Posts Tagged ‘Xi Jinping’

President Trump drops ugly truth on joining the military. Sends Democrats into frenzy. President Xi Jinping’s 19 congress meeting. Iran deal being reneged on JFK 30,000 documents possibly being declassified and conversations at while working.

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A brief perspective on the geopolitical strategic posturing and amalgamation occurring in real time. Political commentary by Chris Anthony.

 

By Stephen Kinzer

Sometimes Americans think we have won a war, only to realize years or decades later that our victory was incomplete. Now we are facing an eruption of anger over a war we waged more than a century ago. Rarely has blowback from an overseas intervention come back to haunt us so long after the shooting stopped.

This unexpected challenge has emerged from the Philippines. The new president, Rodrigo Duterte, recently announced plans to pull his country out of America’s orbit and adopt an “independent” foreign policy. “I am anti-West,” he explained. “I do not like the Americans. It’s simply a matter of principle for me.”

Duterte’s grievance is rooted in history. Americans, he asserted, unjustly seized the Philippines in 1899, waged a horrific military campaign to suppress native resistance, and “have not even apologized to the Filipino nation.” He waved photographs showing bodies of Filipinos killed in that war.

Soon after Duterte made that startling speech, his foreign minister, Perfecto Yasay, went even further. In 1899, Yasay asserted, the United States “arrogated our victory in the struggle for freedom” and then used “invisible chains” to bind Filipinos into “shackling dependency.” Americans, he said, treat Filipinos as “little brown brothers not capable of true independence or freedom.” To escape from that humiliation, he concluded, the Philippines must end its “subservience to United States interests.”

Most Americans would have no idea what these new Filipino leaders are talking about. We forgot the Philippine War long ago. Filipinos remember it vividly. It stands with the horrors of Japanese occupation during World War II as one of their great national traumas. A very old debt is finally coming due.

Relations between our countries began with shattering violence. Americans helped crush Spanish power over the Philippines in 1898, but rather than allow independence, the United States took the islands as a colony. President William McKinley directed Filipinos to accept “benevolent assimilation” and submit to “the strong arm of authority.” Senator George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts called this “a message of tyranny, of hate, of oppression, and of slaughter.” Many Filipinos agreed. They rebelled against American power. The resulting war left hundreds of thousands of dead. Americans ruled the Philippines until finally, after retaking the island from Japanese occupiers, allowing independence in 1946. For most of the 70 years since then, we have guided Filipino security policy. That may now be changing.

Today, American military commanders are pressing two strategic projects in the Philippines. First, they want the Philippines to be a bulwark in our campaign to confront China and resist its claims in the South China Sea. Just as we push our European allies to take a hard line against Russia rather than seeking compromise, we want Asian countries to defy China, not accommodate its interests. In April, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced in Manila that the American and Filipino navies had begun joint patrols in the South China Sea. “There will be a regular, periodic presence here of American forces,” he added. That now seems uncertain.

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The new Filipino government has declared that it will do precisely what the United States does not want: recognize “geopolitical realities” and begin talks with China aimed at “peacefully settling our disputes.” There is no danger that these talks could lead to Chinese dominance over the Philippines, Foreign Minister Yasay insisted. Painful experience under the thumb of a “white big brother,” he said, has produced a national resolve never to allow “any other nation to bully us.”

The Pentagon also considers the Philippines an active front in its war on terror. A Muslim-led insurgency is raging on the island of Mindanao. Hundreds of US Special Forces troops are reportedly deployed there. Their precise mission is unclear, but it is based on the premise, widely shared in Washington, that the best way to weaken insurgents is with firepower. President Duterte believes the opposite. Rather than reinforce American counterinsurgency forces, he wants them out. American troops, he said, intensify wars rather than calming them. “For as long as we stay with America, we will never have peace,” he reasoned. “Special Forces, they have to go.” Then he ungenerously referred to the results of American intervention in Vietnam, Iraq, and Syria.

Since taking office in June, Duterte has been unfailingly provocative. He has publicly cursed the pope, the president of the United States, and the secretary general of the United Nations. His encouragement of vigilante violence, which has led to several thousand murders, suggests that he is being fully honest when he says, “I don’t care about human rights.” His foreign policy turnaround is another sharp break with Filipino tradition. All of this has made him immensely popular. According to one recent opinion poll, 76 percent of Filipinos support him.

“This is the massacre at Jolo — look at the bodies there,” Duterte said as he displayed gruesome photos taken after an American attack in 1906. Americans might find it puzzling that a Filipino president would use the story of this long-ago massacre to justify ending his country’s security partnership with the United States. Invasions and occupations, it turns out, leave deep scars. They provoke anger that becomes part of collective memory. It is passed down through generations. That is why a 110-year-old atrocity has suddenly leaped from the pages of history to reshape today’s world.

China is boosting its railway projects as part of its comprehensive One Belt, One Road initiative; while some experts point to the fact that maritime transportation remains relatively cheaper than railroad transits, others draw attention to geostrategic goals pursued by Beijing.

Transporting China’s goods to Europe by rail is more expensive than sending them by sea; however, China is investing in the development of land routes to Europe through Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia pursuing certain geostrategic goals, Ivan Zuenko, a research fellow at Far Eastern Federal University, writes in his article for Carnegie Moscow Center.

According to Zuenko, although trains deliver goods from China to Asia and Europe faster than cargo ships, the cost of railway transportation remains relatively high.
For instance, the academic notes, it costs about $6,000 to deliver a container from China to Europe by train, six times more expensive than to transport the same container via sea lanes.
Zuenko also draws attention to the fact that the cargo flow via land corridors amounts to just 1-2 percent of overall freight traffic.
However, Beijing is increasing its investment in railway transportation, developing new land routes and indemnifies state companies exploiting Eurasian railroads against losses as part of its comprehensive One Road, One Belt initiative.
For instance, in the first half of 2015 the Department of Transportation of the city of Wuhan transferred almost $4.5 million to compensate a state-owned company using the train route Wuhan-Xinjiang — Europe for losses, Zuenko remarks, adding that similar mechanisms are being implemented in other regions of China.
“If for some reasons Beijing stops subsidizing land logistics, the prospects of its further development would become bleak,” the scholar believes.
However, Chinese media outlet Global Times argues that the railway represents a viable option for modern supply chain.
“Due to the supply glut in the global shipping industry, shipping companies have actually slowed down their ships to cut costs, with many ships spending two months at the sea. More time at sea means companies will have to maintain larger inventories, which freezes up more of their assets and shortens the shelf life of their goods,” the media outlet explained.
The media outlet pointed out that information technology has drastically changed the way modern trade works, stressing that it is now characterized by “smaller orders, multiple dispatches and high delivery frequencies.”
For his part, John D. Schulz of Logistics Management magazine emphasizes that “the new Silk Road promises to shave weeks and perhaps thousands of dollars off each shipment, both ways, from Western Europe to China and Hong Kong. Currently by ocean that 28,000-mile round trip typically takes upwards of 30 days.”
What lies at the root of China’s One Belt, One Road strategy?
According to Zuenko, there are at least four reasons why Beijing is developing the land logistics in Eurasia.
First, the Chinese leadership is trying to overcome a temporary slowdown in the country’s economy by engaging local companies in infrastructure projects; second, Beijing is expanding its sphere of influence in the continent; third, China is interested in developing its poor western peripheries; and, finally, a network of Eurasian railroads may mitigate the potential risk of the US blocking China’s sea trade.
Indeed, global intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor) noted in its 2015 analytical report that “in the case of a war between the United States and China, many US strategists favor imposing a distant blockade of Chinese waters.”
“China’s economy is dependent on foreign trade, 90 percent of which travels by sea,” the report stressed; “The strategy behind the Belt and Road Initiative is to diversify transit lines, thereby mitigating China’s vulnerability to external economic disruption.”
The forecast takes on a new significance in the light of the US’ pressure imposed on China in the South China Sea.
In his interview with Sputnik, Mathew Maavak, geostrategic analyst and doctoral candidate in Security Foresight at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), underscored that China’s land routes, running through Russia, Mongolia and the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) will ensure trade security and cultural exchange between the countries along the “silk roads.”
“To ensure geo-economic autarky, the RIC nations [Russia, India, China] should prioritize trade routes within their borders — to the extent possible. The safest trade routes in the near-future would look something like the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor,” Maavak told Sputnik.
In an editorial on Saturday, the retired naval officer, writing on behalf of the neoconservative think tank The Hudson Institute, predicted that a bloody naval conflict with China was imminent.
The Former Deputy Undersecretary of the US Navy under both President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush penned a troubling editorial on Saturday calling on the Obama administration to taking a more hawkish stance against Chinese expansionism predicting that war with Beijing is inevitable and that the United States should do everything necessary to limit China’s strength in the meantime.

“A key component of the next president’s foreign policy must be to compel China to respect international law. Otherwise, we may be faced by a conflict with a growing navy at a time when ours is decreasing in size,” said Seth Cropsey. “Obama has not made this imperative any easier.”

The naval officer turned think tank war hawk contested Beijing’s claim to the South China Sea’s disputed islands citing the decision by the international tribunal at The Hague on July 12 and blasted the Obama administration’s response to the decision saying it “wholly ignored the military character of China’s actions to date in the South China Sea.”
Cropsey contends that contrary to a statement made by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015 to President Obama stating that the islands of the South China Sea would not be militarized, China has nonetheless “continued construction of hardened hangars demonstrat[ing] Beijing’s intent to deploy combat aircraft to the islands.”
He surmised that China’s foreign policy is one of expansionism and imperialism where might makes right citing Beijing’s former Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi out of context who said, “China is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that’s a fact.”
Cropsey argues in his piece further that China has its own brand of exceptionalism, distinct from American exceptionalism, that is somehow not predicated on the “rule of law” or “accepted norms of international behavior,” but rather the country’s power to ignore international law altogether.
The position that he lays out somewhat astoundingly is that of former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, whose name has been floated as the next Secretary of State, who wrote in a 2000 article that apart from the words expressly laid out in treaties international law does not exist at all because, essentially, it is based on custom and if you violate that custom repeatedly then the customary international law changes.
Nonetheless, Cropsey returns to his opinion that “China does not respect international law” whereas “Japan and the United States do” before calling for a more adversarial posture towards Beijing because “the next US administration needs to understand that our fate as a great power is inseparable from America’s continued role as a great Pacific power.”
As tensions continue to mount on the high seas at least some American military officials believe it is wise to provoke and isolate China just short of military conflict in order to limit the consequence of an inevitable war – a frightening reality for the wellbeing of the world that was once unthinkable.

The Chinese Ambassador to Japan warned that Beijing would not concede on the demand or relinquish their sovereignty over the South China Sea even if it meant the two countries went to war.

On Saturday, diplomatic sources confirmed that China had issued a severe warning to Tokyo in late June demanding that Japan refrain from dispatching Self-Defense Forces to join US operations testing the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.Japan will “cross a red line” if SDF vessels take part in the freedom of navigation operations, Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua conveyed to Tokyo at the time. Cheng threatened military action if Japan failed to comply with the ultimatum.

The warning came two weeks prior to The Hague international arbitration court’s adverse ruling deeming the waters and territory that the Chinese people had historically viewed as their own were to be stripped of their control and that Beijing must immediately remove itself from the disputed territory.

China immediately denounced the ruling, on both substantive and procedural grounds, vowing not to comply with the court’s ruling. The proceedings were triggered unilaterally by the Philippines, a move supported by the United States, without China submitting itself to the authority of the court’s ruling. The court not only lacked requisite jurisdiction over the matter, but many legal scholars interpreting the Law of the Sea Treaty believe that China has the strongest claim based on its longstanding control of the disputed area.

Beijing has become irate over international pressure calling for it to comply with the court order in the name of international law, which China views the ruling itself violates, coming predominantly from regional competitors Japan and Australia as well as from the United States.

Those tensions risk spilling over with a Chinese state-run newspaper already issuing a warning to Australia that it would be the “ideal target for a strike” and repeated warnings to Japan to avoid intervening. Further complicating tensions, Reuters misreported that Vietnam had installed rocket launchers pointing at Chinese military assets over the territorial dispute leading China’s press to caution Hanoi to remember the consequence of the last-time the two countries went to war in 1979.

A destroyer of the South China Sea Fleet of the Chinese Navy fires a missile during a training exercise.

While Tokyo continues to assert pressure on Beijing over the arbitration ruling, despite not itself being a party to the dispute, a Japan Times editorial left unsigned sought to offer reassurance saying that “the Japanese government has no plans to join the freedom of navigation operations, in which the United States since October has sent warships near artificial islands that China has built in the South China Sea.”

The statement of measured and reserve action comes after revelations that Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua told Japan explicitly not to take part in “joint military actions with the US forces that is aimed at excluding China in the South China Sea” and stating that China “will not concede on sovereignty issues and is not afraid of military provocations.”

The stakes for Beijing are high in the South China Sea where over 40% of the world’s shipborne trade transits through each day. The waters also are home to one of the world’s largest deep-sea oil and natural gas deposits and serves a critical function for stretching China’s regional military reach.

 

Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) © Damir Sagolj
Beijing and Damascus have agreed that the Chinese military will provide humanitarian aid to Syria, a high-ranking People’s Liberation Army officer said, adding that the training of Syrian personnel by Chinese instructors has also been discussed.

Director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of China’s Central Military Commission, Guan Youfei, arrived in Damascus on Tuesday for talks with Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij, Chinese Xinhua news agency reported.

During the negotiation, Guan noted China’s consistent diplomatic efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, adding that Beijing is now seeking closer military ties with Damascus.

“The Chinese and Syrian militaries traditionally have a friendly relationship, and the Chinese military is willing to keep strengthening exchanges and cooperation with the Syrian military,” he said.

Guan and al-Freij discussed the enhancement of training and “reached a consensus” on the Chinese military providing humanitarian aid to Syria, Xinhua reported, without providing further details.

According to the agency, Guam also met with a Russian general during his visit to the Syrian capital.

China has been operating in Syria alongside Russia and Iran in a “discreet manner” but now the time has come to “openly” step up anti-terrorist efforts, believes political analyst Roula Talj.

“We will see more involvement of China, of Iran and Russia. They will go [in] stronger after ISIS, especially after Russia-US talks. I do not think the US will have any chance to oppose the interference of these allies. The US president or any candidate will have to answer their own public[’s] opinion, so it is good for them that someone else is doing the dirty job,” Roula Talj told RT. “In the face of their own public[’s] opinion they have to be grateful that somebody else is cleaning the mess they had created, especially as ISIS is getting stronger every day inside of Europe. Of course, they are not extremely happy to see the BRICS countries taking over.”

Meanwhile political expert Qin Duo Xu does not foresee any “deep involvement” of the Chinese military in Syria, but says it could be a “significant” first step for China to “get involved in the Syrian situation.”

“There are chances that this cooperation will increase a lot,” he told RT. “At least China can provide more support or diplomatic cover in terms of cracking down [on] terrorists or some rebel groups that are really extremist in nature.”

“If you look at the Chinese media, Chinese public opinion, [you will see] that [the] absolute majority is siding with the Syrian government and support[s] Russian military involvement. China has its own problems with terrorists: At least 100 Chinese citizens are fighting alongside with rebels and Islamic State against the Syrian government,” he added. “That is why China does support Russian involvement, does support Syrian government’s efforts in [the] fight against terrorists.”

It is in China’s strategic interests to get involved in the Syrian crisis and “play a larger role” in resolving it, independent China strategist, Andrew Leung said.

“This is really a breakthrough in China’s strategies in the Middle East. There appears to be more coordination with countries, like Russia,” Leung told RT. “China sees itself as one of the great powers and as befitting a state of great power there is the responsibility to maintain peace and stability in a very important region in the world…as far as the Middle East is concerned it means even more to China because it is a matter of energy security.”

Despite being a permanent UN Security Council member and relying on the Middle East for oil, China was previously reluctant to become involved in the Syrian conflict.

Beijing preferred to concentrate on domestic affairs and the territorial dispute with its neighbors in the South China Sea.

It praised Moscow’s anti-terrorism efforts in Syria as Russia staged a bombing campaign there in September 2015 to March 2016. Russia still has some of its forces in the country to provide humanitarian and military assistance to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

Last year, there were reports that China was sending dozens of military advisers to Syria to help the country fight terrorists.