In my post “From Unrequited Love to China Can Say No” on January 10, I mentioned US efforts to encircle China when it began its pivot to Asia. The then US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta specifically visited India and Vietnam in his tour of Asia in 2012 to establish the encirclement. As both India and ASEAN members including Vietnam had territorial disputes with China, Panetta was quite sure of the success of encirclement. However, the encirclement was soon broken by China’s diplomacy.
Encirclement of Russia, a Byproduct of Encirclement of China
Like German strategists in World War II, US strategists have miscalculated.
Germany knew well that it should not fight a war on both eastern and western sides, but after it defeated France in its western front, it attacked the Soviet Union in its eastern side and finally lost the war for that.
Now, in formulating the new strategy of “return to Asia”, the United States neglects the potential of Russia, the major part of the disintegrated Soviet Union with the ambition to succeed the Soviet Union as another number one in the world, an equal rival to the United States.
However, at that time, Russia was in dire predicament. All former Soviet constituent and satellite states in Europe had been or were being drawn away by the EU. Its influence in Europe had thus been greatly reduced.
In the strategic areas for its security in the Middle East, the West led by the United States have been cutting Russian ties with the countries there, first Iraq, then Libya and finally Syria. It seemed that Russian influence would remain only in Asia mainly in India and Vietnam.
If by its return to Asia, the US has substituted its influence for Russia’s in India and Vietnam and subdued China by encircling it, then it will be Russia’s turn to be closely encircled by the US.
Breaking the Encirclement
Immediately after US change in strategy, China altered its strategy. It used its veto to help Russia keep its influence in Syria. That marked the commencement of a Cold War alliance between China and Russia in countering the US. Through prolonged efforts, the two countries have built up mutual trust now.
Russia has used its influence for improvement of Chinese relations with India and Vietnam as proved by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visits to India and Vietnamese President’s visit to China.
The western and northern parts of the encirclement have been broken.
The breakthrough in easing tension between China and Vietnam has indicated China’s willingness to cooperate with South China Sea claimants in fishing and extracting oil and gas in the disputed waters. As a result, both Malaysia and Brunei refrain from joining the encirclement.
As Chine had used its influence in North Korea to ease tension between South and North Koreas, South Korea refrained from joining the US encirclement.
At that time, Taiwan’s KMT government was building up economic ties with Mainland. Even in the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, there were quite a few people who wanted to have a “one-China consensus” with the Mainland.
As a result, in 2013 there were only Japan and the Philippines that remained US allies in encircling China, not enough even to encircle China only on its east side.
When former US Defense Secretary was busy in Asia to build up US encirclement of China, he denied the obvious conclusion drawn from US actions that China was the target of US return to Asia.
What did the US say about its return to Asia in 2013? US Secretary of State John Kerry said at Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on July 1, US “actions are not intended to contain or to counterbalance any one country”.
Certainly the US was not dealing with only one country. At that time the US had to deal with two countries, China and Russia and perhaps an autocracy Cold War camp to be jointly established by Russia and China that will contain Iran, North Korea and other autocracies. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization seemed to be formed for that purpose, but at that time it only contained Russia, China and a few insignificant Central Asian countries. Now, India and Pakistan have joined the organization while Iran has shown its interest in participation; therefore, the organization has great potential to become a Cold War camp to oppose the US.
By providing China with advanced weapons and technology, Russia will get lots of funds from China for development of a strong military to recover Soviet Union’s position as a rival to the US.
In addition, Russia and China have been conducting their joint naval drill on an increasingly larger scale. They have become de facto allies.
Due to the de facto alliance, Russia has become bold in Ukraine to annex Crimea and support Ukraine militia to fight for independence of Ukraine’s major industrial areas. The West has imposed sanctions on Russia but cannot push Russia back as Russia has Chinese support. As a result, Russia not only has maintained its position in Ukraine, but even sent troops to Syria to maintain its influence there against US efforts to bring regime change there.
Russia’s military actions against the West are to some extent similar to what the Soviet Union did before its collapse. The West, especially the US, has been forced to regard Russia as its chief rival though in his recently disclosed national security strategy, US President Trump regards China as its major challenger.
In such case, with Russia diverting the West’s focus, China will be able to continue its peaceful rise without US interference. It may become world number one economically, but shall not contend with the US for world number one as it has too many problems to deal with at home.
Russia has played major role in breaking US encirclement of China.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
As the Arctic is melting, China may have a shipping route to Europe through the Arctic that is much shorter than through the Indian Ocean. According to Russian experts’ estimate, if the arctic shortcut shipping route referred to by them as “Silk Road on Ice” is fully utilized by 2020, global commercial shipment costs will be reduced by $50 to $120 billion a year.
Russia has to build port facilities for supplies and maintenance to facilitate and profit from the shipping. For that it needs Chinese investment. In addition, Russia needs Chinese labor for the construction of the facilities as Russia lacks labor due to its shrinking population.
In addition, Russia can provide indispensable air protection for Chinese ships along its Arctic coast. China is certainly willing to pay for use of the facilities and the air protection as the Arctic route will enable China to save lots of fuel and time. Unlike the route through the Indian Ocean, due to Russian protection, the Arctic route cannot be cut by US navy.
Not only China but also Japan and Korea will pay Russia for the use of Russian port, supply, maintenance and salvage services for the use of the Arctic route. In addition, the route will also be very useful for Russia’s export of oil and LPG extracted in Siberia. Japan and South Korea will be major importer of Russian oil and LPG through the Arctic Ocean.
Seeing the prospects of windfall from Arctic shipping, Russian has been busy making preparations for that. At a meeting of the social committee of Russian Defense Ministry on December 25, 2017, Defense Minister Gen. Shoygu announced that Russia had completed its large-scale construction of military infrastructures in Arctic region. According to him, no other countries have ever been able to build large-scale and perfectly equipped facilities in Arctic region in the history of the development the region.
Gen. Shoygu said that Russian military has cleaned up an Arctic area of 110,000 square kilometers by removing 16,000 tons of waste. Previously, Gen. Shoygu said that the military infrastructures Russia had built would facilitate control of the Arctic shipping route and ensure the safety of Russia’s economic activities in Arctic region. Russia has set up an Arctic strategic headquarters in charge of all Russian troops deployed there. Moreover, in order to turn the Arctic into it lake, Russia has a plan to restore all the 13 air bases left by the Soviet Union in Arctic region.
China and Russia will establish the Arctic Silk Road through win-win cooperation, which will be joined by Japan and South Korea because it is so attractive.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
A country’s national strategy, especially security strategy is its top secret especially the strategy of defense against potential enemy.
When there was potential Japanese invasion, China’s talented Japan-trained general Cai E submitted a plan of resistance to the then President Yuan Shikai. Japanese agent stole the plan and found it might be good defense against invasion. As a result, Japan tried hard to assassinate Cai for fear that Cai might be in charge of resistance against Japanese invasion.
Obviously, no Chinese leaders now are so stupid as to make public China’s secret national strategy.
US President Donald recently made public his security strategy not because he was stupid but because of the stupid rule on US president’s obligation of disclosure to US Congress. Chinese leaders have no such obligation.
True China has issued its Defense White Paper to disclose that its strategy is active defense but it does not make known China’s specific plan to deal with US military threat especially in the South China Sea. At that time, US military experts suggest attacking China with cruise missiles from nuclear attack submarines at the South China Sea. In addition, it is possible that the US will send two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to accept Hague arbitration award that would very likely be unfavorable to China. The US did that during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1996.
Chinese President Xi Jinping drew a plan on the construction of a few artificial islands with three airstrips on them enough to defeat at least six US aircraft carrier battle groups, but China made preparations for the construction in strict secret until its sudden and fast implementation of the plan on a very large scale.
The US did send two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to accept Hague arbitration award that deprives China of all its rights in the South China Sea, but China responded with its intention to fight a war to defend its rights. The US had to give up because there were the airstrips to ensure China’s air superiority over the US.
With potential military bases on China’s artificial islands, China has turned the South China Sea into its lake.
What is China’s secret national strategy to counter US threat now?
Colonel Liu Mingfu advocates China’s military rise to replace the US as world number one in his best seller “The China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post-American Era”. Col. Liu believes that as the US is declining, China shall substitute military rise for the peaceful rise it was advocating and surpass the US militarily. The problem is that the US will certainly fall into Thucydides Trap if Chinas pursues military rise instead of peaceful rise now. As a result there will be tension and even war between the US and China and China’s growth will thus be hindered. However, Xi Jinping is wise to avoid Thucydides Trap so that he made great efforts to please US President Donald Trump during Trump’s recent visit to China.
Xi Jinping’s China dream is not Col. Liu’s China dream. Xi wants the rejuvenation of China in order to be strong enough to resist foreign bully. He has no intention to make China a world hegemon that bullies others. Then what shall China do when it has grown as strong as or even stronger than the US? Can China share world leadership with the US as its cooperation partner in conducting world leadership?
CCTV’s 6-episode TV document series “Major Country Diplomacy” seems to suggest that China is to obtain world leadership without weakening US world leadership.
Therefore, China’s second choice is that China as a great economic power shall share world leadership with the US. That is perhaps reflected in Xi Jinping’s report to the 19th Congress on China getting closer to the center of world stage. However, sharing world leadership with the US is pure wishful thinking. Both Presidents Obama and Trump have shown US obsession with its world leadership. Trump describes China and Russia as being in a game to compete with the US in his recent report on US national security strategy. He said in declaring the strategy, “With the strategy I’m announcing today, we are declaring that America is in the game and America is going win.”
Trump clearly indicated that US victory will be the only acceptable outcome of the game; therefore, it is simply impossible for the US to share world leadership with another country.
Then what shall China do to put an end to US hegemony without incurring US enmity or making the US fall into Thucydides Trap or even attack China militarily.
I said above that a country’s national security strategy is its top secret. Now, as China’s strategy shall succeed in dealing with a strong and dangerous potential enemy, it must be kept strictly confidential.
Since it is strictly confidential, how can we know it? We can know it from what China can learn from its history and what it has been doing now.
One in Three in Chinese history
The situation now is to some extent similar to that when China’s talented strategist Zhuge Liang proposed his well-know Longzhong Plan to Liu Bei on dividing China into three kingdoms with Liu taking one as the base for final reunification of China. What China is doing obviously shows that it has learned from that strategy in Chinese history.
When the Han Dynasty was collapsing in 200s, Liu Bei has strived hard to build his own forces and occupy some area as his base to restore the Han Dynasty without success until he met Xu Shu and employed Xu as his chief advisor. With Xu’s advices, Liu achieved some successes but Xu soon had to leave Liu as his mother was captured by Liu Bei’s major enemy Cao Cao. Liu was very sad but Xu recommended Zhuge Liang to Liu and told Liu that Zhuge was much more talented than him.
Liu went to Zhuge’s thatched hut in Longzhong, a place in China’s Hubei Province now, to visit Zhuge twice but was unable to meet him. With his thirst for talents, Liu visited Zhuge a third time and finally succeeded in meeting with Zhuge in the winter of 207 or spring of 208 as no exact date is given in record of that well-known event in Chinese history.
Liu sadly told Zhuge that he had strived for more than two decades without any success. He was desperate at that time as Cao had driven him away and repeatedly defeated his troops. He did not even have one city of his own and the number of his troops has been greatly reduced. He asked Zhuge for advice.
Zhuge showed Liu a map of China. He said that as Cao Coa had united most parts of northern China and become very strong, Liu should not fight for superiority with Cao. Sun Quan’s State of Wu had been established soundly for three generations in southern China. Liu should use Sun as an ally but should not try to get anything from Sun. Jingzhou, now southern Hubei and Yizhou, now Sichuan, were rich areas with satisfactory geographical locations but lack strong leaders. Liu should take those weak areas and establish his base for reunification of China there.
The above event is recorded in details as a well-known passage called “Longzhong Plan” in Chen Shou’s “History of the Three Kingdoms”, the authoritative history of China’s Three Kingdoms period (184 or 220-280).
The One in Three now
Now, like Cao Cao, the US is too strong for China to fight for superiority with while the EU is also well-established like Sun Quan’s State of Wu that China can use as its ally. However, like Jingzhou and Yizhou, the vast area in North, Central, South and Southeast Asia can be used by China to set up a pan-Asia community as strong as the US and EU. As a result, the world will be divided into three and China will take one of the three, i.e. the pan-Asia community.
North Asia, i.e. Russia and Central Asian countries were previously communist nations in the Soviet Union. Russia is anxious to take those Central Asian countries into Russia-led Eurasian Union, an organization for something like the Soviet Union. Therefore, there is potential competition between China and Russia in setting up the Asian Community of Asia. Moreover, Vietnam and India are within Russia’s sphere of influence; therefore, alliance with Russia is key to China’s establishment of pan-Asia community. China has succeeded in forming alliance with Russia to include Russia and Central Asia in the Asian Community it plans to establish.
Xi’s efforts to please Trump with hospitality and economic concessions clearly indicate that China does not want to fight the US for superiority.
Xi upholds globalization and fight against global warming indicates his use of EU as China’s ally.
Xi’s Belt and Road initiative indicates his efforts to win over North, Central, South and Southeast Asia for the establishment of an Asian Community to be one of the three. If successful, there will be three powers the US, EU and Asian Community so that the US will no longer be world hegemon.
That is why I believe that China is adopting the strategy of one in three.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
US talented political scientist Samuel Huntington says in its book “Clash of Civilizations” that the US has never allowed any other country’s hegemony in the world so that whenever any other country has grown strong and may become a world hegemon, the US may fall into Thucydides Trap to contain it whether peacefully or militarily.
A rising China may indeed cause the US to fall into that trap and attack it, but fortunately US national security strategy regards both China and Russia as competitors of US hegemony. As there are two competitors and as Russia is more aggressive than China as proved by its military actions in Ukraine and the Middle East, if the US wants to attack its competitor, Russia will be the first target. Moreover, due to the de facto alliance between Russia and China, the US is not strong enough to attack any of them. That is why Russia dares to be so aggressive.
Reuters says in its report “U.S. creating ‘sensational hype’ over China’s military modernization: ministry” yesterday, “The United States has created ‘sensational hype’ over China’s military modernization, the defense ministry has said in reaction to a White House report branding China a competitor seeking to challenge U.S. power.”
The ministry insists that China’s military modernization and construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea are for peaceful purpose. It shall justify its actions by telling the US its goal to grow strong enough to take Taiwan by force if it claims independence and develop tourism, fish farming, etc. on the artificial islands.
Economically, it shall make concessions to the US in line with of its reforms. Anyway, it shall not give the US the impression that it has any intention to gain superiority over the US just as the ministry says cooperation between the US and China is the only correct choice.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which is reblogged below:
U.S. creating ‘sensational hype’ over China’s military modernization: ministry
Reuters Staff December 21, 2017 / 3:31 PM / Updated 16 hours ago
BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States has created “sensational hype” over China’s military modernization, the defense ministry has said in reaction to a White House report branding China a competitor seeking to challenge U.S. power.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday laid out a national security strategy based on Trump’s “America First” vision, singling out of China and Russia as “revisionist powers” seeking not only to challenge U.S. power but to erode its security and prosperity.
China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday cooperation between China and the United States was the only correct choice.
The spokesman for its defense ministry, Ren Guoqiang, said in a statement posted on the ministry website late on Wednesday that the U.S. strategy had “without regard for the facts, created sensational hype over the modernization of China’s defenses”.
Ren also said the strategy had “called into question the intentions of China’s military development plan” and that it ran counter to peace worldwide and the development of China’s relations with the United States.
China’s contribution to world peace was plain for all to see, he said.
“Attempts by any country or any document to distort the facts or cast aspersions will be in vain,” Ren said.
China’s armed forces, the world’s largest, are in the midst of an ambitious modernization program, which includes investment in technology and new equipment such as stealth fighters and aircraft carriers, as well as cuts to troop numbers.
The tough U.S. national security strategy comes after Trump has sought to build strong relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump has called upon Xi to ensure China does more to help the United States rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
The U.S. administration China’s growing military might and its efforts to build military bases on manmade islands in the contested South China Sea as evidence of Chinese attempts to alter the status quo.
China says its expansion of islets in the South China Sea is for peaceful purposes only and that, as it has irrefutable sovereignty there, no other country has the right to question its actions.
Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Robert Birsel
SCMP says in its report “China presents its take on human rights at global forum in Beijing”, “Recent years have also seen the party advocate a wholesale rejection of “universal values” as merely a weapon to undermine China’s socialist system. Universities have been told to drive such concepts from the classrooms and writers and scholars who argue otherwise can find themselves shunned and unemployed.”
Now, in addition to saying no to Western human rights system, China held the South-South Human Rights Forum to advocate its own human rights system that stresses the right to development, health, nutrition and housing.
The forum was successful in drawing 300 participants from over 50 countries and representatives from the United Nations, the Arab League, the African Union, the World Bank and the World Health Organization.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the opening session that the building of a community of shared future for mankind advocated by China “presented opportunities for the development of the human rights cause”.
In addition to saying no to Western human rights, China is now providing opportunities for the development of a different human rights cause!
SCMP says, “The forum’s use of the “South-South” designation is a throwback to the cold war-era concept of developing nations cooperating among themselves, independent of either the US-led West or the Soviet bloc.”
That was the old Cold War. A new Cold War has long begun as described in my posts “The beginning of a new Cold War: On Putin’s Beijing visit” on June 6, 2012, “The new Cold War: The autocracy camp” on June 7 and “The new Cold War: The democracy camp” on June 11, the same year. Only quite a few developing nations are in the new Cold War camp of China and Russia and there is no US leadership in the new Cold War camp of the US and EU.
Is the war in Ukraine now not like that in Vietnam in the old Cold War era?
China is moving to the center stage of the world because not only it is rising in economical and military strength but also it has the new Cold War camp behind it. In fact, Russia, another leader of China’s new Cold War camp is also moving closer to the center stage. The US has to cooperate with it in the Middle East while EU is facing Russian threat in Europe.
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/2123305/china-presents-its-take-human-rights-global-forum
Sanjeev Miglani December 11, 2017
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Russia threw its weight behind China’s massive Belt and Road plan to build trade and transport links across Asia and beyond, suggesting to India on Monday that it find a way to work with Beijing on the signature project.
India is strongly opposed to an economic corridor that China is building in Pakistan that runs through disputed Kashmir as part of the Belt and Road initiative.
India was the only country that stayed away from a May summit hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping to promote the plan to build railways, ports and power grids in a modern-day recreation of the Silk Road.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said New Delhi should not let political problems deter it from joining the project, involving billions of dollars of investment, and benefiting from it.
Lavrov was speaking in the Indian capital after a three-way meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at which, he said, India’s reservations over the Chinese project were discussed.
“I know India has problems, we discussed it today, with the concept of One Belt and One Road, but the specific problem in this regard should not make everything else conditional to resolving political issues,” he said.
Russia, all the countries in central Asia, and European nations had signed up to the Chinese project to boost economic cooperation, he said.
“Those are the facts,” he said. “India, I am 100 percent convinced, has enough very smart diplomats and politicians to find a way which would allow you to benefit from this process.”
The comments by Russia, India’s former Cold War ally, reflected the differences within the trilateral grouping formed 15 years ago to challenge U.S.-led dominance of global affairs.
But substantial differences between India and China, mainly over long-standing border disputes, have snuffed out prospects of any real cooperation among the three.
India, in addition, has drawn closer to the United States in recent years, buying weapons worth billions of dollars to replace its largely Soviet-origin military.
Swaraj said the three countries had very productive talks on economic issues and the fight against terrorism.
Editing by Clarence Fernandez
Source: Reuters “Russia urges India to line up behind China’s Belt and Road initiative”
Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
The Diplomat says in its report “Russia’s Su-57 Stealth Fighter Makes Maiden Flight With New Engine” on December 7 that Russia’s Su-57 equipped with new Saturn izdeliye 30 engines successfully conducted maden test flight for 17 minutes.
The writer of the report said in August, “The Saturn izdeliye 30 will feature increased thrust and fuel efficiency and is also expected to improve the fighter jet’s stealth characteristics given the use of new composite materials,”
According to Ettoday.com’s report “Maiden flight of Russian Su-57 with ‘Product 30’ engine with powerful thrust 12% bigger than F-22’s”, compared with Su-57’s old engine AL-41-F1. the new engine is superior in quite a few aspects, for example, it is 30% light in weight, costs two thirds less in maintenance, has bigger vector maneuver angle and consumes less fuel.
As Russia regards China as potential buyer of Su-57 for recovery of R&D cost of Su-57, if China is unable to develop better engines, it can import Su-57 and its engines though there will be hard bargaining for the price and number of purchase.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on The Diplomat and Ettoday’s reports, full text of which can respectively be viewed at https://thediplomat.com/2017/12/russias-su-57-stealth-fighter-makes-maiden-flight-new-engine/ and https://www.ettoday.net/news/20171207/1067598.htm?t=%E4%BF%84Su-57%E6%90%AD%E8%BC%89%E3%80%8C%E7%94%A2%E5%93%8130%E3%80%8D%E9%A6%96%E9%A3%9B%EF%BC%81%E3%80%80%E6%8E%A8%E5%8A%9B%E5%A4%A7%E5%8B%9DF-22%E7%99%BC%E5%8B%95%E6%A9%9F12%25.