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.

US embassy in soup over retweet of Pak leader’s post targeting Imran Khan

The US embassy account on Tuesday retweeted a post by a PML-N lawmaker attacking PM Imran Khan, leading to the hashtag #ApologiseUS_Embassy trending on Twitter.

WORLD Updated: Nov 11, 2020, 21:40 IST

Imtiaz Ahmad , edited by Vinod Jananrdhanan

Hindustan Times, Islamabad

Tensions are brewing between the Pakistan government and the US embassy in Islamabad after the latter retweeted a post by an opposition lawmaker, alluding to Prime Minister Imran Khan as a dictator and demagogue.

Ahsan Iqbal, a former minister and a leader of the opposition PML-N party, had commented on a post by the Washington Post that said “Trump’s defeat is a blow to the world’s demagogues and dictators.”

“We have one in Pakistan too. He shall be shown the way out soon Inshallah (God willing),” Iqbal had tweeted, without directly mentioning Khan.

The US embassy account on Tuesday evening retweeted this, causing an uproar among the local Twitterati. On Tuesday, #ApologiseUS_Embassy trended on Twitter.

The embassy clarified on Wednesday that the tweet from its handle was unauthorised.

“Dear Followers: The US Embassy Islamabad Twitter account was accessed last night without authorisation. The US Embassy does not endorse the posting or retweeting of political messages. We apologise for any confusion that may have resulted from the unauthorised post,” it said.

That should have settled the issue. But human rights minister Shireen Mazari and Sindh governor Imran Ismael demanded an apology from the US embassy on Wednesday.

Mazari tweeted: “This not good enough esp after great delay! Account was clearly not hacked so someone who had access to it used it “without authorisation”. Unacceptable that someone working in US Embassy pushing a particular pol party’s agenda – has serious consequences incl staff visas scrutiny.”

Mazari has not only suggested that the US Embassy was lying that their account was hacked and that in fact it was an embassy staffer who had retweeted, she also threatened that the move could impede issuance of staff visas to embassy personnel. It is believed that this issue will escalate in days to come.

“US embassy is still working in Trumpian mode in support of convicted absconder and intervening brazenly in our internal politics,” Mazari said, referring to former prime minister and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif.

“Monroe doctrine also died centuries ago! US embassy must observe norms of diplomacy,” she said.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill said that for the first time ever, an embassy was seen “insulting” its own lawfully elected president. “We expect some heads to roll. This is unacceptable!” he said.

The latest development came after many Pakistanis welcomed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump, who had friendly relations with Khan and had publicly praised him for his help in paving the way for the US-Taliban peace deal.

Source: Hidustan Times “US embassy in soup over retweet of Pak leader’s post targeting Imran Khan”

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

Why the US’ tough South China Sea rhetoric is not very smart

It was never realistic to think Southeast Asian claimants would hop on the China-bashing bandwagon. With a more aggressive military presence, the US could force nations to choose between it and China, but Washington might not like the outcome

Mark J. Valencia

Published: 3:30am, 14 Aug, 2020

Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a position on the South China Sea, declaring in a statement: “The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire. America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources…”

He then mounted a diplomatic full-court press to round up Southeast Asian countries for the US’ campaign against China’s actions in the South China Sea.

He vowed the US would “support countries … who recognise that China has violated their legal territorial claims”, adding: “We will go provide them the assistance we can, whether that’s in multilateral bodies, whether that’s in Asean, whether that’s through legal responses, we will use all the tools we can.” Presumably, that would include military “tools” if necessary.

But the reaction of many Southeast Asian countries was cautious. Indeed, this policy initiative seems likely to fail. Why?

China hits back at US after Pompeo says most of Beijing’s claims in South China Sea are illegal

Mainly, these states are concerned that, as in the Cold War, they will become pawns and suffer accordingly. It did not help when, days later, Pompeo crossed the political Rubicon by directly attacking the Chinese Communist Party.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper poured petrol on the fire by declaring: “Goodwill and best wishes do not secure freedom. Strength does.”

This ramped-up rhetoric was preceded by a show of force involving two US Navy aircraft carriers. Yet, Pompeo did not get the response from Southeast Asia he might have hoped for.

As William Choong of Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute noted, a challenge to China on values was “not going to take off” in Southeast Asia. “We are not going to see the same kind of pushback that the US expects to see in Asean,” he said. “This whole confronting China and kicking down the front door, I don’t think that’s an Asean way.”

That’s not the only problem. Some worry that Pompeo’s tough talk is just a ploy to help President Donald Trump’s re-election. Others see the US presence in the region as a double-edged sword, which could deter or escalate tensions with China.

In the analysis of Shahriman Lockman at Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic and International Studies: “The worst-case scenario is for things to escalate, and then the US gets distracted … and we get saddled with more Chinese ships in our waters.”

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations like Indonesia and Singapore have remained neutral. Indonesia described any country’s support for Indonesian rights in the Natuna Sea as “normal”.

Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein called on countries to “avoid military posturing”. He added that Malaysia should not be “dragged and trapped” in a tug of war between superpowers.

The Philippines did not join a recent US-led naval exercise in the South China Sea, with Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr saying: “We’re sitting out this one.”

Washington’s hardened position on Beijing’s claims in South China Sea heightens US-China tensions

There are good reasons that a US-instigated anti-China front is unlikely to materialise in Asean. These nations each have their own economic and geopolitical reasons for not wanting to be out of favour with China.

Indeed, it was never realistic to think Southeast Asian claimants to the South China Sea would jump on the China-bashing bandwagon – especially if it involves military intervention.

With the exception of Vietnam – and even its support remains in question – it is doubtful that Southeast Asia will welcome any attempt to back up a threat of the use of force with specifics.

Yet, there are those who say the Trump administration made a “smart” move, in clarifying its position on the South China Sea. Maybe they think China’s rival claimants can be persuaded by US rhetoric and convinced that the US has interests beyond freedom of navigation (or freedom to engage in intelligence probes into China).

Perhaps they are counting on anti-China (or anti-Chinese) sentiment in some countries in the region. They might even be hoping that some will follow the US’ example if it uses military force. If so, this is dangerous wishful thinking.

If the US fails to deter China, it might have to choose between a credibility loss and a “kinetic” conflict. This is the very dilemma it had avoided by being ambiguous. But now the cat is out of the bag. The US must either back up its bold words, or lose more credibility with regard to its staying power and its commitment to friends, allies and the region.

Worse is the possibility of unilateral provocative actions by those like Vietnam, which may feel emboldened by the idea that the US will support China’s rival claimants. That clarification was not a smart move.

The US has been rapidly losing soft power in Southeast Asia since the Trump administration withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump’s “America first” mantra has made Asean nations feel like they are on their own. With a more aggressive diplomatic and military presence, the US could force nations in the region to choose between it and China, but the US might not like the outcome.

An appeal to Southeast Asia to join in the US’ ideological struggle against China is not sufficient. The only way to rebuild the integrity of its relationships is to respect the region’s self-defined interests as much as its own. Otherwise, this US policy initiative, like others before it, is likely to fail.

Mark J. Valencia is an adjunct senior scholar at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, Haikou, China

Dr Mark J. Valencia is an internationally known maritime policy analyst, political commentator and consultant focused on Asia. He is the author or editor of some 15 books and more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles. Currently he is adjunct senior scholar at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies.

Source: SCMP “hy the US’ tough South China Sea rhetoric is not very smart”

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

When It Comes to China, Americans Think Like Trump

Recent data suggests that most voters share the White House’s hawkish approach to China.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders’ event in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017. NICHOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Large majorities of the U.S. public, both Democrats and Republicans, align with the Trump administration’s dismal view of China, giving the embattled president a potential appealing drum to bang in an increasingly uphill reelection campaign, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

According to the survey, 73 percent of Americans hold an unfavorable view of China, up from 47 percent just two years ago. The main complaints echo President Donald Trump’s: the nature of the two countries’ economic relationship and China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 64 percent surveyed felt that China had done a bad job handling the pandemic, and 78 percent believe the Chinese government deserves at least some blame for the global spread of the virus. While Republicans are more likely to hold a negative view of China on most issues than Democrats, U.S.-China economic ties particularly concern Democrats.

Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of respondents said U.S.-China economic relations were in bad shape. While Republicans are more likely to hold a negative view of China on most issues than Democrats, U.S.-China economic ties particularly concern Democrats, with 73 percent saying relations are bad—10 percentage points more than Republicans—which could offer Trump a lifeline in must-win Rust Belt states hit hard by years of Chinese economic depredation and the ongoing trade war.

This poll comes as Trump and his administration have taken an increasingly hawkish stance on China. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo capped a quartet of tough administration speeches last Thursday by slamming the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), accusing it of having designs on “global hegemony” and calling on “the freedom-loving nations of the world [to] induce China to change.” While giving testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pompeo called the CCP “the central threat of our times.”

The two countries have also ramped up their diplomatic quarrel, with Pompeo slamming China’s maritime pretensions in the South China Sea and both states closing each other’s consulates.

The Trump administration has been of two minds about China from the start, with many hawks inside the administration seeking a confrontational approach and an outright decoupling of the world’s biggest economic relationship. Trump, meanwhile, coddled Chinese President Xi Jinping, held off criticizing Chinese actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and touted his mini trade deal with China this year as an economic panacea. (Spoiler: It wasn’t.)

But the new survey suggests that American public attitudes toward China have hardened for good, which indicates that the Trump administration’s aggressive approach could become the new norm, burying nearly 50 years of engagement kicked off with President Richard Nixon’s famous visit to Beijing in 1972. (And the feeling is mutual: A poll released by the Eurasia Group Foundation in April found that only 39 percent of the Chinese public held a favorable view of the United States.)Americans are still largely divided over the best way forward.

That could hem in any effort by a future Joe Biden administration to chart a more moderate course toward China—if there remains any desire by a Democratic president to return to a less confrontational stance. One caveat: According to Pew, there is a slim, but shrinking, majority for building a stronger economic relationship, which could give the next administration leeway to back off the Trump administration’s harshest measures.

But Americans are still largely divided over the best way forward. Fifty-one percent still believe it is more important to build a stronger relationship with China, but 46 percent feel that the get-tough approach will be more effective. Despite that discrepancy, the number of those who favor a more aggressive stance has risen sharply since 2019.

Not that a return to the old politics of engagement is necessarily in the cards. “Trump is defining the 2020 electoral agenda in other ways. He has ramped up his isolationist and Sinophobic rhetoric … and accused his rival of being soft on Beijing,” Foreign Policy’s Michael Hirsh wrote this month. “As he is doing with the culture war, Trump is forcing Biden to respond to his lead, rather than merely reacting to his challenger’s attacks.”

Hardline Deplomacy Natural Development of China Can Say No.

In its report “Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi defends ‘wolf warrior’ diplomats for standing up to ‘smears’ ”, SCMP says “Some diplomats have adopted an increasingly combative tone that has caused increasing friction, particularly with the United States”, but “Minister (Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi) tells ‘two sessions’ press conference that country will ‘hit back against malicious slanders and firmly defend national honour’”.

On December 17, 2017, I had a post “Xi Jinping Thought, Declaration of ‘China Can Say No’ (1)” in which I say:

Say no to what?

Say no to Western capitalist ideology while advocates Marxism

Say no to Westernization while advocates socialism with Chinese characteristics;

Say no to multiparty democracy while advocates one-party autocracy;

Say no to Western values while advocates China’s socialist core values;

Say no to Western human rights while advocates Chinese human rights;

Say no to Western press freedom while advocates China’s censorship and control of media; etc.

The post was followed by quite a few post on “China Can Say No” such as “China Says No to Western, Advocates Its Own Human Rights Standards” on December 16, 2017, “Xi Jinping Says No to Internet Liberty, Stressing Cyber Sovereignty” on December 19, 2017, “China Held World Multi-party Meeting to Say No to Western Democracy” and “China Held World Forum to Promote Its Human Rights System” on December 20, 2017, etc.

Therefore, the hardline diplomacy hitting “back against malicious slanders and firmly defend national honour” is but a natural development of “China Can Say No”.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at

In China, a young diplomat rises as aggressive foreign policy takes root

Keith Zhai, Yew Lun Tian

March 31, 2020 / 12:13 PM / 2 days ago

SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) – Diplomats returning from overseas postings don’t usually receive special attention at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a vast government bureaucracy with thousands of staff.

But when Zhao Lijian, a diplomat known for his pugnacious social media presence, finished a posting in Pakistan in August, he received an enthusiastic welcome in Beijing. A group of young admirers at the ministry gathered at his office to cheer his return, according to two people familiar with the matter.

That admiration was fueled in part by a Twitter spat he had engaged in a month earlier with Susan Rice, the national security adviser to former U.S. President Barack Obama. Each accused the other of being “ignorant” and a “disgrace”.

Now a foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao has come to represent a new generation of diplomatic hawks in China, challenging the restraint that long characterized the country’s engagement with the world, according to a dozen current and former ministry officials and government researchers who spoke with Reuters.

Their emergence has caused a rift with the old foreign policy establishment, amid worries that increasingly assertive rhetoric could put the country on a dangerous collision course with powers like the United States, they said.

The shift followed instructions that President Xi Jinping issued diplomats in a memo last year, calling on them to show more “fighting spirit”, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

This is the first time since 1949 that the ‘new hawks’ have the power to reshape China’s diplomatic policy,” said Qin Xiaoying, who was a director of the ruling Communist Party’s international propaganda department and is now a researcher with the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies in Beijing.

Driving the shift is the widespread feeling among many Chinese that the United States wants to contain China’s rise. Aggressive pushback by diplomats on issues that provoke nationalistic sentiment, like the protests in Hong Kong or the coronavirus outbreak, has proven popular domestically.

Most people who spoke with Reuters for this article declined to be named given the sensitivity of the matter.

In response to a request for comment by Reuters, the ministry said Chinese diplomats from all age groups are determined to “resolutely safeguard” national sovereignty and security.

We will not attack unless we are attacked,” the ministry said, citing a slogan from founding leader Mao Zedong. “But if we are attacked, we will certainly counterattack.”

Zhao, 47, did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokeswoman for Rice, the former U.S. national security adviser, said she would not be available for comment. The U.S. State Department did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.


Xi gave his instructions about adopting a tougher stance in the face of international challenges, like deteriorating relations with the United States, in a handwritten message to diplomats last year, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi gave the same message to officials attending the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the ministry’s founding, Reuters reported in December.

Over the past year, more than 60 Chinese diplomats and diplomatic missions set up Twitter or Facebook accounts, by Reuters’ count, even though both platforms are banned in China, often using them to attack Beijing’s critics around the world.

Zhao this month promoted a conspiracy theory on his personal Twitter account that the U.S. military brought the coronavirus to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began late last year.

U.S. President Donald Trump escalated the spat, infuriating Beijing by repeatedly citing the “Chinese virus”.

The new Chinese assertiveness is a response in part to Washington’s more confrontational stance towards China under Trump, according to Chinese diplomats.

Why can the Americans criticize us constantly, and we can’t scold the U.S.? Nobody likes to be educated all the time,” said a diplomat who helped one embassy set up its Twitter account.

Among China’s new Twitter warriors is Zhao’s boss, Hua Chunying, who became the ministry’s top spokeswoman last year and began tweeting last month. A rising star, Hua spent several weeks last year at the Central Party School, which trains officials destined for promotion.

The Twitter aggression is aimed not only at Washington.

In Brazil, Chinese Ambassador Yang Wanming shared a tweet, later deleted, calling the family of President Jair Bolsonaro “poison” after his son blamed the “Chinese dictatorship” for the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s embassy in Peru blasted Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa for “irresponsible” comments after the 83-year-old said the virus had “originated in China”.

And the Chinese Embassy in Singapore went after a former Singaporean diplomat, Bilahari Kausikan, after he linked the virus outbreak and China’s political system. The article was “smearing China’s political system and the leadership system,” it said.

These diplomats are not engaging the world with diplomatic language, but they are trying to please the domestic audience,” said Qin. “This is not diplomacy. This is very dangerous.”

Many young diplomats have pushed the Chinese government to take a harder line when dealing with the United States, according to diplomats. This month, the foreign ministry made an unprecedented move by expelling about a dozen American journalists at U.S. newspapers.


Some more traditional diplomats have sought to distance themselves from the new tactics, wary of putting China on a collision course with the United States.

Cui Tiankai, a ministry spokesman in the 1990s and now ambassador to Washington, said in a recent interview with Axios on HBO that it would be “crazy” to spread theories about a possible U.S. origin for the virus.

There is definitely a generational divide,” said Douglas H. Paal, who served on the National Security Council under U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Cui “was and is in the tradition of ‘just the facts’.”

Some retired diplomats and researchers at state think tanks, wary of provoking anti-China sentiment globally, have been writing cautionary internal reports, the researchers said.

Some cite the pragmatism of Communist China’s first foreign minister, Zhou Enlai, who sought to make as many friends as possible for the country and avoid making enemies.

Zhou’s spirit of diplomacy was largely adopted by the later reform leader Deng Xiaoping, whose policy of “biding our time and nurturing our strength” enabled China to keep a low profile internationally while focusing on economic growth.

The young diplomats are taking control of strategy and want it to be more pugnacious to win domestic public opinion,” said a veteran government researcher who wrote one of the reports.

The younger generation only know a rising China, and think this is a law of nature, said Kausikan, the retired permanent secretary of Singapore’s Foreign Ministry.

It sometimes seems as if this new generation feels obliged to have a public quarrel to prove their patriotism.”

Reporting by Keith Zhai and Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Tony Munroe and Philip McClellan

Source: Reuters “In China, a young diplomat rises as aggressive foreign policy takes root”

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

US Military Needs Weapons, Allies, Efficiency to Counter China’s Rise

In its report “US must be ready for military clash with China, Pentagon official Chad Sbragia says”, SCMP quotes Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, as saying, “US needs to develop weapons, boost ties with allies and improve military efficiency to be ready against ‘formidable’ China”

Of the three tasks developing weapons, boosting ties with allies and improving military efficiency, developing weapons is first of all US military’s weak point. It lacks vision in having wasted lots of resources on useless Zumwalt destroyers, LCSs, etc. and now has to catch up with China in developing hypersonic weapons.

The second task is even more unrealistic, the report says, “Traditional partners have bridled over President Donald Trump’s aggressive use of tariffs, his decision to withdraw from multilateral agreements and his focus on ‘America First’ policies.”

US allies are more likely to focus on themselves first than America first.

US long-term ally the Philippines has told the US that it would end the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement, a move to reduce its alliance with the US.

The US certainly needs to improve its military efficiency but without strict discipline how can it achieve that? The commanders in charge of the two destroyers that clashed with commercial ships have not been duly punished yet. Without strict discipline how can US military be efficient?

Can US military officers accept strict enforcement of discipline?

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at

What CPEC Means for China’s Middle East Relations

CPEC will significantly enhance China’s capacity to expand her economic and strategic relations with energy-rich Middle Eastern countries.

By Nader Habibi and Hans Yue Zhu

January 22, 2020

Photo a pak

A Pakistan Navy soldier stands guard while a loaded Chinese ship is readied for departure prior to a ceremony at Gwadar port, about 435 miles, 700 km, west of Karachi. Pakistan, Nov. 13, 2016.

Credit: AP Photo/Muhammad Yousuf

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is by far one of the most ambitious and expensive components of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The economic corridor, a mix of transportation and energy infrastructure projects at an estimated cost of $60 billion, has been implemented with full dedication and support from the Chinese government since it was officially launched in 2015. In recent years, CPEC has received more international attention and scrutiny than the BRI projects in any other country and for a good reason — if it is completed as envisioned, it can have significant consequences for China’s geopolitical and economic interests.

Aside from its transformative impact on Pakistan, which has received extensive media coverage already, the global significance of CPEC is rooted in the construction of highways, railroads, and pipelines that will connect Pakistan’s Gwadar port (on the Arabian Sea) with the city of Kashgar in western China. This transportation corridor will substantially increase the capacity for bilateral trade and investment between China and the Middle East. The latter has recently emerged as China’s largest source of oil and natural gas imports. CPEC can also enhance China’s naval presence in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf if and when China decides to project military power in this region.

In this article we look at how CPEC will affect China’s economic and geopolitical relations with the Middle Eastern countries, particularly the Gulf Cooperation Council members (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) and Iran. China is already the largest trade partner and a major buyer of oil and natural gas for most of these countries, which are also important investment partners for China because of their sizable oil revenues and financial capital.

CPEC has three important components: facilitating industrial and infrastructure development in Pakistan; developing a modern transportation and telecommunication network that promotes connectivity between western China and coastal seaports of Pakistan; and allowing China to develop a deep-water port and special economic zone in the Gwadar region with a 40-year lease. All three of these components will have implications for the Middle Eastern countries but in this article we will focus primarily on the last two.

CPEC Will Enhance Bilateral Trade Between China and the Middle East

The Middle East region is the largest supplier of crude oil and natural gas to China. At present these resources are transported mainly by sea routes to eastern China, where most of its industrial activities are located. Once the CPEC railways and pipelines are constructed, it will be economical to transport commodities, such as oil and natural gas, to the Gwadar port and, from there to western China. The project is also compatible with the Chinese government’s Western China Development Strategy, which calls for relocating some energy-intensive industrial activities from the densely populated eastern regions to the western provinces (near Pakistan). The cost of transporting these energy products to China’s western regions through CPEC will be smaller than using the current sea route through the Indian Ocean to the east coast of China, followed by a ground transfer (by pipe and railway) to the western regions.

In the first phase of CPEC (2015-2020) the Karakoram highway renovation project in northern Pakistan was completed and since November 2016 it has become possible to transport goods by truck from Kashgar to Gwadar. This was no easy engineering task in light of the very challenging mountainous terrain in northern Pakistan. This highway is now actively used for bilateral trade and will undergo further expansion and modernization in the second (2020-25) and third (2025-30) phases of CPEC’s long-term plan. The CPEC railway and pipelines are currently in the planning stage but their construction is also scheduled for the second phase and they are expected to play an important role in China-Middle East energy trade.

To the extent that CPEC will create a new channel for the flow of goods (and eventually people) in both directions between the Middle East and China, it will increase their economic and geopolitical interdependence. By facilitating this China-Middle East connectivity, CPEC will strengthen China’s position relative to other industrial nations in the Middle Eastern economies.

CPEC and China’s Capacity to Project Power in the Middle East

China is involved in several infrastructure projects in the Gwadar deep-water seaport and has signed a long-term lease for management of this port. This extensive and long-term involvement will enable China to use Gwadar as a supply and maintenance facility for its naval assets. Furthermore, the connectivity of Gwadar to the CPEC network will enhance China’s capability to transport both military hardware and military personnel to Gwadar through Pakistan if needed. Consequently, access to Gwadar port and CPEC-related ground transportation will allow China to substantially enhance its military capabilities in the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf.

If China seeks Pakistan’s approval to use Gwadar to support its naval presence in the Arabian Sea, it is unlikely that this request will be rejected. Military relations between China and Pakistan date back to the early 1960s and remain strong, as both countries view India as a regional rival. In recent years China has emerged as the main supplier of military hardware to Pakistan and the two countries have cooperated in development of several weapon systems, such as the JF-17 Thunder fighter jet.

So far there has been no formal announcement by the Chinese or the Pakistani government about establishment of a Chinese naval base in Gwadar but Pakistan’s military has increased its naval and ground force presence in Gwadar. According to a detailed 2018 investigative report in the Herald (a Pakistan-based newspaper), the Pakistani Navy (and to a lesser extent other branches of Pakistan’s armed forces,) have quietly but aggressively purchased several thousand of acres of land around Gwadar port since 2015. These land acquisitions and growing presence of armed forces around Gwadar offer strong support for the claim that the Pakistani military is developing a naval base near Gwadar. In the context of the close military partnership between China and Pakistan, and the strong commitment of China to the development of Gwadar port, it is highly probable that Pakistan’s naval assets near Gwadar will be either formally or informally available to China.

Consequently, China’s ability to use the CPEC network and Gwadar for military purposes will enhance China’s naval capabilities in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. This enhanced capability will have a strong impact on China’s strategic and geopolitical relations in the Middle East. China has maintained a policy of nonintervention and neutrality with regard to multiple conflicts among its Middle East trade partners so far. These include the decades-old Iran-Saudi proxy war and the tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia since 2017. Despite its heavy dependence on Middle East oil, China has not challenged the U.S. military dominance and its special role as the main external power that provides stability and maritime security in the Persian Gulf.

Instead of a direct naval presence in the Middle East to protect its economic interests, China has so far limited its military role to exporting arms to most Middle Eastern countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. This lack of direct military presence so far has been a result of China’s decision to project itself as an economic power rather than a military one, as well as a consequence of its limited military assets. The access to the CPEC transport network and Gwadar port, however, will significantly enhance China’s ability to project power in West Asia and Indian Ocean, if needed. The United States, Russia, and the regional powers will have to take these enhanced capacities into account as they formulate their Middle East policies.

Strategic Significance of Gwadar in China-Middle East Relations


Among multiple CPEC infrastructure projects, China appears most committed to the Gwadar seaport. This strong commitment was demonstrated by China’s decision in 2015 to convert a $230 million loan for the development of Gwadar airport into a grant. Another $140 million loan for development of a 19 km expressway connecting Gwadar to Pakistan’s coastal highway was also converted to an interest-free loan. China has not shown this type of generosity for other CPEC projects.

If developed according to the CPEC long-term plan, Gwadar will emerge as a major trade hub for China’s economic relations with the Middle East and North Africa.

Under its 40-year lease China is involved in several projects for developing Gwadar into a modern commercial port and special economic zone. These projects include an international airport, an industrial zone, a water desalination plan, an oil terminal and petrochemical complex, a coal power generation plant, and other auxiliary facilities, all of which are currently under way. The coordinated China-Pakistan master plan for Gwadar relies heavily on public private partnership (PPP) for attraction of private and international investment for industrial and commercial activities in Gwadar. The Pakistani government has announced several investment and tax incentives for Gwadar economic zones for this purpose. As these major projects move forward, the Gwadar Seaport will make four important contributions to the China-Middle East economic relations.

First, once the transportation and shipment of goods through CPEC becomes more cost-effective than the current Indian Ocean sea route, Gwadar will serve as the major transit and transshipment port for China’s trade with the Middle East and Africa. As such, it will capture part of the port services that Dubai is currently providing for many Middle Eastern countries. Some of the Chinese products that arrive in Dubai port for re-export to other countries in smaller vessels will use Gwadar port for this purpose.

Second, Gwadar special economic zones and re-export zones that are currently under development will attract a significant amount of direct investment from Arab countries. Qatar, which is currently under an economic blockade by the United Arab Emirates and has lost access to Dubai port facilities, has expressed interest in development of food storage facilities in Gwadar. The government of the United Arab Emirates is also actively promoting investments by UAE-based businesses in Gwadar economic zone.

Third, China and Pakistan are developing a major oil and petrochemical investment zone in Gwadar, which will attract significant investment from Middle Eastern oil exporting countries. The Gwadar Oil Terminal City will include large terminal and storage facilities for crude oil and associated petrochemical industries. These units will produce refined oil products for both Pakistani and Chinese markets. Several oil exporting Arab countries have already announced major investments in this initiative.

In February 2019 Saudi Arabia announced a $10 billion petrochemical investment in Gwadar during an official visit by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan. In October of the same year the UAE announced that it was close to finalizing a $5 billion joint venture agreement with Pakistan for construction of an oil refinery in Gwadar. It is likely that many other Arab oil exporting countries will follow the lead of Saudi Arabia and the UAE for investment in Gwadar Oil Terminal City.

Fourth, the development of Gwadar seaport will affect Iran’s relations with China and India. When China and Pakistan announced CPEC, India responded by approaching Iran to develop the Chabahar port in the Oman Sea in order to create an alternative north-south corridor for India’s trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia. But growing strategic ties between the United States and India have increased India’s sensitivity to the U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, and as a result, India has cut back her economic relations and oil purchases from Iran.

In response to this development, Iranian officials have expressed an interest in linking Chabahar port to Gwadar by highway and natural gas pipeline. This interest was articulated by Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, during a May 2019 visit to Pakistan: “We believe that Chabahar — one of Iran’s developing seaports on the Oman Sea — and Gwadar — a port city on the southwestern coast of Baluchistan, Pakistan, also on the Oman sea — can complement each other.”

Linking Chabahar to Gwadar will serve several objectives for Iran. First, it will allow Iran to export natural gas to Pakistan and China via Gwadar. Iran has already completed a natural gas pipeline to the Pakistan border under an earlier Iran-Pakistan agreement but the portion in Pakistan has not been constructed due to pressure from the United States and Saudi Arabia. Now Iran has pinned its hopes on China’s support to save the project and to balance the growing Saudi Arabian influence in CPEC by its own participation. So far there has been no official response by Pakistan and China to Iran’s request but government officials in both countries have expressed positive reactions to the potential for Iran’s participation in CPEC.

Final Words

China’s massive financial commitment to CPEC cannot be justified by its impact on China-Pakistan bilateral relations alone. The connectivity and transport capacity that CPEC will create between western China and the Arabian Sea can prove even more valuable to China than the direct gains in China-Pakistan relations. CPEC will significantly enhance China’s capacity to expand her economic and strategic relations with energy-rich Middle Eastern countries. CPEC will also allow China to connect the Arab countries to the Belt and Road network in Central Asia and Eurasia. Due to their rivalries with Iran, many of these countries were reluctant to use Iran’s transit routes for that purpose.

While China is likely to continue its policy of neutrality and avoiding direct military intervention in the Middle East, development of CPEC will enhance its capacity to project military and naval power in the region if and when it decides to do so. This enhanced capacity will now be taken into account by Middle Eastern counties and external powers that are currently projecting power in the region.

Despite many challenges and risks that have not been addressed in this article, Pakistan and China both seem committed to CPEC and as the second and third phases of this initiative become operational in the next 10 years, most Middle Eastern countries are likely to participate and take advantage of its transportation network.

Nader Habibi is a professor of practice in economics of the Middle East, Crown Center for Middle East Studies and Department of Economics, Brandeis University (U.S.).

Hans Yue Zhu is a graduate student at Yale University’s Economics Department and a research assistant at the Yale Jackson Institute of Global Affairs.

Source: The Diplomat “What CPEC Means for China’s Middle East Relations”

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

US Helpless as China Has Turned South China Sea into Its Lake

South China Morning Post’s article “Has the US already lost the battle for the South China Sea?” yesterday asked the stupid question whether the US has already lost the battle for the South China Sea.

It’s stupid as there has not been and will not be any battle there as by deployment of J-20s to control the air and construction of artificial islands the US is simply unable to fight a battle in the South China Sea.

Subdue the enemy without fighting is the best of best

                                                              –Sun Tze

The SCMP article says that some military experts and analysts believe China’s artificial islands may be destroyed by missiles but so are US military bases in Asia and the Guam.

If there were such a missile battle, it would be a battle in East Asia instead of a small battle in the South China Sea. In such a war, the US cannot be sure of the support from its allies Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines but China can be very sure of the support from its de facto ally Russia.

In fact, the US has lost dominance of not only the South China Sea but East Asia.

Comment on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be viewed at

Japan and Myanmar’s Toxic Friendship

Japan’s appeasement policy toward Myanmar, driven by geopolitics and disregard for human rights, is supporting the Rohingya genocide.

By Yuzuki Nagakoshi

January 15, 2020

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, shakes hands with Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi prior to the Japan-Mekong Summit Meeting at the Akasaka Palace State Guest House in Tokyo, Oct. 9, 2018.
Credit: Frank Robichon/Pool Photo via AP

Myanmar offered the starving Japanese people affordable rice in the early 1950s, when Japan was struggling to recover from World War II. Japan is paying the people back by supporting Myanmar’s apartheid regime against the Rohingya.

The 2016-17 violence that bore the hallmarks of genocide was only a tip of the iceberg of the Myanmar government’s longstanding discriminatory policies. Marzuki Darusman, the head of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, stated in October 2019 that Myanmar is still failing to prevent, investigate, and effectively criminalize genocide. The threat of extreme violence recurring is real. Myanmar has perpetrated rounds of violence since the 1970s, and the international community failed to protect the Rohingya every time.

In the International Court of Justice proceedings that The Gambia brought against Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi denied the allegations that genocide is ongoing in her country. She portrayed the situation as an armed conflict, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism operations, and intercommunal violence, without any genocidal intent involved. Apart from the time she referred to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, she never used the word “Rohingya” in her speech — following the official policy of her government, which claims that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and not native to Myanmar. That the Rohingya are illegal immigrants is a fully debunked yet common misbelief among people in Myanmar and such a notion underlies the disenfranchisement and persecution of the Rohingya.

Despite the United Nation’s repeated calls for vigilance toward the situation in Myanmar and Myanmar’s wholesale denial of genocide, Japan has been appeasing the country. Japan was the first country to support Myanmar in the ICJ case. The Japanese ambassador to Myanmar, Ichiro Maruyama, stated in a press conference in Yangon on December 26 that “his government firmly believes that no genocide was committed in the country” and prays and hopes that the “ICJ will not issue a ruling for provisional measures” against Myanmar. If the ICJ issues such measures, he says, “Japan will look at ways to help Myanmar handle the process smoothly.” As the country most affected by the mass influx of Rohingya refugees who cross the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. Bangladesh protested against Japan’s position.

Another symbolic episode that shows Japan’s utter disregard for Rohingya human rights happened in mid-August. In an interview with BBC Burma published on August 19, Maruyama referred to the Rohingya as “Bengali” – a derogatory term that falsely indicates that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Myanmar is in the process of transformation, hopefully from a totalitarian country ruled by the military into a democratic country governed by civilians in a way that is compliant with the rule of law. Democracy, rule of law, and civilian government are some of the core aspects that define good governance. But democratization increases the stake of the answer to the problem of who gets to be included in the political decision-making process. Therefore, democratization could lead to increased racial tensions and the othering of ethnic minorities so as to exclude them from the political process.

According to a survey by the Japanese foreign ministry, the Myanmar people perceived Japan to be the country’s most important partner and the most trustworthy country. Japan has, however, abused the Myanmar people’s trust and sabotaged international cooperation in pressuring the civilian government and the Myanmar military to correct its wrongs – all based on Tokyo’s shortsighted view of geopolitical and economic interest. Japan’s attempt to augment its international presence must be accompanied by an enhanced sense of responsibility as the guardian and promoter for fundamental human rights.

Japan’s Geopolitical Interest in Asia’s Last Frontier

The friendship between Japan and Myanmar is driven strongly by Japanese geopolitical interests. Fierce competition exists between the Asian economic giants – mainly Japan and China – over Asia’s “last frontier,” Myanmar. Japan has been offering Myanmar assistance to distance Naypyitaw from Beijing. Rakhine state is one of the forefronts of such competition. Beijing is working toward building a deep-water port in Rakhine state, where the violence against the Rohingya is ongoing. Tokyo supported the Rakhine State Investment Fair in February 2019 to encourage investment in the state.

Ostensibly, the Japanese policy of noninterference with the genocide is based on respect for Myanmar’s policy choices and meant to support Myanmar through its development process. Japan has been an important economic partner of Myanmar: It is Myanmar’s sixth-largest direct investor, the third-largest importer of Myanmar products, and the seventh-largest exporter to Myanmar. Moreover, Japan has not imposed any sanctions against Myanmar military officials or any trade restrictions against Myanmar, calling calls for sanctions an “utter nonsense.” In fluent Burmese, the Japanese ambassador said that Japan always wants to be a “good friend” of Myanmar and therefore supports Myanmar’s economic and political development by maintaining relationships rather than imposing sanctions.

The Japanese Government’s Contribution to the Rohingya Genocide

In the name of its geopolitical interests, Japan has been contributing to the Rohingya genocide in a number of ways.

First, Tokyo has failed to even acknowledge the Rohingya as an ethnic minority. The Japanese government refers to the Rohingya as “the Muslims in Rakhine,” “Rohingya (Bangladeshi Muslims),” or “Muslims” (as opposed to “Rakhine Buddhists”). The purpose of refusing to call the Rohingya by the names they use to identify themselves is to remain “neutral” in the matter, according to then-Foreign Minister Taro Konno, who offered his opinion in a blog post in March 2018. Japanese Ambassador Maruyama’s use of the derogatory term “Bengali” was not an anomaly or a mistake — it reflected a longstanding Japanese policy to turn a blind eye to the Myanmar government’s apartheid policy and genocide.

Japan has also opposed the establishment of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission and supported Myanmar in creating their own fact-finding mission, reportedly to maintain its access to the large Myanmar market. Japan sent a former U.N. under-secretary general to serve Myanmar’s own Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE), which was cited by Aung San Suu Kyi in her opening statement at the ICJ as evidence of an existence of a functioning mechanism to hold soldiers or officers accountable for possible war crimes. The ICOE, however, is not a mechanism to hold anyone accountable. In fact, its chairperson openly stated that finger pointing, blaming, or saying “you’re accountable” is a bad approach to solving the problem. Supporting such a mechanism is only helping Myanmar in escaping its accountability.

Japan’s ambivalent approach was on display when a Japanese beverage company was called out by Amnesty International for its Myanmar subsidiary making a donation to the Tatmadaw during a public donation ceremony in the midst of reports of the violence against the Rohingya. The company made three donations totaling $30,000 between September and October 2017. The Japanese company has 55 percent ownership of the subsidiary, Myanmar Brewery, and had been involved in making donation decisions through the managing director on placement from the Japanese parent company.

The Japanese company reviewed its subsidiaries’ donations policy in response to the crisis and updated their charitable donations and volunteering policy. Under the new policy, beneficiaries must be clearly identified, and the recipient organization must be politically neutral and work for all members of the community. The use of the donated funds must be recorded and shared with the subsidiary upon request.

However, such measures are insufficient as means for compensating for the harm that the unethical and likely illegal conduct caused and holding people who made the decision accountable. The use of funding donated during the 2017 mass violence has not been identified, and no reports exist as to how the parent or subsidiary took responsibility for this donation.

Such conduct may even trigger international criminal liability, as Chris Sidoti of the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has stated. Companies are immune from criminal prosecution under the International Criminal Court Statute, but its leaders are not. By donating money to the Tatmadaw during the 2017 violence, foreign companies aided and abetted the crimes of forced deportation, persecution, or even genocide through providing the means for the its commission.

By failing to take action against Japanese parent companies of Myanmar subsidiaries that donated money to the Tatmadaw amidst reports of ongoing genocide, the Japanese government may be violating its international obligations. Japan is not party to the genocide convention (ostensibly because there is the prohibition of incitement of genocide under the Convention is incompatible with the freedom of expression guaranteed under the Japanese Constitution and revisions of domestic law might become necessary), but the duty to prevent genocide and punish the perpetrators forms part of customary international law, from which states cannot derogate.

The Question of Sanctions

Japan has opposed economic sanctions, saying that such a “drastic” response would only “fuel the situation.” However, the failure in taking any measures seems to stem from Japan’s economic interest. The Japanese government reportedly sees the other countries’ economic sanctions as a chance to better Japanese companies’ competitiveness in the Myanmar market.

Indeed, Japan is actively involved in the development of resource-rich Rakhine state, where the Rohingya have been confined in “open-air prisons” for the crime of being Rohingya. Over a million Rohingya have been gruesomely expelled from the state. In February 2019, the Japanese embassy to Myanmar and the Japan International Cooperation Agency co-hosted the Rakhine State Investment Fair in the state, amid land grabs from the Rohingya to make space for foreign and domestic investors.

It may be true as a general statement, as some suggest, that broad economic sanctions would only punish the poor who rely on export-related industries and would push Myanmar to be more dependent on China. If that happens, Myanmar would be less vulnerable to international sanctions and criticisms. However, not participating in or opposing targeted sanctions would send the wrong message that Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya is permissible or that the international community is willing to turn a blind eye to these gross human rights violations.

In October 2019, Japan’s Ministry of Defense officially invited Min Aung Hlaing, the highest-ranked Myanmar military official who bears the “greatest responsibility” for the international crimes in Rakhine state, according to the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. He is on the U.S. sanctions list. His Twitter account, which features tweets referring to the Rohingya as Bengali and denying the occurrence of atrocities, was suspended for hate speech.

Despite his expressed disregard for fundamental human rights and leading role in the Rohingya genocide, Min Aung Hlaing received a warm welcome from the Japanese government. He met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who expressed his appreciation of Min Aung Hlaing’s tolerance in dealing with the Rakhine situation. Abe further urged him to take leadership in taking appropriate measures according to Myanmar’s ICOE. To expect the alleged commander of genocide to effectively deal with his own crime is preposterous.

Instead, to start with, Japan can join the United States and EU in imposing sanctions in a more targeted way, for example, by targeting senior military officials. Furthermore, Japan can also join in sanctions on companies that are related to the military, as identified by the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission. Just because broad economic sanctions may have negative side effects to civilians does not mean that Japan should not take targeted measures against the military or at least cease active support toward military officials who are suspected of committing grave international crimes.

Supporting Myanmar in Its Transition to an Inclusive Democracy

It is mere wishful thinking that the Myanmar government or military would automatically change course and become more inclusive and less oppressive as Myanmar economically develops and becomes more democratic. Democratization without accompanying protection for minorities may make matters worse; democracy, at its core, is a way of governing where the majority prevails. Some observe that “democratization processes in themselves can lead to a period of collective violence,” often linked to inter-racial conflict.

Violence not only harms the Rohingya and other persecuted ethnic minorities. Extreme violence by command may scar the direct perpetrators, who may have ethical objections to such commands but nevertheless be coerced into action. The author has personally heard from former military trainees that the Tatmadaw has been engaging in extrajudicial execution of its own soldiers when they do not obey their superiors’ command to engage in unlawful violence.

So far, for Japan being good friends seems to mean letting Myanmar’s egregious violence and other gross human rights violations slide as internal policy decisions that foreign powers should stay away from. Giving developing countries space to grow and allow some lapse in judgment may be a sound international aid policy as a general principle. But the human rights violations committed against the Rohingya are so gruesome that every government should oppose and act against them. Japan should lead Myanmar into a path of stable democracy and respect for human rights — because that is what a true friend would do.

Yuzuki Nagakoshi, Ph.D. is an international and comparative law scholar based in Arusha, Tanzania. Her current research areas are international human rights law and international criminal law. Recent works include “Repatriated to ‘Prison’: Landgrabbing as a tool of segregation in Myanmar.”

Source: The Diplomat “Japan and Myanmar’s Toxic Friendship”

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