system and privatisation of the state-owned enterprises. After one and a half decades of persuasion, by middle of 2000s the Deep State cabal understood that, CPC never ever had any such plan of changing their ideology of political economy.

And about the same time in 2007 Munich Security Conference, Putin as the leader of Russia, delivered his famous Munich speech. In no uncertain terms, Putin criticized USA’s hegemonic dominance and its “almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations“. That speech came as a shocker to the Zionist Capitalist clique – it was like waking up from a slumber. All these years they thought WW II was over with Soviet Union completely decimated – after 16 years they had the ignominy of attending a conference on European soil, where a Russian leader was chastising them about use of force in settling disputes!

Actually 2000 onwards, there had been relentless sole-searching among top leadership of Russia. It was about the overall decay of Russia within a span of just 10 years – between 1985 and 1995. As a result, the Russian government and a section of ruling party led by Putin has been pushing economic policies that created new consumer goods industry and improved agricultural production, enhanced the oil-gas extraction operation. Within few years’ time Russia got on its feet and created an economy based on ‘domestic consumption’ and pushed export of oil-gas to earn foreign exchange. However, the Zionist Capitalist oligarchy led by powerful faction of the ruling party was deeply entrenched in the bureaucracy, academia and media who supported (and benefited from) their illegal amassing of wealth. Corruption, nepotism, extortion among ruling party cadres and government officials, mostly went unpunished. Outward flow of capital and tax breaks for rich businessmen were also happening albeit at a slow pace. But noticing the overall upswing in Russian society the Deep State got alarmed – ‘filthy’ Russian bear is again cooking up some curry that may prove difficult to digest in long run!

Part 1

Part 3 – pending


By profession I’m an Engineer and Consultant, but my first love was and is History and Political Science. In retired life, I’m pursuing higher study in Economics.

I’m one of the few decade-old members of The Saker blog-site. Hope that this website will continue to focus on truth and justice in public life and will support the struggle of common people across the world.

An Indian by nationality, I believe in humanity.

CHINA MOVING TOWARDS ENDING “PHASE ONE” TRADE DEAL, IS TRADE WAR BACK ON THE MENU?

South Front

China Moving Towards Ending "Phase One" Trade Deal, Is Trade War Back On The Menu?

China is reportedly moving towards ending the “Phase One” Trade deal with the US.

The Chinese government appears to be walking back on the deal, reportedly telling state-owned agricultural firms to halt purchases of U.S. soybeans, one of the major U.S. agricultural exports to China and a pillar of the deal’s promised $200 billion in extra exports.

Beijing’s decision followed the May 29th U.S. announcement that Washington will potentially take steps to revoke Hong Kong’s special status and possibly levy sanctions and other economic weapons against both China proper and the once-autonomous region.

State-owned traders Cofco and Sinograin were ordered to suspend purchases, according to an unnamed source of Bloomberg.

Chinese buyers have also canceled an unspecified number of U.S. pork orders, one of the sources claimed.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang vowed in May that China would implement the trade deal, however, rising tensions in regard to Hong Kong, plus Washington’s continued accusations towards Beijing in regard to COVID-19, and weapon sales to Taiwan, have strained relations significantly.

“We will work with the United States to implement the phase one China-U.S. economic and trade agreement,” Premier Li Keqiang told an annual gathering of lawmakers in Beijing on May 22nd. “China will continue to boost economic and trade cooperation with other countries to deliver mutual benefits.”

That vow appears to be in the past now.

“The market has already seen the deteriorating relationship between the China and the U.S. and many think that with the slow progress of Chinese commodity buying so far, the trade deal’s future was already in jeopardy,” said Michael McDougall, a managing director at Paragon Global Markets in New York.

Currently, analysts consider the deal as good as dead, and the only question now is what form of trade confrontation will take its place at a time when U.S. economic policy toward China is dictated less by long-term national interest and more by short-term electoral calculations.

“The locus inside the administration has moved from, ‘Should we drop the deal?’ to, ‘And then do what?’” said Derek Scissors, a China trade expert at the American Enterprise Institute who sometimes consults with the White House. “Trump wants to make sure that [prospective Democratic presidential nominee Joe] Biden can’t outflank him on China. But that dramatic action, if there is any, is going to have costs.”

Since the phase-one deal delivered a truce to growing U.S.-China tensions, what would it mean when it ends?

“The ‘phase one’ deal’s importance to the overall relationship is relatively small. It’s not the anchor that some thought it could be,” said Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who described the status of the trade deal—if reports of Chinese orders to halt purchases are confirmed—as “hanging by a thread.”

“The deal itself cannot stabilize the relationship, but if you remove the deal, then that is further evidence that both sides are throwing up their hands and see the relationship in purely competitive terms with nothing on the other side of the scale,” Kennedy said.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

الأبعاد الاستراتيجيّة لطرد المدمّرة الأميركيّة من بحر الصين الجنوبيّ أميركا تتآكل… الصين الأمر لي

محمد صادق الحسيني

صحيح أن عمليات اختراق الأجواء أو المياة الإقليمية لدولة ما، من قبل تشكيلات جوية او بحرية تابعة لدولة أخرى، ليست نادرة الحدوث، خاصة من قبل قوات حلف الشمال الأطلسي والقوات الأميركية.

لكن قيام المدمرة الأميركية: يو إس إس باري باختراق المياة الإقليمية الصينية، في محيط جزر شيشا (وهي الجزر التي تسميها الدول الغربية: جزر باراسيل والواقعة في بحر الصين الجنوبي، قبالة سواحل مقاطعة هاينان ، وتبعد عن سواحلها حوالي 260 كم، لم يكن حدثاً لا عادياً ولا مقبولاً وانما ذا أهمية استراتيجية عاليةً جداً، وذلك للأسباب التالية:

1

قيام قيادة “مسرح العمليات الجنوبي” في الجيش الشعبي الصيني بإصدار الأوامر الفورية، للوحدات البحرية والجوية الصينية، المسؤولة عن تأمين تلك المنطقة من بحر الصين الجنوبي، باتخاذ الإجراءات الصارمة، لتنفيذ مهامها والاضطلاع بمسؤولياتها الوطنية، ومن ثم قيام تلك الوحدات بمحاصرة المدمّرة الأميركية، بحراً وجواً، وإصدار الأوامر الصارمة لها بمغادرة المياة الإقليمية الصينية حالاً، حسب ما أعلنه العقيد: لي هوآمين يوم الثلاثاء 28/4/2020، حيث قامت الوحدات الصينية بمرافقة المدمّرة الصاروخية الأميركية (مزوّدة بصواريخ موجهة شديدة الدقة) إلى خارج المياة الإقليمية الصينية.

وهذا يعني أن القيادة الصينية كانت صارمة في الردّ على العدوان الأميركي على سيادتها ومياهها الإقليمية، وأنها لن تسمح مطلقاً باستغلال اية ظروف لخرق هذه السيادة، وبالتالي هو إعلان عن استعداد جمهورية الصين الشعبية للدفاع عن مصالحها في بحار الصين وغيرها من البحار المجاورة وصولاً الى غرب المحيط الهادئ (جزيرة غوام).

2

إن قيام هذه المدمرة بعملية الخرق، المذكورة أعلاه، لم يكن الأول وانما الثاني خلال الاثنتين وسبعين ساعة الماضية. وهو ما يدل على رغبة جامحة للولايات المتحدة بأن ترسل إشارات الى جمهورية الصين الشعبية بأنها تعمل على الحفاظ على وجودها (الولايات المتحدة) في غرب المحيط الهادئ وبحار آسيا. وبكلمات أخرى فإنها تحاول عبثاً الإيحاء بأنها قادرة على المحافظة على هذا الوجود. حيث أثبت الجيش الصيني، من خلال عملية طرد المدمرة الأميركية، انه كامل الاستعداد ويتمتع بقدرات عالية جداً، لمنع أي اعتداء على سيادة الصين.

3

إلا أن تصريح الناطق باسم مسرح العمليات الجنوبي، في الجيش الشعبي الصيني، العقيد لي هوآيمين ، قد وضع النقاط على الحروف وحدد الخطوط الصينية الحمراء، أمام القوات البحرية والجوية الأميركية، عندما قال: إن التحركات، البحرية والجوية الأميركية، تهدد الأمن والاستقرار في البحار الصينيّة وفي آسيا، وأن القوات الصينية سوف تؤدي واجبها وتحافظ على السيادة الصينيّة وأمن المنطقة وكذلك على السلام والاستقرار في بحر الصين الجنوبي.
وكلامه هذا يعني بكل وضوح: أن اليد العليا، في تلك البحار، هي للجيش الشعبي الصيني وليست للأساطيل الأميركية. كما أن مسؤولية السلم والاستقرار وحماية الملاحة هي من مسؤوليات الصين وليس غيرها وأن أيّام عربدة الأساطيل الأميركية في بحار العالم قد ولّت الى غير رجعة.

4

إن ما أضافه الناطق باسم قيادة مسرح العمليات الجنوبي، في الجيش الصيني، في تصريحه من أن الصين تحثّ الولايات المتحدة، على التركيز على مقاومة وباء كورونا والتصدي له في الولايات المتحدة، والمساهمة في التصدي لهذا الوباء، على الصعيد العالمي، والتوقف الفوري عن هذه العمليات (العسكرية / التحرشات)، ضد الأمن الإقليمي والسلام والاستقرار (في جنوب شرق آسيا).

وهذا كلام يعكس مدى الاستعداد الصيني لمواجهة العربدة البحرية والجوية الأميركية. فعندما يقول الناطق أن على الولايات المتحدة التوقف الفوري عن استفزازاتها فإنه، من الناحية العملية يصدر أمراً تحذيرياً للقطع البحرية الأميركية ويقول لها إنّ الجيش الصيني مستعدّ لاتخاذ الإجراءات الضرورية لوضع حدّ لخروقاتها اذا لم تلتزم هي بهذا الأمر. وهو دليل آخر على جدية الصين، في هذه المواجهة، وعلى تآكل الهيمنة البحرية والجوية الأميركية في تلك المنطقة.

5

وفِي الإطار نفسه تأتي أقوال الخبير العسكري الصيني، في معهد الابحاث والدراسات العسكرية البحرية في الجيش الشعبي الصيني، شانغ جونشي ، التي أدلى بها لصحيفة غلوبال تايمز الصينية بتاريخ 28/4/2020، ونصح فيها الولايات المتحدة بالتخلي عن عقلية الحرب الباردة والالتفات لحياة جنودها ومعالجتهم من وباء الكورونا بدلاً من مواصلة هذه التحرشات.


ففي ذلك رسالة جديدة لواشنطن بأن القعقعة بالصواريخ الأميركية لم تعد تخيف أحداً، خاصة في ظل وجود صواريخ صينية مضادة للسفن، سرعتها خمسة أضعاف سرعة الصوت، وتطلق من الأرض ومن البحر وقادرة على تدمير أية حاملة طائرات أميركيّة بضربة واحدة.

6

أما ما يعزّز تراجع القدرات الأميركية، وبالتالي الدور الأميركي، في غرب المحيط الهادئ وبحار الصين فهو قيام القيادة الاستراتيجية الأميركية، يوم 16/4/2020، بسحب قاذفات القنابل الخمس من طراز / B 52 /، من القاعدة الجوية الأميركية في جزيرة غوام، وإعادتها الى الولايات المتحدة، بعد انتشارها هناك لمدة ١٦ عاماً متواصلة، وذلك بسبب وجود القاعدة في مدى الصواريخ الروسية والصينية والكورية الشمالية، حسب ما صرّحت بة كيت أناستاسوف، الناطقة باسم القيادة الاستراتيجية الأميركية، لموقع ديفينس نيوز الأميركي بتاريخ 16/4/2020.

اذاً فإنّ السيدة، المذكورة أعلاه، تعترف بأنّ زمن الهيمنة الأميركية قد ولّى وأنّ التفوق التكنولوجي، سواء العسكري أو المعلوماتي والفيزيائي (الأسلحة الكهرومغناطيسية)، لكلّ من روسيا والصين وقريباً إيران، على مستوى التسلح الأميركي قد أصبح عاملاً فاعلاً في إفراغ عمليات الحشد الاستراتيجي الأميركي، ضدّ الصين وروسيا، من محتواها. كما أن أقوال الناطقة باسم القيادة الاستراتيجية الأميركية، عن أن القاذفات المذكورة أعلاه، سوف تقوم بمهماتها انطلاقاً من بحار أخرى لا يلغي أن البحار والأجواء أخذت تضيق، أمام العدوان الأميركي، وأن سياسة الصين، في انشاء مناطق ( 2 A ) او أنتي أكسيس ، وهي المناطق الممنوع الدخول إليها. وكذلك مناطق ( AD ) او إيريا دينايال ، أي المناطق المحظورة، قد أثبتت فعاليتها الشديدة وأنها بدأت تطبق حرفياً في مسارح العمليات المختلفة. الأمر الذي يجب أن يوضع في اطار كونه الخطوة الأساسية في اخراج القوات والقواعد، البحرية والجوية، من كل بلدان وبحار العالم، بما في ذلك منطقة الخليج والجزيرة العربية وإعادة هذه الاسلحة والجيوش الى الولايات المتحدة في سبيل المساهمة في الحد من الإنفاق العسكري الاميركي واستثمار هذه الأموال في تطوير البنى التحتية الأميركية ووضع حد للسياسة العدوانية الأميركية المتوحّشة والتي أثبتت أنها سياسة فاشلة غير قادرة على تأمين أدنى مستلزمات الرعاية الصحية، لا للجيش الاميركي ولا للشعب الاميركي نفسه، في ظل الوباء الذي يجتاح الولايات المتحدة. هذا علاوة على انها وقفت عاجزة امام هذا الوباء، على الصعيد الدولي، وأصبحت دولة تنتظر المساعدات الطبية من كل حدب وصوب وهي أقرب الى وضع الدولة الفاشلة من وضع الدولة العظمى.

والله غالب على أمره، ولكن أكثر الناس لا يعلمون.

بعدنا طيبين، قولوا الله…

الصين تُسقط خطوط دفاعه الثلاثة وإيران تُجهِز على النمر الأميركيّ

محمد صادق الحسينيّ

تحوّلات كبرى متسارعة ومتلاحقة في البيئة الاستراتيجية العالمية، تحيط بالقوة التي كانت حتى الأمس القريب القوة الأعظم في العالم، وها هي تتهاوى دفاعاتها الواحد بعد الآخر في ظل تنامي المقاومة العالمية للأحادية الأميركية الغاشمة…!

وإليكم التفاصيل الميدانية وهي في غاية الأهمية كما يلي:

لا شك في أن موازين القوى الدولية، وبالتالي الوضع الاستراتيجي الدولي، يشهدان تغيّرات متسارعة، لا بدّ من التدقيق في جوهرها وإخضاعها لتحليل معمَّق، كي نصل الى نتيجة علمية، في الحكم على نجاح او فشل أي استراتيجية لأي من محاور هذا الصراع الدولي، المحتدم في إطار إعادة تشكيل الأقطاب الدولية.

إن هذا الصراع ليس جديداً بالطبع، بل إنه صراع متجدّد، حاولت الولايات المتحدة، ومنذ اندلاعه بُعيد انتهاء الحرب العالمية الثانية، أن تحسمه، عبثاً، لصالحها. إذ قام الديبلوماسي الأميركي، جون فوستر دالاس سنة 1951، والذي أصبح وزيراً للخارجية لاحقاً، من سنة 1952 حتى وفاته سنة 1959، بوضع استراتيجية أسماها: استراتيجية سلسلة الجزر ، والتي تمّ تبنيها كاستراتيجية دولية للولايات المتحدة.

وقد تمثلت عناصر هذه الاستراتيجية وأهدافها في ما يلي:

1

ـ إقامة ثلاثة خطوط دفاعية، عن الولايات المتحدة، في مواجهة أعدائها آنذاك، الاتحاد السوفياتي وجمهورية الصين الشعبية وجمهورية كوريا الديمقراطية (الشمالية).

2

ـ تقوم هذه الاستراتيجية على سيطرة الولايات المتحدة على سلسلة جزر، تقع في بحر الصين الجنوبي وتمتد من سواحل جنوب فيتنام وماليزيا، في جنوب بحر الصين الجنوبي، مروراً بجزيرة تايوان وشمال جزر الفلبين، وصولاً الى جنوب اليابان وجنوب كوريا (كانت الحرب الكورية في أوْجها آنذاك ولم يكن التقسيم قد حصل بعد)، أي وصولاً الى بحر الصين الشرقي وجزر ساخالين الروسية على سواحل المحيط الهادئ. وهو ما يشكل خط صد أولي، حسب تلك الاستراتيجية، للاتحاد السوفياتي وحلفائه (كانت الصين الشعبية لا زالت حليفة لموسكو آنذاك).

3

ـ إقامة خط دفاع ثانٍ، في مواجهة الخطر السوفياتي الصيني المزعوم، عبر السيطرة على مجموعة جزر أخرى، تقع الى الشرق من الخط المشار اليه أعلاه، وتمتدّ من شمال جزيرة سولاويزي جنوب الفلبين ويمتدّ حتى خليج طوكيو شمالاً.

ويمتدّ هذا الخط، حسب البيانات الرسمية الأميركية آنذاك، من جزر بونين وڤولكانو اليابانية، الواقعة جنوب شرق اليابان، وحتى جزر ماريانا الأميركية، الواقعة شمال جزيرة غوام الأميركية، شمال غرب المحيط الهادئ.

4

ـ أما خط الدفاع الثالث فيمتدّ من جزر ألويتيان ، التابعة لولاية ألاسكا الأميركية، والواقعة في بحر بيرنغ، شمال المحيط الهادئ، إلى جزر هاواي في شمال المحيط الهادئ أيضاً، وصولاً الى منطقة (أوشانيا ، التي تبلغ مساحتها ثمانية ملايين ونصف المليون كيلومتر مربع، وهي المنطقة التي تربط شرق الكرة الأرضية بغربها، وتشمل كلاً من استراليا ونيوزيلاندا، بالإضافة الى مجموعة جزر (بولينيزي ، الواقعة جنوب شرق استراليا، ومجموعة جزر مايكرونيزيا ، التي تقع شمال وشمال شرق استراليا، الى جانب مجموعة جزر ميلانيزيا الملاصقة لشمال شرق اوستراليا، التي تبعد حوالي تسعة آلاف كيلومتر عن سواحل الصين جنوباً.

توضيح: جزر هاواي تقع في شمال المحيط الهادئ وعلى بعد أربعة آلاف كيلومتر من سواحل ولاية كاليفورنيا الأميركية، بينما تقع منطقة أوشيانيا في جنوب المحيط الهادئ، وتبعد عن مجموعة جزر هاواي ثمانية آلاف كيلومتر، أي أن خط الدفاع الأميركي هذا، يمتد مسافة عشرة آلاف كيلو متر تقريباً، من الشمال الى الجنوب.

5

ـ أما إذا نظرنا الى الواقع الاستراتيجي الدولي، في الوقت الحاضر، فإننا لا بدّ أن نلاحظ فشل هذه الاستراتيجية الأميركية التوسعية. فرغم انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق وتغير موازين القوى في اوروبا، فان الولايات المتحدة قد فشلت في احتواء وريثة الاتحاد السوفياتي، روسيا الاتحادية، كما فشلت في منع الصين من التحول من قوة برية (غير بحرية/ او بلا اساطيل بحرية) الى دولة عظمى، تنافس الولايات المتحدة على المكانة الاقتصادية الاولى في العالم، ودولة بحرية أسقطت خطوط “الدفاع”، التي حاولت الولايات المتحدة أقامتها، في بحار الصين وبحر اليابان وغرب المحيط الهادئ، فيما أقامت هي مناطق محظورة ومناطق يمنع دخولها (وهي ما يطلق عليها اسم مناطق 2) على الأساطيل البحرية الأميركية المنتشرة في محيط تلك البحار.

ويبقى السؤال الأهم هو: ماذا تعني هذه التحولات، في موازين القوى الدولية، وما هي تأثيراتها وتداعياتها على هيمنة الولايات المتحدة الأحادية على العالم، خلال العقود الثلاثة الماضية؟

إنّ أهمّ تأثيرات وتداعيات هذه المتغيّرات، على مكانة الولايات المتحدة وسطوتها في العالم، هي التالية:

أ ـ نجاح روسيا في إعادة بناء قوتها العسكرية الجبارة ودخولها عالم الأسلحة الاعلى دقة وتقنية في العالم، سواء في المجالات البرية/ المدرعات والمدفعية الصاروخية/ أو في المجال البحري/ الغواصات والصواريخ البحرية الفرط صوتية، او في مجال الأسلحة الجو فضائية، من طائرات تفوق جوّي لا مثيل لها/ ميغ 41/ او الصواريخ الاستراتيجية الفرط صوتية او منظومات الرادار التي تكشف ما وراء الأفق او غير ذلك من أسلحة مذهلة، أسقطت خطوط دفاع جون فوستر دالاس الوهمية.

ب ـ بلوغ الصين مرحلة بناء الثالوث النووي الصيني، المكوّن من:

ـ قاذفات القنابل الاستراتيجية الصينية، من طراز ، وهي قيد الخدمة منذ سنتين، إلا أن الكشف عنها سيتمّ في معرض تشوهاي الجوي، في شهر 11/2020، وهي طائرة قادرة على حمل صواريخ نووية شبحية وفرط صوتية، لا يمكن كشفها من قبل أية انظمة رادار في العالم، ويبلغ مداها عشرة آلاف كيلومتر. مما يجعلها قادرة على قصف القواعد الأميركية في هاواي واستراليا.

وهذا يعني سقوط خط الدفاع الأميركي الثالث، المشار إليه أعلاه، من خلال امتلاك الصين لهذه القاذفة العملاقة، التي توازي في مواصفاتها أحدث القاذفات الأميركية الاستراتيجية، مثل القاذفة ب 2 والقاذفة ب 21.

ـ سلاح الغواصات الصينية، القادرة على حمل رؤوس نووية، والمنتشرة في جميع بحار العالم، إضافة الى استكمال الجيش الصيني لتجهيز البنى التحتية العسكرية، الضرورية للدفاع عن الجزر الصينية المنتشرة في بحر الصين الجنوبي وبحر الصين الشرقي، كما كتب جيمي سايدِل بتاريخ 2/1/2020 في صحيفة نيوزيلاند هيرالد . وهذا يعني إسقاط ما أسمته الولايات المتحدة، في استراتيجية سلاسل الجزر، خط الدفاع الثاني عن الولايات المتحدة وذلك من خلال تكريس السيادة الصينية على هذه البحار وبناء القوة البحرية القادرة على الدفاع عنها وحمايتها.

ـ تطوير سلاح الصواريخ الاستراتيجية الصينية، وصولاً الى صاروخ دونغ فينغ 41 (معناها: الرياح الشرقية 41 / وهو صاروخ يمكن تحميله برؤوس حربية نووية او تقليدية وتبلغ سرعته ثلاثين ألفاً وستمئة وستة وعشرين كيلومتراً في الساعة ويبلغ مداه عشرة آلاف كيلومتر ويمكن إطلاقه من قواعد أرضية ثابتة أو من عربات إطلاق متنقلة. وهو قادر على إصابة جميع الأهداف الأميركية الواقعة ضمن دائرة عشرة آلاف كيلومتر.

كما انضمّ اليه، منذ شهر 10/2019، شقيقه دونغ فينغ / 100 / ذو المدى المتوسط والمتخصّص في ضرب الأهداف البحرية، من قواعد ثابتة وحاملات طائرات عائمة، والذي أسمته مجلة ذي ناشيونال انتِرِست الأميركية، في مقال لها بتاريخ 17/4/2020: قاتل الحاملات.

وهذا يعني ما يلي :

انكشاف استراتيجي كامل لكافة القواعد العسكرية الأميركية، جوية كانت أم بحرية، إلى جانب كافة الأساطيل البحرية الأميركية، السابع في غرب المحيط الهادئ والخامس في الخليج الفارسي وبحر العرب وغرب المحيط الهندي، إضافة الى الأسطول السادس في البحر المتوسط، انكشافها تماماً أمام الأسلحة الصاروخية الروسية والصينية، التي ستساندها الصواريخ البحرية لكل من كوريا الشمالية وإيران.

وهو ما يجعل هذه الأساطيل الأميركية عديمة الفعالية وغير قادرة على تنفيذ أي مهمات قتالية على الإطلاق وذلك لأن نتيجة الدخول في أي معركة مع الصين او روسيا أو الاثنتين معاً ستكون بمثابة معركة كاميكاز (الانتحاريون اليابانيون كانوا يسمّون بالكاميكاز) خاسرة تماماً. وهذا ما يعلمه قادة البنتاغون تماماً منذ زمن وليس فقط منذ بداية التوتر الحالي بين الصين والولايات المتحدة.

وفي هذا السياق فلا بد من إضافة الخرق الاستراتيجي، الذي حققته إيران، بالتنسيق مع الحليف الروسي والصيني بالتأكيد، من خلال عملية إرسال ناقلات النفط الإيرانية الى فنزويلا، مع ما يشكله هذا الخرق من تداعيات، ليس فقط على سمعة الولايات المتحدة في العالم بشكل عام، وإنما على انكشاف الاسطول الأميركي الرابع، المكلف بأمن البحر الكاريبي وجنوب أميركا، ما يعني أن من الأفضل، للولايات المتحدة وتوفيراً للإنفاق، إخراج هذا الاسطول من الخدمة وإحالته الى التقاعد كما كان عليه حاله قبل ان يقوم الرئيس أوباما بإعادته الى الخدمة بتاريخ 24/4/2008.

فإذا كان الزعيم الصيني العظيم ماوتسي تونغ قال يوماً إن الإمبريالية نمر من ورق، فها هي التحولات العالمية الكبرى وفي الطليعة ما فعلته إيران في رحلة الكاريبي المزمجرة بوجه هذه الإمبريالية المتجبرة تحوّل نبوءة ماوتسي تونغ الى حقيقة ميدانيّة ملموسة: أميركا نمر من ورق!

وفي الختام لا بدّ من التأكيد على أن سقوط “خطوط الدفاع” الأميركية، التي هي خطوط عدوان على الدول في الحقيقة، وإسقاط قانون القرصنة البحرية الأميركية، عبر الخرق الاستراتيجي القاري، الذي حققته إيران في حرب المضائق، من مضيق مالاقا شرقاً بإرسالها أربع ناقلات نفط إيرانية الى الصين، ومضيق هرمز وباب المندب وقناة السويس ومضيق جبل طارق غرباً، حيث أرسلت إيران خمس ناقلات نفط إيرانية، عبرت كلّ هذه البحار ومنها الاطلسي لتصل الى البحر الكاريبي وتفرغ حمولتها في الموانئ الفنزويلية، نقول إنه لا بد من التأكيد على ان التغير الهام في موازين القوى الدولية لا بدّ ان يقود الى إنتاج أقطاب دولية جديدة، ستكون إيران أحد محركاتها الرئيسية، لقيادة العالم الى الاستقرار الاستراتيجي، الذي لا يمكن الاستغناء عنه لتأمين السلم الدولي وإقامة نظام دولي أكثر عدالة يكون مستنداً الى القوانين الدولية المتعارف عليها، والتي تنظم العلاقات بين الدول بشكل متكافئ كما يفترض، وليس الى قانون القرصنة البحرية الأميركية، الذي أضيف اليه، بعد أحداث 11 أيلول 2001، قانون القرصنة الجوية الأميركي.

سأريكم آياتي فلا تستعجلون.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

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GEO-ECONOMIC BATTLE FOR RUSSIA

Geo-Economic Battle for Russia
REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

As the world struggles to achieve any semblance of normality amid the developing economic and coronavirus (COVID-19) cries, China is playing towards increasing its influence throughout Eurasia.

In the first quarter of 2020, China bought a record high number of Russian oil (Urals) – 4 million tones. As a comparison, in the fourth quarter of 2019, China received only 2.5 million tones. The previous record of the supplies of Russian oil to China was registered in the third quarter of 2018 – 2.7 million tones. Therefore, China expanded its import of Russian crude by 1.6 times.

This decision of the Chinese leadership could be seen as a politically-motivated move; especially if one takes into the account the declining demand to oil supplies and massive discounts by Saudi Arabia on the Asian market.

Thus, Beijing is choosing to purchase Moscow’s crude oil, as a sort of a “grant” in the conditions of an economic crisis, taking place amid the coronavirus hysteria. How the liberal-controlled economic bloc of the Russian government pushed the country to the brink of the crisis despite years of preparations for the current situation is another question.

Some critics could call the purchase of Russian crude by China a sort of political bribe, which would ensure either Russia’s compliance, or at least Moscow not getting in the way, while Beijing works to realize its geopolitical agenda.

This, however, leads to a bit of eyebrow raising, as Moscow and Beijing have, for a while now, cooperated in various fields of interest, as well as various common regions of interest.

This support from China towards Russia is not unexpected, and it is not surprising, as it also fits into the expected format of new strategic partnerships in Eurasia, that wish to compete with the United States’ ambitions. Purchase of crude oil or not, it is apparent that when it comes to geopolitical activity, China expects that Russia to either support or simply does not stand against the Chinese national security interests.

For example, China formed two administrative units aimed at specifically managing the artificial islands it constructed in the South China Sea.

“The State Council has recently approved the establishment of the Xisha and Nansha districts under Sansha city.”

According to the notice, the Xisha administration will be based in Woody Island, also known as Yongxing Island. Meanwhile, the Nansha administration will be placed in the Fiery Cross Reef, referred to as Yongshu Reef in Chinese.

The US strongly opposes China’s attempt to seize a larger area under its jurisdiction in the South China Sea, not least because it is the region through which the most trade passes year-round.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan hosted a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xiao.

Kazakhstan’s side reacted an article published on a Chinese website http://www.sohu.com titled “Why Kazakhstan is eager to return to China”.

“The meeting pointed out that an article of such content does not correspond to the spirit of eternal comprehensive strategic partnership reflected in the Joint Statement of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the People’s Republic of China, signed by the Heads of State on September 11, 2019. The parties agreed to closely cooperate in the fields of spreading information and mass media.”

Various plans of China’s territorial expansion are actively being discussed in the Chinese society itself. And this appears to be taking place into most directions. Alongside all of this, the intensification in the confrontation between China and the US appears to be all but avoidable.

Another important factor is that the increasing supplies of energy resources from Russia will allow China to be covered in the event of a new military conflict in the Persian Gulf (it will likely involve the US and Iran). In these conditions, Russia, as a key Chinese partner, becomes the apparent and vital supplier of energy resources by contrast with Saudi Arabia and other large oil suppliers.

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the dire situation in which the markets and state economies already were. The crisis deepened the global and inter-regional competition, including those between the two key economic players: Beijing and Washington.

Russia is both an object and a subject of the global geo-economic standoff.

It is an object by virtue of its size – it has a massive market which needs materials (raw and otherwise), but it also produces its fair share of products and energy. It is a subject in terms of the simple fact that it is the world’s second largest military power and is one of the leaders on the international diplomatic scene.

Due to the same reasons, the US might also move towards easing the rhetoric towards Russia, and attempt to expand trade and economic cooperation, something which China would likely also plan to do. Even the media organization of Michael Bloomberg, a key Donald Trump competitor said that it was a possibility.

“Yet a small opening exists to professionalize a segment of bilateral U.S.-Russia ties. Russia has long been interested in pulling the United States into coordinating the global oil market. Although the United States does not need to join OPEC+ and its pledges to mandate production cuts, having regular exchanges about global energy trends could create a niche for constructive discussions between Russian and U.S. officials. It is not crazy to think that a dialogue around common energy interests could evolve into a more meaningful conversation about how to deal with Venezuela’s collapse, for instance,” one of the recent Bloomberg articles says.

However, in the current situation, it is understandable that the Russian leadership is more inclined towards cooperating with China. Beijing has demonstrated itself as a complicated, but also consistent and stable partner. In contrast, the US has spent the last almost 30 years in very apparent attempts to entirely undermine any semblance of Russian strategic power and shake the foundations of the Russian state itself.

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The unbearable lightness of China

April 26, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kishore-Mahbubani-300x198.jpg
Singaporean ex-diplomat and author Kishore Mahbubani speaks at an Asia Society event in a file photo. Photo: Flickr Commons

As a living embodiment of how East and West shall meet, Mahbubani is immeasurably more capable to talk about Chinese-linked intricacies than shallow, self-described Western “experts” on Asia and China.

Especially now when demonization-heavy hybrid war 2.0 against China is practiced by most factions of the US government, the Deep State and the East Coast establishment.

Distinguished fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute, former president of the UN Security Council (from 2001 to 2002) and the founding dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (2004-2017), Mahbubani is the quintessential Asian diplomat.

Ruffling feathers is not his business. On the contrary, he always deploys infinite patience – and insider knowledge – when trying to explain especially to Americans what makes the Chinese civilization-state tick.

All through a book elegantly argued and crammed with persuasive facts, it feels like Mahbubani is applying the Tao. Be like water. Let it flow. He floats like a butterfly reaching beyond his own “paradoxical conclusion”: “A major geopolitical contest between America and China is both inevitable and avoidable.” He centers on the paths towards the “avoidable.”

The contrast with the confrontational, stale and irrelevant Thucydides Trap mindset prevalent in the US could not be starker. It’s quite enlightening to observe the contrast between Mahbubani and Harvard University’s Graham Allison – who seem to admire each other – at a China Institute debate.

An important clue to his approach is when Mahbubani tells us how his Hindu mother used to take him to Hindu and Buddhist temples in Singapore – even as in the island-state most Buddhist monks were actually Chinese. Here we find encapsulated the key cultural/philosophical India-China crossover that defines “deep” East Asia, linking Confucianism, Buddhism and the Tao.

All about the US dollar 

For Asia hands, and for those, as in my case, who have actually lived in Singapore, it’s always fascinating to see how Mahbubani is the quintessential Lee Kuan Yew disciple, though without the haughtiness. As much as his effort to understand China from the inside, across the spectrum, for decades, is more than visible, he’s far from being a disciple of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

And he stresses the point in myriad ways, showing how, in the party slogan, “Chinese” is way more important than “Communist”: “Unlike the Soviet Communist Party, [the CCP] is not riding on an ideological wave; it is riding the wave of a resurgent civilization … the strongest and most resilient civilization in history.”

Inescapably, Mahbubani outlines both Chinese and American geopolitical and geo-economic challenges and shortcomings. And that leads us to arguably the key argument in the book: how he explains to Americans the recent erosion of global trust in the former “indispensable nation,” and how the US dollar is its Achilles’ heel.

So once again we have to wallow in the interminable mire of reserve currency status; its “exorbitant privilege,” the recent all-out weaponization of the US dollar and – inevitably – the counterpunch: those “influential voices” now working to stop using the US dollar as reserve currency.

Enter blockchain technology and the Chinese drive to set up an alternative currency based on blockchain. Mahbubani takes us to a China Finance 40 Forum in August last year, when the deputy director of the People’s Bank of China, Mu Changchun, said the PBOC was “close” to issuing its own cryptocurrency.

Two months later, President Xi announced that blockchain would become a “high priority” and a matter of long-term national strategy.  It’s happening now. The digital yuan – as in a “sovereign blockchain” – is imminent.

And that leads us to the role of the US dollar in financing global trade. Mahbubani correctly analyzes that once this is over, “the complex international system based on the US dollar could come tumbling down, rapidly or slowly.” China’s master plan is to accelerate the process by connecting its digital platforms – Alipay, WeChat Pay – into one global system.

Asian Century 

As Mahbubani carefully explains, “while Chinese leaders want to rejuvenate Chinese civilization, they have no missionary impulse to take over the world and make everyone Chinese.” And still, “America convinced itself that China has become an existential threat.”

The best and the brightest across Asia, Mahbubani included, never cease to be amazed at the American system’s total inability to “make strategic adjustments to this new phase in history.” Mahbubani dedicates a whole chapter – “Can America make U-turns?” – to the quandary.

In the appendix he even adds a text by Stephen Walt debunking “the myth of American exceptionalism.” There’s no evidence the Exceptionalistan ethos is being seriously contested.

A recent McKinsey report  analyzes whether the “next normal” will emerge from Asia, and some of its conclusions are inevitable: “The future global story starts in Asia.” It goes way beyond prosaic numbers stating that in 20 years, by 2040, “Asia is expected to represent 40% of global consumption and 52% of GDP.”

The report argues that, “we may look back on this pandemic as the tipping point when the Asian Century truly began.”

In 1997, during the same week when I was covering the Hong Kong handover, I published a book in Brazil whose translated title was 21st: The Asian Century (excerpts from a few chapters may be found here). By that time I had already lived in Asia for three years, and learned quite a few important lessons from Mahbubani’s Singapore.

China then was still a distant player on the new horizon. Now it’s a completely different ball game. The Asian Century – actually Eurasian Century – is already on, as Eurasia integration develops driven by hard-working acronyms (BRI, AIIB, SCO, EAEU) and the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Mahbubani’s book, capturing the elusive, unbearable lightness of China, is the latest illustration of this inexorable flow of history.

Has China Won? The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy (Kishore Mahbubani), published by Public Affairs (US$19.89).

U.S. Propaganda Went Full Offensive Against China. Now It Blames Beijing For Nuclear Weapon Testing

South Front

U.S. Propaganda Went Full Offensive Against China. Now It Blames Beijing For Nuclear Weapon Testing
Members of the Chinese Ministry of Defense team during the tank biathlon championship held as part of the 2015 International Army Games at the Alyabino firing range near Moscow, Russia, Aug 3, 2015. [Photo/CFP]

The US propaganda went full offensive against China. Additionally to adopting the official narrative blaiming China for the creation of COVID-19 and spreading the COVID-19 outbreak around the world (including the US), the US State Department is now blaiming China for nuclear weapons tests.

“China maintained a high level of activity at its Lop Nur nuclear weapons test site throughout 2019. China’s possible preparation to operate its Lop Nur test site year-round, its use of explosive containment chambers, extensive excavation activities at Lop Nur, and lack of transparency on its nuclear testing activities – which has included frequently blocking the flow of data from its International Monitoring System (IMS) stations to the International Data Center operated by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization – raise concerns regarding its adherence to the “zero yield” standard adhered to by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France in their respective nuclear weapons testing moratoria,” the State Department’s Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments (Compliance Report) says.

It seems that US diplomats and media outlets got a direct task to paint China as the modern Mordor.

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الأميركيّون يخسرون البحار ويتخوّفون من پيرل هاربر صيني

محمد صادق الحسيني

بعد أن اجتاح وباء كورونا حاملات الطائرات الأميركية، ومن بعدها المستشفى العسكري العائم العملاق، سفينة المستشفى كومفورت (Comfort)، الرئاسية قبالة شواطئ نيويورك، ها هو فيروس كورونا يجتاح القوات الأميركيّة، المرابطة في كوريا الجنوبية منذ عام 1957، والبالغ عديدها 30 ألف عسكري، يتبعون من ناحية قيادة العمليات لقيادة المحيط الهادئ، التي تسمّى بالانجليزية (PACOM) انتصاراً لكلمة US – PACIFIC COMMAND.

وعلى الرغم من أنّ مصادر عسكرية خاصة أكدت أنّ قيادة القوات الأميركية في كوريا، وكذلك البنتاغون، على علم بانتشار هذا الوباء بين القوات الأميركيّة في كوريا الجنوبية منذ 20/2/2020، إلا أنّ البنتاغون لم يتخذ الإجراءات الصحية الضرورية لمواجهة انتشار الوباء بين جنودها، المرابطين في القاعدة العسكرية الأميركية دايجو، ولا زالت تواصل فحصهم بواسطة شمّ خلّ التفاح، كما نشرت صحيفة «ستارت آند ستريبس» الكورية الجنوبية يوم 6/4/2020، التي نقلت تطوّرات انتشار الوباء عن قائد القاعدة الأميركية، الجنرال ادوارد بالانكو، الذي ظهر على وسائل الإعلام وهو يحمل علبة فيها قطعة إسفنجية، مبللة بخلّ التفاح، ليشرح للصحافيّين طريقة فحص جنوده، التي قال إنها تتبع أيضاً في مستشفيات كوريا الجنوبية.

علماً انّ وباء الكورونا يواصل انتشاره بين القوات الأميركيّة في اليابان ايضاً، مما أجبر القيادة العسكرية الأميركية، وعبر إعلان قائد هذه القوات في اليابان شخصياً للصحافة، اللفتنانت جنرال كيفين شنايدر، يوم أول أمس الاثنين 6/4/2020، عن حالة الطوارئ بين صفوف القوات الأميركية هناك، بسبب انتشار وباء الكورونا بين أفرادها، البالغ تعدادهم 38 الف جندي أميركي، الى جانب خمسة آلاف متعاقد مدني أميركي و25 ألف متعاقد مدني ياباني.

وعليه فقد أصبحت هذه القوات ومعها القوات الأميركية في كوريا الجنوبية وحاملة الطائرات ثيودور روزفلت ورونالد ريغان خارج الخدمة. أيّ أنّ 80 % من القدرات العسكرية الأميركية في غرب المحيط الهادئ وبحر اليابان وبحار الصين اصبحت خارج الخدمة. وهو أمر كانت محطة «سي أن أن» الأميركية قد اشارت إلى خطورته قبل أيّام قليلة.

من جهة أخرى فمنذ أيّام عدة، وتحديداً منذ 4/4/2020، أعلنت وزارة الدفاع الأميركية عن إصدارها أمراً لحاملة الطائرات الأميركية هاري ترومان بالتحرّك، مع المجموعة القتالية البحرية المرافقة لها، من منطقة عملياتها في بحر عمان، من دون أن يحدّد أمر العمليات هذا وجهة انطلاق الحاملة. الأمر الذي دعا المتابعين للاعتقاد بأنها ستحلّ محلّ حاملة الطائرات، ثيودور روزفلت، التي خرجت من الخدمة في منطقة عملياتها، غرب المحيط الهادئ/ قرب جزيرة غوام، وذلك بسبب انتشار وباء كورونا بين بحارتها وإخلاء اربعة آلاف منهم الى اليابسة، وبقاء ألف جندي فقط على متنها، لمتابعة تشغيل المفاعل النووي الذي يولِّد الطاقة اللازمة لعمليات الحاملة وحركتها.

ما توجّب طرح السؤالين الرئيسيين التاليين حول:

الجهة التي اتجهت اليها حاملة الطائرات هذه، التي تحمل على متنها ما مجموعه 90 مقاتلة ومروحية قتالية أميركية، ولماذا صدر هذا الأمر لها ولمجموعتها القتالية الكاملة بالانتقال الى منطقة عمليات أخرى؟
ولماذا لم يصدر أمر التحرك للحاملة فقط، مع الإبقاء على القوة المرافقة، /مجموعة قوامها عشر قطع بحرية بين مدمّرة وبارجة وفرقاطة وزورق حراسة وسفينة إنزال وسفن إمداد/ في منطقة عملياتها، بحر عمان، حتى إصدار الأمر، أيّ حتى يوم 4/4/2020؟
وللإجابة عن هذين السؤالين يجب على المرء أن يعود قليلاًً الى الوراء، ودمج الإجابة عن السؤالين في إجابة واحدة، ويتذكّر عنجهية الرئيس الأميركي، وتهديداته لجمهورية الصين الشعبية، واتهاماته لها بخرق القانون الدولي البحري، في بحار الصين المختلفة.

آنذاك، وتحديداً في النصف الثاني من شهر أيلول 2019، قرّر الرئيس الأميركي، بعنجهية لا حدود لها، إرسال فخر سلاح البحرية الأميركية، حاملة الطائرات رونالد ريغان، التي وصلت تكلفة صناعتها الى ثلاثة عشر مليار دولار، دون سفن مرافقة، أيّ دون مجموعتها القتالية، الى بحر الصين الجنوبيّ.

وقد وصلت هذه الحاملة العملاقة فعلاًً إلى بحر الصين الجنوبي، يوم 28/9/2019، وعند اقترابها من جزر سبراتلي (Spratly Islands) الصينية، الواقعة في أقصى جنوب بحر الصين، قبالة السواحل الفيتنامية غرباً والفلبينية شرقاً، أطبقت عليها خمس قطع بحرية أجنبية وقامت بتثبيتها في نقطة تمركزها، حسب الأصول القانونية المتعلقة بالقانون البحري، وأجبرتها لاحقاً على تغيير وجهتها واستخدام ممر بحري حدّدته لها القطع البحرية الصينية، التي أوقعت هذه الحاملة في كمين بحري محكم، لم تتمكن رونالد ريغان لا من اكتشافه ولا من تفادي الوقوع فيه، لمتابعة إبحارها شرقاً، بعيداً عن المياه الإقليمية الصينية، حسب المعلومات ووصول الأقمار الصناعية التي نشرتها صحيفة «سوهو» (Sohu) الصينية يوم 28/9/2019.

هذا هو الدرس الذي تعلّمه سلاح البحرية الأميركي، من الحضور الدائم والاستعداد الكامل للقوات البحرية الصينية، في مختلف بحار الصين وتلك المحيطة بها شرقاً وغرباً.

وهو الأمر الذي أرغم قيادة سلاح البحرية الأميركية على عدم الإفصاح عن وجهة حاملة الطائرات، هاري ترومان، واضطرها أيضاً الى تحريك المجموعة القتالية البحرية المرافقة لهذه الحاملة الى بحر اليابان، ومن ثم الى منطقة جزيرة غوام، وذلك خوفاً من الكمائن البحرية الصينية التي لا تراها الأقمار الصناعية الأميركية.

أما الأهمية الاستراتيجية لهذا التطور اللافت فتكمن في انّ الصين الشعبية قد ثبتَت سيادتها على كلّ تلك الجزر، التي يعتبرها الأميركيون متنازعاً عليها، وأنها (الصين) لن تسمح لأيّ سفن او طائرات عسكرية أجنبية بالاقتراب من هذه الجزر، سواء كانت طبيعية او صناعية، لانّ اختراق أجوائها او مياهها الإقليمية يعتبر خرقاً للسيادة الصينية. وعليه فانّ الصين، وفي حال إصرار الولايات المتحدة على تحرشاتها بالصين فانّ جمهورية الصين الشعبية ستجد نفسها مضطرة لوضع حدّ أبدي لتلك التحرشات وذلك من خلال إنهاء خط الدفاع الأميركي الممتدّ من تايوان، الصينية المنشقة، في بحر الصين الجنوبي، الى كوريا الجنوبية، في البحر الأصفر شمالاً، وصولاً الى اليابان وكلّ بحر اليابان وحتى غرب المحيط الهادئ، على سواحل اليابان الشمالية الشرقية.

وباختصار: إنهاء الوجود العسكري الأميركي في تلك المنطقة من العالم والى الأبد.

من هنا فقد ذهبت مصادر عسكرية أميركية الى الاعتقاد بانّ الصينيين ربما يفكّرون جدياً في تكرار هجوم على أحد الموانئ الأميركية الغربية لتكرار سيناريو پيرل هاربر، ولكن صيني هذه المرة كما تتحدّث عن خطر قيام الصين بهجوم مفاجئ على تايوان لاستعادتها للسيادة الوطنية الصينية، أيّ الاستيلاء على الجزيرة في ظلّ شلل أميركي تام بسبب كورونا، ‏وأن يمتدّ الهجوم ليشمل كلّ البحار المحيطة، ‏وصولاً الى غرب الولايات المتحدة من هونولولو الى كاليفورنا وفلوريدا، ‏وهو ما تشبّهه تلك المصادر بهجوم اليابان على ميناء پيرل هاربر الشهير في الحرب العالمية.

فهل من مدّكر!؟

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

الصين العظيمة وروسيا العظمى

زياد حافظ

قد تكون المقارنة بين الصين العظيمة وروسيا العظمى نوعاً من السفسطة الكلامية غير أنّ دلالاتها معبّرة. فالطريقة التي عالجت بها الصين العدوان الجرثومي عليها عبر القرارات الواضحة والصارمة للحكومة والتعبئة الناجحة للشعب الصيني والانضباط اللافت للنظر لتعليمات الحكومة تدلّ على أنّ عظمة الصين هي في القدوة التي تمثلها والنموذج المختلف عن النموذج الغربي الذي حاول حكم العالم منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية. أما روسيا، فنعتها بالعظمى يعود إلى قدرتها على التأثير المباشر على العالم ونشر نفوذها دون مجهود يذكر، بل عبر استعمال قوّة خصومها ضدّهم كما في الفنون القتالية.

فبالنسبة للصين تعرّضت لوباء فيروس كورونا في مدينة وُهان الصينية منذ خريف 2019 وبالتحديد بعد الألعاب الأولمبية العسكرية التي أجريت في تلك المدينة. ويعتبر القادة الصينيون أنّ الوباء أدخل إلى الصين من قبل الوفد العسكري الأميركي المشارك في تلك الألعاب. قد يكون ذلك الإدخال صدفة بعد ما تمّت هندسة ذلك الفيروس في أحد المختبرات العسكرية الأميركية دون أخذ الاحتياطات الوقائية اللازمة وذلك إذا ما أرادت القيادة الصينية عدم افتراض سوء نيّة عند الأميركيين. وما يعزّز الادّعاء الصيني الاعتراف على لسان مسؤول مركز السيطرة على الأوبئة (سي دي سي) روبرت ردفريد أنه تمّ اكتشاف عدد من الإصابات في الولايات المتحدة قبل الانتشار في الصين. لكن هنا رواية أخرى تقول إنّ الفيروس من صنع فرنسي (صنع سنة 2003 مع دائه) وتمّ نقله إلى مختبر مشترك صيني فرنسي تمّ افتتاحه سنة 2017 في مدينة وُهان. تمّت التجارب على الخفافيش إلاّ أنّ أحد الخفافيش هرب من المختبر فكان الوباء. لكن بغضّ النظر عن الروايات ومدى دقّتها إلاّ انه بات واضحا أنّ الاحتمال الأكبر أنّ الفيروس هو من صنع الإنسان وليس من صنع الطبيعة، وبالتالي تفتح التساؤلات حول التجارب الجرثومية في المختبرات وجدواها واحتمال تحويلها إلى سلاح دمار شامل.

المهمّ هنا ليس في حيثيات الفيروس والملابسات حوله بل كيف تعاملت الدولة الصينية والمجتمع الصيني مع الوباء والدلالات الناتجة عن ذلك التعامل. فالدلالة الأولى هي أنّ الحكومة الصينية تعاملت بجدّية فائقة مع الوباء بينما نظيراتها الغربية الأوروبية والأميركية تعاملت بخفة وبتجاهل أبعاد الوباء خاصة في ما يتعلّق بالصحة العامة. فالاهتمام الأوروبي والأميركي في المرحلة الأولى كان حول الكلفة الاقتصادية والمالية التي ستتكبّدها من جرّاء الوباء وليس صحة المواطنين. فتصريحات الرئيس الفرنسي ورئيس الوزراء البريطاني والرئيس الأميركي تؤكّد أنّ القوّامة هي للمال وليس للإنسان.

الدلالة الثانية هي الجهود التي بذلتها الحكومة الصينية في إعداد التجهيزات والمستشفيات الميدانية كالمستشفى بألف سرير المجهّز كاملاً في مدة عشرة أيام فقط، فهي نوع من الإعجاز وبالتالي قدوة في التعامل مع وباء من هذا النوع. كما أنّ إجراءات الحجر على أكثر من 60 مليون مواطن صيني وحملات التطهير والتعقيم لكلّ شيء في المدن والطرقات والمباني وداخل المنازل دليل على جدّية في التعامل مع الوباء دون استهتار ومكابرة. كما أنّ تلك الإجراءات رافقتها إجراءات لتأمين الحاجيات الضرورية للمواطنين خلال فترة الحجر والمتوقفّين عن العمل وكسب العيش ما يدلّ على أولوية قيمة الإنسان عند السلطات الصينية في زمن المحن الكبرى. والدلالة الثالثة هي استجابة المجتمع الصيني بأكمله لتلك الإجراءات التي صدرت عن حكومة متهمة بالتسلّط والاستبداد للحرّيات العامة ما يطرح تساؤلا ت حول النموذج الصيني مقارنة مع النموذج الغربي الذي سنعالجه في فقرة لاحقة.

أما وقد اتخذت تلك الإجراءات ونُفّذت بحذافيرها استطاعت الصين الخروج من عمق الزجاجة المتمثّل في وتيرة ارتفاع الإصابات. تبيّن من تلك الإجراءات أنّ تلك الوتيرة استقرّت ثم بدأت بالتراجع وصولاً إلى إعلان الرئيس الصيني أنّ الصين قد انتصرت على الوباء وإنْ كانت بعض الإصابات موجودة هنا وهناك. وما يدعم ادّعاء الرئيس الصيني أنه لم يتمّ تسجيل إصابات جديدة منذ عدّة أيام. فمهلة 14 يوم دون تسجيل إصابات جديدة قد تكون المؤشر الفعلي لنهاية الأزمة علماً أنّ المراقبين يعتبرون أنّ الخروج التامّ من الوباء لن يتمّ قبل آخر الصيف ولكن عودة الحياة إلى طبيعتها لن تكون بعيدة بعد الآن.

وما يجب التأكيد عليه هو أنّ الصين لم تعتبر نفسها منفصلة عن العالم فقد عرضت المساعدة لمن يريد مواجهة الوباء بينما ردّة الفعل الغربية خاصة في الاتحاد الأوروبي والولايات المتحدة كانت سلبية ولا تخلو من العنصرية. وقرار الإدارة الأميركية معاقبة كلّ من يساهم ويقدّم المعونة للجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران الذي أصابها بقوّة وباء فيروس الكورونا خير دليل على عنصرة الإدارة والافتقار إلى الإنسانية. فكيف يمكن لمن يعتبرّه الغرب “أقلّ رقياً” منه يستطيع تقديم المساعدة لمن هو “أرقى” منه؟ هذا ما يؤكّد موقفنا من الغرب أنّ تقدّمه وتطوّره لم يكن بسبب “قيمه” ولا بسبب “التنوير” ولا بسبب التفوّق التكنولوجي، ولا بسبب تفوّق عرقي كما ادّعى البعض، ولا بسبب الثورات الزراعية والصناعية وفي ما بعد التكنولوجية، بل بسبب الاستعمار. فعرق، ودموع، ودماء أصحاب البشرة السمراء والسوداء والصفراء هي من ساهمت في رخاء الغرب. واليوم أصحاب البشرة السمراء والصفراء والسوداء يشهدون تقدّماً رغم العراقيل التي يضعها الغرب في مسيرتهم. الصين اليوم نهضت وتقوم بدورها الإنساني في العالم عبر تقديم تجربتها في مواجهة الوباء. ترحيب رئيس صربيا بالعرض الصيني كان مثيراً حيث اعتبر الصيني ليس صديقاً فحسب بل شقيقاً له! في المقابل ندّد بالاتحاد الأوروبي حيث التضامن الأوروبي لم يكن موجوداً بل العكس الذي اعترض على اللجوء إلى خارج الاتحاد الأوروبي لمواجهة الوباء.

هذا يأخذنا إلى مقارنة النموذج الصيني الذي يتمّ شيطنته يومياً في الإعلام الغربي وعلى لسان المسؤولين في الاتحاد الأوروبي وخاصة في الولايات المتحدة في الإدارة الحالية. فالنموذج الصيني اعتبر أنّ الإنسان قيمة يجب احترامها بينما في الغرب الذي ادّعى ذلك فإنّ الإنسان تحوّل إلى سلعة في الحدّ الأدنى ومستهلكاً (بكسر اللام) فقط في الحدّ الأقصى لا قيمة له الاّ بمقدار ما يساهم في إثراء النخب الحاكمة. فالنموذج النيوليبرالي كرّس سيادة السوق على الوطن وسيادة رأس المال على الإنسان بينما النموذج الصيني الذي يدمج بين حكومة مركزية قوّية إلى حدّ التسلّط وتخطّط للمستقبل لمصلحة الوطن والمواطنين وبين اقتصاد السوق الخاضع لضوابط الوطن والمواطن والحريص على السيادة قبل أيّ شيء. فالسيادة في الغرب في النموذج النيوليبرالي القائم أصبحت وجهة نظر تآكلت بالتقادم وفقاً لتصريحات الرئيس الفرنسي ماكرون وعدد من المسؤولين في الاتحاد الأوروبي بينما ما زالت السيادة قيمة حيّة في النموذج الصيني.

فكيف نفسّر الانضباط الصيني وتقبّل الإجراءات الوقاية الصارمة لولا الشعور بالكرامة الوطنية ولولا لمس المواطن حرص الحكومة على سلامته؟ في المقابل وجدنا مواقف المسؤولين في الغرب من الوباء في المرحلة الأولى تتراوح بين الإنكار والاستهتار والحرص فقط على التداعيات المالية والاقتصادية فأحجموا عن اتخاذ القرارات الصعبة كوقف العجلة الاقتصادية وفرض الحجر وحملات التطهير والتعقيم المكلفة وإعداد أدوات الاكتشاف والوقاية وثمة المعالجة. لم توّفر الحكومة الصينية المجهود في النفقات لمواجهة الوباء. في المقابل كان المجهود الأميركي لمواجهة التداعيات الاقتصادية والمالية في الأسواق من جرّاء الوباء. فالرئيس الأميركي يريد رصد ما يوازي 1،2 تريليون دولار لإنعاش الاقتصاد ودرء وصول معدّل البطالة إلى 20 بالمائة وذلك في سنة انتخابات رئاسية. في المقابل الإنفاق المقرّر على مواجهة الوباء من الناحية الصحية ما زال هزيلاً مقارنة مع ما يبذل على الصعيد الاقتصادي ومقارنة مع ما أقدمت عليه الصين. فالدافع سياسي أولاً وأخيراً كما كان استغلال الوباء سياسياً بامتياز عبر اتهام الصين بنشر الوباء والتهرّب من مسؤولية التقاعس في مواجهته.

شيطنة النموذج الصيني في وسائل الإعلام الغربية يدلّ فقط على حقد وحسد يسيطر على عقل المسؤولين. فالصين استطاعت أن تحقّق أرقاماً قياسية في النمو الاقتصادي خلال العقود الثلاثة الماضية، كما استطاعت أن ترفع 250 مليون مواطن صيني من مذلّة الفقر. الإنجازات الاجتماعية في الصحّة والتربية والتعليم والإسكان لا تُحصى، بينما نرى الترهّل في تقديم تلك الخدمات في الغرب. البنى التحتية التي شيّدتها الحكومة الصينية أصبحت النموذج الذي يُقتدى به بدءاً بالقطار السريع إلى الطرق العريضة إلى الجسور التي تحقّق أرقاماً قياسية في العلو والطول إلى الطريق الذي يربط الصين بسائر دول آسيا. وهذا النمو يعتبره الغرب هزيمة له وتهديداً لاستمرار هيمنته المتلاشية. فالغرب لا يسلّط الأضواء إلاّ على الاحتجاجات السياسية في هونغ كونغ مثلاً، أو على مصير سكّان مقاطعة التيبت في غرب الصين أو مصير الاوغيور. كما لا يستطيع الغرب أن يقبل بمساكنة نظام سياسي يقوده الحزب الشيوعي مع اقتصاد السوق. فكلّ سردية الغرب مبنية على عدم المساكنة وإذ نرى النموذج الصيني يدحض المزاعم الغربية ويحقق نجاحات لم يحقّقها الغرب حتى الآن. ومن ضمن تلك النجاحات التفوّق التكنولوجي في التواصل وحرب الـ “جي” 5 منها والذكاء الاصطناعي. فذلك التفوّق الاصطناعي كان حكراً على الغرب وإذ نرى الصين متقدّمة عليه بأشواط. فاقتصاد الغرب المرتبط عبر سلاسل العرض والتموين (supply chains) الصينية أصبح أكثر تبعية للصين بسبب التفوّق التكنولوجي وبسبب الإنتاج الصيني بحدّ ذاته. ربما لن يبقى للغرب وخاصة الولايات المتحدة إلاّ الحرب المدمّرة على الجميع لمحو التقدّم الصيني. فالغرب وأنظمته السياسية والاقتصادية لا يعرف إلاّ الحرب على الآخرين لحلّ مشكلاته البنيوية.

فأزمة فيروس كورونا كشفت الفرق في النظرة للإنسانية بين الغرب والصين. فمناقشات مجلس العموم الذي يسيطر عليه حزب المحافظين أثار النظرة الملتوسية للأزمة (أي نظرة روبرت ملتوس (1766-1834) الذي اعتبر زيادة السكّان في العالم أسرع من زيادة الموارد الغذائية بالتالي مستقبل البشرية مهدّد. فما جرى من مناقشات في مجلس العموم أفاد أنّ هناك من يعتبر وباء كورونا نعمة تخفّف من زيادة السكّان في العالم. وبما أنّ الصين هي أكثر الدول سكّاناً فتخفيف حجم السكان في الصين وفي العالم قد يكون عاملاً إيجابياً. هذه هي عنصرية بامتياز حيث حياة الرجل الأبيض أهمّ من حياة الرجل صاحب البشرة المختلفة.

كلّ ذلك لا يعني انّ النظام الصيني نظام مثالي وأن لا عيوب فيه. لكن شيطنة الصين عير مفيدة بل مغرضة لأنّ تجربة الصين جديرة بالدرس. النموذج الصيني قد يكون قدوة لدول العالم التي تريد الخروج من الهيمنة الغربية. فرفض النموذج الغربي قد يكون شرط ضرورة ولكنه ليس شرط كفاية. الصين تقدّم نموذجاً مختلفاً عن النموذج الغربي في تساكن سلطة مركزية قوية إلى حدّ التسلّط والاستبداد ولكن مكافحة للفساد، وقد يكون ذلك ضرورة وليس عائقاً لنهضة البلاد، وتفاعل مع اقتصاد السوق دون الوقوع في مطبّات اللامساواة والفساد الموجود في الغرب.

على صعيد آخر ذكرنا في مقال سابق أنّ روسيا دولة عظمى لأنها تستطيع ان تؤثّر بالعالم دون بذل أيّ مجهود يذكر. وفي قراراها بإغراق السوق النفطي لضرب قطاع النفط الصخري الأميركي الذي يشكّل ثلث الإنتاج الأميركي استطاعت روسيا أن توجّه ضربة موجعة جدّاً في فترة الحملة الانتخابية الرئاسية الأميركية إلى ذلك القطاع ومن وخلاله إلى مصدر القوّة الفعلي الأميركي أيّ التحكّم بأسواق المال. فتزامن أزمة فيروس كورونا كانت فرصة استغلّتها روسيا لتوجيه تلك الضربة التي أصبحت ضربة مزدوجة، مالية وصحيّة في آن واحد. هذا لا يعني أن روسيا بمنأى عن وباء كورونا لكنها على استعداد وتأهّب والاستفادة من شريكتها وحليفتها الصين لمواجهة الوباء ولمواجهة أيّ حماقة ممكنة أن تصدر عن الحكومات الغربية. فروسيا قدّمت للصين هدية ثمينة جدّاً وهي الحصول على كميات من النفط بأسعار منخفضة جدّاً ما يساعدها على استئناف مسيرتها المتقدّمة في النمو والتقدّم بينما تشهد الاقتصادات الغربية تراجعاً وانكماشا قد يصل إلى كساد كبير تعجز عن معالجته.

الصين العظيمة وروسيا العظمى يشكّلان محوراً يصعب اختراقه على الأقلّ في المدى المنظور لعدّة أسباب منها الترهلّ السياسي في دول الغرب، وخاصة في الولايات المتحدة، ومنها التراجع الاقتصادي حيث العالم بما فيه الغرب والولايات المتحدة أصبح بحاجة لما تنتجه الصين والمحور الذي تنتمي إليه تحت مسمّيات مختلفة كـ “بريكس” أو الكتلة الأوراسية. أخطأت الولايات المتحدة عندما اتخذت القرار في إعادة توطين قاعدتها الإنتاجية خارج حدودها وفي بلدان نامية لا قيود فيها على النشاط الاقتصادي من نظم وتشريعات في البيئية وحقوق العمل والعمّال. وسبب هذا الخطأ اعتقادها أنه بإمكانها السيطرة والهيمنة على اقتصادات العالم بسبب ما اعتبرته التحكّم بالنظم المالية وشرايين المال والتفوّق التكنولوجي الذي كان حكراً لها.

غير أنّ العالم رفض تلك الهيمنة وفي مقدمّته الصين التي استطاعت ان تحلّ مكان الولايات المتحدة في توريد السلع الصناعية للعالم وبالتالي أصبحت متحكّمة بسلاسل التموين والعرض. وفي التفوّق التكنولوجي لم تعد الولايات المتحدة المتقدّمة على سائر الدول فالصين قد تكون سبقتها في مجالات عديدة منها الذكاء الاصطناعي في ما يتعلّق بالتواصل. الحرب الأميركية على شركة هواوي دليل على عجز الولايات المتحدة في مواجهة التقدّم الصيني. أما على صعيد التحكّم في شرايين المال فكلّ من الصين وروسيا تعملان على التخلّص من هيمنة الدولار عبر خطّة محكمة تبدأ بتخفيف اللجوء إلى الدولار لتخفيف الطلب عليه للوصول إلى نظام مالي مواز للدولار ولا يعتمد على الدولار كوحدة قيمة أو تسعير. في التسعينات في ذروة الانفراد الأميركي في التحكّم بالعالم صرّحت وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية آنذاك مادلين اولبرايت أنّ الأمة الأميركية هي الأمة التي لا يمكن أن يستغنى عنها العالم (indispensable nation) لكن بعد ثلاث عقود تقريباً تكاد تصبح الولايات المتحدة الأمة التي لا تصل بعلاقة مع العالم (irrelevant nation) إذا ما استمرّت في سلوكها الحالي. هذا هو التحوّل المفصلي الذي حصل، هبوط الولايات المتحدة وصعود المحور الروسي الصيني. والنخب العربية مدعوة لإعادة نظر شاملة وجذرية بعلاقاتها مع الغرب والتوجّه بجدّية نحو الشرق. سورية قامت بتلك المراجعة فمتى تقوم جامعة الدول العربية بذلك وما تمثّله من نظام موروث من الحقبة الاستعمارية؟

*كاتب اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

CAN CHINA CONFRONT AND DEFEAT THE U.S. NAVY?

South Front

This video is based on the analysis “Can China Confront and Defeat the U.S. Navy?” released by SouthFront on January 4, 2020

China is on pace to achieve regional naval supremacy by the year 2025. This has been a long-term goal of the Chinese national and military leadership, the foundations of which were laid out in the early 1990s.

Chinese naval supremacy, and the absolute necessity of it on at least a regional basis, is tied not only to the development and security of the maritime segment of One Belt-One Road, but also access to China’s growing presence on the African continent. The modernization and expansion of the Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been conducted in parallel with the fortification of islands in the South China Sea and the establishment of military bases in and around the strategic Horn of Africa and the Strait of Hormuz. After centuries of isolationism, internal strife, a devastating cultural revolution and later an economic boom, China is now on the cusp of global expansion. This will not just be a limited or one-dimensional expansion, but one of economic, military and even cultural dimensions.

In contrast to the U.S. leadership of recent decades, the national and military leadership of the Chinese Communist Party has been diligent and focused on implementing long term programs. While both the military industrial complex of the U.S. and the authoritarian communist systems of government of these respective nations both breed rampant corruption, social and economic inequality, and a multitude of dysfunctionalities, the Chinese system is inherently more singular in focus, as all authoritarian regimes are. While one could reflect on U.S. foreign policy over the past forty years and determine that it has been quite haphazard, disjointed and even schizophrenic in nature, the opposite must be said of China. This fact becomes readily apparent when contrasting the development and expansion of the PLAN and that of the U.S. Navy.

A U.S. Navy in Disarray

It can rightly be asserted that the U.S. Navy is a force struggling to define its core mission and strategic focus as the year 2020 begins. Since the dissolving of the Soviet Union, the U.S. military industrial complex has encouraged a wasteful bureaucracy, an inept and overly confident civilian and military leadership, to invest vast sums of money in a growing wish list of high-tech weapons aimed at achieving full spectrum dominance over every possible adversary. Little thought was apparently given to the opportunity cost of investing in such programs, and how they would be employed in a broader national defense strategy. The U.S. Navy stands out as the worst example of these failures and is poised at a crossroads today.

After the Soviet Union disappeared as its chief adversary on the high seas, the U.S. Navy maintained its age old obsession with the aircraft carrier, and utilized its many aircraft carrier strike groups (ASG) to great effect in attacking any disobedient nation that lacked a robust navy or air defense system. While the modern ASG proved effective at power projection against weaker adversaries, its viability in a modern maritime environment heavily contested by a peer adversary has yet to be established. The U.S. Navy has decided to ignore this obvious fact and has continued to embrace the ASG as the cornerstone of naval strategic planning well into the future.

The U.S. Navy has maintained ten ASGs and launched the latest generation of aircraft carriers in the form of the Gerald R. Ford CVN-78 in 2013. Although commissioned in 2017, the carrier has yet to reach operational readiness and has been plagued by many technical problems with its most essential combat systems. The CVN-78 is the most expensive warship ever constructed, with current unit cost approaching $14 billion USD.

While the U.S. has invested vast sums of money, energy and focus in developing a massive new class of aircraft carrier, it has done very little to improve the one asset most crucial to the carrier, the carrier airwing that it carries into battle. Instead of committing to develop aircraft tailored to specific functions, the Navy chose to embrace the one-size-fits-all concept of the F-18 Super Hornet. In addition, the service also committed to this concept to a much larger degree, in throwing its support behind the F- 35 Joint Strike Fighter. Neither the F-18 nor the F-35 rectify rectifies the combat range deficiency now inherent in the aircraft carrier airwing. In short, an ASG will become a target of both land-based anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) and even land-based Chinese aircraft equipped with anti-ship guided missiles, long before the ASG can achieve striking distance with its carrier borne aircraft. This problem becomes even more glaring when one considers the scenario of a Chinese battle group forward deployed and operating within range of its own land-based Anti-Air Warfare assets.

What has the U.S. Navy done to modernize and improve its surface warfare vessels over the past two decades? Not surprisingly, the service embraced new ship designs that were long on high-tech promise, yet did not fit into a specific, traditional and vital function within the broader strategic framework of the service. The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program and Zumwalt DDG-1000 programs were ill-conceived at the outset and resulted in two classes of vessels that consumed vast amounts of funding, time and energy that could have been used to improve upon traditional, proven warship designs. At an approximate unit cost of $350 million USD per LCS and $8 billion per DDG-1000, both vessels have proven long on cost and short on capability.

The Arleigh Burke class DDG is arguably the backbone of the U.S. Navy and is a highly effective and proven warship. The latest upgrade to the design, the Flight III, will not begin production until sometime between 2023 and 2029. A multi-purpose frigate vessel program known as the FFG(X), meant to pick up where the LCS failed, has yet to reach an advanced design phase. There are currently five contenders for the new FFG(X) proposal.

At the same time, there is no replacement at all planned for the aging Ticonderoga CG-47 class cruiser. The Ticonderoga class CGs perform a vital AAW and surface warfare function in the established U.S. Navy carrier strike group structure. The only other navy in the world fielding a similar warship is China’s, with the introduction of the first Type 055 class in 2018.

A Chinese Navy in Ascent

While the United States Navy struggles to identify its purpose and maintain its preeminence in the 21st century, the PLAN has embarked on a robust program of modernization and expansion based on sound strategic principles and proven technology.

China has produced a long list of modern, capable classes of warships in recent years. Not only has the PLAN designed, constructed and put a new generation of warships into operational service in the past two decades, it has engaged in an ambitious ship building program that has seen these vessels fielded at an unprecedented rate. Standardized designs for corvette, guided missile frigate (FFG), guided missile destroyer (DDG), large guided missile destroyer/cruiser (CG), landing platform dock (LPD), landing helicopter dock (LHD), and logistical support vessels of multiple classes have all been adopted and fielded in significant numbers in the past 20 years. Running in parallel to this, the PLAN has also developed a fledgling aircraft carrier program, including the 100% indigenous Type 001A Shandong. Such a feat is unparalleled in modern naval history.

The question must immediately be asked; why would a nation engage in such an ambitious program to transform and expand its naval warfighting capabilities in such totality? The answer is obvious. It intends to use this capability. But in what fashion and to what end?

In order for the Chinese nation to complete and secure the ambitious Old Belt-One Road economic trade corridor and to ensure the economic prosperity of the country into the next century, a sizeable navy of unparalleled capability will be required. Such a naval force is currently in an advanced state of completion, yet a further 5 years are likely required before the PLAN will be in a position to fight and win against a determined U.S. naval effort to confront it through force of arms.

If current production levels are maintained, the PLAN will field an impressive force of major surface warfare, amphibious warfare and aircraft carriers by 2025. By this time, major surface warfare combatants will include 50 x Type 056 Corvettes, 30 x Type 054A Frigates, 18 x Type 052D Destroyers, and 8 or more Type 055 Destroyers. The amphibious warfare fleet will be comprised of approximately 38 x LSTs, 8 x Type 071 LPDs, and at least 2 x Type 075 LHDs. The Type 001 Liaoning and Type 001A Shandong will both be operational, while the first of the much more capable Type 002 CATOBAR carriers will likely have reached operational status as well. These warships will be supported by no less than eleven logistics support and underway replenishment vessels and four garrison support vessels of modern design.

A major strategic advantage that China has achieved over the United States is that it has built the most robust and productive shipbuilding industry in the world. China has been ranked as the world’s top shipbuilder for 5 years now. The United States by contrast, ranks tenth. The gross tonnage of vessels of all types produced in Chinese shipyards; however, is 77 times greater than the total produced by U.S. shipyards.

The Greater Strategic Picture

It is important to view the development of both navies within the larger context of the respective geopolitical strategic positions of both countries. China undoubtably enjoys a stronger position today than it did a decade ago, while the opposite must be said for the United States. Not only has China gained greater political and economic influence on a global scale, but it has moved to secure military supremacy in all areas along its national borders, and increasingly within its expanding maritime territory. By contrast, the United States has lost both political and economic influence in many regions of the world, largely through its own failed policies

China has managed to develop greater economic ties with nations that have decided to participate in the One Belt-One Road project, which has also afforded them a greater political influence over these nations. China has negotiated the establishment of military bases, mostly logistical support facilities for its growing navy, which will also allow for the deployment of rapid reaction forces to deter and interdict threats to the One Belt-One Road trade corridor. China continues to solidify its presence on the Africa continent. The military base established in Djibouti, and fleet support agreements established in Gwadar, Pakistan and the African nation of Tanzania provide the resources needed to be able to exert military force if required to back up Chinese economic and political efforts on the continent.

Although the U.S. maintains numerous military bases and facilities in Africa to secure its own strategic interests in the region, it lacks the same political and economic influence that China has established. The U.S. military has been aiding a number of nations in Africa to battle Islamic extremist insurgents, but has made little investment in those nations in a broader sense, and thus exerts far less influence.

Although outside of the maritime sphere of influence of China, the nations of Europe have increasingly responded favorably to the promised benefits of the One Belt-One Road trade project. On a political and military level, China has largely remained out of European affairs. The same cannot be said for the United States.

While the Obama administration began the disastrous, multifaceted war against the Russian Federation, the Trump administration has only expanded it, while antagonizing its most traditional European allies in the process. The Trump administration appears to have doubled down on the failed Ukraine policies of its predecessor, increased U.S. military presence on the European continent, and has leveled trade tariffs on key allies. By propping up the phony Russian threat narrative with increased military deployments, the United States is squandering vast sums of money and diverting large contingents of front-line fighting forces to confront an enemy it knows to be a threat conceived through its own propaganda alone.

China has responded to the U.S. led effort to internationally isolate Russia, by leveraging its position to provide an alternate market for Russian goods. It has supplied political support for Russia on the world stage and has increased military cooperation with Russia in key regions where both nations share an interest and are forced to confront the United States. Both nations have increased bilateral cooperation in developing the northern arctic shipping route and have conducted joint naval exercises in the maritime regions of Europe, Asia and the Indian Ocean. Iran most recently joined the two in joint exercises in the Indian Ocean.

Can the PLAN Win?

A scenario where the PLAN and U.S. Navy engage in open conflict is improbable at present, yet not impossible. Although China has strengthened its position to such a degree in the South China Sea that no other nation, including the United States can change the strategic realities that exist there today, increasing interaction between PLAN and U.S. warships may lead to a tragic encounter. U.S. freedom of navigation patrols are largely symbolic in nature and do not present any real threat to Chinese interests in the region, yet they do require a response Such a situation could lead to a confrontation where an accident occurs, or an overzealous vessel commander makes a decision that leads to a military engagement which could escalate in a very short window of time.

It is most probable that China will do everything possible to avoid such a situation at present. This may not be the case after 2025, when the PLAN enjoys a much stronger position relative to the U.S. Navy and its allies in the Asia Pacific. China will occupy the central position, enjoy regional guided ballistic missile supremacy and be able to take advantage of land-based air assets in support of its navy. Surveillance and early warning facilities established on various artificial island and atolls will by then be fully operational.

If fire was exchanged between a U.S. warship and PLAN warship in the South China Sea, and the incident was not immediately deescalated, the U.S. vessel would inevitably be destroyed. The PLAN would suffer significant casualties in the exchange without doubt. China would immediately move to deny all access to the region through its already robust Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities. The United States would then have to decide what level of sacrifice would be acceptable to the state and the American public in rapidly deciding upon its level of military response. The authoritarian Chinese state would find this decision much easier to make.

The U.S. seventh fleet would be hard pressed to mount any immediate military response, beyond mounting a retaliatory attack via attack submarines forward deployed in the region. Any large effort mounted to attack Chinese island garrisons in either the Spratly or Paracel islands would be met with overwhelming force by a combination of anti-ship guided ballistic missiles, submarine, surface and air attack. It is hard to see any such scenario taking place, without the confrontation elevating to a full-spectrum war of global proportions. Most regional allies of the United States would calculate that such an outcome would render overwhelmingly negative results and would not outweigh the tragic loss of one or two U.S. warships and their crews.

Assuming that a hot war could be avoided, a new cold war would inevitable result between an ascendant China and a U.S. in decline. If current military, economic and political trends continue from the present through 2025, China will only strengthen its strategic position both regionally and globally, while the opposite will likely be the case for the United States. It is important to note that the leadership of both nations see such a conflict as undesirable and not inevitable, yet miscalculations, mistakes and poor judgement can scuttle any grand plans. History is unequivocal in this regard and must be analyzed and understood to avoid repeating disaster. We ignore the lessons of history at our peril, yet a current period bereft of insightful, measured and reasonable leadership in Washington, does not bode well for avoiding what may prove to be an unavoidable conflict between two global superpowers.

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