‘There is no happiness in life’


(This reblogger’s Note: The article is sad that US domestic turmoil fails to facilitate its diplomacy}

CNN’s Meanwhile in America <meanwhile@newsletters.cnn.com>

10:37 (1 hour ago) June 17, 2021

Stephen Collinson and Caitlin Hu

‘There is no happiness in life’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on June 16, 2021.

———-

Did any of it matter?

A week of summits, diplomatic pageantry and media blitzes ended when Joe Biden climbed the stairs onto Air Force One at Geneva airport. “I did what I came to do,” the US President said, after warning Vladimir Putin to halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure and making clear that he didn’t want a new Cold War but would firmly defend US interests and values.

His comment sums up the rest of a trip on which he mended relations with US allies traumatized by Donald Trump, launched his global crusade to save democracy and offered belated US leadership on the Covid-19 pandemic. He acknowledged it would take months to learn whether his talks result in US prisoners in Russia being freed, whether a cybersecurity showdown cools and strategic clashes with Moscow in Ukraine and elsewhere ease.

By then, his first foreign trip will be a distant memory — reflecting that while presidential travel may be effective in forging incremental progress, it’s often overhyped. (Does anybody remember Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo?)

But Biden’s reassertion of US leadership was welcome in Europe. A united West may be more effective at countering Putin, the pandemic and even China. It’s better for everyone when the US President doesn’t set out to destroy long-standing alliances.

But Biden’s encounter with the Russian President was also a reminder of how America’s own political turmoil has rendered it an unreliable global power. Putin, on his fifth US President, has run the Kremlin for more than 20 years. In that time, the US has gone into the Middle East and tried to get out again. It joined the Paris climate accord, left it and went back in. It forged an Iran nuclear pact, tried to destroy it and now wants to revive it. It pivoted to Asia and back again. This head-snapping record explains some of the skepticism with Biden’s “America’s back” roadshow.

Republican Rep Steve Scalise of Louisiana — a devotee of Trump, a President who slavishly toadied to Putin — has complained it is time for Biden to “stand up” to the Kremlin strongman. His reminder that irony is dead exemplifies the political fracture Biden must now confront at home.

Until America decides what kind of country it wants to be, it cannot be a true force for international stability. And that’s not happening anytime soon. (This Blogger’s comment: Bravo, bravo!)

Source: CNN “’There is no happiness in life’”

Note: This is CNN’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the article’s views. Some of my views can be found in this blogger’s note and comment.


What Can Biden Give to Get Europe’s Support in Countering China?


AP says in its report about US President Joe Biden’s Europe trip titled “Biden opens overseas trip declaring ‘United States is back’”, “The trip will be far more about messaging than specific actions or deals.”

That is quite true as the US is really unable to give any country anything by its actions or deals in Biden’s trip to Europe.

What Biden can give is but the promise that “the US is back”, but he cannot ensure the Europe that the US will be back forever as he cannot ensure his successors will continue his policies. Perhaps, like Trump, the next president will make the US not be back again.

Biden’s major aim is to rally Europe around the US to counter China, but China constitutes minimal threat to EU but provides EU with great gains in its market. True, the US is unhappy with its trade with China, but the US is Europe’s major competitor in Chinese market. Its trade and tech war with China aims at maintaining US dominance. However, the US is EU’s major competitor in Chinese market. Reduction of US dominance will greatly benefit EU in Chinese market. So will EU join the US in confronting China economically especially when China has signed an investment deal with EU that may benefit EU greatly? I doubt that as joining the US in confronting China will only benefit the US at the expense of EU. The US has to give EU something as compensation but the US simply can give EU nothing in return.

Perhaps, the US may give EU protection against Russia EU’s actual greatest threat, but there will be no actions or deals in Biden’s trip. Biden is even unwilling to meet Ukrainian president before his summit with Putin in order to avoid receiving Ukraine’s request to counter Putin in the summit.

AP’s report says, “Biden wants to privately pressure Putin to end myriad provocations, including Cybersecurity attacks on American businesses by Russian-based hackers, the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and repeated overt and covert efforts by the Kremlin to interfere in U.S. elections.” However, the pressure for such purpose has already been there publicly but in vain. How can private pressure work? Biden has to give Putin something in return in order to get something from Putin.

Putin has already said Russia will put an end to its use of US dollars as reserve currency or means of payment. That will hurt the US much greater than Russia as together with China and other friends they may reduce the dominance of US dollars. That is the pressure Putin puts on the US. Putin wants the US to lift sanctions for Putin to remove the pressure in return.

There must be some secret agreement to benefit both sides as it is common sense that leaders meet for benefit instead of quarrel.

I doubt Biden may achieve anything great in his Europe trip. Anyway for the president of a country in trouble to gather support for maintaining its dominance, a trip abroad may enable him to have some relaxation at least.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on AP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://apnews.com/article/biden-first-overseas-trip-putin-8b4c67c3f72a4163a7cfbecb192a93cf.


China, Russia’s Coordinated Challenges to US


China Challenges Philippines Again in South China Sea

In March 2021, China massed more than 200 fishing boats in waters near Whitsun Reef claimed by both China and the Philippines. Philippines protested so that China took the opportunity to claim again that the area is China’s as it lies within China’s nine-dash line. The Philippines cited the arbitration ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague to deny China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea within China’s nine-dash line. China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated that China did not accept or recognize the arbitration ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.

US Failure to Help Philippines with Scarborough Standoff in 2012

That is the same as the Huangyan Island (also known as Scarborough Shoal in the world) that also lies within both China’s nine-dash line and Philippines claimed 200-mile exclusive economic zone. US open denial of China’s nine-dash line emboldened Philippine President Aquino to start the Scarborough Standoff with China in 2012, Aquino hoped that US Navy would have helped drive Chinese Navy, coast guard ships and fishing boats away from Scarborough Shoal and the waters around it within the exclusive economic zone claimed by the Philippines. The US, however, did not interfere as it traditionally does not take side in other countries’ border disputes.

As the US refused to take actions, China was able to entirely drive the Philippines away from the Shoal and the area around it and ban Philippine fishing there. Philippines complained to the US and asked it for help. The US remained inaction but told the Philippines to apply for arbitration at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. China simply refused to take part in the arbitration, claiming the said court had no jurisdiction over the case. Philippines had to incur arbitration costs of tens of millions of US dollars but was not sure whether it would win. In addition, it clearly knew that the court’s ruling was not binding so that it could not enforce the ruling on China even if it won.

The US promised to use its influence to enable the Philippines to win and to force China to accept the court’s ruling.

True enough, with US and Japan’s influence the Philippines obtained an arbitration ruling in favor of the Philippines that denies all China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea. China immediately announced that it would not accept or recognize the ruling while the UN immediately announced that the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague is not a UN agency. As a result, the US and quite a few Western media are not able to make people believe that the court’s ruling is a UN agency’s.

It would have been otherwise, if the Philippines had submitted the case to the International Court of Justice (ICE), a UN agency. However, both the US and the Philippines lacked confidence to win the case at ICJ. In addition, if they had lost the case in ICJ, they would have no ground to force their views on China while China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea would have been officially justified by the ICJ.

As China has refused to accept or recognize the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague and as the UN has denied the court is an agency under it, few countries except a few Western countries have respected the ruling.

Frustrated, the US sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to accept the ruling, but China responded with the challenge of a war with the US. The US had to give up as it was not willing to incur the heavy costs of war for Philippine interests.

China Challenges US Again in South China Sea

Mow US President Joe Biden regards China as America’s major threat and has begun a new Cold War against China. US provocative activities in Taiwan Straight and the South China Sea have greatly intensified.

Safeguard Core Interests in South China Sea while Making a Show to Take Taiwan

US high generals believe China may soon send its troops to take Taiwan and thus trigger a war with the US. However, China will not gain much in taking Taiwan by force especially if the US has been forced to fight China. The war may turn Taiwan into ruins so that with heavy costs of a war, China will not get economic gains in taking Taiwan by force; therefore, as long as Taiwan does not openly announce independence China will not take Taiwan by force. So far the US, though has openly declared its protection of Taiwan if China attacks Taiwan, does not support Taiwan independence as one-China policy is the basis of China-US relations.

The South China Sea is an entirely different issue. It is a vast area of three million square kilometers with rich energy and fishing resources. Due to such tremendously great interests, China has incurred billions of dollars costs to build seven artificial islands there in order to strengthen its defense there. The three airstrips on the islands alone may deploy 600 fighter jets, which together with the missiles deployed there constitute very powerful fire power enough to deal with all the aircraft carrier battle groups the US is able to send there. Moreover there are lots of airfields and missile bases on the coast near the sea.

Now, the US seems trying to deny China’s rights and interests there by frequently sending its aircraft battle groups to patrol the South China Sea with the excuse of ensuring freedom of navigation. For more than a month from March and April 2021 China’s fishing fleet remains in the area around Whitsun Reef that China disputes with the Philippines over the ownership of the reef.

As the reef emerged above water only at low tide according to a judgment by the International Court of Justice in 2012: “low-tide elevations cannot be appropriated”, no one can claim ownership of he reef. However, at the end of the 20th century some small sand dunes had developed on the reef making a territorial claim possible. China sends the fishing fleet there with obvious intention to claim ownership of the reef.

In response, on April 7, 2021 US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said “An armed attack against the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin complained to US Secretary of State Blinken in his phone call with him on April 9, 2021. He got Blinken’s verbal confirmation of US commitment to defend the Philippines.

Obviously the US is not carrying out a freedom of navigation operation by sending an aircraft carrier into the South China Sea. A destroyer or even frigate is quite enough. The US is showing its strength to scare China.

However, before the carrier came to the South China Sea, on April 5 2021, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said to his counterparts from four ASEAN countries, “China will not accept that there is any nation in the world that [can] put itself superior to the others, and that any nation will have a final say on world affairs. If the US continues to confront, China will take it calmly without fear.”

Before US provocation with frequent deployment of its carrier battle groups to show its strength in the South China Sea, China was not so active in safeguarding its rights and interests in the South China Sea as it wants to maintain friendly relations with the Philippines. Now China used not only its coast guard ship but even naval missile fast boats to drive Philippine civilian ships and fishermen away from the disputed area. That is quite exceptional. Obviously China has been intentionally testing the US. If the US only wants to make a show, China will not challenge it, but if the US tries to interfere with the maritime territory disputes between China and the Philippines to performs its defense-treaty obligations in helping Philippine civilian ships counter Chinese navy or coast guard ships as alleged by US government statement orally confirmed by US Secretary of State Blinken, China will fight the US in order to safeguard its core interests there.

US carrier battle group is surrounded by China’s forces on Chinese coast and artificial islands. It cannot flee to the north as there are lots of Chinese coastal forces to intercept it. Its only way of retreat will be through the Malacca Strait or Bashi Channel to the west or south of the South China Sea. China sent its Liaoning aircraft battle group to conduct military drill to the east of Taiwan seemingly to threaten Taiwan but really to intercept US carrier battle group in case the group attacks Chinese navy to help the Philippines.

I don’t think that the US will help the Philippines and thus trigger a naval war with China. However, whether due to tacit understanding or secret agreement, Russia massed its troops along its border with Ukraine at the same time.

That is not the first time China and Russia coordinate. When Russia invaded Ukraine, China coordinated with the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Russia Sends Troops to Its Border with Ukraine to Coordinate with China’s Challenge in South China Sea

Russia’s military move is testing the US whether it will protect its European allies against Russia as promised while the US is challenged by China in the South China Sea. The US is sending two warships to the Black Sea to counter Russia, but that is far from enough.

If US carrier battle group fails to help the Philippines counter China in the South China Sea as I foretell. It shows US weakness. Russia may well invade Ukraine as neither Ukraine nor EU has enough troops to counter Russia in Europe. There certainly will not be serious military conflicts as Russia has no intention to have long term military conflicts with EU. Russia wants friendly relations with EU as EU is its major energy market; therefore, it has been making great efforts to complete its Nord Stream 2 pipeline for direct supply of natural gas to Germany and its neighbors. However, by invading Ukraine, it will test US desire and will to protect EU. When it is clear that the US has no desire or will to protect its allies whether in Asia or Europe, US allies will entirely lose confidence in the US. Without allies, the US will be entirely unable to conduct its Cold War against China and Russia and without US interference, Russia may greatly improve its relations with EU.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


Zero Sum v. Win-Win Cooperation Mindsets


Will China’s BRI in Central and Eastern Europe Break Russia-China Alliance?

Since 2012, China has had annual 16+1 summit with 16 central and eastern European countries including 11 EU Member States and 5 Balkan countries Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Macedonia. It has expanded to 17+1 when Greece joined later since 2019.

The summits were held by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang from 2012 to 2019. No summit was held in 2020 due to Covid-19 pendamic. The 2021 summit was a video one held by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Before the first summit, China had already been financing the expansion of the port of Piraeus in Greece and building roads and railways in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia.

The latter four countries are all eastern European ones formerly controlled by the Soviet Union. Those countries are what Russia wants to recover as its sphere of influence in order to recover the glory of the Soviet Union or at least the Russia before the Soviet Union. That is Russia’s dream. As part of its efforts to realize that dream, it took military actions to annex Crimea and separate two states from Ukraine.

Obviously China intends to extend its BRI into central and eastern Europe through the 17+1 summits, but eastern Europe is what Russia wants to recover as its sphere of influence. Therefore, former US President Donald Trump could exploit China’s BRI extension into eastern Europe to sow discord between Russia and China. That may be the commencement of a third party affair to break the marriage of convenience between Russia and China.

Possibility of Russia-China Win-Win Cooperation in Europe

Now, it is but a logical assumption that Russia may be upset by China’s extension of BRI into eastern Europe. However, as a matter of fact, EU is much more upset by China’s extension as it has been taking and wants to take eastern Europe into it. EU has already taken and been taking quite a few eastern European countries into it. Russia regards that as a threat to encircle it in Europe. In that perspective, extending BRI into central and eastern Europe may attract the countries there away from EU and to some extent break EU’s encirclement of Russia.

Economically, Russia is much weaker than EU so that it cannot compete with EU in winning over the eastern European countries that were formerly parts or satellite states of the Soviet Union. Ukraine has long been a country that EU and Russia compete hard to win over. It was formerly an important member of the Soviet Union and relies on Russian energy supply. EU and Russia had both made great efforts to influence Ukraine’s presidential election. Sometimes EU won and had a pro-EU president elected, but sometimes Russia won.

It so happened that in 2010 a pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was elected. He decided to suspend the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement and seek closer economic ties with Russia. With EU support, a street revolution broke out and overthrew the lawfully elected president. Russia sent troops to annex Ukraine’s Crimea and supported the military separation of two Ukrainian states from Ukraine. However, the other parts of Ukraine are pro-EU and want to join not only EU but also NATO, which Russia regards as great threat to its security. China’s BRI in Eastern Europe will make it even more difficult for Russia to recover Eastern Europe as its sphere of influence.

The US regards China as its only rival for world hegemony. As China is rising while the US is declining, normally, the US has to form alliance with some other countries to counter Russia-China alliance or instead make efforts to break Russia-China alliance. The US regards China’s extension of BRI into eastern and central Europe as its opportunity to break Russia-China alliance.

US President Donald Trump has been fully aware of the trouble to the US caused by Russia-China alliance. He has tried to improve relations with Russia and thus drive a wedge between Russia and China but has encountered strong opposition at home. However, as most Americans have fallen into Thucydides trap, they all support US opposition to China’s BRI and regard BRI as China’s trick to gain geopolitical influence. They believe that China’s BRI in Europe will reduce Russia’s geopolitical influence in Europe and hope that Russia will join the US in opposing China’s BRI.

Russia’s Putin is very clever. He sees the dual aspects of China’s extension of BRI to Europe. On the one hand China will gain geopolitical influence in Eastern Europe and may thus reduce Russia’s geopolitical influence there, but on the other hand it will also reduce EU’s geopolitical influence there.

China is after all Russia’s ally. Russia should regard China’s BRI in eastern Europe as China’s help to draw eastern European countries away from EU. That will certainly reduce EU’s threat to Russia.

US great efforts to hinder BRI are based on zero-sum mindset while China’s success in BRI is based on win-win cooperation that benefits both China and the participating countries. Russia has already participated BRI in providing railway connections between China and Europe. It has been making preparations for provision of shipping connection between China and Europe through the Arctic. Now, with win-win mindset, Russia will also conduct win-win cooperation for BRI in eastern Europe.

Opposing China’s BRI in eastern Europe is a zero sum mindset, but applying Russia’s remnant influence to conduct win-win cooperation with China for the success of BRI will perhaps draw some eastern European countries into Russia and China’s joint camp against the West. Moreover, the connections built by and economic growth resulting from BRI will first of all benefit Russia due to Russia’s closeness to the area.

Therefore with win-win cooperation mindset, Russia will conduct win-win cooperation with China in extending BRI to eastern Europe. It will play an important role there as it is the major energy supplier there. The US will not be able to break Russia-China alliance due to China’s extension of BRI into eastern Europe.

US Inability to Replace China as Russia’s Ally

Moreover, in terms of economic interests, the United States cannot replace China as Russia’s resources importer and consumer goods provider. On the contrary, the US is Russia’s competitor in world energy market as it is becoming a major energy exporter too due to progress of technology in its energy exploitation. The US is a major exporter of agricultural products. Russia too has vast land resources with the potential to produce and export agricultural products to China. When China retaliates US tariff hikes to make itself unable to import soybean from the US, Russia offers its vast land for China to produce soybean and promises to produce soybean itself to satisfy China’s needs.

Previously, when Russian retaliated European sanctions by banning imports of European processed food, China provided food processing technology to help Russia produce import substitutes and thus enabled Russia’s food self-sufficiency. Russia has thus greatly reduced its foreign exchange expenditures in importing processed food. China helped Russia resist West sanctions. Now, it is Russia’s turn to help China resist US trade war attacks. And Russia will be benefited in grabbing US market share in China by so doing.

In addition, the US is Russia’s major competitor in world weapon market. China may become Russia’s major competitor too as it is vigorously developing advanced weapons. However, with win-win cooperation mindset, the alliance enables China and Russia to cooperate in developing advanced weapons due to the mutual trust they have built for a long time. For example, they now have joint ventures in developing wide-body airliners (the technology of which may be used in strategic bomber and large military transport aircraft) and heavy helicopters to combine their technology expertise in competing with the West.

There is, moreover, the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Russia due to their close geographical locations that the US simply cannot replace China. China is now using Russia’s railway for its trade with Europe and Middle East. It will greatly enhance Russian railway’s efficiency and profitability. When the Arctic has melted, Russia will provide China with shipping shortcut to Europe through the Arctic Ocean. Russian railway, ports and other facilities will make big money in providing connections between China and Europe through the Arctic. The US simply cannot provide any replacement for the benefits Russia has got and will get from its alliance with China.

With zero-sum mindset neighborhood may give rise to fight for land and resources but with win-win cooperation mindset, it may provide connections and trade opportunities to supply each other’s needs. China and Russia are now mature neighbors that understand the benefit of win-win cooperation facilitated by geographical closeness. Due to different geographical locations, the US simply cannot disrupt Russia-China “marriage” with third-party “affair”.

The win-win cooperation will push Russia and China even closer to each other. Such closer ties between them is very difficult for Trump to break.

The Emergence of Asian Union

Most BRI projects are long-term ones. When they have been completed a decade later, BRI will possibly unite the vast area of Asia including Central Asia, Southeast Asia, North Asia, South Asia except India and potentially East Asia including South Korea and Japan through ASEAN+3 into an Asian Union similar to EU.

That union will link with EU through eastern and central Europe, leaving the United States isolated in North America.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


US Helps China, Russia Build Mutual Trust


As there has been a long history of enmity between the two giant neighbors, it takes time to build mutual trust for the two to become allies in confronting the US. Russia welcomed China’s veto 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 natural resources to China. As a result, there were lots of difficulties for the two in concluding 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 stances in East and South China Seas.

Ukraine

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 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 Ukrainian 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 while Ukraine 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 pro-Russia 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.

The US took the lead to interfere by imposing sanctions on Russia while China helped Russia counter the sanctions. The West led by the US has thus pushed Russia entirely into China’s arms.

South China Sea

In Asia, the US has intensified its pivot to Asia to contain China. It exploited China’s disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea to pit China’s neighbors against China. It helped the Philippines obtain an arbitration ruling that entirely denies China’s historical rights and interests in the South China Sea and sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to comply with the ruling. China simply rejects the ruling while Russia firmly supports China’s stance. The US has thus pushed China further into Russia’s arms. Now, there has been de facto alliance between China and Russia.

Obama’s diplomatic blunders have caused the US to have two powerful enemies. Perhaps, Obama looked down on Russia and believed that he can deal with China easily even if China had Russia as its ally to help it. However, some US military experts do not think so. They believe that Russia-China alliance is US military’s nightmare. Their worries will be described in my next article.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


Russia-China Alliance –US Military’s Nightmare


There is the opinion in vogue among US politicians and military officers that there has been no Russia-China alliance or Russia and China though allying with each other will each pursue its own interests when the other is in war with the US.

The former is reflected in Leon Aron’s article “Are Russia and China Really Forming an Alliance?” published by Foreign Affairs on April 4 with the subtitle “The Evidence Is Less Than Impressive” while the latter was described by Robert Farley in his article “US Military’s Worst Nightmare: A War with Russia and China (at the Same Time)”

Leon Aron is a Russian refugee in the US. He is regarded as a Russia expert currently serving as a resident scholar and the director of Russian studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He believes that “Chinese-Russian economic, foreign policy and military cooperation is less than impressive so that many foreign-policy experts are wrong in being convinced that an anti-US alliance between Russia and China is emerging.

China joined Russia in its veto of Western attempt of military intervention for regime change in Syria. Is that not military cooperation of emerging alliance?

When Russia annexes Crimea and provides military support to Ukraine local militia’s struggle for independence, China conducted large-scale reclamation to build artificial islands in the South China Sea. Was that not a move to divert West’s attention while attaining China’s own goal? The timing in Ukraine and South China Sea proves wonderful cooperation of alliance.

Russian president insisted on provision of top aircrafts for China with the argument that the sale was political instead of commercial. Did that not indicate that Russia-China alliance was taking shape?

When US President Trump threatens North Korea with military attack to force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Russia and China opposed Trump’s attack together.

When the US threatens Venezuela with war to force Venezuelan President Maduro to resign, China who has lots of interests in Venezuela does not send military to protect Maduro, but Russia does though it does not have significant interests there. Is that not military cooperation between the two countries?

The two allies have conducted cooperation wisely. For example when the West imposed sanctions on Russia due to the Ukraine issues, China does not join the West claiming that sanctions are useless. However, it silently provided Russia with economic assistance to make the sanctions useless. Do you think China did so out of the necessity to prove its argument that sanctions are useless?

On the other hand, China provides Russia with food procession technology to make effective Russian counter sanctions of banning import of European processed food. China provided Russia with food processing technologies to enable Russia to produce import substitutes for European processed food.

For a long time Russia had a plan for utilizing its rich agricultural resources to achieve food self-reliance so as to greatly reduce its expenditure of foreign exchange in importing processed food. Western sanctions provide Russia with justified reason to carry out the plan as retaliation of Western sanctions. Russian people suffered for some time the shortage of Western processed food but they supported the government’s counter sanctions. Chinese support had helped Russia overcome the shortage of processed food except Cheese.

There is a prevailing Western view that petrified egg is the worst Chinese food while almost all Chinese people regard cheese as the worst Western food. No wonder China is not able to make good cheese to supply Russia nor has China the technology to help Russia make good cheese.

As the West imposed sanctions with military intention, Chinese assistance to make Western sanction ineffective and Russian sanctions on the West effective shall be regarded as strong and effective military cooperation with Russia.

Leon Aron is stupid to regard the structure of Russian-Chinese trade as skewed. True Russia’s exports to China are mostly raw materials, especifically crude oil, wood, and coal while China’s sales to Russia are mostly consumer goods and electronics and machinery. That means the two countries’ economies are supplementary. When their trade lifelines are cut by the West, they will be able to supply each other’s needs. Such supplementary economies make them ideal allies.

The two countries’ leaders have met 25 times to design wise ways of cooperation. For example, China supports Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Syria but does so silently without hurting its relations with the West.

Russia takes strong measures to support Venezuela to help maintain Chinese interests there so that China need not take actions. As a result, China is able to avoid upsetting the US and creating obstacles to its talks with the US to end the trade war.

There cooperation in their arms race with the US is especially wise. Russia focuses on developing nuclear weapons to threaten the US so that the US has to allocate much financial resource to the improvement and development of its nuclear weapons. China, on the other hand, focuses on developing conventional weapons, especially aircraft carriers to put an end to US dominance of the oceans.

The US, though has a much larger military budget, has to take care of both nuclear and conventional weapons while China and Russia only to take care of one of the two sections of weapons so that their much smaller military budgets are enough.

Robert Farley is one of those who believe Russia-China alliance has really been emerging. He is an experienced analyst. He has written The Battleship Book and is a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. He published on National Interest an article titled “US Military’s Worst Nightmare: A War with Russia and China (at the Same Time)” on Russia-China alliance. The article can be viewed at http://nationalinterest.org/feature/us-militarys-worst-nightmare-war-russia-china-the-same-time-17490.

In the article he asks the question that plagues him: What if China and Russia sufficiently coordinated with one another to engage in simultaneous hostilities in the Pacific and in Europe?

However, he does not think it likely that China and Russia may coordinate a pair of crises to drive two separate US military responses as each country has its own goal. He believes, “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.”

In such a scenario, Europe is strong enough to deal with Russia with some support from US navy and air force. As a result the US may focus on dealing with China with almost all its navy and air force.

The article believes that US only has the difficulties in winning quickly in Asia in order to transfer its force to European theater as soon as possible.

According to current US military strength, it is indeed possible for the US to win first in Asia and then in Europe if China and Russia fight separately in two different theaters. However, what if China and Russia join force in fighting the US in one theater?

Chinese and Russian leaders are both very clever. They have so far designed very wise way of cooperation to cause trouble to the West, especially the United States.

If one of their countries is in war with the US, the other will certainly come to help its ally as it is common sense that they rely on each other to resist the US so that if one of them is defeated by the US, the other will not be able to resist the US without its ally’s help.

The US is not strong enough to fight both countries at the same time; therefore, Russia-China alliance is US military’s nightmare.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


Russia-China Alliance, the Impossible Made Possible 5


Buildup of Mutual Trust between China and Russia
As there has been a long history of enmity between the two giant neighbors, it takes time to build mutual trust for the two to become allies in confronting the US. Russia welcomed China’s veto 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 natural resources to China. As a result, there were lots of difficulties for the two in concluding 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 stances in East and South China Seas.

Ukraine
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 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 Ukrainian 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 while Ukraine 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 pro-Russia 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.

The US took the lead to interfere by imposing sanctions on Russia while China helped Russia counter the sanctions. The West led by the US has thus pushed Russia entirely into China’s arms.

South China Sea
In Asia, the US has intensified its pivot to Asia to contain China. It exploited China’s disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea to pit China’s neighbors against China. It helped the Philippines obtain an arbitration ruling that entirely denies China’s historical rights and interests in the South China Sea and sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to comply with the ruling. China simply rejects the ruling while Russia firmly supports China’s stance. The US has thus pushed China further into Russia’s arms. Now, there has been de facto alliance between China and Russia.

Obama’s diplomatic blunders have caused the US to have two powerful enemies. Perhaps, Obama looked down on Russia and believed that he can deal with China easily even if China had Russia as its ally to help it. However, some US military experts do not think so. They believe that Russia-China alliance is US military’s nightmare. Their worries will be described in the next post.

Article by Chan Kai Yee


Ukraine expects record maize harvest, rising sales to China


Pavel Polityuk July 31, 2018

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s maize harvest may hit a record 27-28 million tonnes this year and sales to China could rise by 10 percent due to the trade war between Washington and Beijing, the country’s acting agriculture minister said.

Ukrainian acting Agriculture Minister Maksym Martyniuk speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kiev, Ukraine September 8, 2017. Picture taken September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

China has accused the United States of triggering the “largest-scale trade war” with import duties, potentially giving a further boost to already booming grain and oilseed exports from the Black Sea region.

“For some positions, such as soybean, we will get an increase in exports to new markets,” Maksym Martyniuk told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Ukraine has exported 2.6 million tonnes of maize to China so far in the 2017/18 September-August season, out of total sales of 16.6 million tonnes.

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“Maize will traditionally go to China. We can increase (maize) exports to China by up to 10 percent,” Martyniuk said, adding that maize could hit a record 27-28 million tonnes this year, compared with 24.1 million tonnes in 2017.

Weather conditions have favored crops sown late in the season this year and a strong maize crop may compensate for a drop in the 2018 wheat harvest, which is likely to decrease by 12-16 percent to 22-23 million tonnes due to poor weather.

Drought during the spring and torrential rains in summer have affected Ukrainian winter crops, raising concerns on a possible decrease in the harvest and its quality.

“Due to weather conditions, we will have a minus in winter crops, from rapeseed to winter wheat,” Martyniuk said.

“But the condition of late crops such as soybeans and maize is excellent and without extreme weather they will give an increase in comparison with last year, he said.

Ukrainian acting Agriculture Minister Maksym Martyniuk speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kiev, Ukraine September 8, 2017. Picture taken September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

He said Ukraine might harvest at least 60 million tonnes of grain this year, versus 61.3 million a year earlier.

SUNFLOWER BLOOM

Martyniuk said the weather was favorable for the sunflower harvest and Ukraine, the global leading sunflower oil exporter, was likely to harvest 13.3 million tonnes of sunseed this year, the second highest harvest since 1991.

Ukraine harvested 61.3 million tonnes of grain in 2017, with most wheat harvested in Ukraine’s central and southern regions.

Martyniuk said recent rains across most Ukrainian regions had partially affected the quality of wheat, but it was too early to give an exact proportion.

“In the central and western parts of Ukraine almost all harvested wheat is forage class while in the southern regions there are no problems with quality and some regions managed to thresh wheat before the rains,” he said, adding it was not clear yet exactly how much milling wheat would be harvested.

Ukraine has harvested 17 million tonnes of wheat from 76 percent of the sowing area so far and market sources said around 10 million tonnes of the harvested wheat is milling wheat.

But Martyniuk forecast a possible deficit of wheat seeds for the forthcoming sowing, without giving any details.

Martyniuk said Ukraine was likely to keep its grain exports at last’s season level of around 40 million tonnes and had already shipped abroad 1.5 million tonnes of various grains.

Ukraine exported 39.4 million tonnes of grain in the 2017/18 season which runs from July to June, this included 17.2 million tonnes of wheat and 17.8 million of maize.

Editing by Matthias Williams and Alexander Smith

Source: Reuters “Ukraine expects record maize harvest, rising sales to China”

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


Ukraine Helps China Make Rhenium Superalloy for High Tech Warplanes


J-20 new prototype no. 2021 uses WS-10X engine. Photo: fyjs.cn

Popular Science’s September-9 article “China’s J-20 stealth fighter may be getting a new engine” that I reblogged on September 12 says that there is recently a new J-20 prototype no. 2021 installed with a new WS-10X engine better stealth with 14-15 ton vector thrust that enables J-20 to conduct supersonic supercruise without using fuel-thirsty afterburners.

According to the article, China is able to make such good aircraft engines as it has made breakthrough in rhenium-nickel superalloy technology. The article says, “Previously, the development of Chinese engines like the WS-10 were delayed as they suffered from quality control issues regarding single crystal turbine blades. China’s mastery of the rhenium superalloy (and by the private sector, no less) won’t just help China build current fighter engines, but also quickly research more capable, higher tech models.”

Why is China able to make such breakthrough so quickly? Global Times says in its article “Experts clarify rumor of changes in aircraft engine cooperation: Cooperation achievements in display” on September 20, “From the manufacturing point of view, China is relatively weak in the technology of making and casting of single crystal alloys, powder metallurgy, etc. In Russian-Ukraine system, those technologies have already been applied for more than one or several decades. They have played a great boosting role in improving China’s aircraft engines.”

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Popular Science and Global Times’ articles, full text of which can respectively been found at http://www.popsci.com/china-stealth-fighter-new-engine and http://mil.huanqiu.com/observation/2017-09/11264854_3.html. The latter is in Chinese.


China Gets Motor Sich Engine Technology despite Frozen Share Holding


Display of cooperation achievements between Skyrizon and Motor Sich in Beijing Airshow

SCMP published a report titled “Chinese firm’s stake in Ukraine military aircraft engine maker ‘frozen’” on September 16 but retrieved it the next day.

The report says “The Ukrainian security services allege that the purchase of the company’s stock by groups controlled by Beijing Skyrizon Aviation was an attempt to take its assets out of the country, leading to its liquidation, the news agency Interfax-Ukraine reported.

“A court in Kiev froze shares for a 41 per cent stake in the firm owned by offshore companies controlled by Beijing Skyrizon last week, according to the article.”

However, lots of aircraft engines are displayed as achievements of cooperation between Motor Sich and Beijing Skyrizon Aviation and the two companies signed quite a few major cooperation projects in Beijing Airshow that opened on September 19.

What then is the truth of the cooperation between the two companies?

To learn the truth, Global Times has made an investigation and interviewed relevant people and found that the allegation about changes in the cooperation was groundless. It published a report titled “Experts clarify rumor of changes in aircraft engine cooperation: Cooperation achievements in display” that quotes Motor Sich CEO Boguslavyev as saying, “Our goal is to firmly perform the agreements with Skyrizon and we have already made major achievements. All leaders and all staff and workers in Motor Sich are very proud that we come to China to cooperate with Skyrizon.”

What China wants is Motor Sich’s technology. It does not matter whether China can obtain a controlling shareholding in Motor Sich as long as it can get its technology.

The allegation that China wants to move Motor Sich’s assets to China is absurd. As Motor Sich has not been sufficiently profitable, it has not upgraded its equipment for quite a long time. China is now able to produce more advanced equipment than what Motor Sich has. Why should China incur the costs to purchase and move equipment less advanced than what China has? The takeover of shareholding aims at obtaining technology alone instead of taking over less advanced equipment.

Moreover, the cooperation between the two enterprises is mutual beneficial. It not only enables China to obtain technology but also provide much needed funds for Motor Sich to replace its outdated equipment with advanced Chinese ones. In fact the cooperation also enables Motor Sich to obtain Chinese technology, for example, the technology of 3D printing for production of large structural parts.

In its report yesterday, the Voice of America showed its happiness that the US has succeeded in preventing China from taking over a major aircraft engine producer in the world. The US often fails to consider other countries’ interests. It does not care that if China does not invest in Motor Sich, Motor Sich may bankrupt leaving more than 20,000 staff and workers unemployed. Besides, it cares about control only but does not seek win-win cooperation that benefits both parties.

In the South China Sea, it only wants the Philippines to help it contain China but fails to protect Philippines’ interests. As a result, it loses the Philippines to China.

The situation of Motor Sich-Skyrizon cooperation is different, US selfishness only prevents the takeover but the win-win cooperation remains. As a result, it is a win-win-win conclusion. China and Ukraine are winners of cooperation, the US is also a winner, winner in preventing an equity takeover, which makes it happy mentally though brings it no actual benefit.

However, that is the limit of US ability. Global Times says China and France jointly developed helicopter engine is also shown in the airshow. France is US ally, but the US cannot stop such cooperation as it benefits both the Chinese and French parties. Such win-win cooperation makes China popular while US will be increasingly unpopular if it keeps on blocking such mutual beneficial cooperation.

No wonder China is making progress and obtaining technology so fast while the US becomes increasingly stagnant.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Global Times, Voice America and SCMP’s reports. Full text of SCMP’s report can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2111493/chinese-firms-stake-ukraine-military-aircraft-engine

Global Times and Voice of America’s reports are both in Chinese and given summary translation by this blogger. Full text in Chinese can respectively be found at http://mil.huanqiu.com/observation/2017-09/11264854_3.html and https://www.voachinese.com/a/news-ukraine-froze-the-stake-china-bought-in-aircraft-engine-20170929/4036877.html.