US, top allies want change in political systems

After COVID-19, U.S. and Top Allies Want Change in Their Political Systems, Poll Shows

BY TOM O’CONNOR ON 3/31/21 AT 10:00 AM EDT

Majorities in the United States and top allies France, Germany and the United Kingdom want changes to their political systems after all four were consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey has shown.

The survey, published Wednesday by the Pew Research Center and obtained in advance by Newsweek, showed that some 93% in France and the U.S., and 88% in the U.K. and Germany want some degree of change in their political systems, according to data gathered in November and December of last year.

Majorities among those in France and the U.S. sought dramatic action, with 47% in each calling for “major changes.” An additional 21% in France and 18% in the U.S. said their respective system “needs to be totally reformed.” Nearly half in the U.K. also chose one of the two more radical options as opposed to “minor changes” or “no change at all,” which was by far the least popular choice among the four countries polled.

“As they continue to struggle with a public health crisis and ongoing economic challenges, many people in the United States and Western Europe are also frustrated with politics,” an accompanying report began.

The authors went on to note there were “important differences across these countries’ political systems,” but they also noted that “the four nations also share some important democratic principles, and all have recently experienced political upheaval in different ways, as rising populist leaders and movements and emerging new forces across the ideological spectrum have challenged traditional parties and leaders.”

Photo france, protest

france, protest, global, security, law, paris

Protestors demonstrate outside the French Senate against the Global Security Law authoring the use of cameras, video surveillance, and drones by the police, whilst also restricting the filming of the police during their operations, on March 16. More than a fifth of French people think their political system “needs to be totally reformed,” nearly half say it “needs major changes” and almost a third believe it at least “needs minor changes.”


The U.S, which was surveyed at a particularly tumultuous time for national politics, immediately after major media outlets declared Democratic candidate Joe Biden the winner of the disputed 2020 presidential election, expressed particularly cynical views of the political system.

Those in the U.S. were the only population among those polled in which most, just over two-thirds, agreed that “most politicians are corrupt” in their country. Asked if “elected officials care what ordinary people think” did not apply to their nation, 56% in the U.S. agreed, second only to France at 58%, and above the U.K. at 52% and Germany at 32%.

The U.S. was the only one of the four countries polled in which a majority of the respondents were unhappy with their democracy. When asked if they were “satisfied with the way democracy is working in their country,” just under a third said “not too” satisfied and just under a quarter said “not at all.”

Among the three European countries, there was a significant difference in views toward democracy among those who were critical of or impressed by their country’s response to COVID-19.

Each group that felt their respective nation did a “bad” job throughout the coronavirus experience in France, Germany or the U.K. was mostly unsatisfied with democracy, and the opposite was true for those who believed their respective government did a “good” job handling the pandemic.

In the U.S., there was little difference. Both those who felt the country handled the pandemic well and those who thought the country did poorly fell under the halfway mark with respect to their satisfaction with democracy in the U.S.

U.S. respondents also stood out as the most eager to support the creation of “citizen assemblies where citizens debate issues and make recommendations about national laws” and to allow “citizens, not members of the national legislature, to vote directly to decide what becomes law for some key issues.”

These two ideas were popular among sizable majorities in all four countries, but the U.S. scored the highest in both at 79% in favor of assemblies and 73% in favor of referendums.

Nearly four months into 2021, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. has offered prospects of a return to relative normalcy. But economic woes, social ills and political unrest remain serious threats to the stability of all four countries as their governments attempt to placate populations still reeling from a year of turmoil.

Source: Newsweek “US, top allies want change in political systems”

Note: This is Newsweek’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

China’s Iran oil imports seen hitting new high in March, curbing OPEC output options

By Reuters Staff


SINGAPORE (Reuters) – China will receive another large influx of cheap Iranian oil in March passed off as crude from other origins, curbing the top importer’s appetite for crudes from other suppliers, according to traders and analysts.

Close to 1 million barrels per day of Iranian crude could arrive at China this month, nearly half the volume that the world’s top exporter Saudi Arabia supplied to China in the first two months this year.

Refinitiv Oil Research estimates this month’s arrivals at 3.75 million tonnes (27 million barrels), topping the previous record in January of 3.37 million tonnes.

“The trend seems to be continuing, though buying appetite is waning because of high inventories at ports and abundant supplies,” said Emma Li, a senior Refinitiv analyst.

Separately, a trade source familiar with Iranian ship movements pegged China-bound cargoes at 30 million barrels for March, while Sara Vakhshouri, president of SVB Energy International, estimated Iran oil exports this month exceeded 1 million bpd.

Reuters reported last month that China quietly accepted record amounts of Iranian oil in early 2021, despite U.S. sanctions designed to penalise buyers. Analysts say the buying was a key factor behind the slide in global Brent oil pries from $70 per barrel, limiting room for OPEC to increase production.

“The recent jump in Iranian crude exports, notably to China, and crude going out of inventories are contributing to the weakness of the oil market, undermining OPEC+ efforts to limit supply and setting prices for a third weekly drop,” Rystad Energy analysts said ahead of the OPEC+ meeting on April 1.

China, Iran’s top oil client, said last week it will work to safeguard the Iran nuclear deal and defend the legitimate interests of Sino-Iranian relations.

China’s commerce, foreign and energy ministries had not responded to faxes and messages at time of publication.

U.S. President Joe Biden has sought to revive talks with Iran on a nuclear deal abandoned by former President Donald Trump in 2018, although harsh economic measures remain in place that Tehran insists be lifted before negotiations resume.

“Iran is exporting more oil to China and that poses a challenge to the U.S. sanctions regime,” Eurasia Group analyst Henry Rome said.

“However, the structure of the sanctions is not on the verge of collapse by any means especially because Iran is not able to repatriate much of that revenue.”

According to Refinitiv’s Li, about 650,000 bpd of Iranian oil were discharged in the first 19 days of March, mainly via the eastern province of Shandong, the hub for China’s independent refiners.

This compared with 490,000 bpd discharged in February and a record 797,000 bpd in January, she added.

Chinese buyers are attracted to low prices for the crude which is being offered at discounts of $4-$6 a barrel to ICE Brent on a delivered basis, traders said, adding that sellers were sometimes packaging the sale with import quotas.

“The ultimate rule for private Chinese buyers is cost and margin…and they find the Iranian barrels offered at steep discounts hard to resist,” said a Beijing-based trader.

Reuters was unable to identify the buyers of the cargoes.

Officially, China skipped imports from Iran in March for the second month in a row as no cargo has been marked for its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), according to Refinitiv.

Tankers carrying Iranian oil typically switch off their transponders when loading to avoid detection, but then become traceable via satellites near ports in Oman, the UAE and Iraq. Some transfer part of their cargoes to other ships near Singapore or Malaysia before sailing to China.

China maintained small monthly purchases of Iranian oil that averaged 2.4 million barrels over the whole of 2020, according to Chinese customs.

Reporting by Asia energy team; Additional reporting by Jonathan Saul and Alex Lawler in London; Editing by Florence Tan and Edwina Gibbs

Source: Reuters “China’s Iran oil imports seen hitting new high in March, curbing OPEC output options”

From Cold War to One-in-Three

China and Russia’s Cold War with the US Began Long Ago

I believe that China and Russia’s new Cold War began when Russia Presiden Putin visited China in June 2012.

Not long before the visit, the then US Defense Secretary Panetta had reiterated that the US attached great importance to its relations with China and its plan to increase navy presence in the Pacific did not direct at Beijing.

Beijing said it welcomed US return to Asia-Pacific region but actually had stepped up its military buildup as soon as the US announced its new strategy. In a hurry, it began test of its aircraft carrier, completed construction of two more 20,000-ton landing platform docks, put its own GPS system into operation and tested the second prototype of its fifth-generation aircraft J-20. Obviously, before Putin’s visit China already began its arms race with the US unknown to the US.

The US held a large-scale military drill with its allies in the Pacific allegedly not directed at China.

China in turn held a large-scale navy drill with Russian in the Pacific allegedly not directed at the US.

China had lots of interests in Libya, but did not hinder Western military intervention there. China had to withdraw 50,000 citizens from Libya and suffer great economic losses. However, it did not complain until the US announced its new strategy of its pivot to Asia to contain the rise of China..

Since then, China has reversed its position and began to support Russia in blocking Western military intervention with Syria though China has little interest there.

Russia was so pleased that it wanted closer partnership with China.

In June 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited China for much closer partnership with China in economy, trade, energy, culture and technology. In his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, they signed a joint declaration for further development of the two countries’ strategic partnership. The two presidents also pledged to intensify military exchanges, strengthen co-ordination in Asia-Pacific and co-operate in investments.

After their meeting the two presidents attended the signing of 11 cooperation documents, including cooperation between the two countries in building Nos. 3 and 4 generation sets in Jiangsu’s Sutian Bey nuclear power plant and the establishment of a US$4 billion joint investment fund.

Putin brought with him lots of Russian ministers and most major business executives For the two countries to carry out intensive discussion for a long time to enhance cooperation. This seems to be a second honeymoon between the two countries after their first honeymoon when China pleased Stalin by sending troops into Korea to fight the US in the 1950s.

With China and Russia as the centers, the six-country Shanghai Cooperative Organization (SCO) would adopt its first comprehensive plan to expand the bloc from focusing on security co-operations to being an economic and geopolitical alliance. Moreover, it planned to enlarge the alliance. SCO had already taken in Iran and other three as observer states and planned at that time to take in Afghanistan and turkey respectively as observer state and dialogue partner at that summit meeting.

Before leaving for China, Putin published an article on China’s People’s Daily, stressing that Sino-Russian cooperation was not directed at any third Party, but pointing out that without Chinese and Russian involvement, no international issue can be discussed or enacted.

Putin announced his ambitious plan to build a powerful navy while China is vigorously building up its navy silently. Both of them were conducting their arms race with the US but the US did not believe that they were able to compete with it so that it has been wasting its funds in developing much-troubled Littoral Combat Ships and Zumwalt destroyers it cannot afford to build or supply munitions.

The arms race had already begun and the mutual blocking is actively underway! The US remained unaware until China’s military has grown so strong that worried the US.

The US could not do what it wanted in Syria without Chinese and Russian involvement while China could not smoothly settle its South China Sea disputes due to US support to the other claimants.

The arms race and mutual blocking indicated that a new Cold War had already begun, but it was one-sided Cold War as for a long time the US was unaware of the Cold War China and Russia were conducting against it and failed to respond accordingly.

Switch from Cold War to One-in-Three

Soon after Xi Jinping has replaced Hu Jintao as China’s leader in late 2012, he continued his predecessor’s Hu Jintao policy of allying Russia to conduct a new Cold War with the US. However, he changed China’s strategy from Cold War to one-in-three as in the Cold War EU will be in US camp. With EU as its ally, US camp will be too strong for China and Russia’s camp to deal with. In fact, like the situation in China’s Three Kingdoms period. There will be three powers, US, EU and China-Russia alliance. To counter US hegemony, EU had better to be China’s ally or at least to keep neutral.

Though EU supported Philippine arbitration on the South China Sea and wanted China to accept the arbitration decision, Xi was not upset by EU’s infringement of China’s rights and interests and still believe he could win over EU or at least turn it neutral. After all EU and US do not have common economic interests. On the contrary they are competitors in world market. EU is close to the US merely in order to get its protection against the Soviet Union and its successor Russia.

To avoid upset EU, China has not supported Russia openly on Ukraine crisis and maintains good relations with Ukraine.

In conducting its Road and Belt initiative in central and eastern Europe, China stresses the benefits of the infrastructures it builds for their economy while belittle the geopolitical influence of its BRI projects.

When China rendered concessions under US trade war attacks, it makes the concessions benefit all other countries including EU instead of the US alone.

When it is obvious that US new President Biden is winning over EU to counter China by abolishing his predecessor Trump’s unfavorable policies toward EU, China immediately make concessions to EU to conclude an important trade deal with EU. EU will thus enjoy better treatment in Chinese market than the US as the concessions are given to EU alone.

That is why when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Europe to make EU counter China along with the US, but many EU members would not do so. Blinken was forced to say that the United States would not force any NATO ally to choose sides between Washington and Beijing.

When EU sanctions some Xinjiang officials and firm due to China’s alleged violation of human rights in Xinjiang, China immediately retaliated with counter sanctions. Some people said that China might fail to get ratified its trade deal with EU. China simply does not care. The trade deal may make EU substantially benefited in Chinese market. Failure to ratify it will hurt EU instead of China great. After all, interest is the driving force of diplomacy.

Some well-known Western brands refused to purchase Xinjiang cotton due to EU sanctions. It has caused Chinese to boycott those brands. I wonder whether those brands are ignorant that they have entered and enjoyed dominance in China when China neglected the development of its national brands. Now, China is anxious to develop its own brands. The boycott will facilitate China’s development of its own well-known national brand. Are Nike and Adidas willing to give way to China’s major national brand Lining?

Obviously people outside China do not know what China’s Xi Jinping Thought means? They had better read the first series of this book. It begins with the phrase “Xi Jinping Thought, Declaration of ‘China Can Say No’”

Article by Chan Kai Yee

China ‘happy’ over active interactions between Pakistan and India

By APP Tuesday Mar 30, 2021

Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Zhao Lijian during his regular briefing held at the International Press Center.

  • Zhao Lijian says China supports Pakistan in pursuing peaceful diplomatic policies and the peace and reconciliation process of Afghanistan.
  • China expresses warm congratulations on 82nd Pakistan Day.
  • Pakistan and China are celebrating seven decades of friendship and establishment of diplomatic relations this year.

BEIJING: Expressing happiness over the warming ties between Pakistan and India, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday that Beijing supported Islamabad in pursuing peaceful diplomatic policies and it would work with Pakistan to inject more positive energy into regional peace and stability as well as development.

“We are happy about the active interactions between Pakistan and India,” Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said during his regular briefing held at the International Press Center.

“China expresses warm congratulations on the 82nd Pakistan Day. We believe that the Pakistani Government and people will make further progress on national building and revitalization,” he added.

While taking note of the positive remarks delivered by President Dr Arif Alvi about China on the Pakistan Day parade last week, he said, “We highly appreciate that. China also values the All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries.”

In the speech, President Alvi had said, “China is our closest and friendliest country.”

“President Alvi also noted in his speech that Pakistan would focus on development and peaceful coexistence with other countries and he urged the world especially South Asian countries and their leaders to abandoned hatred, bias and religious extremism to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability,” he added.

The spokesperson remarked that seeking peace and development is the common aspiration of countries in the region.

On Pakistan’s peaceful diplomatic policies and its efforts to help secure peaceful solution of Afghan issue, he said, “China supports Pakistan in pursuing peaceful diplomatic policies and we support the peace and reconciliation process of Afghanistan.”

“I would like to take the opportunity of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties to work with Pakistan to fight coronavirus and carry forward our traditional friendship to expand our all-dimensional cooperation and build a closer China-Pakistan community of shared future in a new era,” he added.

Pakistan and China are celebrating the seven decades of friendship and establishment of diplomatic relations this year and launched a series of more than 100 activities in both the countries.

Source: Geo TV “China ‘happy’ over active interactions between Pakistan and India”

Note: This is Geo TV’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

The Navy Wants to Retire a Ship That’s Only Six Years Old

Littoral Combat Ships were once seen as the future—no longer.


FEB 12, 2020

  • The U.S. Navy has unveiled plans to retire the first four Littoral Combat Ships, the youngest of which is only six years old.
  • The LCS program has been problematic for more than a decade, with the lightly armed ships coming in over budget and with technical problems.
  • The entire LCS fleet could eventually go on the chopping block as a new class of frigates comes online in the mid 2020s.

The U.S. Navy wants to retire four ships of the controversial Littoral Combat Ship class, including one ship that is just six years old. The four ships all have at least 10, if not 20 years of service in them but are currently non-deployable test ships not rated for combat. It’s unclear why the Navy wants to dump them when at the same time it is trying to reach a fleet of 355 ships by 2030.

he Navy wants to retire the first two ships from the Freedom class of Littoral Combat Ships, USS Freedom (above) and Fort Worth, commissioned into the fleet in 2008 and 2012, respectively. It also wants to retire the first two ships of the Independence-class. USS Independence, the lead ship in the class, was commissioned in 2010. USS Coronado was just commissioned in 2014, making it less than six years old.

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program has been fraught with problems since its conception in the early 2000s. LCS was originally inspired by the concept of a small (500 ton), nimble, heavily armed “Streetfighter” of a ship capable of duking it out with large ships while operating in coastal regions and island chains. This gradually morphed into a much larger ship, lightly armed, and equipped with interchangeable, self-contained “mission modules” that allowed it to become a submarine hunter, minesweeper, ship-killer, or commando transport within hours.

LCS was an ambitious program. One ship, forward deployed in the South China Sea for example, could swap modules to fulfill different roles without having to return to the U.S. to undergo an expensive and time-consuming refit—at least that was the theory.

A series of design problems proved major shortcomings. The Navy prioritized ship speed (up to 47 knots, or 54 miles an hour) over range, which made LCS less useful in countering the fleets of great powers such as China and Russia. The ships, as Task & Purpose points out, suffered a series of high profile breakdowns and embarrassing cost overruns the Pentagon tried to conceal from the public. The ships have scarcely more armament than a Coast Guard cutter, relying on the mission modules to supply anti-submarine and anti-ship weapons, and they were only capable of defending against aerial threats to the ship.

Another major problem: after more than a decade of development none of the mission modules are fully operational. The high performance engines that gave the ships blazing speed at sea proved troublesome, so much so that in 2016 the Navy took the first four ships out of frontline service and turned them into test ships for the rest of the LCS fleet. The remaining 12 hips of the LCS fleet, lacking the mission modules that gave them purpose, have for years been unable to deploy to fulfill the key missions.

The early decommissioning of the first four Littoral Combat Ships is a bad look for the Navy. The Navy is desperately trying to hold onto its plan to increase the fleet to 355 ships, and decommissioning four ships—one only six years old—runs completely contrary to that plan. It is surprising that the U.S. Navy cannot find the justification to keep these ships in service until at least until 2030, even continuing to use them as training or light duty vessels.

This is probably the beginning of the end of the Littoral Combat Ship program. The U.S. Navy is preparing to build a new guided missile frigate, FFG(X), and the shipbuilding budget for 2021 is 20 percent less than 2020’s. The Navy is being squeezed for cash, and it seems likely that LCS, still without mission modules, will be retired as the new frigates roll out of shipyards. The only saving grace for the LCS is if the FFG(X) program also balloons in cost and experiences delays. Sadly, that’s not an inconceivable scenario.

Source: Popular Mechanics “The Navy Wants to Retire a Ship That’s Only Six Years Old”

Note: This is Popular Mechanics’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

Russia-China-Iran Iron Triangle

US-Japan-South Korea Iron Triangle

When former US President Obama began his pivot to Asia to contain the rise of China, he attempted to set up a US-Japan-South Korea iron triangle to contain China. Compared with his successors Trump and Biden’s Indo-Pacific Quad grouping, it is indeed a much stronger alliance. Both Japan and South Korea have strong economies and are US allies. However, South Korea and Japan were not on good terms due to the history of Japan’s colonization of Korea for five decades until Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine that commemorate some war criminals in invading and ruling Korea seriously upset South Korea.

The triangle broke before it was really established.

Russia-China-India Triangle

The idea of Russia-China-India grouping (RIC) was first raised by Russia former President Yeltsin’s second foreign minister, Yevgeny Primakov in his visit to India in 1998. At that time Russia needed RIC to balance US Power and wanted RIC to be the political nucleus of BRICS. Due to historical enmity and conflicts of interest with China, Russia wanted India to balance China and as link to the US as India had been trying to improve its relations with the US.

However, India did not want to be Russia’s ally but adopted an equal-distance diplomacy in order to be benefited from both Russia and China, and the West especially the US. China knows it is impossible to really be close to India if its border disputes with India have not be resolved. It has tried hard for decades to resolve the issue and was able for a time to make the border troops of the two countries friendly.

When Putin came to power, he has tried hard to establish the Russia-China-India triangle through quite a few summits of the leaders of the three countries but still without success.

In June 2020, in order to please the US, India sent troops across the Line of Actual Control to fight Chinese troops and thus created tensions in the border between China and India. It even joined US-led Quad later in March 2021. By so doing, it has made the Russia-China-India triangle entirely impossible.

China-Russia-Iran Iron Triangle

US former President Obama tried to improve US-Iran relations without much success. Anyway it joined Russia and other nations to reach an agreement with Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. If Obama’s successor had followed up US policies to improve relations with Iran, there might have been less hostility between the two countries.

The agreement improved stability in the region and lifted sanctions on Iran that crippled Iran’s economy. Obama’s successor Donald Trump, however, unilaterally withdrew from the agreement and imposed sanctions on Iran again. He banned Iran’s export of oil, the major source of Iran’s income and made things very difficult for Iran. Iran could not but turned to US major strategic competitors Russia and China for help. By late 2020 China had become Iran’s major source of financial, technological and military assistance.

The US has tried to use sanctions to block Iran’s export of oil and gas but China needs more than all Iran’s oil and gas so that it had greatly increased its purchase of Iran’s oil. In order to obtain more oil and gas from Iran, China has allocated about $400 billion for investment in upgrading Iran’s oil, gas, and petrochemical industries and improving Iran’s overland transportation.”

In fact, there is a pipeline connecting Iran with Pakistan, which is now being expanded to China’s west for safe low-cost overland transportation of oil and gas to China through pipelines. China has invested in Iran’s world largest natural gas field to help Iran extract natural gas and export it to China through pipelines. China needs lots of natural gas as clean fuel for its households in order to reduce air pollution.

Moreover, US sanctions have forced Iran to receive Chinese currency yuan for its exports of oil and gas to China. That helps internationalization of yuan and increases Iran’s imports from China. It will also increase Russia’s imports from China as Iran will use yuan it has earned from China to buy Russian goods, especially Russian weapons. Russia will certainly spend the yuan it earns from Iran to buy Chinese goods.

That has not only economical but also political significance. In his recent visit to China, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov suggested to China the use of non-US currency as a way to resist US sanctions.

Russia historically has much influence in the Middle East but the US has tried hard to drive Russia away. Russia has made great efforts to maintain its influence in Syria and Iran is helping Russia doing so. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has already been cooperating with Russian troops and auxiliaries in Syria.

While the US has deployed an aircraft carrier battle group near Iran to threaten it, Russia is offering its advanced weapons to Iran to help it strengthen its defense and China is helping Iran expand its Jask Port and Chabahar’s airport for control of the Strait of Hormuz and build a regional eavesdropping post to intercept signals within a range of around 3,000 miles.

Trump’s pressures on Iran facilitated the establishment and strengthening of the Russia-China-Iran iron triangle, a strong alliance against US influence in Asia.

Biden Unable to Break the Iron Triangle

Now, US new president Joe Biden wants to continue Obama’s efforts to improve relations with Iran but he is slow in doing so. He has sought to revive talks with Iran on the nuclear agreement abandoned in 2018 by his predecessor, Donald Trump in 2018. Tehran wants the sanctions that Trump imposed removed before any negotiations resumes.

China grabs the opportunity to conclude a 25-year cooperation agreement with Iran before revival of US-Iran talks on restoration of the agreement. Obviously, the 25-year term means a lot in contrast to US withdrawal from the agreement within 2 years.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said ahead of the televised signing ceremony meaningfully, “Our relations with Iran will not be affected by the current situation, but will be permanent and strategic… Iran decides independently on its relations with other countries and is not like some countries that change their position with one phone call.”

The timing of the conclusion of cooperation agreement is very good before improvement of US-Iran relations and to a great extent make the improvement not significant as the agreement will make almost all US sanctions ineffective.

China really knows to choose the best timing of its diplomacy. It established RCEP and concluded trade deal with EU precisely before US new president Joe Biden had time to provide better alternatives to interfere with the establishment and deal.

The Iron Triangle Contributes to Driving US Hegemony Away from Asia

When China has upgraded Iran’s gas and oil production, Iran may supply oil and gas to India through a pipeline in Pakistan. In building the pipelines, Iran and Pakistan planned to extend them to India to provide India with oil and gas but due to hostility between India and Pakistan, India would not use any pipelines through Pakistan but prefers a sea route to Iranian port of Chabahar that India has been upgrading since 2015. Due to India’s attempt to ally with Iran’s enemy the US, Iran canceled its cooperation with India in building railway from Chabahar port to Afghanistan and thus put an end to India’s dream for connection with Central Asia through Chabahar port it has been upgrading.

If Iran’s supply of oil and gas has greatly increased, Russia can divert part or all its supply of oil and gas for China to South Korea through North Korea if China has eased the tensions between North Korea and South Korea and Japan. As a result Japan will get Russian oil and gas from a port in South Korea. That will greatly reduce the shipping costs for getting oil and gas from the Middle East. Japan and South Korea may use Russia’s coast facilities for shipping shortcut to Europe through the Arctic. Such economic links will facilitate integration of Asia. As a result, US economic influence in Asia will be much reduced. The US will not remain a hegemon in Asia.

Article by Chan Kai Yee

The U.S. Navy Wasted A Whole Decade Building Bad Ships

David Axe Forbes Staff

Jan 5, 2021,08:00am EST

USS ‘Sioux City’ prepares to moor at Naval Station Mayport following a deployment to the U.S. 4th … [+] U.S. NAVY PHOTO BY MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 1ST CLASS BRIAN G. REYNOLDS

The U.S. Navy spent a decade in the early 2000s building warships that either don’t work, cost too much to build in large numbers or whose designs are fundamentally flawed on a conceptual level. Or all three.

These floating lemons include the speedy, inshore Littoral Combat Ship and the huge, under-equipped DDG-1000 “stealth” destroyers.

Historians might spend decades debating exactly what drove Navy leaders to pour billions of dollars into these ships for precious little return on their investment.

But at least one historian already has a pretty good idea what went wrong. “DDG-1000 and LCS came out of the moment of change and transformation, almost as if, absent a real strategic threat, that change would be our strategy,” said Jerry Hendrix, author of the new book To Provide and Maintain a Navy.

In other words, the Navy got away with building bad ships because it didn’t seem to matter all that much whether a particular vessel design actually worked in the real world. Whether anyone would admit it, the stakes felt that low.

The problem is, the stakes weren’t actually low in the 2000s. While the U.S. Navy treaded water on its fleet design and force structure, the Russian and Chinese navies designed sound, affordable ships—and began building them in large numbers. The Americans’ lost decade allowed the Russians and Chinese to catch up to U.S. sea power.

As conceived in the late 1990s, the LCS was supposed to be cheap, fast, flexible and easy to build. But after spending $30 billion over a period of around two decades, the Navy managed to acquire just 35 of the 400-foot vessels.

The fleet is already proposing to discard the oldest four LCSs—two each from both variants of the type. Meanwhile, the monohull Freedom variant has continued to suffer major problems related to its complex combined diesel-gas propulsion. It’s not uncommon for a Freedom-variant LCS to set sail on a long-planned cruise, only to quickly break down and limp back to port.

The LCS’s finicky plug-and-play weaponry and sensors, controversial and inadequate manning scheme and poor reliability have translated into a general inability to deploy. The Navy commissioned the first LCS in 2008. Thirteen years later, 20 of the ships are in service. Fifteen more are under construction.

But through last year, the fleet managed to deploy the type just eight times—once in 2013, 2014 and 2016 and five times between 2019 and late 2020.

To put that in perspective, the Navy has 68 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. At any given time, at least 20 of them are on six-month deployments. If the LCSs sailed at the same rate the Burkes do, six or seven of the smaller vessels would be on a front-line cruise at any given time for a total of at least a dozen LCS deployments annually.

The LCS’s problems are myriad. The most serious of the type’s flaws is rooted in its requirements. Bizarrely, the Navy insisted the LCS be capable of reaching a top speed of more than 40 knots, which is around 10 knots faster than most warships are capable of traveling.

The speed requirement forced contractors Lockheed Martin LMT +1% and Austal to install efficient diesel engines for low-speed cruising plus powerful gas turbines for sprinting. These dual propulsion systems are expensive, complex, heavy and—as multiple underway engineering casualties have demonstrated—unreliable.

The kicker is that no one has ever proved the actual value of a 40-knot sprinting speed in any conceivable combat scenario for a vessel as large as the LCS is. A 500-mile-per-hour missile doesn’t care if its target is traveling 40 knots or 30 knots. “Do I really need a Littoral Combat Ship to go 40 knots?” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday asked last year.

Why was the Navy willing to risk so much time, money and opportunity on what amounted to an experiment in adding a one-third speed boost to one new class of ship?

Because it believed it was safe to tinker. “It was a widely held view that in the 1990s, the United States was in a historically unique, post-Cold War, ‘strategic pause,’” Mark Czelusta wrote in a 2008 paper for the Pentagon’s George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

USS ‘Zumwalt’ successfully executes the first live-fire test of the Mk. 57 Vertical Launching System … [+] U.S. NAVY PHOTO

Then-presidential candidate George W. Bush, in a 1999 speech, helped to define expectations for this strategic pause. “My goal is to take advantage of a tremendous opportunity—given few nations in history—to extend the current peace into the far realm of the future,” Bush said. “This opportunity is created by a revolution in the technology of war. Power is increasingly defined, not by mass or size, but by mobility and swiftness.”

The LCS as a concept was nothing if not mobile and swift. Legitimized by the political establishment, the LCS became a kind of cipher—an empty vessel for containing various half-baked ideas. Consider the following 2004 assertion by future deputy defense secretary Bob Work.

“The LCS is less of a ship, and more of a battle network component system, consisting of a sea frame, a core crew, assorted mission modules, assembled mission packages, mission package crews and a reconfiguration support structure.”

In short, the Navy spent a decade investing a succession of weird ideas in an unsound ship design. Leaders seemed to assume these ideas somehow would erase the fundamental problems with the very things that make the LCS a warship: its engines, weapons and crewing.

That created an opportunity for the Chinese and Russian navies. All they had to do to catch up to the U.S. Navy, while the U.S. Navy was wasting time and money on the LCS, was build ships that worked. That is, conventional, 30-knot vessels with built-in radars, missiles and guns and big crews.

Those ships—Russia’s new Project 22350 frigates and and China’s new Type 052 destroyers and Type 055 cruisers, among others—are fairly old-fashioned by the standards of the LCS. But they apparently aren’t exorbitantly expensive. And Russia and China have been able to build them in large numbers, year after year—and then deploy them.

The LCS wasn’t the U.S. Navy’s only failure of the 2000s. The Zumwalt-class destroyer, or DDG-1000, proved equally catastrophic.

Work began on the Zumwalt class during the same strategic pause that produced the LCS. The goal was to develop a large, heavily armed and highly survivable ship. But over a decade, the concept changed. With the Navy briefly focusing more on near-shore warfare, the Zumwalt evolved into a stealthy fire-support vessel sporting powerful 155-millimeter cannons.

Costs rose. The Navy cut the class down from 32 ships to just three. But the research-and-development overhead contributed to the three ship’s enormous, per-vessel cost of nearly $8 billion, which is four times as much as the latest Arleigh Burke-class destroyers cost.

The 610-foot Zumwalts feature low-signature “tumblehome” hulls. Their missile-launch cells are along their outer hulls and double as armor. Their 155-millimeter guns are more powerful than are the 127-millimeter models on other surface ships.

But the ships have problems beside their high cost. They lack a volume-search radar. Their guns are incompatible with the Navy’s standard ammunition. Efforts to develop custom, precision-guided shells have failed on account of the low quantity and resulting high price. Today the Zumwalts lack any ammunition for their guns.

The Navy in 2018 decided to convert the Zumwalts into anti-ship platforms by integrating SM-6 and Tomahawk missiles. The SM-6 is a long-range surface-to-air missile that also can strike ships.

But the fleet is struggling to figure out what to do with such a tiny class of ship. With just three Zumwalts, the Navy might be able to deploy one at any given time. But it’s unclear whether the destroyers with their lopsided capabilities fit with existing carrier and amphibious groups.

While it mulls the deployability problem, the Navy has assigned the Zumwalts to an experimental squadron in San Diego. The destroyers are test assets for now. It wouldn’t be shocking if they remained test assets forever.

On paper, the LCSs and Zumwalts pad the Navy’s force structure, contributing to the fleet’s official inventory of 296 front-line warships. In reality, the LCSs and Zumwalts as classes aren’t reliably deployable.

The Navy might have 296 combat vessels, in theory. In practice, it has no more than 274 front-line ships that it actually can plan major operations around.

We can blame a decade of complacency, during which the Navy experimented—at tremendous expense—with bad ship designs and worse theories of warfare, all while secure in its wrong belief that no foreign fleet could challenge it, then or in the near future.

Source: Forbes “The U.S. Navy Wasted A Whole Decade Building Bad Ships”

Note: This is Forbes’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

Iran and China sign 25-year cooperation agreement

Sat, March 27, 2021, 11:33 PM·2 min read

Hassan Rouhani

DUBAI (Reuters) – China and Iran, both subject to U.S. sanctions, signed a 25-year cooperation agreement on Saturday to strengthen their long-standing economic and political alliance.

“Relations between the two countries have now reached the level of strategic partnership and China seeks to comprehensively improve relations with Iran,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was quoted by Iran’s state media as telling his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“Our relations with Iran will not be affected by the current situation, but will be permanent and strategic,” Wang said ahead of the televised signing ceremony.

“Iran decides independently on its relations with other countries and is not like some countries that change their position with one phone call.”

The accord brings Iran into China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure scheme intended to stretch from East Asia to Europe.

The project aims to significantly expand China’s economic and political influence, and has raised concerns in the United States.

China has spoken out often against U.S. sanctions on Iran and partly contested them. Zarif called it “a friend for hard times”.

Wang met President Hassan Rouhani ahead of the signing in Tehran. The agreement was expected to include Chinese investments in sectors such as energy and infrastructure.

Rouhani expressed appreciation of Beijing’s support for Iran’s position on its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, in which it agreed to curb its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

“Cooperation between the two countries is very important for the implementation of the nuclear accord and the fulfilment of obligations by European countries,” Rouhani said, according to his official website.

U.S. President Joe Biden has sought to revive talks with Iran on the nuclear deal abandoned in 2018 by his predecessor, Donald Trump in 2018. Tehran wants the sanctions that Trump imposed removed before any negotiations resume.

“Under the new administration, the Americans want to reconsider their policy and return to the nuclear accord, and China welcomes their move,” Wang said.

He also promised that China would provide more coronavirus vaccines to Iran, the Middle Eastern country worst-hit by the pandemic.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the agreement was a “road map” for trade and economic and transportation cooperation, with a special focus on both countries’ private sectors.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mike Harrison and Kevin Liffey)

Source: Reuters “Iran and China sign 25-year cooperation agreement”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

U.S. needs new understanding with China or it risks conflict, Kissinger says

By Guy Faulconbridge


LONDON (Reuters) – The United States will have to reach an understanding with China on a new global order to ensure stability or the world will face a dangerous period like the one which preceded World War One, veteran U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger said.

Kissinger, now 97, influenced some of the most important turns of the 1970s while serving as secretary of state under Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Speaking at a Chatham House event in London via Zoom, Kissinger said the ultimate question was whether or not the United States and its Western allies could develop an understanding with China about a new global order.

“If we don’t get to that point and if we don’t get to an understanding with China on that point then we will be in a pre-World War One-type situation in Europe, in which there are perennial conflicts that get solved on an immediate basis but one of them gets out of control at some point,” he said.

“It is infinitely more dangerous now than it was then,” Kissinger said. He said the high-tech weaponry on both sides could lead to a very gave conflict.

Amid worsening relations between China and the West on a range of issues from human rights and trade to Hong Kong, Taiwan has said China is bolstering its ability to attack and blockade the China-claimed island.

Kissinger said the United States would likely find it difficult to negotiate with a rival like China that would soon be larger and more advanced in some areas.

The other question, he said, was whether or not China would accept that new order.

Kissinger praised China’s skill at organising itself for technological advance under state control.

But he said the West had to up its game.

“The West has to believe in itself,” Kissinger said. “That is our domestic problem – it is not a Chinese problem.”

He added that China’s economic might did not automatically mean that it will be superior in all aspects of technology this century.

Kissinger negotiated on behalf of Nixon to open China to the West in 1971 without telling George H.W. Bush, who was then Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, about the talks.

Asked about Brexit, Kissinger said he had refused to campaign against leaving the EU as he saw a role for an “autonomous” Britain as a bridge between the United States and the rest of Europe.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Source: Reuters “U.S. needs new understanding with China or it risks conflict, Kissinger says”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’ views

China, Iran expected to sign 25-year accord, Iranian state media says


By Reuters Staff

DUBAI (Reuters) – Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Iran on Friday for a visit that Iranian state media said would see the signing of a 25-year cooperation agreement between the two countries, which are both under U.S sanctions.

The accord, final details of which are yet to be announced, is expected to include Chinese investments in Iran’s energy and infrastructure sectors.

In 2016, China, Iran’s largest trading partner and long-time ally, agreed to boost bilateral trade by more than 10 times to $600 billion in the next decade.

“The signing of the comprehensive cooperation programme of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China by the foreign ministers of the two countries is another programme of this two-day trip,” state news agency IRNA said.

Iran is hardening its stance towards the United States and the European parties to Tehran’s 2015 nuclear accord with world powers.

“This document is a complete roadmap with strategic political and economic clauses covering trade, economic and transportation cooperation … with a special focus on the private sectors of the two sides,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told state TV.

On Thursday, China’s commerce ministry said Beijing will make efforts to safeguard the Iran nuclear deal and defend the legitimate interests of Sino-Iranian relations.

China made the comments after Reuters reported that Iran has ”indirectly” moved record volumes of oil into China in recentmonths, marked as supplies from other countries, even as China customs data showed that no Iranian oil was imported in the first two months of this year.

U.S. President Joe Biden has sought to revive talks withIran on the nuclear deal abandoned by former President DonaldTrump in 2018, although harsh economic measures remain in place that Tehran insists be lifted before any negotiations resume.

The United States and the other Western powers that joined the 2015 deal appear at odds with Tehran over which side should return to the accord first, making it unlikely that U.S. sanctions which have crippled Iran’s economy can be quickly removed.

However, the OPEC member’s oil exports climbed in January after a boost in the fourth quarter, despite U.S. sanctions, in a sign that the end of Trump’s term may be changing buyer behaviour. Since late 2018 there was a sharp drop in Iranian exports to China and other Asian customers.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom, Editing by William Maclean and Grant McCool

Source: Reuters “China, Iran expected to sign 25-year accord, Iranian state media says”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’ views.