A Nixon Strategy to Break the Russia-China Axis


President and Mrs. Nixon's arrival in China. Wikimedia Commons/National Archives and Records Administration

President and Mrs. Nixon’s arrival in China. Wikimedia Commons/National Archives and Records Administration

Doug Bandow January 4, 2017

Perhaps the greatest evidence of the hubris surrounding uber-hawks, both neoconservatives and liberal interventionists, is their willingness—even determination—to make multiple enemies simultaneously around the globe. Hence their constant refrain that the world is dangerous and military spending must go up, ever up.

The United States, apparently alone, since it cannot rely upon allies which are constantly whining for reassurance, must confront China, North Korea, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, the Islamic State, assorted terrorist movements and any anyone else who resists U.S. “leadership.” Neutral observers might find this disparate collection, several of whose members are at odds, somewhat less than a formidable threat compared to the United States, virtually every European nation, the majority of Asian industrial states, the most important and wealthiest powers in the Middle East, and the majority of the rest of the countries that are friendly to the West. Nevertheless, Americans are constantly told that the United States has never been more embattled—not, apparently, during the Civil War, Cold War, World War I, or even World War II.

Yet if the hawkish “perpetual threat” lobby really believes its rhetoric, it has only itself to blame. After all, increasingly treating both China and Russia as adversaries has achieved what was otherwise impossible: pushed the Cold War allies-turned-enemies into friends, and possible allies again.

Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union provided vital assistance to Mao Zedong’s Communist rebels. Without Moscow’s backing, especially turning over weapons and territory to the insurgents after Japan’s August 1945 surrender, Mao might not have had the opportunity to become a nation builder—and one of the greatest mass killers in human history.

Despite some natural tensions between the two states, Mao generally accepted Stalin’s leadership. For instance, with Stalin determined to avoid a military confrontation with America, Mao’s People’s Republic of China intervened in the Korean War to preserve North Korea, which began as a Soviet client state. However, the Soviet leader died in 1953, only four years after the PRC’s creation.

De-Stalinization by Nikita Khrushchev led to ideological disputes over which government offered an uncorrupted vision of Marxist-Leninism. Mao criticized Moscow’s willingness to accept “peaceful coexistence” with the West. The Soviet leadership worried about Mao’s reckless military measures against the remnant Nationalist government in Taiwan. By 1961 the Chinese Communist Party was denouncing Soviet leaders as “revisionist traitors.” The two countries created rival revolutionary and state networks and battled for influence within nominally Communist nations. The USSR backed India against China; the latter criticized Moscow’s willingness to compromise in the Cuban Missile Crisis and join in treaty limits on nuclear weapons.

In 1966 Beijing raised the issue of “unfair” treaties imposed by the czarist Russian Empire. Border conflict broke out three years later. Casualties were modest and fighting ceased later in the year, though a formal border agreement was not reached until 1991.

Chinese-Soviet tension continued around the world, as the two backed rival revolutionary factions in several African conflicts. They disagreed over Vietnam; Beijing supported Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime, which was ousted by Hanoi in 1978, and fought a brief war with the latter the following year. The two Communist giants also differed in Afghanistan. Although relations in later years were not nearly as hostile as during the Mao-Khrushchev era, the vision of a unified Communist bloc had been irretrievably destroyed.

The brief Sino-Russian shooting war apparently convinced Mao that he needed to reduce tensions with at least one of the PRC’s potential adversaries, opening the way for the Nixon administration. Rapprochement between the United States and China began with Richard Nixon relaxing trade and travel restrictions on the PRC in 1969. The same year, Beijing and Washington resuscitated the Sino-U.S. ambassadorial Talks. Nixon also used Pakistan as a diplomatic intermediary, which reported Chinese interest in improving bilateral ties.

In 1971 the two countries engaged in so-called “ping-pong diplomacy,” with the visit of an American table tennis team to China, while Nixon eliminated the last travel limits. National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger surreptitiously visited Beijing as part of an official trip to Pakistan in July 1971, setting in motion a second visit in October and U.S. support for the PRC’s entry into the United Nations and possession of the Chinese Security Council seat. Richard Nixon’s famed visit to China came in February 1972. He told Mao: “You are one who sees when an opportunity comes, and then knows that you must seize the hour and seize the day.” Actually, both leaders did so.

Although formal diplomatic ties (which required ending official relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan) did not come until 1979, under President Jimmy Carter, the United States and PRC continued to expand contacts and commerce. In no way were the two countries military allies. But Washington effectively neutralized one potential security threat and prevented the recreation of a Sino-Soviet coalition against the United States. Geopolitically, America gained flexibility and leverage in confronting the USSR. Washington could enjoy global preeminence, if not dominance, at lower cost.

Chinese-Russian relations improved as the Cold War ended and ideological conflicts waned. But tensions remain real. Beijing shows as little respect for intellectual property when it comes to Russian weapons as it does for Western consumer goods. The Central Asian republics were part of the Soviet Union, but increasingly are drawn to China economically. Russia’s Far East is virtually unpopulated, giving rise to fears of Chinese territorial absorption.

However, under President Barack Obama, the United States has courted conflict with both powers. To constrain China, the administration staged the “pivot” or “rebalance.” Washington strengthened alliance ties, added troop deployments and increased military maneuvers. The resources involved have been sufficient to irritate but not enough to scare the PRC. Beijing perceives that Washington hopes to contain China, whether or not the former is willing to admit the obvious.

Against Russia, the United States has followed what appears to be an overtly hostile policy: dismissing the former’s Balkan interests, especially breaking apart historic Slavic ally Serbia (which imperial Russia backed in World War I); bringing old Warsaw Pact members and even Soviet republics into NATO, with invitations seeming likely for Georgia and Ukraine (the latter an integral part of both the Russian Empire and Soviet Union); supporting “color” and street revolutions against Russian-friendly governments in Georgia and Ukraine; pushing regime change, including by Islamist insurgents, against Moscow’s Syrian ally; imposing economic sanctions against Russia; and building up U.S. military forces in Europe. Washington might believe all of these policies to be warranted, but no serious Russian patriot could view them as friendly.

The result has been greater cooperation between China and Russia. They are not formal military allies, but have found their dislike and distrust of Washington to be greater than their bilateral disagreements. In the short term, that means cooperating to limit American influence.

Ultimately the objective could become to deter U.S. military action against both nations. Although Washington, with allied support, today should be able to simultaneously defeat the two (short of unconditional surrender), American dominance will fade. Should Russia and China forge closer military bonds, the United States eventually might find itself facing a much less hospitable international environment. That likely would constrain Washington’s responses, and increase the costs and risks if conflict resulted.

America is a great power. But it should not needlessly create enemies and encourage them to ally with each other. If Donald Trump succeeds in improving relations with Russia, he would have the salutary side effect of discouraging creation of a common Russo-Chinese front against the United States. Richard Nixon’s China policy offers a model for the incoming Trump administration: Make up with at least one of the important powers potentially arrayed against America. The United States should not feel the need to take on the rest of the world.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

Source: Reuters “A Nixon Strategy to Break the Russia-China Axis”

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


Russia-China Alliance May Not Break when There Is No US Threat


At the end of my previous post, there is the question “Will the alliance break when the threat from the US has been removed?”

No one can foresee the future; therefore, I can only make analysis based on historical facts. US Russia expert Stephen Blank believes that “every alliance has a horse and a rider.” That is indeed Cold War alliance. Both superpowers were riders and their allies were respectively their horses that must follow their rider’s instructions.

Soviet rider was stricter than American rider. It demanded that the horses had to follow its political and economic system without deviation. When they have deviated from Soviet norms, the Soviet Union sent tanks into them to correct them. Hungary and Czechoslovakia have experienced such military correction.

Compared with the Soviet Union, the US seems defensive rather than aggressive. It fought in Korea to defend South Korea from North Korean invasion and in Vietnam to defend South Vietnam from North Vietnamese invasion. Perhaps, it was defensive because it lacked confidence in its ability to dominate its allies for fear of Soviet intervention.

When the US became the only superpower, it began to act like the Soviet Union and began to treat others, not only its allies but also non-allies as the horses it might ride at will. It sent its world strongest military to bring about regime changes in order that other countries switch to the political and economical systems it advocates. It acted as rider and regarded Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, etc. as horses.

Therefore, Mr. Blank’s description of the relations between allies is but the relations between a hegemon and other countries whether they are the hegemon’s allies or not. They have to obey the hegemon’s instructions like a horse obeying its rider.

For example, the US has told China not to militarize the artificial islands it has built on its reefs or to build artificial island on Scarborough Reef. Otherwise, there will be consequence! China is not US ally, but it has been told that it has to obey US instructions.

Fortunately, the US is not strong or rich enough to attack any of the countries it treats as horses as in spite of its world strongest military, it has been unable to achieve its strategic goals in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Otherwise, we will see US military everywhere punishing the countries that fail to obey its instructions.

Now, even the Philippines, a very weak US ally, is not willing to be horse. It proves such rider-horse relations are not popular even among US allies, let alone non-allies.

In Blank’s recent article on September 9 titled “A Crystallizing Russo-Chinese Alliance”, he says that in Russia-China alliance, “China will be the rider and Russia the horse” based on the fact that “Putin has openly adopted China’s positions on the South China Sea and North Korea while piling on the difficulties for a Russo-Japanese rapprochement.”

If that is true, I don’t think there will be the alliance if US threat has been removed. I have pointed out that Russia-China alliance is first of all an alliance of necessity. However, friends in needs may become best friends. If China and Russia maintain their friendship for years, if China like what it did in history treats Russia well and if Chinese immigrants have merged into Russian communities and helped Russia develop its Far East like what Overseas Chinese have done in Southeast Asia, there may be lasting friendship and alliance between China and Russia.

Human race has seen too many wars, fights and confrontations among themselves. It is time for human race to be united and focusing on their common welfare. I hope that if China has grown much stronger than the US and really replaced the US as world leader, it shall not act like the US in forcing its values and system on others with its military force. It shall use its economic strength to make friends and help others develop their economy. Have as many friends as possible and no enemy whatever. That is my elders’ teaching. It is also the teaching lots of my friends have received from their elders.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


The Conundrum of Russia-China Alliance


Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China, June 25, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Mikhail Klimentyev/via REUTERS

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China, June 25, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Mikhail Klimentyev/via REUTERS

Over the past two centuries, China and Russia were seldom good neighbors except in the decade from February 1950 when they were allies under a treaty of alliance called “The Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance” between Russia’s predecessor the Soviet Union and China.

The treaty has a term of 30 years but not the friendship or alliance. The alliance between China and the Soviet Union could not last so long. Soon, their traditional enmity prevailed. They broke up within one decade.

Perhaps, it was just as Stephen Blank, a senior fellow for Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council, points out, “every alliance has a horse and a rider.” In the 1950s, the Soviet Union had to be the rider as it was much richer and stronger. China did not want to remain Soviet Union’s horse when it had grown stronger. It wanted to be the rider too. The two began to fight for leadership of the socialist camp. However, their alliance remained in supporting Vietnam in its war with the US. They both gave Vietnam generous aids while China even sent troops to help Vietnam with its air defense.

Only when their fight worsened into a border war could the US be benefited from the breakup of their alliance. The Soviet Union deployed lots of tanks along Chinese border. To hinder Soviet tanks’ advance, China dug canals parallel to its border. There was large-scale construction of tunnels as air-raid shelters in China. Mao, the Chinese tyrant with military talents, adopted Sun Tzu’s strategy to subdue the enemy by diplomacy. He took the initiative to improve ties with the US. Scared by a possible alliance between the US and China, the Soviet Union agreed to ease tension along the border. In addition, it began to improve its relations with the US. There were détente and nuclear disarmament as a result.

How can the two long-term enemies become close allies? Perhaps, historic enmity can be disregarded for future benefit. The alliance of Germany and France in establishing the EU is a good example. However, that are the lessons they have learnt from two disastrous world wars. The border disputes between China and Russia were much more serious than those between Germany and France.

Chinese people know from reading history that under Russian threat, China cede 2 million square kilometers of land to Russia, but perhaps they do not know China has lost more. I was fond of reading maps when I was very young. In the old map before communist takeover in 1949, there were two Mongolia provinces in China, one Inner and the other Outer Mongolia. Later, in the new map published after communist takeover, China’s Outer Mongolia Province became Mongolian People’s Republic, an independent country. Puzzled by that, I asked older people. They told me that Russia and later its successor the Soviet Union had tried hard to split Outer Mongolia from China, made it declare independence in 1921 and turned it into Soviet Union’s satellite state, but China did not recognize its independence until the Chinese and Soviet communists became allies in the 1950s.

Therefore, Russia certainly is on its alert when China grows strong for fear that China may start a war to recover the land ceded to Russia and take Mongolia back as a part of China.

Russian’s Far East is an area with great development potential but Russian government has achieved little in developing the area in spite of its great efforts because Russian people do not want to move to that area.

Chinese people, however, are fond of finding opportunities there. First, they remember well the history that Russia pressured China’s weak and incompetent Qing Dynasty to cede 2 million square kilometers of land to Russia more than a century ago. Quite a few Chinese hold that China shall fight Russia to recover the ceded land. However, they do not know exactly where the 2 million square kilometers is. They do not care but just go into Russia to find a place they can settle down and regard the place as a part of the 2 million square kilometers.

The border between China and Russia is very long and a vast area of Russia along the border is sparsely populated. Russia shall have lots of border guards to intercept illegal immigrants. However, Russia lacks funds to keep so many border troops there nor are Russian troops willing to station in the barren cold land.

Since there are few people in the vast Russian area to the north of China’s Northeast, people in Northeast China believe entering that vast area to try their luck is a better choice. They have moved into the area illegally in large number. They brought much needed funds and diligent labor to Russia’s vast Far East and have made the area to some extent prosperous. Local Russian people are happy. They enjoy the better life caused by the immigration.

Moreover, there are more girls than boys in Russia resulting in difficulties for girls to find husbands. There are, however, more boys than girls in China. Chinese boys are welcome to marry Russian girls there. As a result, there are not only lots of Chinese immigrants but even lots of Chinese families with Russian wives. Russian government is seriously worried: China is turning Russia’s Far East into Chinese colony.

That is pure bloodless colonization of Russian territories. How can Russia not treat China as invader, aggressor and colonizer?

Central Asia is another area of conflicts between China and Russia. Russia has the dream to recover its glorious past. Not exactly the glorious past of the Soviet Union as one of the two superpowers in the world, but at least as a world power as Russia always was before the establishment of the Soviet Union. Central Asian countries were members of the Soviet Union as they were parts of the old Russia before the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has collapsed, but Russia still has great influence in Central Asia. It has the ambition to take Central Asian countries back or at least retain them as its sphere of influence.

China has been making lots of investment to build infrastructures in those countries in order to exploit the natural resources there, especially oil and gas. The infrastructures, in addition, facilitate transfer of some Chinese industries to exploit the cheap labor there. China’s win-win cooperation with them may draw those Central Asian countries away from Russia to Chinese side.

India and Vietnam have long been Russia’s sphere of influence, but China is now providing them with loans and investment and may thus draw them to China’s side.

China’s military modernization provides a lucrative weapon market for Russia. Russia has made lots of profits from weapon sales to China, but there is serious problem: China learns Russian technology through reverse engineering. It uses Russian technology to produce copies of Russian weapons not only for itself but also for export to compete with Russia in international weapon market.

If Chinese economy grows at its current slowed but still fast rate, it will have much more funds for weapon development. Russia is afraid that China may soon surpass it in weapon technology and become Russia’s fierce rival in international weapon market.

The above conflicts of interests are impossible to reconcile. How can China and Russia become allies in disregard of such serious conflict of interests?

Faced with US military threat from Obama’s pivot to Asia, China has no choice but seeking alliance with Russia as Russia is the only country strong and willing enough to help China counter the US. China has made great efforts to make Russia trust it, but without unqualified success.

In fact, while selling China advanced weapons to help China modernize its military, Russia worried that when the threat in East and South China Seas had been removed, China might transfer its troops to its north to deal with Russia and possibly for recovery of the 2 million square kilometers of land ceded to Russia by China’s Qing Dynasty or annexation of Mongolia.

In September 2014, Russia conducted a large military exercise dubbed “Vostok 2014” in its Far East near Chinese border. Analysts say that it has been the largest Russian drill since the collapse of the Soviet Union. They believe the drill was meant to deter China.

For a long time, Russia has wanted to end or modify the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty between the U.S. and Russia in order to be able to have a strong deterrent on its border with China.

In its diplomacy, though refrains from explicitly antagonize China, Russia has tried its best to mend ties with Japan. During Russian President Putin’s visits to Vietnam and India respectively in late 2013 and 2014, Putin made efforts to strengthen its longtime alliance with the two countries in order to have allies to counter China if China’s rise becomes a threat to Russia.

The historical enmity and serious conflict of interests make it impossible for the two countries to be allies. The breakup of their alliance in the 1950’s precisely proves that.

In addition, according to US gifted political scientist Samuel Huntington’s views on clash of civilizations, Russia and China have two quite different civilizations so that clash of civilizations seems unavoidable especially as they share a long border.

However, history has proved that there is no eternal friendship or enmity. Friendship has to be built while enmity can be removed as well as created. It all depends on state leaders’ vision, wisdom and tact.

France and Germany had bitter enmity for decades, which gave rise to countless wars and even world wars. However, the leaders and peoples have learnt the lessons from their cruel wars and have the wisdom to make hard efforts to set up the European Union to become close allies within the union.

Russia is lucky that Obama’s pivot to Asia has pushed China to its side. Without any efforts of persuasion, US loyal follower China who even supported US decision to bring regime change in Libya at the expense of Russia, suddenly switched to Russia’s side to join Russia in vetoing US-initiated UN Security Council Decision aimed at bringing about regime change in Syria. Russia welcomed China but still lacked trust in China. It wanted China’s large market for its oil, gas and other natural resources and needed Chinese consumer goods and investment, but refused to provide China with preferential treatment in selling resources to China. As a result, there were lots of difficulties for the two in reaching their huge natural gas deal.

Due to lack of trust in China, Russia refrained from joining China in criticizing Japan for Japan’s war crimes in World War II or clearly supporting China’s stance in East and South China Seas.

Fortunately for China, carried away by their success in removing Russian influence in the Middle East, the West began to take over Ukraine that Russia regarded as a vital area for its survival. Russia and the West had contended for the area for a long time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Both had made great efforts to influence the presidential election in Ukraine. Ukraine people were thus split into two camps: the pro-EU and pro-Russia camps. There was roughly balance of strength between the two camps so that there was sometimes a pro-Russian and sometimes a pro-EU president. Before the recent civil war in Ukraine, Russia had succeeded in having a pro-Russia president elected in Ukraine. China supported the pro-Russia president with lots of aids when he visited China. Ukraine at the same time agreed to sell advanced weapons and weapon technology to China.

To further contain Russia, the EU wanted Ukraine to join EU, which may lead to Ukraine joining NATO in confronting Russia. The pro-Russia president opposed that. With EU support, the pro-EU camp launched a street revolution and overthrew the president. To have a NATO member as its neighbor is utterly unacceptable to Russia. It sent troops to annex Crimea and set up pro-Russia militia to fight for independence in Ukraine’s two major industrial states.

Believing neither China or Russia can be US rival and the impossibility of Russia-China alliance, in addition to pushing China fully to Russia’s side, Obama took the lead to impose stringent sanctions to push Russia to Chinese side. China took the opportunity to help Russia to counter the sanctions. Obama has thus pushed Russia entirely into China’s arms.

The leaders see that in spite of all the differences and historical enmity that may give rise to clash of civilizations, the two countries have similar dreams for the recovery of their past glory that are supplementing instead of conflicting each other.

Russia wants its recovery as a European power as it always was in the past. The Soviet Union was a world superpower, but the major area of its dominance was in developed Europe instead of Asia. In spite of Tzars’ expansion to the east and Soviet attempt to develop Russia’s vast Asian part, Russia’s Far East remains underdeveloped and Russian people are not interested in moving to the east to develop eastern Russia.

To avoid China’s colonization of its Far East, Russia sets the precondition that in order to settle down in Russia a Chinese shall marry a Russian and then be naturalized. China has no objection. It explains to Russia that lots of Chinese have moved to Southeast Asia and other parts of the world without colonizing the areas they occupied. They have merged into local communities and helped develop local economy though kept some Chinese customs. They have never tried to dominate the politics there though they may have controlled the economy there.

China is happy that Russia can provide space for China’s surplus population while Russia is happy to absorb redundant Chinese people to prevent shrinking of its population and develop its underdeveloped areas its own people are unwilling to go to develop.

Chinese dream for recovery of its glorious past aims at growing strong to be able to resist foreign bullies. In Chinese history, China usually has no desire of expansion; therefore, China’s rise constitutes no threat to Russia. On the contrary, China will provide a huge market for Russia’s energy and other natural resources.

Central Asia may be an area of conflicts between China and Russia, but it is not as China makes clear it only want to joint force with Central Asian countries in developing their infrastructures and exploiting their natural resources to be economically benefited. It utterly has no intention to interfere with the politics there. Russia will thus be able to work for the recovery of political control of those former members of the Soviet Union without Chinese interference while benefiting from the economic development in those areas brought about by China.

So are China’s ties with India and Vietnam. They are economic but not political.

China’s sincerity has won Russian trust. It has not taken advantage of Russia’s predicament to ask for unreasonable terms in its transactions with Russia. They now have not only overcome their difficulties in concluding gas deal but have set up joint ventures to develop large airliners and helicopters.

However, the alliance of the two is indeed an alliance of necessity under US threat. Will the alliance break when the threat has been removed? I will try to answer the question in my next post.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


Obama’s Wonderful Legacy


US President Obama, whose diplomacy has given rise to Russia-China alliance. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

US President Obama, whose diplomacy has given rise to Russia-China alliance. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

It is a usual practice that when a leader leaves office, the media and political analysts are fond of discussing the leader’s legacy. The leader himself is also fond of talking about that if he does leave some valuable legacy.

When former Chinese leaders Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao were to leave office in 2012, Chinese media were filled with praises of their achievements in bringing about economic growth, etc. until an article emerged to point out the rampant corruption and the excessive overcapacity and local governments’ debts left by them. Their successors Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang have to make great efforts to fight corruption and reform Chinese economy to switch from investment- and export-oriented into an innovation-, creation- and consumption-led one.

Similarly, when US President Obama took over from his predecessor, he had to deal with the financial crisis caused by his predecessor’s lack of supervision, the huge debts incurred by his predecessor in fighting two wars and the difficulties to end his predecessor’s hopeless wars.

Due to lack of power, he has not been able to deal with the problems so satisfactorily as Chinese leaders do, but we cannot deny that he has indeed greatly improved the situation. That can be regarded as his legacy that benefits American people though it seems no one sees that. People usually regard that as common things that he ought to have done as a leader. They usually want something great than providing some remedy to the evils caused by his predecessor.

Obama’s pivot to Asia can be regarded as his great initiative as it concerns containing the rise of China so as to maintain US world leadership, but according to some analysts, Obama fails to leave any legacy in that respect as the pivot is a failure. There were two quite typical articles on Obama’s failure: one titled “America’s Pacific pivot is sinking” by Gideon Rachman published on Financial Times on September 19 and the other titled “Barack Obama’s Asia pivot is sinking beneath Pacific waves” by M.K. Bhadrakumar on September 21 published on Asian Times. Full texts of them can respectively be found at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/12473188-7db4-11e6-8e50-8ec15fb462f4.html#axzz4LFTLzKtn and http://atimes.com/2016/09/us-pivot-to-asia-is-sinking-beneath-pacific-waves/.

Economically, the articles point out Obama’s inability to have his TPP ratified in US Congress or accepted by his potential successors. Militarily, the articles are disappointed that Obama has failed to stop China’s construction of artificial islands or have China observe Hague arbitration ruling in spite of the military pressure he has brought on China.

In Obama’s recent last speech to the UN, he mentioned the progress in the world and US contribution to the progress, but did not mention his own contribution as, perhaps he thinks that he will not leave any legacy that he can boast of.

Does Obama really fail to leave any legacy then? No, on the contrary, he leaves the world a most wonderful legacy that will greatly facilitate world peace.

To have world peace, there has to be balance of strength in the world. During the Cold War, there were few wars because there was balance of strength between the two superpowers the US and Soviet Union. The balance of strength made neither of them able to win a war. The US lost the Vietnamese war as Vietnam had Soviet support. Similarly, the Soviet Union could not win its war in Afghanistan as Afghanistan had US support. Due to the balance of strength, there were only two wars of prolonged duration in limited areas Vietnam and Afghanistan while other parts of the world enjoy peace.

When the Soviet Union has collapsed, there was no balance of strength as the US became the only superpower with no rival at all. As a result, it had no scruple to fight wars and even became so reckless as to fight two wars at the same time.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, etc. have been in wars for a long time under the rule of the only superpower. The world is lucky that the US does not know how to fight wars economically and has become hard up due to the wars. Otherwise, there will be much more wars as the only superpower is fond of using its military force.

Fortunate for the world now, there is balance of strength again – the balance of strength between Russia-China alliance and the United States.

With a rough sense of the likelihood of the alliance, US military expert Robert Farley published an article on US media the National Interest with the interesting title of “US Military’s Worst Nightmare: A War with Russia and China (at the Same Time)”.

In fact, Mr. Farley regards as nightmare US fighting of a war with the joint force of Russia and China, but that is not possible as he believes that Russia and China will not join force. According to him, the worst scenario is that in a war between China and the US, Russia may take advantage to pursue some gains in Europe. As a result, the US has to fight China and Russia separately though at the same time. That may be a nightmare, but it is not too serious according to Mr. Farley.

Europe is strong enough to deal with Russia with some help from US air force so that the US may focus on fighting China. As without Russia’s help, China is weaker than the US, it will be defeated by the US. Then, the US may transfer its troops to Europe to join Europe in defeating Russia.

What if instead of making trouble in Europe, Russia sends its navy and especially its strong air force to help China fight the US in Asia? Will that be a real nightmare for the US? That is not probable. Mr. Farley says in his article

Each country has its own goals, and works on its own timeline. More likely, one of the two would opportunistically take advantage of an existing crisis to further its regional claims. For example, Moscow might well decide to push the Baltic States if the United States became involved in a major skirmish in the South China Sea.

What Mr. Farley says is based on the assumption that there is no alliance between China and Russia. If there is, it will be a real nightmare for US military to fight the combined forces of Russia-China alliance that is quite a rival to US forces. Moreover, China and Russia will only act respectively in Asia and Europe, where they have geographical advantages as the US troops have to fight far away from their homeland with much less support from land bases. With such balance of strength and geographical disadvantages, the US will not start a war.

China certainly is not so stupid as to start a war. It is not fond of war. That is why it has been trying hard to resolve the disputes with its neighbors peacefully. Russia is too weak to start a war if China is not willing to be involved. As a result, there will be lasting world peace due to the balance of strength. How exciting! Without American attack, the world is safer for China and Russia and perhaps also other countries as Russia and China may joint force to support other nations attacked by the US.

What is to be excited for? The legacy only benefits others. A president’s legacy shall first of all benefit his own people.

Wrong! American people are greatly benefited too.

What benefits the collapse of the Soviet Union has brought to American people. Nothing. America has become reckless in fighting wars, conducting regime changes and promoting democracy without any achievements. It has only made American people suffer the casualties of war and the heavy burdens of debts caused by its reckless spending in doing so. For the world, it has brought chaos in quite a few countries and given rise to problem to Europe of the flood of refugees.

When the two superpowers understood that there was the balance of strength they could not break, there was détente and disarmament by the two superpowers to reduce their financial burdens of arms race on their people. Moreover, America could at least really be the leader of its camp, the members of which obeyed its leadership.

Now, America regards itself as world leader, but no one follows its leadership. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would not accept US Vice President Joe Biden’s advice not to visit Yasukuni Shrine. Only when his visit had broken Japan’s ties with China and South Korea does Abe refrain from repeat his visit.

US weakest ally the Philippines dare to challenge it now.

Russia and China are enemies created by US military and politicians. They are utterly not US enemies. US true enemy such as ISIS is also China and Russia’s enemy, when the US has accepted the balance of strength and refrains to create the enmity between the alliance and the US, the three may join force to fight their common enemy.

China’s actions in the South China Sea are but for protection of the historical rights and interests it has claimed for centuries and reflected in its map since 1947. At the end of World War II, the US supported China’s claims and sent Chinese troops on its warships to the areas to impose China’s claims. US current description of such claims as aggression is purely for the purpose of containing China in order to prevent China from replacing it as world leader.

When there is balance of strength, like the situation during the Cold War, the US will not be free from the burdens of the only world leader. It will be the leader of one major camp while the other major camp including most Asian countries will be lead by others.

The balance of strength will lead to détente and disarmament of the two rival camps. As a result, world peace will be ensured. American people will also enjoy world peace. Moreover, they will have a reduced military budget to enable them to have much needed funds to rebuild and repair US infrastructures that are mostly in poor conditions, develop US economy and improve American people’s livelihood.

Hold! Russia-China alliance? Impossible! There is deep historical enmity and serious conflicts of interests between China and Russia. How can they be allies? Obama has made it possible. How has Obama’s diplomacy made the impossible possible? You will find answers in my next post “The Conundrum of Russia-China Alliance”.

As Russia-China alliance has entirely been caused by Obama, it must be regarded as Obama’s wonderful legacy.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


Russia and China learn from each other as military ties deepen


Chinese troops march past a mural showing Moscow's Red Square: Russia and China's military leaders are co-operating increasingly closely Photo from Financial Times report

Chinese troops march past a mural showing Moscow’s Red Square: Russia and China’s military leaders are co-operating increasingly closely
Photo from Financial Times report

By Charles Clover in Beijing

Russia and China staged a bold new series of military manoeuvres last month. Not a single ship left port, nor did any tank fire up its engine. Instead, a team from China’s People’s Liberation Army sat with their Russian counterparts in Moscow, running a five-day computer simulation of a joint response to a ballistic missile attack.

Held in the Central Research Institute of Air and Space Defence in the Russian capital, the drill “was not directed against any third country”, according to Russia’s defence ministry. But few were under any illusion that the “aggressor” in the simulation was anyone other than the US.

The exercise — which analysts note involved sharing information in an extremely sensitive sphere — was highly significant because it indicated “a new level of trust” between the two former adversaries, says Vasily Kashin, an expert on China’s military at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

“The ability to share information in such a sensitive area as missile launch warning systems and ballistic missile defence indicates something beyond simple co-operation,” he says.

China and Russia fought a brief border war in 1969, but the end of the cold war and emergence of the US as the global military leader have seen them drawing closer as they seek to confront western military power.

Few believe they will ever be close allies, as they were in the days of Mao and Stalin, but the policy of active co-operation appears to be deepening on a number of fronts. On Saturday Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to travel to Beijing where he will meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to discuss economic ties.

Western sanctions on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis have fuelled efforts by Moscow to forge financial links to Beijing. The two governments have also signed a number of new business deals, mainly for hydrocarbons.

But their most significant area of co-operation is the armed forces, say analysts, with military leaders in both countries increasingly looking to each other for lessons on how to counter a superior western enemy.

Recent years have seen numerous weapons deals and joint exercises between the two, and experts say they have adopted remarkably similar strategies to reform and upgrade their militaries.

President Xi Jinping’s reform of the People’s Liberation Army, launched in November 2013, is aimed at transforming the world’s largest fighting force from a land army equipped for mass ground battles to a lighter, nimbler, more high-tech force capable of winning in the air and sea.

Photo from Financial Times report

Photo from Financial Times report

The strategy closely follows Russian reforms begun in 2009. Prompted by the Russia-Georgia conflict of August 2008, which Russia won easily but which exposed deficiencies in its army, Moscow kicked off an overhaul aimed at increasing professionalism and cutting the number of conscripts; streamlining command structures; and upgrading and modernising its arsenal.

“They are doing away with the mass mobilisation force,” said Dmitry Trenin, of the Carnegie Moscow Centre think-tank. “Instead they plan to fight a war with a [professional army].”

The lesson has not been lost on China. An article in the People’s Daily, the official Communist party mouthpiece, last October urged the PLA to use the Russian overhaul as a model for its own efforts.
chart of military spending

“You see that key aspects of Chinese reforms have been influenced by what the Russians did in the aftermath of the Georgia war,” said Tai Ming Cheung, a specialist on China’s military at the University of California, San Diego. “Russia’s experiences of dealing with a stronger western opponent [in the cold war] — those are very important lessons for China.”

Beijing has long modernised its military by copying Russian weapons systems, but sanctions-hit Russia is now also sourcing parts and technology from China. In November, Russian officials said they would buy Chinese diesel engines for coastal patrol vessels, after being blocked from purchasing German equipment in 2014.

In April, Moscow’s Izvestia newspaper quoted a senior Russian official saying the two countries were in discussions on exchanging Chinese electronic components used in spacecraft construction for Russia’s liquid-fuel rocket engine technology.

First outlined in 2013 by President Xi, China’s military revamp has gathered pace. In February this year China replaced seven military regions with five military “theatres”, while last year Mr Xi announced the PLA would reduce troop numbers by 300,000. Troupes of dancers, drivers and other non-combat personnel are also being cut, and the army-dominated command system is being replaced with a joint command that will give the naval and air forces their own joint staff structure.

“China has always been very pragmatic and they will take whatever they think works,” said Gary Li, a military expert at consulting company Apco in Beijing.

The US has identified another common thread in Russian and Chinese strategy, says Mr Cheung: the use of “hybrid warfare”, a strategy that blends conventional and irregular warfare techniques. Russia deployed the strategy in its use of “little green men” — troops in unmarked uniforms — in its annexation of Crimea and, critics allege, to aid pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine, leaving opponents perplexed about how to respond and giving Russia time to consolidate gains.

China’s strategies have included island-building in the contested waters of the South China Sea and the “use of civilian and coast guard vessels and even oil rigs to accomplish strategic objectives”, says Mr Cheung.

“It’s about muddying the waters in order to push military objectives without crossing the threshold into a shooting war,” said Mr Cheung. “When US experts look at China’s island-building in the South China Sea compared with what Russians are doing in Ukraine, they see a lot of similarities.”

Source: Financial Times “Russia and China learn from each other as military ties deepen”


Russia-China, an Impossible Alliance Created by the West


Chinese and Russia Presidents Xi Jinping and Putin seen happy with their close relations Image: Wikimedia Commons/Kremlin.ru.

Chinese and Russia Presidents Xi Jinping and Putin seen happy with their close relations Image: Wikimedia Commons/Kremlin.ru.

US media The National Interest carries an article with insight on China-Russia Relationship titled “Should America Fear the China-Russia Relationship?” by Michael Clarke, an associate professor, and Anthony Ricketts, a doctoral candidate, at the National Security College.

The article points out the factors for close relationship between Russia and China such as shared historical and ideological connection in the authoritarian nature in their political systems, “their mutual mistrust of the West, and a shared desire to rewrite the rules that shape the global order”.

It even quotes someone’s expression of concern: “Russia and China are now competing to arm anti-democratic and anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America, and may be cooperating to help Nicaragua build a trans-ocean canal, which may yield port access for Russian and Chinese warships. Both countries actively support U.S. enemies in Syria and Iran.”

However, the article fails to point out that the de facto Russia-China alliance is entirely given rise by the West, especially the United States.

As the US contains China by its pivot to Asia, China had to respond to form an alliance with Russia. Russia’s influence has brought about the holes in India and Vietnam in US encirclement of China.

China was wise to sow disaccord between Russia and the US by sending Snowden to Russia.

As the West conducted a coup d’état to drive away a democratically elected pro-Russian Ukrainian president to contain Russia, Russia had to respond by invading Ukraine that is vital for Russia.

The West’s failure to respond strong enough against Russian invasion has made Russia and China bold respectively in Syria and the South China Sea.

The article shows its insight in describing the Russia-China alliance as “axis of convenience” due to Russia’s security concerns at a strong China, the difficulties in economic ties between China and Russia, etc.

Therefore, it gives the wise advice that “the United States is best served fostering dialogue with Russia and China. The United States needs their cooperation in many of the most pressing global issues of the day.”

It seems that Kissinger is wiser in advocating better US-China and US-Russia relations than Russia-China relations. But it is too late now. There has already been a de facto Russia-China alliance and the two have been benefited by such an alliance and will cherish it in the near future. There is no prospect so far that any US diplomat is wise enough to find a way to sow discord between Russia and China.

Comments by Chan Kai Yee on The National Interest’s article “Should America Fear the China-Russia Relationship?”

Full text of the article can be viewed at http://nationalinterest.org/feature/should-america-fear-the-china-russia-relationship-15075