China-Russia Cold War Camp Prevails while Western Camp Disintegrating


A vessel belonging to a Chinese naval group docks at the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas last Wednesday. Photo: Handout

I have quite a few posts on the emergence of the new Cold War between Russia-China autocratic camp and Western democratic camp consisting of US, EU and Japan.

There has been much media talks about the US losing Asia, which in facts means US losing Southeast Asia.

Previously US was Asian leader but in East Asia consisting of Japan and South Korea and in Southeast Asia, the ASEAN.

Now, the US has lost ASEAN due to ASEAN’s economic dependence on China and US military’s failure to protect Philippines’ interests in the South China Sea.

In recent Shangri-la Dialogue, only the US, Japan and Australia criticized Chinese moves in the South China Sea, but ASEAN remained silent. Some ASEAN members have contending claims against China but they prefer silence as they know that they will suffer in confronting China as the US will not and is unable to help them either economically or militarily.

Western media blames Trump for that. However, US losses were caused by Obama administration’s failures.

First, US pivot to Asia aimed at containing China gave Russia the impression that the US was also containing Russia when Putin was making great efforts to improve Russia-US relations.

Obama thus gave China the opportunity to win over Russia, China’s historical enemy.

Unexpectedly, Russia has become China’s close ally as China can be the largest market for Russia’s natural resources especially oil and gas. The US, however has greatly reduced its import of energy even from the Middle East let alone Russia as it has developed the technology to extract gas from shale. China has also been able to provide Russia with funds for Russia’s development.

Certainly, the alliance is first of all political as they have to combine forces in resisting the US.

Being strategy illiterate, US politicians and military intensified pressure on both China and Russia respectively in the South China Sea and Ukraine. That has turned China and Russia into close allies and their Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) into their new Cold War camp against the Western camp led by the US.

SCO’s recent expansion to include Pakistan and India has made the China-Russia camp much stronger. Now it seems that SCO will soon accept Iran as its new member as Iran has been applying to join SCO.

SCMP’s report today “China and Iran held a joint naval exercise near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf amid rising tension in the region” shows China and Iran’s joint efforts in developing military ties.

The report says “the drill on Sunday included an Iranian warship and two Chinese destroyers, a logistics ship and one helicopter.”

The timing of the drill is especially important as SCMP says that it was carried out “amid heightened tension between Iranian and US warships in the Gulf. Washington has accused Iran of sending fast-attack boats to harass US warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. The US Navy also held a drill with Qatar on Saturday.”

In fact, close relations with Iran will enable China to have a new Silk Road through Pakistan to Iran for secure export of Iranian oil and gas to China. As India, Pakistan and potentially Iran are all SCO members, there is possibility for Iran to export oil to India safely through Pakistan.

The great economic interests will make China and Pakistan Iran’s close military allies in countering the US and protecting China’s trade sea route from Pakistan to the Middle East.

On the other hand, Trump’s “America first” has given rise to serious split between EU and the US while his scrap of TPP and improvement of US ties with China has made the US Japan’s fierce competitor in China’s huge market.

US-EU-Japan Cold War camp is disintegrating while China-Russia camp is growing larger and stronger.

American world leadership? In the new Cold War, America cannot even lead its Western camp.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2098898/china-and-iran-carry-out-naval-exercise-near-strait.


China’s Islands Building Wins in South China Sea and Then in Pacific


Modules of China’s planned super large floating island

On May 12, Ely Ratner, the Maurice R. Greenberg senior fellow in China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, published an article along with Samir Kumar titled “The United States Is Losing Asia to China” .

I posted my comment on the article on June 14 titled “Why the United States Is Losing Asia to China?” to make my analysis of the reasons why the US has been losing Asia. I point out that the US has lost due to its own problems and that China has done nothing to grab Asian leadership from the US.

Unhappy with US loss, Mr. Ratner published another article on Foreign Affairs on June 13 titled “Course Correction: How to Stop China’s Maritime Advance” to give US government his advices on the measures that the US shall adopt to stop China’s advance in exerting full control of the South China Sea, including revival of Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the adoption of some other measures with similar effects to TTP to put an end to ASEAN countries economic dependence on China and providing weapons and military support for them to stand up against China in the South China Sea.

Such measures will certainly be economic burdens too heavy for a hard-up US to bear. In the final analysis, however, Mr. Ratner does not want such US efforts to result in a war with China. He believes that such measures will force China to retreat as China fears a war with the US.

He simply does not understand the Chinese dream that Chinese President Xi Jinping has used to overcome the serious split between conservatives and reformists and make China a united nation.

Chinese people cherish the Chinese dream due to their memory of China’s misery of being bullied by foreign powers for nearly a century. They want the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation to make China strong to be able to resist foreign bully, which now comes from the US, the only hegemon in the world now.

In 1947, China published its map with an 11-dash line (9-dash now) encircling most of the South China Sea to show its historical claim. The map in fact means that the South China Sea is China’s lake. The US did not oppose as at that time China was very weak and depended on US support for its claim. At that time, China’s lake means America’s lake for US politicians and military.

Unfortunately, there has been regime change and China’s unexpected rise. Now China has grown so strong that it can claim the lake on its own strength. The US can no longer dominate Southeast Asia and the South China Sea. Ratner believes that such loss means US loss of Asia.

In fact, in spite of its ambition, the US has never had Asia. North and Central Asia was parts of the Soviet Union and now Russia and areas under Russian influence. South Asia especially India is under Russian influence. US influence in Pakistan has long been replaced by China. Pakistan now regards itself as China’s closes brother.

To further west, the US lost Iran long ago and now has Iran as its dead enemy. The US is losing the Middle East possibly to Islamic extremists but not to China.

Therefore, Mr. Ratner’s statement that the US is losing Asia to China merely reflects US impudence and fear of a rising China. China cannot have Asia even if the US does not exist in the world. How can China take Russia, India or Japan? China simply shall not have the ambition to take them. China shall take care of its own people and have no ambition for world hegemony.

However, due to Chinese people’s dream for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, they will fight to resist foreign bully no matter how strong the bully is.

China’s posture to fight was shown very clear in Chinese navy chief Adm. Wu Shengli’s meeting with his US counterpart. We have a photo of Wu pointing his finger at his US counterpart when he was told to respect Hague arbitration award that entirely denies China’s historical rights and interests. China conducted large-scale military drill around the time when the award was declared and began combat patrol of the South China Sea immediately after that.

What was US response at that time? It simply dare not respond militarily but only declared that it would maintain its naval presence in the South China Sea.

I said repeatedly in my posts that with geographical advantages, especially the seven large artificial islands with three airports, China has full control of the South China Sea and made it China’s lake as it has claimed long ago.

China can deploy at least 600 fighter jets on the three airports of the artificial islands. There are in addition land-based fighter jets on Chinese coast that may join the fight through refueling as China’s J-20s will have air supremacy. The US only has 10 aircraft carriers but cannot send all of them to fight as they are so sophisticated as to need long-term overhaul periodically so that only two third of them can be in service. As a result, the US can only send a maximum of 7 carriers with at most 560 fighter jets to deal with more than 1,000 land- and island-based Chinese fighter jets.

Chinese fighter jets are now as good as US ones.

They say Chinese pilots lack the experience in fighting modern war. So are US pilots. They have never had any air battles with advanced air force. They have defeated Iraqi air force much inferior to them and can have gained no experience they need in fighting China’s air force.

In an emergency, land based fighter jets can land on Chinese expressways when Chinese airports are damaged but carrier-based fighter jets in the South China Sea can only fall into the sea or land on Chinese airports to be captured by China.

Moreover, artificial islands are large and can deploy the best air defense and anti-ship missiles and rocket artillery to destroy entire US attacking navy. China has built islands to not only defeat US aircraft carrier battle groups but also prevent US submarines from attacking China with submarine-launched missiles.

China’s strategy of island building is much better than US strategy of carrier building.

Artificial islands can be used as fishing and mining bases and can even generate income as tourist resorts. US navy has conducted a research and proved that one floating island and two aircraft carriers have the capabilities of five carriers.

I can safely predict that China can dominate the Pacific if it has built three floating islands and six aircraft carriers and deploy them in the Pacific. China’s Silk Road economic belt initiatives have enabled it to have land routes to Europe and the Middle East through Russia, Central Asia and Pakistan so that it has no need to deploy its navy in the Indian Ocean. Its three floating islands and six carriers with capabilities of 15 carriers are more than enough to protect its trade lifelines in the Pacific against US navy that can deploy at most only 7 carriers.

Moreover, China is able to build nuclear submarines better than US ones and have built a plant able to build four nuclear submarines simultaneously. The US only has the capacity to build two. Even so, it has funding problem to maintain such scale of construction.

The US is not capable to stop China’s control of the South China Sea. Mr. Ratner had better worry about the Pacific than the South China Sea.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Foreign Affairs’ article, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2017-06-13/course-correction.


Expanded China-, Russia-led SCO Stronger than Split EU, US


Flags of members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation at the venue of one of the group’s past meetings. Aside from the accession to full membership of India and Pakistan, the group’s next meeting is expected to debate Iran’s membership. Photo: Xinhua

China wants SCO (the Shanghai Cooperation Organization) to counter the US, but Russia wants it to counter not only the US but also EU, i.e. making it the eastern camp to counter the Western camp of EU and US.

SCMP says in its report “Security trumps rivalry as India, Pakistan to join China-led regional bloc” yesterday that India and Pakistan will both be admitted into SCO. SCMP’s report regards SCO as China-led. That is natural as lots of media and politicians believe that the rising China will take over world leadership from declining US let alone SCO leadership.

In fact, as neither Russia nor China wants to be SCO’s sole leader, SCO is led by both China and Russia. That’s something unbelievable!

We all know that only one tiger rules a mountain and that it is impossible for two tigers to cooperate in ruling one mountain. However, that is for tigers. Human beings must be wiser. However, the Thucydides trap precisely reflects human beings’ tiger mentality.

No, tigers are wise, but human beings are stupid!

When there are two tigers in a mountain, they do not fight for dominance, let alone killing one another. One of them simply leaves and goes to rule another mountain.

The Thucydides trap is entirely human. It has given rise to the cruelest wars and massive killing. The death toll in one of the world war due to the trap exceeded 10 millions.

We should say Russian leader Putin and Chinese leader Xi are both exceptionally wise so that there can be two leaders in SCO. It is really exceptional.

However, there will soon be something even more exceptional: India and Pakistan the two archenemies will join the same organization for cooperation.

The report points out the trouble China will face in dealing with India-Pakistan hostility and China-India rivalry.

It forgets SCO’s another leader Putin. If Russia had not been one of the leaders, how could SCO have attracted India in the first place when India’s archenemy Pakistan wants to join at the same time while one of SCO’s leaders is India’s rival China?

Putin will help Xi deal with those issues.

Moreover, we shall not underestimate India and Pakistan’s leaders’ wisdom. Their participation in the same organization of cooperation precisely proves their wise intention to bury hatchets. It will be very tricky but the benefits for both countries will be terrifically great. The ease of tension between India and Pakistan will enable both of them to transfer lots of their resources to the funding of their economic development.

Just imagine, how tremendously great the benefit a pipeline linking Iran and India through Pakistan will bring to India! I believe that the two countries will overcome their hostility through SCO rather than splitting SCO due to the hostility and rivalry.

The report says that SCO will consider admitting Iran into the organization. An expanded SCO with the addition of two South Asian powers will enable SCO to counter the Western camp which is splitting due to Trump’s dissatisfaction with NATO and Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Taking Iran into SCO will make the eastern camp centered on SCO much more powerful than the Western camp.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2096913/india-pakistan-set-join-china-led-security-group.


Can China Win over India while Helping Pakistan Grow Stronger?


Journalist take pictures outside the venue of a summit at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Compared with narrow-minded India, China seems too broad minded. Just as described in Reuters’ report “India’s ‘new Silk Road’ snub highlights gulf with China” on May 20, China has failed to attract Indian leader to attend its OBOR summit.

India will certainly be much benefited if it joins China’s Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road (One Belt, One Road or OBOR) plan by attracting Chinese investment and the establishment of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

China certainly will also be benefited by the connection to South Asia; therefore, it has tried hard to attract India into its OBOR. However, it depends on India’s willingness to put aside its disputes and conflicts with China and Pakistan and turn a new page in its relations with its two large neighbors.

India Prime Minister Norandra Modi attached great importance to India’s relations with China when he was just elected, but under the influence of popular enmity against China and fear of China’s rise, Modi has obviously changed his mind. He now seems to have regarded China as his enemy. It is certainly a stupid strategy to maintain instead of removing hostility with India’s large and strong neighbors China and Pakistan but narrow-minded India is too strategy illiterate to see the necessity in conducting friendly diplomacy with its neighbors. That is why Reuters mentions in its report some Indian experts’ view on India’s risk in being isolated, but Modi does not seem to realize that.

For China, however, winning over India serves its best interests. It has made great efforts to resolve its border disputes with India. Now, Reuters says in its report that China has tried hard in vain to have Modi and Indian high officials attend its OBOR summit.

However, supporting Pakistan has long been China’s strategy to reduce border threat from India. China loses nothing if it cannot win over India. On the contrary, India’s opposition will push Pakistan closer to China and facilitate the success of China-Pakistan win win cooperation to make both countries richer and stronger.

Perhaps, India is confident that it will grow stronger than China in the long run, but can it attain that goal in isolation?

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-india-idUSKCN18H01L.


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China’s Vital Success in Its OBOR


Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

In its report “Pakistan signs nearly $500 million in China deals at Silk Road summit” yesterday, Reuters quotes Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif as saying to Chinese President, “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a core component of your visionary initiative of the ‘One Belt-One Road'”.

In my post “The Conundrum of China’s New Silk Road Plan” on April 20, I said that China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR) aims at establishing alternate land routes for its national security and expanding its trade with other countries. China is not rich enough to share the bounty of its economic development and to fund infrastructure gaps irrelevant to its national security or economic growth.

Sharif is wise to see the vital strategic importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in China’s OBOR so that he describes it as the core of Xi Jinping’s OBOR initiative.

The Corridor will facilitate Pakistan’s and Western China’s economic development and strengthen China’s and Pakistan’s defense in their border with India. Moreover, China will have a shortcut in its trade with the Middle East through the corridor.

Due to the strategic importance, Xi and Sharif signed $500 million deals for CPEC in addition to the $57 billion already pledged for its projects. Pakistani troops are active in ensuring the safety of those projects due to their importance to Pakistan’s and China’s national security.

In fact, the core projects for OBOR are but those in Pakistan, Central Asia and Russia for China’s trade to the Middle East and Europe, especially the access to oil and gas resources there.

It is Xi’s wise idea to describe OBOR as a global initiative involving lots of countries that in fact are not along China’s Silk Road in order to attract other countries’ investment and construction industries to the projects that benefit China. Japan and South Korea are interested in the infrastructures in Southeast Asia, which though is included in China’s OBOR initiative, is really not along China’s Silk Road as China’s trade routes to the Middle East, Europe and Africa through Southeast Asia have yet to go through the Indian Ocean with the risk of being cut by not only US but also Indian navy.

However, the infrastructure developed by whatever countries China, Japan, South Korea or others will facilitate rich overseas Chinese’ business in the region and thus expands China’s influence there.

As for the US, Japan and South Korea’s competition with China in developing infrastructures in Central Asia, China certainly welcomes such competition as the infrastructures will first of all be exploited by China in its trade and investment there. I do not see the wisdom in such competition as the infrastructures are in countries under Russian military dominance.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-pakistan-idUSKBN1890KD.


The Conundrum of China’s New Silk Road Plan


Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni (who will attend New Silk Road summit) talks to the media at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

In its report yesterday titled “China to gather friends for biggest summit of year on New Silk Road”, Reuters says, “While China has portrayed the New Silk Road as a genuine effort to share the bounty of China’s economic development and to fund infrastructure gaps, many Western countries are concerned about a lack of detail and transparency in the project and are suspicious about China’s broader political intents.”

China certainly is not so generous as to contribute billions of dollars to its New Silk Road projects for nothing in return. The sharing of bounty is but propaganda. China is simply not rich enough to do so. It has to first eliminate poverty at home and raise its own people’s living standards to a level similar to Western developed countries. To achieve those goals, China still has a long way to go.

Therefore, it helps other countries build infrastructures first of all for its own benefits, i.e. to provide alternative routes for import and export, which will facilitate not only its trade but also national security.

The most important are pipelines for import of oil and gas from Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East. The shipping route to the Middle East and Europe through Indian Ocean can easily be cut by powerful US navy. Russia and Central Asia offer alternative land routes, but the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will be even better.

The roads, railways and pipelines to be built and expanded through the corridor will provide China with connections to the Middle East, Europe and Africa as there is military protection by Iran and Russia of the sea route from Pakistan’s Gwadar Port that China has been building. That trade route will facilitate the economic development not only in Pakistan but also China’s vast west.

In addition, China may move its labor-intensive industries to Pakistan to exploit the cheap labor there.

The New Silk Road projects are first of all for China’s own security and economic growth while enabling other countries along the road to become rich through win-win cooperation. Leaders of Western developed countries will not attend the New Silk Road summit as they do not think that their countries will be much benefited by the road. Only Italian Prime Minister will attend the summit as the sea route from Gwadar Port may connect to land route through Italy to Europe.

However, can China’s good relations with those small and poor nations along the New Silk Road in Asia enable China to replace the US as world leader? I don’t think Western leaders have such rich imagination as Reuters points out in its report.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-summit-idUSKBN17K0FL.


China blocks India’s request for U.N. to blacklist militant chief


Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Pakistan's militant Jaish-e-Mohammad party, attends a pro-Taliban conference organised by the Afghan Defence Council in Islamabad August 26, 2001. Azhar, who was freed by India in exchange for the release of an Indian aircraft hijacked to Afghanistan in 1999, said that U.N. monitors should not be placed in Pakistan and that his followers would lay down their lives to force them out.

Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Pakistan’s militant Jaish-e-Mohammad party, attends a pro-Taliban conference organised by the Afghan Defence Council in Islamabad August 26, 2001. Azhar, who was freed by India in exchange for the release of an Indian aircraft hijacked to Afghanistan in 1999, said that U.N. monitors should not be placed in Pakistan and that his followers would lay down their lives to force them out.

China has blocked India’s request to add the head of the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad to a U.N. Security Council blacklist of groups linked to al Qaeda, India said on Friday.

India has accused Jaish-e-Mohammad and its top leader, Maulana Masood Azhar, of masterminding several attacks, including a deadly assault on an Indian air base in January.

Pakistani security officials interrogated Azhar and his associates after the attack, and said they found no evidence linking him to it.

Jaish-e-Mohammad has already been blacklisted by the 15-nation Security Council, but not Azhar, an Islamist hardliner and long-time foe of India.

Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said that India had requested that Azhar be added to the list nine months ago and had received strong backing from all other members of the council.

But China, which put a hold on the move in April, had now blocked it, he said.

“We had expected China would have been more understanding of the danger posed to all by terrorism,” he said in a statement.

Swarup added that the inability of the international community to take the step showed the “prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism”.

China’s foreign ministry said there were different views about the case, so China had put forward a “technical shelving” to give more time for consultation, but that regretfully no consensus had been reached.

China’s aim is to maintain the authority and effectiveness of name listing by the committee discussing the case, which accords with Security Council resolutions and is the responsible thing to do, it said in a statement sent to Reuters.

China will continue to maintain communication with all parties, it added.

India has long accused its neighbour and rival Pakistan of using Jaish-e-Mohammad as a proxy to mount attacks on Indian soil, including in the disputed Kashmir region, and earlier gave what it called “actionable intelligence” to Pakistan, including telephone intercepts.

Pakistan denies giving any aid to Kashmir-based militants.

If Azhar was blacklisted by the U.N. Security Council, he would face a global travel ban and asset freeze.

(Reporting by Paritosh Bansal in NEW DELHI and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; editing by Mike Collett-White and Jason Neely)

Source: Reuters “China blocks India’s request for U.N. to blacklist militant chief”

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