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Category Archives: China

Assad: We were waiting for US attack & ‘no smoking gun linking Syria to gas attack’

by Martin Rowson

Assad: We were Waiting for US Attack, We’ll Emerge Victorious

Al Manar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the Syrians were waiting for such an intervention by the US, promising to get out from this war victorious.

During his latest meeting with Syrian military leaders after speculations grew on a US military strike on allegations of chemical attack on Damascus, Assad said that “since the beginning of the crisis, and we were sure that the moment will come when our real enemy knocks his head into our country intervening,” adding that he knows well that the Syrian leaders’ morals are high and “you are on full readiness to face any aggression and protect the homeland.”

But he ordered them to convey these high morals to their inferiors and to the Syrian citizens, according to Al-Akhbar newspaper.

“This is a historic confrontation that we will come out of victorious,” he ended up saying.

President Assad told a visiting delegation of Yemeni politicians also on Thursday that Syria will defend itself against any attack. “Syria will defend itself in the face of any aggression, and threats will only increase its commitment to its principles and its independence,” he said, according to Syria’s state television.

“Syria, with its resistant people and valiant army, is determined to wipe out terrorism which is being backed by Israel and Western nations to serve their own purposes of sowing division in the region, fragmenting its people and forcing them into submission,” the president added. “The people are the guarantors of victory and that is what is happening in Syria.”

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Russia Sending Warships to the Mediterranean

Al Ahed news

The Russian Interfax news agency reported Thursday that Moscow “over the next few days” will be sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean as the West prepares for possible strikes against Syria.

“The well-known situation shaping up in the eastern Mediterranean called for certain corrections to the make-up of the naval forces,” a source in the Russian General Staff told Interfax.

It further mentioned that “a large anti-submarine ship of the Northern Fleet will join them [the existing naval forces] over the next few days.”

“Later it will be joined by the Moskva, a rocket cruiser of the Black Sea Fleet which is now wrapping up its tasks in the northern Atlantic and will soon begin a Transatlantic voyage towards the Strait of Gibraltar,” the agency stated.

In addition, a rocket cruiser of the Pacific Fleet, the Varyag, will join the Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean this autumn by replacing a large anti-submarine ship.
However, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited a high-ranking representative of the naval command who said the changes to the country’s forces in the region were not linked to the current tensions over Syria and called them “a planned rotation.”

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Cameron Faces Mounting Opposition over Syria: Up to 70 Tory MPs Not Convinced by Case for Strike

Al Ahed news

The Guardian British daily reported Thursday that PM David Cameron is facing bigger opposition than expected over an attack on Syria, with up to 70 Tory MPs yet to be persuaded by the coalition’s case for military action.

The scale of hostility before Thursday’s initial vote in the Commons on intervention underscores why the prime minister felt it necessary to promise MPs a second vote before British forces have any direct military engagement in Syria.

He made the concession as a growing number of Conservatives publicly expressed their reservations about the case for action, including three of Cameron’s former ministers – Cheryl Gillan, Peter Luff and Sir Gerald Howarth.

Several ministerial aides, including David Burrowes and Daniel Kawczynski, have also spoken of their reluctance to back military intervention, raising the prospect of their resignations if they fail to be persuaded by the government motion.

Backbencher support will be crucial for Cameron as Labor leader Ed Miliband has said he will not back the coalition’s motion for action against Syria.

Instead, Miliband is planning to put forward a more cautious amendment favoring action only if certain conditions have been met in a move that could win round Labor opponents of strikes such as Diane Abbott.

The caveats include seeing the results of UN weapons inspections, compelling evidence that the Syrian regime was responsible for the use of chemical weapons, and clear legal advice that any strike is within international law.
Cameron and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, have a majority of 77 in the House of Commons, so they will need to win round skeptics in the debate, which starts at 2.30 and could run for eight hours.

However, the threatened rebellion may not materialize on Thursday, as Conservatives MPs may be mollified by the text of the motion promising a second vote.

But one Tory MP said it showed the prime minister’s weakness. Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, suggested the motion offering a second vote in future was a climbdown for Cameron in the face of major opposition. “What to do when you cannot command a majority in Commons for Syria strikes? Table a motion about something else,” he wrote on Twitter.

So far about 30 Tories have publicly come out as skeptics about military strikes, putting Cameron under pressure to set out a robust legal basis and strategy in Thursday’s debate. But there are thought to be more doubters in private.
One Tory MP said he believed at least 70 of his colleagues harbored reservations about handing the coalition a broad mandate for a strike on Syria without more details and a firm timetable being spelled out to parliament.

Gillan, a senior Tory backbencher, said on Wednesday that she and many colleagues had “great doubts”, and warned that intervention could lead to “absolute disaster”. She told the Guardian she did not know how she would vote, but felt “very strongly that we must have a clear objective and thought through the ramifications”.

“I’m very cautious,” she said. ” I sat in the House of Commons listening to Tony Blair and I really believed he was telling me there was no choice. We haven’t had the Chilcot Inquiry yet but I feel we were sold a pup. This is also too important to get wrong. I need to know they have thought this through.”

Peter Luff, one of Cameron’s defense ministers until last year, also told the Guardian he remained to be persuaded in favor of an attack on Syria. “I am yet to hear a compelling case that military action would be for the best,” he said.

Another former defense minister, Sir Gerald Howarth, said he was concerned that Britain was at risk of “getting our hand caught in the mangle” of a civil war between Syrian factions.

Howarth told the BBC Radio 4’s The World at One that he was still open-minded about the vote but skeptical about the benefits of military action as Britain had to “be realistic about what it is we can achieve”.

Davis, a former shadow home secretary, told the Times he could not see a “clear outcome” and was yet to be convinced about military action, but would make up his mind during the debate.

Kawczynski, a parliamentary private secretary to the Wales secretary, said: “People are very torn about the prospect of Britain being involved again in an overseas conflict.” Asked whether he would vote against the motion and give up his government role, Kawczynski said: “The wording will be crucial. It has to refer to the UN.”

David Burrowes, an aide to the environment secretary, wrote on his website that he was “very reluctant to approve the use of British weapons or military in Syria and would need an extremely compelling case to be made to change my mind”.

While many Tory MPs said they were waiting for the debate to make up their minds, some appeared ready to vote against.

One prominent Tory backbencher, Sarah Wollaston, the MP for Totnes, said she would vote against a military strike and called the lack of a free vote an abuse of power by her leadership. After reading the motion, she said it seemed like an “entrapment” to bury an endorsement for military action inside an “over-long and blindingly obvious essay”.

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said she was “extremely reluctant to support British interference”, and would be voting against any attack “as things stand”.

Among the Lib Dems, one senior politician said there was deep unease in the 55-strong parliamentary party, which was the only major one to vote against the Iraq war. There are believed to be several Syria sceptics in the party, but it was not possible to get a more precise estimate of numbers.

Lord Oakeshott, a Lib Dem peer, called on the coalition to release its legal advice about the basis for intervening before asking parliament to approve a campaign in Syria.

“This touches a very raw nerve for Liberal Democrats,” he said. “Now we’re in government there’s a very large responsibility to ensure the full legal advice on which any British act of war is based must published in full before any British button is pressed.”

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China: No Excuse for West to Strike Syria

Al Ahed news

Chinese state media warned the West against strikes on Syria Thursday as momentum mounted for attacking Syria.

In an editorial headed “No excuse for strikes”, the state-run China Daily said the US and its Western allies were “acting as judge, jury and executioner”.

“Any military intervention into Syria would have dire consequences for regional security and violate the norms governing international relations,” it said, adding such a move “will only exacerbate the crisis and could have unforeseen and unwelcome consequences”.

Making a comparison with the war in Iraq, it said the international community should not allow “itself to be led by the nose by US intelligence, which after all was responsible for claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction”.

China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council.

In an unsigned commentary, the Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, added that Washington lacked “a clear political end goal”.

“Citing ‘moral obscenity’ as an excuse to gear up for military action seems rash and hasty,” it said.

If strikes do take place, it added that “it is necessary for Russia and Iran to consider providing direct military aid” to al-Assad’s government.

In parallel, Beijing called for a “cautious” approach to the crisis, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi backing a UN investigation to “find out the truth as soon as possible”.

All parties “should avoid interfering in the investigation work or prejudging the results of the probes”, he told the official Xinhua news agency Wednesday.

Beijing says it opposes intervention in other countries’ internal affairs and has previously attempted to block moves leading to military action in overseas conflict.

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NYT: No Smoking Gun Linking Al-Assad to Gas Attack

Al Ahed news

American officials said Wednesday there was no “smoking gun” that directly links Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to last week’s alleged chemical attack near Damascus, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

They said Thursday’s public intelligence presentation will not contain specific electronic intercepts of communications between Syrian commanders or detailed reporting from spies and sources on the ground.

According to the daily, “the White House faces steep hurdles as it prepares to make the most important public intelligence presentation since February 2003, when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made a dramatic and detailed case for war to the United Nations Security Council using intelligence – later discredited – about Iraq’s weapons programs.”

“With the botched intelligence about Iraq still casting a long shadow over decisions about waging war in the Middle East, the White House faces an American public deeply skeptical about being drawn into the Syrian conflict and a growing chorus of lawmakers from both parties angry about the prospect of an American president once again going to war without Congressional consultation or approval,” it added.

The bellicose talk coming from the administration is unnerving some lawmakers from Obama’s party, who are angry that the White House seems to have no inclination to seek Congress’s approval before launching a strike in Syria.

“I am still waiting to see what specifically the administration and other involved partners have to say about a potential military strike, but I am concerned about how effective such an action could be,” said Representative Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat who is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I am worried that such action could drag the United States into a broader direct involvement in the conflict.”

Meanwhile, US Speaker John A. Boehner wrote a letter on Wednesday to Obama asking the president to provide a “clear, unambiguous explanation of how military action – which is a means, not a policy – will secure US objectives and how it fits into your overall policy.”

The discussion has even brought in former officials intimately involved in making the hurried public case for the Iraq war. In an interview with Fox Business Network, Donald Rumsfeld, who was War secretary at the time, said Wednesday that “there really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation.”

Americans over all have been skeptical about the United States getting involved in Syria’s war.

A poll published by Quinnipiac University last month found that 61 percent of people said it was not in the national interest to intervene in Syria, while 27 percent said it was. By a similar split, 59 percent opposed providing weapons to rebel forces, while 27 percent were in favor.

Iran, Russia, China, EU atop NSA piority list

Al Manar

Russia, alongside the EU, China and Iran, are on top of the NSA’s spying priority list, according to a document leaked by fugitive Edward Snowden and published by Der Spiegel weekly.

In the classified document, dated April 2013, countries are assigned levels of interest for NSA surveillance from 1 (the highest) to 5 (the lowest).

Among the top surveillance targets are China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Afghanistan. The EU, as a whole is also ranking high, though individually its 28 member-states are of lesser importance to the US intelligence, with Germany and France representing mid-level interest, while countries like Finland, Croatia and Denmark are denoted as almost irrelevant in data gathering.

Specification is also provided on what areas of interest are to be mostly looked at in different countries. Der Spiegel, which published the leaked document on Saturday, focuses on which German issues interested US spying agency the most.

The top ranking areas marked with a ‘3’ are the country’s foreign policy and economic issues. Arms exports, new technology, advanced conventional weapons and international trade were all assigned a lesser priority of ‘4’. When it comes to the whole of the European Union, the spheres of interest are almost identical.

This most recent leak is complementary to the earlier ones, stating that EU offices in Brussels, Washington and New York were under NSA surveillance and that Germany was the most spied upon of all EU countries.

Chancellor Merkel has been criticized for the lack of response to the leaks, suggesting that Germany was not only spied on extensively, but actually cooperated with the NSA in its surveillance programs.

Merkel first denied all knowledge of the NSA spying, but soon afterwards turned to justifying the US, saying “intelligence was essential for democracies”.

Germans are seemingly not convinced by this type of reasoning, as Snowden’s revelations have sparked massive rallies across the country.

China, Russia kick off largest-ever joint naval drills

Al Ahed news

China and Russia kicked off their largest-ever joint naval drills on Friday in the Sea of Japan, a further sign of the broad-based progress in ties between the former Cold War rivals.

Eighteen surface ships, one submarine, three airplanes, five ship-launched helicopters and two commando units were taking part in the “Joint Sea-2013” exercise that runs through July 12. The drills will cover anti-submarine warfare, close maneuvering, and the simulated take-over of an enemy ship.
The drills are considerably bigger than anything China’s navy has previously held with a foreign partner.

China’s increasingly formidable navy is contributing four destroyers, two latest-generation guided missile frigates and a support ship, all of which sailed Monday from the port of Qingdao, where China’s Northern Fleet is based, to the rallying point in Peter the Great Bay near Vladivostok.

“This is our strongest line-up ever in a joint naval drill,” Rear Admiral Yang Junfei, commander of the Chinese contingent, was quoted as saying by state media.

China has long been a key customer for Russian military hardware, but only in the last decade have their militaries begun training jointly. The naval drills are to be followed by another round of anti-terrorism joint drills in Russia’s Ural Mountain region of Chelyabinsk from July 27 to Aug. 15.

China’s armed forces are eagerly pursuing stronger links with most regional militaries, with the notable exception of Japan, with which China is embroiled in a strongly emotional spat over control of an uninhabited East China Sea island group north of Taiwan.

China began deploying ships to the anti-piracy flotilla off the coast of Somalia in 2008 and in recent years its navy has joined in a series of joint drills in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Chinese land units also have taken part in border security and anti-terrorism exercises organized by the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Chinese state media warns Philippines of counterstrike in South China Sea

Al Ahed news

On Saturday, China’s state media warned that a counterstrike against the Philippines was inevitable if it continues to provoke Beijing in the South China Sea.

This comes as ministers from both countries are to attend an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Brunei on Saturday, hoping to reach a legally binding code of conduct to manage maritime conduct in disputed areas.

China and the Philippines have been disputing for decades over the South China Sea. Tensions escalated after the Philippines moved new soldiers and supplies last week to a disputed coral reef, prompting Beijing to condemn its “illegal occupation”.

The People’s Daily, the official state media in China, said that the Philippines had committed “seven sins” in the South China Sea; “illegal occupation” of the Spratly Islands, inviting foreign capital to engage in oil and gas development in the disputed waters and promoting the “internationalization” of the waters.

“The Philippines, knowing that it’s weak, believes that ‘a crying child will have milk to drink’,” the People’s Daily mentioned, accusing Manila of resorting to many “unscrupulous” tricks in the disputed waters.

Pipelineistan geopolitics at work: Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Qatar.

(File photo)

by Pepe Escobar, source

Construction is nearing completion on a natural gas pipeline linking Iran and Pakistan, a project that portends a huge geopolitical shift. As regional powers strengthen ties in this key energy market, they’re looking to China, and away from the West.

Since the early 2000s, analysts and diplomats across Asia have been dreaming of a future Asian Energy Security Grid.

This – among other developments – is what it’s all about, the conclusion of the final stretch of the $7.5 billion, 1,100-mile natural gas Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline, starting from Iran’s giant South Pars field in the Persian Gulf, and expected to be online by the end of 2014.

Nobody lost money betting on Washington’s reaction; IP would put Islamabad in “violation of United Nations sanctions over [Iran’s] nuclear program.” Yet this has nothing to do with the UN, but with US sanctions made up by Congress and the Treasury Department.

Sanctions? What sanctions? Islamabad badly needs energy. China badly needs energy. And India will be extremely tempted to follow, especially when IP reaches Lahore, which is only 100 km from the Indian border. India, by the way, already imports Iranian oil and is not sanctioned for it.

All aboard the win-win train

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Zardari met at the Iranian port of Chabahar in early March, that was a long way after IP was first considered in 1994 – then as Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI), also known as the ‘peace pipeline.’  Subsequent pressure by both Bush administrations was so overwhelming that India abandoned the idea in 2009.

IP is what the Chinese call a win-win deal. The Iranian stretch is already finished. Aware of Islamabad’s immense cash flow problems, Tehran is loaning it $500 million, and Islamabad will come up with $1 billion to finish the Pakistani section. It’s enlightening to note that Tehran only agreed to the loan after Islamabad certified it won’t back out (unlike India) under Washington pressure.

IP, as a key umbilical (steel) cord, makes a mockery of the artificial – US-encouraged – Sunni-Shia divide. Tehran needs the windfall, and the enhanced influence in South Asia. Ahmadinejad even cracked that “with natural gas, you cannot make atomic bombs.”

Zardari, for his part, boosted his profile ahead of Pakistan’s elections on May 11. With IP pumping 750 million cubic feet of natural gas into the Pakistani economy everyday, power cuts will fade, and factories won’t close. Pakistan has no oil. It may have huge potential for solar and wind energy, but no investment capital and knowhow to develop them.

Politically, snubbing Washington is a certified hit all across Pakistan, especially after the territorial invasion linked to the 2011 targeted assassination of Bin Laden, plus Obama and the CIA’s non-stop drone wars in the tribal areas.

Moreover, Islamabad will need close cooperation with Tehran to assert a measure of control of Afghanistan after 2014. Otherwise an India-Iran alliance will be in the driver’s seat.

Washington’s suggestion of a Plan B amounted to vague promises to help building hydroelectric dams; and yet another push for that ultimate ‘Pipelineistan’ desert mirage – the which has existed only on paper since the Bill Clinton era.

The Foreign Office in Islamabad argued for Washington to at least try to show some understanding. As for the lively Pakistani press, it is having none of it.

The big winner is… China

IP is already a star protagonist of the New Silk Road(s) – the real thing, not a figment of Hillary Clinton’s imagination. And then there’s the ultra-juicy, strategic Gwadar question.

Islamabad decided not only to hand over operational control of the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar, in ultra-sensitive southwest Balochistan, to China; crucially, Islamabad and Beijing also signed a deal to build a $4 billion, 400,000 barrels-a-day oil refinery, the largest in Pakistan.

Gwadar, a deepwater port, was built by China, but until recently, the port’s administration was Singaporean.

The long-term Chinese master plan is a beauty. The next step after the oil refinery would be to lay out an oil pipeline from Gwadar to Xinjiang, parallel to the Karakoram highway, thus configuring Gwadar as a key Pipelineistan node distributing Persian Gulf oil and gas to Western China – and finally escaping Beijing’s Hormuz dilemma.

Gwadar, strategically located at the confluence of Southwest and South Asia, with Central Asia not that far, is bound to finally emerge as an oil and gas hub and petrochemical center – with Pakistan as a crucial energy corridor linking Iran with China. All that, of course, assuming that the CIA does not set Balochistan on fire.

The inevitable short-term result anyway is that Washington’s sanctions obsession is about to be put to rest at the bottom of the Arabian Sea, not far from Osama bin Laden’s corpse. And with IP probably becoming IPC – with the addition of China – India may even wake up, smell the gas, and try to revive the initial IPI idea.

The Syrian Pipelineistan angle

This graphic Iranian success in South Asia contrasts with its predicament in Southwest Asia.

The South Pars gas fields –  the largest in the world – are shared by Iran and Qatar. Tehran and Doha have developed an extremely tricky relationship, mixing cooperation and hardcore competition.

The key (unstated) reason for Qatar to be so obsessed by regime change in Syria is to kill the $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which was agreed upon in July 2011. The same applies to Turkey, because this pipeline would bypass Ankara, which always bills itself as the key energy crossroads between East and West.

It’s crucial to remember that the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline is as anathema to Washington as IP. The difference is that Washington in this case can count on its allies Qatar and Turkey to sabotage the whole deal.

This means sabotaging not only Iran but also the ‘Four Seas’ strategy announced by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2009, according to which Damascus should become a Pipelineistan hub connected to the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The strategy spells out a Syria intimately connected with Iranian – and not Qatari – energy flows. Iran-Iraq-Syria is known in the region as the ‘friendship pipeline.’ Typically, Western corporate media derides it as an ‘Islamic’ pipeline. (So Saudi pipelines are what, Catholic?) What makes it even more ridiculous is that gas in this pipeline would flow to Syria and then Lebanon –  and from there to energy-starved European markets close by.

The Pipelineistan games get even more complicated when we add the messy Iraqi Kurdistan/Turkey energy love affair – detailed here by Erimtan Can – and the recent gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean involving territorial waters of Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria; some, or perhaps all of these actors could turn from energy importers to energy exporters.

Israel will have a clear option to send its gas via a pipeline to Turkey, and then export it to Europe; that goes a long way to explain the recent phone call schmoozing between Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan and Israel’s Netanyahu, brokered by Obama.

Terrestrial and maritime borders between Israel and Lebanon remain dependent on a hazy UN Blue Line, set up way back in 2000. Damascus – as well as Tehran –  supports Beirut, once again against Washington’s will. And Damascus also supports Baghdad’s strategy of diversifying its means of distribution, once again trying to escape the Strait of Hormuz. Thus, the importance of the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline.

No wonder Syria is a red line for Tehran. Now the whole of Pipelineistan will be watching how far Qatar is willing to go following Washington’s obsession.

China will keep supporting North Korea against US

by Yusuf Fernandez, source

On April 3, Chinese officials called for calm in Korea as Washington announced that it would deploy missiles and more troops to East Asia, the island of Guam, Australia and the West coast of the US territory amid a crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program.

Shortly before, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui expressed his country’s “serious concern” over the Korean stand-off in two meetings with the US and South Korean ambassadors. He also appealed to both sides to exercise restraint and avoid provocations which might lead to an unwanted conflict.

For its part, the US has been deploying nuclear-capable bombers, warships and other military systems. The Pentagon has sent two F-22 Stealth fighters to the Osan Air Base and a B-2 stealth bomber on a round-trip training mission over South Korea. It has also positioned two guided-missile destroyers in the waters near the Korean Peninsula.

According to USA Today, the American B-1 bomber pilots at the Dyess Air Force Base in Texas have changed their training programs to focus on flights towards East Asia, instead of missions to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that the number of antimissile interceptors in Alaska and California will increase to 44 – 14 more than the current number. Although he claimed that this move was a response to Pyongyang’s “irresponsible and reckless provocations”, the plan to boost these systems had been in consideration for months.

At the same time, Washington has stepped up its threats against Pyongyang. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US “will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state.” US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who recently visited Beijing, asked Chinese leaders to use their economic and political influence over Pyongyang to persuade the North Korean government to renounce its nuclear and missile programs. Given that Pyongyang has no intention to destroy its small nuclear arsenal, the statements by both American top officials sounded certainly threatening.

The US is also selling more military systems to South Korea and Japan, two main rivals of China in the region having two right-wing and nationalist governments headed by Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye respectively. The US Defense Department approved on April 3 the sale of 60 fighters – F-15 or F-35 – to South Korea.

The US Administration wants to use the Korea crisis to show South Korea and Japan that they can rely on the US nuclear umbrella. In Seoul and Tokyo, some media and political circles have been calling on their governments to develop nuclear weapons. The US rejects this idea alleging that it would lead to wider proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, the real reason of this opposition is that Washington wants to perpetuate these countries’ military dependency on the US.

A strategy against China

However, Washington is not only deploying these forces as a result of the tensions in the Korean Peninsula but as a part of its strategy to maintain its predominance in East Asia. China is becoming the most powerful country in the world and is blocking, alongside with Russia, US global plans to achieve global hegemony. It is also holding massive US debt and blocking US actions seeking to justify wars against Syria and Iran. It has also been one of the founders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS group, which challenge US and Western hegemony and promote a multipolar world.

Washington has been enhancing its military ties and alliances throughout the region to contain and encircle China. In this sense, the target of the US deployments is not only North Korea but mainly China. In fact, USA Today already mentioned the training shift towards the Asia-Pacific region at Dyess in an article published in August 2012. The article added that the new strategy, which was announced in January 2012 by President Barack Obama, sought to “counter the rising power of China”.

Moreover, during a recent meeting of Obama with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Washington, the US president announced the sending of more US warships to the area of the Malacca Strait, a waterway that connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans and is critical to Chinese energy imports and trade.

Warmongering Senator John McCain of Arizona has also used the Korea crisis to attack China. “Chinese behavior has been very disappointing, whether it be on cyber security, whether it be on confrontation in the South China Sea, or whether it be their failure to rein in North Korea,” he said.

For his part, James Hardy, the Asia-Pacific editor for Jane’s Defense Weekly – also thinks that Washington “is using the existence of this crisis as an excuse to ramp up its missile defenses in Asia.” He pointed out that this move is related to Washington’s plans for hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region.

For its part, China is logically concerned by the deployment of these military systems near its borders. Chinese leaders have also seen the deployment of missile defense systems as a threat for their country. They have openly criticized the US for announcing a large increase in its anti-missile interceptors based in Alaska. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei warned that “strengthening anti-missile systems will intensify antagonism”.

Both China and Russia oppose the US deployment of these systems in Asia and Europe, which are not mainly aimed at Iran and North Korea, as Washington claims, but at undermining Chinese and Russian nuclear capacity. The ability to destroy missiles would allow the US to launch a “first nuclear strike” against China or Russia while avoiding a retaliation attack against its territory. As a response, Moscow and Beijing have already started to develop their military capacities, including the manufacture of new state-of-the-art nuclear missiles being capable of overcoming any anti-missile defense system.

No second thoughts on North Korea

Although there have been some claims in Western media that China could be having second thoughts on maintaining its support for North Korea, the truth is that the latter remains a key Chinese ally. Most Chinese think that the links with North Korea, despite all the difficulties and disagreements, remain useful for China. The Chinese leadership is probably conscious that Washington, in order to advance its own strategy, would like to see a rift between both traditional allies.

According to the Chinese publication Global Times, the economic importance of China-North Korea ties has grown in recent years. In terms of China’s total economic activity, it is still small, but in terms of Northeast China, it has gained importance.

On the other hand, “the strategic considerations that have kept China involved in the Korean Peninsula for hundreds of years have not suddenly disappeared”, wrote the Global Times. In this sense, North Korea is China’s sole ally in East Asia and a buffer state facing hostile powers as the US, Japan or South Korea. It is worth recalling that the Chinese army intervened in the Korean War in 1950 to prevent the occupation of North Korea by US and South Korean forces. Thus, it prevented the creation of a pro-US state directly on China’s border and a future US invasion of China itself.

Unlike Western countries, China has not blamed only North Korea for the current crisis but it has also criticized the US, Japan and South Korea’s hard-line positions and confrontational policies towards Pyongyang. Chinese media dismiss the idea that North Korea should eliminate its nuclear weapons, as the US demands. Actually, with examples such as Libya (denuclearized completely in accordance with US demands but subjected to US-backed regime change anyway), the North is not going to abandon its program because it is its best guarantee of survival.

Moreover, North Korea has already gone through a bitter experience over its negotiations with the US. In the 1990s and 2000s, Pyongyang sought to normalize its relations with Washington in exchange for putting an end to its nuclear program. In 2007, it shuttered the Yongbyon reactor, its sole one producing plutonium as a result of a nuclear disarmament agreement with the US. However, shortly after the deal collapsed and North Korea has just announced that the reactor will be restarted and used to produce more nuclear weapons from now on.

Therefore, China understands that it cannot abandon North Korea from a strategic perspective especially at a time when it has become the target of a policy of containment and strangulation by the US and its allies. Beijing can only go so far as to do “soft criticism” but not “hard criticism” of North Korean actions. Both countries have a common objective: opposing US-sponsored military alliances and deployments in the region, which are not just aimed at North Korea, but at China as well. Therefore, China’s policy of support for North Korea will continue.

Western media celebrates faux progress in Myanmar

(File photo)

by Tony Cartalucci, source

Even as mobs loyal to Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi hacked to death scores of Rohingya refugees in a racist, genocidal orgy of violence, the West has been of late, showcasing what it calls a  newly “open,” “independent,” and “free” Myanmar. The Los Angeles Times wrote a particularly absurd piece titled, “Myanmar pivots uneasily away from China,” where it states:

Myanmar’s recent pivot from China toward the West, and a more open government, came as a surprise to many outsiders. In rapid succession, President Thein Sein’s government suspended the $3.6-billion Chinese-built Myitsone hydroelectric project, held nominally free elections and released political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Times’ article is particularly deceitful on several fronts. First, such “progress” has not been underway for even a year, and considering the level of repression we have been told exists in Myanmar, nothing resembling a “free,” “open,” or “independent” nation could take shape in such short time even with the best intentions and most expedient reform policies in place. What the Times and its corporate-financier sponsors are really celebrating is the open doors their long ousted corporate-financier interests are now enjoying after decades of exclusion.

The Times also categorically fails  to mention who was really behind the derailment of the Myanmar-Chinese Myitsone hydroelectric project. While the Times, like many other outlets across the West’s media monopolies, attempts to portray it as the “will of the people prevailing,” it was in fact Aung San Suu Kyi and a myriad of Western-funded faux NGOs arrayed against the project specifically to disrupt and expel Chinese interests from the region.

One of the most prominent of these NGOs is the “Burma River Network” (BRN). While BRN’s website fails to mention where they get their funding or who they are affiliated with, California-based, Ford Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Tides Foundation, Open Society-funded “International Rivers (page 3)” who is also active in blocking the development of Myanmar’s rivers, gives them away by listing them as “partners” alongside the “Kachin Development Networking Group” (KDNG). Together these organizations interlock, cross-reference, and cross-post with other US-funded NGOs operating in Myanmar. These include the Irrawaddy, Era Journal, and the Democratic Voice of Burma, all admitted by the Burma Campaign UK (page 15) to be funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) along with “Mizzima” also fully funded by NED and Soros’ Open Society.

Of course, each weighed in on the proposed dam, and each portrayed it as having a negative social and environmental impact on Kachin State. US-based International Rivers hailed the halting of construction as a “huge success for civil society groups in Burma, China and internationally,” while NED-created Irrawaddy solemnly reported in 2008, “Irrawaddy Dam Construction Begins, Human Rights Abuses Begin,” where the article bemoans China’s investments in Myanmar before citing a single, anonymous “witness” who claims soldiers providing security for the construction site are disrupting people – as proof of “human rights abuses.” The Irrawaddy also makes reference to the “Kachin Environmental Organization,” a founding member of the above mentioned “Burma River Network,” who in turn has dedicated entire sections of their website to chastising all dam construction within Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi as well  played a leading role protesting and ultimately halting the construction of the Myitsone Dam. The Western-funded International Rivers reported, “Aung San Suu Kyi Joins the Campaign to Save the Irrawaddy,” while the NED-created Irrawaddy paper reported, “Suu Kyi Attends ‘Save the Irrawaddy’ Art Event.”

“Open Public Protests” (As Long as they are Against China)

The LA Times also celebrates what it calls “increasingly open, public protests.” However, these are only protests against Chinese interests in Myanmar. And while these “open public protests” take place with the full backing of the West and its media monopolies, with any attempt to crackdown on them decried as an assault on human rights, the West’s own proxies are slaughtering Rohingya refugees by the dozens with little or no serious action taking place.

Such double standards were acutely prominent when Aung San Suu Kyi spoke up against abuse alleged against her “Saffron monk” protesters during an anti-China rally at a mine, while she remained silent while these same protesters butchered Rohingya across Rakhine state.

In its article, “Suu Kyi demands apology for mine violence,” the Bangkok Post reported that:

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has demanded an apology for monks hurt in a violent police crackdown at a Chinese copper mine protest, after she held talks with the two sides.

The “monks,” of course, form the foundation of Suu Kyi’s so-called “pro-democracy” movement, as well as the leading front carrying out genocidal violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya population. Suu Kyi’s recent demand for an apology stands in stark contrast to her habitual silence over the plight of the Rohingya. The common denominator behind this consistent hypocrisy is the targeting of Chinese interests across the country.

In fact, Suu Kyi’s silent complicity with the genocide of the Rohingya is not mere double standards. The violence her supporters are creating as they exterminate the Rohingya serves to deliberately destabilize yet another epicenter of Chinese interests, its port and logistical hub in Sittwe, Rakine, and pipeline and road it is constructing across Myanmar and into Yunnan province, China.

The West has insidiously couched its hegemonic designs behind “freedom,” openness,” and “independence,” when under closer inspection, it is plainly obvious that it is implementing none of the above. That is of course unless by  “freedom” and “openness” one means for the West’s corporations to pillage and exploit Myanmar without nationalist boundaries obstructing them, and “independence” as meaning “independence” from its traditionally allies, to be replaced by a new servile dependency on Wall Street and London’s global financial order.

While it may be argued that China’s relationship with Myanmar falls short on many fronts, it is assured that Myanmar’s new relationship with the insidious, manipulative interests of Wall Street and London, the heirs of the imperialists who subjugated Myanmar so many years ago will, set new a new standard for exploitation, destitution, disparity, and subjugation – especially as the West attempts to array Myanmar along with its other Southeast Asian neighbors against China to fight its proxy war with Beijing well into the 21st century.

Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks” stalk streets with machetes – mass slaughtering refugees

by Tony Cartalucci, source

In Southeast Asia’s Myanmar, already 20 are reported dead in the latest genocidal violence carried out by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron monk” political movement. CNN’s, “Armed Buddhists, including monks, clash with Muslims in Myanmar,” reports that:

Buddhist monks and others armed with swords and machetes Friday stalked the streets of a city in central Myanmar, where sectarian violence that has left about 20 people dead has begun to spread to other areas, according to local officials.

The article also added that:

In the western state of Rakhine, tensions between the majority Buddhist community and the Rohingya, a stateless ethnic Muslim group, boiled over into clashes that killed scores of people and left tens of thousands of others living in makeshift camps last year.
Most of the victims were Rohingya.
“The ongoing intercommunal strife in Rakhine State is of grave concern,” the International Crisis Group said in a November report. “And there is the potential for similar violence elsewhere, as nationalism and ethno-nationalism rise and old prejudices resurface.”

CNN’s citing of the corporate-financier funded “International Crisis Group,” which has supported and engineered similar strife elsewhere around the world, including Egypt in 2011, is particularly foreshadowing. And as in previous spates of recent violence, Aung San Suu Kyi has once again allowed opportunities to call on her own supporters to stand down, slip by in silent complicity.

Rakhine state is the site of an expanding Chinese presence, including a port and the terminal of a trans Sino-Myanmar pipeline and logistical network leading to China’s Yunnan province. The violence unfolding in Rakhine over the past months appears to be the execution of the well-documented US “String of Pearls” containment strategy versus China, and mirrors similar violence being carried out by US proxies in Pakistan.


Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks”

Similar violence in September of last year revealed the name of one of the leading “monks.” AFP’s September 2012 article, “Monks stage anti-Rohingya march in Myanmar, refers to the leader of these mobs as “a monk named Wirathu.”

However, this isn’t merely “a monk named Wirathu,” but “Sayadaw” (venerable teacher) Wirathu who has led many of “democratic champion” Aung San Suu Kyi’s political street campaigns and is often referred to by the Western media as an “activist monk.”

In March 2012, Wirathu had led a rally calling for the release of so-called “political prisoners,” so designated by US State Department funded faux-NGOs. Wirathu himself was in prison, according to AFP, for inciting hatred against Muslims, until recently released as part of an amnesty, an amnestyUS State Department-funded (page 15, .pdf) Democratic Voice of Burma claims concerned only “political prisoners.”

Human Rights Watch itself, in its attempt to memorialize the struggle of “Buddhism and activism in Burma” (.pdf),  admits that Wirathu was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 25 years in prison along with other “monks” for their role in violent clashes between “Buddhists and Muslims” (page 67, .pdf). This would make Wirathu and his companions violent criminals, not “political prisoners.”

While Western news agencies have attempted to spin the recent violence as a new phenomenon implicating Aung San Suu Kyi’s political foot soldiers as genocidal bigots, in reality, the sectarian nature of her support base has been back page news for years. AFP’s recent but uncharacteristically honest portrayal of Wirathu, with an attempt to conceal his identity and role in Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron” political machine, illustrates the quandary now faced by Western propagandists as the violence flares up again, this time in front of a better informed public.

During 2007′s “Saffron Revolution,” these same so-called “monks” took to the streets in a series of bloody anti-government protests, in support of Aung San Suu Kyi and her Western-contrived political order. HRW would specifically enumerate support provided to Aung San Suu Kyi’s movement by these organizations, including the Young Monks Union (Association), now leading violence and calls for ethnic cleansing across Myanmar.

The UK Independent  in their article, “Burma’s monks call for Muslim community to be shunned,” mentions the Young Monks Association by name as involved in distributing flyers recently, demanding people not to associate with ethnic Rohingya, and attempting to block humanitarian aid from reaching Rohingya camps.

The Independent also notes calls for ethnic cleansing made by leaders of the 88 Generation Students group (BBC profile here) – who also played a pivotal role in the pro-Suu Kyi 2007 protests. “Ashin” Htawara, another “monk activist” who considers Aung San Suu Kyi,  his “special leader” and greeted her with flowers for her Oslo Noble Peace Prize address earlier this year, stated at an event in London that the Rohingya should be sent “back to their native land.”

The equivalent of Ku Klux Klan racists demanding that America’s black population be shipped back to Africa, the US State Department’s “pro-democratic” protesters in Myanmar have been revealed as habitual, violent bigots with genocidal tendencies. Their recent violence also casts doubts on Western narratives portraying the 2007 “Saffron Revolution’s” death toll as exclusively caused by government security operations.

While in late 2012 the Western media attempted to ignore the genocidal nature of Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks,” now it appears that more are catching on. The International Business Times published recently an article titled, “Burmese Bin Laden: Is Buddhist Monk Wirathu Behind Violence in Myanmar?” stating:

The shadow of controversial monk Wirathu, who has led numerous vocal campaigns against Muslims in Burma, looms large over the sectarian violence in Meikhtila.

Wirathu played an active role in stirring tensions in a Rangoon suburb in February, by spreading unfounded rumours that a local school was being developed into a mosque, according to the Democratic voice of Burma. An angry mob of about 300 Buddhists assaulted the school and other local businesses in Rangoon.

The monk, who describes himself as ‘the Burmese Bin Laden’ said that his militancy “is vital to counter aggressive expansion by Muslims”.

He was arrested in 2003 for distributing anti-Muslim leaflets and has often stirred controversy over his Islamophobic activities, which include a call for the Rhohingya and “kalar”, a pejorative term for Muslims of South Asian descent, to be expelled from Myanmar.

He has also been implicated in religious clashes in Mandalay, where a dozen people died, in several local reports.

The article also cites the Burma Campaign UK, whose director is attempting to rework the West’s narrative in Myanmar to protect their long-groomed proxy Suu Kyi, while disavowing the violence carried out by a movement they themselves have propped up, funded, and directed for many years.

Like their US-funded (and armed) counterparts in Syria, many fighting openly under the flag of sectarian extremism held aloft by international terrorist organization Al Qaeda, we see the absolute moral bankruptcy of Myanmar’s “pro-democracy” movement that has, up until now, been skillfully covered up by endless torrents of Western propaganda – Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize and recent “Chatham House Prize” all being part of the illusion. And just like in Syria, the West will continue supporting and intentionally fueling the violence while attempting to compartmentalize the crisis politically to maintain plausible deniability.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Western Proxy

In “Myanmar (Burma) “Pro-Democracy” Movement a Creation of Wall Street & London,” it was documented that Suu Kyi and organizations supporting her, including local propaganda fronts like the New Era Journal, the Irrawaddy, and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) radio, have received millions of dollars a year from the Neo-Conservative chaired National Endowment for Democracy,convicted criminal and Wall Street speculator George Soros’ Open Society Institute, and the US State Department itself, citing Britain’s own “Burma Campaign UK (.pdf).”

And not only does the US State Department in tandem with Western corporate media provide Aung San Suu Kyi extensive political, financial, and rhetorical backing, they provide operational capabilities as well, allowing her opposition movement to achieve Western objectives throughout Myanmar. The latest achievement of this operational capability successfully blocked the development of Myanmar’s infrastructure by halting a joint China-Mynamar dam project that would have provided thousands of jobs, electricity, state-revenue, flood control, and enhanced river navigation for millions. Suu Kyi and her supporting network of NGOs, as well as armed militants in Myanmar’s northern provinces conducted a coordinated campaign exploiting both “environmental” and “human rights” concerns that in reality resulted in Myanmar’s continual economic and social stagnation.

The ultimate goal of course is to effect regime change not only in Myanmar, but to create a united Southeast Asian front against China. The unqualified “progress” the US claims is now being made in Myanmar moves forward in tandem with Myanmar’s opening to Western corporate-financier interests.

As reported in June, 2011′s “Collapsing China,” as far back as 1997 there was talk about developing an effective containment strategy coupled with the baited hook of luring China into its place amongst the “international order.” Just as in these 1997 talking-points where author and notorious Neo-Con policy maker Robert Kagan described the necessity of using America’s Asian “allies” as part of this containment strategy, Clinton goes through a list of regional relationships the US is trying to cultivate to maintain “American leadership” in Asia.

The US backing of puppet-regimes like that of  Thailand’s Thaksin Shinawatra, his sister Yingluck, or Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, installing them into power, and keeping them there is central to projecting power throughout Asia and keeping China subordinate, or as Kagan put it in his 1997 report, these proxy regimes will have China “play Gulliver to Southeast Asia’s Lilliputians, with the United States supplying the rope and stakes.” Two of these “Lilliputians” are Yingluck Shinawatra and Aung San Suu Kyi, the rope and stakes are the street mobs and disingenuous NGOs funded by the US State Department to support their consolidation of power.

It is essential to look past the empty rhetoric of “democracy,” “human rights,” and “progress” used to justify foreign-funding and meddling to install servile autocrats like Thailand’s Thaksin, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, or even Malaysia’s proxy dictator-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, and see the greater geopolitical game at play. It is also essential to expose the disingenuous organizations, institutions, and media personalities helping promote this global corporate-fascist agenda.

With Suu Kyi’s movement now being exposed as violent, sectarian-driven mobs rather than the “pro-democracy” front it was claimed to be by its sponsors in the West, it remains to be seen whether well-meaning people worldwide turn their backs on this carefully crafted hoax and the corporate-financier interests that created it – and instead seek genuine causes that abandon political strugglefor pragmatic solutions.

‘Obama against Chinese nuclear great wall’

by Yusuf Fernandez, source

On January 2, US President Barack Obama signed the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which ordered the Commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to submit a report by August 15 on the “underground tunnel network used by the People’s Republic of China with respect to the capability of the United States to use conventional and nuclear forces to neutralize such tunnels and what is stored within such tunnels.”

According to defensenews.com, the US military will have to consider both conventional and nuclear capabilities to “neutralize” China’s underground nuclear weapons storage facilities, called “the Chinese Nuclear Great Wall” by US media, according to the new law.

The issue began to appear in US media about one year ago, when a group of students of the Georgetown University, under the supervision of their professor, former Pentagon official Phillip Karber, completed a 363-page study mapping out China’s huge system of underground tunnels, which allegedly stretches more than 3,000 miles and have been dug by China’s Second Artillery Corps, responsible for nuclear weapons. According to the study, these tunnels are used to hide advanced missiles and nuclear warheads.

During the Cold War, Karber, 65, was a top strategist who reported directly to the Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He led an elite research team created by Henry Kissinger, who was then the national security adviser.

The study has not yet been published, but has already sparked a congressional hearing and been circulating among top US defense officials, including the Air Force vice chief of staff, the Washington Post reported. “Its estimates are being checked against what people think they know based on classified information,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed Defense Department strategist as saying.

Actually, the existence of the tunnel network has never been denied by China. It was first revealed on national television in 2006, apparently as a reaction to claims by some US experts, who said that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) did not have credible “second strike” capability; i.e. the ability to survive a nuclear attack by another country with sufficient resources to deliver an effective counterblow.

In December 2009, a report by Chinese state-run channel CCTV claimed that China had more than 3,000 miles of tunnels including deep underground facilities that could withstand several nuclear attacks. It even opened their underground facilities to journalists in order to publicize the achievements of the country in regards to reinforce the survival of its nuclear arsenal and, therefore, maintain the credibility of its deterrence.

Controversy on numbers

However, the controversy broke out due to the study’s claim that the researchers had “accidentally discovered” that China might have up to 3,000 nuclear warheads, which sounded alarm bells in Pentagon. This figure is many times larger than arms control experts in the US intelligence estimate. These analysts have been consistently claiming that China have, at the most, 240-300 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, a much smaller number than the 5,000 warheads that the United States has.

But the strongest criticism has come from experts who worry that the study could give arguments for fuelling another nuclear race in Asia and the world. The Post said that critics of the report have questioned the methodology of the Georgetown students, which included Google Earth, blogs, military journals and documents and even a fictionalized Chinese TV show. But the Post also said the students were able to obtain a 400-page manual produced by the Second Artillery Corps and only available to Chinese military personnel.

Gregory Kulacki, a China nuclear analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, publicly condemned the study at a recent lecture in Washington. In a posterior interview with the Washington Post, he called the 3,000 figure “ridiculous” and said that the study’s methods were “incompetent and lazy.” “The fact that they are building tunnels could actually reinforce the exact opposite point,” he told the Post. “With more tunnels and a better chance of survivability, they may think they do not need as many warheads to strike back.”

Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project of the Federation of American Scientists, also views the study as erroneous. Kristensen said it has increased the danger of a war between China and the US. “The two countries are dancing a dangerous dance that will increase military tension and could potentially lead to a small Cold War in the Pacific,” defensenews.com quoted him as saying.

An excuse to increase the US military presence in Asia

Despite all this criticism, some officials in the Pentagon have welcomed the study because it contributes to present China as a growing threat to the United States. The Second Artillery Corps’s work on the network of tunnels was mentioned, for the first time, in the Defense Department’s annual report, partly as a result of Karber’s study, according to some Pentagon officials.

And last year, some in the office of then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates were briefed on the study shortly before his visit to China. “I think it is fair to say that senior officials here have keyed upon the importance of this work,” said one Pentagon officer who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The influence of the Georgetown study can be seen in the new NDAA’s authorization to “use conventional and nuclear forces to neutralize tunnels and what is stored within such tunnels.” This provision has worried experts because given the location, length and depth of the tunnel network, thousands of nuclear weapons would have to be used to eliminate the threat. This doctrine would lead to the complete destruction of China and to a Chinese all-out nuclear counterattack against the US territory.

The study has also become a convenient argument supporting the new US strategy of refocusing military priorities towards the Asia-Pacific region. Most of the US Navy’s ballistic-missile submarine force is now operating in the Pacific waters, new nuclear bomber squadrons are deployed to Guam and more naval forces are being sent to the region. These are only examples of the aggressive stance taken by the US, particularly under the Obama administration, towards China. Washington’s strengthening of alliances and partnerships throughout the Asia region and its naval build-up in the Pacific Ocean, threaten to encircle China.

Speaking in Australia in November, Obama promised that there would be no cuts in defense spending in the Asia-Pacific region. The Department of Defense’s new strategic guidelines, “Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” published in January 2012, singled out China as the US’s main enemy.

The US is also planning advancements to its ground and sea-based missile defense systems in order to undermine Russia and China’s nuclear deterrence. This threat is taken very seriously by both countries. Major General Zhu Chenghu of China’s National Defense University was quoted by Reuters as saying to a panel in Beijing, “The People’s Liberation Army will have to modernize its nuclear arsenal.” He also accused the United States of “undermining the strategic stability.”

In order to overcome this threat, China will have to build more and more sophisticated and capable intercontinental missiles and submarine-launched missiles that can strengthen its existing ability to deliver nuclear warheads to the United States and to overwhelm its missile defense shield.

Larry Wortzel, a retired US Army colonel who now serves on the congressional United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, told the New York Times that China is developing the capability to put as many as 10 nuclear warheads on the intercontinental ballistic missile DF-41, outfitted with independently-targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). This ability will give China a much larger nuclear arsenal, he said. Wortzel also told the Times that China has tested in recent weeks submarine-launched missiles JL-2, which are able to outflank US missile detection systems.

In 2012, China was also the second country, after the US, to pass a defense budget of over 100 billion dollars. It reached the amount of 670 billion yuan (106,4 billion dollars), which means an 11,2% increase from 2011, although it is still a figure seven times lower than the US military budget. The increase of the spending will be dedicated to building hi-tech weapons matching those of the US and to developing the country’s naval and air forces. All this is a reflection of Beijing’s determination to oppose US attempts to threaten China and undercuts its influence throughout the Asian region and worldwide.

So far, China has increased its military spending within the context of avoiding any confrontation with the United States and its official policy remains that of its “peaceful rise.” There are circles in Beijing, however, who consider that China needs a “stronger action” in order to confront Washington’s hostile policies.

US promotes new anti-China strategy in Asia

by Yusuf Fernandez, source

Recent statements by the White House and the US Defense Department on the new Asia-pivot strategy have made it clear that the focus of the American future military efforts have switched to the Asia-Pacific region with a rising China as the new enemy.

In the spring of 2001, the Bush Administration carried out a strategic review of the US global military policy led by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The document concluded that the Asia-Pacific region should become the most important focus of US military deployments, with China now seen as the principal threat to American world hegemony and its number one enemy.

The document National Security Strategy 2002 stated that it was of most importance that “our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.” A 1999 report by then US Secretary of Defense, Willian Cohen, also warned “the possibility that a regional great power or global peer competitor may emerge” and called the US to do its best to prevent it.

However, after the September 11, 2001 attacks the US started two expensive and failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a global war against terrorism, which forced Washington to waste enormous economic and military resources. Thus, the clear trend of the last decade has been the economic and political decline of US.

Meanwhile, China initiated a huge economic expansion since the beginning of the century. This Chinese economic success led the economies of East Asia and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to become more and more integrated into the production chains centered in China. Between 2000 and 2010, Chinese trade with the ASEAN countries increased from 40 billion dollars to almost 300 billion. China has signed some free trade agreements with these countries and other states of the region. All this has made China become the first economic actor in Asia.

As a result, the US became economically weaker while China steadily grew during that period and is now on the way to become the first global economic power in some few years. US political and military elites in Washington now fear that the last decade of wars in the Middle East has allowed China to increase its influence in the Asia-Pacific region, which now constitutes the “center of gravity” of world economic activity, at the US’s expense.

Currently, the Obama Administration is returning to the point in which President George W. Bush was before the 9/11 attacks. In July 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared at an ASEAN gathering that the US was “back in South East Asia.” At another ASEAN summit the following year, she stated that the US had a “national interest” in the regional disputes in the South China Sea. The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded by claiming that such a remark was “actually an attack on China.”

In another article published in the Foreign Policy magazine, Clinton wrote that an economically weakened US could no longer have the upper hand in multiple fronts at the same time. Therefore, it had to choose its battlefields and carefully deploy its limited resources in order to take advantage of them. She added that Asia occupied a “strategic centrality” in the world power, which would force the US to concentrate its assets there.

In 2011, some US media outlets published details of the Pentagon document, “Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defence,” which meant a decisive reorientation of the US military power globally towards the Asia-Pacific region.

On November 17, 2011, Obama made a speech to the Australian parliament in which he announced a new diplomatic, economic and military strategy to reassert US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region and roll back Chinese influence. In a clear message to Beijing, Obama declared that “the United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay.”

Even as the US government has made huge cuts in social services and military spending, Obama stated that the US military presence in Asia was “a top priority.”

“Reductions in US defense spending will not – I repeat, will not – come at the expense of the Asia Pacific.”

Obama spoke of “a broader shift” in the focus of US policy away from the Middle East to Asia.

Encircling China

Washington is also threatening Beijing with a set of US bases and alliances along Beijing’s borders in order to encircle China on every front. The US currently has key military bases in South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Guam and Australia.

During a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Obama announced plans for the deployment of a force of US Marines in northern Australia, the more extensive US use of this country’s ports and airports and more joint training and maneuvers between both armies.

At the same time, Obama called the US alliance with Japan “a pillar of the regional security.” He also praised India’s plans to become a most important role “as an Asian power,” a clear invitation to counterbalance China.

He also referred to an increasing US military presence, including ship visits, in the Philippines, and backed Manila in its dispute with Beijing over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. On November 18, both countries signed the Manila Declaration in which they envisage stronger military relations.

The US government has also announced plans to sell 24 F-16 warplanes to Indonesia and to establish closer military ties with Thailand. At the same time, it reiterated that the United States would be always committed to South Korea’s security. More recently, Obama visited Myanmar in order to woo this country, an old Chinese ally, away from Beijing’s influence.

The US is even rebuilding military and political ties with its former enemy, Vietnam, a country that has maintained another dispute with China in the South China Sea. The US and Vietnam held joint naval exercises in July 2011.

The new strategy has also led to the creation of the US-dominated regional free-trade area – the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP), of which China, despite being Asia’s biggest economy, is excluded. The US Administration has also tried to get rid of the Asian leaders who do not support its hard-line stance toward China.

In June 2010, Washington had a role in the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who had rejected the continuation of the US military presence at the base on Okinawa. He was replaced by a clear pro-US figure.

Energy control

The US presence in the Persian Gulf and the Asian waters and valuable points, especially the Malacca Strait, also seeks to control the energy transfers China depends on. As a result of China’s booming economy and the improvement of the particular economies of millions of Chinese, the country’s oil consumption is rapidly increasing. China used about 7.8 million barrels per day in 2008 but this figure, according to recent projections by the US Department of Energy, will reach 13.6 million barrels in 2020 and 16.9 million in 2035. In this last year, China will have to import 11.6 million barrels. It makes the country vulnerable to US strategy to control countries producing oil or gas.

China is trying to counteract this strategy by importing as much oil as it can through land pipelines from Kazakhstan and Russia. There are also plans to import Iranian oil by extending the pipeline that will link Iran and Pakistan to the Chinese-Pakistani border. However, the great majority of its oil will continue coming by tankers from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America over shipping lanes controlled by the US Navy. This is a reason explaining US strategy to put the South China Sea under effective US control.

There is no doubt that US escalation of military tensions with China is dangerous and provocative and will lead to tensions in the whole Asian continent and rivalries over the control of strategic sea lanes. This American strategy risks escalating these tensions in the future into an open confrontation between the United States and China that would threaten to push the world into a devastating conflict.