Saturday, July 4, 2015

Don’t wake up evil while it’s quiet, nor turn pale at the mention of a tiger

That's a catchy combining of two phrases, one Russian and one Chinese, that headlines an article about Chinese-Russian cooperation in Eurasia at the web site China In Central Asia, a site that focuses on China's increasing presence in central Asia, and, since Russia also has many interests in that region, has articles about the conflicting interests Russia and China have in the region and on the areas they are cooperating in.

Map credit Stratfor

That last -- China-Russia cooperation-- should concern US policy makers, and does except for the ones who still subscribe to the Neocon fantasy that, after the dissolution of the USSR, the US could use its bloated military to bomb and bully its way to global hegemony; a policy still in sway in Washington as evidenced by US fumbling efforts to expand NATO into Ukraine, or by its aggression in Syria and the Middle East in general, or its efforts to contain China with President Obama's "pivot to Asia," which includes such elements as the TPP treaty, increased military cooperation with Pacific Rim countries Australia, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan, and with various provocations against China, which the US media reports as Chinese aggression (land grabbing, island building) in the same way the US media reports as "Russian aggression" anything Russia does to protect its interests.

Not that China and Russia aren't ambitious or aggressive, but they are pursuing their interests much differently than the US is; in ways that are quite frankly a lot smarter, and are beyond what the jingoistic US media can fathom.

In May I posted a picture of Vladmir Putin and Xi Jinping, the Russian and Chinese presidents, conspicuously posing together in Moscow on the occasion of the anniversary of VE Day. Recall that US and European rulers snubbed Putin's big country-wide celebration of VE Day's 60th anniversary.

After the ceremonies, Jinping and Putin retired to the Kremlin and posed for more pictures after signing some agreements, which along with previous agreements have greatly expanded Russian and Chinese strategic economic cooperation.

Russia is rich in resources but poor and underdeveloped. China is basically the opposite. China, having what some are now saying is the world's largest economy, has been spending massive amounts on infrastructure projects in central Asia. Several high speed rail lines now link the industrial regions of China with cities and ports in Europe, meaning Chinese freight doesn't have to take much slower sea lanes, that are also vulnerable to US naval power.

Branch routes in this system now include Russia, as does a web of oil and gas pipelines that crisscross Eurasia. These mean not only closer economic ties between China, Russia and Europe, but render somewhat mute US attempts to control with naval power the flow of oil to China from the Middle East and Iran.

China calls its Eurasian development plan the Silk Road Economic Belt, after the ancient trade route. It encompasses vast regions. It includes, for example, rail lines to Iran and Turkey, where China has also built sea ports. It's part of a broad, long-range Chinese strategic vision, that Alfred McCoy lays out in an article in Tom Dispatch that's being widely reprinted now, that rests on a traditional view of Eurasia as the strategic global pivot point, a view formulated in 1904 by Halford Mackinder, head of the London School of Economics, that has been furthered by Zbigniew Brzezinski of the US in his time in government and more recently in his books an articles. McCoy writes of China's all Eurasia encompassing Silk Road project:

Mackinder's map of the world

"For the first time in history, the rapid transcontinental movement of critical cargo —oil, minerals, and manufactured goods— will be possible on a massive scale, thereby potentially unifying that vast landmass into a single economic zone stretching 6,500 miles from Shanghai to Madrid. In this way, the leadership in Beijing hopes to shift the locus of geopolitical power away from the maritime periphery and deep into the continent’s heartland."

To help finance its goals, China last year announced creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. It wasn't much covered in the US press, but diplomatically it was a defeat for the US when it was unable to coerce a single one of its European allies, even the UK, from joining as founding partners. It was sign of growing, direct economic ties China is building with Europe. Another is that much of the new Chinese rail system is being built by the rail giant Duetsche Bahn AG that's solely owned by the German government.

China has quietly been pursuing the same kind of policy in Africa for years, spending vast sums on infrastructure projects and using the same approach Xi Jinping outlined in a speech announcing the new Silk Road in which he tried to put Russia at ease by promising to follow the policy of Three Nos.

"China does not interfere in the region’s domestic politics, does not seek the right of leadership in the region’s affairs, and does not seek a sphere of influence in the region."

All of which are quite foreign to US foreign policy with its god-granted "American Exceptionalism" providing it with the right to dictate to other countries.

Part of President Obama's plans to counter China include the eventual economic colonization of the Pacific Rim by multinational corporations, at the expense of US workers, which is why he's pushing the TPP treaty, but US strategy relies primarily on US military might, for which, with Reaganomics firmly in control in Washington, US workers also pay the brunt of the cost. But while the US tries to encircle China militarily, China, now joined by Russia, has been encircling the US economically.


  1. Fast, modern rail lines also mean rapid deployment of troops, war machines and weaponry, and rail car missile launchers. Europe needs to pay attention, too.

    Corporate America has bankrolled China's military build-up by exporting US manufacturing to the Mainland. Too bad we can't prosecute the Emperors of Greed for treason, and aiding and abetting the enemy. We are paying a far greater price for made-in-China goods than Corporate America wants known. Our greatest cyber security threat is China, which most Americans know very little about. It's only a matter of time, perhaps even in my lifetime, that China will cripple our banking, information systems and electronics-dependent infrastructure networks.

    Thanks for posting this, Bubba. These changes in the Sino-Russian relationships are worrisome and bear greater scrutiny.

    1. Thanks for the comment TC, and your additional insights.

      You're very well informed. I've spent a good part of the day reading up on this and everything you mention is cited in what's being written about it.

      And to add something I meant to mention, apparently the Chinese military strategy includes, beyond cyber warfare, what one writer called making surgical cuts in the US containment in strategic places, and apparently the island building is part of that.